The importance of connection

Self regulation and social connection 🧠

Polyvagal theory explains the evolutionary process of human vagus nerve development.

The most recent developed section in evolutionary terms is the Ventral Vagal Complex which is responsible for fight/flight mode AND the inhibition of this activation through social connection to help self regulate.

For babies this means having the nervous system regulated by their primary care giver through attuned responsiveness. This ensures secure attachment so the human is better primed to use social connection to help self regulate on through in to adulthood… When we are stressed we reach out to others to offload and this helps alleviate the threat response.

Adults with an insecure attachment haven’t had this need met in infancy or early childhood and therefore struggle to use social connection to self regulate their nervous systems. Without this braking system we can spend too long in toxic stress of fight/flight mode. Mobilisation is this instance is to either avoid or eradicate the threat; avoidance can include alcohol and substance misuse. If too long is spent in high energy activation the nervous system has an involuntary shutdown response through the Dorsal Vagal Complex. This is the oldest part of the nervous system which is freeze/faint.

Freeze mode is where we see learned helplessness and the complete inability to reach out and connect. This is the most dangerous activated response in humans as this is where depression, suicidal ideation and death by suicide occur. It literally prevents connection. Trauma experiences can damage our ability to connect at any point but are strongly linked to adverse childhood experiences. The most critical phases for trauma impact are 0-3 and in the teens. It makes it impossible for a person to actively reach out and connect when this part of their nervous system is activated. Therefore we all must do more to reach out and connect to those who are unable to ❤

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Psychotherapist and coach, mother and lover of the outdoors. Trauma worker, advanced EMDR practitioner, clinical hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner. Helping you be your best possible self.