Structure or Scaffolding

Here’s one way I describe living with and working with the results of developmental trauma.

When some of our core needs went unmet, we had to hide from ourselves various needs, feelings, and difficult emotions.

Also due to core needs going unmet, we failed to develop some key skills for navigating both inner and outer situations.

We built a structure or scaffolding inside our bodymind to help with these two challenges.

The scaffolding is designed to ensure that the hidden needs and feelings remain hidden and to work around the missing skills. As a side effect, this structure also limits and restricts our thoughts, feelings and actions.

In our healing journey, we ultimately want to deconstruct the existing structure and replace it with a structure that allows for more freedom and flexibility.

But that can’t happen quickly because this structure is serving a critical function.

We have to shift this whole thing gently, bit by bit.

Any movement can potentially shift this inner structure. Any positive or negative shift in our experience or circumstances can cause some part of this infrastructure to no longer work in just the same way, and that can lead to new or unexpected emotional and physical symptoms.

Our intention is to make small shifts, creating openings, spaciousness, and new possibilities. If the work is optimally titrated, we get some incremental relief, growth and change that we can build on over time. But because our systems are so sensitive, any movement can potentially spark an inner backlash. When there’s more space, something in us can cry out, “More space is dangerous! Shut it down!”

Our work becomes trial and error, to find the ways to create just a little movement, just a little space, titrated so that there is hopefully no backlash, or if there is backlash, it’s small enough to manage. Because this is art, not science, we won’t get it exactly right every time. When there is a backlash, or if things don’t seem to be moving at all, we can gently get curious about that. We can explore what came up and we can also adjust how we work in the future to go slower or faster or be more intentional about connecting with resource and breath.

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