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Is Your Nervous System Keeping You Stuck in Fatigue?


Did you know that we can only experience as much change, including positive healing change, as what our nervous systems will allow?

In fact the nervous system can actually be a type of prison if we don’t become aware of this connection.

I’m pretty sure that somewhere along the line you’ve been told that you can overcome your fatigue by stressing less or resting more, right? And, if you’re like most of my clients, you have worked hard at this and set your mind to it to make it happen.

Does this sound like you?

And then what happens?

Most likely, not much change. Or it’s just plain difficult to do.

That’s because you can only achieve as much expansion and change as what your nervous system feels safe with and, ultimately, any change is seen as uncertain and therefore threatening.

Even when the way we currently operate is really not serving us. Such as constantly or regularly feeling overwhelm, anxiety, urgency, and scarcity.

But let’s try an exercise – imagine that you regularly feel calm, energised, centered and whole and drop into your body to notice how you feel about that and what your body response is…….

I’m sure there’ll be some relief there. However, there may also be some level of contraction in your body. This is your default fear response and it’s triggered when your mind and nervous system perceives something as threatening. Ultimately, healing = change and change is scary.

Also, there may be conscious or unconscious fears like ‘What if I get better and then worse again?’, or “What if being healed means being more still and quiet which makes me feel vulnerable?” or  “What if people are threatened by me being stronger and healthier?” Other fears may include “What if people no longer what to support me if I am healthy?” or  “What if I overdo it again when I have more energy?

After all, you’ve become familiar with not being vital, strong, empowered, joyful and calm. And there are fears of abandonment, rejection and other threats that can be kicked up when we consider any change.

And more than likely, on some level when you were growing up, these are the very things that calibrated your nervous system. Fears of abandonment, rejection, loss of control etc may have created your nervous system setting for life. When we hold unconscious core beliefs like ‘life is a struggle’ or ‘life is dangerous’ or ‘I am alone’ we then have a nervous system that is regulated at that level of threat.

And here’s the crazy part.

We then unconsciously act from this nervous system setting. Firstly, we take actions that confirm or match our belief systems so that we don’t have to face something different or uncertain and can remain with what is known. Secondly, when our nervous systems are not well regulated we often don’t think very well and do silly things.

Like deciding to take the dogs and children for a walk at the same time. It would normally be a lot easier to just walk the dogs or just the children but, no, why not take them all? (usually also driven by a scarcity belief i.e. ‘there is not enough time’). And, of course, the result can often end up being a dog show. Pardon the pun! (Yes, this is coming from personal experience when I had little kids and crazy dogs at the park together!!) And, of course, the children and dogs are super tuned in to your nervous system activation (stress) so they start acting out even more.

Or it’s the way you always leave things to the last minute, or leave the house 5 minutes late for everything when it would be more regulating to be able to arrive early and not be overwhelmed by coming into a loud, busy place or having to face that stress of knowing you’re running late. Our nervous system settings can be what makes us choose partners who are abusive or absent. And saying yes to too many obligations and finding ourselves once again completely swamped or overwhelmed.

THIS CAN BE WHY IT’S SO DAMN DIFFICULT TO GET OUT OF FATIGUE. When we keep on making choices and taking actions that activate our nervous systems it’s because our nervous systems are already activated and this is what the nervous system knows.

Slowing down and stressing less is incredibly difficult if you don’t FIRST regulate your nervous system. It has to start with your body first and the rest follows. When you regulate your nervous system first you can choose different, more nourishing and healing behaviours and responses. When you regulate your nervous system first it also enables physical healing and balance to take place because you can’t heal when you’re in fight, flight or freeze mode for most of your life.

To get you started here’s one way in which you can begin regulating your nervous system. You can also try this technique if you have less time.

Of course, you also have to recognise that you’re activated. Often our nervous system activation is such a default we just think it’s normal. That is why I spend a lot of time with my clients simply getting them connected to their bodies and recognising what nervous system activation looks and feels like. For now, just live in the question – “am I as calm as I could be right now?” Explore this through feeling into your body and feeling for contraction and tension versus expansion and relaxation.

And I’d love to hear your feedback on this so please let me know………


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  1. Very interesting read. For me it feels like i am living in a bad comfort zone to afraid to take the first step into a better comfort zone. Sometimes one needs a helping hand to get you take that step. If only….

    1. I always say that awareness and being conscious of what isn’t working is already a big step. If we remain unconscious then nothing changes but if we become aware of the patterns, the coping mechanisms and the ways of responding to life that are not serving us (with compassion, curiosity and free from judgement) that is already a big step in the direction of creating change. And inviting change. This can also be about holding gentle compassion and non-judgement for the part of you that is afraid of change. She’ll be a younger part of you. Maybe get to know here a bit more – talk to her, write a letter to her… See how that feels

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