What are Adaptations?Jan 19, 2022
As we develop through our childhood we slowly learn which parts of ourselves are acceptable, and which parts are not.
We learn via our parents, our teachers, our culture, social structure, social cues, we learn from television, from the internet and from our peers.
When a part of our self structure arises, and we are shamed, attacked or if love is withdrawn our relationship to this part of our self then reflects the way it was met. We then adapt to our environment, and contort ourselves accordingly in order to maintain an attachment to those whom our survival depends upon.
Nature is quite busy creating beautiful individuals, unique expressions of life itself, whilst at the same time we are busy attempting to make everybody the same. As we develop we slowly learn how to orient ourselves in the world, we develop a feeling of “who we are” and how we fit in.
The primary motivating factor is love, love and attachment from our primary caregivers and those we look up to. The contortion of one's personal essence in order to survive in our world is the most common form of developmental trauma, which is so pervasive and normalised that it often goes unnoticed.
The ways we learn to contract within ourselves, to not speak unless spoken to, to internally shame ourselves in order to maintain control over our anger, over our fears and our wounds. The internal dialogue that torchures us and keeps us up at night, continuously playing out fearful scenarios, or imaginings of a better life, disconnecting us from the life that is right in front of us. The subtle anxiety that we experience whilst moving in the world, the background of dread and uncomfortability we feel, and the endless seeking to be in any experience other than the one we are having right now.
All of these are symptoms of a nervous system which has contorted itself and adapted to survive. There is no peace when we have learned to struggle with aspects of ourselves to simply keep them at bay. In my view these survival adaptations are ways the nervous system wires itself for survival, which is a form of developmental trauma. Developmental trauma is simply when our childhood is oriented around survival, our self structure bends and morphs itself in order to survive our environment, or our culture.
A question that may highlight how common this is:
How many people do you know that feel 100% safe to be themselves in any given situation?
Integration is the resolution of adaptation Integration is when we are able to reinvite in these orphaned parts and experience these aspects of ourselves safely in the presence of a loving caregiver (or therapist later in life) and reintegrate them back into the psyche.
This doesnt mean we allow these parts to run rampant, or we allow our children to do whatever they want. It means we learn to contain these energies, to hold space for them, to feel them in our body as they come up. Integration is when the contorted somatic tensions that hold the ego together begin to unravel, simply by experiencing them as they are without attempting to make them different.
Written by Matt Kay
Co-Creator of Embodied Processing