As we continue to grapple with the changes, challenges, mutations and morphing of the coronavirus pandemic, we are experiencing an unparalleled call for greater resilience.
The guidance that Morgan Lindsey provided on trauma and resilience in her Aug. 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 intertwined, Lindsey began by defining trauma as “an overwhelming event that alters the ways we process memories.”
Trauma is the belief that what was — what did happen — is what will always be and what will always happen. The coronavirus pandemic may feel to children as something that will always be. Illness of any kind may be misinterpreted as more critical than it is because of our heightened experience with illness over the last 18 months.
Lindsey said “it is hard to talk people out of their feelings.” It is easy to jump into “fixing mode,” and it can feel threatening to slow down without fixing anything. Yet, slowing down is vital right now. Slowing down is necessary to be able to validate our children’s feelings as well as our own. Choosing validation, acknowledgement, listening and curiosity — instead of trying to talk your children out of their feelings or attempting to fix the situation — leads to connecting conversations where everyone can feel heard.
Lindsey recommended validating your children’s feelings with statements such as, “It makes sense to me that you feel that way.” Validating statements do not minimize your child’s experience or discount their feelings. Validation brings a sense of calm to the nervous system. It assists your child in developing self-regulation.
Lindsey brought up the myth that to feel better inside, our outside circumstances must change. Instead of focusing on events outside ourselves or putting energy into changing them, we can instead acknowledge and validate our own feelings, thoughts, beliefs and judgments. That means finding the capacity to witness our own feelings.
Self-validation is incredibly calming to our brains that may be working extra hard as we move through stressful times. It also prepares us to teach our children to make a “U-turn” from outside circumstances inward to their feelings.
Lindsey closed by saying, “Having the courage to trust that a new resolution will emerge as we are willing to hear each other” can move us through our current challenges and toward greater resilience. Often those conversations present what is most needed — “an opportunity to feel safe together.”