United Front: Building Trust Course
Building Trust Overview & Introduction to the Course
Creating Safety & Safety Plans
We’ve come to ask “Are you safe?” before suggesting that folk do work on building trust. Imagine how shitty it is to turn to a headmate and say “It’s ok to calm down and trust me.” meanwhile you’re still in touch with unsafe people, living in instability, etc.
So, we can say please don’t lie to your headmates. You can do this work even while you’re not living in full safety. But you can’t build trust on lies. So please edit things that we say or suggest; they have to fit your reality. You need to trust yourself as an individual, tell yourself the truth. Be trustworthy to yourself. Then others may build up respect for you and be able to trust you, even if your life is somewhat shaky or not ideal.
If you are under threat in the physical world, in your Here & Now, please let us know and work on a System Safety Plan (recommended, not required) before taking this course. It doesn’t need to be complete (it’s a living document and technically never finished anyway), but this is a plan for how to help yourselves if you start getting triggered, things y’all can try in order to calm down, come back fully to the Here & Now, and the danger signs in case y’all need more help and are getting worse instead of better. It becomes an anchor to help yourselves if y’all need it.
In addition, if you are out of control of your circumstances, that’s a danger sign and something that you should address with your professional team if you have one. If not, consider services to help out such as peer services, mental health advocacy, etc.
We will work together through 6 sessions to help you build better trust in your internal community.
This course is based on the 6-episode “System Trust Issues” series of our podcast Many Minds on the Issue (starting with episode 009: Welcome to DID: We are not your enemy), this is specifically a group coaching to work with challenged plural & DID systems who are not getting along inside.
This is based on a “flipped classroom model” so you will read, listen to, or watch lectures and other materials on a topic, then come to the group at the end of that week to discuss the materials, how exercises went, ask questions, and have more discussion amongst the participants than we’d normally be able to have if I were spending most of our time lecturing.
Each week will have media experiences (which should be marked whether they’re optional, suggested or required), reading assignments, at least one exercise and a journal exercise. Y’all don’t have to do all the work, but you will get more out of the course if y’all do it.
Try to bring a willingness for both sides to come to the table, and try (yeah we know!) to leave your attitudes at the door. If that’s not possible, that’s OK.
Week 1: Recruits vs Rebels
We’ll cover the introductory material (We are not the enemy) and application process, as well as terminology used in United Front and this course, and an exercise and a discussion or journaling exercise (if y’all aren’t journaling type, y’all can discuss the topic instead of writing about it).
Week 2: As Inside, So Outside
The law of commerce or synchronicity for plurals, and how we often take external role models and import them into our system, so why not use this talent to help with our system’s problems?
Week 3: Boundaries & Empathy
How to heal and repair system boundaries so it’s possible to be compassionate with headmates, rather than overrun by their panic issues.
Week 4: Panic Reactions
To understand rebels, lost and stuck folk, and what causes and creates undesirable behavior in a system, we’ll talk about panic issues and what types of trouble headmates who are still stuck in PTSD can cause systems. They know not what they do.
Week 5: System Trust Issues: Compromising Trust & Building Trust
It takes 2 (or more) to tango. Now that we have a better idea of what’s going on internally, what drives misbehavior for lost & stuck folk, hopefully better boundaries between headmates, etc. we can look at our own individual behavior and figure out what we each do that affects trust. The behaviors that have a negative impact on trust, and the behaviors that have a positive impact on trust.
Week 6: Recruits, Rebels & Adventurers
Kinda a bonus this week, the assignments are around how to handle mistakes and problems that will likely happen from time to time, and we’ll talk about things that system rebels can do with their enormous talents in order to help the system.
Intro: What is Internal Communication?
We’re borrowing this wholesale from the Internal Communication course — if you already took that course, you may want to skim through it again anyway, but if you skipped straight to Building Trust, understand that a part of trust is the ability to communicate — and understand what communication is. These lessons put into practice can give us inroads to building (or rebuilding) trust, so let’s start there as a sort of prologue/review.
How does AISOAVV (As Inside, So Outside & Vice Versa) relate to Internal Communication?
What is communication (really)? (expected, 11:32mins, captions corrected)
- cellular system: messenger RNA giving instructions to cellular structures for what enzymes to build
- corporate system: a boss sending an email to employees about an upcoming meeting agenda
- family system: a parent sending a text to their child about picking them up from soccer practice
- medical system: a doctor sending a test result to a patient
- economic system: a consultant sending a quote for custom work to a customer
- Communication includes broadcasting (sending a message) and listening (receiving a message). Broadcasting is the process of sending messages. Listening is the process of receiving messages.
- Communication can be verbal or nonverbal, formal or informal, written, signed or spoken, and may involve the use of language, symbols, and nonverbal cues.
- Communication can be one-way or two-way, but it’s still requires a two-way process to be successful.
- Active listening improves the chances of successful communication; how messages are received is often more important than the message itself.
Highlighting AISOAVV and Communication
How to talk to the worst parts of yourself | Karen Faith | TEDxKC (Expected, 14:31mins, captions corrected.)
C: experiences of suicidal ideation; if that’s not safe for you, please feel free to skip the video. Also mentions of what might be considered child abuse (second hand smoke, anti-vaxxer), cigarette smoking, holistic & spiritual practices, a bar.
In the video, the many Karens of Karen Faith talk about how she(?) uses the same skills she learned through holistic courses, and being a focus group facilitator for being open to non-judgement and internal communication. Being fully present to each other, compassionate, and non-judgement helps her to honestly hear those others inside, and find out what each other really needs and what helpful insights she might have to help herselves.
It can be challenging to achieve this, put it into practice — but we like how she breaks it down and simply encapsulates the ideas…many of which we teach in this course. The video was put on YouTube after this course originally ran — we happened to stumble on it and add it here.
The end of the session talks about unconditional welcome — belonging aka belongingness is a basic need, we all need to be welcome, for it to be OK to exist, inside and outside. This is the great antidote to shame, shame culture, and carried shame that we are trying to help people with. So we greatly appreciate this TED talk for doing such an amazing job of putting these things together. We hope y’all enjoyed it.
The differences of internal communication for plural, multiple & DID systems
There are a few key ways in which internal communication in plural, multiple, and DID systems may differ from communication between members of other types of systems (external family systems or within a corporation). The most obvious is that system members are sharing one body — and not only can that lead to arguments, it can also make communication confusing. Who was thinking that? Who was feeling that? When everything is operating within the same physical body, and consciousness may (to varying degrees) be shared — untangling who “owns” what becomes a whole topic unto itself.
System members may also have very different perspectives. This can make it difficult to find common ground and to understand each other‘s perspectives. We often have different goals or needs — even conflicting goals or needs — which can be very challenging. And some system members may have different levels of awareness, which can make it difficult to communicate with each other.
The importance of internal communication
So — why bother? Some folks try to suppress internal communication. It’s also interesting that antipsychotic medications (sometimes prescribed when someone is misdiagnosed as schizophrenic) can directly inhibit internal communication (it may depend on which medication, or which headmates). In the short term this may seem like a good thing, but in the long term it doesn’t usually solve the problems caused by misunderstandings and miscommunications in the system, the potential fear that follows suddenly being able to hear one’s headmates, or the overwhelm of too many trying to get their needs across at the same time. Often everyone redoubles their efforts, some refuse to take or interfere with medication schedules when they figure out it’s the medications that are interfering with communication, or they act out regardless of whether there’s been an agreement ahead of time.
Thus lack of communication can lead to increased symptoms of distress, more switching, more undesirable behaviors, or increase distrust or breaches of trust in the system.
The antidote is going back to the basics of communication so that everyone can harvest the considerable benefits of communication within their system. When a system isn’t able to resolve trust issues, then they specifically need to address that broken trust (and we talk a lot more about that in the Many Minds on the Issue System Trust Issues system trust issues podcast series (optional, probably should save it until after this course) & the United Front: Building Trust Course) (definitely save it for after this course).
For system members who aren’t yet convinced that internal communication is a good idea, here’s some more benefits for communication with your headmates:
- Internal communication is key in promoting co-consciousness for plural and DID systems, which is a significant goal for any version of recovery.
- “Parts” or “system members” need to communicate with each other often because they may have different roles or goals, and need to coordinate their activities in order to function as a cohesive unit. Turn-taking, allocating resources (time, external relationships, money, materials, etc.) and determining who in the system needs specific attention or assistance can help avoid conflict.
- Internal communication (most specifically authentic listening) can help build trust, compassion and understanding between different parts of the system & prevent frustration, anxiety & retraumatization of system members.
- Successful internal communication, negotiation, and collaboration can help promote healing and growth within the system.
- Shared knowledge, planning, managing expectations and activity coordination reduce stress and anxiety within the system.
- Frequent communication and check-ins, sharing of knowledge and tracking information as a group can help the system to function more effectively overall.