We all know that it is difficult to change deeply ingrained, emotional learnings, such as ‘I am unlovable,’ or ‘Others need me to be perfect.’ However, the science of memory reconsolidation clearly outlines a series of experiences that, if the brain moves through step by step, can open its neural networks for relearning. Most therapies find a way to facilitate these steps (either knowingly or unknowingly).
But before we go into how to use memory reconsolidation for healing (topic of the next video), let’s quickly look at the science of this powerful form of neuroplasticity, and why memory reconsolidation opens such a hopeful path toward change.
Memory Reconsolidation: How to Rewire Your Brain
I remember when I was first starting out as a psychologist my father gave me a piece of advice that he’d received from his mentor. He said, remember people don’t come to you with their problems they come to you with their solutions. So now if I see someone, for instance, who
has a rage problem or a problem with overeating, I think how was raging or overheating a necessary solution to some problem that they faced?
So if you’re wondering how could raging be a solution to a problem, well let’s say when that person was young his father would target his younger brother with a lot of aggression and the one way that that child figured out to protect his younger brother was to engage dad with his own anger so that he himself became the target. In this example, the problem then would be his little brother getting hurt and the solution would be the rage.
So these learned solutions exist within these little maps of reality that teach us through experience what to expect from life and how we should respond. We call those little maps “schemas.” There’s two parts to a schema, first it’s what to expect and second how I’ve learned to respond to best protect myself or protect my group or get what I need. So these schemas are by default unconscious. Why? Because they exist in something called implicit memory.
If you learned about this in school you’ll remember that explicit memory would be like learning and remembering what the capital of France is. Implicit memory would be more like learning to ride a bike. When you’re learning to ride a bike your brain is having experiences that teach you how to respond in the future. For instance, when I feel a slight shudder on my right side I need to slightly lean left or I’m going to fall over. Now that is not consciously learned but it is stored and very useful to our capacity to ride a bike, even if we can’t verbalize what we learned.
In the same way we learn to ride a bike we learn the motions of being human. Again, they’re not conscious because they exist in the same way
that learning how to ride a bike exists – as an implicit memory. Now until about 15 years ago scientists believed that implicit memory couldn’t be changed so therefore our field looked for ways to override or control that implicit learning. Forms of therapy like CBT were created to teach people how to use logic and try to control the more implicit knowing or override it so that the implicit memory wouldn’t have so much control and they could regulate their emotions and behaviors more effectively. This process creates something called incremental change which is a good thing.
However, now we know we can actually go into the implicit learning or memory itself and update it. When we do that we get transformational change. So by transformational change, I mean when the symptom or struggle disappears and remains gone without continued effort or a lot of maintenance. So let’s look then about how to change implicit memory. First though, lets go over again how memory gets stored in the first place. So an event or learning happens and for a short time stays in short-term memory. If it’s trivial or not important to us then we will forget about it but if it seems important to our future survival or if it’s emotionally charged then it will be more likely to go into long-term memory which it does through a process called memory consolidation.
You see memory exists a neural net that holds a pattern. The pattern holds the elements of that experience or memory together and secures them into place. In fact, it’s through the consolidation process that the learning gets secured so that that pattern can be stabilized. So just to give a metaphor, which is just a metaphor, so don’t take it too seriously, but it’s something like editing a document on a computer. We’re editing the file and then we close the file. We may even condense it into a zip file for storage but then it’s in a less editable format. Implicit memories are a little like that, they’re fixed and in order to change them you have to unzip them, open the file and then bring them back into a format that is workable for making edits.
So as I mentioned, scientists used to believe that once these implicit memories are secured into place they could not be changed, but in the early 2000s they started to wonder – does memory really just consolidate and that’s it or does it ever open again for new learning? If it did open up, possibly through simply being activated, it would need to be reconsolidated to get secured back into place. So they began, starting with the assumption that reconsolidation maybe is a thing. Since the process of consolidation happens through protein synthesis then they should be able to interrupt the process through using a protein synthesis blocker, If indeed the memory did need to be reconsolidated after being triggered then a protein synthesis blocker would interrupt the reconsolidation and therefore disrupt the memory and actually that’s what they found.
They found that they could condition a mouse to fear a bell, so that’s implicit learning. They then would trigger that memory by sounding the bell, introduce the protein synthesis blocker and then thereby disrupt the mouse’s ability to reconsolidate the association between danger and bell and through doing that, through that chemical method, they found that the fear conditioning could actually be erased. The fact that it might be possible to change these memories is really good news. If you’re thinking it sounds kind of scary, like an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, kind of thing, it’s not like that at all. We’re not trying to change people’s autobiographical memory or their conscious recall of the events of their life. More what’s being targeted are the unconscious beliefs about the nature of reality and how we must respond that were gleaned through those experiences.
Now that we’ve had about 15 years of memory consolidation research under our belt, it’s pretty clear the sequence of experiences that the brain needs in order to activate memory reconsolidation without the help of chemical aids. First, you have to bring that memory into an open state. That is accomplished first by activating the memory by recalling the details and feeling the emotional experience of the memory. This is called a reactivation. The second step is to introduce an experience or information that proves the belief about reality held in that memory is incorrect.
Once that happens there’s about a five hour window where that memory becomes what is called “labile.” That means it’s open to being changed. If in that time-frame an additional experience comes that disconfirms – they call it “disconfirmation” or “error prediction,” and proves that that original perspective or belief about reality cannot be true. When that happens then that information is taken in and either completely changes or at least just updates and tweaks the original schema before it gets once again reconsolidated in a new implicit memory that more accurately maps to the reality of the present moment.
So to summarize, the two key ingredients are reactivation and disconfirmation and there’s all sort of deep experiential therapies that really help people transform their implicit beliefs whether or not they even think about this process in terms of memory reconsolidation. When we look at what is happening in a powerfully transformative session what you always find is both reactivation and disconfirmation.
For instance, forms of therapies where the client is guided to feel once again what it felt like to be young and to enter into that old reality and to feel it consciously, like, “I’m not safe if I share my feelings.” That would be reactivation and then the therapist is actively there, not judging their feelings making it safe to have their emotions and even calling their awareness to that new reality, like, “notice how is it though for me to be here with you and not judging you right now.” That would be a disconfirmation. In that moment, that schema that says, “if I have my feelings I’ll be judged so it isn’t safe” actually could get updated.
Another example are therapies that do inner child work where you visualize yourself at a certain age and really go in and ask “what is the view of reality that I learned at that age” and really making that view of reality conscious, that would be reactivation. Then perhaps the client
imagines going to that inner child and telling them their version of reality or just proving a different version of reality through being able to show up. So that that schema “I’m alone” or “I’m not lovable” can be erased.
So that would be activation and disconfirmation. When the brain vividly witnesses two realities, the reality from the schema and the reality of what’s actually happening in the moment and those realities cannot actually both be true at the same time it kind of freaks the brain out. It’s like an error message gets sent, but in a good way so the brain says “wait a second, I guess my predictive model is not doing such a great job predicting reality it may be time for me to update it.”
Now that’s not going to happen if that original model isn’t activated first that’s why these things have to have a felt or visceral component to them. If it’s just cognitive that isn’t enough or if we’re having all these kind of disconfirming experiences like “I don’t believe I’m valuable but I’m being valued by all these people,” it may not necessarily land on the original memory or the neural net that holds that memory unless we first activate that original net, really let it be felt and conscious.
Then as new information comes in if it feels like valid compelling information like through a lived experience or irrefutable proof then that can come in and actually work to change the original schema. So when a reorganization happens on that implicit level like that it produces
transformational change which is much more powerful than simply having to force ourselves into new behavioral habits, against the will of some deeper part of our mind that’s saying “don’t do that if you do that it’s going to lead to a bad outcome.” If we don’t address that original belief then it’s like we’re constantly fighting an uphill battle.
Now it’s Bruce Ecker (Coherence Therapy) who originally linked or noticed a link between what he calls transformational change and memory reconsolidation research so he started out just trying to understand transformational change which he did through videotaping his own sessions and reviewing hours of videotape of his work as well as clinical material from other people’s work. He wasn’t the only one doing this, Diana Fosha (AEDP), among others were really trying to study what actually produces change in sessions but he was the one to notice and outline a set of steps that were always present when the client had a therapeutic breakthrough and once he delineated those steps he noticed these are the same steps that happen in memory reconsolidation.
So this is a cutting edge paradigm shift within our field and I hope more research is done and more training is done in these methods because I have a prediction that we’re about to have a leap forward in terms of the effectiveness of psychotherapy which is really exciting and kind of about time. So if you’re wondering how to use these steps in your own therapy that I go over in the How to Get the Most Out of Therapy video, but before we end this video let me give the take-home point which is: while our deep early learnings, the ones that we developed during childhood and at that time perhaps protected us, but now cause us pain or at least stuckness, while it’s not so easy to change those, we now know they actually can be reliably changed as long as the steps of memory reconsolidation take place.
I don’t mean to make this sound like a magical fix or super easy. It does take work but if we have the principles in mind we can be more strategic about how we approach that work. Again, with the first step of really activating our implicit knowings, knowing what, in our heart of hearts, our brain really believes and letting that be fully conscious and felt and then second, having experiences that disconfirm or at least update that original view of reality so that our approach to reality can transform.
So how to buckle in and direct yourself toward the goal of transformation using memory reconsolidation will be the topic of the next video: Transformation: A Deeper Kind of Growth.
If you’d like to listen to a podcast with Bruce Ecker, you can check out this Therapist Uncensored’s episode:
For general information about Memory Reconsolidation, Coherence Therapy and Bruce Ecker:
If you’d like to read a detailed summary of memory reconsolidation research you can find it here:
Why do therapists obsess about childhood? Why would experiences from so long ago still impact us today? The answer is pretty simple. It rests on the fact that our ‘issues’ are not actually defects; they are modes of responding that we LEARNED. When does this learning happen? Well, mainly during childhood! After all, our brain can’t wait until we are adults to try to figure out how to respond to life! It starts on day one, and works on overdrive throughout our whole childhood to develop mental maps of reality about threats and how to manage them. This is how schemas are formed.
The problem is, once our brain has learned something over and over, it stops questioning it’s reality. In this way it can ‘automate’ its response and work more efficiently. Childhood matters so much because when we are younger we are more open to learning. After all, by the time we are adults, haven’t we learned everything we need to know? The brain sure thinks so! This is why changing as an adult is so difficult! Of course there are exceptions to this, for instance when a new experience is particularly intense (think of trauma, or for that matter a therapeutic breakthrough!). Or when we use therapy techniques to trigger memory reconsolidation (which we will talk about in the next video). But generally, our schemas – our conditioned (learned) emotions, behaviors, and perspectives tend to stick with us into adulthood. Hence why our childhood experiences (or more accurately, what those experiences teach us) are at the core of everything!
Video Transcript of How Schemas are Formed
How our Schemas are Formed
We all know that our experiences during childhood can have a huge impact on our later well-being. In the last video we talked about the fact that childhood leaves an imprint through teaching us both what to expect from reality but also what is the best way to respond to reality. It does so through creating these little like maps or templates about how the world works which are traditionally called schemas. Our schemas teach us two things: what is about to happen and how should I respond to that event. To give an example, let’s say every time a child shares an accomplishment they’re punished by an insecure, competitive mother. Well their brain’s little map of reality will be: “sharing accomplishments leads to punishment” and within that map will be the adaptation: “I won’t share my accomplishments then.”
That assumption works great in that original context but if it’s played forward and generalized to other people who aren’t mom, which the brain will do, then suddenly that person as an adult may be finding that they’re not sharing about their successes at work and are feeling held back professionally. That person may be very frustrated with himself for being so timid at work without realizing the deep learning that timidity is linked into: there was that first experience with mom when it really worked to protect an important relationship.
Now relationships are a huge part of this learning but really all aspects of a child’s experience, from culture, to medical issues, to experiences at school can have a deep impact in their understanding of how to adapt to their reality, which are our schemas. Recently I was working with a client who had an interesting response to stress and as we tracked it down it really came to some deep learnings she had around her experiences of having asthma. So really it could be any notable life experiences we have as children, it’s just that one of our most powerful experiences of the world is our relationships with our parents. It’s like our parents are our world in a way when we’re young. Why? Because, evolutionarily speaking, without mom and dad we would die. So it’s an innate sort of imperative to preserve that relationship so mom and dad will love us, so that they’ll take care of us.
Our Schemas Were Designed to Keep Us Safe
Of course there are some adaptations that happen around how to make mom and dad love us, like how to please mom and dad. I think that’s ones we typically are more aware of, but let me actually focus on something just as powerful which is the ways we learn to adapt to make mom and dad function well, to keep mom and dad intact. Why? Because we need mom and dad to be doing well in order to sufficiently take care of us. So the child in a way learns to behave to stabilize mom and dad or or at least try to bring out the best in them. So if the child does something and it causes mom and dad to falter they’re less likely to do that again. In some very general sense the child learns to become the child that the parent needs them to be.
Let me give an example, let’s say the child shows some very natural anger but the parent, perhaps because of their own abuse history, in response to seeing the child’s anger looks scared and freezes for a moment. The child is probably going to pick up on that: “uh oh, my anger just seemed to mess with mom” so that’s immediately kind of frightening for two reasons, One because mom’s not here now emotionally to support me and two, mom looks scared so there must be some real danger. Then if the mom recovers and she comes back and reengages that may not be such a deep learning for the child.
But if she doesn’t recover quickly, let’s say she pulls away and gets cold, or gets depressed the rest of the day, or punishes the child then the child is learning: “okay, I guess my anger is associated with danger.” That becomes a schema: “my anger scares mom and when mom is scared I feel ashamed and alone.” So then of course the child will try whatever they can figure out in order to not be angry. That might be cutting off from their emotions. It might be shutting down their vitality and getting depressed. The solution could be disinvesting in life so that they don’t have disappointments and don’t get angry. It may just be covering the anger with a sort of sickly sweet kind of response whenever they’re actually upset.
Schemas Can be Passed Down From Parent to Child
So the child has learned two things: “anger is associated with danger.” That’s the expectation and then the adaptation would be “I’ll do whatever I can figure out to not let myself feel my anger.” Now the reason I use an emotion like anger as an example is that experiences paired with emotion are the learnings that are most likely to be imprinted. Also emotional moments are the experiences most often mishandled by the parents because maybe they themselves often have defensive schemas regarding emotions from their childhood. It’s not just anger that parents often have trouble with. It could be sadness. That’s one that’s very often dropped or mishandled by parents, perhaps because they’re scared they won’t be competent to help or they don’t want to fall into their own despair.
For one reason or another, it is very common for parents to leave their child alone in the face of sadness. Perhaps even to punish or shame them for it. But even if they just neglect their child’s sadness and don’t sufficiently step in to help, then that leads the child alone with the emotion of sadness which is not how mother nature intended it. When a child is alone with strong negative emotions, it is by its nature overwhelming. If they’re in connection it can be manageable, but for a child’s system to be alone with an emotion like grief or rage is by it’s nature overwhelming. As a result of this experience, the schema will become: “sadness is linked to aloneness, which is linked to overwhelm” and the adaptation will be: maybe I won’t let myself have my sadness, or I’ll distract myself in any way possible. I’ll get into playing video games, or drinking, or just covering up the sadness with anxiety instead.
Honoring Our Schemas as Adaptations instead of Defenses
Now these adaptations I’m mentioning we would traditionally call our defenses. I just think the word “defenses” is slightly critical in it’s tone, whereas the word “adaptation” really honors the fact that we needed to shift our response in this way. It helped us to do so. It allowed us to survive our childhoods a bit more intact. So far we’ve been looking more at the adaptations to help mom and dad function well like: “mom and dad can’t handle me being angry so I’ll learn not to have anger,” or “they can’t handle my neediness so I’ll not have needs,” or “they can’t handle my independence so I’ll learn to not step into my own uniqueness and opinions and strength” or “they can’t even bear to look at their own faults” so the child might have to learn to be blind to those faults.
Then finally the child may have to adapt in order to just survive mom and dad. So if mom and dad are abusive or intrusive, what does the child need to do to mitigate the damage of that? You know put up walls, go numb, dissociate perhaps, be incredibly pleasing so as to not be a target. In either case, the child is learning schemas about how to bring out the best and avoid the worst for mom and dad. If I could put it another way: “how do I need to act in order to help mom and dad survive me and order in order to help me survive mom and dad.
I know that last statement was kind of general and I just meant to capture a lot of what tends to cause people suffering later. Often it comes down to experiences with mom and dad or siblings but that’s not the end of the story. Any significant life experience that we learned from and adapted to can have an impact on our later functioning or our later response to life. In fact, socioeconomic status has a huge impact in these schemas that we’re talking about because it’s a different world with different requirements that require us to adapt.
Our Schemas are Hard to Change, But it’s Possible!
However the learning happens, it’s likely most of it’s going to happen during childhood. Why? Our brain is in the most active learning phase during that time. It’s trying to develop mental maps of reality to figure out as quickly as it can how to survive in this world. Unfortunately once the schema has been ingrained through lots of experiences or through one big experience which we would call a trauma, it doesn’t as actively continue questioning that map of reality as we move into adulthood. However, it is possible to use a process called memory reconsolidation to go back to those early templates of reality, those original schemas and update them even once we’re adults. The theory and science behind memory reconsolidation is what we will explore in the next video: Memory Reconsolidation: How to Rewire your Brain.
We all think of ourselves as a little crazy. But the truth is, we aren’t! Our brain is guiding us to respond in ways that it actually learned (through experience!) are more likely to lead to our survival. So why are our choices sometimes so seemingly unhealthy?
The bottom-line is this: our brains are incredibly adaptive. The problem? Well, what is adaptive during childhood (when our brain is in full-on learning mode), is not necessarily adaptive later in life. This is an incredibly important issue for us all to deeply understand, so we can reflect with compassion upon how our own frustrating patterns, attitudes actually at one point helped us to survive.
Video Transcript from Your Issues Make Complete Sense
You’re not Broken, Weak or Crazy!
So our emotional issues make perfect, coherent, even rational sense given our real experience with the world around us. This issue is very close to me because often I hear people talking as if they are broken or weak or just being difficult or crazy…and that upsets me because I truly believe that our brain is doing what it is doing for good reason. Now there’s some scientific explanation for that, which we will go into. But also that just makes logical sense. Like, why would our brain be trying to mess with us? Even our behaviors that we think of as irrational or self-defeating, on some level our brain really does believe that those choices will end up best for us, or for our group. These beliefs are based on experiences from our past. What we think of as our ‘patterns’–at some point they were necessary adaptations for us or at least are built on assumptions about how the world works. While they might seem irrational are actually drawn from real experience with the world.
Your Brain is a Prediction Generating Machine
So in the last video we talked about what our emotional reactions are based on. I’ll just say the same thing again, just try to say it in a slightly different way this time. So think of it like this: if every experience you had with life, especially as you are a child, which is when you’re learning how to be alive…that all those experiences are like data points coming at you. Now, your brain is having to constantly make sense of those data points by finding some pattern. I think of it like when you see a sheet with data and you have to do statistical analysis to actually draw the pattern, to figure out the pattern from what otherwise would look like chaos.
Well, that’s actually what the brain does, through a process called statistical learning. Actually the brain is constantly doing unconscious statistical analyses to see what is associated with what. What is probabilistically likely to happen together. The reason it does that is so that it can make predictions from the input about what is about to happen, and also predictions about how to respond. So those predictions, those unconscious statistical comparisons between what’s happening now and comparing it to what we experienced in the past, and the patterns we develop to understand the world and respond to it, that’s going on all the time. It’s the base of our emotional reactions, and honestly most of our behavior.
When it Comes to Our Reactions, Past Experience is More Powerful Than the Present
So if a certain smell is associated with dad being drunk then in the future our brain will remember that such that when we smell that smell we will predict that means danger. Because statistically speaking that smell is associated with danger. Now rationally we may know that that smell does not mean that dad is in the room or present, but that’s not how the brain works. The brain just knows statistically speaking that smell is associated with danger and also statistically speaking this fear response, like running to my room to get away, is associated with more protection for myself.
So that’s constantly going on, running in the background in what we would call the unconscious. So it’s unconsciously always preparing our body and perceiving reality through the lens of how what’s happening now is likely to be understood. Essentially, what is the likeliest explanation based on my previous experiences? But to continue with this metaphor, if now as an adult you are struggling, it is not because your brain has done a bad job taking it’s experiences and all those data points and finding the patterns and making meaning, it is simply that those experiences you had, those data points are a skewed sample. That’s it!
What Was Adaptive in the Past, May Now be Maladaptive For Your Present Life
In other words, the world you started out in, which is most powerfully your family of origin. When your brain is learning these patterns and figuring out what to expect and how to respond to life, that world differs in important ways from the world at large. Or perhaps that original world, those original data points, simply differ from your life now as a single adult, or in the family that you’ve created. Or simply the reality and family that you want to create, because the truth is, most likely, the world you learned and adapted to is not the world or reality that you’re trying to create for yourself.
So that’s a big problem for the brain. The ways that you were conditioned, basically to survive your family of origin, may vastly differ from the set of imperatives of building a beautiful life. That’s really important to understand because sometimes we’re so frustrated by what we may think of as our own resistance or irrationality or our seemingly self destructive impulses. But underneath those behaviors, our deeper imperatives, that at one time were really, truly what we needed to do to survive the world.
If our Brain is so Malleable, Why is it so Hard to Change?
You may be wondering, if my brain is so great at adapting why doesn’t it just continue to adapt? Continue to learn and make new assumptions and make new behavioral patterns that actually fit what’s in front of me now? Well here’s the rub, our brain if left to it’s own devices doesn’t actively update it’s view of reality. Once the brain feels that it knows something, either through a million repetitions of experience or one big powerful experience which we would call a trauma, it doesn’t just always stay open for continued input.
Actually it would be pretty cumbersome to live in a world where we were always that open to learning. If we woke up every day in a childlike state of open mindedness and naivete of what we’re going to find and how we might try to respond, the world would just eat us alive. Imagine how totally overwhelming it would be to try and make sense of all the sensory input and decision points you would face if you couldn’t rely on some basic assumptions about reality.
So there’s good reason that our brain doesn’t always just shift with every new moment and try to learn life anew every day. It allows us to function in the world. Plus if you think about it, for most of our evolution the world we were born into was pretty much the one we were going to stay in. You know it wasn’t like today where maybe you have an abusive family but then you go off and make another healthier family. Or you move from one side of the world to the other side of the world. We would have had our little tribe of thirty people and pretty much whatever we learned in childhood was going to be adaptive during adulthood. So this personal growth mission it’s a bit of a new thing for the brain. It’s a little bit tricky for the brain to change deeply in that way. It doesn’t mean it can’t do it, there are actually very clear steps to unlock the brain to learn again, which of course we’ll be talking about in a later video.
How Could Harmful or Self-Destructive Behaviors Have Been Adaptive?
Another important point I want to make if you’re thinking: so I understand that my early learning may not be adaptive in my adult life, but it didn’t seem adaptive even in my childhood? How is it adaptive for me to check out at school, or start using drugs when I was twelve, or never assert myself with my dad, or beat up my sister? That’s a really great question! That brings us to a really important point and that is: while some of these early adaptations don’t seem good or maybe they really are not healthy or productive, they were from the perspective of the brain, the lesser of two evils.
So let’s say your brain learned: I need to rage any time somebody criticizes me. So that response, raging is going to have huge costs. Yet if you as a child were in a family system so steeped in shame where you were often attacked and criticized, your system might have learned: I need to push that back and go to rage as a way to protect itself that. Otherwise, the greater evil is that my whole sense of self being becomes crippled and my capacity to engage in this world disabled through the shame. Therefore I must rage instead. Furthermore perhaps this rage was normalized in our family but if I accept the shame and freeze up, disengage or fail to be as productive then my family will shame me even further. So in order to function and be productive, the child will reject the shame and embrace rage as a shield to protect them from this toxic environment.
Just to drive this point home a little more, let’s say that same child, when in the face of shame learned: if I let myself freeze and go to a non-functional state I also can’t protect my younger brother from dad’s aggression. So I’ve got to keep myself strong and steeled for the sake of protecting my younger brother. For me, the tragedy of this is the fact that it happens so unconsciously! These adaptations are out of awareness and all the child will experience is “hey I’m raging a lot more” or “I get in trouble a lot more” and as they grow into an adult it might be really easy for the explanation to be: “I must just be an angry person” or even worse: “a bad person” or “a person who doesn’t care about others.”
The Tragedy of Believing That We Are Defective
It’s such a tragedy because the whole reason the rage behavior got set up is because the child did care about his younger brother and was needing to protect him! Or maybe it was just to protect his own sanity or his own body, but that’s also completely valid. So this is why earlier said that it’s so upsetting when I hear people judge themselves without really exploring deeper to see what is truly driving that behavior. Asking ourselves: what experience has really taught my brain that it is imperative for me to do that thing or avoid doing this other thing?
So in my work with clients it’s just never been the case that we were exploring underneath to see what’s driving the behavior and at the bottom we just came to: “oh the deal is, you’re just a terrible person.” That’s never the explanation! Of course it isn’t, it’s never the explanation that that person is just bad, weak or stupid. There’s always a coherent, understandable set of imperatives and learnings that came in emotionally. That really can help us both understand and then therefore not judge what we think of as our “emotional issues.”
So in the next video we’ll go over this in a bit more detail, connecting it to attachment theory and giving more examples. But the final message that I’d like to give in this video is this. If you’re suffering it isn’t because anything is wrong with you or even how your brain is working. Your brain has done its job of helping you adapt. It’s just that your early childhood experiences required you to adapt in ways that have some huge costs. Now those costs, like the lack of capacity for joy, peace or closeness, those costs might have been worth it when you were younger, but there’s a chance that they are no longer worth it anymore. So allowing the brain to realize that and perhaps make some new adaptations as an adult is what healing is all about.