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Nervous system and energy flow

How do you manage your energy supply in and around you?

Do you feel exhausted during the day, even if you've had a good night's sleep?

That's because of the way your energy flows in and around your body.

In this article, I explain how these flows are linked to what's happening physiologically in your nervous system.

Energy flows in four ways: push, pull, allow and withdraw. Or, in the language of our nervous system: fight, flight, harmonise and freeze.


When you wake up tired, do you push yourself to get out of bed? Or maybe you're afraid that staying in bed is a sign that you're falling back into depression... so you "force" yourself to get up. Once up, you're still tired, but you force yourself to get on with your day - you persevere.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with your choices and actions. What I want is for you to become aware of how, why and when you push yourself energetically.

Maybe you're a nurse in an emergency room and, to be heard over the noise of the room or by the semi-conscious patient, you have to push your voice to be heard. Or you may be a full-time working parent who needs to push yourself to get through the day.

It's important to realize that pushing is the fight mode of our sympathetic nervous system. When we're stressed, we push ourselves energetically. In our society, in order to meet external expectations, a large majority of our actions consist of pushing ourselves to do what we perceive needs to be done. It's essential to be aware that we push our bodies through our thoughts and emotions. We believe that what we're doing is important to us, and it's this perception that drives us forward.

The way our thoughts push us forward is a key to changing the energetic impulse to push or fight. The action we choose to take may indeed be exactly what we need to do. But being more mindful, present and at peace with that choice allows us to release some or all of the pressure associated with those daily obligations.

With less pressure, our nervous system can regulate itself - even doing the same activities you were doing before under the pressure of "push" energy.


Do you have a friend who exhausts you when you're with him/her? He or she may talk without taking time to breathe, or talk continuously without involving you in the conversation. This is an example of energy capture. This person is inadvertently taking energy from you for him/herself. But there are other ways of taking energy.

Sometimes, in response to a spouse or teenager who ignores you by withdrawing into himself, you may try to draw him out of himself by complaining, shouting, asking questions or talking to him. These actions attempt to energetically pull the other person out of themselves. However, this action often has the opposite effect, and the individual becomes even more withdrawn.

Pulling has a fighting component, but it's also a flight reaction, because fear is at the root of this energetic response: you're trying to attract another person's energy to meet a need that - consciously or unconsciously - you're unable to meet yourself.

So, when it comes to your nervous system, the key to flight is to come back to yourself, to return to your body and put down roots. You need to bring your energy back inside you and tap into your internal energy source, rather than seeking it outside.


There are times in our lives when we turn inward and question ourselves. This can be a healthy action.

At other times, we turn inward to avoid emotional pain or trauma. In this case, we close ourselves off to our own needs and those of those around us.

We can also withdraw by leaving our bodies, a form of dissociation that is created during a traumatic event and evolves into an anti-traumatic defense when triggered.

Withdrawal can be a flight reaction of the autonomic nervous system when we are in an avoidance situation. It can also be a freezing reaction of the parasympathetic nervous system in cases of dissociation.

Both nervous system reactions require awareness as a first response, because awareness is what makes it possible for a new response to emerge.


If you've ever played a sport, played an instrument, written, drawn or created in any way, and you find yourself in what many call "the zone", then you've experienced "allowing". You're in the flow of the present moment, aware and fully engaged in what you're doing.

Maybe you like to play freely with your children or grandchildren. Maybe you like preparing a meal for your family and friends. Maybe you like to take nature hikes. Maybe you like to dance.

The most important thing is that you are in your heart, that you love what you do. You enjoy life and all its richness comes back to you.

"Allowing" is when your vagus nerve is regulated and your autonomic nervous system is in homeostasis. When something happens that throws you off balance, like a child crying while you're cooking, you can support it and go back to what you were doing with ease. You're in the flow and can easily regulate yourself.


The four ways we use our energy are natural modes of movement in life. One is not better than the other.

What you need to be aware of is whether you use one of them more frequently and, if so, how this affects your daily functioning. If there's an imbalance, how does the energy pattern affect your health?

Be open to how push, pull, allow and withdraw manifest themselves in your relationships... without judgment.


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