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Dr. Gabor Mate on challenging situations, impact of trauma and the nature of the mind

I love Dr. Gabor's Mate work. I was watching this short interview with him and it made me think how it relates to relationships (not just intimate relationships of course, but all relationships we have) . Watch the video first please, so you know what I'm talking about.

  • We don’t respond to the present moment, we respond to the past (that’s what trauma is).

  • We don’t respond to what happens, we respond to our perception of what happens.

  • When something challenging happened, of all the possible interpretations of what happened, we choose the worst one. (and the most painful one - brining up all the strong emotions)

  • Do we actually choose it? No, the brain goes there automatically. The question is why. And can we do something about it?


We see the trigger in another person, in their actions, in what they did "to" us. But what if the trigger was within, what if the answer was in the past?


What if you assumed for a moment that you are the most loveable, the most worthy of care, the most worthy of respect person - what would be your response to the same situation then? Now it won’t trigger the same intense emotions. Now we can see that it wasn’t personal, and if it was, we can deal with it from a place of calm strength. Now we won’t assume the worst case scenario. Now we have a choice in how we react.


So maybe the practice is to check in - what just happened. What am I telling myself about what happened. What am I feeling? Is it about the present or is it about the past?

What can I learn about myself from this situation? What is it trying to tell me? What within me still needs healing? What am I believing about myself, others or the world?


Now we can reframe it, now it’s liberating, we are no longer a victim or our circumstances, we are the source.


I see this in couples that I work with all the time. This is why we slow down, we test the assumptions, we share vulnerably, giving our partner an opportunity to learn about our inner world. Now we can heal together. Now we can be stronger, together.