Peak 27: I am switching states

Heavens. So much to report since last post… The Compassionate Mind Workbook is brilliant. I’m only a few chapters in but it’s drawn my attention to one very important new insight about how the brain works.

I know about the limbic brain, with its amygdala which gets hijacked and then freezes the sophisticated, executive-functioning, social-interactioning prefrontal cortex. I know that this ancient part of the brain is responsible triggering the fight / fight / freeze / flop mechanisms. Good. Well there’s another model to bring into play.

The thinkers behind Compassion Focussed Therapy (Prof Paul Gilbert et al) draw attention to the fact that if we only had the old limbic brain, life might actually be easier. In the Compassionate Mind Workbook they give a great explanation.

Scenario 1 – Wild animal: Think of the zebra eating grass on the savanna. A lion comes along and chases the zebra. On this occasion, our zebra escapes. After which it will rest and tremor off the shock…. and then merrily return to eating grass on the savanna.

A human is different.

Scenario 2 – Human: Imagine the human is sitting outside a cafe eating cake and a lion approaches. The human reacts at lightning speed and flees for safety – good old limbic brain has saved the day. Eventually the coast is clear as the lion has been captured and taken away. Does the human go back to the pavement table and eat cake again? No! Because the human being has a snazzy, prefrontal cortex, thinking new brain – which the zebra doesn’t have. This ‘new’ brain offers up competencies like past-future thinking, worrying and anticipating. In terms of a trauma, this means the threat experienced earlier hangs about… The human won’t return to the pavement cafe table because of thoughts like “What if the lion comes back? Am I safe? What if I get eaten? Who will save me?” She then starts acting out feelings of anxiety, avoidance, in a fight/flight state. In other words, that ‘clever’ new thinking brain can trigger off the old feeling/reacting/limbic brain EVEN WITHOUT THE THREAT BEING PRESENT.

So for me this is a really good, simple explanation of why PTSD happened for me. It’s also just a really good marker of why we (and I) have an epidemic of anxiety. Along with epigenetic trauma (two world wars just over our shoulder) and ever more polarised politics etc etc… Anyway, in essence, by my understanding the tricky two brain model is like this:

Old brain = Limbic = Feeling = Anxiety / Avoidance / Aggression / Anger

New brain = Pre-frontal = Thinking = Imagination / Anticipation / Planning

Together they make for a ‘tricky brain’ two-part brain because they trigger each other off… unless and until we have mastered our Soothing System. 

The Soothing System, say Irons and Beaumont, is related to positive emotions which feel calming, peaceful and contented – and are more likely to be present when we feel SAFE & CARED FOR. Yes! This.

So, how can I reassure my THINKING new brain that I am indeed safe and cared for – and that it needn’t be triggering my FEELING limbic old brain with its imaginings, future worries, past memory angsting etc?

New thought. 

Ha! Yes. So true. I’ve been reading T Kumara this morning too: ‘Everything in your life is reflecting your thought vibration’ (p140). What is my particular thought vibration?

Sometimes: zebra standing before lion.

Yes, I somehow have an underlying tendency to…

Stop there. It’s not helpful for you to self-invalidate. 

Ok. Let me self-validate then.

I have the opportunity to select safety, strength and sovereignty at any moment. 

Yes. There is no ‘lion’ and no ‘zebra’ except in our minds and imaginations. 

We all (for which read ‘I’) like to play with power struggles of dominance, submission, don’t we? In the workplace hierarchy (formal or unspoken). In the drama triangle of persecutor, victim and rescuer. Is this just burning up valuable fuel?

It’s not so hard to get into sovereign mode when we are alone. (Ah, the bliss of the solitary moment, says my aspieness…) But how about when we are with others who are in the lion mode or zebra mode? How do we retain that sovereign balance?

It’s in the daily practice of emptying and rebooting the thinking brain (eg via actual meditation, not ‘seated thinking’). It’s in the decision to remain sovereign. It’s in the compassion for others, and taking the opportunity to extend love (instead of judgment) to those in either mode. It’s in the daily habit of limiting overthinking, hurry sickness or mass info processing… so that our prefrontal cortex can be found agile and dextrous, instead of limping along, when someone else comes into our (highly empathic) field, in strong lion or zebra mode. 

I actually find it easier to deal with people in lion (dominant, overbearing, threatening, flexing) mode than people in zebra (startled, afraid, retreating, submissive, fleeing) mode.

Which is your default mode? 

Ha! Zebra. Yes, two empathic, startled zebras in a room together, triggering eachother’s defense mechanisms… Not cool.

Let’s go back to notions of thought vibrations. Frequencies affect eachother. We are either being affected by another’s thought vibration (as a result of tuning into external conditions or another person’s energy field) or we are actively setting our own thought vibration. One of the positive uses of the new/thinking/prefrontal cortex brain is that it is highly competent at imagining. We can use imagination to set our own thought vibration according to our conscious will (vs according to old unbidden trauma memories and imaginings). So for example, if we observe a need arising in us, we can access the imagined scenario of the ‘need met’. We can then enter the scenario and feel the feelings of being there in that desired state. This is called vibration matching

You create the desired scenario with your imagination and then set your state to match that vibration… This is like NLP, and Abraham Hicks, right?

And Reality Transurfing. And ACIM. And Neville Goddard. All the New Thought teachers. 

One day I’m going to get all this…

You already have. Your achievement will be to rest in the knowledge that this is available to you all the time. You’ll need to be ready to give up your little habit of efforting and striving. 

But… I have to earn a living. And that requires the input of energy and determination.

The opposite of ‘efforting & striving’ is not ‘apathy & zoning out’. 

Did you need to effort to be offered the two free qualification trainings you have been given, out of the blue, in the last three years? 

No. But I did have a fairly clear vision which might have helped manifest them…

Lightly held. A clear vision lightly held. This is what we are talking about. 

What is your new clear vision? 

Living a healthy balance in which I work successfully and also have energy for family, love, travel, service, adventure…

What are you prepared to give up for that? 

Complexity. Jazz-handing. Relying on handouts/hand-ups from others. Submissiveness. Ambition to be recognised and approved of by glamorous ‘lions’.

So, you are happy to be neither lion nor zebra? 


What do you fear happening if you have a worklife balance that earns you money without burning you out? 

Feeling I don’t deserve it. Getting bored. Getting disconnected.

What can you do to overcome that? 

Assure that the work I am getting paid for makes my soul sing.

And what does that work look like? 

Morning writing, afternoon remote casework.

And thus, being able to work from anywhere in the world. 

But what about all that training you’re offering? 

I hear you. Can I do a final push on that, and then start to plug the remote casework?

Of course. And maybe knowing that the remote casework is the next step, will help you get the training marketing out there. 

Yes! Because I’ll be less attached to it.

I also need to less attached to getting the biofeedback from approval gaining…

Let’s focus on self-soothing. All is well. 

To finish…?

Your observations on sovereignty are timely. This is a theme worth working with. If you can download into your self a new notion of self-sovereignty you will be well on your way to decommissioning the zebra mechanism, and on your way towards commissioning a new soothing system. The sovereignty protocol is not about manifesting ego or ruling powers (that would be lion mode). We are talking about self-sovereignty whereby your mood is simply not set to ‘vibrationally match what we see’. Instead, self-sovereignty teaches us that we can select a programme (like a child decides what ‘let’s pretend’ game to play) and then vibrationally match that playstate. Sovereignty 101 says ‘let’s play kings and queens’ – and practises ‘swanning about’ in a full sense of inner authority. Sovereignty 102 says ‘let’s play switching states – now I’m going to imagine myself as …. and now …. and now …’ It’s all about practising setting the inner state at will, and refining the choices, and seeing what happens in our outer reality when we do indeed undertake vibration matching with fun, free, flowing high frequency states. 

This is truly beautiful. Thank you. Key phrases for me are: vibration matching; let’s pretend; swanning about; switching states; self-sovereignty; select a programme; refining the choices; fun, free, flowing. What is the phrase to work with?

Switching states for vibrational matching. Getting back into taking on roles like you did as an actor, but this time choosing your characters really selectively! 

No more Abigail or Nora etc…

Precisely. New characters for a new paradigm in a new era within a new Earth. 

I get you. All the high frequency, new earth archetypes…

Not so much archetypes as ‘beings’. Think about the word ‘being’ in human being. Consider the notion of ‘human doing’. You are actually doing human while being pure eternal consciousness. Do your humanness differently, according to the knowledge of eternity. Bring some heaven to earth. 

When I switch off my ‘human doing’ brain with all of its electrical surge energy, I can access that heaven-on-earth state.

Good. So for now play with ‘switching states’ actively, playfully, matching vibrations of characters in a supremely uplifting play, floating on air, and grounding deeply, all the time practising the ‘sovereign self’ skills of consciously selecting the better-feeling state at all times. 

Phew… What a great session. Thank you. I’ll report back. This has been a roller coaster and a learning curve. Thank you for my new practice.

I am switching states

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