I received this quotation in an email this morning from my daughter. It came to her through a work related source. The first time I read it I thought, “OK, I can understand this.” I even sent it on to a friend who is super invested in understanding the complexities of the human shame reaction.
Then I went on to do other things for an hour or so, and this piece nagged at my mind so I went back to read it again. Here is what my daughter forwarded to me:
All About Connections – April 5, 2013
“By the time you’re a social worker for 10 years, what you realize is that connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. This is what it’s all about…. The ability to feel connected, is — neurobiologically, that’s how we’re wired — it’s why we’re here.” This comment comes from Brene Brown in her TedTalk,”The Power of Vulnerability“. Here is a bit more from her remarks:
“So I thought, you know what, I’m going to start with connection. Well, you know that situation where you get an evaluation from your boss, and she tells you 37 things you do really awesome, and one thing — an ‘opportunity for growth?’ And all you can think about is that opportunity for growth, right? Well, apparently this is the way my work went as well, because, when you ask people about love, they tell you abo ut heartbreak. When you ask people about belonging, they’ll tell you their most excruciating experiences of being excluded. And when you ask people about connection, the stories they told me were about disconnection.
“So very quickly… I ran into this unnamed thing that absolutely unraveled connection in a way that I didn’t understand or had never seen…. And it turned out to be shame. And shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection: Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection? The things I can tell you about it: it’s universal; we all have it. The only people who don’t experience shame have no capacity for human empathy or connection. No one wants to talk about it, and the less you talk about it the more you have it. What underpinned this shame, this “I’m not good enough,” which we all know that feeling: ‘I’m not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, promoted enough.’ The thing that underpinned this was excruciating vulnerability, this idea of, in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen….
“…Let me tell you what we think about children. They’re hardwired for struggle when they get here. [ME: NO NO NO NO!! THIS IS SO NOT CORRECT! WHY SO NEGATIVE?] And when you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not to say, ‘Look at her, she’s perfect. My job is just to keep her perfect — make sure she makes the tennis team by fifth grade and Yale by seventh grade.’ That’s not our job. Our job is to look and say, ‘You know what? You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.’ That’s our job. Show me a generation of kids raised like that, and we’ll end the problems I think that we see today.”
OK, that being said…. Now, I admit I am not going to watch the piece I included an active link to that is evidently the source for the above. I wouldn’t waste my time doing so. I am responding only to my take of the words forwarded to me.
I don’t agree. In fact, I believe the opposite!
Humans are hardwired for struggle if they HAVE to be. That kind of hardwiring, in my thinking, comes to us ONLY through degrees of unsafe and insecure early attachment when our primary infant caregivers (especially) do not make sure we are well and happy whenever possible (in appropriate ways).
The human opioid systems are well in place within our body before we are born. This is our FEEL GOOD SYSTEM. We are designed to FEEL GOOD — NOT BAD! Our natural opioid systems take care of us just fine if they are not interfered with – and unsafe and insecure early infant attachment relationships interfere BIG TIME!
Humans are designed to be healthy and happy – NOT TO STRUGGLE. Struggle comes from the very imperfect world we live in — that will change very soon! Once we decide we want a better world, we will have one.
Meanwhile, each infant born (with a few unfortunate exceptions) is designed to live in a loving, peaceful, cooperative, “connected” world. We are designed when things go optimally in our earliest development to grow to be (on the physiological level most importantly) FLEXIBLE beings who can adequately and appropriately deal with CHANGE.
Life does include struggle – but being hardwired to flexibly handle changes – even traumatic ones later on in life – is not the same thing in my mind as being “wired for struggle.” Why take the NEGATIVE position that denies us our birthright to be happy, well – and yes, connected? We are a social species. Of course we are wired for connection. It’s called community. It’s called attachment.
Only when early relationship trauma changes the way our body develops do we become “hardwired for struggle.” That is not our natural state. We are designed to be healthy, happy and socially connected harmonious beings – if we are given what we need during our infancy and childhood to develop optimally. When early trauma changes development one of the key areas of change is the set point of equilibrium in our body – that is supposed to be set under optimal early conditions – for peaceful calm.
This article is talking about early trauma survivorship and what it does to CHANGE the body from optimal development – and the speaker does not even seem to know it!
SEE these two VERY important online articles by Dr. Allan N. Schore:
And see this one by Dr. Martin H. Teicher:
And this also by Dr. Martin H. Teicher:
And this by Dima:
An online search using these terms in combination will yield some fascinating related facts:
– placental opioid-enhancing factor
– placenta opioid
– natural opioids breast milk
– opioids placenta breastfeeding
The following posts are just a few on this blog that are related to our internal opioid system – and include information about what goes wrong when there is trauma in an infant’s first attachment relationships that changes how this system operates:
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