Non-Violent Reality

Non-Violent Reality

“Reality is what we take to be true.
What we take to be true is what we believe.
What we believe is based upon our perceptions.
What we perceive depends upon what we look for.
What we look for depends upon what we think.
What we think depends upon what we perceive.
What we perceive determines what we believe.
What we believe determines what we take to be true.
What we take to be true is our reality.”
― Gary ZukavDancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics

Every moment is a gift where we can learn to choose how we want to respond. I believe we are all born inherently good and that all negativity comes from a state of stress. Stress results in our brain-body and central nervous system when we perceive a threat to our wellbeing or worldview; have unmet needs; have a build-up of toxins (emotional, chemical, physical, environmental), and/or lack of skill. When we take time to notice our thoughts, feelings, thoughts, actions, and sensations and find positive, safe ways to process them, then we can connect to our wise self and respond in compassionate ways to get our vital needs met as well as ease stress for all those involved. We can transform fear to love, stress to resilience and trauma to wisdom when we choose to expand our awareness and be (a) present. Embrace your fears, love more, and trust the process.

Deep breaths, baby steps and take wonderful care and yourself and one another ❤

Debra

Self-Regulation VS Co-Regulation or Both?

Human bodies are amazing and self-regulating. We each have a unique homeostasis that our bodies need to feel balanced and function optimally. Dependent on our environment, interpersonal neurobiology, genetics, temperament, exposure to toxins or trauma, we each need a variety of nutrients, needs met, and level of stimulation/arousal to function well. When we are pushed out of our window of tolerance or are deficient in anything, we will automatically react with symptoms and signals to get what we perceive we are needing. The body will actually shut down certain functions based on how vital the functions are to staying alive under the current conditions we are perceiving.

You may have heard the term self-regulation which refers to being able to control oneself in order to find balance and calm within our internal and external systems. When it comes to emotions, self-regulation often means having the ability to:

1) Notice and identify that you are having an emotional reaction;

2) Know that the emotion signals a need;

3) Express needs and emotions in respectful, clear, and direct ways;

4) Manage emotions in a productive way that you start to feel calm; and

5) Be emotionally, physically, psychologically calm, thoughtful, responsive, connected in times of stress.

These abilities are aspects of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Social Emotional Learning (SEL). When it comes to children, I believe there are some big misconceptions about self-soothing and regulating emotions which are causing our society great dysregulation and devastating negative consequences, like domestic violence, crime, child abuse and neglect, epidemic levels of drug abuse, bullying, and suicide.

For one, children under the age of three cannot emotionally self-regulate as the co reg Dr Shankerdevelopment of brain functions that even allow for this ability do not come online until age three. Secondly, the ability to self-regulate is actually first developed through the process of co-regulation, especially from conception to age seven. Co-regulation means having the consistent and dependable presence of a caregiver who can self-regulate and is safe, nurturing, and responsive, especially in times of stress. Thus to learn to self-soothe and self-regulate, we need someone to reliably soothe us during our most critical, sensitive, and distressing times of development. Sadly, many caregivers don’t have the skills themselves to emotionally self-regulate so they react negatively to the child who has less ability to process and cope. A third misconception occurs most often when kids appear to be self-regulating and controlling themselves, yet what is likely happening is that they have learned to shut down connection to their own emotions and needs and are complying out of fear of upsetting caregivers or others.

Needing someone is normal and expected based on our biology. Human beings are wired to be in relationship and connect. As humans, we function better when we are surrounded by others who are calm and nurturing. This is why family, communities and committed partnerships that are consistently safe, loving and trusting are huge resiliency factors and cultivate optimal growth and well-being. Realistically, life will always have stressors and filled with big conflicting emotions so it is advantageous to have reliable safeguards.

Even when the presence of a safe, trusting relationship is established and secure, and one can self-regulate well, any new variable or stressful event out of one’s window of tolerance would still require the presence of another to help calm our central nervous system, regardless of age and ability. Children are constantly being exposed to new experiences and information so they need this reliable presence in order to integrate the experiences and information into their mind and being. Considering the alarming rate at which information is streaming at us and how fast technology is advancing, the risk of being pushed out of our windows of tolerance and not getting our vital needs met is extremely high and constant.

Think about when you are in distress, do you prefer your partner or support persons to minimize, react negatively or abandon you in your distress? Or do you get calmer faster when at least one person is there who is calm and trying to understand you, who is validating and supporting you through? … It amazes me how few adults realize that when they react negatively or how dismissing their children’s negative emotions, that this signals their own dysregulation and tolerance level. How can one expect a child with less experience, skills, and resources to regulate themselves especially when they are feeling the added distress of their caregiver? An angry or upset caregiver is perceived instantly as a threat to a child as their livelihood depends on the mood and presence of their caregiver.

Most of our problems come from having an experience that is confusing, overwhelming, conflicting and we have no safe places to process the negative energy, related emotions and thoughts. The negative energy and tension build up, then we’ll end up we acting it out or shutting down. Not getting our vital needs met, like having food, water, fresh air or not feeling safe or connected to others, as well as lacking skills leads to a build-up of stress and trauma.  Most don’t even realize they have a homeostasis or what they need to function optimally let alone be able to communicate those needs to others so we keep getting stuck in deregulated states and create negative feedback loops within our bodies and relationships. We get overwhelmed by big conflicting emotions and stressors, can’t access our resources and default to hyper- or hypo-aroused state which causes more negative emotions and stress, feeding a vicious, depleting cycle.

To stop the cycle, try taking a few deep, controlled breaths now…Notice what you are thinking and feeling…What sensations do you notice in your body? There is no right or wrong way here, just notice what comes up for you. After taking sometime noticing what you are thinking, feeling and sensing, next visualize a time or place you last felt really safe and happy… Go through all your senses: what do you see, feel, hear, smell, and taste at this special safe/happy place? Notice where you feel sensations in your body while visualizing this safe/happy place?  This exercise will naturally stimulate your parasympathetic system, eliciting a relaxation response so try this next time you feel overwhelmed by negative emotions. When feeling calm, take consistent steps to fill your life with safe, nurturing, joyful and trusting relationships and environments because, on the bright side, we can learn to self-regulate no matter how old we are or how negative our relationships have been.

To learn more about my online services, please visit Debra Wallace MS LMFT at WeCounsel .

Take wonderful care of yourself as the world needs you connected and full of joy.

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“A healthy, balanced life requires connection and community, as much as self-regulation and autonomy. Seeking soothing in sorrow, or validation in victory, invites those around us to share their wisdom and love. Like the mother/infant loop, we give and receive regulation when we’re in caring relationships with others. Co-regulation is what makes love, and the world, truly go around.” ~Alexandra Katehakis

If you’d like to learn more about self-regulation, here are some more resources:

Self-regulation doesn’t exist!

How Can We Help Kids With Self-Regulation?

Calming together: The pathway to self-control

7 more myths about self-regulation

Why-self-regulation is most important thing in world

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/self-differentiation-why-it-matters-in-families-relationships-0831174

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 seek referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state of Illinois, USA

Negative effects of toxic stress

All negativity comes from a state of stress within our central nervous system. Stress can be an emotional, mental, physical, or chemical stimulus that is prolonged, unpredictable, and/or overwhelming to our body and mind. Stress can come in the form of having big and conflicting emotions at once, lacking skills and not knowing how to handle the situation appropriately, or having unmet needs like nutrition, rest, connection, etc. Any stress that goes on unexpressed, unprocessed, and/or misunderstood can become toxic and traumatic.  Naturally, experiences that involve actual or perceived death or serious injury increases the potential for toxic levels of stress and trauma. Toxic stress and trauma lead to dysregulation which is being in a state of STRESS beyond one’s window of tolerance and does the following:

  • Alters the chemistry and functioning of your mind/body/heart connections;
  • Creates unconscious emotions of fear;
  • Activates stress hormones and flight/flight/freeze mode of reactions;
  • Decreases ability to access higher brain functions (i.e. problem-solving, planning, language, knowing right from wrong etc.)
  • Decreases our tolerance level and increases sensitivity to stress
  • Creates more rigid, inflexible, incoherent, temperamental and chaotic reactions
  • Click the following link for more information on Effects of Toxic Stress

Our natural stress response exists on a continuum from hyper-aroused to hypo-aroused with mild to extreme reactions. Hyper-aroused is when we are over-active, on alert and in fight or flight mode. In this state, we may act out aggressively or feel anxious. Hypo-aroused is when we shut down and are in a state of freeze or collapse mode. In this state, we tend to withdraw and feel depressed. Just as we are all different, so are our responses to stress. There are many contextual layers that influence the variance in our responses and the likelihood of negative effects like our window of tolerance, temperament, environment, genetic expression, the availability of protective and supportive relationships along with the presence of risk and resiliency factors.

Our experiences, especially the ones in childhood, create our templates and filters for how to process stimuli and stressors and how to respond. The first three years of life creates the blueprint for all future relationships. Most caregivers do not realize how impactful their reactions, mood, and behaviors are on their children. Children depend on caregivers for everything so if a caregiver is unavailable, angry, depressed, neglectful, out of control or acting in a way the child doesn’t understand, then the child will perceive this as a threat to their livelihood which will activate their stress response system. It is important to note that it doesn’t matter if the stress is a real threat or not as our central nervous system just has to perceive it as a threat. Our perception and interpretation of a current event instantly get filtered through our past lens of experiences and developed belief system. I highly recommend learning more about how Adverse Childhood Experiences affect our health.

From my experience, negative consequences such as conflict, “disorders” and “diseases” are the result of an overstimulated, fearful and dysregulated central nervous system which manifests itself through different reactions and symptoms dependant on our interpersonal neurobiology. This is why they’re so many new diagnoses, disorders, and diseases as they keep evolving along with the dynamics and increase of toxins within our minds, bodies, relationships, environment, and our world. As a society, we have failed to promote sustainable, compassionate ways to get our vital needs met. We all have vital needs to feel safe, connected, heard, and understood. When we meet these needs, then we can naturally calm our central nervous system which allows us to access our higher brain functions and innate intelligence as well as integrate new positive experience and coping skills and even heal past trauma. When we consistently meet these vital needs, our central nervous will become securely integrated. When our brains are well integrated then we can optimally process stimuli, self-regulate, connect as well as enable more intricate functions to emerge like insight, empathy, intuition, and morality. This in-depth level of integration results in greater kindness, resilience, and health.

To learn more how you can promote sustainable, compassionate ways to get your needs met in your family, check out my post Promoting Resiliency and Connection Tips

You can learn more about me and my online therapeutic services at WeCounsel

Take Wonderful Care,

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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 thus the content shared on this page is for informational purposes only. This online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention. 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 of Illinois, USA

 

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

How to get Calm…from Aha! Parenting

Thank you Dr. Laura Markham of Aha! Parenting for this very useful post.

“When our child acts out, or lashes out, it’s natural for us to panic.  We move into “fight, flight or freeze”  and our child looks like the enemy.  We all know whatever we do next won’t serve our child’s growth and healing, but we’re in the grip of strong emotions, and we can’t help ourselves. Or can we? What if there were three steps that would help you shift back into calm, AND keep your child from getting upset as often? There are.

“STEP 1:  Get Your Own Emotions Regulated

1. STOP, DROP whatever else you’re doing and BREATHE deeply.

2. Reduce the pressure: Remind yourself that there is no emergency.  No one is dying.

3. Change Your Thoughts: Say a little mantra in your mind:  “She’s acting like a child because she IS a child.  I’m the grown-up here.”

4. Physically release your tension: Notice where you’re holding tension in your body and shake it out. Take a deep breath and blow it out. Make a loud (but nonthreatening) sound. Get a drink of water.

5. Be Here Now. 

If you can bring yourself into the present moment, your upset will drop away.  Give yourself permission not to worry about the future or the past. In this moment, what action would be healing?  Anything else can wait.

“Step 2: Shift the Energy 

1. Make things emotionally safe. Say “We’re having a hard time, Sweetie. Let’s try a Do-Over.”

2. Empathize. Acknowledge your child’s perspective. “Seems like you want ______. ” 

3. Find the common ground. “But I need _______. What can we do?” 

4. Help your child get emotionally regulated. Kids usually do this best by crying or raging in the safety of our arms/presence. Breathe your way through this, reminding yourself that afterwards, he will feel safe, connected to you, and cooperative.

“Step 3:  Learn the Lesson

1. Learn. When you’re calm, reflect on what you can learn from what happened.  How can you support yourself to stay more emotionally regulated?  (Allow more time, get more sleep, better organization, fewer commitments, see things from your child’s perspective more?)

2. Teach. Later, when you and your child feel calm and connected, say “We had a hard moment today, didn’t we?  I’m sorry I got upset.  I guess I was worried.  When you _____, I feel ______.  What can both of us do differently next time?”

3. Change. If this is a recurring situation, make a list of possible solutions and start trying them.  Life is too short to endure the same lessons over and over again. “You won’t remember these steps in the heat of the moment.  Why not print out a little cheat sheet and carry it around with you?  A few months of practice, and you won’t even remember the last time you lost your temper.”

Dr. Laura Markham has since removed this original post I copied and pasted above, but here’s link to an updated version:  http://www.ahaparenting.com/_blog/Parenting_Blog/post/How_to_Stay_Calm_When_You’re_Losing_It/ Even though this is the  advice I’d give, I still printed a copy of this to put on my fridge because no matter how well I know this, I still get stressed and forget it in the heat of moment. No human is immune to emotional hijacking. We all can benefit from deep breaths so oxygen can reach all our cells and open more channels to process the information. I’d check out more blog entries http://ahaparenting.com/_blog/parenting_blog and you can sign up for the newsletter and daily inspirations from Dr. Laura Markham. I am a huge fan of the books she recommends too.

If you’d like further support in applying more coping skills like these in your home as well as learn about normal human development and improving co-parenting relationship Email me  Debra@postivereframe.org or check out my profile at wecounsel.com

Make it a Calm and Connecting Day<3

Debra Wallace MS

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

11 rules for Being Human

Rule 1: You will receive a body.

You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around.

Rule 2: You will learn lessons.

You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant or stupid.

Rule 3: There are no mistakes, only lessons.

Growth is a process of trial and error: experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately “works.”

Rule 4: A lesson is repeated until learned.

A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson.

Rule 5: Learning lessons does not end.

There is no part of Life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.

Rule 6: “There” is no better than “here”

When your “there” has become a “here,” you will simply obtain another “there” that will again look better than “here.”

Rule 7: Others are merely mirrors of you.

You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.

Rule 8: What you make of your life is up to you.

You have the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.

Rule 9: Your answers lie inside you.

The answers to life’s questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen and trust.

Rule 10: You will forget all this.

Rule 11: You can remember whenever you want.

~adapted from IF LIFE IS A GAME, THESE ARE THE RULES: TEN RULES FOR BEING HUMAN by Chérie Carter-Scott~

Thank you for my wonderful mentor Barbara Wetzel MFT (author of  The Ergonomic Couple) who gave me this as my clinical supervisor. I have had a copy of this on my fridge at various stages of my life and would read one rule aloud daily to my family and self. I find them all so true yet #7 seems to be the hardest yet most enlightening.