We think we know what’s real and what’s not. But do we?
The brain can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality.
That’s why we can be frightened, even traumatized, by scary movies or video violence, why we weep at a heartwarming film (I cried my eyes out at Field of Dreams, big heaving sobs). This is all why we are so easily drawn into what the SE folks call the Trauma Vortex, all the roiling chaos connected to the various events that left us helpless and frozen, angry, or worse.
But there is another vortex associated with trauma, and it is completely different, in its content and affect. It’s called the Counter Vortex. Like it’s name, it contains everything that counters the trauma—all our Resources, the strengths, skills, and other positives that got us through the traumatic event. And we did get through—because we’re alive to read this.
We survived because of our our resources.
But often those resources go uncounted, unacknowledged, unspoken, unseen. Part of wallowing in the good is about recognizing those resources and putting them to work. The Counter-Vortex includes all the dissociation and fluffy pink clouds—or the running like hell and murderous rage—or whatever else it took to survive the moment. Resources connect us to organization—not of our closet space, but internally, the organization of a healthy nervous system.
Trauma disrupts the nervous system, disorganizing it. Focusing on resources, on the here and now, on the good, helps us return to regulation (and if you want to think of old trauma like poop that has to come out for us to be regulated, you just rock on with your bad self ; ).
The great part of regulating the nervous system and discharging trauma is that our capacity for regulation and recovery increases, every time we do so. It is like the way developing a Growth Mindset and struggling to learn challenging skills increases intelligence. Sign me up, right?
So, what’s a good way to focus on resource? Making ART!
“Studies show that the arts help children regulate their emotions, a critical skill for well-adjusted children and adults.
Infants who participated in a six-month active music group with singing and dancing had better emotional regulation behaviors than did infants in a passive music group, where music was played in the background while infants did other activities.”
Oh, who’s doing that? We are!
“In another study, children were asked to think of a past negative event. Some of those children then were instructed to draw a house to distract themselves; the other children were instructed either to draw the negative event or to copy another drawing. The children who drew to distract were better able to improve their mood compared to the other children.” https://www.arts.gov/news/2015/arts-and-early-childhood-development-focus-new-nea-research
A distraction is something that takes your mind off that damn red dot. And an equally important concept is that it’s OKAY to take your mind off the dot. We are often so caught up in suffering that we feel it is our duty to do so. Eff that. Our loved ones want us to be well. And our enemies? Living well is the best revenge.
Next time you feel down, I invite you go draw a house (or do some dance, or play some music, or, hell, just imagine you are ; )
PS today is the last day for the Create Dance Art bonuses (and the How to Make a Dance without Steps webinar). You still have a few hours to check them out. Here’s the link: https://bellydancesoul.webinarninja.com/live-webinars/78875/register/
Music! Here’s a playlist from Mahmoud Chouky, a wonderful young Moroccan musician currently living in New Orleans. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxKThGaF4nE&list=RDEMwf1hCQmZ-Sfjv-7d3UXRBg