Social Engagement System

Social Engagement System

“We are impressed by mounting scientific evidence suggesting that, in two basic ways, the human child is hardwired to connect. First, we are hardwired to connect to other people. Second, we are hardwired to connect to moral meaning and to the possibility of the transcendent. Meeting these basic needs for connectedness is essential to health and to human flourishing.” (from HARDWIRED TO CONNECT: The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities)

Dr. Stephen Porges developed the Traffic Light Metaphor for the human nervous system. Humans have evolved a “Smart Part” of our nervous system. Vagus nerve is the nerve of compassion–and is the body’s caretaking organ. Has evolved to support bonding between humans. Centered in face, head and is impacted by connection, especially in face-to-face contact. Connected to a rich network of oxytocin receptors, the hormone associated with Love and Trust. (note: eleven seconds of eye gazing releases oxytocin in large amounts as does a 20 second hug…)

We have learned to use Connection to establish safety for ourselves. (Green Zone). If we can’t establish safety through connection, then,…. we go to fight, flight (yellow) or freeze. If we go to Yellow: only Fight or Flight available If we go to Red: only Freeze is available


Practice: The metaphor of safety

Allow yourself to remember all the people who have helped you become who you are, who taught you about connection Parents, Teachers, Work and Life Partners, Mentors. Let yourself recall the kindness and good will and care you have received. Feel a long line of people behind you, supporting you. Let yourself know how you have been there for others. Allow yourself to recognize your great good fortune to be who you are and where you are in this moment. Feel once again that second intelligence, already completed and preserved inside you. A freshness in the center of the chest. A second knowing that moves from within you, a fountainhead, moving out.

Reflection: Where are you Tracking Green, Yellow, and Red in yourself, your teams and organizations?



This is a preview excerpt from Mukara’s upcoming book, MatrixWorks: A Life Affirming Guide to Facilitation Mastery.