Chapter 6 – Learning to Reflect

coping book coverHappy Friday folks!

The new site is a hot mess while I learn how to blog, but nothing stops book club. This weeks chapter doesn’t have nearly as much triggering content as some of the others. Honestly, it’s a nice change of pace. Let’s do this.

If you’re new, we’re reading Coping with Trauma Related Dissociation, by Suzette Boon, Kathy Steele and Onno Van Der Hart. It’s a lot easier to read with company.

Content Overview

Reflection: Empathic Understanding of Yourself and Others

“When we can understand and predict ourselves and others, we naturally feel more secure and more in sync with those for whom we care. In other words, reflective skills involve the capacity to make sense of our own minds and the minds of others.”

Any time you perceive something, your brain attempts to make sense of it. It uses your own past experiences, knowledge, beliefs, and is biased based on your needs and goals.

Example of Reflective Functioning
You’re somewhere safe, somebody startles you, and you scream. Happens to everybody. Reflection is the ability to notice that your fear isn’t proportional to reality, and assess why. It gives you insight regarding your own patterns of emotion, thought and behavior.

Problems with Reflection for People with a Complex Dissociative Disorder
We learn reflection from our caregivers, so people with dissociative disorders generally don’t have this skill. In our case, in addition to screaming when you get startled, you may switch, lose time, zone out, or hear voices. When you realize you had that inner experience, fear can then prevent reflection. 

Retrospective Reflection
This section walks you through using reflection with 3 examples; reflecting on your chronic reactions to an emotion, reflecting on a dissociative part of yourself, and reflecting about others.

Tips for Developing Reflective Skills

  • Be in the present
  • Notice your inner experience without judgement
  • Notice similarities and differences (eg, separate past from present)
  • Be empathetic

Discussion Starters

Replies welcome in the comments. How was it this week?

How are your reflective skills ? Are there parts with better reflection skills than others? In what ways?

The reminders to have empathy for yourself and your parts are frequent. Why do you think that is? How does it make you feel?


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