We may spend a few sessions just really exploring the issues at play for. But once we both have an idea of what your challenges are, the barriers to your success, we can then articulate a recovery/parenting/ambitious goal and start building your toolbox.
Window of Tolerance: A big part of healing from trauma, stress, or anxiety is being aware of our Window of Tolerance. This is a box within which we feel comfortable with ourselves. When triggered (like when we over-react) it means that a situation or a thought has triggered us and we are now outside of our Window: we are feeling overwhelmed and/or helpless and it is unbearable. A lot of our work together is to understand why our Window of Tolerance is narrow (or reasonable!), what we have done/can do to broaden our Window or shift ourselves back inside the Window. Most clients discover within a few sessions that they have broadened their Window and can handle a lot more than they used to be able to handle.
Developing Competency: Like any new skills, we have to move through the Stages of Competency when we are learning to widen our Window of Tolerance. Stage 1: Unconscious Incompetency (we don’t know what we don’t know and cannot control our reactions), Stage 2: Conscious Incompetency (we totally can see what we think we are doing wrong and often feel a lot of guilt and shame for the dysregulation or big feelings/reactions we have), Stage 3: Conscious Competency (we are intentionally and actively working on regulation and co-regulation, but darn it, it’s very hard work!) and Stage 4: Unconscious Competency (we are able to regulate ourselves as soon as we feel the tingling of a trigger!). I have had the honour to celebrate with clients who have successfully moved from one stage to the next.
The Third Option: A lot of our suffering comes from being caught between options that do not seem to work for our lives, our priorities, the people around us. The ping-ponging or pinballing between extreme options with all the second guessing can be completely overwhelming and soul destroying, especially when we are concerned about the impact of our distress on our children. As we spend the time to untangle, analyze, and reframe our narrative, we slowly discover that there are many more options that are possible to consider. My clients love these ah ha’s and have found relief in finding these ‘third options.’
Superpower and New Powers: In order to get through crisis, we often rely on our superpowers. For example, our superpower may be our analytical intellect, which jumps in to save the day at the expense of our emotions, which we repress. It could be our hypervigilance or perfectionistic tendencies that have brought us safety or success in the past. But a superpower overused becomes a weakness or a maladaptive coping mechanism. The cost to using them become too high compared to the relief they bring us. My clients quickly learn to appreciate their superpower, while realizing that it is not a tool to be used in all situations… that in fact their superpower overused is actually adding layers of suffering to their stressful lives.