Personal Growth
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In the American Heritage Dictionary the word dysfunction is defined as "disordered or impaired functioning." No one who knew me or my family would have given that description. If we had impaired functioning then I don't see how we would have survived and even in the midst of our traumas succeeded and thrived. My 3 brother, 2 sisters and I were involved in Scouting, Church and School activities where we were able to develop skills and abilities that continue to serve us all these years later. We had family outings, family vacations, and family times together where we got along and shared a sense of connection. The legacy from our parents were both positive and negative repetitious conditioning.

The stress model teaches that all negative behavior arises from a state of stress and in between the stress and the behavior there is the presence of two primary emotions: love and fear. It is in expressing and processing our fears that we can calm the stress and diminish the behaviors. We are also either regulated or dysregulated in our mind body system. When we are regulated we are calm, open and can express love because we are within our window of stress tolerance. When we are dysregulated we are in survival mode and outside our window of stress tolerance. We are stuck in the primitive part of our brain so our thinking is confused and distorted and short term memory is suppressed.

It makes sense to me that I grew up in a family that frequently altered from states of regulation to dysregulation. I believe that in those moments of regulation we experienced love and care and connection to each other. The problem was that the times of dysregulation and terror disconnected us from times of regulation. My parents ongoing, chronic, unexpressed, unprocessed and unintegrated stresses and traumas created an environment of dysregulation. Within their dysregulated states they did not see our needs so they did not meet them. Their distorted thinking allowed them to visit many horrors upon us creating negative feedback loops which taught us distorted beliefs about ourselves and the world. This conditioning is not a genetic defect but a result of being a human being overwhelmed by life experiences and carrying unresolved traumas. This is not an excuse for what they did but an understanding of the realities of how people can love you one minute and harm you the next. We need to understand this if we are going to help stop it.

We know so much more now than at any time in history about what it is to be a human being struggling with the issues of life staying stuck in fear and survival. From that place of fear and survival we can't see that there is love and thriving. We are stuck with our fists closed to the possibilities that life has to offer. When we can face our fears and open our fists, we challenge our conditioning and begin living a new kind of life: a life of integration and transformation.

How we (collectively and individually) define experiences either limits us or opens us up to new possibilities. Out of accepting that I was dysfunctional and impaired I ran in fear trying to get 'fixed' because I didn't want to be weak and damaged. In doing that I realize I kept myself stuck as a victim. Today, I can accept that the negative repetitious conditioning from stress and trauma triggers my bottom state level memory drawer and the trauma monster pops out. That is not something damaged or weak in me but the natural outcome of repetitious experiences of stress and trauma. As I challenge that conditioning I return my focus to what is right and good and wonderful about me. I return to the love of who I am, where I come from and my purpose to share what I know peacefully and calmly with the world. Dysregulation says I have to fix everyone or die; regulation says I honor myself and live to love. Whatever I feel, whatever I believe, whatever I have experienced does not have to define me. It is what has happened to me. It is what I have lived through (positive and negative repetitious conditioning). Now my understanding tells me all my experiences need to be given a place of honor and integration. I believe that is how I become integrated, whole and maintain thriving.

Deborah Chelette-Wilson is a relationship coach, authoress and speaker whose powerful message for women is "It's time to stop waiting for permission to be all that we can be(without being a bitch about it)." Her inspiring message helps women harness their personal power, find peace within and become part of the shift in creating healthier and more loving relationships, beginning with the one with their self. In order to honor someone else's heart you must first honor your own.

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