“We are as fragile as porcelain vases: we can also break but we have all the potential to put the pieces back together, strengthened by the experience just lived and aware of our value ». This is in summary what the psychotherapist claims Massimo Giusti in his latest book Small wounds, great rebirths (Mondadori, € 18.50): a path of inner growth that teaches us to start again from our weak points.
How? “Our brain is a complex network of billions of neural connections. Let’s imagine an immense spider’s web that changes constantly, allowing us a continuous adaptation: it’s called brain plasticity. Basically, our peripheral nervous system, after mapping the surrounding environment, builds appropriate reaction models. Through a phenomenon called neuroception, which activates the defense or social engagement system, we understand if we have to defend ourselves or if we can relax », continues the expert.
To be reborn after a trauma
This is it wonderful adaptability which allows us to always leave. “It is a characteristic that is defined post-traumatic growth: we are built to raise our heads even after the most difficult of experiences but we don’t all react in the same way. To simplify, in the book I have distinguished 3 different ways of dealing with difficulties based on character: sensitive, rational and self-centered. Each of us possesses these traits but tends to show one of these aspects of the personality more clearly ”, concludes the psychotherapist.
She is focused on the feelings and emotions she feels and on the mood of those around her. She is always ready to give emotional support to others because she draws self-worth from having great relationships
How it behaves in the face of trauma: in general, being very skilled in understanding and feeling one’s emotions, it does not avoid pain, but perceives it in all its amplitude. This, if initially it is his Achilles heel, then it becomes the most powerful weapon of him because is able to accept suffering and rework it. Given his high degree of emotionality, he is easily manipulated at the beginning of a relationship, sentimental or professional, because he easily suffers the fascination of others. But because he is able to build very strong social networks with friends, relatives and with the world in general, he is able to overcome the trauma faster than the other two types.
How he reworks it: the first winning move for this personality type is to strengthen their ego and identify their needs as legitimate. Often it tends to merge with the other and to cancel the boundaries between oneself and the world. Instead, he must learn to get back to the center, to make that submerged ego rise to the surface, without being afraid of losing the other. You must ask yourself these questions: what are my most authentic needs? What makes me feel really good?
Exercise that helps
If you have realized that you are a person who flattens himself on others, adopting their habits and lifestyles, you are already well underway. You always wait for change to come from the outside but you need to take matters into your own hands. Take a pen and paper and write the problem very specifically. Start with asking yourself this question: How can this situation be changed so that things go the way I want? List below what you would like to go differently, without worrying about whether this is possible or not. Don’t be stingy with details: specify down to the smallest detail what you would like to happen, making an objective analysis so that everything goes in the desired direction.
Use logic to manage his emotional world. She is used to analyzing everything through rigid and compartmentalized schemes, she is very efficient but always moves within a cage of rules
How it behaves in the face of trauma: he is a hyper-controlling personality, he seems cold and icy but in reality he fears emotions more than anything else because he cannot manage them and is afraid of being overwhelmed by them. Faced with a traumatic event of her tends to be avoidant: she tries not to give it importance or breaks it down into minute details so as to experience it from outside her, as if it were not happening to her. She compares herself with others for goals and results because it is an attitude that reassures her, but in doing so she is unable to build a protective social network and isolates herself. And if an unforeseen event disrupts her inner universe, her world collapses on her.
How he reworks it: the first step is to work on the recognition of emotions, so that he is able to integrate them into his cognitive functioning. Not having a large emotional vocabulary available, one must start from the body: observing the sensations that arrive (and which are often determined by uncontrolled emotions) helps the rational to get in touch not only with his inner world, but also with that of his other. In this way he will be able to develop empathy and care towards those around him.
Exercise that helps
Bring back from your memory an episode in which you felt a strong emotion and you lost control. Get comfortable and close your eyes. Think of having a very large TV in front of you and on the screen displays the image you just remembered, looking at it as if you were a spectator. Now listen to the sensations that arrive, and if you feel discomfort, try to make the image smaller and turn it into black and white or move it away. Learn to stay in the company of this visualization and the sensations that come into the body. Then try to observe the emotions that are gradually produced in the mind, without trying to control or repress them. Finally, try to transfer this experience to the real world when something unexpected happens to you.
Self-realization and self-affirmation are his life purpose. His needs come first of everything else and to satisfy them he uses any means without guilt because he is incapable to feel empathy
How he behaves in the face of trauma: he experiences failure as a personal catastrophe, so he makes sure he never finds himself in front of that broken mirror. This personality, which can lead to narcissism, actually hides a wounded child, unseen and unrecognized by the parents. To get out of this emotional cage that creates enormous suffering, she soon learns to build another self, an ego unhooked from the emotional world where she exercises full control and nothing and no one can harm her anymore. For this reason, in the face of pain, she builds an impassable wall between the true self and the others and always plays the part of the indifferent affective.
How he reworks it: in the face of a major failure, professional or sentimental, the false self melts like snow in the sun and the self-centered is forced to reconnect with those painful emotions, such as a deep sense of shame and inadequacy, which goes to great lengths to avoid . Only forced to observe that fragile and wounded part can she rework the defeat of an unattainable ideal self and get back in touch with reality.
Exercise that helps
Close your eyes and view an ancient house. In there you know that there is you child, and you are crying. You have to enter, look for her and then sit next to her, in silence. After you’ve visited her several times, invite her to take a walk with you: by the sea, in the mountains, in a place you love. The first time you will walk with her without talking about her, the second time you will start holding her hand, then you can hug her. In subsequent sessions, imagine that little girl in your room, on the bed, or standing. Now go exactly where you imagined her and welcome her into you. Put your hands where you feel her presence most, on her chest or belly for example and listen to the sensations that arrive.