Cues of Safety & Danger (1/6)

Presenter: Deb Dana

Safety is not a cognitive experience. It is an embodied experience.

Stephen Porges coined the term neuroception to describe how the body constantly scans for cues of safety and danger.

We are not in control of this process and we are not consciously aware of it.

These cues can come from inside the body, the environment around us, and in the relationships between us and others.

We look for cues of safety, danger, and life-threat. Our bodies decide whether something is dangerous or a life-threat without our input and chooses different reactions to each.

This information helps us to decide whether it’s safe to interact with others and explore new possibilities or increase our reactivity and reinforce habitual survival patterns.

We are also constantly sending cues to others about whether we are safe to interact with.

We all have different responses to the same stimulus.

Being safer does not necessarily make us feel safer. Stephen Porges refers to neuroception as autonomic intuition.

We cannot just reduce or resolve cues of danger. We also have to actively experience cues of safety.

The cues of safety don’t have to outnumber the cues of danger. The cues of safety have to outweigh the cues of danger.

When the information we receive from the various systems doesn’t match: We are hypervigilant and struggle to calm down even in safe environments because our bodies get stuck in a habitual protective response OR we don’t react to defend ourselves in risky environments because we are dulled or unaware of our surroundings, which may lead to high risk-taking behaviors.

In this moment, in this place, with this person, is this level of response needed?

What are the conditions that create enough safety for you to move forward and engage? What are the conditions that create barriers to moving forward and engaging? Safety is__________?

Head here to learn about how I help clients who have had bad shit happen or head here to learn about how I help clients feel safer.


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