There it was, in somebody else's black and white, not mine: "...as members of a social species, we don't derive strength from our rugged individualism, but rather from our collective ability to plan, communicate, and work together." ~Brene' Brown, in Braving the Wilderness, explaining the work of neuroscience researcher John Cacioppo, University of Chicago.
Goodness knows, I've said or written something similar often enough, though I'm more likely to bluntly describe us humans as pack animals, with social dynamics similar to a dog pack. (Here's where we howl in unison!) So why am I having a whole new level of epiphany around these words...again? Well, it's all about a re-defining of PTSD, my friend!
For context, if you're new to my work, I'm a survivor of parenting-by-alcoholic-sociopath, which included sexual assault upon my little person from 6 months to 15 years of age. So the quantity and variety of my maladaptive (a.k.a. crazy) behaviors in young adulthood were--if we're being kind?--generous. My road to recovery has been complex and lengthy, and has included the conscious mining of the 7 Childhood Treasures for the past 10-ish years. All that history is to explain why, up until now, I have still been managing a continuous level of social anxiety, as well as periodic, triggered episodes common with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. That has been my "normal" for a while, now. (Please don't feel sorry for me. I'm playing GREAT at this game of life!)
Lately, though, I've been getting some pretty clear messages from Divinity that it's time for a big do-over here. First, my minister tells me, "There are ways for you to just put all of that down, you know." I kept my thoughts to myself, but I can tell you they were a solid, high, and wide brick wall of "you don't know what you're talking about!"
Then, a week later, in a Self Mastery class through my spiritual community, in the second class meditation, I got the message that "PTSD doesn't mean what you think, my dear. It stands for Put That 'Shirt' Down!" (For the genius use of "shirt" to substitute for the actual curse word spoken by that potty-mouth dolphin in my meditation, my sincere thanks and, again, apologies to the TV show, The Good Place . And, no, I am not kidding about the dolphin.)
Then, just to make sure I'm not missing the real point of these PUT THAT DOWN messages, the One Divine Mind guides a copy of Braving the Wilderness into my hands (thank you, amazing niece Tessa Scott!). There, in it's pages, is Cacioppo's appeal to my scientist-self. His research reminds me that my original neuro-programming--and yours, of course!--is designed to derive strength from planning, communicating, and working with others.
You are likely not surprised to hear that social anxiety and PTSD get in the way of all that, and plenty! Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES, as they're known), such as childhood sexual assaults and many other traumatic experiences, along with continuous toxic stress, actually change the brain's wiring. However, what we've learned about neuro-plasticity tells us that we can, literally, change that wiring again.
If you've followed my work for long, you'll know that I'm always there, deep in the 7 Childhood Treasures mining, right along beside you. You also know that, as a group, we Treasure-miners are diverse in our histories. Not every one of you who suffer some social anxiety grew in an environment with as many ACES as my childhood contained...and yet, this work lifts your life, too.
Well, I'm inviting you all to a New Year's REVOLUTION I'm having over here. I'm going to be all over my neural network, tweaking my wiring around Trust and Independence--back to the foundation! These two treasures, from infancy and toddlerhood, are the real gold when it comes to "our collective ability to plan, communicate, and work together."
For me, it's time to start by dusting off my old list of the needs I have in relationships and making that my first re-do. Maybe I have needs in relationships now that I didn't have when I made my list...oh, I'm embarrassed to say how many years ago. Maybe I have different insights into my needs now, than I did back then. Certainly, new people in my life may be meeting needs or showing they can't be trusted to meet some of my needs. Let's start there!
Here's a special offer for anyone who reads this far: By Valentine's Day 2018, opt-in to my email list and receive the "Are You Being Your S.E.L.F.?" quiz. Contact me with your quiz results to recieve an explanation of your scores, and I will also send you instructions for a powerful activity that deepens your understanding of how Trust is working in your life.
TO continue my revolution, I'll also be looking for ways to exercise my boundaries, strengthening my Treasure of Independence. And perfect Divine Mind timing has lined up the opportunity for a weekend retreat of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) with Rev. Dr. Luzette McDonald of the Telos Healing Center.
Keep reading, if you like this content! I blog here on "Just Be Your S.E.L.F." every two weeks on Sunday afternoons.