New filters to live by…

I can handle anything.

Everything that needs to be done will get done

             …when it needs to be.

Let go, fear less, and LOVE more.

Today is a present, open it with joy and curiosity.

 

As human beings, we are constantly absorbing stimulation from all our senses (i.e. sight, touch, smell, taste, sounds, and intuition). In order to function efficiently, our brains filter the stimuli to prioritize and respond. Our initial filter is to determine if the stimulus is a threat. If we perceive a threat, then our stress response system kicks in and we react to protect ourselves. There are more steps that occur instantaneously in this complex process. Yet ultimately, the presence of a calm, nurturing, and safe person and/or connection to secure, positive beliefs and memories can stop the stress response from taking over. Thus promoting resiliency and more positive, secure connections within our mind, body, soul, and relationships.

After receiving counseling and training in trauma and brain development, I discovered I was a highly sensitive person who experienced complex trauma. My central nervous system was also often in a hyper-aroused state. So along with having enhanced sensory sensitivity, I was hypervigilant and intensely surveying every environment I was in. I had a tendency to perceive stimuli as threats and had exaggerated reactions. I was able to pinpoint specific traumatic events that occurred during sensitive stages of my development and in my parents’ lives that I accepted that I was essentially born, wired in fear.

When I was a stay-at-home mom with two young children, overtired and not prioritizing my needs, I was constantly feeling triggered.  I was having strong negative reactions during my own children’s sensitive stages of development. Fortunately, I was aware of what was going on in me so I reflected further on what my biggest fears were. Then I came up with specific statements that targeted those fears and provided compassionate and trusting beliefs to filter the stimuli and my negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors through. My son had drawn a rainbow that I had hanging on our refrigerator. I followed my impulse to take it down and scribbled down the following statements on it:

I can handle anything.

Everything that needs to be done will get done

             …when it needs to be (and not always in my control).

Let go, fear less, and LOVE more.

Today is a present, open it with joy, and curiosity.

I put it back on my fridge and read it every time I got triggered which I knew was happening when my children were upset or acting out and I connected to my “felt sense”. I would notice my chest tighten, heart racing, my body trembling and overheating, my voice tone shifting up, and negative thoughts flooding my brain. I would also take deep breaths and step outside for fresh air.

I refuse to pass on any more trauma onto my children. There is enough suffering in the world to endure. I made a conscious choice to give them a safe space to process all their negative thoughts and feelings so that they could securely connect to their innate intelligence and shine through any negative stimuli. I loved the visual of the rainbow my son drew and reminded me how the sun shines through and creates a rainbow after a storm. Here is what this creation looks like… 

 

Over time, I periodically added new messages that my body, mind, and soul needed to believe when I got triggered. We all can get triggered and easily fall back to negative habits and reactions. The goal is to take responsibility for your triggers: Notice when you are getting triggered, what are you thinking, feeling, and doing; and what will you choose to do to get through it faster. 

Healing our triggers often takes time so be compassionate with yourself as you go through this process. The ability to even notice your triggers and negative reactions is progress even if you cannot stop them yet. Awareness is first to step so when you catch your stress signals or negative reactions, do something nurturing, breathe, and love yourself through. I like to remind myself how it takes an average of 21 times to repeat a new behavior before you make a positive, secure connection in your mind, body, soul and in the relationship itself. The deeper the issue, the more times it takes. Do your best to celebrate each step and choose love over fear. Today is a present, open it with grace, joy, and curiosity.

Take wonderful care of yourself as the world needs you ❤   

Debra Wallace MS LMFT Wecounsel Online Profile

Disclaimer: Positive Reframe shares resources with the intent of the positive progression of informed decision-making related to issues associated with emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellness. While I share personal and professional perspectives, my writings reflect my personal opinion and not intended to substitute professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. The online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention. Thus the content shared on this page is for informational purposes only. To make well-informed decisions that best meet your family’s unique needs, I highly recommend exploring and researching available options, consulting primary health care providers, engaging in respectful dialogue with friends and family as well as seek referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a licensed marriage and Family Therapist in the state Illinois, USA

 

My grandest positive reframe…

*Trigger warning for pregnancy loss*

On September 19th, 2007, I gave birth to a beautiful girl named Anais. She had ten fingers, ten toes, and a delicate face. When she was born, the doctor exclaimed, “She’s perfect,” yet she was dead…

I used to have a visceral reaction when I heard the word ‘perfect.’ I would cringe, feeling angry and focused on what I had lost trying to live to those expectations. When I heard the doctor describe Anais as ‘perfect,’ I felt offended and thought “she’d be perfect if she was alive.” My reaction was normal under the circumstances (20+ hours of labor and three pregnancy losses) but now I can see that she is perfect.

In order to achieve this positive perspective, I had to give myself permission and space to:

  1. Express and process through all my negative feelings and thoughts,
  2. Be validated for my loss, and
  3. Redefine life, perfection, and all its components.

Merriam-Webster defines perfect as a: being entirely without fault or defect, b: satisfying all requirements, c: corresponding to an ideal standard or abstract concept.

How could one be human and perfect at the same time?885711_10200369643260248_1620706323_o

What we perceive as faults, requirements, or the ideal depends greatly on context. Some faults are strengths in different situations. When you do not meet all the requirements for one position, you may very well open the door to a better one. There are many different paths to reach the same endpoint…

Thus perfection has evolved to mean when my behaviors, thoughts, and feelings are harmonious and encourage me on the path that most honors my authentic self as well as evokes deep connections with others. My baby angels and all children are guides for me on this perfect path. Embracing loss, chaos, negativity, discovering my true self and seeing all the miracles we take for granted is perfection and a grand leap to peace.

As my partner eloquently describes “I am forever grateful for this loss. It was the beginning of my great realignment with my true compassionate self. A life not measured by accomplishment but treasured through connection. She is always with me, tempering my anger, flattening my ego and helping me keep my hand outstretched with kindness and generosity.”

Upon deeper reflection, I discovered another gift that Anais’s and my other babies’ deaths gave me, they were wake-up calls for me to prioritize and nurture myself. Anais especially as I’ll never forget her last movement…I was at work late faxing documents to a lawyer. I was an in-home intensive family therapist for the department of human services dealing with gut-wrenching scenarios. I chose to minimize my discomfort and fears to keep working. Even though I went through a period of self-blame, I know that everything that happens to us has value and meant to teach us. I could not have done anything differently at that point yet I now cherish every day a gift as you never know when it will be your last.

Below is what I sent all my extended family to inform of my daughter’s death…

27797820_1721594484530399_5080444741376729075_o.png

Here are some resources on your journey:

“First off — we need a new word for it. ‘Mis-carriage,’ in an insidious way, suggests fault for the mother — as if she dropped something, or failed to ‘carry.’ From what I’ve learned, in all but the most obvious, extreme cases, it has nothing to do with anything the mother did or didn’t do. So let’s wipe all blame off the table before we even start.” ~James Van Der Beek, via  https://www.today.com/parents/james-van-der-beek-opens-about-miscarriages-emotional-moving-post-t137092

https://www.seleni.org/advice-support/miscarriage-child-loss

http://www.postpartumprogress.com/13-things-you-should-know-about-grief-after-miscarriage-or-baby-loss

https://www.famifi.com/21409/how-to-help-when-your-wife-has-a-miscarriage

http://time.com/3982471/men-are-the-forgotten-grievers-in-miscarriage/

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/grief/coping-with-grief-and-loss.htm

https://www.mendinginvisiblewings.com/

https://pregnancyafterlosssupport.com/

Take wonderful care of yourself and family ❤

Debra

Vital Needs

We are all born good and connected which gets disrupted when vital needs go unmet. Every interaction is an opportunity to connect, nurture, heal and grow… 

Burning Man sculpture called “Love” by Alexandr Milov
Burning Man sculpture called “Love” by Alexandr Milov

Human defense mechanisms intrigue me (i.e. passive/aggressiveness, distortion, projection, denial, fantasy, rationalization, minimizing )…They protect us from absorbing too much pain at once so that the body/mind/heart can prepare to process the uncomfortable, hurtful, and overwhelming experience in order integrate and transcend but if we depend on these mechanisms or use them too long, they harden to bricks that build a wall. You might feel the illusion of safety behind this great wall, but the build-up of toxins, the natural consequences and negativity will delude you. Connection, being able to touch another’s mind/body/heart is one of our vital needs. Many of our other needs are cultivated within safe, well-connected, mutually satisfying and respectful relationships. Unfortunately, what we need the most to heal, few have ever truly received or witnessed. The unknown triggers fear as it is perceived as a threat. We then end up learning to fear and mistrust what we need the most.

When I reflect on my life, I took risks to allow people behind the wall I had built to protect myself. Of course, a few of these people I trusted backfired yet they all helped break down my wall.  My need for these defenses continues to decrease as I find more pro-active and responsible ways of getting my own needs met. I am unsure if it is possible to rid them completely, after all, we are human. Yet as I become more aware of my use of defense mechanisms and triggers, I am better able to embrace the value and those around me. I can love myself and everyone else through the hurt even though I may be running into their walls.

Below is my favorite list of needs from the book, Healing the Child Within by Charles L. Whitfield. It is difficult to move on to getting another need met if the one before it is unmet or threatened. Sadly, I witness too many stuck and fighting at number two… 

Hierarchy of Human Needs 

  1. Survival
  2. Safety
  3. Touching, Skin Contact
  4. Attention
  5. Mirroring And Echoing
  6. Guidance
  7. Listening
  8. Being Real
  9. Participating
  10. Acceptance
    1. Others Are Aware Of, Take Seriously And Admire Real You
    2. Freedom To Be Real You
    3. Tolerance Of Your Feelings
    4. Validation
    5. Respect
    6. Belonging And Love
  11. Opportunity To Grieve Losses And To Grow
  12. Unconditional Support
  13. Loyalty And Trust
  14. Accomplishment
    1. Mastery, Power, Control
    2. Creativity
    3. Having A Sense Of Completion
    4. Making A Contribution
  15. Altering One’s State Of Consciousness
  16. Sexuality
  17. Enjoyment Or Fun
  18. Freedom
  19. Nurturing
  20. Unconditional Love

(compiled from Maslow 1962; Miller, 1981, Weil, 1973; & Glasser, 1985)

light waitalk

Below is a talk I gave on how getting vital needs met lead me to my Light…

https://soundcloud.com/waitalks-1/light

Who’s the Boss?

Many systems operate from the assumption that there needs to be a hierarchy, someone at the top, a boss to lead, to have power over. When my son was younger, he would sometimes say that it felt like I was the boss of him and he has to do what I say. I reflect back that yes, it does feel like I am telling him what to do a lot. I tell him that I don’t want to boss him around and that I want him to be his own boss.  I do know it is my job to protect and teach him healthy behaviors so when he does things that jeopardize safety or health, I tend to interject. But upon great reflection and listening to my son, I stopped my re-directions, lectures, scowling, and controlling reactions etc. I began to reflect what I was seeing, identifying feelings and trusting him to figure it out. It might take longer, things break and get messy, and he will get hurt, yet he learns what he was meant to learn every time I “let go.” I am amazed and feel great relief every time I do it. Of course, when the threat is of imminent loss of life or limb, I will still jump in but really how often does this happen. I choose to live my life in trust, not fear.

For example, once when he was playing a video game on our computer. I realized that I could not listen to my music on the computer while he was doing this. I felt irritated and entitled to be able to listen to my music on my computer. I snapped at him that he now had a shorter time to play. I felt the negativity tighten my body and heard the shrill in my voice. I stopped myself, apologized to my son for being grumpy at him, shared my feelings in a neutral tone about how I was feeling frustrated that I couldn’t listen to my music because he was using the computer. I let it go and started another conversation with my partner. Within moments, my son turned the sound off his game then opened up our music files and asked what music I would like to hear. All of this happened in less than five minutes and he was five years old.

I could cite 1000 interchanges like this where my children teach me about the power of love and trust, but honestly, this is something one must brother gently leading the wayexperiment with and experience the connection for themselves. Personally, my children get me to step out of my comfort zone and enjoy life to its fullest when I am open to accepting their influence. I welcome my son’s so-called “back talk.” He makes valid points and gets me to change fear-based habits. I believe we were all created equal, this includes children. I even think children have greater insight and personal power because their body/mind/souls have absorbed less negativity or interference and are more connected. I work every day to embrace fear, let go, and love and trust more. To lead by example and use power-with instead of power-over. It is hard to let go and can be scary due to life’s unpredictable nature and the fact that many of us are completely unfamiliar with it.

This may help, imagine having a controlling boss, the ones who would like to dictate everything and seem to never be satisfied, focuses on what you do wrong all the time… Now how happy and well adjusted would you be if you lived with that boss 24/7?

If you’d like support on how to lead and guide your children with respect and confidence, you can learn more about my services by calling me at 847 603 4677 or check out Debra Wallace MS LMFT profile at WeCounsel.com

Take Wonderful Care,blog signature

P.S. Here’s an article on how Kids who talk back become more successful adults

Disclaimer: Positive Reframe shares resources with the intent of the positive progression of informed decision making related to issues associated with emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellness. While I share personal and professional perspectives, my writings reflect my personal opinion and not intended to substitute professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. This online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention thus the content shared on this page is for informational purposes only. To make well-informed decisions that best meet your family’s unique needs, I highly recommend exploring and researching available options, consulting primary health care providers and seeking referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state Illinois, USA

Putting on new lenses for parenting…

My life became so much more peaceful, loving, trusting, and joyful the day I realized my children had more to teach me about life than vice versa… Yet to fully understand, I had to look at them differently. I had to stop focusing on how they seem to make life more difficult and drain all my resources. I had to step in their shoes to truly appreciate what they were giving me…the ultimate opportunity to heal, grow, and transform from fear to trust.

“As a parent, there will be times when you are very challenged by your children – they won’t listen, they won’t do what you ask, they fight when you have asked them not to, they won’t stay in bed when you put them there, they melt down when you are out and other people are looking at you…. That is the nature of parenting. And you have two ways of viewing your child in situations like this: you can view your child as a problem – that’s what most people do – or you can fit specially ground pure crystal lenses and view this child as your teacher. The child who challenges you can teach you more than any other teacher you have ever had or will ever have, and without a student loan. So how does a ‘problem’ suddenly turn into a teacher? Your perspective.” ~Pennie Brownlee

You can read the full article here: http://penniebrownlee.weebly.com/1/post/2012/10/a-short-story-for-far-sighted-parents.html

I was happy to have stumbled upon Pennie’s book, Dance With Me in the Heart at our local library in NZ. She cited research I had already knew yet her words were music to my heart. I was even more grateful when I got to hear her speak at a home-birthing conference. She is an amazing inspiration. I highly recommend her works and creations.

Here is a list I created with some common negative descriptions of children’s behaviors through a more positive lens:

Positive Reframe list DWallace4

Positive Reframes and the energy you transmit

The energy we direct at children will be absorbed, internalized, and reflected back out. This process is dynamic, instant, and implicit especially when you consider the following:

  • The quality of attachment between the primary caregiver and the child during the critical and sensitive period of a baby’s development becomes the blueprint for all future relationships.  (Attachment Theory by John Bowlby
  • Much of early human development and learning is done through implicit learning, that is learning from experience without intention or awareness 
  • Children (under age 6) are process most information using delta and theta brain waves which allow input from all senses to enter the brain unconsciously like in a hypnotic trance (see http://www.renewal.ca/nlp55.html)
  • Our bodies are made up of mostly water with babies having the most, being born with about 78%. Water molecules have been shone to change shape depending on the messages it receives. Messages of love lead to beautiful, crystallization yet molecules became disjointed and darkened when messages of hate  were expressed (see http://www.spiritofmaat.com/archive/aug1/consciouswater.html)

We are all born full of goodness and inherently want to be helpful yet don’t have all the skills to do so. All negativity (i.e. acting out behavior or conflict) comes from a state of stress and/or unmet needs.  More times than not, kids are feeling overwhelmed by big and conflicting emotions that they don’t know how to identify or handle. They might be tired, scared, hungry, or confused… If we think children have negative intentions, then we tend to react from a negative frame and end up adding more stress to an already stressed out soul who has fewer skills and resources to handle appropriately. However, when we perceive a child as having good intentions and can see how something valid is affecting their ability, then we can better meet their needs and help them connect to the skills they do have and learn more.

To build a secure attachment, four specific needs children have are to be Seen, Safe, Soothed, and Secure (see “Four S’s of Parenting” by Dr. Dan Siegel). Focusing on their positive intentions eases stress as well as allows for greater opportunity and integration of positive beliefs, feelings, traits, and actions to manifest. What we focus on is what we will get more of. Repeatedly hearing you are naughty or lazy will take its toll. 

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” ~Peggy O’Mara

I adapted a list like this which I got over a decade ago from a Dare To Be You (http://www.coopext.colostate.edu/DTBY/.  This list is meant to be a guide, not an absolute. It is a work in progress and an example of how we can learn to see “negative” behaviors in children more positively by viewing the quality of their behaviors from a different perspective and/or context such as being assertive, expressive of one’s needs, and protective are actually healthy, responsible and honorable traits.

Notice when you are reacting and thinking the worst of your child. Take a few deep breaths and time to gather more information and understanding. Get down on their level and try to see the positive side of the negative behavior…Believe good intentions…Avoid criticism and blame…and Appreciate something, anything…I have found that shining a light on others’ strengths and positive intentions cultivates more love, trust, positivity, and deeper connections for all. Having this positive reframe on children’s behaviors has inspired me greatly. I am better able to be present and supportive of children and connect at a level they respond well at. I have seen over again how positively motivated they become because when they feel good, they will do better.

“Thinking of your child as behaving badly disposes you to think of punishment. Thinking of them as struggling to handle something difficult encourages you to help them through their distress.”

❤ Debra

You can learn more about me and my services here at WeCounsel

Disclaimer

Positive Reframe shares resources with the intent of the positive progression of informed decision making related to issues associated with emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellness. While I share personal and professional perspectives, my writings reflect my personal opinion and not intended to substitute professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. The online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention thus the content shared on this page is for informational purposes only. To make well-informed decisions that best meet your family’s unique needs, I highly recommend exploring and researching available options, consulting primary health care providers, engaging in respectful dialogue with friends and family as well as seek referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state of Illinois, USA