There’s a quote by Henry Ford that reads: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right”.
That quote pertains to virtually any aspect of life, which includes trauma recovery.
Healing from abuse is one of the hardest things imaginable; our mind and body were traumatized without us having any say in the matter. So, we were literally at a disadvantage before we ever got started.
That’s quite a daunting reality to face, but it’s not the end all be all.
Just because we were taught one thing, or in the case of abuse survivors; groomed and brainwashed, doesn’t mean we are destined to spend our future living how our abusers would like us to. The human mind has an incredible ability to learn, and re-learn based on what we give attention to, or focus on.
Because it’s so easy to fall into that rut of being stuck, with seemingly no way out, it’s very easy to reinforce that way of thinking without even realizing it. Thinking negatively, telling ourselves we can’t do something, we aren’t worthy, we are broken; can become the theme of our lives.
Reinforcing the negative thoughts becomes such a habit that we just automatically default to “I can’t do this, it’s too hard”. “There’s no way I could ever do what he or she does, I’m just not that smart”.
I know I said similar things to myself all throughout my life.
- “Matt, you could never be an entrepreneur, you don’t have the intelligence and dedication it takes”
- “Matt, there’s no way you could handle joining the Navy, you aren’t that brave and strong.”
- “Don’t kid yourself Matt, you shouldn’t even try to apply for that job, you’ll never get it”
- “Your life will never be like that guys’ life, he’s got it all together and you can’t even look at yourself in the mirror.”
Hey, I can I admit that I still have some self-esteem problems, a lack of confidence at times, about who I am and what I’m capable of. It’s a product of how I was raised, and the abuse I suffered, reinforced over decades of thinking I couldn’t amount to anything.
So…if we can talk ourselves out of so many potentially good opportunities that are presented to us, then it’s stands to reason that we can retrain our minds to do just the opposite. If you can talk yourself out of it, then you can talk yourself into it.
There is hope, there is always HOPE. Unfortunately, it’s not easy or quick; it takes a concerted effort, hard work, and a lot of time to confront and conquer those demons in our head.
How bad do you want it? How bad do you want to kick your abuser out of your mind? How much do you want to be able look in the mirror and be proud of what you see? To get out of the negative mindset that you’ve fostered for so long?
Those are questions I have been asked by therapists and coaches; it’s all about us and how bad do we want to heal.
It’s easy to stay stuck, and certainly nobody can blame us for what we went through. It was horrific in every way. But it doesn’t have too any more.
Take every opportunity to cultivate a mindset of healing. Here are some ideas that I use regularly.
1.) Be mindful of your feelings. When you catch yourself being negative, stop and realize what you are doing. Turn that thought into something that isn’t self-defeating.
2.) Read books and listen to music that promotes positivity, healing, and encouragement.
3.) Post notes around the house with short inspirational, positive quotes. Put them in places you are likely to see them multiple times a day. Make them unique and personal to you.
4.) Surround yourself with people who build you up, not tear you down. If you want to have a more positive outlook in life, you can’t hang around with people who constantly complain about how bad everything is. Do what’s best for you, make the tough call to change relationships if need be.
5.) Participate and be fully present in everything you do. You’ll be surprised how good you feel afterwards. Then pat yourself on the back and be proud of what you did!
6.) Seek professional help and be open to the process of healing. If you reach out to a therapist but yet you don’t fully participate or believe you can heal, then you never will. You’ll just be wasting time and money. Healing from abuse is all about the effort we put into it. Trust the process and believe that you can heal too.
7.) Cheer on others and yourself. Celebrate with others in their healing journey. You’ll feel good inside and you’ll make them feel good. It’s a win-win.
The possibilities are endless, because it doesn’t have to be about some epic undertaking all the time. Take advantage of the smaller opportunities to build your confidence little by little. Baby steps.
Remember, you may have been traumatized in an instant, but you can’t be fixed in an instant. So, believe that you can heal, and in time…you just might find yourself looking back and saying, Damn I’ve come a long way!
Previously Published at Surviving My Past
Photo: Getty Images