These notes were given to SCFP Spouse Association by Jennifer, a member of the Edmonton Police Wive’s Association. They were taken during the recently held First Responders and Their Backup Workshop. Self-described as rambling, Jennifer hopes our readers will be able to pull gold nuggets out of a document she believes may be hard to follow.
(But as her first reader, I think these notes are amazing, insightful, generous, and brave. Thank you, Jennifer x).
First Responders and their Backup
Recommended Reading and Resources:
- Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
- The Adverse Childhood Experience Study
We are wired for connectionand to do hard things. When you have someone you are connected with, you get through those hard things better. Our tendency is to “Armour up” instead, lean in.
- Bring meat trays. They are the key, they bring people together.
- This is key!
- You need to be regulated to deal with the dysregulated.
- Emotional regulation needs to be shown, cannot be told.
- The more distressed the more we tell them (i.e. yelling CALM DOWN!! Vs. calmly talking and soothing)
- Physical space and proximity. It is so important.
- Grief is universal response to bad things. It is NORMAL.
- Mourning is how to heal from grief. We need to mourn together.
- In our grandparents’ days when someone passed away, they would all get together (usually with the body in the home) and sing and eat and celebrate. Be together. We grieve through things, we don’t mourn through them.
- TV allows us to fall into other peoples stories and allows us to easily disconnect from our own lives.
- Good leaders ONLY need to be good with people. Face to face interactions can’t be replicated.
- Physical connection is actually different when you are together.
- Relationships are successful for how much they can repair.
- When we are too disconnected, we can’t regulate
- Social integration will give you longevity
- The people that need it the most are the hardest to give it to.
- Responders fix things. When they can’t fix those they love, it breaks their hearts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EDhdAHrOg
- We have less tolerance for those we love. Sometimes as spouses we ask “why do they (public) get the best of you? Because they love you more.
- Trauma cannot live in a relaxed body. Trauma is caused by pairing an experience with terror. Repeated exposure.
- Help control the relaxation through your hip/sit bones. Relax them and it will pull your parasympathetic nervous system down (kegal) the relax.
- The awareness of where you go into a situation paired with a relaxed state will allow you to get out of the “flipped lid”
- “Flip the Lid” Fight, flight or freeze.
- This is a primitive response and when someone’s lid is flipped, it is not the time to teach. If the lid is off, figure out how to get it back on.
- To help someone get out of this state have them take a sip of water. This will help bring the frontal cortex back on.
- The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is connection. We disconnect and numb.
- We cannot hold two emotions at the same time. If you are always in fear, you miss joy. Joy is the most vulnerable emotion.
- You have the work for getting to stay in a place of a calm body.
- All we want to know is that we are doing something right.
- Dance for nobody. Look vs. See. Tell them they are doing a good job.
- Connection before direction will help shift. They just want to know you (spouse/family) are ok. “Tell me more”… we are so wired to fix. “Tell me more…” allows them just to tell.
- Why do I always have to go first? Because you have more skill.
Regulation – five keys to regulating
- Show genuine interest in the things they care about. People light up. The more you give it away, the more you get it back.
- Get their eyes – if there is something wrong, they don’t make eye contact. Look at your spouse for 4 minutes and at the end you will cry. You will start to SEE. This allows you to slow down enough to see. Quickest way to get someone regulated is to get them to look you in the eyes. Use their name, look at me.
- Get down – on their level!
- Feed them – you cannot chew and swallow with a flipped lid. Ask them “what happened next”
- Stay present – you can’t make sense of hard thins alone. The only way they can regulate is if you are. Ask them to do this for you too.
Collective effervescence – at home and at work
- Make home feel safer (more effective) than work.
- Home is where we land. People are hard to hate close up. Lean in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etIqln7vT4w
- Isolation is what makes us unhealthy.
- Who are the people that catch you? Who do you want to live to “impress” or make proud? You should have no more than 4-5. The rest don’t matter.
- Spouse: Tell me about it. Responder: I don’t want to scare you. Spouse: Don’t tell me the details, tell me your heart.
- Get enough sleep, work out and eat well.
- How do you stay in a place of joy? PRACTICE! Think of three things every day you are thankful for.
- Do you know how proud of you your spouse is of you? When was the last time you told him/her?
- Be mindful that your actions affect people. Don’t forget how powerful you are.