Daily Living

The Wisdom of Prolactin – the Guardian HealthType Hormone

Understanding the thoughts, feelings & behaviours a person expresses, based on the dominant hormone of their Health Type.

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In this series I am exploring the behavioural impacts of the dominant hormone of each of the HealthTypes (Personalised Communication, Behaviour & Learning is my coaching speciality.)

Firstly, it is important to note that we all have all the hormones that will be discussed (and many others). Their levels are unique to us and our particular context (our epigenetic expression.) The trend of each HealthType is to be the most receptive to particular hormones, meaning the person requires a higher baseline and consistent turnover of that hormone in order to be in their healthiest state. This is why what is “normal” or “natural” is so different for each of us – we each require a unique balance. Understanding why this is the case from a hormonal level, helps us to understand why our behaviours, thoughts, feelings and needs express the way they do.

In this article I am delving into the prolactin filled world of the Guardian. (Here are the articles for Connectors, Diplomats, Crusaders.) A disclaimer, in true Guardian style, this one is looong, deep & meaningful, so get comfy, or read the summary post here 😉

Prolactin – A Summary

Prolactin is the hormone that stimulates milk production in breastfeeding. It functions on a supply & demand system (or, more precisely, demand & supply) – the more it is asked for and used, the more it makes. While oxytocin is a major player in the creation of life (see the Connector article), prolactin is what sustains life. It promotes healing and recovery in the body of the mother after birth, in part by slowing down her brain to an alpha state, so she naturally rests.

Prolactin occurs naturally in everyone at all times, male & female, and is responsible for related behaviours of nurturing & giving. It is a very relaxing hormone, slowing down and regulating bodily functions including brain activity, heart rate, insulin sensitivity and digestion. It keeps us steady, long term. It’s what knows it’s in for the long haul (like years of breastfeeding and child raising), not the short term fix or rapid reaction to an immediate issue (other hormones are good at that.)

What Prolactin “Looks Like”

If a someone is feeling relaxed, cruisy, steady, deeply connected with others, grateful and strong – this is an indicator that there are strong levels of prolactin cycling through the body – rising, and then being expressed, in order to rise again. For a Guardian, this is a healthy state. If a Guardian doesn’t have these necessarily high levels of prolactin, they could feel stuck, blocked, foggy, sluggish, apathetic. This is not failure. It is the body saying it hasn’t been getting enough of the hormone that it needs cycling through.

Guardian bodies reflect this energy supply that is prolactin – strong, solid bodies, with the potential to build a lot of muscle, and to carry a lot of weight. It’s the biological imperative to carry the stores for the tribe, to be in it for the long haul, through anything. These bodies endure. When given the opportunity for continual, healthy expression of this energy, especially through giving & deeply connecting, the body builds strength. When not given this opportunity, the body interprets it as stress & threat, and therefore holds on to physical, mental & emotional weight. (Just like with breastfeeding – if the milk is not expressed and given, it just stays in and swells up.) It is fitting that the Guardian Precision Detox is about 10 days of only broths, to promote shedding excess stores. Now that’s endurance.

Prolactin in Practice

Culturally, Western society has been very low in valuing behaviours that are expressions of prolactin. In fact it often emphasises its opposite – which is dopamine. These two hormones are inversely related, meaning that if one is active and elevated, the other is lowered. Dopamine is the driving hormone for the Crusader Health Type, which sits, most suitably, opposite the Guardians on the Health Type circle. A Crusader does not need as much prolactin to feel healthy (having as much as a Guardian could feel really unhealthy for a Crusader), but that’s not the balance for everyone. As a collective though, we have been taught to follow behaviours that actively keep prolactin levels down. A great disservice to Guardians (and the collective.)

Many aspects of our society emphasise “results” over connection, efficiency over depth, “payment” in place of sincere gratitude, pushing ever forward over standing still and being. (Though we are all actively shifting this right now by embodying and expressing our uniqueness more and more.) Even the trend that most babies are formula fed rather than breastfed is an example of this low prolactin culture. Often mothers do not feel or receive the support, time and space needed to be able to carry the immense task that is breastfeeding, often experiencing the pressures to return to work, wean faster, to systematise the raising of the children in order to “make things work.”

There are immense, deep truths that we lose connection with when we keep prolactin down and don’t allow it to naturally express.

The Wisdom of Prolactin

These truths, this wisdom, we can find most readily in our Guardians. These people are the bedrock of our society. They carry, they hold, they nurture. When provided the opportunity to express this biological wisdom, Guardians make incredibly strong and steady leaders, gentle and loving carers, wise and trustworthy confidantes. Guardians endure. That is the power of prolactin. It is prolactin that powers up a body that is running on limited sleep, down time, or nourishment – to wake up for the tenth time in a night to nourish and care for another. In order to keep us all – the whole tribe – going.

The Role of the Tribe

That is why we must care for our Guardians.  We must acknowledge, embrace and love them, just as they do for us. That is why we must express our gratitude, in strong, clear waves for them to receive. Prolactin peaks when the other is satisfied. That is literally what satisfies the giver – knowing the other is satisfied. During breastfeeding, prolactin is steadily released while the infant feeds, and then peaks when they are finished. This prolactin sends waves of relaxation, security and comfort through the body. The heart literally feels full. The principal is the same in any situation of giving of the self. The more appreciation & gratitude is expressed from the receiver, the more filled the giver becomes. They have all they need – which is the firm, deep knowing that the one they have been giving to has received all that they need, from them.

This is what satiates the Guardian, or anyone with a prolactin dominance (such as a breastfeeding mother of any Health Type.) The need to be filled with the knowing that those they love are cared for (including themselves.) Without the opportunity to express this need to care and nurture – and receive appreciation & gratitude – they get blocked. They need to find ways to express this need. It can become “fussing” over people. It can become filling one’s self with food or things in an effort to feel that fulfilment. It can become holding weight in “preparation” for when finally the energy does get the chance to express, when finally it is needed. Or it can become deep feelings of resentment at the lack of appreciation being experienced. The result of all these behaviours is often precisely what the person does NOT want – even less acknowledgement from others, and even more “stuckness.”

This is what everyone else needs to notice, and acknowledge. Just as if a mother goes too long between breastfeeds, the breasts fill with milk, become swollen, sore, and if too long, can become infected. The milk must be expressed. The gift must be given. But it doesn’t express on its own. It needs to be received. Someone must ask, receive, and be satisfied. This is what allows the flow.

Filling Your Cup

The lesson of prolactin – for the Guardian especially – is to fill your own cup first. But there are nuances to this. It’s not a matter of “go off and sort yourself out already.” Prolactin is a patient hormone, so it must also be met with patience. It is a nurturing hormone, so it must be nurtured. The flow needs to be balanced at all points – there must be enough giving with not too much holding on, and there must also be acknowledgement and gratitude from the receiver (even if that must be yourself at times.) This is why the process of healing for a Guardian, for realigning into balance and flow, must be a shared journey. The purpose for having balanced Guardians is not just so they can take care of themselves. Their purpose is to be able to take care of others – in flow.

“Self care” for a Guardian is not a solo endeavour. It is a collective responsibility. Yes every individual is responsible for their choices, their perspectives, their actions. But all those behaviours are filtered through the lens of their experience – primarily, what’s going on inside of them. So if inside, their cells are saying, I must give, I must provide, I must love, I must know I am loved by my giving, I must know my love is needed and appreciated … then that is what they need. Make healthy personal choices, take positive steps for yourself. And ask for what you need.

Everyone else – let your Guardians know how much you love and appreciate them. Let them know how much it fills you when you see them making such strong, healthy and empowered choices. Let them know how much it steadies you when you see their steadiness. Let them know how grounding their presence is, how you feel like you can let your guard down with them.

Because they are guarding you. They are guarding us. Always. Like a mother watching over her sleeping baby, even while she herself may be sleeping, her body is attuned to the rhythm of their breath, the beat of their heart, and is right there, warming, protecting and nourishing them, day and night.

And Guardians, if you wish someone would say these things to you, if you wish they would notice you like this … share this with them. Help them see you the way I do, the way I want you to see you. The way you are. The hearth of the tribe.

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