Surviving to Thriving and Beyond

Experiences that we have as children can consequently affect our behaviour as adults. Children from a variety of different backgrounds or cultures who may have experienced neglect, emotional/psychological, physical or sexual abuse have lived in a state of high stress. In order to survive their reptilian brains (brain stem governs survival) have taken over so that they can from a very primitive perspective survive as an organism. Their basic focus then becomes on getting through each day; finding enough to eat, not getting hit or shouted at. When the focus is on survival, the thinking brain isn’t required so much from the primitive brain’s perspective. Therefore reading, writing and arithmetic are not seen as important to the basic organism’s need to survive and so the part of the brain that governs survival disables to a certain extent the functioning of the neo-cortex. Survival therefore trumps thriving. Education suffers!
This also applies to us as adults. When we are living in a constant state of fear, anger and stress ie working at a job we hate; complying to others wishes; pleasing others and staying in unhealthy relationships, ignoring our dreams, and the urges of our higher selves, it can become too scary to consider change.
This stressful state of being keeps us in flight, fright or freeze mode even when actual danger has passed and long after traumatic events have taken place. Anxiety is often heightened when the thinking brain has shut down and its almost impossible to reason and process emotions as the survival part of the brain is still feeling like it needs to RUN.
Interestingly the lizard brain cares what everyone else thinks, “because status in the tribe is essential to its survival…”
The reptilian brain is a good friend in a crisis, but not one we want active all the time. Therapeutic intervention helps to overcome the impulses of the survival mechanism when it is no longer needed but is active all the time. BWRT by Creator Terence Watts is a particularly helpful therapy for creating new loops for the brain to develop more helpful pathways and therefore thoughts and behaviours. If you wish to look into this further please go to
When you feel anxious and out of control, take a moment, pause – stop and breathe. Breathe in and out, deeply and slowly, right down and into your belly. This calms your flight or fight response, the mind will follow and will help you to detach from the impulses of the reptilian brain and bring the unconscious fear into awareness. You can then consciously shift your focus to the neo-cortex bringing you back into cognition and the ability to respond accordingly.
Source: Edwina Shaw