Trauma as Gateway to “Loving Well”-Musings on polyvagal theory, Love, commitment and societal change
Ability to “Love Well” might be synonymous with a toned, or flexible, Ventral vagus (see polyvagal theory).
To be able to see the Other and have My experience, in tandem, is the experience of “both/and”-a feature of ventral tone.
Trauma-and then the active, conscious healing of it (becoming aware of what dysregulates your autonomic system and learning how to regulate it, in those moments) can actually be a Gateway towards a flexible (healthy!) ventral vagal system,
allowing us to “hold both” during social engagement.
The ability to “love well” essentially means that despite all you sense from the social field (and my, a toned system can sense so much!)
you are able to remain flexible to the input,
and navigate social engagement in a way that (is healthy for) Both/All parties.
Side note: Commitment isn’t always synonymous with (this) Love.
We can be existing in a depressed, disconnected, numbed out, dissociative dorsal state, alongside an Other that our nervous system long ago gave up feeling safe with.
We can commit but exist by proving and winning (trying to regain connection); rekindling that fire in a swing between fight or flight.
Both states can be the main staying power that allows us to commit,
each taxing our nervous, and then immune systems, in different ways over time.
Commitment can often happen in a survival state.
Love can flow, and happens, in a Ventral state.
Love need not commit, as much as remain flexible to the ever-changing needs and circumstances of the (next) moment. (Sounds like ventral vagal!) Dynamic relationships result.
Said differently, the ability to love has an Inherent, beneficial, sub-ability, to the sanity and health of both/all Beings.
Love is Beyond commitment,
and commitment is a natural ability of Love-
not to Another specific person-
as much as, as a byproduct of the abilities within the state;
to Allow, Understand, See, & Attune to.
Love has no exceptions, because it is not merely an intention/vow-
it is an ability, that may physically begin
with a toned and flexible nervous system.
Though some babies had circumstances more conducive to healthy attunement,
aiding in healthier social engagement states,
the tone and flexibility happens with understanding of, and engagement with, your own polyvagal system. Any one of us can begin that journey to self healing that benefits all, Now.
To become aware of our emotions,
and what dysregulates us,
and what brings us back into regulation (which fosters systemic health)
is not only brave, it makes us More Safe, understanding, compassionate and flexible in relating with Others.
Open mindedness replaces narrow mindedness.
True listening without defensiveness improves; we experience the both/and ability.
This is an ability, not an intention. Intention falls short of embodied experience/ability.
Someone unable to experience both sides of a thing has done nothing wrong, and, we can sense with compassion, a shape their nervous system has taken, in order to survive.
Survival states are different than social states.
When we can feel the difference in ourself, we can discern the difference within other-without the judgment that often comes as defense, from a perceived threat (from our own unprocessed dysregulation cues.)
Don’t let societies collective fear of therapy, it’s costs, or of knowing the self
intimidate you-these are just collective thoughts given attention, becoming bigger-
they don’t actually have power over you, unless you allow them to.
Maybe Don’t let New Age positivity convince you that you can cover over all of your trauma with manifestation practices-The Body Knows (see the book Body keeps the Score) and will reveal that knowing at some point.
Retraining the brain helps, certainly! But maybe from consciousness not from aversion (the desire to get rid of...)
To step towards yourself and your pain is to begin the journey towards making peace with pain, in general.
This will benefit everyone, because every human has pain.
We can be triggered by every humans pain-in all of its shades-
we can learn to regulate our own system (gently) and as a natural benefit,
we can allow pain, without reacting to it.
We May even begin to sense pain as Sacred-
an experience the Soul has, for fodder towards it’s own Awakening/Liberation.
To take away someone else’s pain, then, is to take away their chance
at gaining the ability of the elusive state of safe-no-matter-the-circumstances
they can come to, from a liberated life.
Social codependency birthed from collectively fearing pain, could stand to be replaced now by a more empowering, liberating and soothing way of “helping”-
honor their pain?
Believe they are capable of integrating it?
Your relationship to their pain can shape how that pain lands in them-especially young beings.
Be fearless about all the shades of pain, and we become collectively well adjusted, together.
Once we are all safe, then we can all PLAY!
Sometimes society can guilt us into needing to be afraid of a thing, that a regulated (healthy) nervous system need not, and doesn’t, fear.
We can take action without involving adrenaline-fueled choices that lock us into retraumatization loops, as a culture.
(Take what’s happening globally, now; how many of your friends and family’s nervous systems have automatically discerned you to be a threat, if you don’t sense and move from the fear that they feel they need to let guide their choices?)
We could all stand to pause our adrenaline-fueled alliance choices,
and gently learn a bit more about what has shaped, and what can reshape,
our own nervous system-for the benefit of All.
The more time we spend oscillating in and out of our 3 main nervous system states,
and returning to ventral,
the more flexible our social interacting can become.
The more our trauma begins to literally reshape itself within the pathways of our nervous systems, the more our external movement is calm, wise, joyful-not rushed, scattered and afraid. It starts within.
(See book polyvagal exercises for safety and connection.)
May we touch our own traumas,
Have compassion for the shaping that’s resulted,
learn new ways to shape ourselves to benefit the felt-sense of safety,
and the resulting trust and play, for All.
Thanks for reading these musings. I hope they ignited your own inner truth.
May you embody it, and lead.