Sacrificing Authenticity for Attachment: The Adaptive Survival Responses of Children and Their Influence on Future Relationships

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Sacrificing Authenticity for Attachment: The Adaptive Survival Responses of Children and Their Influence on Future Relationships

“If our environment cannot support our gut feelings and our emotions, then the child, in order to ‘belong’ and ‘fit in’ will automatically, unwittingly and unconsciously, suppress their emotions and their connections to themselves, for the sake of staying connected to the nurturing environment, without which the child cannot survive. A lot of children are in this dilemma – ‘can I feel and express what I feel or do I have to suppress that in order to be acceptable, to be a good kid, to be a nice kid?’” ~ Dr. Gabor Mate As children, we learn to sacrifice authenticity for connection. Done mostly unconsciously, our body’s intelligence recognizes that if we are our full, vibrant self, we’ll lose the attachment with our parents. We […]

How Better Attunement to Children Co-arises with Empathy and Care for Mother Earth

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How Better Attunement to Children Co-arises with Empathy and Care for Mother Earth

As we better attune to the needs of children, we cannot help but feel the needs of Mother Earth more deeply. And vice versa. This ripening sensitivity reveals what indigenous people have known for millennia: that children, we, are not separate from our environment. For generations, however, this awareness, empathy and care has been marginal, at best, in western culture. We’ve lived and treated our environment, including its inhabitants, as distinct from our body. And historic attachment disruptions with children have co-existed as expressions of this fundamental disconnect from the land and its manifold creatures. Colonizing hearts, minds and lands While indigenous cultures have long placed the child at the centre of the circle around which the family and community extends, western culture has built […]

“It’s okay.” “I’m with you.” “It’ll all be fine.” ~ Why Children Need to Hear These Words More Than You May Know

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“It’s okay.” “I’m with you.” “It’ll all be fine.” ~ Why Children Need to Hear These Words More Than You May Know

“New research at Stanford University encouraged middle school teachers to take on an ‘empathetic mindset’ when students were being disciplined. The study found that the number of pupils who were suspended across the academic year halved, from 9.6% to 4.8%.” ~ Study: Focus on Empathy, Not Punishment, Improves Discipline We all know how well children saturate themselves in the present moment. Lost in doodling, leaves, bugs and clouds, the present moment wraps itself around young ones like a warm, secure blanket. Here children enter a deep state of relaxation where they trust all is good in life. One reason children rest so well in presence is because they rest well in their heart. The heart dwells in what I call the “zero point”: The child […]

Discerning Unspoken Needs from Spoken Desires: Remembering What Matters in Relationships

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Discerning Unspoken Needs from Spoken Desires: Remembering What Matters in Relationships

“Learning is a result of listening, which in turn leads to even better listening and attentiveness to the other person. In other words, to learn from the child, we must have empathy, and empathy grows as we learn.” ~ Alice Miller When a boy asks his mom for a toy car at the store or a woman asks her husband to do his share of the household duties there is a spoken desire and unspoken need at play. In the first example, the boy’s spoken desire is for the toy car; the unspoken need is to be heard, validated, seen, valued. In the second example, the spoken desire is for the husband to clean the oven; the unspoken need is for shared responsibility and rest. […]

From Prince to King: To Graduate and Welcome a Queen, the Old Contract—the Need for Mother’s Love—Must End

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From Prince to King: To Graduate and Welcome a Queen, the Old Contract—the Need for Mother’s Love—Must End

“Much male fear of feminism is the fear that, in becoming whole human beings, women will cease to mother men, to provide the breast, the lullaby, the continuous attention associated by the infant with the mother. Much male fear of feminism is infantilism—the longing to remain a mother’s son, to possess a woman purely for him.” ~ Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets and Silence For the male to graduate from Prince to King he must forgo his dire need for his mother’s love. So long as the old contract stands—the insidious, unconscious and fear-based agreement between he and his mother—he cannot fully enter the heart of his waiting Queen. His mother was once a God to him, an ardent provider of love. She was love, and when that love […]

Connection Precedes Learning and Self-regulation ~ Why Relationships are Foundational in Education and Life

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Connection Precedes Learning and Self-regulation ~ Why Relationships are Foundational in Education and Life

Note to the reader: If you have already read my previous articles on connection and the right brain, you may wish to skip further down to the section on co-regulation. Connection precedes learning How often and in how many ways do we make learning far more important than connection? The school system has been designed to make learning paramount and so often at the cost of the core biological need to bond. This breaks the hearts of so many teachers I present to, leaving them in tears, angry, frustrated. They dearly want to connect with their students, but find it extremely difficult given the expectations of the institution and classroom size. They dearly want to listen to and connect to their own hearts, and do […]

Pause For Love ~ Remember Who You Are, Why You Are Here and What Matters Most

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Pause For Love ~ Remember Who You Are, Why You Are Here and What Matters Most

I was sitting with my book designer in her apartment, struggling through what seemed like another litany of hurdles that go along with publishing. But that day there was a new challenge we’d yet to confront. A fuse blew, killing her internet connection. We needed that connection if we were to do the research and share material between our computers. So she phoned her landlord. “Hi Nigel. I’ve blown a fuse. Can you come replace it?” Nigel? Nigel Williams? It couldn’t be. Yet it was. I could hear his old, familiar, distinguishably sluggish Welsh accent moaning through the phone; my long lost uncle who I’d not seen in twenty years, someone who’s had as difficult a life as anyone I know, and someone my family […]

Meditation Alone is Not Enough ~ Trauma Resolution and the Need for Therapeutic Relationships

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Meditation Alone is Not Enough ~ Trauma Resolution and the Need for Therapeutic Relationships

Meditation is much harder when we have yet to feel the wounds and release the trauma held in our nervous system. In the past few years, through a deep commitment to working with my trauma, my mind has quieted much more than it used to. Meditation has changed because my whole life has naturally become more of a meditation, not just the time I am sitting on my couch in the morning. The healing work I have done has regulated my sympathetic nervous system (mobilization and arousal) and deactivated the fight-flight response that was always over-engaged. As a child who endured tremendous adversity, I adapted by being hyper-vigilant, mobilized, ready for action, ready for a fight. I had to protect myself, and my nervous system […]

Beyond Feelings it is the Unmet Need that Deserves and Desires Empathy

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Beyond Feelings it is the Unmet Need that Deserves and Desires Empathy

“Sometimes someone isn’t ready to see the bright side. Sometimes they need to sit with the shadow first. So be a friend and sit with them. Make the darkness beautiful.” ~ Victoria Erickson When feeling frustrated, angry, sad, overwhelmed, or any other unpleasant emotion, it’s because a need is not being met. A child disgruntled at school may have an unmet need to move. A parent overwhelmed may have an unmet need of relaxation. A person struck with anger may have an unmet need of safety. Anger is their response to not feeling safe. The feelings are signals for a very important human need not being met.  Acknowledging someone’s feeling is a beautiful gift. Saying, “I can see how sad you are”, or, “This is really painful, isn’t […]

A Complaint is an Unspoken Request ~ Practical Keys to Asking for What You Want

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A Complaint is an Unspoken Request ~ Practical Keys to Asking for What You Want

A woman complained for years that her husband did not give her an anniversary card. One day a friend inquired if she had ever asked for one, and she said no. And so the woman mustered up the will to ask and from that point onwards her husband always gave her an anniversary card. A simple story, a true one, and one full of meaning. If only we’d just ask! A complaint is an unspoken request. Otherwise said, when we don’t ask for what we want we tend to complain about our needs not getting met. Given how much humans love to complain, we can safely say that asking for what we want is not easy. And why should it be? It’s vulnerable to put […]