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Healing from child abuse Parenting Personal Development

How to free yourself from fear?

Fear takes hold of us when we are put into a state of phsyical danger. It is a natural mechanism designed to help us. It is the fight or flight or freeze response associated with the amygdala in the brain.

When a wild animal or cave man is attacking you, it is a good response. Blood flows away from your organs, digestion, immune system and brain and goes to your muscles, so that you have the best chance of winning the fight or out running your attacker. In this response you are helped to survive.

However, for many people their body’s are locked in fight or flight mode all the time. This is not helpful or healthy. It makes the body stressed and unable to do all that it needs to do with ease and grace.

We need to help calm and soothe our bodies back to a state of peace and relaxation. We need to let go of the tension that accumulates so readily in modern life. Rushing around all the time, trying to meet deadlines, putting ourselves under unnecessary pressure to achieve, to succeed in our jobs, our homes, our families, to have the best of everything.

Modern society measures success based on wealth and posessions. This is not an accurate description of success, for it ignores the lack of joy, close relationships, poor health, fatigue and exhaustion that comes from always being on the go.

Health-Happiness-Peace

A truer measure of success is peace and happiness. Is a person happy with their life, are they operating from their passion, fulfiling their creativity and purpose in life, are they loved, loving and kind with many close friends and healthy relationships with family, work colleagues and those they meet on the street. Do they have time to spend with their kids, who know that they are loved, important, valued and heard. Or are they waving goodbye to the kids in front of the TV as they go off to work.

Which version of life do you relate to most? If the first then it is not surprising that your body may be locked in a fearful state. There is no deep relaxation when someone is constantly on the go, rushing around. The body doesn’t get a chance to relax and recharge. Sleep may be broken and less of it than is needed for good health.

During sleep the body realigns with its natural state. With the mind switched off it can finally connect with Source and let all the residue of the day be cleared out. Some of it appears as dreams. Some of it just releases. But deep sleep is needed for this restorative process to occur.

If a person is locked in to chronic fear, they may struggle to sleep soundly, which then exacerbates the situation, as the body does not get the time to heal itself that it needs. Sleep really is very important. It is worth going to bed an hour earlier so you can sleep more. It is certainly more important than watching TV.

Most of people’s fears today are not about life and death situations. It is usually about stressful situations faced due to pushing themselves too hard in modern living – traffic, job pressures, rushing around, not having time to do everything that is needed. These are the superficial fears, the feeling like the ‘wheels will fall off’ if you actually stopped to rest. These are easily rectified by actually choosing to do less. By realising that you are living at a pace that the human body has not been designed for. So, choose to do less. Cut out unnecessary tasks and do only that which bring you joy and are truly required for you to live a happy and healthy life.

The deeper seated fears are those that come from childhood conditioning – ‘Am I good enough?’, ‘Am I lovable?’, ‘Am I acceptable as a human being?’. These are core fears, doubts about your being, your essence, that have resulted from not receiving enough of your parent’s attention, love and kindness when you were little.

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With modern lifestyles this is only getting worse, as more and more families have 2 working parents and the children spend more time in front of the TV and in childcare than they do talking or having fun with Mum and Dad.

Children’s developing brains do not have the capacity to understand that Mum and Dad are working so hard because they think they need to have the big, fancy house and cars and holiday homes, etc. The children simply see that Mum and Dad do not want to spend time with them and they assume it is because of a lack inside themselves.‘If I was more lovable, a better person, if I was more ….. then Mum and Dad would spend more time with me. They don’t value doing so, don’t make time for it, so I must not be valuable or lovable’.

This sets the scene for a fearful life with low self esteem. The child grows looking outside themselves for validation, constantly looking for evidence that their fears are real. ‘See the way that person looked at me, it confirms my fear that the world is a cruel place or danagerous place. See how that person pushed past me, etc’. These people may not have even noticed the first person and their actions aren’t deliberate or targeted, but because of the fearful thinking the person takes it to heart and draws false conclusions about the world and their safety in it.

In time with enough fearful thinking, it becomes habituated and the body goes about reacting as if it is always in danger. The day is lived on high alert, which is not healthy for the person concerned. As it takes hold the body gets overloaded and the result can be panic attacks and high anxiety levels. The body is so full of adrenalin and other fear related chemicals, that it becomes toxic and normal thinking abilities cease. The blood is flowing away from the conscious mind, locked into the primitive or hind brain in fight or flight mode. This is traumatising and exhausting.

Underneath all of this fear is faulty thinking, false assumptions about self and your ability to cope with life. Negative self messages may have been programmed into your subconscious mind when you were little, leaving you feeling weak and helpless.

From 0-7 the developing brain of a child simply absorbs what it hears, like a tape recording. What a child hears is what they believe about themselves and their abilities. It becomes the self-talk they say to themselves later on. It becomes the programming in their subconsicous mind. If a child is told it is weak, clumsy, useless, unwanted, a burden, not good enough, etc, then these become the core beliefs that the person will live with throughout their life, unless they learn how to change them.

If a child is told it is hopeless or can’t achieve, then they will struggle to be successful throughout their life. There will be this internal self sabotage due to their programming, which won’t let them be successful. Those negative self beliefs will kick in and stop them achieving their goals. Worse, it will create high levels of stress and anxiety whenever they try to achieve anything, as the tape recording in their subconscious mind will be constantly playing – telling them they are going to fail or are in danger of making a fool of themself if they try, etc.

Some people are aware of this negative self talk, for others it occurs quietly below the surface and they don’t even hear it. But it is occurring regularly throughout the day, adding to the fear and anxiety.

Over coming the fear and anxiety requires turning up the volume of the self talk so you are aware of it, then choosing to change it. Every time you hear a negative self belief, stop it, and say a more positive statement to yourself. Instead of ‘You always do that, you always stuff up’, say ‘In the past i’ve struggled, that’s true, but now i’m choosing to be kinder to myself. I can do this. I just have to practice and build my skills’. Become your own best friend and encourager of yourself.

The subconscious beliefs can be reprogrammed, changed to be positive, supportive beliefs that help you achieve your goals. There are many ways to do this including Psych-K, Lifeline Technique, Hypnosis [and] use of affirmations for long enough and often enough that the statement becomes habitual thought.

While affirmations take a long time to become habituated, the other techniques are much quicker. With Psych-K it only takes a few minutes to replace negative beliefs with more positive ones. However, lots of belief balances are needed as most people have a lifetime of negative self beliefs to reprogram. As you do, the tension in your body can release as the fearful programming is let go of. If you know you are safe, loved, wanted and cared for there is less reason for being on high alert. The body can start to relax as the danger has passed.

This deep level of core belief change is needed for this deep relaxation to occur. That is why just thinking more positively is not enough. Our conscious mind represents only 5% of our brain’s processing capacity. 90-95% of it occurs in the subconscious mind, which makes your body function without you having to think about it. The subconscious mind makes our hearts beat, our lungs breathe, our digestion work, etc. It does all of this without our having to think about it and it is so powerful it over rides our conscious thoughts. We cannot make ourselves stop breathing or not be hungry, our body forces us to breathe and to know that we need to eat. So, just using positive thinking is not enough to over come these deeper bodily reactions and programming. Changing core self beliefs is needed to help the body relax and let go of fear.

Diet and exercise also assist the body to be healthier, as does extra sleep, vitamins and minerals. There are many things that can be done to help the body let go of fear – massage can help a body in heightened fight or flight mode to relax a little and slow down.

For those that have been abused or suffered trauma, body work is very important as the person needs to learn that it can be safe to be touched. This is crucial for their body to relax and soften and allow them to feel safe again. It will take time for this relaxation to occur. Someone who has been traumatised and hasn’t released the underlying emotion may automatically flinch when touched. They automatically pull away for fear of further abuse or trauma. This is very sad, and this patterning will continue unless action is taken to heal it.

The nervous system of someone locked in fight or flight mode is constantly activated. Processes like Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) can help the body to calm by activating the body’s natural release mechanism. The body will shake out the tension and stress, if allowed to, so that it can return to a state of ease and grace.

When a person’s nervous system calms it is easier for them to relate to and connect with others, as their body is open and more receptive. It no longer fears or assumes danger from interacting with others.

TRE and other trauma release processes that focus on healing the autonomic nervous system are an important aspect of healing from fear, so you can have greater peace and relaxation.

Underneath the fear and anxiety is buried emotions from the initial events that led to the conditioning. It may be sadness or anger or shame and embarassment. Whatever it is, these emotions need to be felt and released so the body can go back to its natural state of peace and relaxation.

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Know it is possible to overcome exagerated fear responses. It is possible to heal these automatic reactions. It just takes time and effort to calm and soothe your body, to reprogram your subconscious beliefs and use more self supportive thinking and self talk patterns. Time in nature can also soothe us as can body work, diet and exercise. There is much that can be done. Enjoy. Blessed BE. Amen.

By Jodi-Anne (18 November 2015).

Further free guidance on healing techniques and self love are available on the Life Insights and Healing from child abuse pages of this website.
Categories
Family Constellations Healing from child abuse Health Parenting Personal Development

Epigenetics – explaining how we can inherit trauma and tendencies for anxiety and depression from earlier generations in our family.

Here is a great article explaining how our ancestor’s negative experiences affect their DNA expression, which can be inherited by future generations. For instance, if Grandma was raised in an abusive, alcoholic home or suffered some other trauma, some of that trauma and reactions to it can be passed onto future generations, predisposing them to becoming anxious or depressed.

epigenetics article

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Personal Development Self help techniques Uncategorized

Decision making

Sometimes it can be challenging to make a decision. Here are some helpful concepts from Susan Jeffer’s fabulous book ‘Feal the Fear and do it anyway’. Below is a table you can use to help you think through the implications of each action you are considering.

If I choose this course of action
The self
Gains for self Acceptable to me because: Not acceptable to me because:
Losses for self Acceptable to me because: Not acceptable to me because:
Significant others
Gains for significant others Acceptable to me because: Not acceptable to me because:
Losses for significant others Acceptable to me because: Not acceptable to me because:
Life balance
Gains for life balance Acceptable to me because: Not acceptable to me because:
Losses for life balance Acceptable to me because: Not acceptable to me because:

I find the below diagrams and summaries useful in reminding me that there is no wrong action to take. If we don’t like the results we get we can just change course. It is also helpful to realise that not taking action is a decision too! One that we often make over and over while we worry and procrastinate.

no win decisionno lose decision

Categories
Healing from child abuse Self help techniques Uncategorized

Letting go of control and worry

A lot of us spend a huge amount of time and energy trying to control what happens in our life. We may attempt to control what our partner and children do, what happens at work, how we look at all times, how our friends and family behave, and what other people think of us. Ultimately all of this is wasted time and energy because we can’t control these things. Worrying about them certainly doesn’t help, it just drains us.

All we can control and change is our self – our thoughts, beliefs, behaviours – how we react to people and situations. Once we realise this we can use our time and energy more wisely, focusing on improving our self and doing what we want with our life. This is a big key to freedom and happiness. It’s like the serenity prayer:

God help me to recognise the things I can control and the things I can’t

Things I can change / control Things I can’t change / control
What I think about myself What other people think of me
My beliefs, opinions & expectations. How I react to & judge other people My feelings
Speak honestly about my feelings & what I want. What I do to & for other people Other people’s feelings
What I swallow today. What I do for exercise today My weight today
Make amends for past actions. What I will do now & in the future What I did in the past
The pain I feel from the past. What I say to people What others did in the past
My level of independence. My ability to cope with what others do.How I behave. What other people do now & in future
The people I spend my time with Who my family members are
What I do to earn money Time wasted in a job I don’t like
My activity & stress levels now & in the future. My diet Being sick today
The present & what I do that may assist in a positive future The future
Accept myself & take action to accomplish what I want What other people accomplish
My level of gratitude for what I do have. How much I enjoy my life as it is. What other people have or do that I can’t do
My attitude towards aging. Staying young at heart, fit & healthy Getting older
Make the most of every day. My beliefs about what death means Dying

More detailed explanations of some of the above:

  • Your feelings – When a feeling has been triggered such as anger or grief, you have that feeling – you can’t wish or ignore it away. It’s there. You need to work through those feelings, allow yourself to feel them and release them in a healthy way. Once the feeling has passed you can then train yourself not to react that same way in the future, you can change your beliefs and thinking so that you don’t get angry or hurt by what someone else does or says.
  • Your partner’s behaviour – When your partner does something that you don’t like, you can try to ignore it and say nothing. You can waste energy wishing they wouldn’t do whatever it was that upset you. You can waste energy trying to control them by telling them off and telling them what you think they should do. Or you can try to manipulate them so that they feel guilty or ashamed to behave the way they did. Ultimately all of these techniques will not work and will only cause larger problems. You can’t control anyone else’s behaviour, so you’re wasting your time. You’re better of to stop, look and listen to yourself. What has upset or annoyed you? Why? What do you assume your partner’s behaviour means? What has it triggered in you from the past? Is your judgment about the way it should be done reasonable? Learn from it. Then honestly discuss your feelings and your response to what they did with them. That way you can both learn about each other and resolve the issue.
  •  Expectations – Let go of conditional thinking – if I do ……….. then ………….. will happen. Life is not that simple and having expectations just sets yourself up for disappointment. Let it go and flow with life.

Prepared by: Dr. Jodi-Anne M Smith, 2006, Letting go of control and worry, adapted from: Hendricks G & Johncock P, 2005, The book of life – the master key to inner peace and relationship harmony, The Transformational Book Circle, Ojal, California.