How many of us have the sense that our relationships have the richness and emotional depth and satisfaction that we’ve been longing for? I’ve been thinking a lot about how hard it is to find solid ground for healing when what we’ve experienced as children has been a lack of connection, rather than overt physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. This month’s teleseminar, The Horror of Neglect, explores the profound effects of the continuum of neglect, which can be as obvious as being left completely alone and not provided with the resources needed to sustain life, or as difficult to name as having avoidantly attached parents, who live in their left brain and who, even though they love their children, have little ability to generate warmth, resonate with others, or reflect emotional experience. Please join me for an exploration of how to identify these low-attachment relationships, how to create a solid interpersonal neurobiology understanding of what has happened to us in them, and how to move forward into creating a world in which our whole selves are welcome.
Many of you know that I volunteer weekly at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, working with my colleague Deb Solheim to bring IPNB and NVC classes to the women there. Yesterday in the parking lot outside the prison I took the opportunity to grab some last-minute support so that I would walk into the concrete halls with their clanging and thunking steel doors empathy-full. As my friend listened with compassion, I touched on a message I had received as a child: “you are manipulative, and you have no heart.” I have been working with core belief transformation processes for years – supportive approaches to changing these implicit predictions about how the world is and how we are in it – and this time, I identified that when I received this message as a child, I froze into a helpless state. I could imagine no response to this charge. I am beginning to wonder if all of these negative messages we received as children live in us as dissociated trauma bubbles.
Touching on this experience with compassion allowed me to see more possibility in my work inside the prison, and for the first time I was able to do a core belief transformation demo with a woman who was carrying the conviction that she was not good enough. The room was quiet, focused and riveted. (this is a little unusual in Coffee Creek). As the woman saw behind her words to the frightened little girl, she was able to see her belief as a wall that protected her from hurt (and the pain of hope) in relationship with the outer world, and to realize that even though she wanted to protect herself, it was backfiring, since the belief made her want to hurt herself.
The women in the room were moved, some to tears. And I remain in a shocked state of awe that these tiny changes we make in ourselves, and the tiny experiences of empathy that we provide for others, create the possibility of facilitating cascading changes for others in this world.
In solidarity, fellow revolutionaries, Sarah