I have been asked about the way safe experiments fit together. My main blog does read like a long list but there is a thread linking them all.
I was reluctant to identify that thread as it comes out just like another model! However, what do you make of this?
The green lines see us moving toward growth and the red lines see us revert to old, familiar but unhelpful patterns of behaviour.
What this map is saying is that ‘safe experiments’ help expand our “Window of Tolerance” so that change can happen in small steps. The ever-present risk for any of us is that, under pressure, it is easy to become confused (“I don’t know; I don’t understand”). For others, the risk is to become rigid in our problem-solving (“this is the way I’ve always done things”).
In the extremes of confusion and rigidity, change struggles to be effective. Therapy provides a window in which the process of change can be safely contained and help things happen. This is not guaranteed, of course, and it is easy to slip back into old, familiar ways – even if they are ways that do not work for us. Because they are familiar, we can prefer them!
So the diagram points out that our performance suffers when we are chaotic or rigid in our problem solving. Therapy can improve performance through small amounts of change. This emerges from small victories and small defeats – as long as we have recorded some results and can come more aware of what is going on. A healthy way to do that is to ask that question: what step can I take now to do something a little bit different?
So, if this is going to be of any help at all: consider, what encourages you into chaos or rigidity, or both. What might ‘inoculate’ you against chaos and rigidity?
What can you do to widen your Window of Tolerance by some small step. What can you do NOW?
For more information take a look at this material made available on YouTube by a US training group, The National Institute for Clinical Applications in Medicine (NICAM). It includes material from Bessel van der Kolk where he talks about his use of various breathing-related exercises. This is well worth a visit, and a further follow-up: