One of the most common, most devastating effects of trauma is how it affects our internal dialogue.
Trauma absolutely hijacks how we talk to ourselves.
And it can just SHRED our relationship with ourselves.
In trauma recovery, one of the first things we do is start listening to how we talk to ourselves.
(This is especially true if we’re struggling with a dissociative disorders, in which case how we talk to the various PARTS of ourselves, and how they talk to each other, is going to be a BIG part of recovery.)
For a lot of people, listening to how we talk to ourselves doesn’t come naturally.
Often we don’t even REALIZE we’re talking to ourselves— but we are. Constantly.
Sometimes our self-talk is more verbal; sometimes less. But we’re ALWAYS communicating with ourselves.
We’re always interpreting the world to ourselves.
We’re always telling ourselves narratives— stories about what things mean, who we are, what we’re all about.
Trauma has a way of seeping into those narratives— so insidiously that we very often don’t even realize it.
People who grow up being abused often tell themselves stories about how they must have “deserved” it, or even “asked” for it, somehow.
People who grow up neglected often tell themselves stories about how it must be THEIR fault that they didn’t get what they needed— they must not have been attractive enough, interesting enough, or otherwise “good” enough to be loved.
We tell ourselves these stories not because we hate ourselves— we buy into these narratives because our brain SOMEHOW has to make sense of what the hell is going on.
Traumatic experiences like abuse or neglect aren’t normal. The human organism isn’t designed to just handle them.
We ARE designed to figure out how the world works and what things mean, so we can survive and thrive in the world— so when we’re exposed to atypical occurrences like abuse or neglect, our brain does what our brain was designed to do: it creates a story out of it.
Those stories very often lead us to feel like sh*t about ourselves.
Thing is, we don’t KNOW they’re just stories. We think those stories about how supposedly “worthless’ we are and how we supposedly “deserved” what happened to us are real. After all, they FEEL “right,” don’t they?
(They actually feel more “familiar” than anything— but our brains aren’t great at parsing those issues out, especially when we’re young.)
These are just a few examples of how trauma messes with what we say to ourselves and damaged our relationship with ourselves— often without us even realizing it at the time.
If we want to realistically recovery from trauma, we have to pay lots of attention to that internal dialogue and that relationship with ourselves.
We can’t just let it go on autopilot.
Remember, autopilot in this case is the conditioning that our trauma left us with. Those old stories that sound “right” because they are familiar.
There IS no meaningful trauma recovery without repairing and reimagining our relationship with ourselves.
And there IS no repairing or reimagining our relationship with ourselves IF we don’t pay attention to how we talk to ourselves.
It’s real important we not call ourselves names.
It’s real important we err on the side of having our own back.
It’s real important we get, and consistently STAY, on our own side.
Yes, it’s a hassle. A lot of recovery IS a hassle.
It’s also worth it, because YOU’RE worth it.
No matter what kind of story your brain is telling you right now.