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Parenting from the Inside Out - Daniel J. Siegel, Mary Hartzell - Book Summary

There are 2 types of memories: implicit and explicit. The implicit memory is the one that exists in other species and is created in the first months of life by our experiences and by our attachment with our caregivers, as well as trauma that we experience and that due to the stress response in our body is not recalled in the explicit memory. Recollection of a situation that is stored in the implicit memory triggers a physical and emotional response that feels as if it is happening at the moment (and not as a memory recollection). The explicit memory is the more advance one, and is divided into the verbal memory (facts) and the autobiographical memory that also involves a sense of time and a sense of self.

When we have unresolved issues from experiences of our childhood they might be triggered in our interactions with our children. In those cases we might have deep feelings of rage, panic, anxiety or even emotional flashbacks that causes us to use our automatic response, and not be flexible or attentive to our child needs, and which in turns causes our own child to have the same response when they grow up, as his amygdala is activated to mirror our own feelings in herself and interfere with building secured attachment.

In order to break this cycle of passing our childhood traumas on to our own children, we need to create a coherent narrative of our own lives and how those experiences shaped who we are now. This is done by processing our experiences: talking about it, thinking about it and writing about it. In this way, we can control the automated responses, and be mindful and then flexible in our responses so we can give our children the attention and responsiveness they need to grow and be more flexible themselves.

In general, telling stories about things that happen to us help us overcome them, as they allow the logical side of the brain gain control on our reptile emotions and keep them at bay. Having children is a great opportunity for us to find those issues and overcome them to help our children develop better, but also help us live betters with ourselves and others.

We can identify those shaping events, by asking ourselves about the interactions we seem to react in a different way than the one we want to, and by identifying situations that trigger an emotional response in us - sometimes even a physical one. 


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