Private 7: Get that ‘rewarding’ feeling

So, dear Body, how are we feeling after working on ‘Always Tense’ for a bit?

Body: Learning to ‘complete the stress response cycle‘ has been a game-changer. We like it very much indeed. Thank you! 

Text and image on the book Burnout by Amelia and Emily Nagoski
Burnout by Amelia and Emily Nagoski

I know right?! Powerful stuff. And to do this stuff consciously, and watch the body respond in oxytocin/endorphin shifts, is pure magic. I feel like I’m developing the ability to engage in much more fulfilling and diverse days (out on the savanna, lion-wrestling) because my body now more-readily knows I’ll make it back to the village and the tribe and all will be safe.

Previously I’d thought of de-stressing activities as a kind of ‘nice to have’ addition, or ‘lifestyle choice’ – but overall, yet more ‘activities to force into the day’. Now I see that, if I tend towards completing the stress response cycle consciously each day (and in greater depth at weekends, and eg via TRE/breathing exercises), I’ll have my body’s trust and willingness to go back out on to the savanna to ‘play’ again the following day. Awesome.

Body: Recognising that the body and mind need conscious wavelength variation, escalation/de-escalation, ramping up/ramping down, is all part of the fun of being able to do the things that fulfil, nourish, excite and soothe. Like this:

Image result for wavelengths variation

Ah yes, and I’m also reminded of Paul Gilbert’s three Emotional Regulation Systems:

Paul Gilbert's Three Emotional Regulation Systems
Paul Gilbert’s Three Emotional Regulation Systems

When the Drive System and the Soothing System really commit to collaborating, they kind of learn to edge out the would-be-ever-dominant Threat System. Right?

Right. That’s a committed relationship required between the Drive and Soothing systems. Immense trust required between them. “I’ll do this for you, if you do this for me.”

Yeah! Because, although I long for relaxation/safety/losing weight/oxytocin/opiates (readily available via Soothing) it appears I crave the dopamine rush of the Drive System, which maybe is what stops me settling with ‘at-home/online’ work, for example? But hang on, what is this ‘nucleus accumbens‘ mentioned in the Drive system?

*Googles:nucleus accumbens*

CRUMBS, man! Why did I not know about the nucleus accumbens before?! It seems it may be key in understanding some of my major personal topics like depression, executive functioning, reward, motivation, Getting Stuff Done, addiction……

Some brief google results:

  • ‘There is accumulating evidence that the nucleus accumbens (NAc) plays an important role in the pathophysiology of depression. Given that clinical depression is marked by anhedonia (diminished interest or pleasure), dysfunction of the brain reward pathway has been suggested as contributing to the pathophysiology of depression.’
  •  ‘As a whole, the nucleus accumbens has a significant role in the cognitive processing of motivation, aversion, reward (i.e., incentive salience, pleasure, and positive reinforcement), and reinforcement learning (e.g., Pavlovian-instrumental transfer); hence, it has a significant role in addiction.’
  • ‘The nucleus accumbens definitely plays a central role in the reward circuit. Its operation is based chiefly on two essential neurotransmitters: dopamine, which promotes desire, and serotonin, whose effects include satiety and inhibition.’
I am excited to think more about my aversion/reward dichotomy! Reward. Reward. Reinforcement. Reward. This is good. Time to get up.
Get that ‘rewarding’ feeling


PS. This touches on compassion satisfaction too – the antidote to compassion fatigue. Important!!

PPS. I dreamt last night of finding a book in a bookshop and it was just like DoDs. It was stylised as FICTION and cutely illustrated with ink images of the ‘character’ and laid out in funky ways across the page. A thick-ish hardback: c365 pages = 1 a day / year in the life of this whimsical character rather like  a person I know… It was placed at eyeline level on one of those rotating display stands… because it was pretty. I took a copy and held it tight… “This!” I thought. “This is how DoDs needs to be.”

So are we thinking Adrian Mole, Bridget Jones..? Over to Ariel Compton?

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