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The challenge of growth

Grow spelled out in Scrabble letters on grass

Written by Claire Ranit

Growing isn’t always comfortable, just ask any human that’s passed through the ages of one to 16 years, which is a lot of humans.  Growth spurts can be awkward and uncomfortable, plagued with lots of sleeping, eating, hormone changes, and behavior changes.  Humans change in size and shape, some once and done and others over a longer period of time where clothes fit one week and not the next.  This is a known pattern in society and, outside of certain health conditions, most humans go through this process.  There is no avoiding it or stopping it, we simply prepare and support children as best possible to go through the process – remembering things we hated and things that helped. 

So, society seems to do a good job, overall, of accepting, supporting, and pushing children through a phase of change. Somehow though, creating the same environment for adults experiencing growth and change seems to be a bit more challenging for society.  There is an expectation that adults can always manage their emotions, present their best selves, and function under chronic stressors on an ongoing basis.  When that isn’t the case, society often passes judgement or points out “what’s wrong” instead of shifting the mental model to think, “what’s happened?” 

All this is to say, have grace.  Have grace for yourself and have grace for others.  Over the last few months, the blogs, newsletters, and Trauma Informed Practices (TIPs) posters have been focusing on how to make the shift from roles in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) to The Empowerment Dynamic (TED).  This is growth and change – it’s may be awkward and uncomfortable but you will learn so much about yourself and others.  Developing into a stronger person able to engage with the world in a healthier manner.  The first task in this process is to bring awareness to your interactions.  As you do this, you will no doubt find yourself filling a role you’re not so happy with (see last week’s blog for my own story) and when you do, be gracious with yourself.  Practice positive self-talk and reflection.  Studies show an important factor in resilience is having a positive self-view which means a positive internal dialogue with yourself.

As you practice grace with yourself, in those moments of realizing you’re in a DDT role, think about how you can shift from your current, toxic role, to a fill a healthy role in TED.  Identify the need(s) you’re trying to have met, acknowledge your vulnerability, and take responsibility only for your own actions and reactions.  Try to slow things down a bit, using breath or another self-calming tool you’ve identified – what you’re trying to do here is move from your triggered state in which you respond from your amygdala to your prefrontal cortex, the area of your brain that allows you problem solve collaboratively and manage your emotions.  Always remember to identify places in the interaction where you have power and choice, keeping in mind that you may not like the choices, but choice and power do exist.