Transforming Caregiver Stress into Compassion Resilience

A Touch of Grace

Simply witnessing the sparkling presence of my teacher and Leadership Embodiment founder, Wendy Palmer, reconnects, reinforces and re-engages my dignity and inclusivity muscles! In this video – A Touch of Grace – she shares a simple tool for centering under pressure, and speaks amongst other things about stress as potential to grow resilience,  and the power of the recovery....

When Love Is The Trigger

Why do attachment-disordered children struggle so hard to accept our Love, the very stuff that would help them heal? Because love brings with it promises that were never fulfilled; promises of safety, loyalty, protection and comfort. For these children, Love is simply a trigger for the hurt, and the betrayal, and the abandonment. Love itself is the feared element. Yielding into love is risky. It opens us up to be seen, to be felt by the other. And to be known or recognised is to immediately experience the other’s power. “The other becomes the one who can give or with-hold recognition; who can see what is hidden; who can reach, conceivably even violate, the core of the self” (Jessica Benjamin).  When we offer our wounded children our hearts, we must know that, in their eyes, this is a very dangerous thing. So we must gently, fully and freely give them permission to keep pushing our love back into our hands, to keep spitting it back in our faces, over and over, until they have the deep, felt sense that we can be trusted never to snatch it away from them again. We can’t control when and how this will happen, no matter how much we care, no matter how hard we try, no matter how intensely we love. It’s for our child to choose when they are ready, on their terms, not ours (and it’s for us not to take it personally). In fact, it is only when we experience the relief that comes when we DETACH ourselves, and therefore free our child, from the incessant pressure and responsibility to ATTACH, that we free up a truly safe enough space for moments of healing to occur. We can’t determine the outcome. But we can learn to hold our child within our inclusive, compassionate presence,  without expectation. And we can trust the process, shoring up the resources we need to help us stay hopeful, stay present, and stay very, very, patient – not just with our child, but with our own precious, beautiful,...

The Dance of Attachment

Parenthood is full of uncertainties, but at least there is one thing that’s guaranteed; we will get triggered, no matter how much awareness we bring to our parenting. It is inevitable that breaches will occur in the ebb and flow of the relationship…a healthy partnership dances in and out of attachment multiple times in a day. And whilst it is useful to identify the historical narrrative that drives our reactions, it is not essential. What is essential, is knowing that when our alarm system is fired, it creates a boundary, between us and our children. They sense a withdrawal, a separation and a threat, even if just for a moment. If our relationships are built on securely attached and stable foundations, these mini-disconnects may create a jolt, but do little overall harm. But when our children are overwhelmed, anxious, have experienced neglect, multiple moves or lack a sense of permanence, then “facing separation can be a vulnerability too much for our children to bear” ( Dr Gordon Neufeld, developmental psychologist). Reducing the amount of separation to a minimum is the first step in softening our children’s hyper-alert alarm response, which is often the at the root of their reactive actions. So the parent’s job is not to get swept away by the swell of emotions, but to stay focused on building the bridge to the next connection. Breaks will happen, AND we must move swiftly towards interactive repair. We can do this by having tools at the ready that help us to acknowledge and soothe our own inevitable reactivity when it arises with self-compassion, acceptance and curiosity. We can do this by practicing alternative, empowered responses to our children’s moods and behaviours, so we can shift beyond our defensive, survival reactions towards creating the safe, calm and connected atmosphere we all aspire to live in. And we can do this by keeping in mind, that when one dancer changes their steps, the dance is compelled to change,...

Strength in the face of resistance

When parents come to me for coaching, we will often explore the ‘Essential Acts of Self-Care’. Two of these are Support and Advocacy. Parents are usually deemed to be the experts in their children, and have the power and influence to make a difference in matters affecting their lives. Sadly, this is not always the experience of parents whose children have extreme behaviours, as few people understand the dynamics involved. For example, parents of a child with RAD can be held at fault for their children’s behaviour, since the child’s anger and rejection tends to be reserved for those providing the love and intimacy (the two things the child fears and needs most). These children are also skilled at Triangulation, and can make false accusations and allegations. As a result, others may only see and know the smiling, charming, loveable face of the child, leading to parents feeling isolated, unsupported and fiercely judged. Whilst most parent coaches pay only lip-service to these concepts, the Support and Advocacy practices help parents develop the embodied strength of action that is needed where ever they may meet resistance or criticism – in therapy, at school, in the park, in our own families. We explore what limits or constrains us when we meet resistance and how we can find the resilience to keep speaking up over the long-term, even when we are the lone voice. We look at how we organise ourselves around requesting and receiving practical and emotional support, so we can more readily access resources that help hold us up, and feel the relief that comes with ‘more hands at our back’, when we no longer have the strength to keep standing by ourselves. Support and Advocacy are essential acts of self-care, because they strengthen our capacity to take courageous and skillful action without so much cost to our emotional and physical...

Power Without Aggression, Through Leadership Embodiment

In this Fetzer Institute video, sports icons Jackie Joyner Kersee and Mia Hamm celebrate my Leadership Embodiment teacher, Wendy Palmer. It describes how Wendy’s Leadership Embodiment work is helping people break down barriers and cope with interpersonal tensions.

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