One of the cornerstones of Red Willow Learning Center is belief in the resilience of the human spirit. At the center of this belief is the understanding that we can all get better at this thing we refer to as “bounce-back”. Building this capacity requires that we come to understand and utilize our inner resources. In short, it requires self-awareness.
This journey is a very personal one. It is, of course, an inside job. We believe that within each of us lies the desire to find our place in the world and to live a life of meaning. This very human journey is usually not a straight path. There are twists and turns and plenty of false starts. Yet, given a nourishing and supportive environment, we see the strength of the human spirit triumph over and over again.
Dr. Stephen Porges, the psychiatrist and neuroscientist, who developed the Polyvagal Theory, does an excellent job of helping us understand the importance of feeling safe in this process. When we do not, we just don’t do well. Our biology takes us into states of being that can look like rigid thinking, anxiety, being defensive and even shut down. We cannot be at our best under these circumstances.
How we go about developing the ability to feel safe in this world depends on many factors. In our early years, were we able to learn safe emotional regulation with an adult? Do we currently live and work in a safe environment? These things are, of course, crucially important.
Let’s not forget the inside job part of this. As individuals, we also need to understand ourselves well enough to know whether our environment is truly dangerous or toxic or whether it is the lens of past traumas that we are looking and experiencing the present though. Learning to put the past in its place is our work and requires self-awareness.
What if everyone had the opportunity and the necessary support to take this journey to self-awareness? What if each of us had the skill to persevere despite obstacles? What if we all had a sense of self-worth and place? What would it be like to be a community that supported and even celebrated the journey? What if we all were living to our potential? Now this sounds like a community I would like to be a part of!