Why Quit Self-Work

The modern trope of self-work can be exhausting and demoralizing in its suggestion that you are an obligation, an object that can be perfected, or a problem to be fixed. Perhaps instead we move toward self-exploration, that encourages healing naturally through connection and creative experience. An orientation of internal (and then likely external) kindness,
rather than judgement and stress. 

A scolded child shuts down, but a supported child
can learn new options. 

e7edd577ff52408c0a09b3738f106c90.jpg

A recent nuerophysiology study showed that when we are focused on achieving a goal it puts our system under some stress, which causes us have to less access to a resourced, creative state of mind. However, when we can embody or connect to a present moment intention, our nervous system responds positively.  A goal suggests we aren't in the right place, where as an intention helps us feel how we are already connected to what we need. 

In this place we invite our lives to unfold from a place of abundance and trust in place of deficit or shame and fear. In any moments we can find pause to rest into our breath, into our bodies we initiate this reorientation as we begin to operate from the belief that we deserve love and presence in just exactly the shape we take today.  Each breath is an invitation to remember that we are supported in our existence--we matter, and if we were meant to be different in this here/now, we would be. 

 

On the Trauma of Trump: How to Help Ourselves Effectively Move Forward

As a psychotherapist I am finding myself on the frontline relief of this recent political tragedy. It can be helpful to treat this election upset as you would a personal trauma or death, as it is a very real (although temporary) loss of faith in the security and safety of our home place. I would like to offer these themes to support our resiliency at this critical juncture. 

  1. Triggers. Because of how the brain works, the shock, pain, and fear of this event will trigger past traumas and wounds. If you can help your body tell the difference between the current event and the past issues it will settle your nervous system and minimize your automatic stress response. The easiest way to do this is by mindfully coming into your body in the present moment--walk, breathe, hug, yoga, etc. Also, put your screens down at least every 15 minutes so your body can rest and reset. 
  2. Responsive vs Reactive. If we let ourselves be swept away in the automatic survival response (fight, flight, freeze) that our systems will want to have to this moment of uncertainty we will be acting with the most primitive part of our brains, and will likely be irrational or immobilized. Finding a sense of calm and groundedness in this as individuals is the best possible thing we can do for the world right now. Even just feeling your own feet on the ground or looking at a tree for 60 seconds can make a huge difference. 
  3. Find your strengths. This situation is complicated and big, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. If we can each focus on one thing we feel capable of doing to comfort or organize we will no doubt be able to lessen the negative impact of this, and potentially even connect to powerful community, motivation, or causes that we didn't expect. 
  4. Get creative. If we stay calm, the part of our brains in charge of creative thinking will come back online (as opposed to the primitive one that takes over when we are stressed or triggered). If we can avoid panic, there is great possibility for how we want to respond to this moment.
  5. Compassion. The people who voted in Trump have the highest rates of disease and suicide in the nation. Although it can be difficult to understand, our efforts at compassion and connection with those on the other side, rather than further dehumanization of one another, will no doubt be our way out of this moving forward.