Updated: Oct 5
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In August, many of us prepared for or began the 22-23 school year as we balanced personal, professional, and cultural stressors.
Whether you worked through loss, reflected on your past, began a new journey, or processed the collective trauma of military conflict and restricted abortion access, now is the time to recognize the growth you accomplished.
Be proud of yourself and celebrate your wins.
As we move into September, exciting things are happening. Many of you have asked for more trauma-informed resources, and we are working hard to bring these free and affordable resources to you.
In September, we will welcome new opportunities for growth, including one open and collaborative space for all our readers.
Busy as a Trauma Response
When we think about trauma responses, it's easy to recall the basics: fight, flight, freeze, and appease.
While this offers us a great model, trauma responses are more complex than "run away" or "fight." Being busy can be a trauma response.
If busy is your trauma response, you gravitate towards activities and tasks. If someone else is busy, you feel the urge to get up and help.
Why? It's possible that idleness meant danger in your past. Being busy might help you feel safe. If you rarely give yourself time to settle down and think, you do yourself a disservice. You miss out on quality alone time. You might struggle to relax. Or, you may find yourself stuck in trauma brain or reenactments (unhealthy patterns) frequently.
It's okay to slow down. It's okay to create a space where you have nothing to do. If being busy is your trauma response, you might hate this advice: but you would also benefit the most from it.
Push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Independence as a Trauma Response
It's okay to ask for help
Another common overlooked trauma response is hyper-independence. If you are a hyper-independent person, you may experience a strong resistance to help. You may believe that you don't or shouldn't need help or that needing help is a sign of weakness. No one would blame you for believing that: our cultural norms often teach us these beliefs.
So many of us struggle to ask for help. It might come from a time we were let down in the past after asking. Or, we may have been in situations where there was no one we could ask for help.
If we acknowledge that our resistance to help comes from a place of trauma, we can apply a new perspective to recurring situations.
Next time you think about asking for help, notice if your immediate next thought is resistance. Then, consider it an opportunity to push back, disengage your trauma response, break a pattern, and choose healing over comfort.
The Drama Triangle
Reenactments are patterns of social interactions that we tend to repeat. If you ever feel like you're stuck in conflict or conversation with no resolution in sight (and you often have the same interactions over and over again), then you're probably experiencing a reenactment.
When we're inside reenactments, we generally tend to take one of three archetypes. We may move between them in the same reenactment pattern, or we may take on different roles with different people.
Knowing whether you're the victim, rescuer, or persecutor can help you identify problematic mindsets that keep you stuck. Victims struggle with hopelessness, entitlement, and decision-making. Rescuers struggle with needing to save others to feel valuable, helping without being asked, and harboring resentment. Persecutors struggle with blame, black-and-white thinking, and a sense of superiority.
Name It, Tame It
To escape the reenactment triangle, one person must break the pattern. To break the cycle, you can "name it and tame it." With this method, you stop and say, "We are in a reenactment." You might even identify who's who. By calling it out, you control it. This helps us avoid getting wrapped up in reenactments.
The Empowerment Triangle
Knowing which role you play can help you move away from the drama triangle and into the empowerment triangle by identifying the role you wish to play. In an empowerment triangle, the rescuer becomes the supporter, the victim becomes the driver, and the persecutor becomes the coach.
Drivers are empowered to affect change. Supporters set clear boundaries. Coaches encourage others to action. In this triangle, all parties communicate and create safety.
Trauma-Informed Spotlight: Christy Turek Rials
Art is a window of safety, and we strive to give this gift to as many folks as possible.
Christy Turek Rials is the Training & Outreach Director at A Window Between Worlds, a trauma-informed nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering trauma survivors through transformative healing arts programs.
Christy Rials is a model trauma-informed leader who embodies trauma-informed values through her work and offers insight to other leaders in this space.
She recognizes the importance of both trauma-informed care and cultural relevance as essential components of the healing process.
Although AWBW primarily serves survivors of domestic and sexual violence, anyone with traumatic experience and all trauma-informed leaders can benefit from their methods and practices.
If you're looking for more trauma-informed resources, check out:
Thank you for reading our Trauma-Informed Newsletter. We hope that you also thank yourself for spending the time and energy to hold space for healing, growth, and learning. You're doing great!
Your personal and professional development doesn't end with this newsletter. Here are some more trauma-informed resources for you to use or share with those who need them (they're all free!):
You asked for more trauma-informed resources, and they're coming! Keep an eye out for our Organizational Action Plan Workbook, a step-by-step guide to help you create an organizational safety plan.
For even more trauma-informed resources, be sure to stay up-to-date with Chefalo Consulting's weekly blog, The Art of Trauma-Informed. In September, we discussed:
Finally, we have an exciting new resource to offer our community! Intentional Conversations start in October. They provide a trauma-informed space to network with an expert facilitator. And they're free!
Begin Oct 10 | Mondays 12:00 PM CT | 10 Sessions | Cost: Free