“Safety is the absence of threat PLUS the feeling of connection.” Dr StephenPorges
Somatic mindfulness practices allow us to track the actual mechanisms of disconnection. It makes complete sense that when we bump into stored trauma, we feel overwhelmed and powerless. People reach a tipping point when we realize it is both possible and worthwhile staying with ourselves instead of escaping. We see the variety of creative ways we have developed to avoid ourselves.
Our nervous system and primitive brain are always trying to protect us. It can be hard to believe this when our reactivity causes so much suffering…
Agreeableness includes trust, altruism, kindness, affection, and prosocial behaviors like cooperation, helpfulness, and attuned empathy. It seems simple on the surface. Who wouldn’t want to be more agreeable and prosocial?
Traits of people high in agreeableness: interested in and cares about others, feels empathy, enjoys contributing to happiness of others, helpful.
Traits of people low in agreeableness: takes little interest in others, doesn’t care about how others feel, little interest in other people’s problems, insults and belittles others, manipulates others to get what they want.
Our “personality traits” are highly influenced by how we are conditioned and our trauma history…
Before Covid, most of our social anxiety had to do with possible rejection or exclusion. With Covid, we have added an alarming threat. Someone’s breath could kill us and we have no way of knowing who is dangerous and who is safe. Our primitive brain has a negativity bias aimed at keeping our body safe and alive. Someone stands too close to us and we react. Stand back!
How is your nervous system reacting to the pandemic now that we are13 months in? The one year mark was significant as anniversaries often are. The “old normal” is gone. The “new…
“Change the culture.” Jackie Summers. “We’re living through a second Civil Rights movement. It started with the death of Trayvon Martin, and hit fever pitch last year with the murder of George Floyd. It isn’t enough. They. Keep. Killing. Us.
While we’ve made significant legal progress, the predominant culture is still to see non-white people as other, and lesser-than. We are perceived as threats, waiting to happen. White friends, I solemnly charge you: change the hearts of your kin. Make the treatment of any person of color as unpalatable to them as it would be if you found out it…
In the very excellent book, My Grandmother’s Hands, by Resmaa Menakem, he refers to people like Malcolm X and James Baldwin as having settled bodies and focused minds. The book is about racialized trauma and he uses the terms white body supremacy, white bodies, black bodies, and police bodies.
It is a fascinating study and insight into historical trauma and how that lives in our bodies.
He refers to clean pain and dirty pain. Dirty pain is that which is pushed down, not able to be seen, and thus not able to be metabolized. …
Dr Gabor Maté speaks about the effect of traumatic experiences as being disconnecting. Nurturing authentic connection with ourselves is thrilling, painful and raw. It is the aliveness we long for and it is a bold move.
What does disconnection look like in our ordinary everyday life? Our past experience leads us to predict that the present moment is likely to be painful and overwhelming. We respond to potential threats with our survival responses of fight/ flight/ freeze/ fawn.
Have you ever been introduced to someone and literally ten seconds later you don’t remember their name? I have. Sometimes it’s a…
My drive for emotional safety overpowered care for my body.
We have many words to describe the very common dissociation of ourselves from our bodies. “She’s stuck in her head.” “I live from the neck up.” We feel like we are at war with the drives and compulsions in our body. We numb out and act out.
These are trauma responses. The result of traumatic experiences (including emotional neglect) is that we disconnect from ourselves, our sense of value and from the present moment. When we are overwhelmed and feel powerless, we do our best to escape.
We disconnect because…
How do we move about in the world when the fear abates? When the drive to compete disappears? When we validate and value ourselves internally?
We can accomplish a lot driven by fear. And what a price we pay!
Fire at my heels! Driven by fear!
Sit for a few minutes and notice your response to these words. Stay in the perspective of the observer. Remain in touch with your whole body and with your breath.
Objectification is when we use another person as a way to fill our needs. This isn’t the interaction with others that happens all the time. We are lonely, call a friend and feel better just by feeling understood. They do the same.
Mutuality is missing when we objectify someone. They have a habit of calling us late at night and talk at us for two hours even when they know we have to get up early. They use us as a way to let off steam without caring that they leave us all stirred up. We all do this to…
Take a few deep breaths and relax your whole body from head to toes. Look at these sentences and notice your response.
Someone came up behind me and I jumped a foot. I am frustrated that I startle so easily over nothing.
I was enjoying a visit with a friend, but the music in the coffee shop made it hard to hear. After I’d been there awhile, I felt like the noise was assaulting me. Whoa! Over the top response. What is the matter with me that I get enraged by loud noise?
At work there is a guy who…