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Respond vs. React

Updated: May 6, 2021

We have talked about our pinky brains and how we automatically respond based on our perception of what is dangerous and what is safe. We have talked about the 5 Second Rule and how it can change the story in the moment and take us from War to Peace in our hearts. Care Partnering and disease can be hard and confusing, but also threatens everything we know to be normal, safe and true. I have done some research and I thought I would share it with you in regards to how the brain reacts to threats.

Did you know that our bodies respond the same to emotional threats as it does to physical threats. The study of the brain shows us that there are 5 threat domains that can be triggered, you can have one triggered or you can have multiple domains affected at a time. This filled a huge hole of understanding for me in regards to what happened in the moment before we feel mentally and physically attacked. If you have not figured it out yet, I am a “why” person, I need to understand why things are happening, what I can do to control it, intercept it or best case scenario, negate the uncomfortable situation forever. When we understand “why” we can accept, adjust and move on.

I believe understanding the 5 domains that are threatened when we are emotionally triggered will help us to understand how we are being affected and what kind of buffers we can put into place but most importantly help us to adjust the stories we tell ourselves about what is happening in the moment. SCARF is the acronym used to describe the different domains. (David Rock

S - Status - our relative importance to others do we feel like we belong and are connected

C - Certainty - our ability to predict the future - when there is illness the future is really uncertain (this explains a lot)

A - Autonomy - your sense of control over events - How much control do we have with illnesses?

R - Relatedness - How safe and connected we feel in our relationships. Roles and relationships change as we take on Care Partner roles.

F - Fairness - How fair we perceive exchanges among people to be. Nothing about getting a chronic disease ever feels fair.

It is all about how we support ourselves in the moment and the story we tell ourselves about the situation. Care partnering and chronic disease changes everything... Wrap the SCARF around what is happening to you along life’s journey and how the domains have been affected... Does it explain a lot? Does it help you to identify the feelings and reactions that you are having? How could you change the story to find the peace you need in it to be able to respond?

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