No products in the cart.
Different parts of our brains are responsible for the four responses we often default to when in a situation we perceive as threatening: people-pleasing (hyper-socialisation), fight, flight, and freeze. Because these responses don’t distinguish between real and perceived threat, it doesn’t matter whether we are actually in danger or not: most often we’ll go into one of these responses in everyday situations when in fact we’re perfectly safe, such as when we’re socialising in a large group or in a disagreement with someone we love.
We’re actually talking about four different survival responses. In brief: hyper-socialisation appears as trying to keep everyone happy. This could involve telling lots of jokes, giving lots of compliments, or smiling and laughing much more than you might otherwise. The fight response can manifest as outright aggression, or as trying to exert control over a situation. Flight causes us to want to disengage, run away, and hide, while freeze involves a level of dissociation where we literally freeze up, often becoming unable to move or act.
These are emotional responses which may have been caused by unresolved trauma at some point in our history, and triggered by a current event. The more evolved part of our brain, our neocortex, would allow us to rationalise and notice that we are not in any real danger and that we don’t need to fight or dissociate. But this part of our brain doesn’t respond as quickly as the older limbic system, and instead our survival instincts kick in much faster and prevent us from behaving the way we would like to.
If this happens often and prevents you from the intimacy and anxiety-free social life you want, there are things you can do. Of course therapy may be useful, but there are also ways of helping yourself to move through these responses so they have less power over your behaviour.
The first thing to do is to become acquainted with the behaviour your stress response triggers. For people with social anxiety, socialising in groups could go one of several ways: perhaps a hyper-socialising response where they go into people-pleasing mode, desperately trying to impress everyone in the room, or a shut-down frozen response where they feel completely unable to form sentences.
Whatever the situation you struggle with, and the response it elicits, notice what happens in your body. Do you start biting your fingernails or feeling your face going red? Do you feel tingling in your limbs or squirming in your belly? Becoming more connected to your body helps to identify when your limbic system is kicking in, which is the first step to taking away its control.
This isn’t an overnight process, but with practice you can learn the patterns that signify you’re becoming stressed before it spirals too far.
Once you’re able to notice when you start to move into one of these responses you can work with it to move into a less anxious place. Because the fight or flight response comes from the oldest part of our brain in evolutionary terms, the trick is to stop functioning from this place and instead re-engage our neocortex so that more rational behaviour can take over again.
Grounding exercises are a good way to achieve this: asking the brain to notice the body, the environment, and acknowledge who, what, and where we are. Reminding yourself of the actual safe situation you are in rather than the perceived threat. When you first begin practicing this it may help, if possible, to take yourself into a quiet place for a few moments.
You can begin by noticing all the places your body is currently in contact with the earth, maybe your feet on the floor and your buttocks on a chair. Feel the contact, your weight, and the support of the surface. Then move your attention through the rest of your body, noticing each part in turn.
Next, take in your environment, noticing details: perhaps counting how many things of a certain colour you can see. This further helps to bring you back into the part of your brain that can analyse your current situation in a more measured way.
Finally, the breath can be helpful too. Breathing usually becomes shallow and high up in the chest when we’re stressed; by slowing the breath down and bringing it deeper into the belly you can help to move yourself out of anxiety.
This is a process that takes patience: you’re trying to change potentially deeply ingrained patterns of behaviour, which could take a lot of conscious effort. These stress responses can feel familiar and comfortable, even if we regret our behaviour later. Finding a healthier version of comfortable takes time.
Finding compassion for yourself, both for the stress responses you live with and the time and effort it may take to overcome them, is important too. We all live with patterns that hinder our expression in some way because they’re not an easy thing to recognise or change, and recognising this can help to ease the journey.
Want more guides like this one (and occasional other freebies) delivered to your inbox every so often? Just pop your email address in the box. I won’t pass your details on to anyone else and you can unsubscribe any time.
I offer tools, resources, and coaching for the curious and ready: folks who are longing for deeper connection, trust, and flow in their relationships.
Instead of making anxiety a problem that needs to be fixed, we can learn to work with it rather than against it, transforming vulnerable places into deeper presence and connection. I’ve put together ten simple tools you can use in your relationships to do just that.Grab your Ten Embodied Tools for Reconnection PDF
|__cfduid||1 month||The cookie is used by cdn services like CloudFare to identify individual clients behind a shared IP address and apply security settings on a per-client basis. It does not correspond to any user ID in the web application and does not store any personally identifiable information.|
|AWSALBCORS||7 days||This cookie is used for load balancing services provded by Amazon inorder to optimize the user experience. Amazon has updated the ALB and CLB so that customers can continue to use the CORS request with stickness.|
|cookielawinfo-checbox-analytics||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Analytics".|
|cookielawinfo-checbox-functional||11 months||The cookie is set by GDPR cookie consent to record the user consent for the cookies in the category "Functional".|
|cookielawinfo-checbox-others||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Other.|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-necessary||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Necessary".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-performance||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Performance".|
|laravel_session||2 days||laravel uses laravel_session to identify a session instance for a user, this can be changed|
|wordpress_test_cookie||session||This cookie is used to check if the cookies are enabled on the users' browser.|
|XSRF-TOKEN||2 days||The cookie is set by Wix website building platform on Wix website. The cookie is used for security purposes.|
|__cf_bm||30 minutes||This cookie is set by CloudFare. The cookie is used to support Cloudfare Bot Management.|
|_ga||2 years||This cookie is installed by Google Analytics. The cookie is used to calculate visitor, session, campaign data and keep track of site usage for the site's analytics report. The cookies store information anonymously and assign a randomly generated number to identify unique visitors.|
|_gid||1 day||This cookie is installed by Google Analytics. The cookie is used to store information of how visitors use a website and helps in creating an analytics report of how the wbsite is doing. The data collected including the number visitors, the source where they have come from, and the pages viisted in an anonymous form.|
|tk_ai||5 years||Gathers information for WordPress by themselves, first party analytics tool about how WP services are used. A collection of internal metrics for user activity, used to improve user experience.|
|tk_lr||1 year||This cookie is set by JetPack plugin on sites using WooCommerce. This is a referral cookie used for analyzing referrer behavior for Jetpack|
|tk_or||5 years||This cookie is set by JetPack plugin on sites using WooCommerce. This is a referral cookie used for analyzing referrer behavior for Jetpack|
|tk_qs||30 minutes||Gathers information for WordPress by themselves, first party analytics tool about how WP services are used. A collection of internal metrics for user activity, used to improve user experience.|
|tk_r3d||3 days||The cookie is installed by JetPack. Used for the internal metrics fo user activities to improve user experience|
|_fbp||3 months||This cookie is set by Facebook to deliver advertisement when they are on Facebook or a digital platform powered by Facebook advertising after visiting this website.|
|fr||3 months||The cookie is set by Facebook to show relevant advertisments to the users and measure and improve the advertisements. The cookie also tracks the behavior of the user across the web on sites that have Facebook pixel or Facebook social plugin.|
|NID||6 months||This cookie is used to a profile based on user's interest and display personalized ads to the users.|
|_gat_UA-137186707-1||1 minute||No description|
|AWSALB||7 days||AWSALB is a cookie generated by the Application load balancer in the Amazon Web Services. It works slightly different from AWSELB.|
|S||1 hour||No description|