William Tollefson Values Blog provides information on many topics and issues pertaining to survivors of childhood and/or adulthood abuse, trauma, or combat situations.
Written by Dr. Bill Tollefson, Ph.D. Certified Master Life, Post Trauma and Holistic Addiction Recovery Coach.
Seems that you are fighting one battle after another with your own mind. Your main focus is to win each battle and conquer your mind, and get it to quiet down. Whether you know it or not the enemy is your inner voice. It is like all you do is constantly fight with yourself. Unfortunately it seems like you are losing.
If your inner
voice is negative, it can crush your self-confidence, self-esteem, self-worth,
self-loyalty and most of all your self-love. It can also beat you up with self-blame,
self-shame and self-judgment for things you did not even do as well as
disconnect you from your core self.The more you listened and feed negative comments in your head, the more
you dislike, distrust and hate yourself.
Your inner voice can cause a
great deal emotional suffering. The more battles it wins the more influence and
power it gains over your thoughts. At that point it takes over the direction of
your emotions and behaviors, and reactions causing you to serve as it dictates. Don't be a slave to your inner voice.
I want to share with you a few specific suggestions on how
you can quiet your inner critic. If you are diligent with these suggestions,
you can replace your inner critic’s content, which will result in changing your
inner thoughts to be positive and supportive.
1. Know your enemy and its Intentions
Recognize, observer and listen to messages being said in
your head. Listen to your inner voice with a different perspective as if you
are hearing it on the radio. Write each statement down. Recognize that each
statement is a false story, misrepresentation and an outright lie said to you by
someone who is against you. Understand it wants to take over your mind and
control your life.
Know that your inner voice does not have or express
emotions. The content of its words originated from negative beliefs, judgments
and attitudes you have formed in your subconscious about yourself since
childhood and repeats them back to you. It mean manner is automatic.
2. Create a Strategy
Analyze every critical statement and decide if the content
is true. Determine if you truly deserve the negativity, doubt, judgment, self-defeating
thoughts or criticism it throws at you.
Write down every statement that is thrown at you. Then note
next to each critical statement note which life situation or event it come from.
A good strategy is the more you know about where your enemy came from the more
power you have in changing the critical content. Find proof of why the
criticism is wrong and unfounded. When you find the real truth, you will create
a crack in that thought pattern and dissipate its power and influence, but that
alone is not enough to achieve mental freedom. Develop a powerful strategy by
listing your options to change content.
3. Built an Armament
Create a whole new list of optional positive statements to
counter the old ones being volleyed at you. Let your power to create your own statements be your weapons.
Make a separate list of new positive statement to counteract
each negative statement. Once you have
created this new list, tear up the old one and throw it away. Arming yourself
can be as simple as structuring new counter statements like…“I deserve to be
something” “I am good enough or “I deserve to look at myself in the mirror and
Research has shown writing down negative statements, doubts,
thoughts, and judgments then tearing them up and burning or throwing the list
in the garbage increases your feeling of power, self-worth and self-value.
4. Embedded Discipline
and Positiveness through Practice
Once you have created your new list, say your list to
yourself ten times a day for 90
The trick to defeating your enemy is through forming
discipline. Discipline is accomplished by practicing your new list verbally
over and over again until it fortifies your mind. Once you’re your mental
filters are fortified, it is time to manifest them in your emotions, thoughts, and
5. Be Consistent and Strong
Accept and feel a deep obligation your new statements of
self. Consistently follow through every day for 90 days. Change your mind set
that you have won and you are in charge of how you think about yourself, how
you believe about yourself, what you are capable of, and how you will perform.
Track yourself by keeping a journal of your progress. That
way you will be able to see your commitment and thought change day by day for all
90 days. Write down how you change daily. Journaling will help you recognize the
battles you win and add motivation.
5. Make your Fortress Healthy and Strong
Surround yourself with people who see and experience you in
a positive light, who support you and know you as you really are. Let people
who love you reflect the real you back to you the positiveness you are
manifesting toward them. Practice the balance of receiving and giving positive
content about each other.
6. Give Respect where Respect is Earned
Understand that your inner voice has been attempting to take
over your mind your whole life. It wants you to think doubtful, negative and self-critical. Don't give
into the invading negative comments in your head. Work hard at change, fight each small scrimmage. In the
process earn your own respect by taking charge of forming your own thoughts.
You have that power. Once you earn your own respect, the rest is pretty much is
practice, practice and more practice.
Take Away If you follow these suggestions, you can win the war for you
thoughts and be the ruler of your life.
If you need more help to remove negative thinking from
destroying your ability to get what you want out of life then visit my website home page and click here to download my gift of my eBook to you. Coach Bill
How to improve your chances at staying sober? Journal your sobriety.
One major problem with post addiction recovery is feeling very awkward and extremely uncomfortable around sober and normal people in social settings. Social awkwardness can be as
painful as entering into addiction recovery. Not knowing what to say, how to
feel and how to act in front of others in a social environment can throw you
back into a relapse. Meaning in a social situations you might feel dizzy, disorientated, sweating of your
palms and forehead, anxious and sometimes frightened as well as hyper sensitive
and vigilant. This happens because all the years of isolating from social situations and people and addicts lose all his or her social skills.
Writing is a powerful personal vehicle. Writing is a very healing experiences that can aid you in releasing buried pains, process your grief and express your vision and create a sober future. Do not underestimate the power of writing. What better way that daily journaling?
1. Journaling enhances addiction recovery
One way of gaining social and verbal skills is to write in a
journal. Journaling is extreme important in the recovery process after the
detoxing phase. To journal you don't have to be an English major or an aspiring
author to incorporate writing into your life. Writing is crucial for a
successful sobriety and health as well as emotional development and well being.
2. Journaling gives you a comfortable and positive vehicle
To become more communicative
To express emotions
To be seen (even by you)
To collect thoughts
To express desires and wishes
To become creative
To create a vision of you and your future
To become heard
To be understood
To be totally honest with no reprisal or being wrong
To release secrets
To record your journey and successes
To unload your resentments and regrets
To address your insecurities and lack of skills
To discovery new directions
To work at emotional calmness and mental peace
To keep your thoughts in order and reduce ruminating
To self-reflect on who you are no longer and
author a new you
To keep you connected to the moment
To focus on releasing what is not serving you
To express fears
To become more comfortable being social
To increase life skills
3. Creating a Supportive Environment
Journaling allows you to express without rational
constraints. Create within a comfort
zone that you say and feel whatever your mind wants or need to. Journaling allow the safety to permit your
thoughts to transform into words to flow naturally upon literal or virtual
paper. The process of journaling can be
your supportive mechanism that will let you to forget for that instant about
the anxiety, pressure or pain of being in an unfamiliar world until you gain
enough confidence to venture into reality with others.
4. Journaling can be your Personal Recovery Coach
If you want to give it a shot here is some suggestions. Go purchase a cheap notebook and a pen that
you like and shows some of your character. Carry your notebook around with you all
the time and do free association writing, or chronicling your experiences as
well as express writing whether you are in free time or a 12 step meeting.
Write in an environment that you are comfortable and safe to
be yourself. Go sit at a coffee shop, go to a park, a garden or by a river or lake and write
whatever comes to mind. Do some people watching, record observations or jot
down anything that ignites your interest. Write down your ideas, your dreams,
your needs, your wants, your feelings. In fact write whatever the hell you
After Thoughts If you are consistent, diligent and give it some
time, hopefully you master being more comfortable with your thoughts and
feelings. This will benefit your health both mentally and physically. Take the expressive risk and your journaling will
make you a richer and stronger person while enhancing your sober journey.
Journaling will aid you in developing a new way of seeing yourself and help you
to adjust to a new way of life.
If you need more support in your sobriety journey, visit my website.Click here to download free eBook!
Blessings in your journey out of Addiction. Coach Bill
Have you been labeled with Dissociative Identity Disorder or DID and felt like it meant you were weak? If so have you felt that way you might think everyone around you is scared of you because you are not like them? Maybe it is time to change and take on a whole new mindset and viewpoint.
Over decades Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) has been a very misinterpreted, underestimated, misunderstood and feared diagnosis for both survivors and many members of the therapeutic community. The Dissociative Identity Disorder client has been dreaded by professionals because they don't know how to work with them.
The label of DID carries with it a lot of stigma because of the way they are depicted in movies and television. Societal beliefs, religious beliefs and science do not cast a favorable view of Dissociative Identity Disorder. Some professionals, particularly psychiatrists, do not even believe DID is real, and others are not trained to assess or conduct therapy on the complex condition. Anyone who has received a DID diagnosis has felt extreme pressure, real or imagined, to hide his or her condition. Therefore, those who carry this condition experience feelings of blame, embarrassment, guilt, shame, and humiliation. Survivors with DID really think they are damaged inside or crazy because many survivors do not understand the symptoms they are having at the onset.
Traditional types of treatment do not seem to be effective with survivors who have a diagnosis of DID. Conventional accepted therapies focus on past life experiences looking for the specific “event” that caused the “problem.” Once the problem is found, a diagnosis has to be given. Then treatment is done by the correct protocol connected to that diagnosis even if the problem is misdiagnosed.
Maybe the answer is not found in psychology but rather in teaching the survivor to live a new way with new skills. Much like a coach teaching an athlete to become more skilled and more confident.
Adverse Effects of Therapeutic Process
This type of therapeutic self-discovery can cause re-living experiences, very frightening events, feelings of disloyalty, dissociative episodes, shameful thoughts, rejection, extreme triggering, and can be emotionally devastating … to name a just few of the potential side effects. The aforementioned type of therapeutic course of treatment is extremely hard and time consuming for survivors with a DID as well as the professional.
Traditional methods of treatment like integration, including medication, tend to cause abuse and trauma survivors to be re-traumatized. Traditional methods can result in frequent relapses and more intense PTSD symptoms as well as regression periods. Conversely, the inner system views these types of treatment as an attack resulting in increased experiences of fear, multiple episodes of switching and re-traumatization.
Different Perspective of DID
I believe the creation of a DID System is a normal reaction to experiencing horrible, repetitive life threatening events. It is a natural defensive response to overwhelming traumatic experiences.
This life saving separation of the whole self into a DID system is actually a mirror of the human brain and how it functions.
Think about this … even though the brain is one organ, the brain operates the whole body by way of functional compartments. The brain governs the functions of both the body and the mind through different centers. The development of a DID system is an innate defense mechanism to protect the whole self. The intricate forming many compartments is a lifesaving process so the whole person will not be captured or destroyed. This process is innate and a miracle.
Process of Surviving
The ability to compartmentalize one’s identity to survive occurs on a symbolic level, not on a literal level. It is a symbolic inner re-structuring that partitions off sections of the identity into independent parts of the whole. The only way a human can escape or dissociate from an overwhelming painful and life threatening experience when trapped is to do so symbolically in the mind. Compartmentalization is completed instantly and silently, and it is accomplished internally within the victim's head during an attack.
So it would only make sense that if the process of surviving multiple threatening events happens on a symbolic level, then wouldn't healing occur on the same type of symbolic level utilizing the same successful path? Therefore, an alternative method or symbolic protocol is needed to safely assist survivors with DID to restructure and balance his or her system. This balancing and teaching of new skills is more acceptable to the internal parts. This will move the whole person along the path to healing and recovery.
Alternative Way of Healing DID
A life approach to reverse the compartmentalization that counteracted the trauma was needed because others way were not working. A symbolic method that was safe and protective that worked for normal living was developed. That method created was System Unification or SUM. SUM actually reversed the survival process without removing or eliminating the parts as well as protective all skills or survival abilities of the parts.
The SUM method utilizes the system’s strengths, creative abilities and inner power to unify the system, without decreasing his or her individual characteristics while strengthening the integrity of the core. SUM guides the survivor to create a structure of symbolic “wholeness” and increase coping skills.
Some other benefits of completing the SUM protocol:
1. past emotional charge memories are eliminated
2. triggers are disconnected
3. negative and self-limiting core beliefs are removed
4. new coping and life skills are acquired
The SUM method allows the survivor to free his or her parts from past traumatic fears and victim skills while setting the stage for new growth. A positive side effect is the significant reduction of PTSD symptoms experienced by the DID system as a whole.
System Unification Method is an improvement or upgrade of the extremely beneficial Incorporation Therapy (IT) developed in the 1990's and used successfully with thousands of clients to stabilize their DID systems. For over 20 years, Incorporation Therapy was practiced in an inpatient psychiatric setting. Incorporation Therapy was designed as an alternative method to integration therapy. Incorporation Therapy’s effective principles were chronicled in the book Separated From the Light (Tollefson Enterprises; 2nd edition, 2004). Incorporation Therapy facilitated internal restructuring and symptom stabilization as well as reducing the intensity of PTSD symptoms.
Memory and DID
One of worst symptoms that affects all DID survivors is re-experiencing traumatic memory and flashbacks. Not only does the “host” have a memory bank, each part has its own memory bank which stores the memories it recorded when it was active. For safety reasons, each memory bank is not connected, so each part does not know the memories of the others.
Since the DID structure is symbolic, memory in the system should be viewed in the same way. To help view memory symbolically, picture a balloon with a string. The inside of the balloon is the Emotional Component; the outside skin is the Physical Component; and the string is the Trigger. The emotional component contains all the emotions that were too painful and overwhelming to deal with at the time of the event. The outer covering is the physical component which contains what the part saw, touched, smelled or heard. The string is the trigger that ties the memory from the dissociative storage area to consciousness.
The emotional component (pain and hurt) is the most difficult to make closure. The remembered emotions of a past event always surface first, and a natural reaction by the survivor or part is to “shut down or numb out” the emotions. The survivor or part fears that, if felt again, the emotions will completely re-traumatize the person. Even though there may have been many years between the event and the present day, without the acquisition of new coping skills, the survivor still remains unable to face the painful emotions which surface when triggered.
The defense against these intrusive painful emotions has been reactiveness (acting out), denial, numbing out and/or rationalization. Addictions, self-mutilation, and other self-harming behaviors are linked to avoiding re-living or re-traumatizing effects from realizing the emotional component.
The emotional component overpowers the survivor and parts, as well, and causes the part to want to protect them, even if the fear of possible trauma is imagined. The emotional charge in this component throws the survivor into a reliving of the experience. In reliving a traumatic memory, the emotions are just as painful as the original emotions and sometimes even more intense. The survivor feels the original fear, terror and anxiety, as well as the sense of being trapped. These overwhelming feelings inhibit survivor's ability to stay in the present, process closure of past events, or how they function in their daily lives.
Another major feeling experienced by the survivor is a sense of emptiness or “separation from self.” The ensuing “relationship with self” becomes critical, negative, rejecting of self or parts and damaging. In order to enter into a new relationship with self and one’s system as a whole, the survivor has to shift from a disease model mindset to a healthy/normal mindset and enter into the recovery/healing stage.
A Story of DID Unification
“My name is Sheri and I went through the Incorporation Therapy years ago. Years later I hit a wall and began to feel stuck. I did not know why. I had experienced a couple more traumatic events after incorporation and felt like I had lost my connectedness to my system. It seemed like I ran out of skills and nothing was working. I contacted Dr. Bill again who was no longer associated with the WiiT program where I had been incorporated. He was able to evaluate quickly that some of my parts had left the dome (a part of the incorporating process) that unified us. The parts had left in order to help us survive the traumas and did not know how to return. Dr Bill stated that he no longer was doing Incorporation Therapy with DID systems, and he had improved the process which was now called System Unification Method. The experience of SUM was immediate and added so many more improvements. I learned that I need more skills to get to a point of healing rather than just stabilization. He taught me how to draw on my pain without reliving or re-experiencing it. I was able to connect with my uniqueness, heal my wounds, and truly unite with my parts. In the process, he guided me to gain and accept my creativeness, change my mindset to be more positive about the DID system, characteristics strength and inner power, and my difference as a person. The process took away old beliefs that had limited me and self-defeating thoughts and behavior. I finally feel balanced. After I was done, I had a formed a new identity. I don’t totally understand all that happened, but it worked. Since then I have embraced my difference as a strength, creativity to live, and survival skills. I see that these can be used for growth and adapting to normal life. I thought my difference was an illness from the messages given during my awful abuse. This has been turned around to a positive point and has enhanced my life.
To understand that my DID was a natural response and not a mental illness allowed me to like myself rather than think of me as “crazy” which is what I had been told ever since my symptoms first surfaced. My life has been transformed thanks to SUM.”
The System Unification Method session was designed to help re-fold, restructure and unite the host with the parts safely and protectively. The SUM experience assists the survivor in taking back control of the whole and achieving balance. SUM allows the brain to move from a state of being reactive to a state of proactive involvement with life.
To learn more on healing DID through Trauma Coaching.
#1 To hide abuse or trauma symptoms
because possessing these symptoms are viewed as weakness
of characterGenerally, reacting
to past abusive / traumatizing experiences or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms are seen as a weakness of personal
character, particularly in men.
The non-traumatized population does understand that
addiction is a disease and don't view addictions as a weakness in character. Therefore survivors pick up on it and realized having an addiction is more
acceptable to have and be treated for an addiction rather than Post traumatic Stress
#2 To numb out emotional, cognitive,
physical and memory symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress DisorderSurvivors
discovered that getting habitually involved in certain behaviors, emotions,
substances and thoughts initially reduced the vast array of PTSD symptoms. Each pattern of behavior, emotion, substance and thought attacks a different symptoms of PTSD.
This is a
reason that many survivors have many different addictions. Once the effects of
a PTSD symptoms are significantly reduced, the individual is already to far into a severe or
toxic stage of addiction.
#3 To fight off negative thoughts
of all, “every addiction starts with a thought or set of thoughts.” Survivors quickly realize once the onset of PTSD symptoms thoughts can be their ally or most powerful enemy. At the height of PTSD symptoms, survivors seem to experience an array of constant excruciating, negative, upsetting and damaging stream of looping thoughts which seems to surface out of thin air. These unwanted thoughts seem to travel from a dark place way inside the subconscious into the conscious by way of a trigger and result in painful and re-experiencing flashbacks. So become very attractive. Addiction to any behavior, emotion, and substance as well as another thought is so enticing for survivors because they find helps to subdue negative thoughts. Addiction cravings can also cause a relapse due the surfacing of negative beliefs present in the addicts subconscious mind which can increase negative thinking.
#4 To increase denial of reality
through “gas lighting” of self
The definition of gas lighting is to
undermine perception of reality. Survivors, through addiction, create a false inner reality to veil any
knowledge or memory of his or her past and what happened to them. The one main thing many survivors do not want to realize is that he or she was abused or traumatized.
#5 To produce a false sense of securityMany survivors live in a constant fear of everything around them. Having
addiction(s) gives survivors a false sense of being safe, something else to focus on
and alleviates emotional uptake.
#6 To hide surfacing PTSD symptoms
with an addiction If a survivor has both an addiction and PTSD, and are not treated together, a resurgence of
PTSD symptoms will send a survivor into an addiction relapse. He or she relapses in addiction there is a strong possibility that the addiction could trigger a surfacing of more PTSD symptoms Therefore one resurgence or relapse in post addiction or post trauma symptoms will counter recovery in the other causing a relapse in one or both creating an ongoing cycle.
#7 To reduce the "re-living" experience of memories or flashbacks Traumatic
memories and flashbacks are one of the main and worse symptoms of PTSD. Survivors
who are re-experiencing traumatic memories or flashbacks will attempt to
control, deny, fight or suppress traumatic memories or flashbacks through becoming addicting to a behavior, emotion, pattern, thought or substance. A survivor will turn to anything that will stop the pain. He or she will take illegal or legal substances
(alcohol or drugs or prescribed pain or mental health medication) to block out flashbacks
(visual, emotional, and auditory as well as body memories) or participate in
unhealthy behaviors (overeating or depriving of food, pornography, self-harm,
self-sabotage, sex, and/or excessive exercise) to mask over suffering PTSD
symptoms. Survivors may also engagement in repetitive harmful thoughts and/or destructive
relationships to block out hurt and pain stop the re-living experience of what flashes in his or her mind.
Not only does a survivor use an addiction to stop one of the
seven reasons mentioned above but would enter into more than one addiction at a
time. Since PTSD symptoms are in clusters, survivors enlist
multiple addictions to subdue the array of symptoms. A survivor may even be
juggling 7 different addictive relationships at the same time to resolve 7 different
PTSD symptoms (flashbacks, depression, obsessing thoughts, sleeplessness….).
Take Away Believe it or not becoming addicted is a traumatic process and should be dealt with as a PTSD reaction when the addict has a history of abuse, trauma or has been involved in combat. If you are an abuse or trauma survivor who also has addiction issues, it is important face both your PTSD symptoms and addictions at the same time otherwise a relapse in one will counter the other causing a relapse in one or both. There will be a collapse of whatever positive progress in your sobriety or healing journey. If you need more help at post addiction and/or post trauma recovery and keep relapses from destroying your ability to have a happy life then visit my website. Click here to download free eBook. Coach Bill