Michael Reddy, Ph.D, CPC
           Healer  Trainer  Author   610 469 7588

Wednesday November 22, 2017
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Five Facts About Personal And Ancestral Trauma

Published first on the North American Systemic  
Constellations website--http://www.nasconstellations.org

Let’s begin by suggesting tTrauma Hand to Headhat there are two sources of trauma: the threatening overwhelms that affect your nervous system personally, and those that affected a parent or ancestor’s but were never dealt with. After-effects of the second kind do show up in you or your clients, even though they never actually happened to you. What are we coming to understand about these? How are they similar or different? 

Consider five foundational facts about them. The whole trauma response, often referred to as “fight/flight/freeze,” actually has not just three, but five stages. Think of them as “friends, fight-or-flight, freeze, and forget.” Easy to remember as the “5 F’s.”

Remember also—trauma is highly individual. One person’s experience of overwhelm is another person’s “so what”--or even triumph.

Fight? or Flight?

fight flightThe limbic midbrain, triggered by what Bessel van der Kolk calls the “smoke detector” amygdala, sets in motion an array of autonomic responses. They prepare, more or less as needed, our whole organism for possibly extreme efforts to recreate safety. All processes not immediately relevant to that are slowed down or completely stopped. These include digestion, the immune system, more rationally oriented presence of mind, and more.

Threat level detection in the brain, blood and hormone flow to muscles, everything important to choosing and carrying out actions that will recreate safety—all these become primed and super coordinated for possibly lightning fast response.

In modern life, we most often experience “fight-or-flight” more as “resist-or-evade”. It’s slower, but just as real. And we can stay in milder forms of this stage for hours, days, or years. Too bad for digestion and the immune system.

But what if the “friends/” stage comes even before “fight or flight”?

Problem, Issue, Theme?—or Solution


Published first on the North American Systemic  
Constellations website--http://www.nasconstellations.org

Constellations often start with a question for the client.  “What’s the problem?” the facilitator asks.  I’ve also heard this referred to as a client’s “issue,” or “theme.”  It makes sense to inquire about what’s wrong, of course.  Change arises from perceptions of negative patterns.  You can’t fix what you don’t even notice as wrong. But it makes perhaps less sense to leave the query in that form.  

Coaching or therapeutic trainings often talk about something called “the problem space.”  Most often, clients come wrapped up in these perceptions of what’s wrong and stumped somehow about how to fix it.  But there’s important truth in the saying, “you can’t fix the problem from within the problem space.”  You have to get out of the problem space somehow and into a wider “solution space.”

So How Do I Do That?

Here’s a simple process I’ve found to be excellent at doing this.  It produces in my experience and that of my students genuinely better results in constellations. 

First ask the client to reverse the problem statement.  “Well, if that’s what’s wrong, what would ‘right’ look like in that area?”  So “I’m exhausted and scared all the time and my business is failing,” turns into something like “I’m calm and awake and my business is booming.”  This is a good start.  We have at least some brushstrokes in the solution space.

3 steps

This is the beginning of what I call the “desired positive change,” and my students have dubbed the constellation’s “DPC.”  But it’s as yet diffuse, and rather global, possibly impractical.  So the work can benefit greatly from three further steps.  I call them “focusing,” “instantiating,” and “opening to the universe.”

Selfless Self Promotion

Selfless Self Promotion...

            Is there such a thing? Can YOU do it?

"A world in crisis needs you to put yourself
         & what you are passionate about
              in front of people"

--Michael Reddy

With storms, climate change, runaway financial inequality, and gridlock and corruption rampant in government--our planet (and civilization) is actually in some trouble. And GUESS WHAT....

Passionate HeartIt can only get better if all of us reach into our hearts and put out the unique things we think, feel, and are passionate about. I know many of you are passionate about helping folks with Family Constellations and Energy Psychology.

As Michael Port says, plenty of people out there need what you do, and it's your simple duty to put yourself in front of them in the spirit of love and compassion.

Focus on that process and the results come from Spirit.  Well, how do you best do that?

Don't Sell Yourself, Just Look for a Fit

Though I go deeply into the spiritual side, let's start with those crucial conversations.  Those are the ones where you either engage a potential client or fail to.

Everybody in this off kilter world is trying to brand and sell their stuff to this person.  What makes you come off any different?  

hands interlockedThe reality is there are some very simple ways to do this, which work best for empathic, caring people like yourself. 

To begin with, don't sell, but look rather for a good fit.

Simply feel people out to see if what you are is what will help.

This levels the playing field. Because you are evaluating them just as they are evaluating you. It disarms the natural defenses people have when someone is trying to "sell them" on something.

You're on their side as well as yours. :-)

But When Do I Tell Them About my Stuff?

You don't. Not right away, anyway. The rule here is simple: ASK, LISTEN, LEARN FIRST. People will remember you as interesting if you show genuine interest in them.

As an empathic person, you can do this quite easily. Paul Zelizer calls it "leading with yourLucy Listens empathy."

Of course, as people warm up telling you about themselves, you do direct your questions in certain ways.

You start looking for tie-ins and turn-offs that relate to "your stuff."

For Family Constellations, in my book and video training, I teach 6 different subjects to "scout" as you ask friendly questions. Most of them are exactly the same for Energy Psychology.  Here are those 6 important areas you want to know someone's attitude towards.

Endless Invention--Panacea or Peril?

If we “externalize” all human skills by inventing mechanical and electronic replacements for them—what happens to us? What becomes of our role in the world?  

mechanical_hand_pare_ambroiseOur civilization’s a bit one-sided.  It chooses almost always to invent external devices for doing things.  It almost never uses those same needs-to-do-things as occasions for evolving human skills and awareness.

Let's call that tendency "externalism." We are "externalizing" almost every human ability. Handwriting, for instance, was replaced by typing.  Typing is being replaced by speech recognition software.   As computers voice more text, probably reading itself will fade.  Actually, sustained, attentive reading is already disappearing.

Not to mention all the millions of livelihoods that have been lost because of machinery and automation.  All of which mimic or augment human skills.

So Let's Imagine "Internalists"
What Would They be Like?

Our polar opposites would be "internalists." Such people would employ relatively simple externalbuid things you enjoy tools to develop very high levels of human skill and awareness. Their attitude would be, gosh, don't invent a gizmo for doing that. Such a gizmo would take away all the health and strength and growth we get out of doing it ourselves.

Our skills bring the meaning and fulfillment to our lives, they would say.  Again, not to mention gainful employment.

Cars and Dirty Dishes

As externalists, when the horseless carriage comes along, we clap our hands and say, cars!--wow, cool, it's inevitable! So long, walking! We'll go twenty times as fast, with no effort at all! 

The fact that we'll just end up sitting belted into a box in traffic going three hundred times as far doesn't seem to occur to us.

Internalists, on the other hand, would be very suspicious. Without walking, they would ask, walkingtowork1what happens to the strength of our hearts and legs? Or, how would we visit with people and trees and the river on our way to work? 

Bottom line--when faced with dirty dishes, externalists will discover electricity and invent the dishwasher. Internalists will hold seminars on efficient, artful ways to scrape and stack, and turn the act of washing into a kind of meditation. They'll evolve something like the "Japanese rinsing ceremony."

So What Then...  
Go Back to the Stone Age?

I hear you.  Hold on, you say. Those internalists will likely remain utter primitives! They will never invent even the wheel, much less go to the moon, or build a computer! Still slaving in hardscrabble gardens, chopping at tree roots with stone axes--how can you say that's better?

OK, so let's look carefully at this.  'Cause I'm not...

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