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Snippet of Unlocking Us: Brené with Emily and Amelia Nagoski on Burnout and How to Complete the Stress Cycle

Last Played: February 08, 2021
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Burnout. We're all experiencing it and we're all desperate for a way through it. In this snippet, Brené interviews Drs. Emily and Amelia Nagoski about the whys behind why we get "stuck" in stress and the transformative process of moving through emotions to complete the stressor cycle. The ways our bodies and brains deal with stress are very different, and understanding those differences can help us move beyond emotional exhaustion.
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the stress itself will kill you faster than the stressor will. Unless you do something to complete the stress response cycle. While you're managing the days stressor, your body is managing the days stress. And it's also absolutely essential to your well being. The way sleeping and eating are essential that you give your body. The resource is it needs to complete the stress response cycle that has been activated. Okay, so why we get stuck number one, tell me about chronic stressor, chronic stress. This is the straightforward, Like you're working on a big work project and you work on it really hard. And, you know, you've got to complete the stress response cycle that was activated by this big project at the end of the day. So you get home and you do whatever the thing is like, Do you have a thing that, you know, complete your stress response cycle, like when you do what you're gonna feel better? Renee? Yeah, You do your walk and you're like, Oh, I feel so much better and you hang out with your family and you eat something great. And then you get a good night's sleep and you wake up in the morning. And there's the big project for you to work on again. And so you have tow do the same thing to, like, drain off the stress again. And if your stress level outpaces the resources you have available to drain off the stress, it will keep accumulating. I'm just gonna take a deep breath here. Okay? Number two. The second reason we get stuck Social appropriateness, Yeah, yeah. The expectations in particular for women are that we never show anger never expressed any intense emotions at all. Member, we have to be pretty happy and yet calm the general and attended these of others. So in order to be safe in the world in order to meet people's expectations in order to not get fired from our jobs, we have to smile and be nice to the asshole. And the smart safe thing to do in those moments is to bury that shit down and save it for when you get home and then take it out on your husband. Is that hopefully not? Hopefully you go for a walk and eat something delicious and hug your family. And yes, but that is what would happen unless you deal with it. Separate. So number three is kind of tied to number two in some ways so social appropriate. So the reason we get stack one chronic stress, too social appropriateness and three safety. And this is the guy that's yelling, you know, yelling at you from the street and you just can't turn and confront that. Hey, baby, why don't you smile and you wanna punch that guy in the face? But would punching him in the face actually make you safer? Probably not. Will probably escalate the situation. So the safe choices toe Hang on to that for a minute till you get someplace safe and then deal with the stressor. The deal with the stress on its own separately. Okay, I want you Thio, and I realize I'm acknowledging going into this, we're gonna get through like the first three chapters of this book. But I think this is enough to change your life. And then you can get the book. I want you to walk us through fight flight and then para sympathetically freeze. Can you Can you tell us about that and how that relates to all of this? So fight and flight are the things we're used to hearing about. When we were in high school, we learned from Mr Twilley, our science teacher, about the fight or flight response, which is the sympathetic go action. And less than a second, your brain assesses a potential threat as something that you're most likely to survive by running away, in which case you get the flight emotions. So this is everything from worry thio anxiety to fear to terror all the different fears, depending on the intensity of what's happening on. But these are the avoid responses, so it motivates you to be active in running away. And then sometimes in that split second assessment will think this is a threat. You can survive best by fighting, and this is an approach motivation that's like everything from irritation and annoyance up through frustration and anger and ultimately rage that pushes you to move toward the threat so that you could destroy it. And these air, both so they're action oriented, either move away or move toward in order to, like, deal with the stress or on then under life threat circumstances. So your brain assesses the threat, and it's like, nope, you are too slow to run. You are too weak to fight. Your best chance of survival here is to slam on the breaks in the middle of all this hoop and play dead. So when you see this in the wild, the gazelle is running away from the line. The lion's teeth chomp into the hip of the gazelle on What does the gazelle do? It can't keep running. The lion has its teeth. In her eso, she flaps of the ground. Lyon feels all smug and wanders the way to go meet her cubs to feed on the gazelle. And this is when the glorious thing happens. So the gas pedal. The sympathetic nervous system has been, like press down hard and right in the middle of that big gas pedal stress response. Bam! The break slams on. Everything shuts down when the threat goes away. That break begins gently to come off, and when you're watching the gazelle lying there, it will start to shutter on. Its paws will shake in the airs, hooves will shake, and what's happening is all the motor patterns that were activated but got interrupted has the brake comes off, their completing their cycle. They're moving through what was already activated in the central nervous system, and it's just finishing out what was already there. So it purges and then the gazelle stands up and it shakes itself often goes, and it rots away. That's when the threat goes away. The break can unlock and theano Immel moves through the rest of it. And this happens for humans, often in the case of trauma, one of the best examples of it. There's a brilliant book called In an unspoken voice by Peter Levine, who is the originator of somatic experiencing. He tells the story being hit by a car. He's a pedestrian road, he's hit by a car, and he very vividly recounts the experience of feeling the parasympathetic break sympathetic means with emotion. Parasympathetic means beyond emotion, so everything shuts down. This is a life threat situation. He lies there, and as he's in the ambulance, he notices that he can feel the break unlocking because he does this for a living, and he, like, lets his shoulder shrug up, and he lets his hands push flat out. And these are these small movements of allowing his body to release the thing that it needs to do a lot of people who have surgery when they come out from under anesthesia, which is medically induced. Freeze will shiver and shake, and they feel like they're cold and they might be cold. But a lot of it is that shivering is part of your break. Releasing and allowing them Thio shift back up into a healthy state. All of that is fine and good, and it works in gazelles, and it works in human beings to. But there is a barrier that gets in our way. We all know about fighting flight. Most of us even know about freeze. Anybody who reads the book does yes, yeah, eso. But the problem is that there's a kind of a hierarchy, a social ranking system. We think that fight is better, and if you can't fight well, at least you could flee. And if you freeze, that means that you're weak and you fail. They're all morally neutral. They're all things that happen because you're nervous. System, in its wisdom, made a decision, and it's not that when you freeze your week or you failed when you freeze, your body saved, you freezes just as heroic as fight or flight and the shame that's associated with flight and especially freeze eyes, a thing that stops people from recovering from trauma because they don't allow themselves to feel a thing because they're ashamed. It's really interesting. I think that's true, because shame often hijacks that same system, and the shame often can move us into flight, fight or freeze. And then people will always say, Yeah, I'd rather respond to shame with shame. I'd rather respond to aggression with aggression. I'd rather walk away. But when I do that whole, like bunny and the headlight thing and I can't think of anything to say until later, because my brain shuts down, that's just week. I mean, so there is that hierarchical sense of the tough folks fight. Then they run. But on Lee, the week people freeze. It's the deer in the headlight kind of thing. When this is our body knows best what to do in these circumstances, you know, it's just it's hard
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