Bryan’s Top Book Picks for 2016

It is not often that Bryan give me a book to recommend to our network. This year however, he has two that he feels strongly about. We hope you take the time to read them and let us know what you think. Maybe not too late to even ask for them for Christmas! — David Durovy

secrets-of-successful-adoptive-parenting_v2The Secrets of Successful Adoptive Parenting: Practical Advice and Strategies to Help with Emotional and Behavioural Challenges by Sophie Ashton

By far one of the best all-around adoption books I have ever read. I can feel the real-life, in the trenches experience of the author come through with deep wisdom and understanding. If there were an adoption parenting road map for establishing love and relationship in a home this is it. Please read and reread. Books at this level of true applicability and parenting guidance are rare." - Bryan Post

Are you in the process of adopting and feeling out of your depth? Do you already have an adopted child and are feeling overwhelmed? Sharing the secrets that will enable you to face the challenges of adoptive parenting with confidence, Sophie Ashton offers tips and strategies which have worked for her family. She discusses preparing for the journey ahead, parenting with empathy, facilitating your child's attachment, helping your child feel listened to, and providing structure and consistency in order to successfully integrate your child into your family and go on to have a stable happy family life.An honest and reassuring account of what it can really be like to be an adoptive parent, this practical hands-on guide will help you prepare for the highs and lows of being a parent and give your child and your family the best chance to flourish.
learn-more-or-purchase-orange

 


Surviving Compassion Fatigue: Help For Those Who surviving-compassion-fatigueHelp Others by Beverly Diane Kyer

"This book is perfect for both parents and professionals - highly recommended" - Bryan Post

If you’re a Human Service Worker, caregiver, or you work with at-risk populations as a parent,counselor, social worker, parole officer, medical or mental health professional, or in any of the dozens of helping professions, Surviving Compassion Fatigue: Help for those who help others is for you. You will learn about one woman’s physical and emotional descent due to years of self-neglect. You will also learn about her recovery as well as how to serve and care for others without forgetting to take care of yourself. This book is full of practical wisdom and advice for those in the helping professions and caregivers. It tells Beverly’s story, as well as the stories of others who have neglected their own self-care. But more than that, it educates those in the helping professions and in caregiver roles about the importance of strategies for consistent self-care. Find out how you may be putting yourself at risk and learn skills, techniques and strategies to restore and maintain self regulation, physical and emotional wellness and inner calm while still caring for those in need. You owe it to yourself.
learn-more-or-purchase-orange

Eight Components of a Peaceful Parent/Child Relationship Pt 8: Love

P.E.A.C.E.F.U.L: Eight Components of a Peaceful Parent/Child Relationship - Component #8 Love is the ribbon that ties patience, IMG_04231empathy, acceptance, compassion, encouragement, forgiveness, and understanding all together.

Love is not a feeling - it is an action.

Love does not just occur or present itself – it takes effort.

Love is not a noun – it is a verb!

Your child will not just feel loved because you say you love him.

He/She must feel it through your actions.

This may take the form of a hug, a smile, or a kiss; but it takes some action before love can be experienced.

It will do your child no good to talk about how much you love him if he does not experience your love through your actions.

All else pales in comparison to a child feeling loved.

Children need this love above anything else.

The practice of love is difficult.

The process of expressing love is displayed through the actions of showing patience, connecting in empathy, providing acceptance, approaching with compassion, offering encouragement, showering with forgiveness, and seeking to truly understand your child.

If you have enjoyed P.E.A.C.E.F.U.L., the eight components of a peaceful parent/child relationship, then I would like to know.
If this series has had a positive impact on your life, take a moment and send me an e-mail: info@postinstitute.com

Choose love,

-- B

Become a Master Parent: Your Training Begins Now by Bryan Post (Pt.1)

Yoda bwKevin motioned for me to come into his room and he spoke in a hushed tone, “Did you get my text?”“Huh,” I replied, “Probably not, my phone is charging”.He said, “Can you check and see I just sent it?”“Just tell me what it is Kevin, we don’t need to go through all of that,” I stated while standing a few feet away looking at him.“Well I didn’t like what Kristi said about me taking a shower. I don’t like that. If you guys think I’m not clean you can just tell me to leave,” he stated with quiet seriousness.A few minutes earlier after Kevin had exclaimed that he was going to go take a shower, Kristi exclaimed, “Great! Kevin’s gonna take a shower!” She did it in a playful way not uncommon to how any of us might respond to one another, but for Kevin it was embarrassing. Truth be told, we care very little about if and when he takes a shower. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had to tell him that he needed to. Now some of the other adolescent boys we’ve raised… absolutely! I would exclaim, “You stink, go get your butt in the shower, now!” But with Kevin, I’ve never had to do that.Mindfully placing my hand on the side of his arm, I gently stated, “I’m sorry that hurt your feelings and I’m sure Kristi did not mean for it to be hurtful, but thank you for telling me and I’ll be sure to let her know that you don’t like it.”He responded, “Okay, yeah I don’t.”“Okay brother,” I said “No worries”.

Six months ago to a year that little experience would have led to days, weeks, maybe even months of silent treatment, agitation, and veiled threats to leave by packing bags and stomping around the house in frustration.

Later that evening Kristi apologized and all was well. She even remarked, “Wow, Kevin took that so well, and it was only minutes. What attributed to the change?

Of course constant consistency, reflection, awareness, mindfulness, and flexibility make a difference, but what is the real reason? What’s changing in his brain? How does a child Brain Illustrationwho has grown up on the streets learn to trust? He rarely does unless he has an opportunity to develop one very important response and that response is what we will discuss today.

For the past many years I have been going on and on about oxytocin being the next revolution in parenting, education, and mental health. It is in fact, a revolution in life. It is the primary ingredient in the relationship factor. In this discussion I will present to you oxytocin from the Post perspective and explore many of its implications for parents, professionals, and all members of our society.

Understanding Oxytocin

In her groundbreaking book The Chemistry of Connection, author Susan Kuchinskas writes, “Love not only makes us happy; it makes us healthy too. By means of oxytocin, love heals”. For centuries recognized as the hormone responsible for helping women to contract during labor, and subsequently to foster bonding between mother and child, oxytocin is quickly becoming acknowledged for its role in numerous aspects of human behavior.

When I first learned about oxytocin ten years ago it only struck me as a very important hormone for infant/mother bonding. It was not until being interviewed for The Chemistry of Connection and later reading the book that the full implications of this powerful hormone began to dawn on me. In fact, it wasn’t until I was interviewing Susan Kuchinskas for the Inner Circle that I began to put the possibilities in place.

Oxy quote 1I am going to take the liberty of sharing with you how I see this hormone applicable to parenting and relationships. Oxytocin is considered the “anti‐stress” hormone. Every child with a background of trauma, especially pervasive emotional and environmental neglect suffers from a lack of oxytocin response. In a post‐shell (my version of a nutshell!) when the amygdala (the brain’s fear receptor) is triggered and releases stress hormones, these hormones pass through the hypothalamus. Let’s think James Bond for a moment. Theoretically, the stress hormones are supposed to be messengers delivering an important briefcase of secret documents that need to be responded to. So as the amygdala sends the stress hormones through the door with the secret documents the hypothalamus is supposed to send its messengers, molecules of oxytocin, through at the same time in the opposite direction. The oxytocin messengers, discreetly take the reaction and respond, thereby delivering the documents calmly and safely to their destination and communicating what important things are needed to save the world (your bodymind).

In the brain of a child with early optimal care, the parent substitutes as the secret agent of the hypothalamus, while teaching the child the lessons of responding to the call of the amygdala. This training occurs from infancy and perhaps even in utero. When the baby is hungry the amygdala sends a signal and because the baby has not yet been taught, the teacher (parent) intervenes responding with their own soothing, thus teaching the child a vital lesson. Such lessons occur thousands of times during optimal parent/child interactions from the earliest stages of development. From this perspective the child learns fairly quickly and is able to begin handling the assignments passed off from their own amygdala. This leads to a child capable of self‐regulation in the face of mild and moderate amounts of stress. For example, when the child comes of school age he is capable of going to school, interacting with strangers, learning, and coping with an overwhelming environment for an entire day because he has learned how to respond to stress rather than react to it. In this manner, the early teaching has helped the child establish a useful and efficient coping system for tolerating mild to moderate levels of stress. It’ll be many years before the child is able to handle severe experiences of stress and even then will require the support and cooperation of other loved ones and support figures.

On the other hand, our eighteen year old grew up for the most part alone on the streets. Prior to the streets he endured years of abuse and deprivation. He never had an effective teacher for his hypothalamus. He was left alone trying to figure out how to be a secret agent. Rather than having a teacher to support his hypothalamus thus teach his oxytocin response when he would cry or was hungry, it was ignored. Rather than having a teacher to provide love, safety, and security at night when he was alone and scared and his amygdala was sending out stress messengers, he could only cope the best he could. When he was abused and more messengers were sent out with top secret documents attempting to alert the rest of the world to the dangers occurring, he had no one to intervene on his behalf. As you can imagine if you or I had to learn the ways of being a secret agent on our own, we would be in trouble!

You see the reaction and the response are not in conflict. The stress reaction and the oxytocin response are not out to harm one another. They are both good guys. They want the best for their world (the bodymind system), however if the reaction is too strong, it’s prolonged, overwhelming or unpredictable, it doesn’t partner very well. If the teacher/parent has not been effective or present to train the child appropriately, it does not recognize the signals given by the amygdala. It just continues to wander around the train station waiting for some great signal to call it into action. And when it finally does get called into action it’s out of shape and tires quickly, again leaving its partner to do all of the work. Eventually with no one to accept the delivery the partner learns to work harder and gets stronger trying to save the day. As it so happens this is not in the best interest of the world (bodymind) because the amygdala, hence stress reaction, becomes too strong and begins to be detrimental to the other individuals it is supposed to be in partnership with; like the hippocampus (responsible for short‐term memory), the orbitofrontal cortex (responsible for social and emotional functioning), and the pre‐ frontal cortex (responsible for rational thinking and processing). When this happens the fear/stress reaction becomes overwhelming and then the entire world is in jeopardy.

The outcome to circumstances such as the above, are children that have an almost imperceptible ability to trust others. Trust includes the ability or willingness to be led, taught, held, comforted, kissed, hugged, or more. Additionally, it leads to an inability to feel safety and predictability in relationship with others, thereby causing heightened sensitivity, paranoia, aggression, or emotionally shutting down. Once the system has learned to react to stress with minimal barriers to soothing it, it is not uncommon that survival, thus havoc, become the sole drive of the child. (To be continued…)

Become a Master Parent: Your Training Begins Now by Bryan Post (Pt.2)

Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Breath-ButtonGet comfortable with being uncomfortable. As parents, our job is to help gently access suppressed emotions, both in our children and ourselves. In general, these are emotions that we ordinarily prefer not to acknowledge. The intent here is to deliberately allow this to occur because these suppressed emotions are the unconscious triggers that cause behaviors and circumstances that are not in our best interests. This means, get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Our desire to manipulate or change our children’s behaviors so that we feel more comfortable comes from our inability to just show up and enjoy the wonder of whatever happens exactly as it is. How we interact with what is happening in each moment sows the seeds for what is to come. The quality of those seeds depends upon whether we react or respond.

Michael Brown, is his book The Presence Process, clarifies the difference between reacting and responding. He says,” reacting to our Presence Process bookexperiences means we make decisions based on what we believe happened yesterday and what we think may happen tomorrow. In contrast, we respond to our experiences when we make choices based on what’s happening right here, right now. This response draws on the wisdom we derive from past experience, whereas reactivity is driven by the unresolved trauma that’s embedded in us. Once we integrate the energetic patterns that underlie our behavior and beliefs, It’s possible to respond to all our experiences rather than reacting”.

Although this is something we all must do for ourselves, by being role models for our children in this way also enhances our ability to go deeply into the trauma and pain that our children have experienced so that we no longer are bound by our own fears and concerns. As I have said, you cannot take your children where you have not gone yourself in pursuing uncomfortable suppressed emotional states. So the more we can just be, the more our children will be able to "just be". When there is no longer a need to communicate through behaviors, there are no unwanted behaviors – those that no longer serve the greatest good. Your children know this.

Why Can’t I Change?

Q&A

Q: I have read your material, I have listened to your CDs and I have watched your videos. Yet, I still find myself parenting from the old traditional paradigm of power and authority rather than from love. Why is this so difficult?

A: This question is, in general an excellent one and stymies many parents. So consider this advice for us all. We don’t listen. And when we do listen we don’t really hear. And when we do hear, we don’t believe what we’re hearing. And when we do believe what we’re hearing we don’t practice it. Becoming mindful of this process, and where we get stuck, is the first step to breaking the cycle of “why not”.

So how do we change?

  1. We listen to the material.
  2. We hear the message as in… we understand, agree to move forward with, even if we don’t fully agree with the material – we work with the info, process it, ask questions, wrestle with it. Try to see the truth therein.
  3. We believe it, or we believe in it enough to be willing to try it out – to move ahead. We take a stand and say yes.
  4. We put it into practice. We try it out wholeheartedly as if our life depended on it, or at least our child’s life. And if all else fails, we fake it till we make it as they say.

The paradigm of love is not something to ‘believe in’. If that is the case for you, then you may be at the “don’t really hear” part. mom stressing end lying 350wWe don’t practice love because we ‘believe’ in it (although for some, that is a good start, but certainly not the end). Beliefs are often not practiced. We practice love because we feel it, because we realize we are it. Because when we look at our child, we see, we know, we feel the pain, the struggle, the heartbreak that they have experienced.

It is not a belief to be called upon in a moment of stressful behavior, although once again, it does help if we are notHeart New feeling it, to be able to take a moment, to step back, to breathe and to feel not only our own stress and pain in that moment – which for many of us may be the very first time we are “really feeling it”, but to be able to connect with our child’s pain (or spouses, or friend or parent). Once we connect and feel, love is no longer a belief – and it is no longer a choice, it just is. And that dear parent, is where the real work – and the fun – begins. We don’t choose love to change our child, we do it to change everything.

Why Oxytocin Matters to You

Black-Man-Pointing-at-YouOxytocin is a naturally occurring hormone in the brain. It is a learned response from birth and most likely beginning in utero. When the infant is upset the parent soothes the infant thereby teaching the oxytocin response. In time we learn to have the response during simple interactions like making eye contact, simple touching, sharing a hug or a laugh. Though it is natural, it must be taught. Children and adults who've experienced a lot of early stress and trauma typically have not learned to release it effectively or sufficiently, thereby finding themselves not as easily calmed or excited about sustained relationship as they might otherwise be. In the media and in the press it is referred to as the "love hormone." Though this is true, it really doesn't speak to why it's important. As both a hormone and a neurotransmitter, Family-Happy-4-peopleoxytocin has an even more impressive moniker, it is "the anti-stress" hormone. It is the essential hormone that permits us to enjoy life, be healthy, thrive, connect, feel calm, be in relationship, smile in response to a smile, or not frown in response to a frown.

Honestly, I've become obsessed with it. I think about it every day. I've created awebsite dedicated to it entirely (www.oxytocincentral.com). You could even say that I am in love with it. When I talk about it I get butterflies in my tummy. I go to sleep thinking about it and wake up seeking it. Let me put it simply and succinctly - Oxytocin makes love and relationship possible. Oxytocin makes love and relationship possible. Oxytocin makes love and relationship possible. If you want to improve your relationship with your child you must...Click to read more

On the Changing Seasons of Parenting

As my own life has undergone its own change of seasons just this year alone, I watched as some of the last (hopefully) remnants of my own adolescence began to fade as I moved to even greater maturity. During this time I watch my own children grow, mature, and move quickly towards adulthood. Time truly does fly whether you are having fun or not! Yet, in the midst of change there are many things that remain the same; but is this because of the process of life or is this because of us? Do we hang on to our old ways and habits unconsciously, thus stunting our growth and maturity, preventing our own transformation? And if this is so, how must we also unwittingly impede the growth and process of our children?

Can we honestly expect our children to grow while we remain the same? Or perhaps we don't really want them to grow so we create unreasonable expectations, stress, and anxiety, all of which are natural impediments to growth. However, they still grow don't they? Some of our children only grow older and bigger. They don't seem to grow wiser or more mature. How much of this is our own doing or undoing? We all hold responsibility for what we bring to the table. Though unpleasant to look at and face, we set the course of our lives. If we are seeing the same patterns or behaviors show up time and again, nine times out of ten it is because we have not faced the reality of our role. It may be that our patterns of behavior have not changed. We have not owned responsibility.

Owning responsibility does not mean you must fix things. It means rather that you must own your behavior, energy, and thoughts in the midst of the interaction. "For all things there is a season" conveys to us that rather than seeking to control an outcome, we will be better served by staying present and responsible for our actions, thoughts, and energy during a season, thus being contented with the momentary outcome regardless of whether it is pleasant or not. We must live our lives. We must raise our children to live theirs. We must be models of responsibility, wisdom, and love, not the enforcers of it. We all have a path to walk and we are all influenced by those before us. When we spend time trying to control the steps of someone else's journey, by the time we turn to see what is in our own way, we have tumbled over. Now we are bruised, frustrated, and resentful, but all of this we direct to the person behind us rather than the owner of the feet and eyes that were not looking forward.

Look forward. Stop occasionally to turn around and check on those behind you that may be following in your footsteps. But do not fear if they do not match your stride step for step, or even if they may stray, for indeed they may be pursuing their own path. This path may not look anything remotely like the one we have traveled and plan to continue traveling but it is theirs and in reality, this is the only thing that matters.

Choose Love.

Have a Happy Holiday? Maybe, Maybe Not…

I recall one Christmas where one adopted RAD son had an absolute meltdown at my in-laws Christmas Day huge family gathering. Although I don’t recall how it began, I can imagine it began like most other “out of control” events, with a simple little, even maybe tiny thing or incident that I, in my parenting ignorance fanned into a bonfire of mess. We eventually had four adults each grab one of my son’s limbs while he screamed bloody murder, fighting, kicking trying to bite as we carried him back into the house with some of the family members shouting things like - I know a local cop - want me to call him? or Should we take him to the hospital? None of this was necessary. In fact, once I calmed down and let him just calm down, he played by himself in a room till all was well. He just wanted to be left alone. I have come to see that a little bit of Bryan can go a long way from keeping 'all those itty bitty little things' from turning into weapons of mass destruction.

Talk about embarrassing… The family, kind enough with their intentions, knew that our adopted son was of course to blame and offered us Santa-Lettertheir condolences for our situation. And this was after we had met Bryan Post. As impressed as we were with his new paradigm parenting approach for children with trauma histories, it was just not enough to “Get my Bryan on” and do the right thing. Even after years and years, and working for the Post Institute for seven of those, I still have trouble doing the right thing. How do I manage all this failure? By realizing that there is no “right thing”, just the next best thing that I can do - and a lot of it turns out not so good. But a lot turns out good. And this is why I do this work.

I know how not to do it. I just need more practice, more reading, more understanding, more love… more Bryan.
So to help you with with your holiday season, to help you to have a Happy Holiday rather than one like I describe above, here are some tools,tips and techniques that can help you Get Your Bryan On this year. We will be offering these over the next couple of weeks in emails, our Facebook Page and our Blog. Let us know what you learn this year and how things work for you.

Have a calm and peaceful holiday season.

Choose Peace.

Unconditonal Love: What is it and how do we get there from here?

We have talked about unconditional love many times.  but for most of us, it is just an intellectual pursuit. We really have no idea, no concept, no real experience of unconditional love. I often wonder how we can teach this to parents who have no model other than their own very limited "conditional" parenting imprints passed down from generation to generation. So we try this and that, diagrams and descriptions. Unconditional love - that which there is nothing a child can do to earn, and nothing a child can do to loose. We don't even treat ourselves with such love and respect, let alone our spouses, family and friends. Michael Brown, in his book The Presence Process, presents to us all a way into this state of love that is one of the finest ways to open our hearts and minds that I have seen. He eloquently summarizes this journey in this quote below. His book is a 10 Week Process for helping us to get comfortable with our discomforts and begins to move us into an appreciation, application and an experience of love and freedom like no other. This is not an intellectual read. It is a week by week series of exercises designed to free us from the past and the future allowing an ever expanding experience of the present. This is not a religious approach. You don't need to believe anything. It is strictly based on a psychological paradigm that is easily understood and digested if you take the time. His words are simple, powerful and profound. You will not be the same person after enjoying this book. Pretty much guaranteed.

Our journey into uncovering the nature of this great mystery called love starts with being unconditional towards ourselves by feeling what we are authentically feeling without judging the experience in a any way, and without trying to fix, change, understand, heal, or transform it. Being willing to integrate our own discomfort - to perceive it as valid and hence required, and behaving toward it accordingly - is the root of experiencing forgiveness and realizing peace." Presence Process book

You can buy it here on Amazon if you like. Let me know how it works for you. Choose Love. -- B

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired?

The fact that our children's behaviors affects parents so personally and deeply is a critical issue. It is heart wrenching, heart breaking and depressing at times to have to "put up" with our children's behaviors - especially when it affects us so directly (hitting, spitting, hurtful words etc). It takes a lot of personal work on the part of parents to be able to "just be" with our children in a way that does not add fuel to their fire, and "allows" for the parent to accept the child "as they are in that moment". We cannot change the present, but we can influence the future as we all know. The place to do this however is not in our minds... in our understanding but at a "feeling-felt-perception" place. This allowing our own personal discomfort to be experienced to the fullest - not as in "enjoy the pain" but merely to allow it to unfold and move on with the insights presented in those "gifts" to be used as "fuel" for greater compassion and love for ourselves, our children and for all others as well. The way out is through and does not require fixing, sedating,or other techniques to "make it go away". Or, we can always choose to re-act over and over and over and … until we are sick and tired of being sick and tired enough to finally say “enough”. And yes, easier to say than to do, but what else do we have on our agenda as children of God but to learn to love?