Life is all about change yet we struggle with it and resist it for most of our lives. Change is especially hard for adult survivors of CSA because we need to feel safe and part of feeling safe is having control and knowing what to expect.
As we go through the stages of change, there is one stage that we especially need lots of encouragement and support with. The stage I am referring to is the stage when you become aware of something new about yourself, something that you did not know before. For example, when I finally realized how big the impact of being abused as a child was, I also realized that I filtered everything about myself through the belief "I am bad" or "I am not worth it." I became aware that I had learned to be this way and that now, I could learn to be different and learn to feel better about myself. But what kept me stuck in the stage of change, (by stuck I mean aware of the new information but not able to process it and turn it into action yet,) was shame, embarrassment, and fear of being seen as weak or incompetent.
For many survivors that did not get the opportunity as children to go through the healthy stages of development, this can be especially hard. You may not have felt safe making mistakes growing up. And when you did explore something new, you may not have gotten the support or encouragement to master this new skill. Chances are you gave up or quit trying. As adult survivors of childhood trauma, we need to understand the process of change because it is a big part of your healing journey. We need to be able to turn awareness into skill.
When I say skill, I mean a human ability, become competent in something new that you were not before. As a child, your development is all about gaining awareness and learning new skills. You learn how to dress yourself, brush your own teeth, self-regulate emotions, how to avoid what could be dangerous situations. These are all skills that are necessary in development. But trauma stunts this development, it stunts the necessary awareness. So as an adult, now that you are safe and have the space to open your mind up to learning once more, new information will come in that needs to be processed and turned into positive action. The skill is in turning your new awareness (ex. the need to be more present or the need to take better care of your body) into an action, a habit that puts that awareness into a form of positive change (ex. mindfulness practice, exercise and healthy foods.)
When you reach the stage of your healing journey where you have become consciously aware of some new truth about yourself, it can either move you forward into being excited about a new possibility and change or it can bring about overwhelm with the realization and discomfort of feeling unskilled, uncertain, embarrassed, or ashamed.
This is the moment when having a good support system is key. Just like a family should play an important role for a child to learn and grow, now as an adult, a similar support system is crucial. You need to have a safe place to bring your feelings when you are gaining new awareness about yourself, when you are nervous and unsure how to even begin to practice this new skill. This safe place will also help you to see that you are not alone in this, that all survivors struggle with change.
Healing, especially the journey towards thriving, requires us to continue to push through the discomfort of change. The sooner you are familiar with the steps and the process of healing, the faster you recognize the step you are currently in and can ask for help when you need it. Taking responsibility for our healing starts when we realize we cannot do it alone and we cannot do it staying inside of our comfort zone. It is in our comfort zone where all of our old habits exist, most of which we created to stay safe as children. But you are an adult now. You can help yourself to grow and heal by learning how to support yourself through the stages of change.
It can feel risky and hard. But I want to encourage you. When I understood the steps and why I was resisting them and then began to figure out where I could get support, I was able to move through them even faster.
If you are looking for support, please reach out and remember, my friend, you are not alone and I believe in you, always!
Ready to move through the stages of change? Are you stuck? Don’t worry. I can help! Just follow (this link) or call 619-889-6366 to reserve a one-hour coaching session with me ($125). Let me help you with the next step to heal your life. You deserve it! Reserve your spot NOW!
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