The Threat System

Back in January I wrote an introduction to the Compassion Focused Model (if you’ve not read that one then it might make sense to do that before you carry on!).  Last month I looked at the Drive system in more depth and now it is the turn of the Threat system.

The Threat system is all about fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, and jealousy.  It’s also importantly about protection and safety.  A natural response when we feel that something important to us is at risk.  I chose the image of a knight in armour to represent this as it’s ambiguous, you may see it as threatening or you may see it as someone protecting themselves.

Our Threat system has evolved to protect us and likewise your unique individual threat system will have been shaped by the experiences you’ve had in life, the culture in which you’ve grown up and the people around you.

Whilst it’s natural (and helpful) to be in Threat mode at times, there are occasions when this can become excessive, causing us to feel distressed and struggling to function day to day.  When this happens, the symptoms can be grouped together to form an anxiety disorder such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder or Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

Being in the Threat system feels uncomfortable and sometimes the protective strategies we employ are not helpful to us in the long-term (e.g. alcohol, drugs, avoidance, over-thinking) which can lead us into a vicious cycle.

The best thing we can do is to be aware of our Threat system and accept that it’s there to do the important job of protecting us.  Choose how you respond to threat with a focus on your long-term goals rather than being a slave to it.

Next month I will be looking at the Soothing system in more depth which is the perfect antidote to the Threat system so watch this space!

Take some time to reflect on your threat system with the following questions …

How often do you find yourself in the threat system?

Do you notice any bodily sensations which are a sign you are in the threat system?

What are the situations which activate your threat system?

Are there any people in your life who tend to activate your threat system?

How do you tend to react when your threat system is activated?  Is this helpful to you in the long-term?

If you enjoyed this then you might like to explore these previous Forrest Rambles: 



Stepping out of your comfort zone

Are you making your anxiety worse?

Thinking Traps and how to free yourself