The Cost Of Trauma

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Trauma comes in many forms. It affects every person differently. Trauma can be any experience that causes us to have a negative reaction mentally, emotionally, and/or physically.

The misconception that trauma has to be something really big and awful leads to some people’s trauma being minimized. Sometimes people compare traumas. Physical abuse can be perceived to be much bigger than say divorce of parents in childhood or the death of someone close to us.

Trauma is personal. The effects of that trauma are personal.

Each person’s trauma affects them personally and only they know how great that effect is and how it impacts their life.

Many books have been written about trauma and how it presents in the body. One of the most well known and one that I use consistently in my therapy practice is The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van der Kolk, MD. This book describes the intricate connection between trauma, the brain, and the body that results in mental, behavioral, and physical costs.

Several studies have also been done on the trauma costs to the body including Negative body experience in women with early childhood trauma: associations with trauma severity and dissociation in the European Journal of Psychotraumatology and The long-term costs of traumatic stress: intertwined physical and psychological consequences in the World Psychiatry journal. These studies detail the connection between trauma, the brain, and body with the mental, behavioral, and physical costs.

The mental cost of trauma can result in the diagnosis of several developing psychiatric illnesses such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, and others. Some of these diagnoses can be life-altering in their severity. Another mental cost is the development of negative beliefs about oneself and our perceived responsibility for the things that have happened to us.

The brain is a powerful instrument.

The beliefs or thoughts we have about ourselves can manifest in our behaviors and as physical symptoms in our bodies that can include physical illnesses.

The physical cost of trauma can result in somatic body issues along with the development of physical illnesses. Chronic pain, migraines, digestive issues, reproductive issues, and more can develop out of the connection of trauma, the brain, and the body as described in the above studies.

In my practice, I see mainly girls and women, and their physical symptoms can be almost identical in some cases for those with trauma. Chronic neck and shoulder pain, migraines, digestive and reproductive issues are all common among them. It is too commonly replicated to be coincidental.

The behavioral cost of trauma can be just as costly as the physical and sometimes even be the cause of the physical. Trauma numbing can include substance abuse, self-harm, issues with food, relationship issues, and more. These behaviors can lead to physical illnesses and more trauma reinforcing the trauma narrative.

These behaviors can start at a very early age if the trauma occurred in early childhood and can go on for years before it is recognized and processed. This can lead to a very long road of change and recovery.

How can we stop paying the cost of our trauma? The first step is to acknowledge honestly where our trauma started and begin to process these experiences. A trained trauma-informed therapist can help us understand and be able to talk openly about what has happened to us.

It can be a long process and difficult. We did not get to this place overnight and we will not find a path out overnight. Confronting trauma can also be very emotionally charged. The fact that it is uncomfortable and scary prevents many from seeking help.

The fear of change also keeps many from confronting their traumas. Who will we become if we are not what we have been for years? What will we lose as a result? It can be very scary.

But the cost of not confronting our trauma can be astronomical. It can cost us our mental health, our physical health, and sometimes much more. We can begin to stop paying the price one step at a time.

If you or someone you know is struggling with unprocessed trauma, I urge you to seek out a trauma-informed therapist to begin the journey of recovery. The high cost of trauma doesn’t have to be a lifelong debt.

Trauma may have changed your life, but you do not have to continue to pay the cost every day of your life afterward.

Until next time be well,

Deborah

Two Words To Change Anything You Think

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Anyone can change how they think.

It only requires two words. That’s right, only two words applied to every thought and anyone can change how they think.

Those two words are — repetition and reinforcement.

Every single thing we learn as humans is done through repetition and reinforcement. When we learn that crying out brings someone to our crib, we repeat and reinforce this behavior to get our needs met.

When we learn to crawl, we repeat the necessary movements and reinforce in our brains that this is how we move. The same is done when we walk, talk, learn to feed or dress ourselves. Learn to read or write. It is all repetition and reinforcement.

Everything we think about ourselves is given to us by others. We are not born thinking anything particularly about ourselves outside of we need to eat, be cleaned, and have interaction with others. Everything else someone else teaches us.

If we have positive teachers, they teach us that we are beautiful, valued, strong, kind, loving, etc. If we have negative teachers, they teach us that we are ugly, not worthy, weak, mean, unloving, etc. These teachers start with our first caregivers, parents or whomever assumes our initial care and move on to extended family/caregivers, school teachers, friends, romantic relationships, and on it goes.

Each of these interactions teaches us what to think about ourselves and the world around us. From birth to age 7 we form the beliefs about ourselves that will rule the rest of our lives and our thoughts.

The things they teach us are through repetition and reinforcement. We hear them, see them, feel them over and over. We take them personally knowing no better at the time, and then we tell ourselves we are these things.

Repeatedly and reinforced.

The brain will only believe what you tell it to believe. It is not an artificial intelligence thinking things up on its own. It believes what you tell it is true and only that. If we tell it these negative things are true, it will make them true and we will live them as true.

These reinforced and repeated thoughts can go on for years and years of our lives without challenge or questions. It can then take a very long time to rid ourselves of these thoughts, but it can be done.

One thought at a time.

To change anything you think, you must replace it. Repeatedly and reinforced. Every single time. Each time you think it, it must be replaced with a positive thought or affirmation — repetition and reinforcement.

By doing this, the brain then builds a new neural pathway that will eventually replace the negative one. It is how the brain builds every single neural pathway that lets us function in our lives. Repeat and reinforce and it will believe whatever you tell it.

We must be relentless in this. Just as relentless as we were to learn to walk or write. If we had given up on those things because a thought we believed told us we could not do it, what would have happened? We would not be walking or writing.

Many of us have a very large catalog of negative thoughts that others have taught us to believe about ourselves. It can be overwhelming to think of replacing all of them at once. That is why we use the one step at a time method.

One thought at a time.

I am a worst first kind of person. Tackle the worst thing and everything else seems smaller. What is the worst negative thought you have been trained to think about yourself? Start there. Find a positive replacement immediately.

Then reinforce and repeat, reinforce and repeat, again and again and again every time the negative thought presents itself. Build your new neural pathway of what you believe, what you think, what you feel.

Anyone can change how they think with just these two words — repetition and reinforcement.

Change your mind, change your life — starting right now.

Until next time be well,

Deborah

The Road Not Traveled

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Have you ever believed you wanted something so much that you could not see your way past it? You believed that it was the only way you would be happy or successful. I have.

And I was utterly wrong.

I went back to college after going to work at a local high school to become a counselor. My course of study would allow me to be a school counselor or a clinical counselor or both. I was utterly convinced I wanted to be a school counselor.

There were so many kids who needed help and I wanted to be there to help them. Or so I believed with my whole heart and mind.

I loved working at the school. I sponsored a poetry club and started a literary arts magazine that was published yearly through fundraising and donations. I volunteered to work dances and sporting events. I worked in whatever capacity I was needed while going to school full time, doing counseling internships, and working part-time at a residential treatment facility.

I made friends there and formed bonds that are still there with many of the students and some of the staff. I believed that being a school counselor was the only job I wanted. It was the only road I wished to travel.

And I was completely wrong.

I finished my degrees, two of them, and my internships and waited for a school counseling opening at the school. The joyous day arrived when there was not only one opening there were two. I believed that this was going to be the culmination of all my hard work and desire.

After all, I had given so much of myself in the last seven years to this school and the people in it. How could this not be my dream come true?

I completed the application process and the interview panel. I felt good about my future. I was encouraged by other staff that all would be well and I would finally get the job I so desperately believed I wanted.

And I was unbelievably wrong.

I did not get either job that was open. I was absolutely crushed. I fell apart completely. I went to my car and sat in the parking lot for two hours crying and then I went home and cried for several more days. My dream was gone.

I felt like a complete failure. How could this happen and why? What was I going to do now? I felt that nothing I had done for the school, for my education, for myself had any value.

And I was absolutely wrong.

I picked myself up after I stopped crying and decided not to be defeated. I left the school two weeks later having given my notice and went to work full time at the residential facility for girls with severe trauma and addiction where I had been working part-time for my clinical counselor licensing hours.

I loved working with those girls. Their lives were the kinds of stories you see sometimes and cannot believe that such evil can be perpetrated on a child. They hated me and they loved me. But in so many of their lives, I made a difference. A difference that for some of them completely changed everything for them.

A little over a year later, I went into private practice full time seeing some of those same girls and many others from local middle and high schools along with adult women all with complex trauma. I was happy, fulfilled, and successful. I recently expanded my practice adding another therapist to serve even more people in our city.

I still make use of my school counseling license and education, so in a way, I am still a school counselor just not in a school.

It took me almost a year after that devastating day to realize that if I had gotten the job in the school, I would have been miserable and unfulfilled. School counselors in high school don’t have a lot of time to counsel kids in crisis. They spend a lot of time in meetings, doing scheduling, proctoring testing, and being involved in interpersonal drama at the school where I worked to have much time to see kids who really need it.

I would have been heartbroken to see a kid I knew needed help and have to tell them that I had to go to a meeting. Being a school counselor would not have worked for me.

So often we can convince ourselves that something we believe will make us happy is the only road to travel. Many times we learn that it is the road we never thought to travel that is the way to being truly happy and successful.

And I am ecstatic that I was wrong.

Sometimes it is completely okay to be wrong.

Until next time be well,

Deborah

Excuse Me, Your Tranquility Is Slipping

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Counselors are human too.

It started off badly, my work day. My car wouldn’t start, again. It has some sort of electrical drain issue. No one was home except me and so I had to use my youngest son’s car, which I loathe.

Driving to my office I encountered, in the 5 minutes it takes me to get there, multiple drivers who were less than stellar. I get to the office and realize that I had forgotten to schedule a client that day. And multiple other no good, very bad events followed.

My first client comes in and I am quite stressed by this point. Not the ideal situation for doing therapy, but counselors are human too. The client notices my “aura” and asks how I am doing. So, I shared just a few of the day’s events and then I look at the wall beside the client’s head.

I have some different wall clings on the walls of my office with lovely sayings, cherry blossom limbs, and words. The word beside the client’s head is….tranquility. And it was hanging halfway off the wall. And to the end of the sentence about my day’s events, I added…

“and now my effing tranquility is slipping.”

The client looked at the barely clinging tranquility and started laughing, really laughing. I started laughing, really laughing. We laughed so loud and so hard and I was crying laughing and the client was too. It was amazing.

After we had stopped laughing, I was able to continue the session, feeling much less stressed. I later wondered, was my tranquility slipping a result of the stress I was putting into the universe and seeing it was a message from that same universe that even if your tranquility is slipping, it’s not as bad as you think.

You can let it overwhelm you or you can laugh until you cry about it. You can also just stick that crap back on the wall and carry on.

Counselors can be viewed as above the fray of things, objective, even distant at times. However, just like everyone else, even counselors have bad days, get stressed out, and watch their tranquility slipping.

Counselors are human too.

Intentional Grace

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In Merriam Webster there are eight definitions of grace as a noun and two as a verb. For the purposes of this writing, grace is an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or mercy and/or the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful.

Most of us have been taught that we should give grace to others in all myriad of circumstances. We should be kind and courteous to others. We should show mercy, forgiveness, and tolerance to others. We should be considerate and thoughtful of other people’s feelings, sorrows, and tragedies.

How often do we extend grace to ourselves?

Many times, we beat ourselves up emotionally and mentally, and even out loud verbally. We place blame on ourselves and feel as if we are failures. We tell ourselves any number of lies that we have been conditioned to believe by others and our brain now considers them to be truths. But grace? Not so much.

We do not offer ourselves kindness and mercy. We are not tolerant of our mistakes and errors in judgment. We have no forgiveness of our shortcomings. Grace is not something we think of giving to ourselves, only to others.

What if we practiced intentional grace with ourselves?

When we feel as if we are not doing as well as we think we should, how about a little grace for those times. When we feel as if we are failing ourselves or our families, how about some forgiveness for ourselves. When we are short on margin and quick to anger, how about some tolerance for ourselves. When we are run down and burned out, how about some self compassion.

Grace is not meant for us to only give to others. It is also meant for us to give to ourselves. We can extend all the kindness, courtesy, mercy, and forgiveness we extend to others to ourselves. We must be able to offer that cup of kindness to our own bodies, minds, and spirits.

Think of how often you have shown grace to others. All of the circumstances in which you were able to show kindness, mercy, forgiveness, and courtesy to other people. Now try to think of all the times you have shown those same things to yourself. I wager that it is not an equal scale.

We cannot pour from an empty cup. Our own cups must be filled. And we must do the filling. Be intentional with grace for yourself this week and fill your cup.

Until next time be well,

Deborah

Taking Breaks

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Sometimes we can be so tired in our mind and body that only a complete break from our everyday life will reset us. This past weekend, I was able to have one of those resets.

My family and I went for four days to what is called the Missouri Breaks in Montana. It is several hours north of where we live where there are almost no people and definitely no Internet, cell, or television service of any kind. The land is high prairie with pine trees, juniper bushes, and sagebrush.

The sky is magnificently big and seems to go on forever.

The only noises are the animals and birds in the morning and evening. In the in between, there is no noise. Zero noise. It is completely quiet. The peace is immeasurable.

In the morning, you can hear everything from Western Meadowlarks to Canadian Geese along with coyotes and elk and many more starting off daybreak. In the evenings, it is much the same and the music is amazing.

In the in between time, there are walks or hikes to view wildlife, find amazing rocks and fossils, and breathe in the world around us. There is also time for coloring and naps and the occasional classic movie such as Chisum or Lonesome Dove.

In the evenings, there is peace and the campfire. The hypnotic mesmerizing flames are like a colorful dancing meditation and we sit transfixed as if we are stones. We roast the occasional marshmallow and having brought my telescope we view the heavens above in all its unpolluted by light glory.

Mars is there, along with Orion, the Big and Little Dippers, Hercules, Gemini, and many more along with super bright binary stars and red giants. It is a light show unlike any other and as far as you can see there are stars. Also satellites that go streaking by very fast and shooting stars.

There are no phone calls, no text messages, no appointment reminders and no email. There is no social media distraction and no news of the day in the rest of the world. There are no work day duties. Only peace.

I sit in the sun and watch the burning embers of the fire from the night before and I feel my body, mind, and spirit being fed. It seeps into me resetting me once again.

Taking breaks is necessary for those in the mental health profession just as it is for everyone else. It is okay to take time for yourself so that you can give care to others. It is more than okay. It is a requirement for a healthy life.

Until next time be well,

Deborah

Assessing Your Trauma

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In the years that I have been a clinical counselor, I have come to believe based on observations of the clients I have seen and people that I know personally, that well over 90% of the American population has had some sort of trauma in their lives.

Some trauma is fairly self explanatory and easy to recognize such as physical or sexual abuse. Some trauma is not so easily defined, such as verbal or emotional abuse. But they can all inflict traumatic memories and negative beliefs on those who receive them.

When I start seeing clients I will often times give them an assessment to briefly assess their traumas. It doesn’t cover everything, but it gives a good idea of a starting place for therapy.

This assessment is called the ACES test or Adverse Childhood Experiences. This assessment does not assess stressors outside the household such as violence, poverty, isolation, etc.). Something I feel that was left off of the ACES is death or loss of loved ones. This can be a huge trauma for children. It does not take into account any protective factors and it does not differentiate meaning not all people with high ACES scores will have a poor outcome and not all people who have zero ACES will have a positive outcome. It is an indication of greater risk of a poorer outcome and trauma responses.

The following is the ACES assessment:

Prior to your 18th birthday:

  1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  4. Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  5. Did you often or very often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  7. Was your mother or stepmother:
    Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?                        No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  10. Did a household member go to prison?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Now add up your “Yes” answers: _ This is your ACE Score. A higher score in multiple studies has shown links to increased negative mental and physical outcomes as well as increased negative social outcomes. The website Got Your ACE Score? has multiple links to studies and many charts that lay out the possible effects of a higher ACES score.

Resilience on the other hand may help those with higher ACES scores combat negative outcomes. A secure early childhood is helpful for future living but not always absolutely necessary if one has a higher resilience. Again, this is very individual dependent and definitely not true for everyone.

Resilience Questionnaire

1.  I believe that my mother loved me when I was little.

Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True

2.  I believe that my father loved me when I was little.Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True

3.  When I was little, other people helped my mother and father take care of me and they seemed to love me.Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True

4.   I’ve heard that when I was an infant someone in my family enjoyed playing with me, and I enjoyed it, too.Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True

5.  When I was a child, there were relatives in my family who made me feel better if I was sad or worried.Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True

6.   When I was a child, neighbors or my friends’ parents seemed to like me.Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True

7.  When I was a child, teachers, coaches, youth leaders or ministers were there to help me.Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True

8.  Someone in my family cared about how I was doing in school.Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True

9.  My family, neighbors and friends talked often about making our lives better.Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True

10.  We had rules in our house and were expected to keep them.Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True

11. When I felt really bad, I could almost always find someone I trusted to talk to.Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True

12.  As a youth, people noticed that I was capable and could get things done.Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True

13.  I was independent and a go-getter.Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True

14.  I believed that life is what you make it.Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True

How many of these 14 protective factors did I have as a child and youth? (How many of the 14 were circled “Definitely True” or “Probably True”?)   _______Of these circled, how many are still true for me? _______

Many people have had at least one trauma in their lives and many more have had traumas that are not listed on this assessment. As stated, this is just an early assessment that can offer a lot of information about how someone has experienced trauma and if they also had any resilient factors in their lives.

Trauma, unprocessed, continues to affect us on a daily basis whether we know it or not. It affects how we think, feel, and respond in every situation of our lives because it has instilled beliefs in us about ourselves that are almost always negative. It affects how we live, love, and work. Trauma doesn’t go away because we think we ignore it. It doesn’t go away because we get older and more distance from it. We carry it around in our brains because the brain records everything and then it flings it out at us again and again.

If you have unprocessed trauma, I highly encourage you to find a counselor to talk about it and process through it. Doing so could make all the difference in your life.

Until next time be well,

Deborah

Let There Be Light

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The sun is a vital component to all living things. It provides warmth, nourishment, and mental health boosters just to name a few things for humans.

As I have written about many times, vitamin D is essential to healthy mental health. In Montana where I live and practice, vitamin D deficiency is a very normal occurrence for people and for some people a complete lack of vitamin D is not uncommon.

Many, many studies have been done over the years that directly relate increased depression to a lack of vitamin D in the body. Most people who are deficient in vitamin D have really no other symptoms except an increased risk of depression or if they already have depression, their depressive symptoms increase.

In the last couple of weeks, the sun has been out here in my area of Montana on a daily basis. In fact, on this past Friday, the sun was out and the temperature was almost 70 degrees. The effect on my client’s affects are astounding.

Every client who comes in has said that they feel happier the last couple of weeks. When asked to reflect on what they think is causing it, to a person they say, when I wake up and the sun is out I just feel better to start the day. Just the sun through the windows is enough to jump start their dopamine. Not even going out into the sun, just seeing it causes the brain to react and the body to feel better.

Those clients who have been going out into the sun, even for just a few minutes of time during the day report that their depressive symptoms are even more decreased. Those who have been out in the sun for several hours enjoying some outdoor activities like walking, long boarding, hiking, and just sitting on their deck reading report an even higher decrease in depressive symptoms.

Most of my clients do take a vitamin D supplement as I recommend it for all of them because of where we live, but the sun has an increasing effect both physically and psychologically.

When it is cloudy, gray, gloomy, rainy, snowy for a day or days, we also can psychologically feel gloomy. With depression, we can feel even more in the depths of gloom. But let there be light and we feel happier, energized, warm, and much less gloomy.

Yesterday where I live, it rained all day. It was cloudy, gray and gloomy. It wasn’t that cold, but I felt cold all day. I felt tired and drained and even took a nap something I do not normally do. I was bundled up in clothes and throw covers. And it was not that cold. I had little motivation.

Today, it is sunny and beautiful. I woke up cleaned my closets out and have been doing writing and marketing since. I feel energized, happy, productive. And I do not suffer from depression, but the sun is a massive dopamine projector for all humans. Just the sight of a beautiful sunny day with a clear blue sky floods the senses with dopamine and the body with energy. And if you go out into it for minutes or hours, it’s like recharging your brain and body’s batteries.

If it is sunny where you are, let it recharge you. Let it wash over you body, mind and spirit. Let there be light.

Until next time be well,

Deborah

A Different Truth

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Your brain will only believe what you tell it is true.

Your brain is not an artificial intelligence. It is a taught repeater. It does not make up things on its own.

The information that is taken into your brain is what your brain will put back out.

And anything that is put into your brain by either yourself or others with belief that it is true, your brain will believe it is true. It does not matter whether it is actually true or not. If you say it to your brain and you believe that it is true on any level, your brain will process it as the truth.

If it is repeated to your brain over and over and over throughout your life it becomes embedded as a neural pathway related to an image, experience, words, and trauma. Those things when recalled as memories are always attached to the truth you have told your brain about them.

Your brain will not repeat something else unless you tell it to and you believe what you are telling it that you now believe about these memories.

Think of the most often repeated phrase in your brain related to yourself in a negative way. Some of the more common ones: I am not worth love, I am stupid, I cannot do anything right, I am not perfect, I am not good enough, I am not valued, I am fat, I am a disappointment, I have to make others happy. Whatever your most repeated phrase is say it out loud.

Then pay very close attention to what image, whose voice, what experience, what trauma is attached to these words. Someone else made you feel this way. You were not born believing this negative crap. Someone caused you to internalize it. Think back, way back, these things almost always start in childhood from birth to age 7. Who do you see, who do you hear, what images do you remember, what emotions do you remember feeling?

This is where your brain started believing that this phrase was true. And every time it has been repeated by others and repeated by yourself has reinforced it into your mind as the truth…the only truth. Even though it is a lie. Your brain does not know anything other than this repeated statement you have believed is true.

How do we change this? We must repeat something else to our brains in relation to these memories. How about the actual truth? And not what someone else told you or showed you that THEY felt. It was never what you felt about yourself until you repeated it and believed it.

How long will it take to retrain your brain? It can take a while, a long while in some cases and you must be absolutely diligent in your new repetitions. Every day, every time the lies come up, EVERY SINGLE TIME. You must confront the old beliefs every time and immediately with the new ones.

It is hard work. It is a long process. And it is the only way to emotional freedom and health. As long as you live believing the lies, your emotions, relationships, and life will be chaos.

It is time to speak a different truth to yourself starting right now.

Until next time be well,

Deborah

Who You Are

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I have never been a big fan of new “trendy” words used to describe things in therapy. Imposter syndrome, trigger, serial monogamy, etc. I prefer the less trendy childhood trauma, cause, relationship issues and questions to find the root of thoughts and behaviors.

Many people feel that their inability to be who they are started in their own minds and beliefs. In all the years I have been in mental health counseling, I have never, not even once, found that to be a true statement.

The thoughts and beliefs that people have about themselves started when someone else made them feel or think something negative about themselves through words, actions, or no words, and no actions. They were conditioned to believe these things about themselves.

This conditioning done at very early ages is then internalized and carried on into every aspect of life that follows.

The words of negativity become ingrained in the mind and then in the belief and then in the behavior. People live out what others have caused them to feel and believe.

Even if they go through life having success, being smart, looking amazing, they still feel that they are not that person but the one with all the voices in their head who can’t be successful, who isn’t smart enough to do big things, who never looks good enough. And the lies, if unprocessed, are always far louder than the truth.

So what is the truth? Who are you? It can be very difficult to find that person as many times you never met them. The childhood trauma started so early, it is the only person you know.

Who do you want to be? If you could be anything, do anything, think anything who would that person be?

If you examine the truths in your life you can find out more about who you truly are. What are your successes? When have you been smart? When have you done big things? When do you look amazing? What have you overcome? What have other people noticed about you that you continually fail to see or believe?

It is not going to be easy to dig that person out of the lies. And once again, there is only one way on the path to truth. Repetition and reinforcement. Constantly repeating the positive, the true, the things you want to be, and reinforcing them in words, writing, thoughts, actions. And doing this again, and again, and again for as long as it takes to replace the lies that currently reside in your head.

The path also includes a side quest, acknowledgement. Recognizing and addressing where these lies started. How old were you, who said them, in what ways were they reinforced in your mind by others and by yourself. Acknowledging that YOU did not start these lies. They are not yours. And you do not have to keep living them.

Who are you…..let go of fear and find out.

Until next time be well,

Deborah