Stress & Trauma Is Holding You & Your Health Hostage
Now more than ever, Western Society is starting to understand the implications of emotions, thoughts, and the human condition for our health, performance, and quality of life. Western Culture is beginning to understand mechanistic levers behind these concepts, NBA players are speaking out on mental health, and there’s even a pop version of mindfulness taking off in the mainstream. A positive shift in collective consciousness is brewing!
Here’s the thing-a simple understanding in how this works can truly change your life. By identifying areas where this shows up in your life, you can then use some simple biological rewiring techniques to make serious improvements in your health, athletic performance, fitness, and day-to-day life.
Are you with me? Let’s unpack this together.
Ghost In The Machine
What if I told you stress and trauma can get ‘stored’ in your nervous system? No matter how much personal growth, emotional IQ, and intellect you’ve amassed, you can still have embedded trauma in your lower nervous system.
What’s worse? Like a ghost in the machine, these neurological ‘glitches’ can limit your potential in life, cripple your health, scramble your day-to-day living experience, and rob you of your fitness and athletic performance.
You see, a stressful period in life, an abnormal birth, a traumatic event, a car crash, or a simple misunderstanding at an early age can all create a fight/flight/freeze (more like flight/freeze) fear response in your nervous system. This means some combination of various parts of the brain lit up as a neural combination during some early life fear-entrenched state.
Why is this important? Because at this point in time, your brain lit up with a certain neural combination-combined with neurogenic sensations in your physical body-and you got through whatever stressful event transpired. This leaves a biological imprint-like a neural firing strategy-that can light up over and over throughout your life in the face of challenge…and opportunity.
These firing combos-often the amygdala, zyphoid nucleus, and forebrain interaction-can be quite tricky. Whereas the former two are responsible for fear response (see The Owl Studies), the forebrain projects meaning onto experience-this means that this code can get downloaded as your way of dealing with things.
By the way, trauma isn’t exclusive to PTSD, rape, trauma, ghetto living-though hopefully this gives you a whole nother level of empathy for those folks-sometimes trauma is a misunderstanding.
That time you got picked last on the playground? Maybe that manifests as fear of failure or social anxiety. That pre-verbal trauma you can’t even remember? Perhaps that’s an abandonment phobia or an attachment wound. That scolding you got from your dad that shook you? Maybe you wanting to quit your job and go full-board as an entrepreneur sees your nervous system reaching out and strangling you. You know logically what you SHOULD do. You know something is right for you. But the comfort of where you’re at now doesn’t contain as much neurological quicksand…so guess what? You don’t change. You don’t evolve. You don’t succeed at the level you should and live the life you deserve.
Don’t believe me yet? In rodent models, scientists have set them up to play Last Man Standing/King Of The Hill Games. Guess what happens to the rat who loses. He keeps losing. Over…And over…And over. The winning rodent comes out on top 80-90% of the time. These same areas of research also demonstrate neural firing patterns that light up perpetually, as well.
Ain’t that the pits?
How To Rewire
The profound upside? We can harness our understanding of these same biological mechanisms to rewire your nervous system to change your health, performance-and life!
We’ve established that while logically-you understand triggering situations and what you need to do-your nervous system sabotages you by lighting up similar arousal sensations that create limiting beliefs, causing you to fail and/or suffer-this is essentially your body’s way to 'protect you'. Protecting you is what your brain thinks it's doing-it doesn't know the difference between these life events versus a 300 lb tiger chasing you. Flight/Freeze-thank you, evolution.
Quick Review: We know that emotions-physiology is a feedback loop with biological characteristics. This means that thoughts/emotions/spiritual state influences the physical body, and your physiology can influences thought coding, emotions, etc.
Thinking negative thoughts, stressed, or even dealing with learned helplessness? You're probably dealing with a nasty physical response, such as an estrogen cascade. Have poor breathing habits resulting in CO2 tolerance issues? You're probably thinking negative thoughts and dealing with high arousal states, such as anxiety.
One way or another, the body keeps the score. So what do we do about it?
Personalized breath work fingerprints (or protocols), meditation, diet modifications, psychedelics, somatic experiencing exercises, exercise modifications, and other methods can help us rewire this neural combinations so that you can level up in life, whether it's on the court, in the office, or in your personal life.
In addition to simply giving a shit, this is why-in my practice-I take such an insistent interest in getting to know someone and their limiters-health and fitness-related or otherwise. It’s why I’ve integrated some of the above protocols, neurofeedback, Omegawave, and more. From here, our services attempt to intervene in relevant terrains for total human optimization-this includes going beyond diet and exercise, while even augmenting those terrains to conquer quality of life modifiers, such as fear, anxiety, trauma, and beyond.
If you are dealing with any of these challenges, or find you wilt in states of high arousal, consider focusing on the present and integrating some of these biological integrations to manage your state. Remember, that window of plasticity never closes. This means it’s not too late to become the neural organism you were meant to be.
We can retune. We can rebuild. We can rewire.
Live. Adapt. Evolve.
Dr. Ray Peat
Trauma Dynamics; Tapping; EMDR; TRE
Russian Sport Science; Inc. Theory Of Functional Systems by P.K. Anokhin
Self-Directed Adaptive Plasticity