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As long as people feel that others are paying little attention to what they say, they are likely either to keep pressing their point or to withdraw with the feeling that their contributions are not valuable or not welcome. How do groups acquire the practice of attending carefully to each other? Here it seems the group-centered leader serves an essential and significant function. He demonstrates an extraordinary kind of concentrated attention. Much deeper than the awareness that I could not succeed at this particular construct of femininity was a nagging feeling that threatened the integrity of my understanding of self. It would, however, take decades for this awareness--that I wasn't a girl--to fully surface. While I can laugh as I tell the story today, I can also remember what it was like to be that awkward teen, feeling the shame of not being a Real Girl--and having it so publicly revealed. To feel my parents' disappointment in who I was. To know my parents felt ashamed, believing they were negatively judged because of who I was. I mark that day, as with the bat mitzvah, as one of the turning points that pushed me into an outright war on my body--an eating disorder and later drug addiction were just two of the many ways I found ways to comfort myself from the shame. For many of us, showing our authentic selves at some point proved unsafe. The inauthentic self we learned to show the world as armor kept us protected. Passing as a girl allowed me to survive my childhood, but it also contributed to my feeling isolated and alone. And it strengthened my conviction that something was wrong with me, which only magnified my shame. The activities on my required list that need to remain are: When the dread of doing them comes up, I will reframe each one as follows: The three good things I will add into my day tomorrow are: Here is specifically how and when I will do those things: Here are the icebergs that come up for me when I take time to add in good stuff: Here is how I will navigate around those icebergs:

My plan to offset challenges that I foresee coming is: Tune Your Positive Radars The Payoff: A deeper wellspring of positive emotions to sustain you through challenges Yesterday, you learned about balancing the proportion of good to bad events in your life, and that's a fantastic start. Having no need to get his own ideas across, having no axe to grind, and sincerely respecting the worth of the contributions of every group member, he is able to attend to others. By doing so he conveys to the speaker that his contribution is worth listening to, that as a person he is respected enough to receive the undivided attention of another. It is not enough, however, that the leader simply attend. He must convey this sense of full attention to the speaker. There are certain cues that can give the group member some proof of the leader's attention (nodding of the head, looking directly at the speaker), yet these are not always adequate proof. If, however, the leader paraphrases the speaker's comment, he thereby furnishes conclusive proof that he has attended. Transcribed group discussions under group-centered leadership reveal that the leader is constantly prefixing his comments with such phrases as: You are saying . If I understand you correctly . I'm not sure I follow you, but is this it . Healing required that I recognize that the problem wasn't in me, but in the environment that didn't treat me well. I did what was necessary to survive a toxic environment. That was smart, a sign of remarkable resilience at the time. As an adult, I have more agency and I can make different choices that allow me to heal. I can find and create safe environments where I can shed my armor, where I can be seen, and where I can feel love and belonging. This last point is key: It's belonging rather than self-love that helps me live as my authentic self.

This is not a solo journey. POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER The diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) applies when the response to trauma takes over our lives, causing our brains to live in the past in a way we can't control. When someone has PTSD, the nerve connections between the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex are weakened. We do need to load up on good things, but there's a second--and equally important--component to this. We also have to actively train ourselves to look for positive emotions and take advantage of them when they are here. In other words, we need to appreciate our emotional response to the good stuff fully to get the real and lasting benefits. Today, you're going to learn how to tune in to positive emotions and live in them fully. Love, contentment, pride, joy, appreciation of beauty . Some people, no matter how loaded up they are on the good stuff, take lemonade and turn it back into lemons. They're missing out on the benefits. We've done a good job of trying to amp up the amount of positive events in your life, but are you really, fully appreciating them when they happen? We want to make sure that when the positives do come up, your radar is as set to ping on those as it is focused on the bad stuff. Today we're going to clear the mental cobwebs so that you can get the full benefit of the good stuff you have (and are adding) in your life. I gather that you mean . Let's see if I really understand that . Here is a function carried out by the group-centered leader which is rarely carried out consistently by any other member of a group. It is a difficult task, for it requires the leader to concentrate outside of himself. To do this, the leader cannot be thinking such things as: Is the group going in the direction I want it to go?

I disagree with that statement. I wonder what they think of me. How can I get other members to talk? That is an irrelevant remark. The hippocampus becomes hypoactive and can't store the memory, while the amygdala becomes hyperactive, keeping you in a fearful state. The prefrontal cortex isn't able to override the hippocampus and soothe the amygdala when there is no danger. It's as if you're stuck in the traumatic experience. This closely resembles what happens in chronic stress, except that in traumatic stress, memories of the traumatic event dominate your thoughts, sending you into fight-or-flight mode at the slightest provocation. Therapists describe this as being reactivated. In the short term, people may avoid the pain provoked by the memories through disassociating--that is, they cut off from their bodies, so much so that they often cannot describe their own physical sensations and may have difficulty recognizing normal sensations like cold or hunger. About 20 percent of people who experience a traumatic event go on to develop PTSD, which is defined by the following diagnostic criteria: Other criteria include that the symptoms last for more than a month, create distress or functional impairment, and are not due to medication, substance use, or other illness. Proper diagnosis can be powerful. Those four little letters mean that symptoms are more likely to get taken seriously and not dismissed as someone being too sensitive. Our Positive Radars When Andrew conducts a workshop, he asks by a show of hands, How many of you have been overwhelmed sometime in the past week by frustration, anxiety, anger, or whatever your pet negative emotion is? Nearly every hand in the room goes up. Then he asks, Now, when's the last time you were overwhelmed by contentment? Sadly, we don't take our positive emotions as seriously as the negative ones, so they tend to fly under the radar. We don't notice contentment, because there's no survival value in noticing that we have everything we need.

Remember, as humans, we're not evenhanded in what we pay attention to emotionally. We're hardwired to scan for the bad and overlook the good. It's an ancient survival mechanism. We've long since outgrown the usefulness of that imbalance, and yet we haven't shed the habit. This ability to attend to the statements of others is probably directly related to the leader's own feeling of security in the group, his confidence, his threat-tolerance. The leader who is not comfortable in his role will be responding so much to internal stimuli that he will find it difficult to respond to anything outside of himself. In our earlier attempts at group-centered leadership the mistake was often made of trying to paraphrase almost every comment made by group members, somewhat after the practice of the individual therapist. Had there been a better understanding of the function of rephrasing or reflecting, this error might have been avoided. In practice, too frequent reflection by the leader may actually inhibit communication by forcing the members to channel all comments through the leader. Reflection of comments by group members appears to have the primary function of conveying to the members the sense that their contributions are welcome and are considered worth while. As the group members begin to feel this, the leader's reflections become less necessary. Furthermore, this function, too, is gradually taken over by the group members themselves. Here is the distinctive contribution of the group-centered leader. He brings to the group a useful function which did not previously exist, and the group then incorporates this function into itself. People who don't fit the stereotype, like people with marginalized identities whose trauma comes from oppression, are less likely to get the diagnosis--and therefore less likely to get help and accommodations. They are also vulnerable to thinking their trauma responses mean there's something wrong with them. TRAUMA-INFORMED PERSPECTIVE What happens when we see ourselves through a trauma-informed lens? The National Center for Trauma-Informed Care articulates this paradigm shift as moving from asking What's wrong with you? It means reexamining the stories you've told about yourself in a more compassionate light.