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Growing Family Resilience

Introduction

Welcome! How to Use the Guide

This guide compliments the Growing Family Resilience Video Series. Both the videos and this guide are intended to support your self-study and practice beyond the in-person session. It is purposefully simple and concise. We encourage you to create a journal — write, doodle, draw! You might surprise yourself as you tap into your intelligence in different ways.

Each video has an accompanying guide. Each guide has two parts:

  • An Invitation to Remember
  • An Invitation to Practice

Please, feel free to repeat these practices as much as you want.

Invitation to Remember

This section gives you the main points or ideas of each section. During this training, you have received a lot of information. Some ideas resonated more than others. These ideas resonate because you are able to connect with them. For new information to become useful, we need to incorporate it into our daily life. This section is a reference for your learning and growth. You build your growth on the foundation of what you already have.

Invitation to Practice

Think of this as practicing for a marathon. You put your sneakers on and go running. When we practice we start little and gradually develop the capacity to do more. When we practice to develop an ability, at the beginning we need to be deliberate about it; we need to think about the skill and do it. Think, for example, when you learned to ride a bicycle or to drive a car. When you practice enough and develop proficiency, you don't need to think about what you're doing. It becomes part of you.

The key is commitment. You also need intention. Some questions that can help you clarify your intention and that you can revisit when you need motivation to continue your practice are: What motivates you to do this? Do you see any value in mastering this new skill? Can you visualize how your life can be different? What is the cost of not having this skill?

Trauma is Stored in the Body

Invitation to Remember

  • Experiencing trauma or living in toxic stress doesn’t just leave us with a bad memory, we are left with a body memory.
  • Our bodies hold tension and we can become hypersensitive to sights, smells, sounds and other senses.
  • Because trauma is stored in the body, it means that healing must start with the body.
  • When we have a deep sense of knowing about this we can orient our attention to the here and now and mindfully engage our senses to slow down and pay attention to what is alive in this moment.
  • This can be difficult, so make sure you are in a safe space or have in mind a safe other you’ll connect with after engaging in this practice.

Invitation to Practice

As this video comes to a close you heard an invitation to slow down and notice your body in this moment. Use the image below to capture any sensation of which you become aware. Follow along to the video for journal prompts.

Regulation is a Practice

Invitation to Remember

“The missing puzzle piece in a child's challenging behavior is the parents nervous system.” - Claire Wilson.

This quote reminds us that our first priority in managing stressful situations is focusing on our own practices- putting our oxygen mask on first. When we engage in daily practices that support our brain and body to work together to reach a desired state of calm and groundedness, we will then be equipped to show up fully for life’s challenges.

Invitation to Practice

How do you know when you are dysregulated? What are your favorite ways to become more regulated? To experience a state of calm and balance? Keeping a note of this can help you deepen your awareness, remember, paying attention is half the battle!

Trauma Symptoms are Survival Strategies

Invitation to Remember

“Whatever we did to survive a traumatic event was a behavior that kept us alive.” -Mary Vicario.

When we are under stress it’s our survival strategies that kick in automatically. We are inviting a shift from shaming survival strategies, to honoring what they have done to keep us alive. Then, and only then, can we begin to shift these behaviors to more pro-social ways of being.

Invitation to Practice

What are some of your survival strategies? Fill out the Fear Cascade chart below. Make a note of ways you can appreciate your survival strategies. Through this exercise maybe you can identify an unmet need? Maybe there is an ask you have for yourself or for a safe other? Do this same exercise for a loved one- how can you understand their behavior through the lens of the fear cascade? How does this increase your empathy, patience or understanding for self or others?

Perceived Threat and Real Threat Feel the Same in the Body

Invitation to Remember

Our nervous system is constantly scanning for cues of danger or safety in the environment. When you are under constant stress or have traumatic experiences in your past, your nervous system can detect danger even when others around you do not share that reality. With this understanding we want to remember that we have to “connect, before you correct.” Connecting to felt safety and the present moment is a helpful way to calm the lower regions of the brain so that we can access our full thinking brain

Invitation to Practice: Reflect, Honor, Connect Self-Practice

Recall a difficult moment, argument, or frustration you recently had with another:

Reflect: What emotions was I feeling?

Honor: What grace, appreciation, kindness can I show myself?

Connect: How might I respond differently next time?

Healing Happens in Relationship

Invitation to Remember

Relational Resilience is the capacity for a human being to be in safe relationship with themselves and others. As we build our practices for self-awareness we deepen our capacity for relational resilience. Growing resilience is a proactive way we can continue on our healing journey in a way that mitigates the effects of complex trauma and toxic stress.

Invitation to Practice

Note the 5 Resilience Factors: Voice/Choice/Control, Self-Esteem, External Supports, Sense of Belonging, Positive Safe Relationships:

Where do you see abundance? Where do you see growth opportunities?

Self-Care Starts with the Body

Invitation to Remember

The body is not separated from the rest of our being. It is the ground of experience. The breath connects mind and body. You cannot breathe in the pastor the future. Plans (future) and memories (past) are mental activities that separate us from the felt experience of the present moment. The words whole, heal, and,health all come from the same root. Think about wholeness as integration or regulation. To release into the natural rhythm of the breath is a powerful step towards regulation, healing, and health.

Invitation to Practice

Breath as an Anchor for Attention: become aware of your breath. Release into your breath. Don't try to change it. As the in breath comes, allow that to happen; as the out breath comes, allow that to happen. Become curious. Is it short or long?Is it tense or relaxed? Is one longer than the other?

How to practice?

In a comfortable position, start to pay attention to your breath. Count for each inhale and exhale 1, 2, 3, 4…10. When you reach 10, go back to 1 (FYI I have never reached 10). If you notice that you start thinking about something else (grocery list,how boring this is, etc.), start over. If your attention goes somewhere different than just noticing each inhale and each exhale, start over from 1. Set your timer for about 2 minutes. Increase over time.

Breath for Regulation: This is about managing stress or anxiety to allow the thinking brain to come online.

How to Practice?

If you practice anytime —frequently— you will be more likely to remember, when a stressful situation arises.

This practice is about making your exhales longer by:

  • Simply counting the duration of inhale and exhale and making the latter longer.
  • While talking, extending the duration of phrases.
  • Singing. When you sing you need to manage the air, so you don't run out of breath!
  • Pretend your blowing out birthday cake candles.

The PRO Model

Invitation to Remember

The PRO model helps us interrupt the process of becoming stressed. We can regain control and power with serenity and clarity.

Pause: Just pause. It's like you're able to step out of a movie.

Rest-Regulate-Relax: Take a few breaths, go for a walk, get up and stretch.

Open: Bring your attention back to the situation with renewed energy. This is the time of 'aha' moments.

Invitation to Practice

This week practice PRO at least twice. 

Possible opportunities include:

  • Low stakes interaction, for example, with someone that you like and does not necessarily get on your nerves or activate you.
  • While you are driving, brushing your teeth, drinking coffee, walking your dog.
  • While you are scrolling down on social media.

For example:

Before going to bed and putting my phone to charge I go to Facebook:

Pause: Just pause. No need to necessarily stop scrolling. This is opening space for observation. This step almost feels like waking up.

Rest: Take a few breaths. This step feels like being disentangled (not disengaged) with whatever it is we're doing.

Open: This is the big aha moment! It is a big discovery. You might discover that you just want to put your phone down and go to sleep!

Movement

Invitation to Remember

Movement is part of our nature. Movement is life. Physical mobility can improve brain plasticity, which is related to memory, the ability to learn, and motor skills. Touch and movement are the first senses to develop and they establish the baseline for the other senses to develop. The body is our portal to the present moment. It is about creating more space between how we feel and what we do.

Movement is change in space.

Invitation to Practice

Movement as an Anchor for Attention:

Pay attention to one movement. Any movement. Some ideas are: movement of your arms and other parts of the body while you're drinking coffee, walking, getting up from bed, cooking, jogging or exercising, etc.

Notice:

Change of shape: What can you notice about the forms your body/body part makes in space? Are they tight? Sharp? Uneven? Is this change of shape in relation with yourself or the environment? Change of energy: Does the movement energize/deplete you? Do you put a lot of energy into your movement? Do you hold tension anywhere while you move? It is in movement that we create an embodied experience of being alive. This change is relational, we’re always making connections and creating relationships within ourselves and with the world around us. These movements and these relationships become new patterns!

Movement for Regulation:

The intention is to leave little bandwidth of attention for anything else, i.e. stressors.

  • Macarena like movements with or without music.
  • Throw up a ball and catch it. Also throw it to a partner, if you have one.
  • Shake your knees and let the vibration travel throughout the body.
  • Orient to the environment, especially if overwhelmed, i.e. count plants in the room, run hand though the wall and focus on sensation, etc.

Mindfulness

Invitation to Remember

Mindfulness is being aware, paying attention. It is the quality of energy we bring into an interaction, decision, situation. It is the quality of energy of observing, with curiosity, calm, and acceptance. You can pay attention to your breath, physical sensations, emotions, thoughts, words. You can pay attention anytime.

Invitation to Practice

Today, create opportunities for mindfulness during an event , activity, or interaction. 

Possible opportunities include:

  • Low stakes interaction, for example, with someone that you like and does not necessarily get on your nerves or activate you.
  • While you are driving, brushing your teeth, drinking coffee, walking your dog.
  • While you are scrolling down on social media.

Elements to direct your attention include:

Your breath, physical sensations (tingling, burning, tightening, etc.), emotions, thoughts, temperature of the room or space, or the surface you might be touching(chair, for example), textures, colors, sounds. If you are on social media, what feelings arise? Are you noticing patterns of emotion or the types of posts you are attracted to or not interested in?

How to practice?

If possible, set a timer. Practice for 2 minutes everyday. If you skip one day, go back to the practice the next day. Continue for at least 21 days.