Let's break down these key components that Brene talks about in this Tedtalk.
Courage. I think we, in our culture, compare courage to bravery or strength a lot, but that it's what courage actually is. As Brene points out, courage is the ability to be whole hearted. Courage doesn't necessarily come from the moments in time that you take a big gamble on a new house or a job. I'm sure there's some courage involved. But courage comes from moments when you put your whole, naked heart on the line for what you believe is right. This could be as simple as asking the "stupid question" in class or approaching the new kid at school to say hi.
Compassion. Compassion is tricky because Brene says there are limits to our ability to be compassionate that are set by our own ability for self compassion. Basically, if you struggle to be supportive and loving (compassionate) toward yourself, you will be limited in how much of that you can show to others. Now, I've had a great many people tell me (myself included) that they are much nicer to others than themselves. In fact, one patient told me once in session, "If I talked to other people the way I talk to myself, I wouldn't have any friends." Clearly this woman was nicer to others than herself. So let me clarify. The more grace we give ourselves on our shortcomings, the broader the spectrum is for others. To see examples of this, look back to time you used to judge someone for doing something you would "never do" and then ended up doing it later in life. That transgression gave you a new perspective on the situations you once judged, freeing you from that same perspective moving forward. The more we are able to have that same grace toward ourselves for the actions we take, the more fully we extend that grace to someone else.
Connection. Biologically, we are engineered for it. I will write a blog post on isolation soon, but that's too big for this little segment, so I'll say this. Imagine yourself alone in the middle of a woods in a cabin during a snow storm. There are no phones, no internet. No other people for miles. Plenty of food and water to survive for a month if needed, but no human contact of any kind. How long would you last before depression sets in? That depends on your body, age, sex, etc. Social isolation unleashes an extreme immune response. I'm not joking when I say that isolation literally kills us.
Vulnerability. In order to have connection...real connection...we need it. And fake connection will only create a deeper craving to find real connection. And so we scroll. And text. And surf. And pleasure seek. Vulnerability is the key to connection and therefore fulfillment.
Not only do I practice EMDR therapy, I also receive my own EMDR therapy. I've experienced it both as a client and as the counselor. As a client, it's amazing how impactful it is in a very short time frame. If I go to my therapy with the thought process of "I am so angry about ...." , I will inevitably leave with the mindset of "Why did I care so much about that?!" My memory didn't change, but the way I feel about it has changed drastically. It is so freeing to not be held captive by the way I feel about my past. I know if I'm feeling some kind of way, I can go to my therapist with my honest feeling about it and she will help me along. What's even more amazing is that there is very little if any talk therapy in EMDR. I don't have to tell my therapist about what happened. I don't have to talk about it at all to change it, and that goes against everything I ever learned in traditional talk therapy.
Is there still a place for talk therapy? I believe so. I do a combination of both in my practice. However, I don't believe I will ever feel the same about talk therapy in trauma again because there's just no reason to make the client relive that horrible experience. Still have questions? I tell you what, when we meet for our very first session, I can show you how it works without ever touching on trauma even a little. It can be something small, like being stuck in a car jam or chipping your newly completed nail job. In only seconds, I can show you how we can rewire your neural networks. After understanding that, it's easy to apply it to other, more sensitive areas of your life.
Technically, that's what it is really called. Whether we are talking about substance use or eating disorder or even just behavioral change, relapse is an active part of permanent change. I always say that it isn't really relapse that is the problem, but rather the thought process we use with it. This is why I personally say there are two types of relapse: The "Oh Shit" Relapse and the "Fuck It" Relapse.
In the "Fuck It" Relapse, you have a thought pattern that endorses your continued old pattern behavior. Maybe the thoughts are, "I'll never be sober," "I'm just a drunk," or "I'll always be fat and ugly." These negative thoughts and words further endorse your continued use. You're mentally giving up, and those words, those powerful negative words, propel you into a longer and often more destructive relapse cycle.
In the "Oh Shit" Relapse, you immediately recognize that you stumbled off the path you set for yourself. You relapse, recognize it, recognize the negative feelings associated with it, and then treat yourself like a person in need of help. Reach out to a sponsor, call a support person, call your therapist or a treatment facility, walk to a meeting. Because if you relapse and then immediately care for yourself as someone that needs support and resources, what have you lost? Maybe a little time and pride. "Oh Shit" relapse is about identifying and accepting that you are a human and you do all the humany things that we do. It's okay to deviate from the path, so long as you remember to reach out when you start to veer off into the woods.
Remember, You Are Enough.