Love is what MV is all about!
Valentine's Day 2010 is history, but Many Voices is here, every day, to connect people who care about getting better, leading healthier lives, and learning to love themselves (ALL of themselves) and others.
Learning to love ourselves, our whole self, is a primary issue for recovery from trauma and abuse. It's not easy, because most of us were taught, repeatedly and in endless ways, that we were not lovable. Powerful people in our lives told us that we did not deserve love. Defending or nurturing ourself was considered "selfish" or wrong. Such destructive messages, once embedded, are very difficult to root out, as most of us have discovered. It can be a lifetime process.
Artwork by Donna H.
Here are a few methods I've applied to work on this problem:
I taped my own voice telling myself good and hopeful things about myself and what I really deserved...using words that would be difficult for me to say aloud in public. I listened to these tapes in the morning before getting out of bed, and at night before going to sleep, for many months. Over time, the tapes really helped drill in the ideas that I was a good person and deserved to be healthy and happy. They diluted the negative messages of my past, and replaced them with a more constructive and hopeful attitude. One caution: my therapist told me that it can be risky for some people to write their own messages because, unconsciously, some unhelpful ideas might creep in...and we certainly don't want to reinforce any more negative messages (we've all had quite enough of that, thank you!) So I'd suggest you write down what you're going to tell yourself on tape, then bring your script or tape to your therapist for review, before you start using it. Just to be on the safe side.
2. Affirmations, Mantras, Prayers.
Whatever they are called, these short but targeted positive phrases are extremely versatile. They can be used any time, any place, silently or out loud. And as MV reader Jenn J. and others have stated, positive affirmations can be a mighty force for positive transformation. Recently, when under a prolonged siege of stress, I developed a brief phrase that went along with my wish for a miracle: "Grant me a clear mind and a peaceful and loving heart." I must have said this, inwardly,100 times or more each day. I haven't noticed any breathtaking miracles yet, but repeating this phrase has helped me get through one day after another, one step at a time, while focusing on the work I need
3. Accepting my whole self.
For most of my life I was scandalized or repulsed by some of my own thoughts and behaviors. They were completely the opposite of what "I" thought I should and could be as a person. I did everything I could to wipe out these parts of myself, but guess what? It didn't work. (Confession: I began this paragraph by calling these characteristics "irrational side(s) of myself " - & then received internal comeuppance for using such derogatory language about some aspects of my complex personality.) While I cannot erase these conflicts, I have learned to give them softer edges, and make them less extreme, by realizing that I AM a complex person, and acknowledging that I will not always do things that "make sense" to myself or others. I try to evaluate all the different approaches to a particular problem, get it all into the open (usually by journalling all internal opinions) and then I stand back from the result and let the pieces fall into place to guide me in a positive direction. (You can also see from this paragraph that I intellectualize a lot!) But now I act-out rarely, and take a more contemplative and ease-ful attitude toward my way of being in the world. My way is not perfect, but it's generally OK. And it is MY choice! (I still love imagining that I am in control.)
Well, that's enough about MY ways of learning to love myself. I hope you will send your ideas on this topic to me here so we may include them in future editions of Many Voices. We need all the advice on nurturing we can get!
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AFFIRMATIONS - Stay POSITIVE about YOU!
If you need some ideas to get started creating personal affirmations, MV has published good lists in back issues such as August 2007 and December 2004.
Find issues you want through our subject index.
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|ADVICE REQUESTS by MV READERS
I've recently received phone calls from people searching for specific information. One person wanted to know how to talk with "Christian-relatives" who are not willing to consider the problems of ongoing abuse in the family. She still believes in Christianity, but would like to hear how others resolved this sort of spiritual problem.
Another said, "I can relate fairly easily to choosing a life before birth to facilitate
learning for the soul. I am stuck, however, on figuring out how anyone could
choose a life in which being a child abuser is part of the lesson. Also, along
the same lines, how can someone "choose" to be abused as a kid?"
If you have experienced these dilemmas, please share your ideas with us at Many Voices. We'll consider them for an upcoming newsletter.
Winter in Cincinnati, Ohio
Fountain in Clifton's Burnet Woods,
a few blocks from Many Voices'
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Share your insight and creativity on these or other topics:
2010: Online Safety. Spotting danger. Making friends. Avoiding cliques
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ARTWORK: Your computer--friend or foe?
JUNE 2010: Life without therapy. Changing therapists. Coordinating different therapy modalities. ARTWORK: Caring for your Self(ves).
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Call me personally at 513-751-8020. I want to hear from you!
Lynn Wasnak, aka Lynn W., Editor and Executive Director
PO Box 2639
Cincinnati, OH 45201-2639