Understanding Shame, part 5: Healing emotional trauma

Editor’s note: This week, we offer you a 5-part series — originating in The Attached Family online magazine’s “Parenting Without Shame” issue — to help you better understand the development of toxic shame. Part 1 explained how trauma includes 3 components: Fear, Disconnection, and Shame. Part 2 explored Fear. Part 3 defined Disconnection. Part 4 discussed what it means to become “shame-based.” In this final Part 5, we take a look at the healing process.

One of the challenges for healing of emotional trauma is that although trauma-worlds are created in response to external events, once established, they form rigid and closed internal systems.

Locked inside these systems, our behavior sets us up to be retraumatized by other people. Additionally, the ways that we behave toward ourselves are invariably retraumatizing. Trauma-worlds are self-perpetuating.

Locked inside these systems, we also struggle to see trauma for what it is. That leaves us little choice but to focus on the visible symptoms and the chronic, deadening pain they create.

Healing Doesn’t Come Through Symptom Relief

Symptoms of emotional trauma include the fear, disconnection, and shame that lie at the heart of a trauma-world; also depression, meaninglessness, addictions, self-harm, rage, and unexplained physical pain, and ailments. Additionally, we are likely to struggle in our relationships and to sabotage things we care about. This is why family therapy is extremely important. Once started, your therapist may recommend  individual children’s therapy.

Focusing on such symptoms, we — as individuals and as a society — put our resources into trying to alleviate them, perhaps through short-term family therapy or psychotherapeutic drugs, or by pinning our hopes to something like success at work, a new romantic relationship, losing weight, or cosmetic surgery.

These “symptom relievers” can give us temporary respite, but it won’t free us from the internal systems that were set up in the wake of the traumatizing experiences, so in time, we fall back into our suffering.

Even when we can see beneath the symptoms to the underlying traumatizing experiences, we are unlikely to recognize the trauma-worlds in which we are living, so our first port of call is to blame whoever, or whatever, caused the original wounds and look for retribution.

That is a valuable first step and a necessary part of the process, for we do need to recognize what happened to us. We need to validate the experience and understand that it was not our fault. However, focusing on the traumatizing experience or on punishing the perpetrators is not enough by itself to bring deep healing, because that won’t change the embodied systems that form our trauma-worlds. It’s akin to being hit by a drunken driver and having our leg broken. Focusing on the accident and jailing the driver won’t heal our leg.

How Healing Happens

Healing trauma requires the courage to recognize that ultimately our lives are compromised not by the original traumatizing experiences themselves, but by the trauma-world that is created by our own minds and bodies as a response to those experiences. And we need to recognize this reality without blaming and judging ourselves — we need to understand that creating a trauma-world is what human beings do to survive.

At the same time, we have to take responsibility for our healing, and for moving out of our trauma-worlds.

Developing a cognitive awareness of the original traumatizing experiences, and of the systems created in their wake, is a good start to the process of taking responsibility for our own healing. But it is not enough.

To create lasting change, we have to enter into our emotional minds and bodies and slowly become aware of what we carry from the inside.

That means opening to the original traumatizing pain and fear, learning how to tolerate it, and integrating it into our sense of who we are. It is only when we find ways of relating to our buried pain and fear that our lives are no longer organized around the imperative to avoid anything which might trigger what we carry in our depths. However, this is an extremely challenging process: We need to do it slowly, taking one small step at a time.

Equally crucial is that we work with the fear, disconnection, and shame that form our trauma-worlds:

  1. First, we must enter into these systems and become conscious of how we feel in both our minds and bodies when they are active.
  2. Then, we have to challenge our shame, reconnect to the exiled parts of ourselves, and learn to live with our sensitized fear system.
  3. Finally, we need to develop new, and healthier, ways to protect ourselves.

It is hard, daunting, and arduous work. Our trauma-worlds were created to survive overwhelming pain and fear. When we try to transform them, we are besieged with the conviction that we will be annihilated. That conviction leaves us at risk of sabotaging the healing process. Thus, we need patience, perseverance, determination, and courage.

It is also imperative that we have support and guidance from those who have been through the process themselves.

Do Not Do It Alone

To heal trauma, we not only need an embodied consciousness of what we carry from our past, we also need new experiences. Real change happens in the present moment through lived experience.

This need for new experiences is one of the many reasons why we can’t heal trauma alone. Emotional trauma arises because something has gone awry in our relationships, so a healing relationship is crucially important if we are to learn how to connect to other people and to ourselves in healthier ways. Similarly, we need support if we are going to approach the unprocessed pain and fear that was once unbearable, and we also need guidance if we are to transform the fearfulness, disconnection, and shame that lie at the heart of our trauma-worlds.

A healing relationship can be provided by a therapist, counselor, teacher, social worker, spiritual guide, or healing group — the label doesn’t matter. What does matter is that whoever is accompanying us has worked deeply with his or her own trauma. Healing trauma is akin to learning to speak a language like Chinese: It is not enough that our teacher has a theoretical knowledge of the grammar and that she can recognize the characters when they are written on the page; rather she must speak the language herself.

What It Means to be Healed

When we embark on trying to heal trauma, we typically imagine that we will reach a place where our lives are free from the suffering that arises from our wounds, and where trauma no longer has any effect on our lives.

That is not what happens. We cannot change our past. Our trauma remains part of us. What can be changed is its impact. To achieve that, we have to find new and healthier ways of being with the pain and fear embedded in the traumatizing experiences, and just as importantly, we have to transform the trauma-world that developed around them.

It is a challenging process. It takes time. Many people, and indeed most public health services, look for an easier and faster route. But there is no easy route. To address trauma in a meaningful way, we need to commit ourselves to this challenge.

I believe it is vitally important that we make this commitment — not only to help ourselves — but also because when we carry unaddressed trauma, we have no choice but to relate to our children, family, neighbors, and colleagues in ways that are likely to result in them becoming traumatized.

In contrast, when we transform our trauma-worlds, we break that spiral and start relating to ourselves, other people, and the world around us in much healthier and more nurturing ways.

Photo sources: Pixabay.com

Understanding Shame, part 4: Growing up shame-based

Editor’s note: This week, we offer you a 5-part series — originating in The Attached Family online magazine’s “Parenting Without Shame” issue — to help you better understand the development of toxic shame. Part 1 explained how trauma includes 3 components: Fear, Disconnection, and Shame. Part 2 explored Fear. Part 3 defined Disconnection. In this Part 4, we take a look at what it means to become shame-based.

Shame is a visceral and pervasive feeling of being fundamentally flawed and inadequate as a human being.

Shame is primarily relational: Although shame leaves us feeling absolutely alone, its roots lie in an implicit conviction that we are somehow unworthy of having meaningful relationships with other people.

Shame vs Guilt

Shame is often confused with guilt, but with guilt, we feel bad about things we have done. With shame, we feel bad about who we are.

Guilt is about our actions. Shame is about our being.

Shame is mediated by the emotional networks of the brain, so although shame is typically accompanied by self-critical thoughts like “I am stupid/useless/fat/pathetic,” it is ultimately lived as an embodied experience that resides deep beneath our awareness and sucks us into the psychological equivalent of a black hole.

When Shame Becomes Toxic

Shame is a product of evolution, and it is experienced as a passing emotion in almost everybody. It exists to tell us that we are at risk of losing important social relationships, or that we might be thrown out of our group.

However, if we’ve been traumatized, then shame becomes indelibly interwoven with our implicit sense of who we are, whereupon our identity becomes “shame-based.”

There are several routes to becoming shame-based:

  1. Shame can originate outside of us — When we are made to feel inadequate by our family, caregivers, teachers, peers, culture, or socio-political environment, we absorb that shame and make it our own. In this case, being shamed constitutes the original painful and frightening experience around which our trauma-world is built.
  2. Human infants need sensitive and responsive nurturing from caregivers — When this need is not met, children develop an embodied and nonverbal sense of being inadequate. They also develop an embodied and nonverbal sense of inadequacy around their actual need for nurturing — implicitly feeling that there must be something wrong with them for having the needs.
  3. Shame can originate inside us as a response to more overt traumatizing experiences — Painful and frightening experiences occur that have nothing to do with being shamed. However, we have evolved a need to understand why these things have happened to us, and for various reasons, we tend to believe that we are at fault. For example, children whose parents divorce commonly feel that if they had been “better,” their parents would have stayed together.
  4. Once we’ve entered a trauma-world, shame can be created in response to our own behavior — There are times when we know we are over-reacting. However, because we aren’t aware that our fear system is hyper-sensitive, we take our behavior as evidence of our own supposed inadequacy. In addition, when we bury parts of ourselves in order to make ourselves acceptable to others, we implicitly sense that we are being inauthentic, which in turn creates shame.

Irrespective of how our shame originates, once we’ve become shame-based, we can’t recognize shame for what it is. Thus, we see ourselves through a distorted lens. As a result, we are likely to experience ourselves as contemptible and feel a victim to our own believed inadequacy.

What Doesn’t Work to Heal Shame

In this state, we get sucked into a downward spiral of shame. We can become even more desperate to obliterate the parts of ourselves that we believe make us inadequate, redoubling our efforts to shame those parts into submission. However, when we use shame against ourselves, we retraumatize ourselves. Then, instead of fostering change, we reinforce the status quo and fortify the walls of our trauma-world.

At the same time, we try to cajole ourselves into success, believing that if we can force ourselves to become more than we are — or ideally perfect — then the gnawing pain of being shame-based will abate. However, if we are shame-based, then no amount of success will be enough. No matter what we do, we are never enough.

Being shame-based doesn’t only poison our relationship with ourselves, it also poisons our relationships with others. When we are shame-based, we will be terrified that if others get to know us, they will see us as the inadequate person we believe ourselves to be. In an unconscious attempt to prevent that from happening, we may put up barriers, push people away, and sabotage relationships. Alternatively, we may try to control others, hoping that we can prevent them from doing anything that might bring our shame to the surface.

We are generally not conscious of what we are doing, or indeed why we are doing it. However, we are left with a murky feeling that our relationships lack authenticity, trust, and intimacy. As a result, we feel increasingly isolated.

Also, because human beings are such a profoundly social species, when we don’t have meaningful relationships, we feel sub-human, and that, in turn, exacerbates our shame.

In short, shame creates more shame. Shame also generates isolation and fear. And shame reinforces the need to disconnect. Ultimately, shame keeps us locked in our trauma-worlds.

Tomorrow, in Part 4, we’ll explore what does work in healing shame

Photo sources: Pixabay.com

Understanding Shame, part 3: Disconnection

Editor’s note: This week, we offer you a 5-part series — originating in The Attached Family online magazine’s “Parenting Without Shame” issue — to help you better understand the development of toxic shame. Part 1 explained how trauma includes 3 components: Fear, Disconnection, and Shame. Part 2 explored Fear. In this Part 3, we take a look at Disconnection.

Disconnection involves cutting off from some aspect of ourselves.

There are different forms that disconnection can take. All provide us with some kind of protection, but all are ultimately harmful, because they leave us cut off from our own internal reality and from the reality of the external situation.

The Original Disconnection

Disconnection first occurs during the original traumatizing experience. In the midst of a terrible situation, the release of opiates from within us blocks the pain and fear coursing through our bodies, and we are numbed to the feelings.

This is an adaptive response, because it means that if we get a chance to escape, we can take it . Escape would be impossible if we were incapacitated by pain and fear.

Unprocessed Disconnection

Once we are out of danger, and if we have enough support, we may be able to reconnect to our pain and fear, and process them. However, without support, our unprocessed emotions remain locked away in our unconscious minds and bodies. This is because we simply can’t function if we allow overwhelming emotions into awareness.

There are many harmful consequences of remaining disconnected from the traumatizing pain and fear we’ve experienced:

1) We are compelled to avoid anything that might bring our unprocessed emotions into awareness. This compulsion to protect ourselves from what was once overwhelming poison in our relationships, creates a desperate need for control and prevents us from taking new opportunities. It can also lead to attempts to sabotage the healing process.

2) Having locked the overwhelming pain and fear in our bodies, we must disconnect from our bodies to prevent these feelings from surfacing. This creates new layers of suffering and difficulties:

  • Bodies that carry unprocessed pain and fear can become distorted. Parts of our body may be chronically frozen, collapsed, tense, or inflamed. Our posture might be off-kilter. Our breathing shallow. We might stutter.
  • We may be at risk of being drawn into addictions, both those that take us out of our bodies, and those which represent our bodies’ desperate attempts to be noticed and nurtured.
  • Needing to understand why we ended up traumatized, it is all too easy to blame our alienated bodies. Thereafter we try to perfect our bodies through compulsive dieting, obsessive exercising, or an endless string of plastic surgeries. In so doing, we become further alienated from our bodies.
  • We lose access not just to the original pain and fear, but to emotions more generally. Because emotions arise in the body, when we disconnect from our body, we prevent all emotions from making their way freely into our awareness. As a result, we may feel flattened, dulled, and lacking in vibrancy. Additionally, emotions evolved to guide our responses to the world, so when we can’t access this information, it is as though we have lost our compass, and the sense of danger that is already part of our trauma-worlds becomes more intense.

3) In its most extreme form, the drive to separate from the pain and fear of the original trauma can result in a dissociative identity disorder.

Disconnected Emotions

Underlying the disconnection that I’ve just discussed is a deep fear of the unprocessed and overwhelming emotions that we experienced during the past, as part of the original trauma. There is another kind of disconnection, too — one which is underlain by fear of being attacked or abandoned in the present. This typically occurs when certain parts of ourselves are unacceptable to our family, teachers, or society. Under these circumstances, we cut off or bury the unacceptable parts in an attempt to protect ourselves from the possibility of being retraumatized.

The parts we cut off might be so-called “negative” emotions like pain, fear, or anger, but we can just as easily bury our joy, passion, vulnerability, sexuality, intellect, ambition, and creativity. We might also disconnect from our need for love and connection, or from our need for independence and self-expression.

Sometimes, we try to bury the unacceptable parts of ourselves using self-control and willpower. Other times, critical inner voices try to shame these parts into submission. Sometimes, the “unacceptable” parts are locked in our bodies, perhaps through clenching particular muscles, and by adopting a specific posture. But often this kind of disconnection occurs unconsciously — we are unaware of what we have lost.

The Results

Being cut off from parts of ourselves contributes to the underlying sense of loneliness that is inherent to trauma, because we are abandoning aspects of who we are. It also exacerbates the sense of danger that is built into a trauma-world, because we are not rooted in the fullness our own reality.

Tomorrow, in Part 4, we’ll explore the third component of trauma: Shame

Photo sources: Pixabay.com

Understanding Shame, part 2: Fear

Editor’s note: This week, we offer you a 5-part series — originating in The Attached Family online magazine’s “Parenting Without Shame” issue — to help you better understand the development of toxic shame. Part 1 explained how trauma includes 3 components: Fear, Disconnection, and Shame. In this Part 2, we take a look at Fear.

In response to experiencing overwhelming pain or fear, biological changes occur that leave our minds and bodies extremely sensitive to potential danger.

There are many harmful consequences to having a sensitized fear system. However, if we live in a dangerous environment, suffering these consequences is the lesser of evils, because without being alert to danger, we are likely to die young. In fact, the ability of minds and bodies to become more fearful in dangerous environments is the product of evolution, and exists in many different animal species.

We are particularly alert to danger around the original traumatizing experiences. At the center of a trauma-world is the imperative to avoid retraumatization. Often, this imperative is held unconsciously, so we don’t know that it is driving us. All the same, it impacts our lives in ways that can cause as much — if not more — pain than the original wounding.

Trauma-reactions Intend to Protect, But Actually Hurt

Sometimes, it is impossible to avoid situations that appear similar to the one that traumatized us. When this happens, our old trauma comes back to life — not as a memory of the past, but as a fear-driven, knee-jerk reaction. I’ve called these “trauma-reactions.”

Trauma-reactions are generally built around the mammalian responses to danger: freeze, flight, fight, and submission — though, in each of us, they will take a unique form.

Trauma-reactions seem to come out of nowhere. That is because of the way that traumatizing events are recorded in our memories. Normally, when we commit an event to memory, a tag is added to the event recording when and where it occurred. When these memories are activated, the tags inform us that the experience happened at a particular moment in our past.

In contrast, overwhelming painful and frightening experiences are committed to memory without being tagged with a time and place. Consequently, when these memories are activated, we aren’t aware that we are remembering the past. Instead, we relive the visceral feelings and reactions of earlier experiences as if they were present reality. This kind of memory is called “implicit” or “procedural” memory.

It is easier to get a sense of implicit memory if we think about riding a bicycle: When we get on a bicycle, we don’t consciously remember learning to contract this muscle, or to lean in that direction; rather, what we learned during childhood is implicitly written into our nervous system and muscles, and that memory comes alive as a set of lived reactions.

The advantage of implicit memory is that it enables us to react almost instantaneously, and it is easy to see how that is valuable with a skill like bicycle-riding. Similarly, growing up in a dangerous environment, the ability to react virtually instantaneously can save our lives.

However, with trauma-reactions this instantaneous response can also be problematic, because the implicit memory will sometimes be activated when there is no danger. Worse, because we will be unaware that our traumatic memories have come back to life, we’ll be convinced that what we are feeling is happening right now. As a result, we are likely to behave in ways that recreate the very situation we are trying to avoid.

Protect Against Fear

When thinking about childhood trauma, we need to be aware that throughout our evolutionary history, danger hasn’t only come from predators and illness — it has also come from parents.

In fact, anthropologists now know that for our ancestors, the greatest danger faced by infants was being abandoned to die by a mother who didn’t have the resources to care for another child. It could be that the mother already had a nursing child, or she might be lacking in social support, or there could be a famine.

Either way, for ancestral human infants, an inattentive mother would have been implicitly terrifying, because it would have indicated that the infant’s life was at risk.

Tomorrow, in Part 3, we’ll explore the second component of trauma: Disconnection

Photo sources: Pixabay.com

A prayer for the motherless daughter

logo that hopefully doesnt change colorLesehu was her name. She was only 18 months old when her mama — like so many in Botswana, Africa — died from AIDS.

I met her at the daycare center that my friend Marie Jose, a Catholic nun with 20 years of service in that country, had quickly put together to address the emergency of the alarming number of orphaned children as the pandemic took more lives each day.

As the numbers of orphans at the center grew, the children took care of the toddlers while the overwhelmed volunteers worked to give them all a good meal and make sure they were safe for the time they were there.

Sister Marie asked me what could be done for this little baby, Lesehu, who was so despondent that she barely moved at all. She did not eat, would not walk, and she had the expressionless face of a person in deep shock. Her mama was gone. Her world had completely changed in the most incomprehensible way. She was like a boat whose moorings had been severed, floating with nothing to anchor to, adrift in feelings that were too much for a tiny person of such a tender age.

I gently put her in my lap and hummed softly to her heart. After some time, she let me feed her while my concerned friend watched and nodded that this was good. Soon after, the traumatized child fell asleep in my arms. When it was time to go, I left some Bach Rescue Remedy with the caretakers for her. I placed a feather light kiss on her little forehead with all the force of my love.

No parent wants another family’s child to be left in a bad situation. So we make donations where our contribution will help. We might sign petitions or call our representatives to try to have impact on the conditions that cause such calamity. These actions have important value. But in this world of ours, there will always be those little ones who find themselves dependent on the care of strangers since their mama is no longer there.

rope heartWe know from emerging scientific study that the energy, the potent essence, of thought and heartfelt concern does indeed travel across time and space to reach the ones for whom we are directing our attention. The field of nursing has a substantial body of research about the positive impact of prayer on the recovery of patients after surgery. Plants grow measurably better when someone has sent them positive energy. The Institute of HeartMath conducts pioneering work on the reach of the quantifiable energy of the human heart as it communicates to others across great distances.

Yet, independent of what science has to say about it, whispering a deeply felt wish on behalf of another person is just something we instinctively do. It’s built into us to focus our caring into a prayer for another’s well-being, to keep them safe, increase their happiness, or to bless them.

From my side of the world, I have thought of Lesehu often and wished that there was a way I could ease her sorrow. So it was a great relief when I realized that I could — this is my prayer for her:

May the love of the Divine Mother soothe your sorrow and dry your tears. I offer my piece of that energy to you now with all my heart.

May you be certain that the Mommy who gave you life wanted you to live and to thrive. She watches over you still.

There is nothing you could have done that would have changed how things happened, so let that doubt rest.

May you always know that you are worthy of love and deserving of happiness.

May you have thoughts that bring you peace and ease the longing for that which you do not have because of circumstances beyond your control.

May you reach for healthy relationships that fill you up with the sweetness of sincere caring.

May you make the best choice for your highest good in every instance so that your confidence in yourself grows as you grow.

May you believe in yourself, because I believe in you. 

May there always be someone kind nearby to encourage you, to celebrate your successes, and to comfort you when you need it. 

May a kind woman’s hands braid your hair with tenderness and let you know that becoming a woman is a wonderful miracle.

May you draw to you people and experiences that nurture you, that delight you, and that show you that you are creating the life of love and happiness that is your birthright. 

When you become a woman, may you have the confidence to pass gracefully into all that will come to you in this lifetime.

May you find true love with the soul who will adore you and cherish your true essence.

May you know that in your belly is the spring of life that connects you to the woman who brought you into the world.

May you laugh and giggle freely — I will hear you and smile, little daughter.

May this love I send out reach all children everywhere who can benefit from it. 

What if we do have the ability to shift the suffering of another person by sending our love and concern to them via the “quantum telegraph service”?

I am going to respond with that human instinct, because it feels true to believe that though I cannot touch this precious child’s face, perhaps my voice can be a whisper of love that touches her heart.

Raising kids with grit…and an interview with Jane Stevens of ACEs Too High

siblings-937393-mAttachment Parenting International (API) is directly involved in building resilience in communities across the nation and around the world through its local API Support Groups and accredited API Leaders by supporting secure parent-child attachments.

It cannot be emphasized enough how important secure attachments are. To be sure, resilience is something we all want for our children — actually, resilience is something all children need.

This scientific-sounding term, “resilience,” may seem really abstract and difficult to define. Perhaps you’ve heard of resilience by its other names. Synonyms include: grit, hardiness, toughness, adaptability, rebound, perseverance, tenacity.

In the most basic definition, resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. I like to think of it as emotional toughness.

It’s the ability to rebound from frustrations and disappointments, to not get lost in life’s inevitable valleys between the high points, to persevere — all the while staying true to oneself, remaining passionate about life and never giving up hope.

Secure parent-child attachments and resilience-building go hand-in-hand. Positive discipline, coupled with warmth and nurturing, makes for an ideal child-raising atmosphere.

There is no need to expose our children to harsh situations with the misguided intention to raise them with grit. True grit — resilience — is not a mean-spirited or emotionally avoidant individual who has grown up building walls around his or her vulnerability. True grit is the ability to feel all emotions and to know how to manage healthy responses to those emotions, no matter the situation, without feeling a need to avoid or destructively act-out his or her strong emotions.

API helps parents learn how to develop this true grit within their children. API is a resilience-building resource, funded entirely by donations, yet offered free to all parents no matter their income class, life circumstance or location. Evidence-based parenting — like the approach advocated through API — is one of several areas of community-based resilience-building practices.

jane stevensJane Stevens, founder of ACEs Too High and the ACEs Connection Network, elaborates on resilience and its opposite — trauma — in this API interview.

API: ACEs are integral to understanding resilience. ACEs basically outline the childhood environments that are more likely to predispose people to grow up without developing a high level of resilience. Jane, what are ACEs?

JANE: ACEs are Adverse Childhood Experiences.

ACEs usually refers to the 10 types of childhood adversity that were measured in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, a family member who’s an alcoholic or addicted to other drugs, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, witnessing a mother being abused, a family member in prison, and loss of a parent through separation or divorce.

That doesn’t mean that there are no other types of childhood trauma. There are, of course: living in a war zone, witnessing a sibling being abused, witnessing violence outside the home, and others. It’s just that in the ACE Study, only 10 were measured.

API: Thank you, Jane, for providing this quiz for readers to learn their own ACE score (as well as their own Resilience score).

JANE: Many people who learn about the ACE Study and who calculate their own ACE score say they’re relieved, especially if they have a high ACE score. They say that their life finally makes sense.

They also understand that they’re not bad. They coped as best they could under dire circumstances. And knowing that they’re not bad people opens the opportunity for them to change their lives. It’s quite empowering information.

API: Looking at your website, we can see that higher ACE scores are associated with adult alcoholism, chronic depression, perpetrating domestic violence, smoking, being raped, suicide attempts, teen sex and pregnancy, employee absenteeism and job performance. From your website:

“At the same time that the ACE Study was being done, parallel research on kids’ brains found that toxic stress physically damages a child’s developing brain. …

When children are overloaded with stress hormones, they’re in flight, fright or freeze mode. They can’t learn in school. They often have difficulty trusting adults or developing healthy relationships with peers (i.e., they become loners). To relieve their anxiety, depression, guilt, shame and/or inability to focus, they turn to easily available biochemical solutions like Marijuana, if your son us medicated  check out this online dispensary canada for a great variety of strains for medical use.

Using drugs or overeating or engaging in risky behavior leads to consequences as a direct result of this behavior. For example, smoking can lead to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or lung cancer. Overeating can lead to obesity and diabetes. In addition, there is increasing research that shows that severe and chronic stress leads to bodily systems producing an inflammatory response that leads to disease.”

This is significant on an individual level, so what does this do to a community?

JANE: Communities whose residents have high ACE scores and few resilience factors are difficult places to live.

Essentially, the community is in a state of constant and chronic traumatic stress. This means that it’s difficult for people to thrive, or to raise children who will thrive.

API: What are your hopes in helping people learn more about ACEs, their own ACE and Resilience scores, and creating a network of resilience-building groups?

JANE: Once people learn about the consequences of ACEs, the effects of toxic stress and that trauma-informed practices and building resilience can create healthy individuals, families, communities and systems, they can never look at a homeless person without seeing an abused child.

They can never look at a young man in juvenile detention without wondering why the schools he attended did not intervene in his journey from the classroom to prison.

They can never look at communities without wondering if they are implementing trauma-informed and resilience-building practices. And if they are not, they begin asking: “How can we start?”

API: It’s wonderful that people like Jane Stevens are working to raise awareness of ACEs and the effect of traumatic childhood stress. In addition, through her ACEs Connection Network, she is working to guide connections between trauma-informed and resilience-building groups to help individuals with high ACE scores find pathways to healing. This is much needed.

API works at the issue of trauma and resilience from another angle — prevention. It’s clear that the key to positively impacting a community is to first address the family, to get to the heart of the matter — the parent-child attachment relationship — in order to both prevent high ACE scores and to help our children develop resilience.

On Jane’s website, she writes about how resilience fits in with ACEs:

“Fortunately, brains and lives are somewhat plastic. The appropriate integration of resilience factors born out of ACE concepts — such as asking for help, developing trusting relationships, forming a positive attitude, listening to feelings — can help people improve their lives.”

This is exactly how children are raised in evidence-based parenting approaches, such as is advocated by API.

Peace coverRead the entire API interview with Jane Stevens in The Attached Family‘s online “Nurturing Peace” issue.

Content Protected Using Blog Protector By: PcDrome.

© 2008-2022 Attachment Parenting International All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright