Right or Wrong?

My post about ‘Discounting the Past’ has generated  comments that got me thinking about the nature of human existence.  Let’s start with the biological fact that none of us is capable of experiencing a reality ‘out there’ that is shaped and made meaning of independently from what is already ‘in here’. “In Here” meaning our mental filters that consist of personal history, beliefs, values, gender, education, energy, and many more in addition to mental processes of deletion, distortion, and generalisation which our brain does automatically.

This means what’s real to me will be different to what’s real to you because you have different ‘stuff’ in your head. Hence the notion of different realities people operate from!

That means whatever we observe in the world around us can never be separated from the person that does the observing. There is no such thing as objectivity. Taking the example of doing research: the simple process of researching is already changing the subject that is investigated. Foucault did a great experiment that highlighted how people change their behaviours when they know they are observed. There is no such thing as objective research because choice of subjects, research design, way of questioning, way of interpreting the data etc. will already influence the outcome. That’s why there is no such thing as ‘research has proven’ because for every finding made there will be an equal amount of research that proves the opposite.

Does that mean that PTSD research is wrong? It may be, it may be not. It’s like the Dodo verdict from Alice in Wonderland: Everybody wins, everybody deserves a price! It all depends on where you stand. There is no right or wrong. Who am I to say that my reality is better or ‘righter’ than yours? I am simply sharing my truth – at this moment in time. The reader does not have to agree with me. If my posts have stirred up things, that’s good, I suppose. It gives people the opportunity to reflect on what this ‘being stirred up’ is all about.

Thinking about recovery from childhood sexual abuse within the framework of the 3 Principles of Mind, Thought, and Consciousness, whereby the focus is on the innate, unbreakable health present in each person that can be accessed once we become conscious of our negative thinking about ourselves and our lives and let go of that mode of thinking, makes a lot of common sense to me. It holds a lot of hope and the promise of regaining control of one’s life. Please, don’t take these 4 lines as a ‘treatment approach’, rather look at what my words are pointing at.

Is processing trauma for years better or worse than ‘leaving it alone’? Who’s to know. The proof really is in the pudding, as they say. If it works for the individual to go deeply into revisiting the past, if it makes life easier, if it makes people’s life more joyful, then there is your answer. If life remains difficult with numerous hospital admissions, suicidal thoughts, low self-worth, frequent anxiety attacks, long depressive episodes, isolation, and little joy it might be worthwhile to try on the ‘leaving it alone’ approach. See what happens when you take a holiday from your problems! The good news is that every survivor can find out for him or herself. There are several links in the sidebar of my website of sites that offer resources about the application of the 3 Principle understanding. Have a look around! If you like what you see and would like to explore this concept for your recovery, you can also contact me. 

Messages From The Past

Messages from the past are a bit of a mixed bag, aren’t they? Remember the movie ‘The Goonies’, where kids are finding an old treasure map in the attic and get quite excited about the possibility of helping their parents out financially, ending up – after overcoming dangerous booby traps – finding an old pirate ship full of jewels and gold?  Happy ending, but a nail-biter in between. I suppose, one could say the message was a positive one, given that it evoked excitement and hope.

Other messages from the past are not so positive. Most people who read this blog have had a history of abuse and neglect. They struggle with old messages either given through hurtful words and actions or through neglect, the absence of caring and nurturing words and behaviours. In short these messages can be summed up as ‘you are not worthy of care, love, and protection. One can easily see that the later messages are negative ones given they can be emotionally crippling and causing symptoms (low/no self-confidence, lack of self-care, lack of emotion regulation skills) some people label as ‘mental illness’.

Most survivors, if I would be able to take them onto a journey into the past whereby we could visit a fellow survivor in her childhood and observe a situation when they are being hurt, would say without hesitation that the fellow survivor does not deserve to be hurt, it’s not her fault, there was nothing she did wrong. Indeed they would immediately see that the parent and/or abuser were accountable of their acts no matter what excuses they would utter.

How come that people carry these message for years and years in their hearts? Partially because there are strong painful emotions accompanying abuse and emotions act like glue, they make memories stick! Another reason is that abuse happens mostly in childhood when the kid’s cognitive development is mainly shaped by egocentrism causing her to believe that she ‘made’ it happen.

Looking back as adults, we can see easily the fault in such thinking. How then are we to understand survivors tendency to nurture these old negative messages from the past? Especially given that often the message sender was ‘out of his/her mind’? Given that what a person says or does has all to do with that person and with nobody else. Given that a statement such as “you are …. xyz” can’t possibly be true and accurate given that whatever a person perceives is filtered through his/her own history, filters, biases and subject to distortion, deletion, and generalisations.

I hope that survivors give some attention to the function of thought in human’s experience of creating reality and scrutinize their own thoughts about themselves. Thinking “I am not OK” or anything negative about themself can’t possibly be real because it does not take the whole person into consideration and completely ignores that thoughts are just thoughts. They are like a picture of a person but never the living person. A living person is more than a picture can ever convey.

I wonder what help my readers with putting their self-perceptions into perspective. If you want to know how understanding the processes of thought, mind, and consciousness can help you to have a better life, and if you want to know how to let go of a child’s perspective, follow this link and contact me.

Internal Warfare

A reader of this blog commented yesterday on my post “Achieving Co-consciousness” and described in deeply touching words the heartache of living with so much fear, not knowing, not understanding, and internal dissonance. Reading the comment I got a really good feel for the ‘outside’ people who try to manage the everyday life as best as possible, and the ‘inside’ people who seem to try to manage the inner world of memories and feelings that go with these memories.

My first thought was “just like it happens in real life when people go to war against each other”. Whether it’s the Germans against the Western World during the WWII, the Muslims against the Jews, the North Irish against the British, East against West, North against South, there is no difference. Each party is convinced they have a justification to go to war, fight for their right(s), even give their lives for the cause.

None of the parties is listening to what the other has to say. Instead, all they try to do is brow-beating the ‘opposition’ into submission, using all kinds of semantics or other intimidation methods. “I am right” … “… no, I am righter” (I know this is not correct english, go away spell-check!). All parties have their opinion already set in concrete. They are not open to new ideas. They don’t listen with care in their heart, they listen looking for evidence to agree or disagree with what is said. Hop over to my post “Just Listen” to get a clearer picture of what I mean.

What does that mean for ‘inside’ people and ‘outside’ people? Well, for starters, how well do you listen to each other? Do you listen with love in your heart or do you already have a judgement on your mind? And then, what happens when you (outside person) lose time and become an inside person? Do you then become part of the ‘inside group’ and become hostile, difficult, or not understanding?

Given that we can NEVER EVER see reality as it really is, that all we ever can know is ONLY our interpretation of that reality, its highly likely that neither inside nor outside people are getting the right end of the stick. Certainly when people are highly strung, emotionally distressed, or hurting lots, thinking and perceiving what is going on is unlikely to be very accurate. Only when you are in a calm state of mind and at peace is your mind in a state to get a clear picture.

I agree that it is much easier to understand the conflicting inner world when we talk about ‘parts’ – and each person has a psychological mind structure that can be understood by using the ‘parts-metaphor’. On a physical, observable playing field we are talking about the same person, one body, one heart, one set of lungs, and one mind. It’s important that we don’t lose sight of that! In physical reality, this internal warfare takes place in the very small space between your ears. Please, be nice to that poor, overworked, stretched out brain.

I Can’t Trust My Memories

Upon the Sharon Armstrong post from a wee while ago where I talked about NLP and eye accessing cues that can indicate whether a person is remembering or is constructing a memory, I received an email from a reader asking whether there would be a way for her to know whether she is making up what she has been telling her therapist. I have heard over the years from so many survivors that they find it hard to believe that they have been abused.

Firstly, there is a difference whether you make statements to justify or explain the fact that you were recently caught with Cocaine or whether you talk about something that happened many decades ago in your childhood. Memories are not set in concrete like the content of a printer’s typeset drawer. They are subject to change over the years, some parts get ‘trimmed off’ and other parts get ‘added’ depending on what you do when you re-visit a memory.

Secondly, if you don’t believe that you have been abused, if you doubt your thoughts, wouldn’t it be a good idea to examine why it is important for you to know whether you have or have not been abused and to what extend? And thirdly, whatever the past trauma was, isn’t it important today to deal with the legacies of the trauma (depression, anxiety, stress, low self-confidence, poor social skills, dissociation, and overall poor self-relations) and re-build a healthy, happy, and balanced sense of self?

I think these are great questions to ask and work through with your therapist when you are not quite sure what it is that you are doing. Your therapist can give you an outside perspective that, together with your inside wonderings will hopefully form a picture that gives you peace of mind.

PTSD Viewed Through the Lens of 3 Principles

Those who have followed this blog are aware how intensive I have covered the issue of overcoming the legacies of abuse and neglect. The simple reason is because dealing with flashbacks, memories, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and a toxic self perception seems to be the tragic struggle most survivors have in common. Not only that, it’s also a struggle that seems to take many many years to overcome for a large number of survivors.

But what if it doesn’t have to take forever and forever to deal with the aftermath? I don’t know any survivor who wouldn’t want to shorten the time until s/he is OK again, having a peace of mind, being in touch with a natural sense of well-being, balanced life, and overall contentment and happiness.

I have found this blog post that offers a challenge to those approaches to therapy with traumatised people who focus on re-visiting the traumatic moment, catharting feelings and emotions, and re-interpreting past experiences. Instead, principle based psychology is resting on the notion that every human being has an innate sense of health that we can access through our thoughts. It is important to understand the connection between thoughts and feelings. If our thoughts are negative and/or painful (for example: “I am such a cot-case”) we will feel depressed or sad or anxious. Thus the quality of our thinking determines the quality of our feelings.

Sydney Banks, who first conceived the Three Principles said “The most important thing to remember is it’s not what you think – it’s the fact that you think. Thought holds the secret to all our happiness, all our sadness. Once you realize the power of thought, I guarantee your life will never be the same again. If you have a positive thought and you put life into it…positivity happens
and you start to live in a positive life”.

Hop over the blog and read the challenging article. I would be interested to hear what your opinion is! Read this fascinating article here!

Always Looking Through The Rear-View Mirrow

Someone asked me yesterday whether there is some therapeutic benefit to telling a client what they went through wasn’t that bad and others had is worse. 

My first reaction was to shake my head. Who would say something like that to a person unless there is an intention to hurt? It sounds so puntive and discounting of a person’s emotional pain.

My advise was to go back to the therapist and express how this statement has made her/him feel. Asking for clarification and what intention the therapist had when making such a comparison. Of course there is always someone on this planet who has had experiences that were worse than our own. Thats not a hard thing to figure out.

On the other hand, sometimes you come accross a person who is very attached to her/his traumatic experience(s) so that being a victim of abuse/trauma becomes a life-position. I liken it to

“Going through through life as if you are driving in a car looking constantly into the rear-view mirror.

It’s easy to see that such a driving habit comes with huge dangers. The driver is bound to crash into all sorts of objects and obstacles and is a menace to him/herself and others. A challenge like the the above statement might help such a person to move out of the victim position and look into the future rather than ruminating about past experiences most of the time. However, I hope people are able to find more effective and gentler ways of shaking the foundations of a habitual victim-position of helplessness and hopelessness.

Sometimes a critical statement like the one above does not come from a therapist or other people in our lives, but from ourselves. We give ourselves a hard time for ‘not getting on’ with things. Rather than joining the blame-game and giving yourself a hard time, a much better question would be “What resources do you need, what skills do you need to learn, what self-care practices do you need to apply to be able to start looking into the direction you are driving: FORWARD!

Dealing with the lack of memories

Waterdrop When it comes to memories of abuse or neglect, dealing with them becomes an important part of therapy – especially when survivors are flooded with memories and find it hard or even impossible to get some relief from them.

It appears to be similarly difficult to cope with the lack of memories. People may have a feeling, body sensations, or sense of having experienced abuse, but no picture or coherent story they can access.

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How Can You Get Over Childhood Stress?

Broken_heart I have been asked how people get over childhood stress. In my mind it is a question of recovering from whatever stressors have been present in people's lives. Because it's a generic question and not specifically aimed at DID, I posted it on my therapy blog. It's the first article in a series of two that explains the physiological processes involved in being affected by childhood stresses such as abuse, neglect, or other forms of trauma. If this topic interests you, pop over and read on ….

Crisis in DID Treatment

First Aid Loneliness and the sense of isolation is a pervasive theme DID clients struggle with during all stages of recovery. When reaching out for therapy it refers to feeling alone, being scared of people, and being surrounded by a lack of understanding. Other people may even be perceived as toxic and dangerous.

I thought if I don’t say anything, if I don’t allow myself to interact with people and be with people, then I am not going to get hurt again (Carol 2/1)

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Traumaprocessing

Brain No aspect of one's recovery journey is easy, whether it is the recovery from mental illness, from trauma in general, or from dissociative identity disorder (DID). 'Coming Together', the second stage in the recovery from DID, is no different. The coming together of the different parts of one's personality will come about when the reasons for having to dissociate in the first place are dealt with.

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