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The Hub, The Rim, The Both And

March 24, 2020

“…Our mind can be pictured as a bicycle wheel, with the hub at the center and spokes radiating at the outer rim. The rim represents anything we can pay attention to or become aware of. The hub is the inner place of the mind from which we become aware of all that’s happening around and within us…” Dr. Dan Siegel

I can only imagine how I’d be managing this life-upending pandemic if it wasn’t for my immersion into interpersonal neurobiology and the relational neurosciences.

Dan Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson- The Whole Brained Child

If it hadn’t been for the science, I don’t know if I would have ever risked wading into the waters of integration, relational connection, and regulation.

IPNB turned this graphic…the idea that we have a hub of the mind and we can shift our attention to connect with things out on the rim….from a theoretical idea that sounded nice into a reality.

I lived my life completely on the rim. I didn’t NOTICE a feeling. I WAS a feeling. I was swept away. I had no sense of a hub. I had no sense of a ME.

I DEFINITELY had no idea what it meant to be with the ‘both and’.

And here we are. At the beginning of a crisis that will change our lives forever. NOTHING will ever be the same. And also there is the reality that it’s highly likely that me and my family will be one of the lucky ones. We will recover financially. We will not lose our house. If we get sick, we will probably get healthy again (though it seems to be more and more clear that this virus is unforgiving and we are ALL at risk of getting sick and not getting healthy again).

What about the people who cannot visit their dying loved ones…loved ones already on hospice when this started.

What about the folks who had their first day of sobriety on March 15th…

What about the children who live with adults who already cannot manage stress…and are flooded with emotion that makes them violent or turns them toward substances? And now these children aren’t in school, aren’t around other safe people.

I could write for days about the scenarios…the real-life scenarios that I would sit here and make up but that are actually happening to people out there RIGHT NOW while I sit in my home office and contemplate how I will dress warm-enough to go for a walk when it’s 30 degrees. I could write for DAYS about those scenarios but they aren’t scenarios, they are real.

And four or five years ago? Honestly…I’d sit here in complete paralysis about those scenarios. I’d sit in paralysis about my OWN situation, which truly, isn’t dire. I’d rage and cry and convince myself that the worse-case-scenario is absolutely inevitable so what is even the point.

And today? Well…actually…I’m still doing those things. But the difference? The difference in me today because I’ve lived and breathed and loved the relational neurosciences to the point that it has changed the cells in my body?

Today I can pause. Today I can see the terror, the paralysis…as points on the rim. And I can notice them, allow them to grab my attention…and then I can move on to the next point on the rim. And sometimes I find myself stranded at the rim not even knowing that any other point on the rim could possibly exist. And sometimes I stay in my hub, noticing these rims points and moving on to others.

When I hang in my hub, I can be with the both and. I can be with two completely contradictory experiences AT THE SAME TIME. I can welcome them all. I can not shame any part of me. I can acknowledge that terror, grief, and a toddler-like tantrum are all welcome. And so is peace, leaning into the unknown, and gratitude for all my good-fortunes.

The best part about the hub? Sometimes I am sitting so solidly in my hub that I can watch other people dancing on their rim…and not get pulled onto my own rim point. I can see them as simply being swept away. But I can stay in my hub. And maybe, I can even LEND them my hub. Maybe not. But hey…you never know.

I’m going to do my best to stay in my hub today. To notice all the things. To allow the terror. To allow the OKness. I’m also going to practice compassion when I return to my hub after being fully swept onto the rim. I won’t judge myself or shame myself. I will be grateful I could come back to the hub.

And I will be forever grateful to my mentors in the IPNB world…to my therapist…to my dear dear friends who support me in my hub…and to my husband.

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Like what you read here? To get even more support, click here to sign up for my newsletter! I try to send it out monthly. Sometimes I succeed. Mostly I don’t 🙂

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW, RPT-S  (when not in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic) is a blogger, teacher, trainer, and consultant for therapists and professionals working with children with a history of complex trauma.  

Seeing Behaviors as the Response

March 21, 2020

In the midst of the global crisis that is the pandemic COVID-19, I’m so grateful I can see behaviors through the lens of the stress response.  Mine.  And others.

Otherwise, it would be pretty easy to be confused, baffled, and frankly, a bit (or even a lot) judgy judgy.

Unless you are one minute old, every single experience you are having in every single moment is being filtered through every single experience you’ve ever had in every single previous moment.

 And because of those experiences, we all have our default stress response.

Some of us become ostrich’s and bury our heads.

Some of us become possum’s and literally fall asleep.

Some of us become lions and wage a full on attack.

Some of us become road runners and get the heck outta dodge.

Many of us have all of these little critters living inside of us and have seen of those glorious protectors come out and various times in the last week.

The commitment to being human informed…the understanding that there is no such thing as maladaptive; that regulated, connected people who feel safe behave well; that connection is a biological imperative;

The commitment to being human informed is more important than ever. 

Because the by-product of being human informed is compassion.

It’s easy for me to move into a place of panic.  I’m as human as everyone else.  But when I allow myself to move back into my human-informed beliefs then I notice a swell of compassion and then I notice a swell of rest.

We need as many moments of rest in our nervous system as absolutely possible. 

Being human-informed is as much for our own good as it is for the good of everyone else.

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Like what you read here? To get even more support, click here to sign up for my newsletter! I try to send it out monthly. Sometimes I succeed. Mostly I don’t 🙂

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW, RPT-S  is a blogger, teacher, trainer, and consultant for therapists and professionals working with children with a history of complex trauma.  

Creating Felt-Safety

March 10, 2020

The Science

Dr. Alan Sroufe tells us that felt-safety is “A subjective state that is determined based on the safety of the caregiver, the safety of the environment, and the child’s inner experience.”

Polyvagal Theory tells us that when we neuroceive danger, we will shift into a state of defensive behaviors…fight, flight, freeze, collapse.

The Practical

Because I study the neuroscience of being human and the wacky behaviors we sometimes demonstrate, I get to help you translate these theories into ways to help your children!

The Webinar

On Thursday March 19th, you can join me LIVE (or simply register now to receive the recording when it’s over!) for an online webinar deep-dive into the things caregivers can do to increase felt-safety for their children.

Increasing felt-safety isn’t a guarantee that we will decrease difficult, defensive behaviors (lying, stealing, opposition, defiance, aggression) BUT it is a non-negotiable. Meaning…we will definitely NOT decrease defensive behaviors without increasing felt-safety. It’s simply physiologically impossible.

The Details

90 minute webinar airs Thursday, March 19th at 12pm noon eastern time! You can attend live or receive the recording! Everyone who registers will receive unlimited and lifetime access to the recording.

It’s only $19!!!

Read all the details and register for your spot here: https://www.gobbelcounseling.com/webinars

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Like what you read here? To get even more support, click here to sign up for my newsletter! I try to send it out monthly. Sometimes I succeed. Mostly I don’t 🙂

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW, RPT-S  is a blogger, teacher, trainer, and consultant for therapists and professionals working with children with a history of complex trauma.  

No Behavior is Maladaptive

February 21, 2020

There is no such thing as maladaptive.

No. Behavior. Is. Maladaptive.

Sure, there are LOTS of behaviors that have pretty big negative consequences…for ourselves and others.

But the way the human mind is so brilliantly working all the time leaves me with an unwillingness to negotiate the truth that all behavior is adaptive.

11 Million Bits of Data

In every moment, our bodies, brains, minds, and nervous system is taking in 11 million bits of information.  11 million!!!  Obviously, the very vast majority of this information is being taken in and processed without any awareness or conscious attention, right?  Imagine driving for a moment.  How much information is your brain constantly processing that’s allowing you to get safely down the road?  More than we could even speak to.  And thank goodness it’s done unconsciously or really…we wouldn’t be able to drive. 

So our brilliant brains are taking in 11 million bits of information every moment but only somewhere between 12 and 50 bits of information are we able to CONSCIOUSLY pay attention to!!! (Process explicitly).  The very very very vast majority of information coming into our senses is processed completely outside our awareness.

Neuroception- Knowing without Knowing

Then there’s amazing phenomenon called ‘neuroception.’  Neuroception is the idea that we are processing these 11 million bits of data unconsciously in every moment…and part of what we are doing with that data is determining if we are safe…or not.  It knows this without us even KNOWING it knows this.

In fact, our brains are doing this constantly.  At least four times every second.

It’s almost impossible to wrap our heads around ¼ of a second OR 11 million bits of data.

The brain is astounding.

Bringing Together Then & Now

Then our amazing brains blends the information that it is processing RIGHT EXACTLY NOW with all the information it has store in our memory networks.  Which is…A LOT of information.  Those two streams of information (then and now) merge together like two rivers merging together to create our conscious experience of NOW.  But see…it’s not only based on NOW info. 

Our brains are beautifully anticipatory machines…designed to guess what’s about to happen and how we should respond.  And yup…it makes that guess based on those two streams flowering together…then and now.

And our brain is absolutely 100% only interested in what is best for us.  Period.  End of story.

If we are safe, what is best for us is relational connection.  Because we are human and that’s just how it goes.

If we are NOT safe, what is best for us is protection from danger.

BUT REMEMBER!!!  We aren’t making the decision of safe or not safe based only on objective information that is happening right now.  There is a lot of ‘past’ that is influencing that decision.

This is true for all humans.  The past is always invading the present.  Thank goodness or I would have no idea how to even use the machine with buttons with letters to write this all out- let alone use it with any speed and efficiency that allows a little bit of ease in my life.

Integrated memories allow the past to flow gently into the present so I can ‘do something’ (behave) in a way that works, makes sense, and continues to meet my goals (staying alive, staying in relationship, etc. etc.). 

The dam of the past

Memories that aren’t integrated…often due to emotional overwhelm at the time of the experience….don’t flow gently into the stream of now.  They crash into the stream like a dam has been released, overflowing and overtaking…now our past becomes the majority of our now.

This obviously impacts the way our brain determines if I’m safe or not.  If my river is flooded with past unsafe, and that is a huge part of what is creating my experience of now, my behaviors are based on the past…on being unsafe.

We are ALWAYS trying to be safe.  We are ALWAYS trying to find our way back to connection.  ALWAYS.

But if my experience of NOW is overly impacted by my experience of THEN, it’s highly likely I’m going to behave in ways that don’t really reflect OTHER’S experience of NOW.

This will make it LOOK like I’m behaving bad, inappropriate or unsafe.  Even controlling or manipulative.  Overreacting.  Histrionic.  UNDERreacting.  This may be easy to label self-sabotage.  In extreme circumstances we start to label these behaviors as personality or character deficits. 

The behavior CERTAINLY LOOKS MALADAPTIVE.

But the brain just doesn’t work that way.  The brain doesn’t do maladaptive.  The brain takes then and now, mashes it together, and then does something next based solely on what it believes is best given how the then and now flow together.

Why is it helpful to consider that no behavior is maladaptive??

Well it certainly isn’t so we take pity on the person behaving badly and loosen our boundaries, allowing them to just keep behaving badly.  That just increases our resentment and does nothing to help their brain more accurately bring together the then and now.

It’s helpful to consider that no behavior is maladaptive because it changes how we look at that person.

It brings us to a place of compassion and understanding.  We depersonalize their behavior.  We don’t making sweeping character judgments. 

Every single one of us comes to know who we are by the mirror that is reflected to us through the eyes of the other.

So what would happen if people behaving badly had strong boundaries set with loving eyes.  With eyes that communicated that they were doing the best they can.  With eyes that expressed compassion at how the past is a tsunami on their now.

Sweet ones…this isn’t even about trauma.  This is about HUMANS.  We are ALL always behaving in ways that we believe are best in the moment based on how our past and our now come together. 

Oh yeah another reason it’s helpful??

When we understand that this is about how the brain is working, we can consider ways to help the brain work better.  To slow the tsunami.  To close up the dam.  To help the rivers of then and now meet gently, connecting in harmony to create something that has never been created before. 

And while there are lots of ways to support this gentle connection of then and now, you know what the BEST way is???

Compassion.

No, really.

Compassion is the energy that is needed to slow the tsunami. 

And eventually when a struggling person receives enough compassion (WITH BOUNDARIES) they begin to develop self-compassion.

And self-compassion is EXACTLY the energy that is needed to bring the then and the now together more slowly…allowing the then to inform the now but without knocking it on it’s keister and destroying everything in it’s path.

Rapidly flowing water has the power to destroy everything in it’s past.  But all it’s try to do is be water.

We become what we see reflected back to us.

See behaviors as what they are…the result of two rivers coming together in the best way the person knows how. 

The compassion will help the river slow down…

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Like what you read here? To get even more support, click here to sign up for my newsletter! I try to send it out monthly. Sometimes I succeed. Mostly I don’t 🙂

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW, RPT-S  is a blogger, teacher, trainer, and consultant for therapists and professionals working with children with a history of complex trauma.  

A Lie Detector Test…my hubby…and my parent’s kitchen table (a new webinar on lying)

February 10, 2020

A very very very long time ago…when I was 18…my dad (a lieutenant with the county police department) became a lie detector operator.

In fact, he had to live in Austin, TX for a summer to get trained.  Who knew I’d end up living there for 15 years myself?!

So my dad becomes an expert on lies (which honestly, when your dad is cop, you really don’t ever try to lie anyway.  Even before his fancy training and machines, he was like some sort of mind-reader when it came to lies) and then one day he hooked up my husband.

At my parent’s kitchen table.

Before my husband was my husband.

He passed.  And even still agreed to get married 🙂  And my dad and my hubby are swell friends.

Lying as a Trauma Driven Behavior….Webinar

Lying is SUCH a crazy-making behavior.  It feels rude and disrespectful.  It feels outrageous.  At times it feels just plain RIDICULOUS as the lie is so obvious.  It can feel confusing…something wondering why on earth our kids would even lie about this silly inane thing.

This Wednesday February 12, you can join me for a 90 minute webinar all about Lying as a Trauma Driven Behavior.  Because even though all kids (ahem…all HUMANS…me and you too….) lie sometimes, the lying that we encounter with our kids who have experienced trauma is sometimes extremely head scratching.  And aggravating.  Even infuriating.

As always, webinars are only $19 AND everyone who registers receives lifetime and unlimited access to the recording so you do NOT have to attend live.  You can listen over and over and over again…always a nice feature when you need a little extra dose of understanding and compassion for our children’s maddening behaviors 😉

All the details and registration is available by CLICKING HERE.  Really.  I’m not lying. ~

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Like what you read here? To get even more support, click here to sign up for my newsletter! I try to send it out monthly. Sometimes I succeed. Mostly I don’t 🙂

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW, RPT-S  is a blogger, teacher, trainer, and consultant for therapists and professionals working with children with a history of complex trauma.  

All Of You…Come…

January 29, 2020

What if I told you all of you was welcome?  I wanted to see…and know…every single part of you.

The parts you loved yourself.  The parts you were proud of.  The parts that bring you delight.

But especially the parts you try to hide away.

The parts you believe are bad.

The parts you believe maybe even hurt other people.

The part of you that believes that the parts that should be hidden away are your true self.

What if I said please come?  Bring all of you?

And what if I just waited.

You don’t have to come.  But when you do, I’ll be here.

I’ll welcome all of you.

I will say thank you to all your parts.  Thank you for your hard hard work.  Thank you for doing what you thought was needed to stay safe.  Thank you for doing exactly what you believed was needed.

Thank you.

And if all your parts want to stay, they are welcome to stay.

And if any of your parts are ready for break…and are willing to let your true self step forward and risk being loved for exactly all your perfectly imperfectness….then I will rock your tired parts, whisper my gratitude, admire their bravery, and invite them to rest.

What if I told you all of you is welcome? And what if you believed it?

 

~

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Like what you read here? To get even more support, click here to sign up for my newsletter! I try to send it out monthly. Sometimes I succeed. Mostly I don’t 🙂

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW, RPT-S  is a blogger, teacher, trainer, and consultant for therapists and professionals working with children with a history of complex trauma.  

WEBINAR~ Toxic Stress & the Developing Brain

January 12, 2020

Understanding the developing brain will change the world.  It really will.  When we understand how the brain develops in relationship and NEEDS relationship…when we understand the role of co-regulation and felt-safety…our beliefs about behavior and how we can support behavior change will complete flip on their head.

Understanding the impact of toxic stress on the developing brain?  Now THAT will REALLY change the world.

No brain develops in ideal conditions.  Many of us get ‘good enough’ conditions and our brain develops pretty optimally. But so many of us (up to 2/3 of the population!) have experienced at least some level of toxic stress in their childhood, which impacts their developing brain, their regulation, their felt-safety…all which impacts behavior!

You see…behavior is simply an externalization of inner experience.

Are you ready to be a part of this world-changing paradigm shift?

We need everyone- teachers, doctors, lawyers, case workers, daycare workers, sports coaches, parents, foster parents, therapists EVERYONE to understand behavior in the context of the brain AND the impact of toxic stress on the brain.

This 90-minute webinar will just be an introduction.  Enough science to convince you that regulated, connected, kids who feel safe behave well.  Enough science to help you understand how toxic stress impacts the brain and behaviors.  A few ideas about what to do to help support someone impacted by toxic stress.  Of course, this webinar is only 90 minutes so we will only go so deep 🙂

Maybe you already KNOW the impact of toxic stress on the brain.  YAY!!  You can support the movement by sharing about this webinar.  Let’s get all the teachers, all the daycare workers, all the case workers…everyone we can THINK of…to join our movement!!!

The webinar airs Wednesday at 12pm eastern time.  BE SURE YOU DO THE TIME ZONE ADJUSTMENT 🙂

It’s only 90 minutes!!

If you can’t make it live, you’ll still want to register NOW as registration will close on Wednesday after the webinar concludes. EVERYONE who registers will receive lifetime and unlimited access to the recording- you do NOT have to attend live!

Sound good?  YES, yes it does 🙂  I can’t wait to see you there!!!  CLICK HERE for all the details and registration!

Robyn

~

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Like what you read here? To get even more support, click here to sign up for my newsletter! I try to send it out monthly. Sometimes I succeed. Mostly I don’t 🙂

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW, RPT-S  is a blogger, teacher, trainer, and consultant for therapists and professionals working with children with a history of complex trauma.  

NEXT WEBINAR: Toxic Stress & the Developing Brain ~ January 15, 2020

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