Friday, May 01, 2020

Attachment "disorders"

How is it that a baby who wanted and needed to attach ends up with a diagnosis of attachment "disorder" as an adult? We really need to stop describing trauma as a disorder and a mental illness.

Babies are not ambivalent, avoidant, insecure or disorganised by nature, it is lack of nurture that causes them to develop this way.

A baby can't attach to a moving, neglectful or abusive target. By moving I mean someone who isn't emotionally available. Emotional abuse and neglect doesn't get half the credence and weight they deserve. In addition, there is always emotional abuse alongside physical and sexual abuse.

However, there are always exceptions to every rule. There are some parents who, despite their own traumas, have made some sense of them, they might still have some unresolved issues (don't we all?), but they own them and take responsibility for working on them. They are not projecting their unlived life onto their child.

I don't believe the saying that you can't give what you never got, you can. You can break the cycle and love your baby the way you weren't loved.

We are not survival of the fittest. We are survival of the nurtured ~ Louis Cozolino

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Walk your own path

This place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you ~ Hafiz

Some beautiful paths can't be discovered without getting lost ~ Erol Ozan

Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker ~ Garth Nix

I honour every woman who has strength  enough to step out of the beaten path when she feels that her walk lies in another ~ Harriet Hosmer

Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence ~ Henry David Thoreau

Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking ~ Antonio Machado

Far better to live your own path imperfectly than to live another's perfectly ~ Bhagavad Gita

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Tapping on implicit memories

If an implicit memory is triggered, the cause isn't always obvious because nothing might have happened to upset us. It can feel like these feelings and body sensations are coming out of the blue and this what we can find very frightening and confusing, because there is no obvious explanation for them.

This is because implicit memories are very early memories. Big feelings and body sensations can feel extremely frightening to a baby and child and when these feelings come up later we're left wondering what is happening. I often use a combination of EFT and pendulation which is from somatic experiencing, developed by Peter Levine. They work seamlessly together. Try tapping on:

Even though it feels like this memory came out of nowhere, I accept how I feel

Even though I don't understand where this is coming from, I accept how I feel

Even though this feeling/body sensations feels … I honour my feelings

Top of the head: I feel frightened
Eyebrow: Of ...
Side of eye: I don't understand where this ... is coming from
Under eye: I'll tap
Under nose: And breathe
Under chin: This is a really early feeling
Collar bone: That I just couldn't feel
Under arm: It was too big for me

Top of the head: Maybe I can feel some it now
Eyebrow: 10% (feel in to what feels right for you)
Side of eye: That feels ...
Under eye: That must have been so frightening for me
Under nose: No wonder it short circuited my nervous system
Under chin: Maybe it's coming up now so I can feel it
Collar bone: And calm and soothe little me
Under arm: S/he needs me

Top of the head: I can be there for me
Eyebrow: Slowly but surely
Side of eye: It's ok if I feel afraid too
Under eye: We understand how each other is feeling
Under nose: If I feel overwhelmed
Under chin: I can stop
Collar bone: Or find another place in my body that feels ok
Under arm: And move my attention

Top of the head: Between the two places
Eyebrow: 30 seconds with my knee
Side of eye: And 10 seconds with this awful feeling
Under eye: Back to my knee which feels neutral
Under nose: And I'll keep tapping
Under chin: And breathing
Collar bone: Until I feel calmer
Under arm: That feels ...

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Emotional charges in the nervous system

Each time we experience an event that overwhelms our capacity to cope, an electrical charge, or short circuit, is created in our nervous system. It doesn't matter if fight, flight or freeze generated the charge, what's important is that the charge be released from our nervous system as soon as possible.

There are many reasons this doesn't happen; developmental stage, not being co-regulated, not knowing how, being too "civilised" and so on.

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) dissolves these emotional charges in our nervous system by tapping on various parts of the body. One reason (of many) that EFT works, is that the crystalline structure of the collagen molecules that make up our connective tissue or fascia is a semiconductor. Semiconductors are not only able to conduct energy, they are also able to conduct information. By tapping on the acupressure points contained within our fascia, piezoelectric signals are sent throughout the nervous system (which includes our brain) and dissolve the charge. The really fascinating thing though is that EFT also works even if you imagine tapping on the points!I think this is because our intention when we tap, or do any work, is really important.

Each memory, or trauma/dissociation capsule as Robert Scaer phrases it, can have several emotional charges and each memory will contain distinct details. By working on the details of a memory/capsule; a narrative, body sensations etc. you can dissolve the charges that are disrupting and disregulating your nervous system. With EFT you can work with implicit or explicit memory, you do not have to have a narrative for EFT to be effective. It can work with no talking whatsoever.

The more undissolved charges we have in our nervous system, the more adverse effects on our physical and mental health. These 'charges' divert energy away from healing to just coping and surviving which is no way to live and thrive. It is like trying to keep beach balls submerged under water all the time, it is absolutely exhausting.

The nervous system is like a giant electrical grid that connects all organs and all systems in the body with the brain ~ Gabor Maté

Sunday, February 09, 2020

What's worse?

Many of us are emotionally starving for what Robert Stolorow calls a 'relational home': another human being who can hold a space for us to feel what we feel and be who we are in that moment.

Instead, what many of us get are shaming messages; what we feel and who we are is wrong.

There is such a strong phobia of "negative" emotions at the moment. If you have or feel an emotion on the "negative" list, you're vibrating too low, or you're dragging everyone else down. It's all about positivity, but a fake and forced positivity which is absolutely exhausting.

Emotions come and go, if we let them. We will never reach a point where we'll have gotten rid of fear, anger or jealousy forever. That's not supposed to happen because emotions have a purpose. Fear can be life saving, anger can help us set boundaries and jealousy can show us what we really want.

Do you know what's worse than feeling a so-called low vibration emotion? Repressing, suppressing, disowning, denying and pushing away your emotions. Worse in the sense that you'll have to meet these disowned emotions sooner or later. In the meantime the body takes them on for us, patiently waiting for us to feel them, only that never happens for some of us, so our system starts to overflow with symptoms because it can only take so much.

Our shadow is where we shove all the stuff we don't want to be, see, feel or what others found distasteful in us, especially when we were children. But the shadow doesn't go away, it only gets bigger the more we disown it.

We can see evidence of the individual and collective shadow everywhere at the moment and it ain't pretty, but looking away isn't going to help. We need to dive deeper. Our lives depend on it.

One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious ~ Carl Jung

Monday, January 27, 2020

Interoception: one of our 8 senses

The ability to track and sense what is going on inside our body is called interoception, it is one of eight, not five as commonly taught, senses that we have.⁣

When we haven't been co-regulated/attuned to from infancy, which is probably the majority of us, difficult emotions and their physical sensations will be very hard to stay with and process. We need support and help to feel the big stuff and our caregivers need to be able to soothe us when we get upset. If we are not soothed on a consistent basis, we shutdown and do all sorts of stuff to try and manage what we can't really manage because developmentally, we just can't.⁣

⁣This pattern of dissociating and avoiding then continues throughout life. We keep shoving stuff into our bodies, expecting them to be able to take it, until we reach breaking point and there is no other choice but to deal with it, or continue to suffer.⁣

Bessel van der Kolk says in The Body Keeps the Score: "In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.⁣

In my practice I begin the process by helping my patients to first notice and then describe the feelings in their bodies—not emotions such as anger or anxiety or fear but the physical sensations beneath the emotions: pressure, heat, muscular tension, tingling, caving in, feeling hollow, and so on. I also work on identifying the sensations associated with relaxation or pleasure. I help them become aware of their breath, their gestures and movements".⁣

Making friends with our body and its sensations is essential to living a healthy and good life.⁣

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Honouring the body

Our bodies are the repository for all of our experiences. When we don't process/experience these experiences, our bodies have to take on the burden of all this undigested stuff. This is fine for a while, but if we keep pushing things down into our bodies, it will eventually give and start to leak symptoms. Often the symptoms will be metaphors for what is going on with us.

The symptoms are the bread crumb trail to the root cause(s) but many of us get mired in figuring out and treating only symptoms.

Very often, the cause is unresolved trauma which places a huge burden on our bodies. They can only hold so much. The four books below talk about this very subject.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, Bessel van der Kolk

The Body Bears the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation, and Disease, Robert Scaer

When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection, Gabor Maté

The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Hurtful Parenting, Alice Miller

Try and really answer the questions posed here, write them down, and start tapping on your answers.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Meeting and feeling pain

You can be 2%, 5%, 10% willing … whatever feels right to you. You don't have to meet your pain all at once. It's important to stay within your window of tolerance (what you can cope with without becoming overwhelmed or shutting down). The more willing we are to meet and feel our pain, the less our triggers and symptoms have to scream for our attention because we're already paying them attention.