This exercise helps you to learn how to talk nicely to yourself when you do something you’re not very happy with yourself about. Instead of criticising yourself it shows you how to think self-forgiving thoughts. You don’t need to scold or punish yourself when you do something in a lesser way than you’d like. You can actually choose to be compassionate to yourself instead – it’s up to you!!
In this exercise, you create a set of columns and rows – a matrix (as outlined below). Then you use this matrix to reorient your thoughts and feelings from self-attacking thoughts to self-forgiving thoughts. An example showing how the process works is included below.
Here is the format:
A few seconds ago, I knocked a cup of coffee onto my computer. For me, that counts as a distressing situation. Therefore, it’s a good experience to plug into the matrix. Here is how I began to fill in the boxes.
I spilled my coffee onto my computer
In the first column, I simply describe the situation. In the second column, I make a list of some of my feelings: in this case, frustration (with myself), guilt (about my mistake), and nervousness (about the repercussions of the situation). I find it helpful to make this feeling list. By naming our specific feelings, we bring them up into awareness. We take ourselves out of denial. We reduce the tendency to ‘squash things down’.
Next, we use our feelings to move on to the underlying thoughts. The relationship between feelings and thoughts is like the relationship between smoke and fire. Distressing feelings are the smoke. Distressing thoughts are the fires that give rise to the smoke. In this case, where there’s smoke, there is fire – where there are distressing feelings, there are distressing thoughts underneath. In column three, we uncover the thoughts that are fuelling the feelings. Here is what I came up with.
I spilled my coffee onto my computer
That was such a dumb thing to do. I should be more careful. My computer is probably going to break now, and it’s all my fault. I’ll probably have to pay a lot of money to fix it. People are going to laugh at me if they see how careless I am.
As you can see, I uncovered three sets of self-attacking thoughts in column three. I probably could have come up with many more – but these were a good start. Writing them out in the matrix was extremely helpful. To be honest, I wasn’t even aware of these thoughts until I wrote them out. As I filled in this third column, the key was to realise that my feelings (in column two) were coming from my thoughts (in column three), not simply from the situation. You could say that the situation was a ‘trigger’ for the thoughts. I’m certainly not glad that I spilled coffee on my computer. But it was the thoughts that I needed to work on now.
Let’s move to column four – the heart of this exercise. In the final column of the matrix, you substitute self-forgiving thoughts for each of the self-attacking thoughts in column three. This is the big step. This turns the mind from self-criticism to self-forgiveness; from distress to peace. As you do this, you can focus on simply moving in the right direction. You don’t have to take a huge leap into complete forgiveness; you can take a series of little steps. Every bit of progress is helpful. Here is what I came up with, as I made this substitution.
I spilled my coffee onto my computer
That was such a dumb thing to do. I should be more careful. My computer is probably going to break now, and it’s all my fault. I’ll probably have to pay a lot of money to fix it. People are going to laugh at me if they see how careless I am.
It wasn’t a dumb thing to do; it was simply an accident; And besides – my worth isn’t dependent on how ‘careful’ I am. Actually the computer seems fine. But even if I do need to repair the computer, I can do that in a self-forgiving state of mind. If people laugh at me, that’s their problem. Everyone makes mistakes at times.
Those self-forgiving thoughts may not have been the ‘highest’ thoughts in the world, but they helped me to shift my mind toward a more self-forgiving space. As I did that, the feelings of frustration, guilt, and nervousness were replaced – to some degree – by a greater sense of peace and self-acceptance. That is the goal of this exercise.
I find that this ‘cognitive restructuring’ work – replacing self-attacking thoughts with self-forgiving thoughts – is like priming a pump. We locate our self-attacking thoughts, and replace them with self-forgiving thoughts. We do this mechanical work over and over until the flow of loving, forgiving thoughts begins to run on its own. There is some work to do at the beginning, but we’re simply preparing our minds to receive the divine flow.
Use this exercise whenever you catch yourself thinking self-attacking thoughts. Change them into self-forgiving thoughts. Over time you will find that your thinking automatically becomes self-forgiving whenever you do anything you are not 100% happy with yourself about. It will eventually become habit.
(This exercise comes from: Joseph D, 2004, The Matrix, Living Now, September 2004, Queensland issue 66, p22)
This is a beautiful 6 minute video about the healing power of love. The video contains quotes from wise scholars and prophets and is set to images of nature’s beauty and glory. Uplifting and meaningful, it is worth watching. Love heals.
Put this page in a place you’ll see it regularly. By taking the time to carefully read through the list every day, you will learn to accept that you are entitled to each one of the rights listed. Whenever a thought occurs that contradicts one of your rights, stop the thought process & correct yourself, saying “I know that’s what I used to think, but I now know & accept that I have the right to …………”. In time, you will come to know your rights off by heart & if anyone behaves in a way that infringes upon them this knowledge will help you to know their action is inappropriate & you can then stand up for yourself & your rights.
I have the right to ask for what I want.
I have the right to say no to requests or demands I can’t meet.
I have the right to express all of my feelings, positive or negative.
I have the right to change my mind.
I have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
I have the right to follow my own values and standards.
I have the right to say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe, or it violates my values.
I have the right to determine my own priorities.
I have the right not to be responsible for others’ behaviour, actions, feelings, or problems.
I have the right to expect honesty from others.
I have the right to be angry at someone I love.
I have the right to be uniquely myself.
I have the right to feel scared and say “I’m afraid”.
I have the right to say “I don’t know”.
I have the right not to give excuses or reasons for my behaviour.
I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings.
I have the right to my own needs for personal space and time.
I have the right to be playful and frivolous.
I have the right to be healthier than those around me.
I have the right to be in a non-abusive environment.
I have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.
I have the right to change and grow.
I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others.
I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
I have the right to be happy.
(From: Bourne E, 2000,The anxiety & phobia workbook, 3rd edition, New Harbinger Publications Inc. Canada)
Some thoughts on parenting – combining insights from neuroscience, new biological sciences, conscious parenting, and psychology.
Children need love and affection
Children need to feel loved and accepted in order for their brains to develop optimally. Even prior to the formation of your egg or sperm your thoughts about yourself, the world and your desire or not to have a child and your ability to care for that child or not, start shaping the personality of a possible child. Your thoughts affect what genes are selected and programmed on your egg or sperm. So even prior to conception you have the ability to affect the personality and intelligence of your child.
Children need your time and attention
Even in the womb children benefit from you connecting with them, talking to them, telling them they are loved, wanted, welcomed, that the world is a safe place, that you look forward to sharing your life with them. This prenatal attachment helps your baby’s brain to grow in optimal ways.
Blood flow from the Mother crosses the placenta carrying all the Mother’s beliefs, emotions and stressors. The baby gets the lot. It is as nature intended it – shaping the baby to learn and survive in the world as the Mother sees it. If the Mother sees a loving world and experiences that (hence the role of the Father is also key here) then the foetus will grow optimally. If she sees a harsh, scary, dangerous world the foetus will develop differently. The blood flow will be diverted from brain development to muscle development so that the child will be able to survive, be a fighter in the world, able to fight or run away from danger. In this way 50% of IQ can be diminished if the foetus is carried in fear during pregnancy. (Bruce Lipton talks about this, see his material if you want to learn more).
If the Mother is very stressed then her body is full of cortisol and this is toxic to a developing baby’s brain. It actually eats away / dissolves the brain cells. (The same happens when a baby is left to cry – cortisol is secreted and can damage the brain). What you do during your pregnancy has a major impact on the development of your child-to-be’s IQ and physiology. Up to halfof their personality is already formed before they are even born.
Children need loving births and to bond with you immediately
The birth process also affects the child and its experience of the world. Is it stressful, noisy, loud and invasive – like a hospital can be? Was the birth traumatic with the Mother and Father in fear? Were there any complications? Was the baby taken from the Mother and tested for various things – pricked in the foot for blood tests, immunised, a plastic scapula stuck down its throat to sample its stomach contents, weighed on a cold scale? All of these things affect the child’s perception of the world and whether it is safe, welcoming or not.
If drugs were used during the labour these have also entered the baby across the placenta. This can leave a baby unaware, not fully present for the first few days. And this time is some of the most crucial time for bonding and attachment with the parents. The baby needs to be held, loved, nurtured, have lots of eye contact and skin to skin contact with both the Mother and the Father. Without it bonding does not occur and this sets the baby up with abandonment issues, feelings of being unloved, etc. These early moments are so, so important. Science is now confirming what those with open hearts have always known. Babies do feel, are sensitive to pain from the very start, from their time in the womb. All that you do impacts them. Your role as parent is so, so important shaping their health and personality and the role they will play in society.
It is now being fully recognised by politicians and community health personnel that if you raise babies in a more loving and nurturing way those children will grow up with a healthier sense of self esteem and connection with society. Poor care giving leads to more crime, ill health, poverty and other undesirable characteristics. That is why Governments, including Australia, are introducing policies to support parents and improve early care giving. We will continue to see more and more early care services for families as this recognition becomes widely accepted in society.
Parents need help to look after their babies optimally. Parenting is a hard job. It requires you to give and give and give. If you are stressed, resentful, depressed or even just unhappy with your life – your baby absorbs that and may believe it is their fault. Setting up beliefs of “I’m a problem”, “I’m not good enough”. Even if they don’t do that, they learn about life from you, so they will automatically expect their life to be the same.
Children learn from your every move
From 0-6 years of age their brains have not developed conscious functioning – the ability to question data. From 0-6 years they simply believe everything that they are told or what they see and sense about the world from watching you. If they see you sad or scared or stressed, they absorb it. If they hear you say that they are bad, unwanted, have spoilt things, are selfish, stupid, you wish they were never born, etc, they absorb it and believe it. This forms their core belief system that will then affect them for the rest of their life.
Parents, most anyway, do not set out to damage their children, but when they are stressed and exhausted such statements can slip out. Especially if that is what you were told when you were little. Your parents programmed your beliefs from 0-6 years of age as you do with your children. These patterns can repeat through the generations unless you make a conscious decision to heal and change those beliefs – then your actions can be different.
Conscious parenting is a great start, learning what you can about loving and nurturing methods to promote a baby and child’s self esteem, individuality and emotional intelligence. The knowledge is key. You will be able to apply it when you are calm, centred and feeling good. But when you are stressed you may be shocked to find that you revert back to not so ideal ways of talking to and treating your baby or child. You may hear your Mother’s of Father’s words coming out of your own mouth. Because when you are stressed you react more from the subconscious mind, on auto pilot. And this is the part of the brain that was programmed from 0-6 years old. It contains all the memories, feelings, beliefs form those times and plays them like tape recordings over and over. It does not judge or think it just plays over and over. Changing these tapes to more loving ones about yourself, your ability to be a good parent, about your child is crucial to good child rearing. It is this information which is now leading to greater support for families. With less stress it is easier to be more loving and kind to your child.
Parents need support
Whether it just be friends or family who can help around the house – getting drinks, meals, cleaning up, taking older kids out so that parents can bond with a new baby or family and friends helping to hold the baby when it cries so the Mother and Father can rest.
Crying is a natural biological process for releasing tension and stress. Sometimes your baby just needs to cry. There is nothing that they need other than to be held and loved while they cry. This can be challenging to a parent, especially a first time parent, who assumes that they are doing something wrong. Their belief tapes play “I’m not good enough”, “I’m a bad parent”, “My baby doesn’t like me” or “My baby/toddler is deliberately trying to upset or disobey me”. (Some people do have these beliefs, believing that babies and toddlers are deliberately trying to upset them, but this is not possible, their brains have not developed that much yet. They are not wilfully disobeying, they are just being babies/toddlers. They don’t need judgment or punishment, they need love and acceptance.)
A constantly crying baby can wear a parent down and it is important that another caregiver is present to take over and hold the baby when the parent can no longer do so in a loving way. This does not occur in a lot of families and what happens instead is that the baby senses your stress, anger, desperation = danger. You may have started to pat or bounce them a little harder. You may have shoved a dummy or food in their mouth. You may have put them down and walked away. All of these responses tell a baby it is not safe to express my emotions. They learn to bury the tension inside their bodies, setting up a lifelong pattern of emotional regression and inability to ask for what they need. Using food to comfort a child can set it up for obesity and eating disorders in the future.
Children need to express their emotions
This pattern is usually reinforced during toddler years and beyond if the child is not allowed to express it’s emotions to you. Often a child will be unhappy with something that you have done or something you won’t let them do. Few parents let their child express this. It leads the parents to feel hurt or guilt, and they can’t handle it so they stifle the child instead. “Don’t talk back”. “Respect your elders”. “Because I said so”. Are all ways parents use to stop a child expressing itself.
Ideally children from a young age are taught it is okay to express their emotions. This can be role modelled using I statements. “When you do ….. I feel and I’d prefer …….” This is healthy. Children can also draw, write about what they feel. They can be taught to punch a pillow or kick the bed when they are angry and get their emotion out. Teach them that is okay but hitting a person or animal is not.
Tantrums are an overflow of emotion that they don’t know how to express. They literally lose control of their senses as their body is flooded with hormones and chemicals. It is very scary for a child to experience. What they need when this occurs is for you to stay present, talk calmly to them, and wait for the chemicals to pass, for their nervous system to regulate, so they regain their bodily control. Do not walk away, yell at them or shame them. Abandoning them during such a time teaches them they can’t rely on you or anyone to be there for them in their time of need. Remember from 0-6 years old they don’t have the ability to question data, it just gets absorbed. They can’t rationalise and say “Mummy’s just upset or tired, that’s why she walked away”. They see you walk away angry and assume it is their fault, that they are a bad person, not good enough, etc. If you do need to walk away say why. Say you are tired, stressed, need some time to yourself or to rest. Say this so the child knows it is not because they are bad.
Children need boundaries not discipline
It’s perfectly okay, desirable and healthy even, for you to assert your needs and desires with your toddler and older children. Let them know you have needs. For instance “I need you to go to sleep now, so Mummy can rest too”. “I need you to tidy your room as it is getting hard for me to walk around and that upsets me”. “I need some time with Daddy now so please go to sleep. I’ve enjoyed our day together, now it’s sleep time”. A child is more likely to go to sleep hearing this than if you try to tell them “You need to sleep so you will be refreshed in the morning or so you can concentrate at school tomorrow”. The child doesn’t care about these things, they are in the future, not now. Explaining your needs helps them learn that you are human, that you have needs too, that you won’t always be able to give to them. That is good. It helps them learn to be considerate of others and to be a caring member of society.
Letting your child walk all over you, treat you poorly, get away with all sorts of undesirable behaviour is damaging to them and to you. They need boundaries. They need to be taught about morals and care for self, others and the planet. These things can be done naturally and easily if you use such positive communication processes as I statements, as you role model healthy emotional intelligence and teach them the same. Make activities and chores fun, a chance to connect, then they will gladly tidy their room, help with the dishes, etc. Show your appreciation of their help. Your genuine praise warms the heart of your child and builds their self esteem. They will do more of what you want to get that warm, good feeling about themselves. If you have this connection and bond, you don’t need to coerce, manipulate or shame a child into doing the right thing. They will do it because they love you, you love them, you’ve made it fun, you’ve explained why it is important to do and they will get that yummy feeling. This is the reward that means the most to them.
If however you use star charts and rewards like chocolate, toys or special outings, the child may do the desired behaviour but they do it because they want the reward. Not because it is the right thing or considerate thing to do. They don’t learn the moral. They learn to focus on achieving, success, consuming / materialism. This is not healthy or desirable for them or society or the planet. There are already too many people wasting their lives working hard to get material possessions they don’t really need, which pollute the Earth. What is needed or more beneficial is people recognising that what really matters is family, friends, love, connection with self and others, doing what you want, being yourself, enjoying life and honouring the Earth. This is much more balanced, much healthier.
We can role model this for our children. Choose to spend more time with them and go without the fancy gadget. Your child will benefit immensely as will you. With strong connection discipline problems don’t occur and any minor issues can be resolved quickly and easily through talking about each person’s needs, feelings and desires. Get children to problem solve – identify different options and choose one. Get them to reflect on what happened, why and what could be done differently next time. This is a respectful and honouring way to resolve conflicts.
Using traditional disciplining methods (hitting, spanking, yelling, shaming, punishing) just drives a wedge between you and your child. If they aren’t allowed to express their feelings they bury it inside. But be warned you will hear about it when they are teenagers! The brain starts to grow again in teenage years and all their unmet toddler needs surface. The hormones and hurts lead to a volatile combination fuelling teenage rebellion. They are now old enough to question your behaviour and to see where you have been less than ideal. They may not respect you or listen to you as you didn’t show them respect or listen to them when little. If you treat them lovingly and nurturingly when little teenage years can be a lot easier.
If a child is refusing to dress use natural consequences. Let them go outside without a jumper. When they get cold they’ll ask for it and they will have learnt why it is a good idea to wear one. Don’t fight and struggle. Find ways to make it easy, fun. Give a child a choice – “Today you can wear this or this outfit, which would you prefer?” Or let them choose out the wardrobe. Be prepared that they may not dress the way you like – a dress up outfit, mismatched clothing – but if they are happy, dressed and warm why should you care if it doesn’t match? That’s just societal conditioning about how we should do things. It does not mean you’re a bad parent if your child isn’t dressed traditionally. Let go of such thoughts.
Let your child play and their imaginations flourish. Don’t deaden life into routine and boring normality. Let their individuality shine through. This makes you a loving parent, one others could learn from. Do what your heart tells you is right, not what your head or mind says. If negative beliefs come up, look at them, heal them. There are a range of techniques that can be used to reprogram your subconscious mind with more positive and self supportive beliefs. Psych-K, the Lifeline Technique, even affirmations if done regularly, with feeling, looking into your own eyes in the mirror can do this. They can change the belief which leads to a rewiring of your brain. Science has now shown the truth of all this.
No parent can meet all their child’s needs all the time. Everyone falls short of the parenting ideal at times. Please do not beat yourself up about anything that may have happened in the past. You can’t change what has happened but you can commit to being a more conscious and nurturing parent now. Know that love heals and leads to reconnection.
This is a great video focused on all the topics I love! Rob Williams who created it describes it as ‘The world is in crisis and transformation. Now, our civilization has the opportunity to evolve it’s thinking. We are beginning to realize that the old ways of competition and “survival of the fittest” are not sustainable, for individuals, businesses, or the planet. Nature may be our most qualified life coach, with millions of years of experience in creating sustainability. It’s time to look to Her wisdom for some answers. It’s time to do something different! The evolution occurs when we try smarter- not harder!’
The video explores what we can learn from ancient wisdom from indigenous cultures, from nature and from neuroscience. It shows how we can change and create a more sustainable world for us all. One of the things I love out of the video is its acknowledgment of the principles of nature including interconnectedness. Rob shares some of the many cultural greetings that acknowledge this interconnectedness including:
India – “Namaste” – the divinity within me recognises and honours the divinity within you
Mayan – “In’ Lakesh” – I am another you
Africa – “Eh-ti-zain” – How is your soul perceiving the world
Lakota / Native American – “Mitakuye Oaysin” – All are related
Polynesia – “Aloha” – I recognise the presence of divine breath in you
German – “Gruss Gott” – Greetings God
He shares findings from neuroscience, physics and biology to show that scientific minds also believe in these principles of nature. For instance, Erwin Schrodinger, Nobel Prize Winner in Physics 1933, is quoted as saying “The total number of minds in the Universe is one.” While Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security”
Rob explains how our subconscious beliefs affect what we think, feel and do. He shows how much of current society is based around beliefs of separateness, survival of the fittest, greed is good, etc and how these have led to the state of the world we see. He explains a scientifically proven process for changing subconscious beliefs called Psych-K and encourages people to change their subconscious beliefs to align with the principles of nature – such as cooperation, collaboration, harmony, balance, and interconnectedness. This would dramatically change the way that we operate in the world.
Psych-K is just one of many techniques now available that enable change of subconscious beliefs. I am trained in Psych-K and use it on myself on a pretty much daily basis to change any negative, self defeating or just unhelpful beliefs that I discover. It has been one of the most significant tools I’ve used in my healing journey.
Although there are many ways of ‘Rescuing’ an alcoholic, some ways are typical. Here are ten of them:
1. When three or more suggestions to an alcoholic have been rejected you are Rescuing. Instead, offer one or two, and wait to see whether they are acceptable. If they are not, stop making suggestions. Don’t play “Why don’t you… Yes, but…”
2. It’s O.K. to investigate possible therapists for an alcoholic, but never make an appointment for him or her. Any therapist who is willing to make an appointment with an alcoholic through a third person is probably a potential Rescuer and eventual Persecutor.
3. Do not remove liquor, pour liquor down the drain, or look for hidden stashes of liquor in an alcoholic’s house, unless you’re asked to do so by the alcoholic. Conversely, do not ever buy, serve, mix for, or offer alcohol to an alcoholic.
4. Do not engage in lengthy conversations about alcoholism or a person’s alcoholic problem while the person is drunk or drinking; that will be a waste of time and energy, and will be completely forgotten by him / her in most cases when he / she sobers up.
5. Never lend money to a drinking alcoholic. Do not allow a drunk alcoholic to come to your house, or, worse, drink in your house. Instead, in as loving and nurturing a way as possible, ask to see her again when she / he is sober.
6. Do not get involved in errands repair jobs, cleanups, long drives, pickups, or deliveries for an alcoholic who is not actively participating in fighting his / her alcoholism.
7. When you are relating to an alcoholic, do not commit the common error of seeing only the good and justifying the bad. “He’s so wonderful when he’s sober” is a common mistake people make with respect to alcoholics. The alcoholic is a whole person, and his / her personality includes both his / her good and bad parts. They cannot be separated from each other. Either take the whole person or none at all. If the balance comes out consistently in the red, it is foolish to look only on the credit side.
8. Do not remain silent on the subject of another’s alcoholism. Don’t hesitate to express yourself freely on the subject, what you don’t like, what you won’t stand for, what you think about it, what you want or how it makes you feel. But don’t do it with the expectation of being thanked or creating a change; it’s not likely to happen. Do it just to be on the record. Often your outspoken attitude will be taken seriously and appreciated, though it may not bring about any immediate changes. Just as often it will unleash a barrage of defensiveness and even anger, which you should staunchly absorb without weakening.
9. Be aware of not doing anything that you don’t want to do for the alcoholic. It is bad enough if you commit any of the above mistakes willingly. But when you add to them the complications of doing them when you would prefer not to, you are compounding your mistake and fostering an eventual Persecution.
10. Never believe that an alcoholic is hopeless. Keep your willingness to help ready, offer it often, and make it available whenever you detect a genuine interest and effort on the alcoholics part. When that happens, don’t overreact, but help cautiously and without Rescuing; doing only what you want to do, and no more than your share.
Remembering these guidelines about Rescuing will be helpful regardless of what else is done. You can’t fix the problem, the alcoholic has to do the work. By rescuing and reducing the painful impacts of the alcoholism you are allowing the alcoholic to continue to drink. Often it’s only when things hit ‘rock bottom’ that the alcoholic will decide it’s time to change. That is when you should be there for them to support them through the process.
There are a lot of resources available that can be accessed for free to assist individuals with their healing journey. Most focus on the early stages – where an individual may still be feeling controlled by their past, filled with buried emotions and desperate for relief. These can be a little ‘heavy’ as they share snippets of people’s journey – including expressing judgement, anger, blame, shame and grief. If this is the stage that you are at then you may find them extremely valuable as examples of the healing process and how to go about it.
Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (ASCA) provide a wide range of support services for Adult Survivors. www.ascasupport.org. This includes a regular newsletter and support groups. They have a free manual called ‘From Surivor to Thriver’ that you can download.
Catherine House have a manual for women on healing from childhood sexual abuse. It is called ‘Reclaiming myself after childhood sexual abuse’. It can be downloaded for free from: http://www.catherinehouse.org.au/Portals/0/pdf/research_projects/WomensResource_FINAL_Oct05.pdf
Respond SA is a part of Relationships Australia. They provide support for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. www.respondsa.org.au. They have a manual for men called ‘It is not your fault’. It can be downloaded free from: http://respondsa.org.au/resources/booklet.aspx
Joan Spear has written a booklet called ‘Can I trust my memory: a handbook for survivors with partial or no memories of childhood sexual abuse’. It is useful to read when you suspect you may have been sexually abused but you are not sure. It can be downloaded free from: http://ascasupport.org/_downloadsResources/canItrustMyMemory.pdf
Later stages of the healing journey
It has been my experience, and that of those I have interacted with, that as you continue to heal you no longer have these ‘heavy’ emotions. You release them from your body and find a place of great freedom and inner peace. You may even reach a stage where you see what you experienced as a gift – as a great teacher – that was part of your evolutionary journey. I am not aware of any free manuals that focus on this larger consciousness focus. However, it is these later stages that I will be sharing most about in this blog.
You can also read about my experience in my book called ‘The healing journey demystified: achieving sustainability one heart at a time’. It is not available for free though. Sorry!! It is available cheaply as a PDF or e-book. The printed book costs a bit more. You can view and purchase it from: http://www.lulu.com/shop/jodi-anne-m-smith/the-healing-journey-demystified-achieving-sustainability-one-heart-at-a-time/paperback/product-14703855.html
Art is a very powerful healer. It helps us to express buried emotions that we may not even be conscious of. It can help release stress and tension as the energy moves from within us out onto the paper. It is therapeutic with its colours, textures and processes. In this booklet I will share some of my drawings from throughout my healing journey. The medium will mostly be coloured oil crayon drawings and some painted ones. I have also had experience with the use of clay, pastel crayons and other art forms as my mentor/counsellor was an Art Therapist. I loved experiencing and learning about the role of art in healing. I am very grateful to my Counsellor for all she has shown me and how she has helped me and others to heal.
One does not need to have any artistic skill to use art as a healing tool. Indeed I did not think of myself as artistic at all. When I started focussing on my healing journey I was a very head-strong, analytical, rational minded person. When Lynn asked me to draw for the first time I thought she was mad. I almost walked out the door thinking how ridiculous, as if drawing could help! It wasn’t long before the floodgates of my subconscious mind opened and drawings were pouring out of me. That is literally how it felt. I wouldn’t consciously think about what to draw or how to draw it. I’d just feel drawn to pick up a crayon and next thing there was a drawing on the paper. It just flowed out.
I was fascinated how at times of strong emotion I would draw and cry or yell at the same time. In these situations the most powerful drawings emerged clearly showing the power of the situations on which I was releasing emotion. I didn’t know how to draw what I drew. If I consciously tried to do it again later I wouldn’t know how. My mind would get in the way. I love how the colours often represent the chakras and the emotions being felt, the profound symbolism that comes through depicting the experiences. Here I have chosen some of my pictures that show the healing of my childhood issues, my relationship with myself and with my parents. I encourage you to embrace art as a tool to assist you in your healing journey.
It is difficult to determine the exact numbers of children who are abused each year. Most cases are not reported to the authorities and once grown most people still keep the abuse secret. Surveys that have been done suggest that child abuse is very common, with some reports suggesting that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 8 boys are abused (ASCA 2004). The fact is that most people suffer some kind of abuse – it is just the type and level that varies. There are many different types of abuse. Gil (1983) describes the following categories: physical; sexual; neglect; emotional neglect; cruel and unusual punishment; corporal punishment and mental suffering.
Physical abuse is when a child is hit, pushed, whipped, bitten, punched, slapped or burned resulting in injuries that are left on their body. Some of these injuries such as scratches, burns, bruises and welts are visible. Others are internal, such as broken bones, fractures or haemorrhaging.
Sexual abuse is when any person, adult or child, forces, tricks, threatens or coerces a child to have any kind of sexual contact with him or her. It may be looking, exposing, talking, telling stories, viewing pornographic pictures or videos, touching, kissing, or full penetration. All of these are abusive. It should be recognised that even if the child consents it is not true consent as the abuser often uses manipulation, guilt, pressure and threats to influence the child, and the child often does not have the power to say no or knowledge of what the consequences will be.
Neglect is when a parent does not feed a child or provide the basic necessities such as clothing, shelter and medical attention when needed. Leaving a child alone when the child is not yet ready to care for him / herself is neglectful since it leaves a child in a potentially dangerous situation.
Emotional neglect is when parent’s don’t take an interest in their child, and do not talk to or hold and hug the youngster, and are generally emotionally unavailable to the child. Alcoholic parents are often neglectful of their children’s needs. Although emotional neglect or abuse may not leave physical scars it has serious consequences for the child.
Cruel and unusual punishment is another form of abuse. These are punishments, which are extreme and inappropriate to a child’s age and ability to understand. For instance locking a child in a closet, making a child duck squat for hours or go without food for long periods of time.
Corporal punishment resulting in injuries is also abuse. Corporal punishment is physical discipline and it includes excessive spanking, kicking or whipping which results in injuries. Spanking can become child abuse when it is done in an out of control way, with enough force to leave injuries. Using instruments to hit, spanking with a closed fist, hitting very young children, and hitting in vulnerable areas (face, head, stomach, back, and genitals) is abuse. Many feel that any physical discipline is abusive.
Mental suffering occurs when a child is psychologically abused. If a parent calls a child names, constantly belittles the child, blocks every effort on the part of the child to accept him or herself, this can cause mental suffering to the child. Threat of abandonment can also make the child anxious and afraid, and is another form of mental suffering.
Compiled many years ago by Dr. Jodi-Anne M Smith, summarised from:
ASCA, 2004, Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse website, www.asca.net.au
Gil E, 1983, Outgrowing the pain: a book for and about adults abused as children, Dell Pulishing, USA