As another year comes to an end, I feel optimistic that the New Year will be much better. I am in a better place mentally and physically. It’s been nearly 3 years since I have taken a break to heal from childhood trauma. It has been tough and sometimes it all seemed hopeless. It all felt dark and depressing. The pain, both physical and emotional was at times intolerable. There were times when all I could do was lift my eyes to God and call out in desperation.
However, now it seems the worst is behind me. And I want to share some important tips I learned during my healing journey that could be helpful to you on yours.
1) Accept The Fact That Family Does Not Mean Love and Care
Stop the denial that your family gives a shit about you. If they did they would not have abused, maltreated, used, bullied or rejected you. If they did then they wouldn’t have been abusive, period. Don’t rationalize that they behaved like that because they had their own issues. Maybe, but that does not mean they have to be tolerated anymore.
Don’t put on the martyr crown and continue to pretend. If they trigger you, irritate you, disrespect you, use you or continue to live in denial stay away from them. That goes for any relationship. Always ask this question ‘Does this person/relationship make me feel good? Do I feel safe and loved? If the answer is ‘NO’ then don’t stress yourself. Keep them at a distance.
2) Stop Giving a Damn, Override That Critical Inner Voice
The single most important aspect of healing and becoming whole is not being affected by the outside world. We have to stop giving a damn about what other people think. One’s inner locus is fixed at a point of unconditional acceptance of our true selves. We can agree, disagree, accept or not accept, we don’t have to change like chameleons to blend with the outside environment.
Always tell yourself positive things. You are not flawed, imperfect, ugly, bad or the numerous stupid programs your caregivers imprinted in your head. Breaking out of this ruminating critical record takes time and patience. Two things that helped me are listening to sound healing music and guided meditations and doing some focussed activity using my hands.
It’s not repression, it is rewiring. Neurons that fire together wire together.
3) Get Over the Destructive Forces of Shame and Guilt
Shame is like a dirty rag we carry hidden within us. It just does not leave us. The more we hide it the more and more it stinks. Particularly if one has been sexually abused. It is the reason we don’t feel confident, pretty, smart, or generally good enough.
We were shamed in our childhoods and blamed for all the things that were wrong in our families. Healing requires us to understand the origins of our shame and dump the guilt we programmed to feel You are not responsible for anyone except your kids. If something/someone is draining you of your energy with no concurrent reciprocity then without a second thought cut-loose. Don’t carry someone else on your back by destroying yourself. Healthy relationships have equal give and take.
Get over your guilt for not putting other people first. You come first (unless you have kids ). Work at taking care of your needs first. It is not selfish.
I’d feel guilty if I did not try to help or at least listen to their tales of woe. But not anymore, I know most people who indulge in the blame game don’t want to do the work of making changes, they just want a short term release. Don’t allow yourself to be used. Be smart and learn to protect your space, time and priorities.
4) Learn Boundaries – Overcome Codependency
Most of us from abusive, neglectful backgrounds tend not to have boundaries. We never knew or rather we were not allowed to say No or have an opinion. We just had to toe the line. That carries on in our adult life which makes us easy targets for manipulative, cunning people.
We need to get out of our codependency trap. And that it is okay to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ without having to give explanations. Our lives are important and we have an obligation to fulfill our own destiny first. We are not here to fulfill everyone else’s arbitrary needs.
We don’t need to feel guilty about setting boundaries to protect ourselves. When those thoughts come up to make one feel guilty, we must learn to tell them to Go Away. If we keep protecting our boundaries and indulging in our self-care, eventually, the voices will quiet down.
Slowly, our inner Yes, No Compass will be operating perfectly.
5) Take Off The Nice Guy Mask
Yes, it is a mask. We put it on in our childhoods hoping it will get ‘Mommy’ to love us or Dad not scream at us. We learned the art of playing doormat, people pleaser, codependent, etc. This results in repressed resentment. Don’t over-accommodate people, always putting yourself last. You have your own life purpose, find it, live it.
6) Learn Discernment and Self-Protection – Know Good From Bad
An abusive childhood makes us susceptible to predators. We are so desperate to be loved and accepted that we ignore the red flags in a relationship. We tolerate, rationalize and accommodate shitty behavior. Learning to discern manipulative behavior will keep you safe. There are lots of wolves in sheep clothing out there. Yes, there are evil people in this world.
Usually, these types are so covert that you may not see their actions as cunning. And many of these people use the cloak altruism for their own benefit.
We all want to be loved and in a certain way. If you are lucky you will have at least one person who cares about YOU and understands you. If not then start indulging in self-care, lots of it. Be selfish if you must. But don’t expect someone to magically come into your life and make all the pain go away. It may or may not happen.
7) No Contact With Toxic People
Stay away from toxic people. When we are healing we are particularly vulnerable to other people’s moods and energy. A single negative exposure can derail your healing and can trigger you back to your traumatic past.
Moreover, negativity is contagious, don”t fool yourself thinking your brain is strong enough to remain unaffected by it. Interpersonal neurobiology is a scientific fact human beings influence and affects one another.
8) Letting Go is Different from Forgiveness
Remember, you cannot undo the past or get people to change. Only you can change — your thinking, your mindset.
Practice the art of third-person viewing – you see the person without blinkers. Look at the people who hurt you with cool, detachment and see them for who they truly are. Mean and unempathetic people.
Get over the craving for love and acceptance by our family -tell yourself they are assholes. One day you will feel it in your bones that indeed they are a shitty bunch of mean, selfish people.
Believe me, forgiveness is an over-rated concept but work at releasing the hate and rage you hold in your heart. I believe that out there, God will deal with them.
9) Learning Self-Love and Self-Care
Basically, self-care is basically doing for yourself what you wish someone had done/or will do for you. You cannot heal and become whole if you keep relying on someone else supply your needs, particularly emotional needs. They are bound to fail you, which will only aggravate our feelings of worthlessness.
Attuning to one’s needs slowly fills that deep empty hole within us. The more we fulfill our heart’s longings the more we feel positive. Micro-moments of positivity are the beginnings of major changes.
10) Healing Means Building Your Faith and Gratitude Neurons
In order to initiate change, we have to believe it is possible. Whether we want to fly a plane or start our own business or cure cancer. American developmental biologist, Bruce H. Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief states “A person’s perception, not genetic programming, is what spurs all action in the body: It’s actually our beliefs that select our genes, that select our behavior. We are not helpless slaves to our genetic or family history.
Developing feelings of gratitude causes brain changes. Bessel Van der Kolk, the author of the book The Body Keeps The Score, explains how gratitude heals trauma by changing perceptions and improving our feelings of safety.
Yes, faith and gratitude are skills that can be cultivated with some effort on our part. It means trusting in a higher power and becoming mindful of our blessings.
11) Becoming Self-Differentiated / Non-attached
Being self-differentiated means staying un-enmeshed from everyone else’s shit. Differentiation of self is the ability to separate your own intellectual and emotional functioning – your reactions from that of others. In short, it’s the ability to think cognitively about a situation and respond with maturity
It is something akin to the Buddist philosophy of non-attachment, a state in which a person overcomes his or her attachment to desire for things, people or concepts of the world and thus attains a heightened perspective.
Is there scientific proof we can heal ourselves? | Lissa Rankin, MD
Healing Happens But…
Childhood trauma happens over a long period of time and that too during your growing years. It takes time to heal from it, depending on the severity, duration and developmental stages it happened. Your brain has to first unwind the faulty wiring and then properly rewire itself. So be patient, believe that it is possible. Let go of your fear and doubt – – relax, breathe and accept the moment. Believe that this too shall pass.
Healing usually happens over a period of time in gradual progressions. Bur sometimes – miracles also do happen. Have faith in a higher power at work.
Faith and healing are closely linked – even having that tiny spark of hope within us is all we need to get better. Never give up.
According to trauma therapist Peter Levine, trauma and spirituality share a profound connection. By learning how to work with trauma properly, it can become a portal to transformation.
Yes, healing is a life-transforming experience. It is a spiritual journey back to who you truly are.
Here’s Wishing You All a Healing & Transformative Year Ahead. Have a great 2020.
Image Source: Pixabay
The Hope Circuit: A Psychologist’s Journey from Helplessness to Optimism — Martin Seligman