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What’s Wrong With My Mind?

Mental health issues are reaching near epidemic proportions and most treatments focus on the symptoms, not the root cause.

Mental health problems and many chronic health conditions stem from emotionally charged traumatic events, called emotional memory images (EMIs) from our past that our subconscious minds have not effectively processed. When these EMIs are triggered we are in a very real sense still living in the past, and our behaviour, habits, and what we believe ourselves to be capable of is influenced by these outdated self-images.

When these traumatic events took place we perceived them as life threatening and we did not have the resources to deal with them. But even as we get older and become more capable with dealing with life’s challenges, if we come across an event that remotely resembles the initial trauma then our subconscious triggers a stress response, otherwise known as the fight or flight (or freeze) response.

In order to respond quickly enough to the danger in our environment, blood and oxygen are diverted away from our thinking brain, the neo cortex, to the reptilian brain. Our subconscious signals to the amygdala to prepare the body for conflict, suddenly we no longer have control of the situation, and we can only react with fighting, running away, or freezing.

Unaware that the real trigger of this stress response occurred in our past (often decades ago) we retrofit the cause of this stress we’re feeling in the present, deceiving ourselves into believing that it’s what’s going on in front of us right now that is the source of our problems, and justifying unconsciously triggered behaviour that doesn’t serve us.

The fight or flight response was particularly effective in our history when we could literally fight with a sword whoever or whatever was threatening us, or run away. Things are a little bit different in the modern era, and the biggest perceived threats to our survival are no longer things we can challenge to a duel or run away from: a bullying boss, a difficult relative, endless traffic jams, or the news. In lieu of fight or flight, our subconscious turns to the most primitive (and still the most prevalent) stress response: FREEZE! This freeze response results in procrastination, avoidance, diversion and distraction from our problems – an automatic reaction designed to maintain our survival but that only makes our situation worse.

The stress response was originally meant to be switched on temporarily until we’d dealt with the threat, but the presence of myriad environmental stressors means we stay in this state for much longer than we’re “supposed” to. In this hyper-vigilant state, our subconscious mind mistakenly believes we’re constantly in mortal peril, and so it puts us into survival mode, shutting down all nonessential biological processes and quickly using up precious biological and mental resources to keep us safe. Our mitochondria shuts down energy production so that our cellular resources aren’t hijacked by an external threat, and dead cells stop being cleared up. Inflammation – the body’s signal to get ready to fight – is increased and we go into immune overload. This results in burnout, weight gain, mental fatigue, depression, anxiety and a host of chronic diseases, conditions which are all on the rise and have inflammation at their root.
The stress response mechanism isn’t faulty; it’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to do. There is nothing wrong with your mind!

The problem is we haven’t trained the subconscious mind to distinguish between an actual threat in the present moment, and a threat based on a single challenging moment in time that occurred years ago.