Children who’ve been through traumatic or scary events can often seem listless and down. You may have noticed them spending more time alone or complaining about being different from their friends at school. Isolation, a feeling of solitude, of being set apart for the wrong reasons, can set in big-time for kids, leaving them uncertain about themselves or driven to act out for attention in all the wrong ways. Why is this, and what can we do to support our kids in kicking isolation to the curb and realizing that they are perfect, just the way they are?
Learning to Sail My Ship is my little corner where I meditate on the ups and downs of learning to sail with my partner and exploring how I can put what I’ve learned into my daily life.
Beginner’s Mind is a concept from Zen Buddhism and also the name of my 1990 West Wight Potter sailboat... here she is above, on our first time out [click to watch the naming happen]. Beginner’s Mind speaks to the value of maintaining the open-minded, unassuming and excited type of curiosity that you have when you first learn something. It is used in meditation when you’ve grown bored watching the rise and fall of your 893rd breath—Beginner’s Mind reminds you that each breath, each sound, each texture under your fingertips is new and full of life. Being in a beginner’s mindset increases the joy of a moment and helps you feel an experience fully from the inside out.
Beginner’s Mind doesn’t just apply to meditation, though: it’s useful in every situation a person can get stuck in, as it helps with mindful problem-solving. Often, the moments when we struggle the most are
There’s nothing wrong with reflecting on a situation and considering where you got off-track, but for some of us, these types of thoughts can quickly start us on a spiral towards shame and a habit of self-blame. Shame is icky and uncomfortable... you might recognize it in the pit of your stomach, in the downcast of your eyes, or the whole-body collapse sensation you feel when you’re confronted with some piece of information that seemingly confirms what you’ve sometimes suspected: that you’re not really a good person. Guilt is the feeling you get when you did something wrong, but shame is the feeling you get when you sense you are something wrong.
Here’s the thing, though: self-blame and shame often prevent you from feeling the real feelings you need to feel, or taking responsibility for the real things you need to change. In other words, self-blame and shame are actually counterproductive to you doing better next time! When too much self-blame triggers shame, it’s easy to get defensive and run away from real responsibility. Conversely, it can also be easy to fall into a shame spiral and get stuck in believing that you really are a hot mess that needs total life reconstruction. Oh, the drama of our brains!
Here are 5 things to do to bust through your self-blame and avoid the spiral down to shame:
*All stories in this post have had details changed to protect confidentiality
Dear Parents of Children with Trauma,
I see you, with your reddened eyes, shaking with effort to keep the tears from spilling out, your shoulders hunched under the weight of the responsibility for the child you promised to keep safe for always. I hear your questions around “finding solutions and moving forward” and watch as you try to push away those other, deeper, scarier questions around “why did this happen?” that threaten you with guilt and confusion so big you can barely breathe.
I’m so sorry to you that on top of having to face the fact that your child has been through something stressful or traumatic, you now have to wrestle with self-blame and an affront to your sense of safety in the
Trauma is just like a wound you would get on your skin: if you don’t clean it and get all the dirt and germs out, it won’t heal properly.
When I was in third grade, while on a hike in the desert, I fell headfirst (and eyeball-first) into a cholla cactus. Yes, it was painful, but as a kid, the real torture was being forced to leave a fun situation. Luckily a wise adult was there to cart me off to endure the wrath of tweezers plucking out each of those cactus spines, not to mention that horrible antibacterial spray. But, it was totally necessary, right? If I hadn’t have gone and taken care of the injury, I would have ended up with a much nastier situation that would
Hi friends! I'm Jordan Motta, a licensed therapist in CO and FL-- lover of both snowfall and ocean waves. A work-in-progress, constantly in search of a life of peace, a girl sailor with a pocket yacht, I love helping people find more options about how they want to live their lives. Follow me on Instagram @jordanmottaLMFT.