You remind me of...

You remind me of...

You remind me of...

Have you ever met someone for the very first time and had an immediate aversion to them? The poor person has not even said their name, and you are silently plotting a way to exit? Or, you meet someone, and afterward, you turn to a friend and say, “I don’t think I did anything wrong, but I get the distinct feeling she just doesn’t like me. I don’t know what that’s about.”
The reverse happens, too. Sometimes, we meet someone new and know immediately that we’ll be friends… or at least wish we could be.

“The brain is a pattern-seeking, memory-making, logic-linking machine,” a psychologist friend of mine told me. Our brains are designed to take data and make connections based on previous experiences. The very hard-wired neural network of pattern recognition is what allows an infant to recognize a parent, or for a friend to recognize a dear one’s handwriting. It is also the driver behind the book “Blink,” by Malcolm Gladwell, which explains how we develop some very fast decision-making skills within an area of expertise. We’ve seen it before, and we know the answer!

So, back to the “feeling” you had about that new person. As soon as we meet someone, our brains, unbeknownst to us, are linking what we see, smell, and hear to past experiences. We respond to patterns and similarities. When someone says, “You remind me of my grandmother,” or “Uncle,” or “My old boss that fired me,” it is because our brain has recognized something it has experienced before. Because of that pattern, we give that person all the rest of the baggage of those experiences, both good or not-so-good.
The children at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch have experienced innumerable traumas and tragedies in their lives. They have been abused, neglected, ridiculed, hurt, bullied, and trafficked by people who should have cared for them. Their brains have developed to identify danger and watch for patterns that predict danger. They don’t have many positive patterns to draw on, as most have been negative.

In the EQ2 handbook we use to train new staff at the Ranch, it says, “Every relationship youth have had before us is in the relationships with us.” The remarkable staff who work with our kids have much to overcome as they work to build trust. The staff and the relationship must break almost every pattern that child has used to survive. Brand new patterns of safety, kindness, and compassion must be built in their brains.
And it happens! Not quickly, not easily, but with consistency and care. Until, like I overheard last week, a child talking about one of our staff (in this case nicknamed "Maui"), “Maui is the best! I’ve never known anyone could be so kind!”
Please keep our kids and staff in your prayers.

In His love,

Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Sign up today to receive ministry updates and stories about our precious kids directly to your inbox!

Share this Post: