As survivors of abuse, it can be hard to believe the phrase Faith over Fear.
Probably even harder to practice,
Connection over Rejection
Trauma in childhood teaches us how to reject ourselves and we do it more often than we think.
For example, words are not something we’re born with. The only means of getting our needs met was to cry. But, for some, a cry wasn’t met with a response or even worse, was met with harm. Emotional, physical, or both. So soon, we stop because of mere exhaustion, hopelessness, or fear of the repercussions.
When you’re old enough to use words, the same pattern continued. One rejection after another.
And so, a fear of rejection begins. Of course, you learn how to get by. Get through school, work, social events. You learn to keep things on the surface or at a safe distance. If someone comes too close, you hold your breath, look away, hold back from what you’re really feeling. You find yourself quick to judge, blame, or use anger to reject them away before they can rejection.
This does not make you a bad person.
This is how you’ve learned to protect yourself from harm and survived abuse as a child and perhaps as an adult as well.
Sometimes, you do the opposite. When someone expresses interest in you, something you’ve craved for all your life, the natural reaction is to hold on to that as tightly as you can. But later you realize it’s not reciprocated. You face betrayal, or worse, physical harm. Leading to further lack of trust and a thicker wall of protection. It’s safer and easier to choose rejection or disconnection over connection. Even a disconnect from yourself.
What you may not realize is that in order to find a genuine, wholehearted, healthy connection you so long for is to begin reconnecting to that younger part of yourself.
Some survivors of abuse find it easy to look at that younger self and feel empathy. Many have a really hard time. Maybe you see her as weak and frail, or because it brings back the negative memories and emotions. Either way, the pattern of rejection continues. Only now, instead of it coming from others, it’s coming from yourself. Unintentionally of course, but still rejection.
I get it. It’s hard. I don’t blame you at all for not wanting to go there. It feels awful, negative, and often comes with shame. It’s normal to want to turn and look the other way. But,
To complete the journey of survival of abuse in the present is to help this part of you heal too. To begin connecting to yourself instead of rejecting.
Allow this part to express what she couldn’t before, let her feel, and be consoled too. Only you can provide connection and healing for you.
You don’t have to do it alone but here are few steps you can do on your own to get started:
1). Begin to take note when you avoid. This can look as subtle as looking away or down to avoid eye contact, pick up your phone to distract, hold your breath instead of saying what you feel, crack a joke to distract or shift attention away, not engage with others, judge or blame others. The list goes on.
2). When you catch it, ask yourself “What am I believing at this moment?”
3.) Then ask yourself is this is absolutely true or just feels true?
4.). Name the emotions AND physical sensations that you’re feeling at this moment and just Accept it as it is. Don’t immediately try to distract, relax, or change it in any way. This is you and see if you can attend to you for however long you can tolerate it.
5.) Give yourself what you need. Believe me when I say, your internal self will let you know. Begin building trust by trusting what your body is telling you.Do you need to just sit and attend a little longer or do you need some encouraging words? This is also a good time to place your hand over your heart to console You.
Re-orienting and feeling your body is the very first step to connecting with yourself.
This exercise is a technique by Tara Brach, PhD called RAIN. You can listen to her talk and practice this technique by going to www.tarabrach.com
If you feel your triggers and reactions do not allow you to pause enough to follow these steps,
then it may be good to work with a therapist that can teach some additional steps and provide interventions to help you benefit from this practice. To all survivors of abuse, if you’re wanting to connect with yourself and others in a safe, trusting, healthy, and fulfilling way, please contact me for a free consultation.