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My brain would be perfect for a caveman. For me, not so much.
Back in the day when people needed to suss out danger and act quickly, fight, and hunt for food, fight or flight was a very useful mechanism. Don’t get me wrong, fight or flight is still a useful mechanism in dangerous situations and has the power to save lives – fear, alone, has the power to save lives – but somewhere along the line, my little brain has reverted back to the caveman era, and operates to be aware of danger 24/7. This is, essentially, what PTSD is: being on high alert pretty much all of the time.
If, like me, you’re dealing with a caveman brain, here’s my advice.
- Compassion is absolutely key. Getting frustrated with yourself only heightens a shitty experience.
- Building up a ‘portfolio’ of successful events – victories – allows you to retrain your inner Caveman, reminding it that things are okay.
- Using grounding techniques can help bring you back into the present.
- Recognise that fear is a human reaction and don’t beat yourself up about it – fear could and may save your life. A life without fear sounds blissful, doesn’t it? But actually, it could be pretty dangerous.
- Your brain is literally just trying to look out for you. Ok, it’s a bit overprotective, but credit where credit is due. Although it’s hard, try to be kind and understanding. I changed my whole perception of my brain by learning self compassion – I thought that my mind was out to get me and found it difficult to maintain a good relationship with myself as a result, but when you think about it, it’s just trying to prevent you from getting into danger. You just need to teach it that some things it perceives as dangerous are actually totally ok.