Do you sometimes feel a deep sense of sadness wash over you – a feeling of profound loss / grief – that seems to come up out of nowhere?
I know I did! I would suddenly feel this huge wave of ‘loss’ and sorrow, but I didn’t know what it was that I’d lost…
I couldn’t understand what my body was grieving for…
It was like that thing people say sometimes: “What are you so upset about? Nobody’s died!“
So, I ended up thinking that there was something wrong with me:
– I must be depressed…
It’s only now, years later, as I learn more about how our brains, bodies and emotions respond to things we’ve experienced, particularly early in life, that I’m coming to understand what was going on for me:
- I wasn’t depressed
- my feelings were a natural and normal response
Also, that they were just information I could use to develop a greater understanding of myself and how to support my wellbeing.
In Dr Gabor Maté’s latest book, The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture, he writes:
“We now know that social and emotional needs are … encoded in our neural circuitry by evolution and that our optimal development requires that they be met. The neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp termed the cerebral apparatus governing these needs the ‘PANIC/GRIEF’ system because, like a car alarm, these are the emotions that become activated in the absence of secure attachment.”
But what does ‘secure attachment‘ actually mean?
It means having a caregiver who is there for us – truly present, both physically AND emotionally, and able to respond appropriately and quickly to our needs.
But in today’s society, how many of us actually had parents / caregivers who were able to provide this for us 100%?
In my generation mothers were often encouraged to:
- feed their babies according to a strict 4 hourly schedule
- leave their baby to cry rather than ‘mollycoddling’ them
- teach their infant to sleep on its own by putting them to bed firmly but gently then leaving the room and not going back, even if the child cried.
Nowadays there are also the added ‘demands’ of our ever present mobile devices and the distractions of concerns about money or stress at work which can take parents’ attention away from their children.
Having a mother who was depressed has a significant impact on the baby. Dr Maté also writes, later in the same book, that “maternal mind states during pregnancy and postpartum shape the very structure of the infant’s developing brain.“
An absent parent (physically or emotionally) isn’t able to support their baby in co-regulation – essential for the infant to be able to healthily regulate many of their body’s systems including heart rate, breathing, temperature and vital neurotransmitters.
And all this is going on before the baby is able to make sense of what’s happening, or to put it into words, meaning that it all gets recorded in their cellular memory. So, when these feelings are reactivated, even when that child has become an adult, it brings back the agitation, anxiety and sense of loss – but without a conscious understanding of where the feeling is coming from.
So, what can we do?
Learning how to re-parent ourselves with deep compassion, keeping an open, non-judgmental and curious mind that just seeks to understand how we’re feeling and reacting, is a great way to create a sense of safety for our inner child allowing them the time and space to begin to process their experiences so that they no longer overwhelm us.
- But what does it mean to re-parent ourselves?
- How can we learn to co-regulate ourselves?
- What would this look like?
If this is something that you’d like to explore, then join me for my In-Joy Your Life workshop, here at Equenergy (you can find further information and dates on my News & Events page). I keep the numbers small so that we create a safe space in which to focus on the issues that matter to you as an individual.
During the session I share valuable tools, tips and techniques that you can put into practice straight away to really make a difference in your life. They will help you to truly be present with yourself, to reconnect with your True Nature and to be able to make the choices that are right for you.
For further information, feedback from previous attendees and tickets, go to https://equenergy.com/In-JoyYourLife