We don’t change how we feel and function by talking to ourselves the same way our abusers and bullies talked to us.
We’re always talking to ourselves, inside our head.
Sometimes we hear it in complete sentences; sometimes we don’t.
But we’re always in a dialogue with ourselves about who we are and what things mean.
And who we think we are and what we think things mean largely determine how we feel and what we do.
If we grew up being treated like we don’t matter, chances are good we internalized the belief that we don’t matter.
If we grew up being TOLD we matter, but being TREATED like we don’t matter, we might have internalized the belief that, even though we supposedly “should” matter…we don’t.
If we grew up being the lightning rod in the house for a parent’s unpredictable anger, we might have internalized the belief that anger is dangerous— and angry people are not to be trusted. Which is a belief that probably comes back around whenever WE have the very normal human experience of getting angry.
Lots of times we’re not even aware of how we’re taking to ourselves.
We just view and experience the world the way we view and experience it— not realizing that we create much of our experience of the world by how we talk to ourselves and what we believe.
Our self-talk and our beliefs become the filter, the prism, through which we experience and interpret the world.
They are our filter for what we perceive to be our options— and what we can’t imagine would EVER be options for us.
That’s NOT to say that any pain we experience, we inflict upon ourselves. We are hurt by PLENTY of things outside of our control.
It IS to say that how we respond to what the world throws at is is largely shaped by how we talk to ourselves and what we believe, especially about the world, other people, and the future.
Trauma tends to mangle what we believe about ourselves.
Trauma also tends to heavily influence how we talk to ourselves.
People who are smart and strong get convinced that they are stupid and weak— all because they’ve been conditioned to talk to themselves like their bullies and abusers talked to them once upon a time.
Survivors become convinced that they have no right to even THINK about themselves, their needs, their perceptions, their discomforts or wants o fears, because they’ve been indoctrinated in the belief that to do so is “selfish.’
So much of what we do in trauma recovery is just talk back to how we’ve learned to talk to ourselves.
So much of recovery is chipping away at distorted beliefs about ourselves that were created when we were abused or neglected over the course of years.
It isn’t fair. Nobody reading this should HAVE to do this work.
Everybody reading this SHOULD have grown up in an environment and in relationships that were safe and stable.
No one should HAVE to un-learn destructive ways of talking to themselves. No one should HAVE to recondition untrue beliefs about themselves.
But that’s what trauma does.
It’s not our fault— but recovery is our responsibility.
And we can only recover at the pace we can manage.
Do not put pressure on yourself and do not compare yourself to anyone else. This isn’t a race or a contest. Recovering “faster” doesn’t make you a better person.
What we’re doing in trauma recovery is correcting for the damage that was done to you that SHOULDN’T have been done.
And the only minute you have to manage in your recovery is THIS minute. THIS one, right here.
One step, one day, one minute at a time.