This is part two of a two-part series. Find part one here.
The Big Six
What do you do once the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is activated is what we call the big six. These are basic reactions to threats or frustration in pursuit of goals or desires. The big six happen in the body and involve subtle patterns of organization. For example, if you’re in fight mode, blood will flow into your chest, muscles, and arms. If you’re fleeing, it’s the thigh muscles that get an increase in blood flow. These are objective phenomena that can be measured.
The big six are:
These basic responses to threatening situations, which we share with other species, have gotten a bad rap. We tend to think of them as something to avoid or overcome, especially the first three. What we want to do is counterintuitive. We’re going to mine these basic patterns of reaction for good coping skills. After all, they got us to the top of the food chain. They’re what we have learned over billions of years of evolution. How can we apply these to become more skillful in dealing with things that make us fearful, anxious, worried or alarmed?