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 primary 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 continuously 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 of emotional suffering. The more battles your inner voice 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 your inner voice dictates. Don't be a slave to your inner voice. 7 Tips on Changing and CalmingYour 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 hear it on the radio. Write each statement down. Recognize 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 through childhood and repeats it back to you. It means your inner voice's tone and manner becomes automatic.
2. Create a Strategy
Analyze every critical statement and decide if the content is correct. 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 which life situation or event it comes 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 weapon.
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 love myself.”
Research has shown writing down negative statements, doubts, thoughts, and judgments then tearing them up and burning or throwing the list in the garbage increase 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 days.
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 reinforced, it is time to manifest them in your emotions, thoughts, and actions.
5. Be Consistent and Strong
Accept and feel a profound obligation your new statements of self. Consistently follow every day for 90 days. Change your mindset 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 all90days. Write down how you change daily. Journaling will help you recognize the battles you win and add motivation.
6. Make your Fortress Healthy and Strong
Surround yourself with people who see and experience yourself in a favorable 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 balancing between receiving and giving positive content to each other. 7. 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 deserve your own respect, the rest is pretty much is practice, practice, and practice more.
Takeaway If you follow these tips, you can win the war for your thoughts and be the master of yourself and 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 websitehomepage and click here to download the gift of my eBook to you. Coach Bill
How to improve your chances of 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 social situations you might feel dizzy, disorientated, sweating palms and forehead, anxious and sometimes frightened as well as hypersensitive 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 experience 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 extremely important part of 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 a way to express your hurts and why your addiction has been harmful to yourself and life. Writing is crucial to 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 for 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 discover new directions
To work with 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. It helps you to create a comfort zone that you can express whatever your mind wants or needs. Journaling allows the safety to permit your thoughts to express in words to flow naturally upon literal or virtual paper. Seeing your writing make your beliefs and thoughts real. The process of journaling can be the support mechanism that will let you forget for an instant your anxiety, pressure, stress or pain of being in an unfamiliar world until you gain enough confidence to venture into reality with others. Writing is powerful and once you write your anxiety will decrease.
4. Journaling can be your Personal Recovery Coach
If you want to give journaling a shot as your personal recovery coach here are some suggestions. Go purchase a cheap notebook and a pen that you like and express your true identity, thoughts, and feeling in your writing. Writing is very powerful and life-changing if used right. Carry your notebook around with you all the time and free association in your writing, or chronicling your experiences of sobriety as well as express writing whether you alone or even in a 12 step meeting.
Write in an environment that you feel comfortable and safe to be yourself. Go sit at a coffee shop, go to a park, a garden or park by a river or lake. Freely 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 you want that makes you feel better.
After Thoughts If you are consistent, diligent and give journaling some time, hopefully, you master being more comfortable with your thoughts and feelings. This will benefit your health both mentally, physically and socially. Take an expressive risk and your journaling will empower you to be healthier, more fulfilled and stronger with yourself while enhancing your sober journey.
Journaling will aid you in developing a new way of seeing yourself and help you master social skills as well as allow you to develop a new relationship with yourself. Blessings in your journey out of addiction.
If you need more support in your sobriety journey, visit my website.Click hereto download free eBook.
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 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 in such a complex condition. Anyone who has received a DID diagnosis has felt extreme pressure, real or imagined, to hide his or her status. Therefore, those who carry a diagnosis of DID experience feelings of blame, embarrassment, emptiness, guilt, rejection, 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 by 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 course of treatment above is laborious 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. Conventional 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 healthy and natural 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 entire 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 character 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 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 are 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 coaching approach to reverse the compartmentalization that counteracted the trauma was needed because other therapeutic and medical models methods were not working.
What was needed to be developed for DID clients to become healthy was a symbolic method that was safe and protective which worked for achieving a healthy sense of living? That method is System Unification Method or SUM. System Unification Method is an update of the widely successful stabilization method called Incorporation Therapy. SUM actually reverses the survival process without removing or eliminating the parts as well as protecting all character skills and the survival abilities of the inner parts. Also, the mindset associated with SUM is one of health, positiveness, productiveness, and normalcy.
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. emotional triggers and situational 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 with DID to stabilize their DID systems. For over 20 years, Incorporation Therapy was practiced in an inpatient psychiatric setting and taught to hundreds of professionals.
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: A Path Back from Psychological Trauma (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 the worst symptoms that affect all DID survivors is re-experiencing traumatic memory and flashbacks. Not only does the “host” have a memory bank, but each part also 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 of the balloon is the physical component, and the attached line is the trigger. The feeling elements contain all the emotions that were too painful and overwhelming the victim 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 and essential to make a closure on. The remembered emotions of a past event always surface first. As a result, the natural reaction by a survivor or part is to “shut down or numb out” the emotions to protect the whole. The survivor emotions are felt again, the feelings will completely re-traumatize the whole system. Even though there may have been many years between the event and the present day, 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 inner portion to want to protect the whole, 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 first 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 the survivor's ability to stay in the present, process closure of past events, or how they function in their daily lives.
Another essential feeling experienced by the survivor is a sense of emptiness or “separation from self.” The ensuing “relationship with self” becomes critical, cynical, rejecting of self or parts and damaging. To enter into a new relationship with yourself and your whole system, 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 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 the 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 entirely 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 adaptation to a healthy life. I thought my difference was an illness from the messages given during my awful abuse. This has been turned around to a decisive 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 about healing DID through Trauma Coaching.
#1 To hide abuse or trauma symptoms because PTSD symptoms are generally viewed as a weakness of character Generally, 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 picked up on it and realized having an addiction is more acceptable to have. Survivors think being treated for addictions is more acceptable than having Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
#2 To numb out emotional, cognitive, physical and memory symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Survivors discovered that getting habitually involved in specific behaviors, emotions, substances, or thoughts initially reduced the vast array of PTSD symptoms. They feel that developing a habitual pattern of behaviors, emotions, substances, or thoughts numbs out different symptoms of PTSD.
This is a reason that many survivors have many different addictions. Once the effects of PTSD symptoms surface, the individual is already too far into a severe or toxic stage of addiction.
#3 To fight off negative thoughts
First of all, “every addiction starts with a thought or set of thoughts.” Survivors quickly realize once the onset of PTSD symptoms begins their thoughts can be viewed as their ally or their 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 to the surfacing of negative beliefs present in the addict's subconscious mind, resulting in an increased negative thinking and ruminating thoughts.
#4 To increase denial of reality through “gaslighting” of self
The definition of gaslighting is to undermine the perception of reality. Survivors, through addiction, create a false inner reality to veil any knowledge or stop a flashback from his or her understanding of what happened. 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 security. Many survivors live in 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 addiction and PTSD, and are not treated together, a resurgence of PTSD symptoms will send a survivor into an addiction relapse. He or she has a relapse in their addictions, and there is a strong possibility their relapse could trigger a surfacing of more intense PTSD symptoms. Therefore one resurgence of symptoms or a triggered relapse 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 addicted to 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 out from suffering more intense 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 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….).
Takeaway 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 vital to 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. Therefore you will have a collapse in your positive progress in your sobriety or healing journey. If you need more help with post addiction and/or 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