↪ THE ESSENTIAL ROLE OF REGULATION IN SHAPING OUR QUALITY OF LIFE
Our quality of life is ultimately shaped by our ability to think and reason. We are all equipped with a natural capacity for pre-creation, but unhealthy patterns or beliefs can get in the way of this vital process.
Pre-creation necessitates appropriate regulation so that our prefrontal cortex and amygdala can be utilized effectively – providing us access to creating an intentional lifestyle. However, trauma and toxic stress create patterns and belief systems or injunctions that affect our ability to think and reason. Pre-creation requires that we are calm and well-regulated. Why is this essential? If we are well-regulated then our prefrontal cortex and amygdala can work in tandem to provide us with the ability to pre-create a set of actions. This creation process is foundational to living an intentional life. All things are created more than once. An easy example may be in the planning of a birthday party for a special friend or relative. The process would look something like this you would decide to put on the party but parties don’t happen spontaneously there is a creation process involved. You create the idea of the party:
- You imagine what could happen (amygdala function).
- You decide on the details like date, time, venue, entertainment, menu, and guests (prefrontal function).
- You imagine how the details might play out (amygdala function).
- You adjust the details based on your imaginings of the details (prefrontal cortex function).
- Then you initiate action that is deliberate and intentional (both prefrontal cortex and amygdala functions working together).
This process of pre-creation creates an expectation or (faith and hope) that things will go well and that this event will be pleasurable and satisfying. Intentional action always relies on a pre-creation process.
People with complex trauma or toxic stress have their pre-creation process corrupted.
Their prefrontal cortex and amygdala do not work in concert, because the history of trauma or toxic stress has created distortions in the pre-creation process. The Amygdala System floods their mind with images of hurt, pain, disappointment, fear, and doubt. These images that are flooding the mind then trigger additional imagery that exacerbates the emergence of even more harmful and fearful images. The prefrontal cortex then moves into a posture of defensive responses, reactions to the alarming images being generated by the amygdala, and movement away from pre-creation process into protection takes place.
Once this pre-creation process is understood well it makes sense why so many people struggle in therapeutic, coaching, and even educational settings. Quite often there is a failure to get a person regulated well enough that the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala can work in tandem. This is one of the primary reasons that the Salutogenic or (asset-focused) approaches are so helpful in improving a person’s quality of life. The Salutogenic process always moves toward self-regulation first, which helps them reconnect with their pre-creative abilities and then act on their pre-creations to produce transformation, growth, and increasing levels of resilience.
Dr. Robert Rhoton, CEO of Arizona Trauma Institute and President at the Trauma Institute International possesses a rich history of experience in the mental health field and works internationally with organizations to improve the delivery of trauma treatment services.