I have a fear that older generations will stay stuck in old ways of being.
I hope that EACH generation will embrace the invitation to pivot & allow for improved health for all.
I’ve wanted this for my own family healing as well as for those I support in my work.
We’ll look at generational differences in more detail but first let’s cover some “basics” on relational health & development. Generally, when something negative happens to someone, or conversely fails to positively happen for someone, (& especially a young child) the result is environmental failure. More specifically, environmental failures relate to:
And this happens to nearly everyone.
At best, “perfectly” conscious parenting doesn’t exist. At worst, unconscious parenting/caregiving creates disconnection & harm. Many people with dysregulated insides are trying to hold it together & act “normal” on the outside.
Disconnection is a coping behavior not a healing behavior.
Disconnection leads to suppression, adds to dis-ease over time & contributes to behaviors that produce relational ruptures. These behaviors are often an attempt & a protest to have personal, emotional, or relational needs met or wounds tended to. Sadly, behavior change & symptom reduction often become the target of focus & any symptom/behavior that falls outside of the “norm” is pathologized or shamed – adding further insult to injury. Inner & outer connection is truly the healing medicine.
I’ve always cared about helping parents learn information & skills to improve their relationship with their children, at any age. Now in middle age, I see my sandwiched Gen X generation needing support as they approach a reversal in caregiving roles with their Boomer parents & while simultaneously facing the mental health crisis of their children.
Dementia is also on my heart. Both of my grandmothers had it. It’s a challenge for family members & especially those that do not have informed help. While dementia warrants its own narrative, I would like people to know that as rational abilities decline OR are not available, there is a greater reliance on more intuitive ways of experiencing the environment. When there is a disconnect between what a person senses & what they experience (i.e., what you say or do), you will see nervous system activation & “challenging” behaviors that correspond with hypo or hyper arousal.
The verbal filter is off. The mental brakes no longer work well. Expect reactivity.
Add unresolved family dynamics to this & you have a hot mess. Doing more of the same is not likely to help achieve a successful outcome.
So, whether you are caregiving a young one or an aging person, it will help you & them to be aware of the mind body connection. Specifically, it helps to know how to:
1) meet needs proactively & repair ruptures after the fact
2) recognize signs of distress
3) resource & regulate yourself
4) provide co-regulation from your own regulated nervous system to another
5) stop yourself from using “reason” with a triggered person no matter their age or capacity
6) know that your own reactivity can make others reactivity increase.
Our modern society has been way too dependent on cognitive, rational, & behavioral skills.
It is not sufficient for quality mental health or caregiving. We really need more integrated ways of living & loving for our health.
I share this information to invite you, wherever you are developmentally/generationally, to embrace your position in your lineage. It is best to transform or transmute rather than transmit. With support & resources you can break the cycle.
Keep this in mind as you engage with family over the holidays.
Notice what is & isn’t working, without judgment & with awareness, compassion & curiosity.
Meeting your needs, tending your own wounds, & growing in self-care is often the place to start to grow your capacity. This will aid you to help co-regulate the humans you care for & about the most.
I welcome you to reach out when you are ready to decrease your own reactivity & grow in your responsiveness to yourself & others.
Developing a wholehearted way of living & relating allows for more mental & physical health & improved connection & community. You & your loved ones are worth it. Let’s do this. Reach out to connect.
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