I’ll never be a flight attendant. My central nervous system (CNS) is always revved up, hypervigilant, when I’m flying. I’ll never be a surgeon, a firefighter, or join the military. I’ll never parachute out of a plane, either. All of those things would be more than my CNS could handle. I’m aware of my neurophysiology. I’m aware of my boundaries.
We need to aware that our neurophysiology has a “comfort zone” where it operates at its best. When we live our lives within that “comfort zone” we are able to make better decisions and we are healthier and happier. We have more access to the prefrontal cortex of our brain (executive functioning), instead of our fight/flight/freeze region, the limbic system. Everyone’s “comfort zone” is different. (You may thrill at the thought of taking to the sky to travel to exotic locales, while I wretch at the idea!) The trick is to not compare your neurophysiology with anyone else’s. Your boundaries are from your genetic makeup and your life experiences; they are unique to you.
How do we know we’ve gone beyond our boundaries? We feel it in our bodies. It shows up as anxiety, depression, burnout, panic, insomnia, headaches, muscle tension, even illness. When we stress our CNS, we stress our immune system and we are more vulnerable to disease. Many of us lead hectic lives that push us beyond our boundaries. We self-soothe with junk/comfort food, booze, psychiatric meds, sleep meds, street drugs, etc. But those aren’t healthy for us. A healthy response would be to change our lifestyle to match our neurophysiology.
As we respect our boundaries, we grow more confident. We feel calmer, more relaxed in our skin. We are more able to face the slings and arrows of life because we have more emotional and physical reserves. In a word, we are healthier! This is not to say that we can’t test our boundaries from time to time. It doesn’t mean that we can’t stretch and grow. We can. But we do so with awareness and compassion for ourselves. We take baby steps. We test the beliefs we have about our boundaries, and we play with them. We force nothing. Over time, we notice our boundaries changing.
What are your current neurophysiological boundaries? How to do you know when you’ve crossed over them? How do you come back to homeostasis? The decisions you make around honoring your own unique neurophysiology can make a big difference in the quality (and perhaps quantity) of your life!
Respect your neurophysiology! I’m respecting mine with sight-seeing and star gazing in Sedona today. I’m giving my CNS time to calm down after three days of driving. I’ll be headed to New Mexico via Highway 40 tomorrow. Anyone on my route, I’d love to connect with you.
Think good thoughts; make good decisions.