For a few weeks now, my daughter, Aria, has been walking around the house singing, “We don’t talk about Bruno, no, no, no, we don’t talk about Bruno…” It’s a very popular song from the recent Disney movie “Encanto.” The movie has received praise for its portrayal of healing from generational trauma. Recovering from trauma and trauma-informed care has been talked about frequently as we continue to work through the pandemic. Recently at the DAS all-staff meeting, keynote speaker Trey Doty asked the question, “What shows up when you show up?” What behaviors and emotions are you noticing in yourself and in others right now? Are they topics you talk about and explore, or something that is not talked about and pushed aside or bottled up? As leaders, we need to look for ways to create space where healing can happen. For remote teams, that may be in virtual team meetings. Are we seeing each person on the team? Are we hearing from each person on the team? Are we engaging in conversation and listening to each person on the team? To meet the demands of an ever-changing workplace, we need healthy, engaged employees.
It may be important for us to recover from our own trauma before we can help others. Psychologist Bessel Van Der Kolk offers four steps to recovering from trauma in his book, “The Body Keeps The Score.” Recovery is about regaining balance between the emotional (fight/flight/freeze) and rational brain (thinking/cognitive) so you can feel in charge of how you respond and how you conduct your life.
The first step is to become calm and focused. He encourages mindfulness – purposely paying attention without judgment – to improve the connectivity inside the brain’s network. Mindfulness can come from focused breathing techniques, and yoga, music and rhythm, dance, theater and films, reading books, forming relationships and support networks and taking time to play. Becoming calm and focused helps us gain self-leadership.
The second step is to maintain the calm and focused state in the face of triggers. We can’t control what happens around us but we can control and choose how we will respond. Being present with yourself and taking notice of your feelings and emotions can help you be aware of when you need to calm down and focus.
The third step is to be fully alive and present and engaged with people. Take time to think about the people you’re interreacting with. Be willing to turn the spotlight from yourself to someone else. Ask yourself what’s going on. “What’s happening in this moment? What can I do to help?”
The fourth step is to be honest with yourself and don’t keep secrets from yourself. Notice what you’re feeling. What is that telling you about the situation or the circumstances? What is it telling you about your needs and values? What do you need to do to move through it?
Avoiding trauma, bottling up emotions or pushing them aside and not talking about what’s happening will keep us from moving forward. When we can be fully present and available with others around us, we are better able to build trust with each other, and create a safe space for others to show up, communicate, connect and build positive relationships. These components leave us with a sense that – whatever the circumstance or issue – we’re all in this together; we will get through it; we can be better and stronger because of it.
Have a healing weekend,
Here’s a link to We Don’t Talk About Bruno in 21 languages for you to enjoy. This truly amazed me!