Category Archives: overcoming painful memories

Self-Acceptance Can Heal Trauma

What is Self-Acceptance?

Self-acceptance is steady and unconditional. When you accept yourself despite your weaknesses and faults, you are more forgiving and you avoid self-judging. You do not fall into the bad habit of comparing yourself to others and you learn to appreciate your individuality!

Accepting yourself helps make you feel confident; it makes you feel that you are enough – that you are beautiful in your own way. Self-acceptance can do wonders improving your self-confidence; it can make you stop worrying about what other people think about you. You become more natural and happy with yourself! Once you have accepted yourself, you become more relaxed and allow the ‘real you’ to be seen by other people.

Accepting yourself allows you to live freely, with no shame or fear. Self-acceptance helps you build stronger and more intimate relationship with others.

What Determines Self-Acceptance?

As a child, you may have accepted yourself on the terms that your parents have accepted you. According to research, children are unable to have a clear idea of self before they reach the age of eight. So if your parents were unable to tell you that you are totally acceptable, you may develop feelings of doubt toward yourself.

The positive regard of your parents may be based on how you behaved as a child. Unfortunately, you may have acted in ways that were not acceptable to their standards. Once you identify yourself with your misbehaviors, you begin to develop a feeling of inadequacy and uncertainness.

Adverse parental evaluation has the tendency to go far beyond disapproving misbehaviors; you may develop the mind-set that you are not attractive enough, smart enough or good enough because of your parents’ evaluation. Mental health professionals may regard this as emotional abuse because it can lead you to believe that you may only be accepted under certain conditions.

Self-criticism is almost always at the heart of the problems that you ‘create’ as an adult. If your parents dealt with you in a hurtful manner, it is very possible that you will parent your children in the same manner. If you were always ignored, berated and blamed, you will find ways as an adult to deal with all your unresolved pain.

Many, if not all, people enter into adulthood carrying heavy emotional baggage from their past; they are afflicted with a certain negative bias that greatly influence their opinion about themselves. They tend to blame themselves and view themselves as defective; they suffer from self-doubt and this greatly affects their ability for self-acceptance.

Unconditional Self-Acceptance

‘Happiness and self-acceptance go hand in hand, your level of self-acceptance determines your level of happiness.’ – Robert Holden

Accepting yourself unconditionally would have come easier if your parents ‘validated’ you positively; growing up in a supportive environment can do a lot to improve your self-esteem and self-love. But if that wasn’t the case for you, you have to learn on your own to ‘certify’ yourself. However, keep in mind that self-acceptance is very different from being complacent – you always have to improve yourself without judgment. This can help you find peace in your heart and mind; you will find fulfillment and complete, unqualified acceptance.

To fully accept yourself, you have to be more self-compassionate. If you are more forgiving and understanding of yourself, it also becomes easier to let go of your hurtful past. You have to realize that you are continuously proving your worth to others to accept that you need to develop a more loving stance toward yourself. Forget about the ‘conditional-love-scars’ from your past and recognize your strength and uniqueness.

Break the Silence for the Victims of Child Abuse

victims of child abuse

‘Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today.’ – Thomas Jefferson 

Many victims of child abuse keep their suffering a secret because they feel ashamed and afraid… most of them continue to suffer long after they have survived their abusive experience. They have terrifying nightmares that make them wake up shaking and disoriented in the middle of the night. They live in constant fear that their past may become reality again.

Victims of child abuse may continue to live that way if no one will help them ‘break the silence’! Erin Merryn is just one of the many survivors of child sexual abuse; she is responsible for the legislation of Erin’s law – this requires public schools to educate students about sexual abuse prevention. Erin’s goal is to encourage other victims of child abuse to speak up….to break their silence!

The force behind Erin’s law has helped others to come out and speak up about their abusive experiences… here are some of the stories of people who are just like Erin Merryn.

The Story of Ter-rae Lee

Ter-rae Lee is a survivor of child sexual abuse; she had been abused by her own father from ages 11 to 13. An article that she read from Seventeen Magazine encouraged her to speak up about her experience and tell her mother. Through the help of RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), she began her recovery and was able to gain a confession from her father. Today, her father is serving time in prison – which makes Ter-rae feel safe after a long, long time. Ter-rae wants to encourage other victims of child abuse to break their silence and obtain justice for their abusive experience; ‘When you tell your story, you will feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. There’s always light after the dark, and one day you might be able to help someone by talking about what happened.’

The Story of David Moody

David Moody is one of the victims of child abuse; it took him a while before he spoke up about his abusive experience. He struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety before he decided to tell his wife about the male babysitter who molested him when he was 9 to 10 years old. After getting the counseling that he needed, David is now comfortable talking about his experience. ‘I was like a pressure cooker that had a valve released. I didn’t know how tight I had been wound up until I said the words out loud’. Today, David wants to help others learn about child sexual abuse and encourage survivors to share their experience. ‘It is an emotional freedom, to finally know that it was not my fault; that I am strong and that I deserve to be happy. It is a clearness like nothing I have ever experienced until now’.

The Story of Kathleen Frank

Kathleen Frank was abused by her father at the age of 10 years old. At least that is the age she woke up to it; Kathleen’s father abused her while she was sleeping.  But later in her years Kathleen started getting flash backs of times when her father was ‘too close’ and certain touches were uncomfortable for her. Shortly after Kathleen was realized she was being abused, she became this target of others who also abused her, such as her great grandfather, cousins and her brother. Kathleen told her mother, but her mother refused to believe her.  Perhaps her mother did believe Kathleen but was in denial, in any case Kathleen did not get the protection she needed and felt she had to find ways to protect herself. This is when Kathleen became assertive in her attitude, angry with her abusers, and eventually developed the mind set that the only way someone will love her is to give them what they want. This attitude caused Kathleen to turn toward young men of at least 8 to 20 years older than her for attention and love in the wrong way. Kathleen had a warped perspective on what love was, and it wasn’t until she was in her later 30’s when she realized how much she needed help. Kathleen sought help, she sought God, it was her way to get a right perspective on love and to know the unconditional love of Christ. Kathleen’s started journaling her feelings and her revelations of the healing process. After 10 years of writing her thoughts, her fears, her healing, Kathleen published her journals in her recent book, ‘I’m Fat and Nobody Cares’. Kathleen’s book tells the world her story in detail in hopes to help others who have had similar experiences. Kathleen was able to receive complete healing of her abuse through her writings and her book has helped thousands of abused women and girls receive healing too.

 

Be the Voice of Victims of Child Abuse

According to surveys, about one in ten children suffer from child sexual abuse before they turn 18. In order to help put a stop to this social problem, you must ‘be the voice’ of victims of child abuse. You can do this by helping promote education, awareness and advance the conversation about this issue. Get in touch with abuse prevention organizations in your area, especially if you know someone who is suffering from child sexual abuse.

By simply speaking up, you can help save the life of a child abuse victim; offer useful information about where people can turn to for help if needed. Help empower people and organizations to prevent child sexual abuse all over the world; help create a safe environment for children where abuse does not exist. If you make it one of your priorities to help, nothing is impossible!

Overcome Shame After A Traumatic Experience

overcome shame

Learning how to love oneself is quite difficult for abused victims and traumatic survivors, especially in the early stages of healing. Abuse often produces shame because victims tend to blame themselves for what happened; they begin to believe that they are broken, unworthy, stupid and ugly. This blog post will talk about how abuse victims may overcome shame and self-blame after a traumatic experience.

Victims of abuse usually develop the sense of ‘being bad’ – they may try to hurt other people, commit suicide and/or develop bad habits such as substance abuse and alcoholism. Many trauma survivors have expressed that they feel mentally and spiritually violated and therefore feels ashamed; they lose their self-confidence and eventually fail to function socially.

One of the core effects of trauma is to the person’s developing sense of self, especially if the abuse took place at a young age. People who suffered from childhood abuse in the hands of primary caretakers or trusted figures, often neglect to grow as an adult because they continue to blame themselves for what happened. They fail to overcome shame and self-blame because of several factors and the following are some common examples:

  • Naturally, abuse causes feeling of humiliation, dehumanization and fear. It is a natural reaction for a survivor of such experiences to feel ashamed.
  • Survivors may develop the illusion of control – they believe that they are to blame for the abuse; that they are in control of the situation. They are unable to accept that they are powerless in the face of their adult abusers.
  • Many victims of childhood abuse are told directly and repeatedly that what happened to them is their fault; this gets internalized over and over in their minds as adults which deeply affect their self-esteem and self-worth.
  • Victims who were abused by their family members tend to protect their abusers, which makes them resort to self-blame and an unhealthy co-dependency.

These are just some of the reasons why abused victims fail to overcome shame and self-blame; they continue to carry a long-term legacy of embarrassment and self-loathing.

Self-Compassion May Help Overcome Shame from Abuse

‘Shame is the lie someone told you about yourself.’ – Anais Nin

Every victim of abuse and neglect knows about the feeling of shame; survivors of childhood abuse blame themselves for the physical, verbal and emotional abuse that they’ve undergone. Victims of sexual abuse tend to suffer the most shame – they believe that they have ‘enticed’ their abusers by the way they dress and behave and they may also feel guilty for feeling some physical pleasure during the assault.

Abuse creates change in the victim’s way of being; they become a different person not just because they experienced tremendous trauma but also because they feel that they have lost their innocence and dignity. Their feeling of shame continues as they fail to seek the proper treatment for what they’ve been through. Many survivors of abuse do things to hurt themselves while others resort to abusing alcohol and/or drugs, breaking the law and having multiple sexual partners.

Shame can affect literally all aspects of a person’s well being. It can affect their self-confidence, work performance, way of thinking, body image, socialization and many more.  Shame can also be the cause of many life problems and it almost always manifests into other feelings. Self-compassion may help overcome shame and self-blame caused by traumatic experiences. Having the right support and getting the proper treatment may help the healing process of anyone who is abused; kindness, support, encouragement and compassion from family and friends have a huge impact on the victim’s recovery.

Self-compassion is essential to overcome shame and self-blame; learn to extend compassion to yourself especially in times of general suffering and inadequacy. Self-compassion may have a positive effect on overcoming depression, anxiety and any feelings of stress. It may also facilitate resilience and control your reactions when caught in negative situations, especially situations that may remind you of your abusive experience.

How to Overcome Painful Memories

painful memoriesWe all have painful memories that make us want to hide from our past forever. Unfortunately, life is a bittersweet combination of joy and suffering – most of the time, suffering outweighs the joy. Our unpleasant experiences can leave intrusive emotions in their wake. However, we should face these painful memories head on or they will consume our entire being. It may take some time for us to do this; but with determination and the healing power of letting go, we will cope with our past and move on to greater joys that life has to offer.

 

Face the Problem and Let Go

Suppression is never a solution. It only delays the problem until it gets too much for us to handle. Talking to someone that we trust can help us accept the painful memories that we have. If we think that we are not ready to talk about it, we can write our feelings down on a journal – writing is very therapeutic. We just have to find a way to let our feelings out.

After sharing our experience, we can now let go. Letting go of our experiences, may it be good or bad, means accepting that it was not our fault. Every experience is meant to teach us a lesson. Instead of looking at things negatively, we should see it as an opportunity to learn something new. We needed this experience in order to advance to where we really need to be in life.

 

Allow Peace to Enter Our Being

We should try to create a mantra that relates to our experience and the lesson that we have learned from it to allow peace to enter our being. A painful memory of abuse may have a mantra like this one: From the experience of being abused, I am learning to be a stronger and braver individual who will never allow anyone to abuse me again.

Remembering our mantra can help us find peace and calmness in our life. We should never let negativity live inside us because it will only hinder us from letting go. Acceptance will help us live in peace.

 

Forgive

We should learn to forgive the people who have wronged us. This is a big part of letting go and moving on. If we hold on to grudge and let anger fill our hearts, we will never find our inner peace. Our painful memories will just continue to haunt us and gravely affect the person that we are today.