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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)