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Healing from child abuse Self help techniques

Poetry as a tool for healing

A large part of the healing journey is releasing buried emotions stored within your body. In order to do so you have to first get in touch with them. Many forms of creative expression can help us to do exactly that. Some people journal, some draw, some sing and some write poetry. Find what type of creative expression works for you. The benefits are enormous.

While we are being creative we operate more from the right side of the brain. This side of our brain is linked to our emotions and intuition. Hence, we can access our feelings and intuitive information from within us. It is much harder to do that when we are operating from our left brain which is focused on logic, reason, and analysis.

A lot of people in our society are very strongly left brained. We are taught to focus on the facts in school, to learn the right answer, and be rational and realistic. The message passed down in school is that being playful, creative, imaginative, and artistic is not as valuable to society and that if we want to succeed in life we should focus on learning a profession. But a focus on the facts and logic separates us from our hearts and our spirit. For many people it feels like a deadening, a deep loss. It is time to resurrect the creative, to reconnect to your heart and soul. Let loose and be creative. Your poems or art does not have to be beautiful or perfect. That’s not the point. The point is about feeling within yourself and letting out whatever is inside waiting to be released.

I wrote poetry for a few years prior to my entering therapy. I then switched to art as my main form of creative expression. Here are a few of my poems from the past.

 

The last tree. (By: Jodi-Anne M Smith, c1998)

The last tree, is a tree for us all to see, but how long will it last- as long as it has in the past?
We, humans who believe that all is ours to rape and plunder. Have destroyed the Earth and its no wonder,
Because people believe that they are the best, and they don’t seem to care about all the rest.
We are human, but also animal, and we have no right to ruin life especially on a planet as beautiful as this.
Rivers no longer flow, trees no longer grow. Volcanoes continuously blow, the atmosphere unstable, forever changing as carbon dioxide takes over and oxygen disappears
Because we cut down the trees, that help us to breathe. We cut down the trees, to use as we pleased.
But now we must pay; for the mistakes we have made. Hopefully before it’s too late.
Save the last tree, help it to breathe and then maybe we’ll see, that nature is more beautiful than the goods that are made, from the beautiful trees.
 

Strange Game (By Jodi-Anne M Smith 12/9/1998)

Life can be a strange game.You play to win, to earn and to succeed.But sometimes in winning you lose the lead.
Obtaining the goal can be enthralling.But if all you have is that, then the moment is fleeting
Forever searching, powering on, to find the next run, next glow, next surge – Fake fun
Giving your all to such a quest, is dangerous and destructive, it hurts you at best
It doesn’t really matter how high you climb, If you can’t open your eyes and see, if you can’t enjoy the view and the breeze.
Society tells us that we must succeed, but sometimes I wonder if that is what we really need
 Live life, rest and breathe.
 

Going low in order to grow (By Jodi-Anne M Smith 27/9/1998)

 My life I have simplified, I have removed the sources of stress, the result has been remarkable – I am at ease and at rest.
 I came close to losing my mind, before I paid attention to the warning signs.A dangerous situation where I was afraid and upset.
The people around me who saw me so bad, have now come to realise the pain I suffer and this has made them sad
It seems they have realised that I need them so, and now they are there and are helping me to grow.
 Communication is occurring, Our love we are sharing, and together we are finding strength and happiness.It is a great feeling to know they are there and that they care.
 I am healing and blossoming, growing and coming alive. I am happy and relaxed, I’m living my own life.
 It is unfortunate that in order for this to happen, I felt like I almost died.I was so sad and depressed all I could do was cry.
I thought my life I needed to change completely. But this was not true. I just needed to take it easier and to my heart be true.
 Now that I have done that I feel better than before, I feel capable of doing anything. I can take what ever life has in store.
 But one thing I know, one thing is for sure. I won’t ever again let myself get so low.
In future the warning signs I won’t ignore – I will pay attention when they come to the fore.
 But as always does, good has come from bad, and in some ways I had to get so sad, before I could get glad.
I had to get so low in order to grow. But now that I am there, it is go, go, go.
Together with everyone, my love I show.
Bliss and happiness – together we bloom and we grow!
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Healing from child abuse Health Self help techniques Uncategorized

When you’ve hit rock bottom, here’s what to do….

Here is a short video, 11:22 mins, of Jessica Ortner (from The Tapping Solution) interviewing Sonia Ricotti (author of the book Unsinkable). It is a fabulous summary of what to do when you feel like you have hit rock bottom and you are stuck. Sonia reminds us that fighting ‘what is’ leads to negative emotions and keeps us caught in our story, our interpretation and judgement of the events. Instead she encourages us to accept ‘what is’ and ‘surrender’. When you do this you allow yourself  to feel and release any emotions around the situation. This creates more space inside you, which enables peace and clarity. From here you can start to see what actions you could take to help yourself move forward.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=c-sQqb_mrMk]

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Healing from child abuse Self help techniques Uncategorized

Creating self-forgiving thoughts exercise

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:

Distressing Situation

Distressing Feelings

Self-Attacking Thoughts

Self-Forgiving Thoughts

Example

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.

Distressing Situation

Distressing Feelings

Self-Attacking Thoughts

Self-Forgiving Thoughts

I spilled my coffee onto my computer

Frustration

Guilt

Nervousness

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.

Distressing Situation

Distressing Feelings

Self-Attacking Thoughts

Self-Forgiving Thoughts

I spilled my coffee onto my computer

Frustration

Guilt

Nervousness

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.

Distressing Situation

Distressing Feelings

Self-Attacking Thoughts

Self-Forgiving Thoughts

I spilled my coffee onto my computer

Frustration

Guilt

Nervousness

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.

Conclusion:

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)

Your turn

Distressing Situation

Distressing Feelings

Self-Attacking Thoughts

Self-Forgiving Thoughts

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Healing from child abuse Self help techniques Uncategorized

Personal bill of rights

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.

  1. I have the right to ask for what I want.
  2. I have the right to say no to requests or demands I can’t meet.
  3. I have the right to express all of my feelings, positive or negative.
  4. I have the right to change my mind.
  5. I have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
  6. I have the right to follow my own values and standards.
  7. I have the right to say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe, or it violates my values.
  8. I have the right to determine my own priorities.
  9. I have the right not to be responsible for others’ behaviour, actions, feelings, or problems.
  10. I have the right to expect honesty from others.
  11. I have the right to be angry at someone I love.
  12. I have the right to be uniquely myself.
  13. I have the right to feel scared and say “I’m afraid”.
  14. I have the right to say “I don’t know”.
  15. I have the right not to give excuses or reasons for my behaviour.
  16. I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings.
  17. I have the right to my own needs for personal space and time.
  18. I have the right to be playful and frivolous.
  19. I have the right to be healthier than those around me.
  20. I have the right to be in a non-abusive environment.
  21. I have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.
  22. I have the right to change and grow.
  23. I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others.
  24. I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
  25. I have the right to be happy.

 (From: Bourne E, 2000,The anxiety & phobia workbook, 3rd edition, New Harbinger Publications Inc. Canada)

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Healing from child abuse Self help techniques

Free manuals on healing from child abuse.

Early stages of the healing journey

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.

A free manual on healing from child abuse.

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.

Link to download manualCatherine 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

Its not my fault coverRespond 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

Can I trust my memory coverJoan 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.

The Healing Journey Demystified: Achieving Sustainability One Heart at a Time.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

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Healing from child abuse Self help techniques

Art Therapy – art as a tool for healing.

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.

(Extract from: Smith J, 2011, The healing journey demystified achieving sustainability one heart at a time, Lulu.com)