Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Much has been written about recovery from trauma and abuse through the last ten years. Many clinicians and researchers have expounded on recovery and all its elements. I believe that knowledge and understanding of recovery are crucial to forming a successful recovery mindset. An understanding of what recovery might look like going forward is essential to reduce fear and anxiety, but sometimes it's just as important to know what recovery is not.
In this article, I'd like to look at the other side of recovery, the side that is not. At the time a survivor is deciding to enter into recovery, he/she is faced with staying with the familiar or dealing with unpredictability. There are situations where there are no answers, just feelings; no familiar automatic barriers, just new boundaries; no black or white, just a lot of gray; no familiar guarantees, just healthy fear.
Decision-making strategists agree that it is important to understand both sides of any subject as this will lead to greater understanding and eventual success. So my objective with this article is to help people seeking recovery to understand what it's not and to help them find some predictability through faith in self.
Recovery is earned, not a given.
Recovery is not just given to a victim as a rite of passage. It's not an entitlement. A survivor has to earn the right to be in the process. Recovery is a very fragile state and needs to be nurtured or it could slip away. Recovery is hard work that involves firm decisions, commitment, investments and giant leaps of faith.
Recovery is not about waiting for something to happen automatically.
Recovery does not come to the survivor. It doesn't knock at the door. All those years in old behaviors has taught that ignoring, denying, fighting, withdrawing or isolating doesn't work and won't make the pain and hurt disappear. Continuing to perform old behaviors, like waiting for the symptoms to just go away or people to get used to them, only produce the same old results: pain, numbness, hopelessness. Acting out the symptoms or switching to avoid are anti-recovery. Even though the PTSD symptoms seemed to happen automatically, that doesn't mean that recovery will start the same way. Recovery is about doing something different. Recovery has to be grabbed, created, worked, rehearsed and held on to through all the ups and downs. So don't wait. Be proactive. Actively reach for recovery. Face the fears and stand tall.
Recovery is never owned.
No person can buy their way into recovery. There is no ownership of recovery. There is not enough money to sway recovery into becoming a possession. An individual, a therapist or a treatment facility cannot own recovery. It can only be experienced. Allow yourself to experience it.
Recovery is not the same for everyone.
Recovery is a different journey for everyone. What works for one survivor does not work for another. Listen internally and create your own path.
Recovery cannot be threatened.
A survivor cannot threaten their way into recovery either. Recovery is intimidated by nothing. Recovery is always consistent and stands strong.
Recovery is not quick.
The hardest lesson to learn about recovery is that it's a process. A process is inherently time consuming and exhausting. Recovery is accountability, intense focus, and personal responsibility.
Recovery is not a literal process.
Survival did not happen through a literal process. Victims do not actually break into little pieces. Survival was achieved by a creative, symbolic process produced through human imagination. Survival is symbolic and operates on five levels: mental, emotional, physical, behavioral and spiritual. It makes sense that if survival is a creative and symbolic process, then recovery will be a creative and symbolic process.
Recovery is not found outside of self.
Trauma and abuse drive a victim outside themselves and leaves a vacant area in the soul. From that point on, the survivor looks toward external validation for answers and to fill that vacancy, but the answers never come from the outside. Recovery is empowerment. The answers are found within.
Recovery is not separation.
Recovery is the establishment of a relationship with self, rather than the continued separation. Whereas survival is the act of separation, recovery is the act of unification.
Recovery is not an indecisive event.
Recovery cannot be accomplished without a decision. To accomplish recovery one has to be decisive, accountable, consistent and responsible.
Recovery is not losing memory.
Health is not a way to achieve amnesia and forget all that has happened. In recovery, the fact is that the more you grow the more you will know. Health is rewarded by getting back the unknown memory.
Recovery is not a reason to display pain.
Recovery is not about acting out one's pain by directing it at self or other people, places or things. It is an opportunity to finally recognize the pain, allow it to pass by, grieve the losses, and then accept the trauma information into your normal memory bank.
Recovery is not easy.
But neither is it easy to live in the darkness, fear, terror, trauma and/or abuse. Strength and growth are never gained from something that is given or automatic. Any process that is easy carries little worth.
Recovery is not without sacrifices.
Recovery is a sacrifice. Everything a survivor has could be lost by entering into recovery. Those who were thought to be close friends, a supportive partner or loving family members may not like the changes that have been made. Be willing to move forward even with the possibility of losses.
Recovery is not an act of continued loyalty.
Health is the ultimate revenge against the abuser and old behavior patterns. Perpetrators want the victim to always be blind, deaf, sick and silent. Make the decision to never keep another secret from yourself. Be loyal and devoted to self first.
Recovery is not another method of Self-Sabotage.
Recovery is not another self- punishing tool to add to the sabotage arsenal.
Recovery is not an arena to display recanted loyalties. Recovery is not a method to use favorite abusive patterns or tools toward the ones who have cared and helped. It is not a platform to display self-sabotaging betrayal against the original dream, newly formed values or decision to recover. Some survivors quickly forget their promise to health and recovery at any price, no matter what. Much more hurt is produced in recovery from those who abandon recovery than is ever done through honest work for recovery.
It is time to discard what is not and embrace what is a recovery of self.
In my last Blog I wrote on the idea of using the principles of “branding” from the field of marketing can assist you in creating a new personal identity. Identity is so important to every person and how you are viewed by others. It is what defines you as an individual.
Staying connected with an old identity that does not work increases your confusion and decreases your performance. If you do not like your identity then you have a tendency to not like self and therefore you have lower levels of worth and confidence. First let go of that old Identity that has not functioned for you. You perform better in life when you like who you are and what you are doing. There is no rule that states that you have to hold on to something that does not work, including your identity.
Take a good look at yourself. Make a list of your personal qualities, traits, talents and characteristics. Also develop a list of how others think of you. What one word describes you best? Humorous? Intelligent? Wise? Dependable? Creative? Answer the question - how you would like to be envisioned? Evaluate what sets you apart from others. Go over both lists and determine what makes you different from everyone else. Once you have examined both lists, create a new mental image of the new you. This new mental image becomes your new identity. Affix the new image you just created into your mind’s eye. Daily take time to close your eyes, take a deep breath, envision your new image and study it mentally for four seconds. These four seconds will help to set it in your mind’s eye.
Then create a word or phrase that best represents your new identity.
Many products and professional people are known by just one word or a phrase. When you have created the word or phrase, repeat your descriptive word or phrase often to yourself. This repetition will create a simple association in your word or phrase in your mind. If you use it in your conversations it will attract attention to your new personal identity.
Now that you have determined what sets you apart from other people internally, then it is time to work on the outside. Find a signature look that will work for you, without being flamboyant about it. Maybe you want to pick a certain style of dress, mixture of styles, a hair color or hairstyle to define you. The new adopted signature look will attract attention to your new personal identity.
Utilize these hints to create a new personal identity. If you practice your new personal identity daily, you will be branding yourself to others.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Branding is a concept which has been used in advertising for many years. When a business is successfully branded then everyone knows the name and represents success in the marketing world. A few examples and recognizable brands: Coke, Pepsi, Samsung Apple and BMW to just name a few.
Branding is used in developing awareness of a name, identifying a trademark, to identify a product, service or a manufacturer. Branding can also be used in distinguishing a symbol, mark, logo, name, word, sentence or an individual which distinguishes a product from other similar products in the market.
The purpose of this article to help you brand a new product - you. I feel that the branding concept could be extended to the life skill and self-improvement world. The way to do this is a life skill called a re-authoring of self or re-scripting your brand. Re-authoring of self or re-scripting is done by developing an action plan that assists you in forming a new identity and then branding it to your outer world.
Individuals who experienced childhood abuse and/or trauma are robbed of their ability to know themselves and the only identity they know of is the one their abuser drape them in. Their sense of self is lost and he/she move through life not knowing who they are.
Tips on Positive Change
In life, everyone has the right or personal authority to know his/her own identity. Many who have created a new identity are seen as being successful in re-inventing themselves.
Re-scripting is a way to re-create or re-author self into whatever he/she wants to be. A new script is an identity map of how he/she would want to act, feel, look, think and react. This self-concept allows the "developer" to create and then know exactly the exact steps he or she took to create their new identity. He or she will know what distinguishes self from others. Start today in re-thinking yourself completely, script it on paper into an action plan, practice it every day, and hold steadfast to that scripted identity.
After the re-scripting is complete an action plan needs to be developed and then practicing your new script to gain mastery of the new identity.
Mastery of the new identity is accomplished through practicing, practicing and practicing it some more days, over months. Over a course of months, the new identity will become a natural function of self.
Remember practicing your new brand is what makes any person in sports, business, or a profession become proficient. Once the new script is completed, then investigate and learn the principles of branding. Apply these principles to spread the awareness of the new identity and give light to your creation.
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