As we continue to grapple with the changes, challenges, mutations and changes in the coronavirus pandemic, we are witnessing an unprecedented call for greater resilience.
The guidance Morgan Lindsey gave on trauma and resilience in her August 7 talk during Re-Entry: A Parenting Conference for Navigating the Post-Pandemic New Normal was both profound and comforting. Lindsey – a holistic psychotherapist practicing in Austin, Texas – specializes in trauma and resilience.
Because trauma and resilience are so closely intertwined, Lindsey initially defined trauma as “an overwhelming event that changes the way we process memories.”
Trauma is the belief that what was – what happened – always will be and always will happen. The coronavirus pandemic can feel like something to kids that will always be that way. Illnesses of any kind can be misinterpreted as more critical than is the case due to our intensified illness experiences in the last 18 months.
Lindsey said, “It’s hard to talk people out of their feelings.” It is easy to jump into “repair mode” and it can feel threatening to slow down without fixing anything. Still, right now it’s important to slow down. It is necessary to slow down to acknowledge our children’s feelings as well as our own. Choosing confirmation, appreciation, listening, and curiosity – rather than trying to talk your children out of their feelings or trying to fix the situation – leads to connecting conversations where everyone can feel heard.
Lindsey recommended that you confirm your children’s feelings with statements such as “It makes sense to me that you feel this way”. Affirmative statements do not minimize your child’s experience or neglect their feelings. Validation brings a sense of calm to the nervous system. It supports your child in developing self-regulation.
Lindsey brought up the myth that our external circumstances must change in order to feel better internally. Instead of focusing on events outside of ourselves or spending energy trying to change them, we can instead acknowledge and validate our own feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and judgments. That means finding the ability to experience our own feelings.
Self-validation is incredibly calming for our brains, which can work extra hard during stressful times. It also prepares us to teach our children to “turn around” from external circumstances inward to their feelings.
Lindsey concluded by saying, “Having the courage to trust that a new solution will come when we are ready to hear each other” can guide us through our current challenges and to greater resilience. Often these conversations present what is most needed – “an opportunity to feel safe together”.