Information that you may find useful for introducing the Rainbow Map to your Client/s

The shared Human and Ape evolutionary tree split around two million years ago and the first modern humans lived in Africa around two hundred thousand years ago. These people faced  a constant threat to their survival from famine and predators many of which had larger muscles, sharper teeth and claws, better eye sight and hearing and a more sensitive sense of smell. Yet humans survived and spread out across the world due to our relatively large brain and three crucial traits, two of which already existed in the animal kingdom before the first modern humans evolved, and one that was and remains largely unique to us. 

The first trait is how our Reactive Brain, that extends from around the mid point of our foreheads down to the base of our necks, and Reactive Body trigger very rapidly in response to physical threat of being injured or killed. We can quickly move from a relaxed state to fight flight or hide and play dead states. 

The second trait is our capacity to become very attached to other humans that we connect with our safety such parents. family members, partners and closest work colleagues. Our Reactive Brains constantly monitor the strength of that attachment. If the quality of that attachment is threatened, we can trigger rapidly and powerfully as though we are at risk of being injured or killed (fight, flight, hide, play dead). This trait remains fully available to us in today’s comparatively safe world and generates behaviours that cause many people to experience unwanted outcomes in their lives.

The third and unique trait was the development of our Reflective Mind that, in general terms, sits above the mid point of our foreheads. This reflective capacity developed alongside language. Having the capacity to exert more choice in how we react to the world around us and within us made it possible to form larger more secure groups, create tools and weapons and gather and/or grow more food. This trait further increased our success as a species in competition with other often more powerful predators. However, when we are triggered in the face of an actual physical threat or an attachment related threat the Reflective Mind starts to shut down so that we can react quickly and decisively to the perceived threat. This means our capacity to exert choice over what we say and do declines as we become increasingly triggered. The FOPPI acronym describes the main aspects of this triggered behaviour that we all typically experience at some point in our lives.

The Rainbow Map exercise helps us notice the different but interactive roles our Reflective Mind, Reactive Brain and Body play in our lives. It also helps identify what is the earliest and most clearly recognisable change in our Reactive Body (Trigger Flag) that our Reflective Mind notices as we trigger in response to danger/insecurity, real or imagined.  

Resources such as recalling calming narratives or distracting our Reactive Brain away from the perceived danger can only be deployed if our Reflective Mind notices its influence becoming overwhelmed by the triggering Reactive Brain and Body. Using a physical change in our Reactive Body such as a Trigger Flag is more reliable than using changes in our thoughts or emotions which have a stealth like quality in terms of how they increasingly influence what we think, say and do as we become increasingly triggered.

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