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Your Childhood is Running Your Nervous System! Part 3

Part 1 of this series highlighted the facts that child neglect is often not recognized as abuse but is; it occurs far more often and creates a wider range of consequences than overt abuse. Part 2 introduced the 4 Ss and the concept of a developing 'stress-reactive' brain. Let's look at how the 4Ss impact a developing child and how they show up in our adult lives.


What is the impact of not getting the 4 Ss while you were growing up?


Part 2 describes the 4Ss from an infant's perspective. Now let's look at the 4Ss from a developing child's viewpoint. From birth to 25, when the brain is considered fully developed.


Did you FEEL

  • SEEN - understood?

  • SAFE - protected?

  • SOOTHED - at least one dependable person to run to?

  • SECURE - the means and support system to thrive?


Lack of any of the 4Ss shows up in our adult lives in many ways! Here are some examples...


If you didn't feel SEEN, you may:

  • feel a need to constantly prove your value

  • be an over-achiever

  • unduly care about validation, looks and/or reputation

  • be more talkative or quiet that most people.

If you didn't feel SAFE, you may:

  • consciously or unconsciously be on the lookout for danger

  • be overly cautious or overly friendly when meeting new people

  • take extra safety precautions at every step

  • refuse online shopping, ATMs or FaceBook.

If you didn't feel SOOTHED, you may:

  • have become overly nurturing to others or not especially nuturing

  • be drawn to soothing practices like yoga or music

  • turn to prescription drugs, alcohol or other substances to soothe the body and quiet the mind.

  • find ways to distract yourself like eating, shopping, sex, staying constantly busy.

If you didn't feel SECURE, you may:

  • deeply fear rejection; insecure and clingy or quick to leave relationships

  • feel like things are too good to be true; always waiting for something to go wrong

  • have a need to constantly do for care others to earn their love

  • care about money and material things more than most people.

In reality there is a lot of overlap in how lack of the 4Ss in childhood shows up in our adult lives. It's uncommon to grow up fully receiving all of them all of the time. So, if you see yourself in any of them, you're in good company.


Recognizing that a lack in receiving the 4 Ss provides great insight into 'your stuff.' It impacts how we think, feel, act and interact with ourselves and others. The first place to start is by seeing how that lack impacted your nervous system. If you didn't consistently receive one or all of the 4Ss, especially over long periods during childhood, your nervous system was being wired to become stress-reactive or anxious. How could a developing, chronically anxious nervous system (bathed in stress hormones) be otherwise?


Please know that there is nothing wrong with YOU as a person if you're chronically anxious, tense, nervous, worried, etc. It's partly a result of your nervous system's brilliant way of protecting you; it just got stuck in the "ON" stress-reactive position. Fortunately, we CAN re-wire the nervous system to feel at peace. To learn how, opt-in for free life-hacks and updates here and stay tuned for more insight and help.