Today, I wanted to take some time to focus and bring down the volume. After doing a number of in-depth interviews, I thought it would be nice to have a solo podcast focusing on an incredibly important concept. 


Today’s topic is not only one that distills so much of the work I do but also sets us up nicely for next week’s podcast where we will be discussing the Polyvagal Theory, an important idea when it comes to how the nervous system responds to stress and threat. The concept I’m discussing today is something I refer to as the front of the system.


When we are interacting with others and are possibly nervous, or sharing something important, there are many layers to what is happening within us. How we deliver any information we want to share in those moments changes dramatically depending on the specific environment we are in. We will deliver it differently when talking to ourselves, to a best friend, to our partner, giving a lecture, or performing, just to name a range of scenarios. Additionally, whether or not we are in homeostasis at the moment will make a large impact on our delivery. A great example of what this looks like is the show Hot Ones hosted by Christopher Schonberger. Christopher invites celebrities to do an interview while eating progressively hotter wings. As the body tries to compensate for the incredible demand that is placed on it by the fiery wings, you’ll notice the guest lose their focus, become irritable, and also vulnerable as they cannot keep their composure. This is a great example of what happens to us when our body is consumed by some kind of threat and we are also trying to maintain connection. 


This is where the front of the system comes in. This idea sums up how we can name our fears and increase our intimacy. Throughout the episode, I am going to apply it mainly to romantic relationships, but it is something that can permeate every relationship and environment in your life. Please join me so we can reflect and learn more together.

Show Highlights:

  • Why the romantic relationship is so unique.
  • Why we need to regulate before we communicate.
  • What a map of emotion is.
  • The distinct ability humans have to suppress their instincts.
  • What the front of the system is.
  • The power of naming our feelings.
  • What the idea of repair is.
  • How to apply this in our intimate relationships.

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Descartes Error

Mitchell Smolkin is a sought-after clinician, speaker, and author. For media and interview requests please contact his publicist Randy Phipps at For all other inquiries, please send mail to