An Exercise To Quiet Your Self Defeating Self Talk
I'm Coach Rae, one of the APSATS certified partner coaches here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery. I'm also a certified professional life coach, couples relationship coach, and divorce recovery coach. I want to share with you one of my favorite tools for helping women who are just too hard on themselves. I don't know about you, but I don't meet too many women who do not struggle with this to one degree or perhaps in a specific area of their lives. The belief is that they aren't good enough; my best isn't good enough; I'm screwing everything up; I can't hack this; I must be a failure.
Self Care When Triggered By Betrayal Trauma
As a coach, nothing makes me want to cry more than watching these amazing, brave, beautiful, smart women reeling from betrayal trauma, trying to heal while holding all the rest of their lives together, beating themselves up for not doing better, for not doing as well as they think they should, for not being perfect, for having a learning curve when it comes to all of this. Whenever I speak to women on this topic I have to add a little bit of a clarification that this sense of self-condemnation is not one more thing you are doing right. It is actually a sign that you are able to observe what is happening and it gives you some leverage and momentum in terms of being able to turn the tables or shift and re-frame things in a way that instead of being self critical you can actually be self compassionate and self supportive.
Here is the exercise. I recommend listening through as I describe it here first, before actually sitting down to do the exercise for yourself in real time. This will increase you chances of making this a meaningful and genuine distraction-free exercise at your own pace and in your comfort zone.
The first thing to do is to get as calm as possible. This usually means taking a few deep breaths and shaking off some of the voices or gremlins we have been talking about here. From this place of calm, picture as clearing as possible in your mind a woman whom you love dearly. This can be a friend, a sister, a mother, a daughter or maybe someone who has helped you through your experience of betrayal trauma. From this place of clarity, picture this woman carrying on her body`--on her shoulders or arms or back--all of the collective weight, the cumulative stress that you have been carrying in your own life. For some women it is easy to think about what has been stressing them out today or what they have been carrying this week.
For other women, it is helpful to telescope it out further - what has happened in the past month or year - and envision the bulk of this weighing on the shoulders or back or crowding the arms of your dear friend. Imagine what it would feel like for her to go through everything you yourself is going through. Imagine that you catch her out of the corner of your eye and you turn to face her as you think about the things that you would and would not say to this woman. Chances are if this is someone you love you would not say things to her like, "You're a failure," or "You just can't cut it," or "You're pathetic," or "You did it again. Look where you got yourself. This is all your fault."
How To Quiet Self Defeating Thoughts
Instead, think about--and some women find it helpful to write down the things you would say to her instead of those things. Maybe you would say to her, "I see you and I see your burdens and I see your hurts." Maybe you tell her, "I care about you. I'm on your side. I have your back and you don't have to do any of this alone." Maybe you would tell her, "Let me share some of this burden for awhile so you can catch your breath. When you are ready, you can take it back and deal with it then." Maybe you tell her, "I believe in you. I won't give up on you. You are so strong." Maybe it's, "You don't have to be strong forever. You don't need to be perfect. I'm going to love you no matter how this whole things shakes out." Maybe you say, "Let's not talk about this stuff for a little while. Let's take a minute to set it aside and give ourselves a self-care break and laugh about something completely meaningless or silly."
Whatever messages you come up with for your friend, try to make them as meaningful, as personal, as substantive as possible. Ultimately, these messages you are crafting for your friend typically reflect exactly the things you need to hear in your own soul, given that you are the one actually carrying all of this weight upon your own body and your own soul.
When you are doing this exercise, take a few more deep breaths and just sit with the reality of this and how it impacts you to think about everything you are carrying and everything inside that you are deeply craving and wanting and needing to hear. As the final step in this exercise, speak out loud (it may feel hokey; it does for me!) with your own voice what you need to hear with your own ears and absorb with your own soul. See if you experience some kind of shift--a sense of well being that perhaps you are doing better than you are giving yourself credit for. Maybe you have everything it takes to get through this experience in a far better and more successful way than you think you can.
Even though I don't have a lot of time to talk about it right now, I would love to continue this conversation with you. You can leave me a comment or email me at email@example.com. Let me know if this works for you. Are you facing any unexpected roadblocks with the process? Or maybe you are being hard on yourself in ways that an exercise like this just does not conquer. If you prefer a more personal dialogue on this topic, schedule a free 30-minute consultation with myself or any of the other BTR coaches. We can get really specific and strategize some solutions for your specific kinds of self-condemnation and the things that might be sabotaging your attempts to heal from betrayal trauma.
As I wrap up, let me say thank you for giving me a voice in this forum and inviting me into this part of your life and your healing process. I really do hope it has been helpful. I feel like I have done my job today if you are taking away a little bit more hope than you had before, a little more self confidence that maybe you can start talking back to all of these voices and giving them a different tone and a different role and a different kind of input into your life and recovery.
I believe you can do it! I hope you believe you can do it. Most importantly, i hope you know that you do not have to do any of this by yourself. That is what support is for. This is why we all need support along this journey. This is my desire for you as you continue healing from betrayal trauma.