- Get confused as to what you are feeling
- Not feel emotions when you think you should?
- Not feel a deep connect with anyone else?
- Prefer to be in your head analysing things rather than feeling them?
- Or maybe you do not feel your emotions?
If you have answered yes to more than one of the above, you are most likely suffering from the ‘freeze’ response and are shut down.
The ‘freeze’ response can result from shock, trauma or prolonged stress. Many people are not aware of the link between stress and shutting down their emotions, which leads to emotional problems and difficulties.
Don’t worry I am going to explain all these terms And there is a way out of this!
What is Stress?
Stress can be good, bad or ugly depending on how aware you are of your self and your stress. You may already know what stress is but do you know what prolonged stress is? Just for clarity lets quickly state how stress effects the body…
Stress is your mind and body’s way of responding to a demand, whether it is physical, mental of emotional. Your body reacts to stress by releasing chemicals into your blood that make you more alert, give you more energy and often make you stronger. This is called ‘the stress response’. The stress response (SR) is great when you are being chased by a saga tooth tiger and need to take action quickly without thinking. However this does not happen anymore, no matter how furious your boss can get!
In todays society most stress is a result of how you see / feel about a situation, rather than an actual life threatening moment. This is where the problem starts! As the danger is not real it is not socially acceptable to take action, for example for you to punch your boss, have a tantrum or run away. This non action results in all the chemicals that get released into your body by the SR not being used. Instead the chemicals stay floating around your body causing tension (physically and mentally), inflammation, and illness.
A further complication is that you became stressed much more easily and start another SR in your body. If this cycle continues over a period of time, without sufficient relaxation time, your body exhausts the SR and you go into the into the “immobility” or “freeze” response.
The Freeze Response
When you go into the “freeze” response you energetically leave your body and are not able to physically feel what is happening in or too your body. This evolved as it was very useful to deers that could not run away from the approaching lion. The deers that froze where often not killed by the lion, or if they were the advantage of the “freeze” response was that they did not feel it. When the danger had passed, the deer shook their body discharging the chemistry and energy that was contained in the “freeze” response and then they were able to feel their body and emotions again.
This successful completion of the cycle of the “freeze” response prevents the deer from suffering from stress or exhausting the stress response. Peter Levine, an expert in trauma, states that when a person goes into the “immobility” or “freeze” response they are not able to feel their emotions or anything else. If the stress was caused by trauma the person is likely to stay shut down to their emotions and can stay this way for the rest of their lives, without even realising that something is missing from their life.
If the person keeps experiencing stress over a period of time they can exhaust the SR and go into the freeze response. They too are very likely to stay shut down and shut of from their emotions and the emotions of other people.
The Importance of emotions
When you are unable to feel your emotions or make sense of other people’s emotions you miss out on experiencing what makes you feel alive, what gives colour to life and a deep sense of connection that you could have with other people.
I see many clients that have anger issues, physical pain, persistent health concerns, have problems communicating or are depressed and they do not realise that they have shut off from their emotions and this is what is causing them to suffer.
The way out of being shut down
Is to become aware that you are shut down and therefore not really feeling anything. You then need to take action to release the stress from your body and life.
Great ways that you can help yourself are taking time out, remembering to take deep breaths, going for a walk and meditating. However you may now realise that you need assistance to help you start to feel and live your life again, this is where seeing a professional that specialises in shut down emotions can really help.