One of the privileges and challenges of my work with people has been the necessity and possibility of seeing things differently. "Things" can mean any number of situations: their circumstances, their resources, even their pasts and futures and their accountability for their present. In fact, it is my ability to see accurately that they are counting on.
I have to see the truth where they have been hiding from it. I have to see their pain when they have been concealing it. And I have to see their strengths when they have been blind to them. This ability to see truly and clearly is the cornerstone of healing of any kind. It is also the foundation of Verbal First Aid in a very particular way. Sometimes it takes the form of gently "reminding" people of some rather important things they may have once known, had some intuitive sense of when they were younger, but have over the course of a crammed, business-driven life full of "gotta-do's", forgotten.
Verbal First Aid : A New Science of Human Healing
Science is changing, perhaps nowhere more radically than in the understanding of medicine and the human organism.
First things first: We are not what we think we are. Most of us go through our lives believing or acting under the assumption that we are our jobs, our bank accounts, or our images (the way we look, our desirability, our social success). We act as if we were random collections of molecules in bodies--and little else--reaching for some brass ring, occasionally bumping into other bodies, some of which we like and move along with in a clump for a while and others which repel us.
According to the newest research in epigenetics and even according to the more established principles of quantum physics, we are not just "mass" or "material." We are very complex, elegantly interconnected beings of energy. We are not just affected by thought, we are continually evolving manifestations of it.
The greatest proponent of this line of thinking has been Bruce Lipton, a cellular biologist whose research has pointed to the ultimate adaptability of the human genome and that we are influenced by our own thoughts (images and ideas) at the most fundamental level of existence.
Since the early 50's, biologists have assumed that DNA "controls" life by controlling the cell via the nucleus, but in his research, Lipton discovered that cells could live for months without their nucleus. In fact, they continued to behave and react to the environment. If it wasn't the genes, then, what was controlling cellular behavior?
What he concluded was that the DNA simply responded by making choices based on perception of the environment.
What this means is that the images we hold in our minds, the beliefs we store in the deepest part of ourselves impact the way we heal in an immediate and palpable manner, not only on how we feel emotionally, but on how our cells behave, whether they adapt and grow or become inflexible and decay.
According to Lipton, genes cannot turn on and off by themselves. Rather it is the personal and social environments which signal a change is needed: stress and fear signals the need for "protection" and our genes respond. Our health--physical and emotional--is a reflection at the genetic level of our perceptions. Beliefs and images are directly translated not only into the common understanding of chemistry (e.g., fear stimulates adrenalin and vice-versa), but into our very genetics. And therefore into our destiny.
This simple but stunning scientific fact is why Verbal First Aid --the therapeutic use of words to facilitate physical healing--works the way it does and why it is so terribly important, particularly with children, who have not yet learned to become inured or jaded by social expectations.
To start with, children are simply far more open to possibility. They are therefore more susceptible to suggestion. As quickly as they can imagine a monster under the bed, they can picture a cut magically healing, get their bleeding to stop by seeing a faucet in their mind and turning it off, or transform pain from something unbearable and fearful into a variety of more subtle sensations--warmth, tingling, a signal that tissue is granulating and restoring itself.
Verbal First Aid is not only a tool that can help them facilitate healing in the immediate crisis (a fall, a burn, a frightening nightmare), but can give them resources for a lifetime. By teaching them that they can change a perception of pain, alter an immune response, or smooth over a scare easily and quickly, we also teach them what they themselves are capable of in terms of their own self-management. By using Verbal First Aid with our children, we help them experience from the earliest age that they have some control over what they think, what they feel, and how to use those processes to their highest potential.
Adults are more closed because they have been filled with a multitude of ideas about who they are and how things "must be."