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Understanding Limbic System Resistance

Ever wonder why shaking off old habits or embracing new beliefs feels like an uphill battle? Resistance to change, brain retraining, and regulating our nervous system, may be connected to limbic system resistance.

This protective instinct can show up in subtle ways. You might put off a project that could bring joy or success. Distractions may pop up just when you’re about to indulge in self-care. Sometimes, there’s a desire to feel excited about life, yet there’s a lack of spark. Other times, we begin to feel better and more positive, only to get a rise in pain symptoms.

As we attempt to change our brain’s habitual stress patterns and create new associations based on safety, why does our limbic system cause resistance to change, even if it’s directed towards healing?  

Limbic System Resistance

Our limbic system, the brain's personal bodyguard, is hardwired to steer us away from perceived danger, even if that 'danger' is just changing. We are shaped by past experiences, beliefs, and values that ultimately play a role in how we react and live our lives. If a difficult event, or biological, physical, or emotional trigger causes our limbic system to fire its protective mechanism, it will do everything to keep us safe from experiencing it again, even at the expense of preventing healing from occurring. Change is perceived as foreign, and unsafe in the brain and body. So, as we retrain our brains, begin to feel calmer, and go towards the things we love, this “protector” may create negative cross-wiring responses to these things to avoid them and keep us safe.

How Do We Get Past Limbic System Resistance?

Change doesn't have to be a head-on collision with your brain's comfort zone. Sometimes, a gentle approach is the best way to go.

Here are a few suggestions to overcome resistance:

- Become Curious: Instead of firm affirmations, ask questions like, "What made me feel more vibrant today?" It nudges your brain to look for positive proof.

- Embody Positivity: Take a powerful word, such as 'joy,' and live it out. How does 'joy' sit with you, move with you?

- Use your imagination: Are you stuck in a rut? What would a clever fox do? Act it out and let your limbic system in on the game.

- Groove Through It: Music and dance can be useful keys to discharge energy and unwind the brain's tight grip on old patterns.

-Embracing Self-Love and Compassion: Be kind to yourself when resistance strikes, fighting it or denouncing it may tighten its grip.


Embracing the Shift Gently

The limbic system is like a well-intentioned overprotective friend. It might hold you back under the guise of keeping you safe. But with some creativity and patience, you can teach your brain that new paths are safe too. And sometimes, just taking a step back to see the bigger picture helps the brain recalibrate and embrace change.

Keep in mind that this path isn't about eliminating triggers; it's about recognizing and confronting them with mindfulness and self-compassion. We're redefining the nature of resistance, freeing ourselves from its hold, and moving towards a life of not merely enduring but flourishing. True liberation occurs when you have self-awareness — when you know that triggers will exist, but you possess enough self-insight to make healthier choices.

Trust in the process, and with each little step, you're teaching your brain that new can be good, safe, and even exciting.

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