Hurt people hurt people. This is obvious to us when we see physical, sexual, emotional abuse or severe neglect.
Children are also hurt when parents are too stressed, busy, distracted or depressed to get to know them. To really feel connected, we need empathetic attunement, that sense that “they get me”. We wither without their attention, kindness and love.
A devastating effect of relational trauma is that when we are hurt by some people, we put up walls so we aren’t hurt again by any people. We end up alone and isolated. This leads to all kinds of negative health impacts as well as deep unhappiness.
Can we turn this around? Interviewing people for the Radical Recovery Summit, I have been asking “Is it possible for everyone to heal?” I got a resounding YES!
There are ways improve the resilience of our nervous system. Nkem Ndefo offers practical tools through the Resilience Toolkit.
James Gordon works with large traumatized populations like refugees, communities after school shootings or earthquakes. Using simple tools like Soft Belly Breathing and Shaking and Dancing, his research proves healing is possible.
Richard Miller helps veterans with PTSD find healing from wellness, from where we are never broken.
Neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman is developing a program of recovery through connection at Seek Healing.
Theo Fleury, NHL champion hockey player, finds healing through vulnerability and telling the truth about his childhood trauma and sexual abuse by his coach. “Theo invites people to practice acts of helping in their own lives, because life and purpose exist in each small action that assists someone else in need.”
We long for deep, authentic connection. We need it to heal. Helping someone else can be a powerful pathway to open the flow of love in our life.
When we feel isolated and lonely, we want to be loved, yet no matter the direction love flows, it’s all love and it can fill us up.
Volunteering is one way to open up the pipe and it is good for our health. Research in the UK found volunteers had 20% lower risk of death than their peers, lower levels of depression, increased life satisfaction and enhanced well-being.
Our social anxiety is less when we meet people in a somewhat controlled environment. We volunteer to serve a meal or help a child with reading or hug babies in a Neo-natal unit. We work a few shifts a month in an equine therapy program or animal shelter. Start simply and experience it for yourself.
I love interviewing people engaged in healing and helping others. We are optimistic. We know in our guts and through experience that healing is possible. Our lives are full with authentic connection, purpose and meaning. This is possible for you too. I know this to be true.