“Connection is the essence of safety.” Dr Gabor Maté
I was just in Toronto for a two day Compassionate Inquiry workshop with Dr Maté. There were 450 of us in a large Cineplex theatre yet he easily held a space of safety and connection. He was present, engaged and authentic. He wasn’t hiding or shaming himself and that opened up space for others to be vulnerable and share. It was always an invitation, with no pressure.
He wants us to really understand a few simple concepts about trauma.
Safety is when we feel connection AND there is an absence of danger. We need both to feel safe.
Our mind is created through our experiences. When we feel connected and safe, our brain develops in that way. Without connection, we are unprotected and we naturally experience that as threatening.
Adaptations are normal responses to abnormal situations and help us survive stressful and dangerous situations.
Disconnection or removing ourselves from the moment through dissociation is not bad if that is our only realistic option. It is an adaptation that serves a purpose at the time.
Adaptations are purely to maintain relationship with our caregivers and they become wired into our system. We associate the adaptation with our survival so it continues into adulthood.
The nervous system expects and craves reciprocal, synchronous interactions. We’re wired for that. Trauma triggers a nervous system rewiring.Trauma confuses our neuroceptors and we may misperceive danger as safety and vice versa. We are often in a state of hypervigilance and flooded with stress hormones.
He kept coming back to these simple statements. Trauma is what happens inside us in response to a traumatic event. It causes us to disconnect from ourselves and the present moment. Disconnection from self means we lose our sense of value. It is our lack of connection that makes us vulnerable.
The Living Inquiries are so effective in undoing the associations and beliefs we formed in response to traumatic events in our lives.