No matter how fast we can think or how on top of a situation we think we are, our unconscious mind is always a few steps ahead of us. Only by knowing how our unconscious processes are created, structured, and activated can we have a hope of getting ahead of them. This is how you can act in the ways that you choose, ways that reflect the person who you are now, instead of in a way dictated by an often outdated knee-jerk reaction created by a much different self.
At the start of this series, we talked about five common parts that our brains create: Fight, Flight, Freeze, Submit and Attach. While each of us arrives at these from different experiences and create messages unique to our selves and our situations, many of those parts can be grouped under these five headings.
These different parts we have inside are designed for certain tasks. Internal conflicts are inevitable and predictable. The automatic thoughts, feeling and reactions we talked about last week will kick in to help with protection. This is why it is necessary to know how these parts work together to help and protect us in the ways that we learned. Let's walk through a coordinated effort between some of these parts.
How It Works
Assume something has gone wrong and your brain feels the need to survive the bad feelings it creates in you. It can be a relationship gone bad, or the displeasure of a close friend or partner.
-The Attach part will cry for help. This activates the protective mechanism of flight or fight.
-To attach is to invite abuse and abandonment. This is intolerable so Flight will scream to leave and make distance.
-Meanwhile, the Fight part will criticize the self for getting attached. That releases the feelings and messages of self-hate and loathing, self-criticism and self-blame.
-Attach does not want to listen, but will cling to whom ever they are attached no matter how they are treated.
If we use the example of a critical boss, then this process leads you:
-To work harder (Attach),
-fueled by self-criticism (Fight)
-terrified (Freeze) by the impulse to quit (Flight).
-Submit finds safety in being good enough, quiet enough and
When this does not work,
-Fight will create messages to evoke shame, hopelessness and inadequacy in the hope this will motivate
-Submit to stand up for herself.
Let's Just Get Away
Conversely when Fight or Flight get activated, their primary motives are to get away and overcome the situation at hand.
-Both parts find it imperative to do something to make distance either by leaving or creating a conflict.
-This results in Attach and Submit landing in a struggle with Fight and Flight.
-Attach’s desire for proximity,
-Freeze’s fear of being harmed,
-Fight and Flight’s alarm at the situation can happen all at once, or in a cycle of pain, fear and indecision.
-This leaves you unable to make a decision and to take effective and decisive action on your behalf.
The conflict that occurs between old beliefs, unprocessed memories and
wounds make the here and now assessment of what is going on almost
impossible. It is necessary to be able to identify when these parts are interfering
with our lives in order to take steps that reflect who we are now, not who we were years ago. This process begins with the question, "What part is talking to me right now?"