We also need to feel safe, but trauma often leaves us feeling anything but. It takes time and practice to learn, possibly for the first time, how to feel safe, especially with other people. We're going to say the quiet part out loud. You won't feel safe with everyone. There are just some people in our lives who are negative. When she comes home from school, how do you interact with her? Do you ask her if she has any homework? Do you take charge of her lessons? Do you organize her evening, designating how she must spend her time? Do you insist on seeing what she's accomplished so far? Do you grade her papers before they've been handed in? Do you demean her efforts and try to shame her into working harder? Do you worry that she isn't the student you hoped she would be? Do you lament her supposed shortcomings in front of family and friends? Your child knows your feelings whether you speak of them or not. Many of us don't date for long-term viability. I certainly didn't when chasing Brian. I call this pursuing the Prom Date. What's an ideal prom date? Someone who looks great in pictures, gives you a night full of fun, and makes you look cool in front of your friends.

Many of us finished high school more than a decade ago, and yet we're still using the same rubric to evaluate potential partners. Do you really want to marry the Prom Date? To worry if your partner is going to help you take care of your aging parents? Or show up to your kid's parent-teacher conference? Or nurse you back to health after contracting a case of Montezuma's revenge? They pull us down with their attitudes, judgments, and behaviors. They may be unsupportive, or they may make mean, belittling, snide comments to us. The truth is some people don't belong in our lives. As you take this road to recovery, you may find friends who fall away. You may find that your relationships with people shift without you meaning for them too. And you may find that you consciously start choosing who to spend your time with, acknowledging that some people are just unhealthy. Often, we need to find new communities and people to connect with. Maybe it's a shared interest like a yoga class or a article club, or it could be a group connected to trauma, such as a community art, dance, or music therapy program or support group. You're looking for a place where you can immerse yourself in safe, healthy, and healing connections with others. Part of these connections come from being able to speak about your trauma--eventually--to safe witnesses. If she senses your displeasure with her skills, she begins to doubt herself. This is the birth of the under-achiever, not the over-achiever. This is how you make sure that she doesn't believe in herself: by intimidating her into thinking she isn't enough. To manifest this little genius you keep hoping to produce, get behind her one hundred percent in the studies she does enjoy. Let her organize her homework, her evening, and her recreation.

Let her judge what is important and appropriate. Let her be responsible for her own decisions. That doesn't mean you can't assist her if she asks for help, but the real goal is to inspire her to trust herself. She has come to the school of Earth to remember the nature of her Source. No one can do this for her; Those probably aren't the questions you ask yourself when you first meet someone. The answers have little bearing on whether you want to kiss the person or go out with them again. Someone you can rely on. Someone to make decisions with. The Life Partner. I'm lucky to count the brilliant couples therapist Esther Perel as a mentor. She once explained to me the difference between a love story and a life story. There are many people with whom you can share a tryst but far fewer with whom you can build a life. When you're thinking about who to marry, she says, don't ask yourself: What would a love story with this person look like? Instead, ask: Can I make a life with this person? These are the people who aren't intimidated by your pain or what you've been through. They can listen without judgment and bear witness to your experiences. Sometimes that person is a therapist; Having our traumas witnessed is one of the great keys to healing and releasing your inner anger, shame, and difficult emotions. One of the critical factors of anger, self-blame, and shame is that you're so embarrassed or humiliated by the trauma, so much that you don't talk about it, explained Jodi Cohen, a nutritional therapy practitioner.

Cohen, who lost her 12-year-old son in a tragic car accident, credits her friends as being incredible support for her in the weeks, months, and years after the accident as she processed her grief and learned how to be a single mother while helping her 14-year-old daughter through the trauma too. When we can speak what's on our mind to someone who we feel safe with, it helps us to process the experience too, Cohen told us. Finding the people who we can let down our guards with and talk through whatever sticky challenges we're having is one of the most self-nurturing gifts we can give ourselves for our recovery and beyond. Yes, it does take some vulnerability. It may mean you have to be the one to go first and strike up a conversation, invite someone for coffee or a walk, or simply to share what you've been going through. The matter plane is symbolic. It only exists to encourage the autonomy of the soul. You assist your child in her search for that autonomy by treating her adventure into homework the way you hope to be treated in your adventures. Respect her ideas, support her choices, and believe in her ability to handle whatever comes her way. When parents have high aspirations for the social and artistic success of their children, they often demand the kind of behavior that they believe will make that attainment possible. While it's true that good manners have a way of easing one's way through life, the demand for perfect behavior and high performance refers to the parent's need for status and self-esteem, not anything a child needs to experience. What a wonderful parent I'll appear to be if my son is polite, disciplined, and well versed in basic social etiquette. Didn't you have that thought at least once when your child began to walk, talk, dress, play, share, read, dance, recite, and polish up on a musical instrument you deemed appropriate? Your child's manners improve with encouragement, but he has limits as to what he can absorb and still remain harmonious. If you demand perfection from him, you don't encourage social graces; That's the fundamental distinction. Most of us start developing crushes on the Prom Date around the time we go through puberty. And it makes sense! When you're a teen, you're thinking about whom you want to smooch, not who will make a good coparent. But you're not fifteen anymore.

If you really are seeking a long-term relationship with a committed partner, you need to stop looking for a Prom Date and start seeking a Life Partner. WHEN TO DITCH THE PROM DATE When should you make this shift? There isn't one answer for everyone, but in a conversation I had with behavioral economist Dan Ariely, we came up with a helpful rule of thumb for those of you who want to have children: You should deliberately change the way you evaluate potential partners around six to eight years before you want to have kids. Now, that's not a scientific number but, rather, a framework for thinking through when to make this shift. But you may be pleasantly surprised what a little initiative turns into. Stephanie Speights, an eco-spiritual practitioner in Los Angeles, decided one day that she wanted to know her neighbors. She had lived in the same apartment for 25 years and had watched kids in diapers go off to college, but she didn't know their names. She started to realize that she knew people's cars more than the drivers themselves. This wasn't how she wanted to live, so one day she knocked on about 30 doors and invited everyone to her house. I was nervous, so I used the word we, because that made me feel more empowered, like we want to invite you to this event. I've wanted to, but I've been too afraid that people would say no and not show up. This one gathering turned into an ongoing, regular coming together called alley up. They've done potlucks, neighborhood tomato plantings, art exhibits, and more. People hug each other on the street. Your child formulates manners from watching your manners. You only have to make sure that you exhibit what you demand. To preach one thing and do another is to teach your child pretense. How could it not if you have one set of rules for yourself and another set for him? Your child wants to copy your behavior.