The Three Brain States: The Emotional State

The Emotional State is the second stage in the Brain State Model. Being excluded or unloved is a universal fear and an emotional trigger.

The Emotional State is the “gatekeeper of the brain”. It regulates the flow of information and energy from the brain to the body. It relies on judgment of good or bad, implies a victim/villain perceptions, and attempts to make others responsible for our upset. The only way out of this state is through connection.

The behaviors we typically see in this state are: blaming, back talk, name-calling, social exclusion or aggression, seeking attention, clinginess and neediness.

During the first three years of life, our secure attachment forms through attunement with our caregivers. The way a caregiver responds to a child’s distress will determine if the attachment bond is secure or insecure.

A securely attached child will use friends or adults to help in stressful situations. An insecurely attached child with withdraw or fight when they need or are offered help.

The tools needed to get out of this state are:
Encouragement– “You can do it.”
Choices– “You have a choice. You may______ or _______. What is best for you?”
Empathy– “You seem____ (insert emotion)”

If the child has calmed themselves, they will enter into the Executive State. It is possible that the child will face another trigger while in this state. If this happens, they will fall back into the Survival State.

emotional state

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