19 Oct Ted Lasso and the Trauma Awareness Revolution
In the first episode of Ted Lasso the newly appointed coach of a premier league soccer team and eponymous namesake of the show tapes a hand-written sign on the locker room wall that simply says, “BELIEVE.” At this point in the narrative, Lasso – an American football coach and not a soccer coach – bets big on belief. However, he is a bit short on awareness, and an ever-increasing dissonance between belief and awareness drives the drama on the show. As the series unfolds, each episode turns on conflicts where awareness and belief intersect, mostly in relation to how past traumatic experiences disrupt awareness and challenge belief. Trauma is a very fraught word. For the sake of this essay, let’s think of trauma as little “t” trauma, in a less dramatic terms. What’s significant about Ted Lasso is how they storytelling helps us to reflect on the trauma that we might have experienced in our own lives, and see how we might move through that trauma to find more peace.
Almost everything in life can be seen in two manners: very simple and also very complex. Making a grilled cheese sandwich can be very simple – put cheese between bread and place in a hot pan. However, for someone who has little experience, it can be an overwhelming task. To make a tasty sandwich, a few small details can make it much better. We often assume we understand something and pay less attention to the complexity of it because in order to survive in a world in which information comes at us with ever more force and intensity, we simply have to stop paying so much attention. During my first 3 months in NY for college back in 1987 I was pleasantly overwhelmed with all of the sounds, sights, and details of the city. I took a lot of pictures and I had trouble getting anywhere on time because I was enraptured by the complex beauty of the city. I was also exhausted all the time and could barely understand most of my course materials. At some point, I realized that I was less exhausted, but also that I’d stopped noticing so much. I learned to be able to refocus on details as I walked around with my camera, but also felt a sense of loss; it was difficult to re-capture that beginner’s mind that I’d come to the city with. Once we have seen something, it’s hard to fully see it as new again.
A lot of my work as an artist has been about capturing moments that feel a bit mundane. My first real project was making street photos in malls. After starting the project in my first photo class I continued the work across the country that summer. I got a lot of strong images, but when I showed them to people at galleries they were profoundly unimpressed. However, 20 years later I put them online and they went viral. The work clearly meant a lot to people because it captured the mundane in a way that helped people to re-connect with a long-forgotten past. The images are simple, but they make a space for delving into the complexity of that cultural moment. I made the images at a time when I was thinking a lot about the idea that small details, when noticed in the moment, can tell us a lot in the future. When we are seeing things that are prevalent in the moment they’re so “ordinary” that we almost can’t see them. They become part of a patterned fabric that we wear but do not notice.
Like life, this post is very simple, yet very complex. Here’s the thesis: for the past 70 years, our culture (specifically the US but to a large degree all “Western” culture) has minimized our awareness of the powerful connection between mind and body. Ever since World War II, the science and practice of medicine has focused on a bio-technical approach to health that has almost completely diminished our understanding of the ways in which our emotions, and our reaction/response to these emotions, impact our health. I believe that this has something to do with the profound trauma of two world wars, a startlingly severe economic depression, and a desire to put those traumas into the past. However, trauma that gets ignored continues to affect us even if we are not addressing it; especially if we are not addressing it. The impulse to put those traumas in the past was so strong and complete that during the past several decades we could not see how much it impacted our healthcare system.
Our ideas and expectations about the world begin in our genes, get confirmed in our homes, and then are impacted by our community / culture, and in an ever increasing way, our media. For the past 70 years, we have gotten a strong message that our emotions are not safe, and are not something we are allowed to discuss. In the past 20 years, this has slowly begun to shift. We can see this in how ideas related to emotions have begun to bubble up within the sciences, the arts, and the media. Over the next decade, you will hear the term “trauma awareness” so often that you will soon forget that for the previous 70 years we have practiced medicine with trauma blindness; and that this did not go as well as we’d hoped.
Our sense of our identity forms in our home, it’s then impacted by ever larger swaths of culture; community, school, state, nation, and world. The patterns that are set up at home tend to play out in these larger spheres. We learn these archetypal expectations in our homes, and the stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves are intimately related to the stories that everyone in our families tell each other. These roles, and the way in which they are interconnected within our family also carry over to the patterns that we enact within our society. Some of us seek sympathy, asking others to take on our emotional pain without understanding that this is what we do. At the same time some of us, both through our genes and through experience, learn that it is our role to take on the pain of others. If we aren’t able to take on that pain we can feel as if we are failing. We can see this in the ways in which the archetypes of the leftist and the conservative are discussed. Each of these understandings are out of balance from the center. The profoundly leftist person feels that we need to take care of everybody in society. The profoundly conservative person feels that everybody needs to take care of themselves. Those in the middle feel that we need to do what we can to help people but that we also have to develop the capacity to take care of ourselves. Often time experiences of trauma that go untreated can disrupt our ability to do either. This is not meant as a judgement about either approach, however it might illuminate how two people faced with completely opposite belief systems might have trouble communicating.
While we often think of things like accidents, death, or abuse when we hear the word trauma, much less dramatic circumstances can feel traumatic to young children. If our basic needs are not met when we are small, it can be profoundly traumatizing. In addition to food, water, and shelter, we also need human connection. If our caregivers are not able to meet these needs, it can lead to trauma which leads to unconscious responses later in life. Within our culture, we tend to minimize the effects of this type of trauma; and we might ask people to “grow up” or “get over it”. However, as scientists and doctors begin to unravel how the impacts of this type of trauma impact us later in life, it becomes more clear that the effects are quite profound. The good news is that coming to understand how these traumas affect us, helps give us the means of figuring out how to deal with, and lessen, the negative aspects of that trauma.
Awareness and Belief
As discussed above, we often become aware of ideas through the art of storytelling, and Ted Lasso is an indicator of how “trauma awareness” has started to creep into our cultural conversations. One of the players on the team in the show Ted Lasso is very talented, but also very selfish and rude. As the show goes on, we come to understand that Jamie Tartt’s father is a brutish alcoholic who relentlessly shamed Jamie as a child. Through various ups and downs, Jamie learns to confront and deal with some of the trauma by pushing back and setting boundaries. Through the work of processing, Jamie’s demeanor changes and he slowly becomes a team player. Dealing with that trauma allows him to change patterns of belief that had kept him stuck.
Sometimes our belief and awareness are intertwined in what we could call co-dependent ways. If we believe something strongly, and that belief is challenged by new awareness, it can be deeply unsettling. Sometimes we shield ourselves from awareness because it can feel dangerous. Awareness feels uncomfortable because it means we have to re-orient ourselves to new beliefs and change the way we behave in core relationships. For example, if our partner points out that our controlling behavior makes it difficult for them to communicate with us and our demand for control is the only we feel safe or settled, this push-back might make us feel defensive; it can be emotionally challenging. However, if we can lean into empathy and try to hear how difficult the need for control is on our partner, it’s possible to find compromise. In fact, when we challenge our own need to be in control, we can start to unpack some of the trauma that might have led to feeling unsafe in the first place. It’s not an easy or simple process, but it can lead to much stronger relationships with better communication.
As we become more aware of small traumas in our past – instances in which our basic need for love and attention were not met – it can destabilize our solidly-held beliefs. The shaking of our patterned beliefs about ourselves, our family and our upbringing can release previously repressed emotions. When this upwelling occurs, which may manifest as an eruption, it can be scary and overwhelming.
Over the course of Ted Lasso, as Ted begins to recognize aspects of his childhood trauma, the arising awareness precipitates cracks in his system of beliefs. These cracks, in turn, leave him feeling increasingly unsettled and induce panic attacks. However, as he slowly finds ways to confront long-suppressed trauma, he is able to more fully shift his belief system and integrate it with his new-found awareness. This shifting of beliefs makes it possible for him to heal in significant ways – a theme which is central to every episode of the show. Over the course of 22 episodes, the subtle focus on healing from trauma leads up to a profound shift for Ted, as we see in a scene at the end of season 2.
In this scene, Ted is confronted with a difficult question that might have sent him into a panic earlier in the show. Rather than react defensively during a press conference when confronted about his failure to acknowledge a panic-induced run from the field during a previous game, Lasso declares that he’s thankful that the situation has come up because he thinks it’s time that there was more serious discussion about athletics and mental health. In this moment, we observe that his beliefs and awareness are more integrated in a profound way. He is able to articulate this idea in a calm, present, and direct manner. If we look at the integration of belief and awareness as a central part of healing from trauma, we can see that Ted Lasso, the show, is part of a much broader revolution in trauma awareness.
Individual and Cultural Awareness
Revolutions arise out of growing awareness among individuals, then groups, and then, as Malcom Gladwell points out in “The Tipping Point,” a broader cultural awareness that transforms into mass acceptance of a new idea. However, a tipping point only comes into view when the level of awareness rises to a level that shakes the foundations of long-held beliefs. Sometimes our belief systems shield us from thoughts or feelings that feel too dangerous to confront. For example, rising awareness about the pernicious effects of long term institutional racism has led to powerful protests, some of which have turned violent. Some people have been moved by this conflict to see how widespread the problem is, while others have fought to make it illegal to even discuss these issues – something we see manifested by proposed laws that ban the discussion of critical race theory. Rising awareness makes space for anger from those who have felt unseen, and from those who do not want to see. Getting through this conflict can be difficult.
Over the past 500 years, writers, scholars and individual citizens have been conflicted about the roles and relative importance of our physical body and our emotional body; of nature and of nurture. After artist/philosopher/scientist Descartes almost had his head chopped off by the church for trying to untangle the secrets of consciousness, scientists began to focus their attention on the body and left the brain to the church. It was hundreds of years before Freud re-discovered the power of emotions to affect the body. Freud’s re-discovery of the power of the mind, after centuries of willful blindness, opened up a great deal of scientific and artistic expression. His fingerprints could be seen everywhere from academic journals, bawdy jokes, the surrealist impulses of Salvador Dali, and the wildly popular film The Wizard of Oz.
However, after the trauma of two World Wars and the Great Depression, the American culture milieu made a sharp turn in the direction of emotional repression. The boom in production and the spread of suburbs in the 1950’s led to an American culture that was focused on conformity, and this impacted every aspect of society: education, commerce, science, and communication. There was a huge emphasis on economic progress and the repression of emotions. For a while, this created some sense of unity and cohesion, but it also built up a great deal of pressure throughout society. As with any culture of conformity, there was also a strong cultural push towards “othering” those who didn’t fit in with expectation. This could be seen in the rise of outlaw biker culture, transgressive art movements and the battles for civil rights and for gay rights.
While bigger, more mechanized factories were built, and neighborhoods of family homes were constructed in an explosion of suburban expansion, science took on a more highly technical forward force. In the post war period, the Randomized Control Trial (RCT) came to be accepted as the currency that kept this scientific system rolling. The first RCT took place in 1948, and over the next several decades, the RCT became the gold standard for acquiring scientific knowledge. Randomized Control Trials seek clarity of information. Emotions are highly individualized expressions. Including factors that are related to emotional factors in a study can make it difficult to collect the kind of “clear” data that RCT’s demand. Further, studies that get funding tend to be ones that are related to or support overriding paradigms.
During that time, the study of emotions was relegated to psychology which became increasingly separated from the field of medicine. At the same time, psychiatrists, who are medical doctors, turned much of their focus towards using pills to correct brain chemistry rather than understanding how emotions affect both the brain and the chemicals that impact it. This led to a greater distance between emotional awareness and the practice of medicine. Since the 1950’s, emotional factors have been increasingly relegated to the back room of data collection, as well as in the public consciousness. They are something that we rarely discuss in the context of science and medicine, as well as something we rarely discuss in public.
For the past 70 years, people could accept taking a sick day for back pain, but not a mental health day for stress. These realities are not disconnected. The practice and stories of science shape public belief, and in turn the practice of science is impacted by public expectation. For example, doctors only acquire a passing understanding of emotions in medical school. Doctors also feel a pressure from patients who don’t want to be challenged to think about how they might address their emotional patterns and issues. While the 1960’s and ’70’s saw a renewed cultural focus on the import of emotional awareness, this did not lead to a surge in medical experiments that focused on how emotions affect health. The 1980’s and ’90’s saw a renewed focus on an economy driven by consumer spending which once again distracted the public from their emotions. In the 2000’s, the internet became a powerful tool for distracting people from their emotions.
Dr Sarno and the Rediscovery of Emotional Awareness
The good news is that over the past 20-30 years, a small but growing minority of scientists have discussed the power and impact of our emotions – leading the topic to re-enter the scientific conversation. In fact, in the last decade the use of the term “trauma awareness” has risen throughout the various spheres of health care, science, and popular culture; one can imagine that a trauma-informed revolution could unfold in the coming years. Gabor Mate’s film “The Wisdom of Trauma” is meant to support such a sea change. The film has been watched by over 4 million people in the last month, and is currently being re-launched along with a series of panel discussions about how trauma affects us, and tools we can use to address that trauma.
Another marker of a wider cultural and scientific shift regarding emotions can be found in rising acceptance of Dr. John Sarno’s mind-body approach to pain. Nearly 20 years ago, my partners and I began work on a documentary about Dr Sarno who, in the early 1970’s, came to the awareness that most of the back pain he was treating as a physiatrist was rooted in unresolved trauma from childhood. Over the next 40 plus years, he practiced in what we would now call a “trauma-informed manner,” helping his patients to see that it was the repression of their emotions – primarily rage – that was causing their pain. In his books, Dr Sarno talks quite a bit about how some people tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves to be perfect and good. He saw this as a result of what we might deem small “t” childhood traumas. He argued that simply not having one’s needs met at a very young age can be traumatic. If our parents don’t have enough physical or emotional resources to help us process our powerful childhood emotions, we may learn that we have to stifle our feelings in order to be loved and accepted and to feel safe. This can manifest as anxiety or feeling a need to take care of others in order to feel safe ourselves. Later in life, we may still have the impulse to take care of others, but in order to do so we have to continuously stifle our own needs, and this can be unconsciously enraging. Dr Sarno felt that people experienced this rage as too powerful to address, which led the more unconscious part of our brain to distract us from this dangerous emotion. The disconnect between what we feel and what we believe it’s safe to feel, can lead to a stress response in the body.
Sarno’s ability to communicate this insight to his patients, both in his office and through his books, led to millions of people finding a way to heal. At the same time, his insights and his work were completely rejected by his colleagues, who refused to consider the idea since it went against everything they had been taught. Over the course of his long career, there was very little medical research being done to support an understanding of the mind body connection. It’s taken nearly 50 years since he first began to work in this manner for anyone to begin to do serious studies to test his theories. In early October 2021, two important studies were released that strongly support Dr Sarno’s theories and approach.
When we started to film with Dr Sarno, he argued that our work was largely pointless because, after decades of working in this trauma-aware manner, he had gotten only one or two other doctors to pay attention. It’s important to note that Dr Sarno worked at the prestigious Rusk Institute at NYU where he began practicing in the early 1960’s. When he had his insights about the mind-body connection in the early ’70’s, he had the full support of Howard Rusk, who still ran his eponymous institute. Dr Sarno went to medical school after serving as a medic during World War II. Having seen many “shell-shocked” and mutilated soldiers, Sarno brought an awareness of the relationship between stress and illness to his practice. Freud had not yet fallen out of vogue. However, as medicine became increasingly mechanistic and reductionist (specialized), Freud’s theories were abandoned despite the fact that Freud was trained in the most important Viennese physiology institute. It’s hard to imagine just how difficult it must have been for Dr Sarno to continue his practice in the face of such staunch opposition, a complete rejection rooted in the belief that anything that could not be reduced to causal molecular/physiological mechanisms was unscientific.
In 1982, a medical student named David Schechter made follow up calls to 177 random Dr Sarno patients from previous years. He found that 76% had permanently recovered from their back pain. A follow up study of 109 patients, based on worrisome Cat Scans, showed that 88% of his patients were pain free years later. This kind of success kept Sarno moving forward.
We came to make the film because my family had a long history of successfully healing from pain syndromes through reading his books and seeing him in his office. After my father found relief from crippling back pain by reading and following the suggestions in Dr Sarno’s book, he insisted my brother visit Sarno. My brother Adam had been unable to type for years due to hand pain, and was told that he had to have his collar bone shaved down to free up nerves going to his hands. Within weeks of visiting Dr Sarno, Adam took his car back from me because his pain was gone. I read Sarno’s book at that point and banished my own recurrent back pain for a decade. After that decade, the pressures of life converged on me. I experienced devastating back pain that left me unable to stand.
I eventually visited Sarno as a patient in 2004. That’s when we started our project. At the time, we found it almost impossible to make the film, because while Dr Sarno wanted his ideas to be understood, he wasn’t interested in being a character in a documentary film. He wouldn’t introduce us to patients, and he wasn’t promoting his new book. Further, we also found great resistance when we applied for grants to his basic idea that our emotions affect our health. It was like no one could find a way to even conceptualize the idea. We were, and largely still are, a culture willfully blind in regards to the mind-body connection.
Dr Sarno Was Not Alone
Almost ten years after we started the documentary, I found myself screaming on my office floor in acute pain. I yelled “grab the fucking camera!” because I immediately understood that in order to make the film, I’d have to be in it, and I’d have to be willing to be vulnerable. Over the next several months, as I slowly recovered, I felt determined to finally deal with the emotional aspects of my pain. As we started to do research for the film, we stumbled upon doctors in other fields who had come to an understanding about illness that was similar to Dr Sarno’s: that the repression of emotions was the cause of illness. Dr Gabor Mate had written, “When the Body Says No,” which focused on how our body says no when we can’t, i.e. when we feel like we don’t have the agency to set limits or boundaries which produces an overwhelming constant pressure. This unrelenting psychological stress triggers the release of hormones, and this in turn triggers a powerful immune response. This heightened immunological and hormonal state can manifest as physiological and psychological confusion. When so many resources are mustered to defend against a threat, confusion reins and the immune system begins to attack the body.
We found that Dr David Clarke had written, “They Can’t Find Anything Wrong,” which was sparked by the discovery that many seemingly intractable gut issues have roots in traumatic events that have not been resolved. As Dr Clarke points outs, there was nothing in his training that suggested psychological causes for gut issues. However, at one point, he had a patient who was stuck in the hospital with terrible abdominal pain. Nothing would alleviate it, but there was no physical finding to explain it. He ran into a psychologist friend in the elevator and asked her to stop by. The next day he saw the psychologist and asked how it had gone. She replied that it went great. She found out that the patient was a survivor of abuse and once that patient had been able to connect her pain to trauma, the pain had lifted. Clarke started to ask patients about their stories and by helping them find underlying sources of stress and anguish, he found incredible success in treating otherwise untreatable patients.
In addition to these doctors, we found the ACE study which was released in 1998. This study showed that people who have had a number of traumatic experiences in childhood are much more likely to suffer from a variety of illnesses and have much shorter life spans. It took some time for that study to have an impact, but eventually, as it became known within the wider clinical and scientific worlds, the results led many other researchers to study the impact of emotional trauma.
Still, despite this rising awareness of the impact of trauma on human health, we found that each doctor who had incorporated the role of trauma awareness in their practice found themselves in a situation similar to Dr Sarno: extremely isolated within their fields because their colleagues couldn’t wrap their minds around the concept that emotional factors could influence the physical body to such a degree that it might cause chronic pain or bodily illness. Looking at these parallel experiences illuminated the powerful constraints imposed by the largely invisible hierarchical structures of the medical system. The top down pressure to conform to “standards of care” make it extremely difficult to work within while also challenging that system. This hyper-specialization of medicine reinforced the stranglehold of reductionist paradigms. In this system, doctors focus on a single body part or system. They don’t have the time – indeed the system does not allow the time – to study how that part interacts with the mind body system as a whole. We repeatedly found that doctors felt like they had to stay in their lanes. It wasn’t always like this.
An Historical Perspective
When I was in my early 20’s, I was visiting with some family in Ohio. I went for a run with my cousin Ed who was getting a Phd in the History of Science. As we ran, he told me about his dissertation which was focused on how physics had come to split into many strands that increasingly focused on very specific and highly technical aspects of the field. What he found was that this hyper-specificity meant that scientists who were working on projects that had implications for work that people were doing in other highly adjacent fields weren’t reaching those scientists. The more complex a system gets, the less interplay there is between people with different viewpoints who might notice something that those who are enmeshed in a shared understanding might not. What we can call “groupthink,” which arises in highly organized collections of people, has a tendency to limit innovation. As a culture, we have been well aware of this concept for a long time, and large organizations and corporations often take steps to address how it can stifle creativity.
In addition to looking at how out of balance the medical system was in terms of the awareness of both mind-body interaction and trauma awareness, we also looked at how social and cultural systems reflected the aversion to recognizing the impact of emotions. Currently, our system is out of balance in regards to wealth. Since the onset of Reagan’s tax cuts, the wealth gap has rapidly increased, and this process was supercharged by the pandemic. The direct connection between this wealth gap and the health crisis can be seen in how the rise in chronic pain tracks very closely with the rise in the wealth gap.
Where We Are and Where We Are Headed
When we once again examine how belief and expectation shape our sense of the world, we can observe that after World War II there was a profound rise in the breadth of the middle class. This led to the increasing expectation that children should prosper more than their parents had. However, the rise in the wealth gap also dovetailed with wage stagnation and increased housing prices. This meant that for many people there was no way for them to live up to this expectation. When we feel like we should be earning more, or getting more promotions, it can impact our health. The first line of our film about Dr Sarno is, “The stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves shape our sense of who we are.” They also shape our expectations. If we don’t live up to our expectations it can be devastating and it can lead to profound stress/illness.
Our system is out of balance economically, which leads not only to higher levels of poverty, but also to more profound imbalances in race, class, and sexuality. When these issues are coupled with an increasing sense of tribalism that gets easily multiplied by social media, the level of rage flying around can escalate. On top of all that, we’ve come to see how our culture has also stifled a lot of issues related to race, class, and sexual orientation. The first reaction to awareness is often rage, and rage creates resistance in response. We see this in terms of many of the social conflicts that have been unfolding over the past couple of years. Everyone wants to be heard, but few people are listening to each other.
At the same time, we are also seeing a rapid embrace of trauma awareness in all aspects of society. Two important studies that support Dr Sarno’s work came out in October. They are having a lot of impact and sparking a much deeper level of awareness about trauma-informed healing practices. In addition to scientific studies related to trauma aware treatments, we can see more doctors including trauma-informed practices in their work. We are also seeing this in the media. For the past 15 years, as I worked on the production and distribution of our film about Dr Sarno, All The Rage, I focused my attention on research being done in this realm. Until last week, I had not seen a mainstream paper acknowledge that serious illness doesn’t just cause stress, but that stress can also cause serious illness. Seeing this in the NY Times was shocking, and also revealing.
While the stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves shape our sense of who we are, the stories that our culture tells us about our culture also shapes our culture. Ted Lasso, the show, is a battalion commander in the Trauma Awareness Revolution. The show is a mashup of genres – sitcom, rom-com, soap opera, and comedy improv. On paper that sounds like a hot mess, but somehow it works. I believe that this is because each episode of the show turns on a character confronting trauma and moving through it with increased awareness. Each episode is a mini hero’s journey, as described in Joseph Campbell’s “The Power of Myth.” This text has long been central to Hollywood storytelling, and ever since the 1970’s these mythic tropes of overcoming obstacles have shaped the American consciousness. In Ted Lasso, those obstacles can include winning a soccer match, but the show is much more focused on the characters learning how to operate their emotional machine rather than let it be a self-driving body. In the human realm, we are starting to move in the opposite direction as machines. This might be because now that we have rediscovered the emotions, we no longer have to think of ourselves as bodies with computers that have been hard wired since birth.
The hero at the heart of most myths, across a myriad of cultures, sets out on a journey that involves ever-increasing obstacles. The hero overcomes these obstacles, but also falters along the way. In the end, the greatest obstacle to success has to do with belief, or faith. In Midnight Run, Robert Deniro’s character sets out on a journey as a damaged bounty hunter trying to make one last score in order to get out of the business. Ultimately, he makes his goal of getting the criminal to the destination, but lets him go. When he lets go he gets a sense of freedom, as well as an even bigger pay day from the criminal whom he set free. Sometimes the real answer is letting go of the trauma that compels us in a direction that is not pure of heart.
In Ted Lasso, the obstacles that each of the characters face are often what we might call the smaller “t” traumas that have shaped their sense of themselves, keeping them stuck in uncomfortable patterns of behavior. By confronting those patterns they each learn to move through them and find a way to be more “present” in the world and their own lives. By breaking out of negative patterns of behavior, they find themselves more able to fully engage in relationships with others. The titular character’s trauma is a bit more profound, as is his resistance to being present. What makes this show different from other shows is that the focus is not overcoming the character’s obstacles with force, talent, or tenacity, but instead surrender. The force they have to apply is gentle resistance to enacting what is expected of them both internally, but also by the audience. In this way the show itself begins to enact a patterned sort of behavior, but it’s a new-styled pattern, one that is designed to help the audience come to see that it is possible to re-evaluate their reactive ways of being in the world in order to find more balance in their lives and relationships.
In some ways, we find comfort in simple stories, but our own lives and stories have been formed by a complex web of experiences and relationships, many of which we have very little awareness of. Some of our impulses are instinctual, encoded into our genes by the experiences of our ancestors. Their traumas, when left unaddressed, get encoded into our DNA. Then, those instinctual reactions get coupled with learned reactions formed through both healthy interactions, as well as traumatic ones – many of which exist in our brains but not our memories. Our stories are not simple, but the solutions can be. Learning to find empathy for ourselves and others creates a lot of room for acceptance, and acceptance leads to less resistance which can help us to heal.