If we don’t have strong nervous system connections where our body first learns to be safe, we are very creative in the number of ways we cope with that unconscious uneasiness. Evaluating this and helping the body to develop the connections is at the very heart (art) of what I do — and can be the most difficult.
These are ways that we MIGHT have issues, but many of them are just ordinary aspects of life. The key is, is it out of hand? How pervasive is the problem throughout people’s lives?
1. We may have phobias: spiders. Monsters under the bed. Heights. Separation from Mommy/Daddy (past the age we’re SUPPOSED to separate easily).
2. Because we’re so frightened at a basic level, we may not be able to learn things, like taking in new information. So, sensory processing is difficult. Think of it: when you JUST get used to one situation — you understand what you’re seeing/hearing, sensing, and start to relax and enjoy yourself, all of a sudden you have to go somewhere else? Can you see why sometimes accepting change is such a hard thing? Why having warning time that “we have to leave in…..” Would help?, so — accepting change. It can be a two-year old with autism, it can be a 30 year old who has JUST learned to feel comfortable in a social or living situation.
3. If we have the feeling that things aren’t safe, what do we do? We try to control as much as possible, so that we’ve minimized things that MIGHT go wrong, and can see what might be going wrong. So people that like to CONTROL situations and other people. You can see this in many different ways throughout lifespans. Bossiness, difficulty with boundaries, etc.
4. Taking from #2 above, we might have overly sensitive senses.Ticklishness, dislike of being touched, especially on the back or feet, could be an issue. Oversensitive hearing — is someone’s hearing really really REALLY good? And s/he might hate big parties because you can’t filter out other people to listen to just one? Do you know a super-highly picky eater? Some don’t like textured foods, others don’t like foods other than white. Do we NEED really dark sunglasses, and wear them a lot? It could be this person might have chronically dilated pupils, and are light-sensitive (or Irlen Syndrome!)
5. Hyper-shyness: this could be a part of a natural fear, or could be knowing you have difficulty figuring out how to interact with new people, places or situations. Either way, it’s possible that not feeling safe has someone “shy-ing away” from novelty until they’ve watched enough to figure things out.
6. Have you noticed how any of these things are negative? Yes, having a chronically critical eye of everyone else hides a secret: the person you’re most critical of, is yourself. I don’t have an easily explainable reason why negativity goes along with these reflexes being unlearned, but it certainly does.
6a. Related to the above: perfectionism.
7. Anxiety! What medical professionals call free-floating anxiety, people with this tend to be tense or “high strung.” If they’re worried about one thing and it gets solved, their nervousness will rise until they can figure out something else they can be frightened of.
8. ADD or ADHD. People who have a hard time focusing on just one thing for a reasonable amount of time are often on the alert because their body is telling them danger MIGHT be approaching.
9. Sleep disturbances. While people might experience difficulty getting to sleep, staying asleep, or altered sleep, because of MANY reasons, a subconscious alert that something might be amiss is frequently the cause.
10. High blood pressure.
11. Elective mutism. This is where someone CAN speak, but under certain circumstances is unable to.
12. Motion Sickness
Other things I’ve not been taught, but have found to correlate with a lack of safety and security in the body, are depression, addictive behaviors, escaping into electronics, stammering, Tourettes, and hoarding.
This is a long and disheartening list! I’m so sorry, but the ways in which human beings can find to cope is a good thing. Coping and sideways-symptoms help us manage. Also, remember that these can exist as a normal part of our personality. The question is, HOW severe are these symptoms? Could this person overcome them alone if it were important? That, plus the number of these, might give you a clue as to whether you should do anything about this or not.