Does is ever seem as though life’s difficulties come in batches?
There are problems at work. A neighbor is complaining about the way the dog barks when someone arrives for a visit. There is friction with an adult sibling. It sometimes seems as though troubles afflict us all at once. There is some truth in that perception. What is behind this tendency? Why does it happen?
Modern brain science tells us that some parts of our brain are set up for quick reactions. These parts of the brain operate on the level of basic survival. The survival part of the brain receives a message from the environment and within a very short period of time sends its own message to the body, causing a reaction of some kind– movement to escape the situation, a protective stance, or hiding in some way. In other words, the fight, flight, or freeze response. This part of the brain does not stop to think and assess carefully. It developed over time as a safety mechanism to help us by encouraging quick reactions. It bypasses the more sophisticated parts of the brain, where we weigh our options and play out scenarios before reacting. In situations where there is actual danger quick reactions are just what we need.
In our daily lives, we are not normally faced with life threatening situations, but sometimes still perceive threats in our environment because of the “quick reaction” part of our brain. We establish patterns of behavior which served us at one time, but do not fit new situations. Until we begin to identify our patterns and understand their origin, it is difficult to see all the choices available to us when we need to solve a problem.
Let’s take a situation many people struggle with whether it’s in the context of marriage counseling or just in everyday life: recurring arguments. You might have a point of contention with a spouse or family member, and maybe it’s become so irritating bringing up the topic will cause immediate anger or the other person will just walk out of the room. Those are quick responses to stress, but they aren’t leading to a resolution. Finding the underlying reasons for the stress and working toward a solution are the type of work talk therapy is built for.
If there are recurring arguments or points of stress in your life that seem to keep coming up, discovering the patterns behind them could be a great place to start. That work happens more easily when challenges are discussed with someone who is trained to look for patterns and trained to ask questions which will help find new ways to interact with those around us. It’s part of the reason speaking with an Upper Valley counselor can be so effective, and if you’re struggling with an ongoing issue; we’re ready to help.