Growing up in a dysfunctional, chaotic family can create a feeling of chaos inside.  This feeling of chaos represents the nervous system and emotional dysregulation within us as a result of trauma.  We get stuck in chaos cycles when we are acting out of this nervous system dysregulation without knowing it, resulting in unwanted or unhealthy consequences to our lives. 

In this episode, I share what Chaos Cycles Are, How Dysfunctional Families Create Cycles of Chaos and How We Can Begin to Move From Chaos in Harmony Inside.



What is a Chaos Cycle?
-Unresolved trauma within the brain and body that drives us to recreate experiences that are unhealthy or unwanted. Basically These are patterns in our lives that are resulting from nervous system and brain dysregulation and create a lack of harmony and health within us. Whether that’s our internal world or external world.

-This is an overwhelming feeling of chaos inside (survival energy/traumatic energy), that causes chaos for us outside. 


-Sabotage Cycles deliberately destroy, damage, or obstruct (something). 


-Blindspots within our being where we have previously been wounded


-Internalized and unconscious patterns of relating that are inherited from family dysfunction - even though we are no longer in the dysfunctional, chaotic, or abusive environment, we have adapted so well to that environment, that it has become imprinted on our way of being.


-Chaos cycles are attempts to soothe and/or manage chaotic feelings and sensations within the body and nervous system.


Example of a Chaos Cycle

-Binge Eating/Drinking or simply overeating/overdrinking

-Episodes of Rage

-Numbing Behaviours 

-Career/Professional Sabotage

-Over spending 


-Perfectionism cycles

-Relationship Sabotage 

-Over working - obsessing about business

-Pre-occupation with relationships and other people (friends and romantic partners)

How Does Family Dysfunction & Childhood Trauma Cause Chaos Cycles 

-Dysfunctional families are chaotic by nature (addiction, unresolved trauma, personality disorders, pathology, enmeshment etc)


-Unpredictability of moods, Reversal of roles between parent and child, hot and cold affection, emotionally unavailable caregivers, bullying by siblings, abuse of any kind


-This is experienced as lack of safety to the child, and therefore creates an internal environment of chaos within. 


-In order to manage that chaos, children will develop coping mechanisms and “survival skills” to get through and survive the chaos in the family. These coping skills can range from seeking approval from teachers and authority figures outside the home, to addiction, dissociation, anxiety and depression.

How Do We Play Out Chaos Cycles as High-Performers? 

-As high-performers, we often have become so dependent upon this inner-chaos that we struggle to identify when it’s at play and when it is harming us. We also may have a fear that breaking these inner-patterns of chaos will create boredom, lack of stimulation, or steal our ambitions.

Usually a chaos cycle looks like this: 

Overstimulating Trigger ---- coping mechanism ----- shame ---- alienation --- bid to stop the coping behaviour. 


Moving From Internal Chaos to Harmony Within

  • Recognize that chaos cycles are cycles that our bodies and brains often become dependent upon because we have no reference point for any other ways of being.
  • Begin with the body. Learn to identify the feelings of chaos - learn to identify painful ways of being and how they feel.
  • Track the cycle for you. When does it start, what does it look like from beginning to end. What are some personal ways that you can interrupt that pattern/cycle in your life? 
  • Other tips: Do one thing at a time, incorporate regular exercise



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