In this short series of exploring trauma informed ways of being, we are being invited to think about developing what it is that sits behind was has been termed Trauma Informed Practice (TIP). #1 started us off with sitting in a place of love and curiosity, not fear and judgement.

Setting the scene in thinking about TIP, each post in this series will remind us what the 6 guiding trauma informed principles are that have been developed by the CDC and SAMSHA. These are:

Safety
Trustworthiness & transparency
Peer support
Collaboration & mutuality
Empowerment & choice
Cultural, historical & gender issues

The #2 area that I am going to look at is awareness. Developing awareness of who we are, what we bring and how we impact others takes decisive action that involves learning the art of ‘noticing’ where we are in the moment. How can we know what we bring if we don’t ever stop to notice who we are?

The research completed by Dr Tasha Eurich (2018) helps us to understand awareness and support a deeper understanding as to where work might need doing in this regard. Can you see yourself in any of the self-awareness archetypes below?

What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It)

The attraction of mindfulness and yoga really come into their own in developing awareness as they invite us to harness the skill of stopping and in us starting to become aware of (a) the internal chatter, (b) where we are holding tension in our bodies and (c) developing a connection with our breath. In teams that have worked on safety, starting the day or starting a team meeting taking 3 deep breaths will bring deep rewards. But a word of caution, many people have never consciously taken this moment of stillness before so anything that raises awareness of self needs to be gentle and with the caveat of it being done only if it feels safe to that person to do so. This can be modeled by those who do feel safe enough.

Alongside developing self awareness comes an awareness of others too and should enhance curiosity about the ways in which people behave through their adaptations to the experiences that they have had.

What does this look like?

Unawareness looks like:
1. Judgment
2. Defensiveness
3. Arrogance
4. Self as a yardstick for understanding all
5. Neglect

Awareness looks like:
1. Curiosity
2. Compassion
3. Boundaries
4. Perception
5. Self regulation

As always, these are not exhaustive lists, rather they are support to stimulate thinking. Why not take the concept of awareness into your team meeting and discuss what it means to each person, introduce the idea of taking 3 breaths at the beginning of a meeting or invite a Yogi or mindfulness practitioner to come and talk about developing awareness for self-regulation. When you work with trauma every day, this investment in the self, with the space created by the organisational leadership, is an investment in every single person you come into contact with.

*Before any discussion that explores these areas, focus on safety. We will look at creating safety in more detail another time, but if we don’t feel safe, we can’t explore these things deeply as they require vulnerability.

Next time I’ll look at another trauma informed way of being that supports us ‘leaning in’ on this journey of understanding how we can respond better to the legacy of trauma. We are always aiming rather than arriving!

#3 Trauma Informed Ways of Being

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