|What am I doing and where am I going?|
The title of this post comes from the book “Mindsight”, written by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.
It is a book on what he calls “mindsight”, as being the power to heal our brain from traumatic memories, irrational fears (although we may not think they are irrational), uncontrolled anger, unwanted behaviors that seem to control our lives, conflicts that permeate our relationships dissociation, and attachment disorders.
I do not know about you, but for me—ALL THE ABOVE.
A child who has a secure attachment with their caregivers will grow up to have good relationships, will be respected by their peers, and will be better able to regulate their emotions. They are attune to others, are flexible, have empathy, insight, and moral awareness.
On the other end of the spectrum is the child who has a disorganized and avoidant attachment to their caregivers. These children are often times restricted emotionally, aloof, controlling, anxious, insecure, unable to relate to others, unable to regulate their emotions, have a tendency toward dissociation, and more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic event occurs in their life. Memories, even those we do not remember, leave us susceptible to intrusive thoughts, feelings, perceptions, reactions, and bodily sensations. When a child is abused and becomes “terrified”, the “child is faced with a paradox.” One part inside is yelling for her/him to get away from the source of the terror, while the attachment part is crying out “Go toward your attachment figure for safety and soothing! When the same person is activating the brain’s “go away” and “go toward” messages, this is fear without a solution—an unsolvable situation.” This is when the child becomes fragmented. This is one of the most inevitable causes of dissociation. These behaviors follow us into our adult lives and cripple our ability to function in life.
Dr. Siegel highly recommends writing in a journal to activate the narrator function in our minds. He asserts that simply writing down our account of an experience can help increase our sense of well-being, even if we never show it to anyone. He talks about ‘making sense’ of how our negative experiences have affected us. “Making sense is a source of strength and resilience.” He believes that “making sense is essential to our well-being and happiness.”
While I do agree with ‘making sense’, for me this has been one of the most impossible tasks for my brain. I cannot make sense of the abuse I endured. But in this book, he writes that having the courage to approach and not avoid the past traumas will help us become free of its “implicit grip” on our minds. “It is never too late to heal the mind and to bring to ourselves and to those around us the compassion and kindness that arise from that healing and integration.”
“Early experience is not fate: If we can make sense of our past—if we integrate our narratives—we can free ourselves from what might otherwise be a cross-generational legacy of pain and insecure attachment…taking responsibility for one’s own mind can lead to liberation of the self, and to the ability to offer nurturance and love to the next generation.”
As I am reading this book, I am learning more and more to understand why I act and feel the way I do. It is helping me acknowledge that this is not my fault, which in turn, lessens my shame and blame.
Hopefully, this post will help others also. We are all in this together. We are not alone.
NONE OF THIS IS OUR FAULT.
This article is taken from the thoughts and words of the book “Mindsight”, by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. No copyright infringement is intended.