Why do we resist healthy change? Why does resistance rear its stubborn head every time we decide to do something good for ourselves? It makes no sense!
Or does it?
The purpose of resistance is to protect you. It is a biological occurrence, it happens without your say once you have experienced trauma because it is your brain’s job to keep you safe. That’s one of its many skills. And the brains attempt to keep you safe involves minimizing change, because change comes with mystery, risk, and uncertainty. After a traumatic event, the brain comes up with a way to survive it. It comes up with an answer to why it happened. It comes up with a way to deal with the pain, which is usually by burying it when one is too young to deal with the complexity of it. The brain then makes you hyper aware of future situations that are similar to the previous one, to do anything to prevent it from happening again. And once that trauma, especially recurring trauma, has occurred, your...
The biggest reason why we don't change and why we find ourselves stuck is because we simply don't know how to change. For so many years, I thought there was something wrong with me and that everyone else was moving along in their lives, reaching their goals and sorting out their challenges, and that I was the one who was missing something to be able to do that. This was the logic of my trauma brain, my overwhelmed, fight/flight exhausted mind and body thinking and collapsing into thinking there is no hope and certainly not for me.
I got tired of reading books about how broken I was, the terrible impact of child abuse and trauma. The broken relationships, the addiction, lack of self worth, the mental health challenges, the sick bodies that we are left with after our coping strategies fail because our body simply cannot continue with decades worth of toxic stress lodged into our nervous systems, our hearts, and beliefs. I was learning about all the negative impacts but still...
All survivors of child abuse and trauma are afraid to feel, accept, trust, and appreciate their uncomfortable or negative emotions. And there is a reason.
We fear and avoid these emotions because we never had a positive role model to teach us how to express sadness, grief, overwhelm, anger, pain, and anxiety in a healthy way. Instead, we got hurt when the adults in our life felt these challenging emotions. So we have no reason to believe that there is a safe to feel them.
However, developing the ability to feel, accept, trust, and appreciate all your emotions (the good, the bad, and the ugly) is a vital step on the healing journey. It’s impossible to heal if you skip over feeling the bad ones. You can't selectively numb feelings. When you numb the bad, you are numbing your ability to feel the good too.
So where do you start?
Feeling begins with awareness. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But it's not for survivors. The human brain is programmed to avoid pain at all costs....
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,...
I just got home from a beautiful retreat on trauma and compassion in Nashville, TN. It was very well organized by the hosts and a very diverse group of people attended. We heard from researchers in the field of trauma and compassion and then spent 2 days immersed in learning about and experiencing compassion through meditation, sharing, and journaling.
I came away from this experience feeling very moved. I even found myself in tears more than once on the plane ride home as I reflected on the experience, the learning, and the deep authentic sharing that I experienced in the room, both from the presenters and participants. Nothing makes my heart sing like hearing people speaking courageously from their hearts.
What struck me over and over again, during the many breathing and meditation exercises, was how profound the human experience is in feeling and expressing pain and sadness, even joy and beauty, and what I kept hearing and seeing throughout the weekend was the hope,...
So much of the healing journey feels like a break down rather than break through. We hope for things to feel better but often, things just feel worse.
Stepping up to heal your life is an uncertain path at first because what we really want is something or someone to tell us exactly what to do, what to expect, and how to make it through. We want to know what the steps are and exactly what we can expect going through them.
Unfortunately, since survivors are all so different and our experiences are so varied, no one can give you that certainty of exactly how your healing journey is going to unfold. All anyone can tell you is what you can expect and what to do when things get hard.
However, there are certain things, universal things, that all survivors need and that will make it easier to heal:
1. A safe place to tell their story
2. To be believed and validated
3. To be educated about the impact of abuse
4. To be educated about the steps of healing
5. To be encouraged with hope
6. To be...
Becoming a loving, caring, nurturing parent to your inner child can be scary at first. This child remembers every minute of the child abuse you survived, even if you’ve blocked out the worst of it. Ouch!
But don’t worry. Your inner child isn’t going to unleash all those horrible memories on you. Instead, it will only be the parts of you that need healing, the parts you have rejected or ignored.
Yes, your inner child is angry. That’s scary, too. Mine was furious. She wasn’t as upset about the abuse from the past as she was the fact that I had rejected her for decades. I kept giving her to other people to love. She didn’t want their love. She wanted mine.
The wonderful thing about making the commitment to do inner child work is you discover just how loving you can be as an adult. In my case, I discovered I was capable of creating safety for this little girl. I could make her a top priority in my life. I could protect her. I could even help her...
When I began my healing journey, I didn’t know if I could heal. But I was hopeful.
Back then, there were plenty of people who could tell me what was wrong with me and why. They could diagnose me with depression. They could tell me the depression was caused by the trauma I had suffered as an abused child. But few could give me what I needed most at that time: someone who believed I could heal.
And that’s my message for you today. If there’s one belief you need to cultivate after child abuse or trauma, it’s the belief that you can heal.
How do you do it? The same way I did!
I searched until I found survivors who inspired me. These people were able to show me what it looked like to heal after child abuse and trauma. They showed me how to move from barely surviving to gloriously thriving. Their lives had become their healing testimony.
From these courageous survivors, I learned healing from child abuse and trauma is a lifelong process. Even though I’m...
Every time you make a decision to change a toxic behavior pattern, your wounded inner child will appear. It’s what makes healthy change hard for us.
And that’s why inner child work is so important. You can’t recover from child abuse and trauma without doing this deep, messy work.
Your wounded inner child is that very young part of yourself, who was hurt by the abuse and is still in pain. In my case, it was my 6-year old self. She was angry for never being seen, heard, or valued. She believed the only way she could ever be worthy was by overachieving and taking care of everyone else’s needs, while ignoring hers.
Because I could feel her anger, resentment, and pain, I was terrified of her. So I rejected her for decades. Of course, that just added to her painful burden.
Inner child work is the practice of building a loving relationship with your abused inner child and becoming the loving parent that child never had. Easier said than done, right? I mean, how do...
Have you noticed my recent blog posts have been building on a certain theme? Each one is written to take you deeper and deeper into your healing. My intent is to help you tackle your core issues and accelerate your healing.
Today, let’s talk about what we believe. It’s more important than you might think.
Unfortunately, abused children are told many lies. Children are sponges, and they’re born into this world, trusting their parents and caretakers. It’s only natural for them to absorb and believe everything they’re taught. Even if what they’re taught isn’t true.
Every single thing we do is a direct response to what we believe. Everything we say and think is also based on these core beliefs. So my question to you, is what do you believe?
Unless you’re consciously choosing healthy beliefs, creating new habits based on those beliefs, and changing your behavior to match those beliefs, you’re living your life on...
My subscribers get a weekly blog update and special event and news updates.
I am not a fan of spam and will never share your email details.