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 […]

4 Reasons I Take Issue With Teaching Children Meditation in School

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4 Reasons I Take Issue With Teaching Children Meditation in School

I take issue with teaching children meditation in school, particularly when done without a wider view of the systemic causes for child dysregulation and a more thorough understanding of trauma. Yes, meditation has been proven to be effective with young ones. I know the research is there backing it up. But… Take a moment to consider the four points below, and ask yourself: What is the real issue at hand? What do children fundamentally need? And if we addressed the issues I lay out, while better meeting children’s core biological needs for love and safety, would we still need to teach meditation? Or wouldn’t the desired result of meditation—calm—arise more organically? 1. Anxious systems The problem is not the child, but rather the systems they are […]

You Are Not Broken. There is Good Reason You Feel the Way You Do.

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You Are Not Broken. There is Good Reason You Feel the Way You Do.

A proud, successful man says, “My father was tough on me and I’m glad, because I wouldn’t be the man I am  without it.” A humble, wise man says, “My father was tough on me. I realize now how  emotionally absent he was and that’s why I am  a ‘success’ today.” You begin walking the healing path because you are tired of living, being a certain way; tired of feeling sad, empty, angry, lost, confused, isolated, afraid. You just want things to be different. You want to feel happier, more productive, more at peace in your heart.  A counselling client of mine once said to me, “I just want to get past being so accommodating all the time.” She spoke with a tone of judgment—self-judgement. […]

Taking Time to Feel Authentic Forgiveness: Healing in a Culture of Quick-fix Solutions and Spiritual Bypassing

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Taking Time to Feel Authentic Forgiveness: Healing in a Culture of Quick-fix Solutions and Spiritual Bypassing

Forgiving is a liberating act of love to self and others. It can free us from pain, resentment, from feeling separate from others and life. But forgiveness, if not felt deeply and given with enough rooted authenticity, can be a means of bypassing uncomfortable feelings (spiritual bypassing), the truth of one’s raw inner experience.  Long held as a virtue in religious teachings, cultures and, more recently, in new age / personal growth circles, we have and continue to be taught and even expected to forgive; to let it go and move on, for it is the kind and moral thing to do. “Be the bigger person.” “Get over your past!” “Stop playing victim!” “You are better than they are.” “Don’t let them get to you.” […]

The Developmental Impulse to Reach: Healing Trauma through Completing this Long-Held Survival Response

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The Developmental Impulse to Reach: Healing Trauma through Completing this Long-Held Survival Response

Trauma is often defined as an incomplete survival response – fight or flight that could not happen. The body had the impulse to protect or run away, but was overpowered. It could not do what it instinctively knew it had to do to survive. The vital energy driving the biological fight / flight impulse was truncated, impeding the survival response and causing trauma. There is another survival response discussed not nearly as often – reaching. Desiring or needing connection, a child instinctively reaches for her primary attachment figure. Biologically, we are wired to connect. And so we are naturally wired to reach for that connection, particularly in pre-verbal stages of development. We long to have our hand received with gentleness and love. Yet, when that […]

Transforming the School System Begins With Feeling its Heartbreaking Impact on Children, Past and Present

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Transforming the School System Begins With Feeling its Heartbreaking Impact on Children, Past and Present

Note to the reader: If you require a brief history of education to provide context for the first few sections, scroll further down to “A brief history of school”.    “Be confused, it’s where you begin to learn new things. Be broken, it’s where you begin to heal. Be frustrated, it’s where you start to make more authentic decisions. Be sad, because if we are brave enough we can hear our heart’s wisdom through it.” ~ S.C Lourie At the beginning of many of the talks I lead, the organizer of the event takes a moment to acknowledge the traditional and ancestral territory we stand on and the people it belongs to. It’s a brief period of time in which I pay my deepest respect and […]

When Children Believe “I Am Wrong”: The Impact Developmental Trauma Has on Belief Systems and Identity

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When Children Believe “I Am Wrong”: The Impact Developmental Trauma Has on Belief Systems and Identity

“In the past decade, mental health visits to the emergency room have jumped 66 per cent, and hospitalizations for conditions such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders are up 55 per cent. Meanwhile, the waits for psychological and psychiatric care are months and even years…. According to the new report, one in three adults have suffered from physical or sexual abuse before the age of 16. Two-thirds of them never told anyone.” ~ Andre Picard, The Globe and Mail, September 4, 2018  “Childhood trauma leaves scars that are genetic, not just emotional, study affirms… Neglect, abuse, violence and trauma endured early in life can ripple directly into a child’s molecular structure and distort their DNA, according to a new study this week from the University […]

Resting in Connection ~ Slowing Down Enough to Heal and Form Secure Attachments

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Resting in Connection ~ Slowing Down Enough to Heal and Form Secure Attachments

Healthy relationships require us to rest in connection. In resting we come home to ourselves and into the arms of another. We soften enough to open our hearts and trust and receive the love we long for. This resting state is experienced to the extent that our nervous system allows for it. Our parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for calming) must be engaged and our sympathetic system (responsible for arousal and mobility) must be disengaged enough to allow for what Peter Levine calls “homeostasis” or “relaxed alertness”. In other words, resting in connection depends on there being a “smooth back-and-forth shifting between moderate levels … of (nervous system) activity”, or a “flexible seesawing” between parasympathetic and sympathetic systems, which enables us to be balanced, centered and […]

“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 […]

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 […]