Angela Shelton takes a quick Yoga break with Rochelle Balin

Check out this brief & informative segment for Survivor Manual where Angela Shelton gets some quick yoga tips from Celebrity Yoga instructor, Rochelle Balin:

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How to Overcome Negative Self-Talk

I have described how shame and self-blame are  natural consequences of childhood trauma. Negative self-talk is one way these feelings get carried into adulthood.

What do I mean by negative self-talk? Shame, that felt sense that one is innately bad, often shows up as a sort of running inner monologue detailing your shortcomings. Sometimes this process is referred to as “replaying old tapes”, meaning messages you received from others are now being played over and over in your own mind. Remember, the source of your shame came from outside of you, from those who neglected and/or abused you. As you start to become more aware of your inner critical voice you may in fact realize you are repeating what was said to you by your abusers! Stupid, ugly, worthless or fill in the blank with your inner insults: were these things you were called? If not this direct, they may certainly be what the abuse or neglect made you feel!

I have written before about one particular variant of negative self talk: body image critique.  One really pervasive form this inner critique can take is  “Fat Talk”.

Fat Talk describes all of the statements made in everyday conversation that reinforce the thin ideal and contribute to women’s dissatisfaction with their bodies. Examples of fat talk may include: “I’m so fat,” “Do I look fat in this?” “I need to lose 10 pounds” and “She’s too fat to be wearing that swimsuit.” Statements that are considered fat talk don’t necessarily have to be negative; they can seem positive yet also reinforce the need to be thin – “You look great! Have you lost weight?”

Negative self-talk can take other forms and focus on any or all aspects of your behavior, and perhaps most damaging, your very character or sense of self. Another common source of shame that leads to inner judgment is the expression of emotions. Trauma survivors have often learned to shut off or deny their normal range of feelings. Depending on your family, culture or even gender you may have internalized powerful messages about it not being acceptable to feel or express certain emotions. Anger, vulnerability and sadness, for example, may have been things you were punished for or told made you weak or bad. This really complicates healing as an adult. How many times do you find yourself judging yourself for the very things your therapist or support systems encourage as part of your healing? How do you respond to your own crying, for example?

As with type of change, the first step is becoming more aware. Try this experiment: tune in for a day to the internal conversations you have. Really focus on the specifics. It helps to write it down. What do you say to or about yourself? How much is positive or neutral? How much is negative? Would you speak to anyone else the way you do to yourself? Have you heard these messages from anyone outside of yourself? Are you able to be aware of internal conversation from other parts of you, if you have a dissociative disorder? Try listening instead of automatically tuning it out. I know it can be scary but it can also give you lots of insight.

Those with dissociative disorders like DID may hear this kind of inner judgment and criticism from different parts of themselves. I know, sometimes it is so extreme can feel really overwhelming. I get that the last thing you want to do is communicate with someone who seems to hate you! There is in my experience always more to understand about this than meets the eye.  And no better way to resolve this dynamic than to increase internal communication. It is of course crucial to keep working towards the understanding that no part of you is to blame for the abuse that was done to you.

With increased awareness of the specifics of your own negative self-talk comes choice. You can decide to work on changing the negatives to positives (or at least neutrals)! You can decide to adopt an attitude of compassion toward all parts of yourself. You can stop the internal name calling even if you do not yet believe differently. Simply stopping your use of shaming words directed at yourself can have a profound effect! Try it and see.

For more tips check out this great detailed article:  Negative Self-Talk: How We Can Stop It. I will highlight some bullet points here but it is worth reading in detail!

Read the rest at Treating Trauma in Chicago.

Treating Trauma from a MIND/BODY perspective

Treating trauma from a mind/body perspective is the key to unfolding the process of the traumatic effects of sexual and emotional abuse. Current research in neurobiology point to the physiological connection between how emotional affects increase arousal in the body which then in turn create physical issues like chronic tension and other ailments like autoimmune disorders.

Since there is evidence that both mind (what we think) and body (what we feel) are in fact scientifically connected, we know that to treat trauma both mind and body must be addressed. However, even though this is true, only some are able to get this kind of treatment either because of lack of knowledge about its availability or simply because it just doesn’t exist.

That is where I come in. My mission in this lifetime is to bring this treatment to each of you in a way that you can use it to empower and heal yourself. Because there are multiple ways of peeling this onion, we need to put take each layer and go slowly. Every post I will go through some technique or application that I feel would be useful for you to do at home. To begin, I will  give you a mind/body writing exercise to to help you focus on your physical, emotional and cognitive history.  A body map in a sense that you can use to detail your bodily experience through specific times in your life. This exercise might also help you get adjusted to the present tense at the same time as giving some credit to the past even though it might be painful. Before you begin, you should know that this process will or could unleash some emotions, but please try and welcome them  as they are releasing from your system and can be addressed more easily in the present moment. One last word before we begin. In giving you any kind of therapeutic help/tips, I in no way intend to cure, treat or heal  any one person. I am not acting as your therapist nor am I advising or prescribing any treatment to anyone but merely suggesting these exercises have been helpful for numerous clientele. I am sharing these with you first hand because of Angela and her network of fierce women. I hope you understand, however if you should have or want an emotional release bodywork session or wish to contact me, I am available for appointments by phone, skype and in person in my San Francisco office during the weekdays Monday through Friday 9-5. http://www.alisonleigh.net/resume.html

415-377-9851

NOW- to get you started on the road to recovery, we are going to begin with a body map, both physical and emotional.

“Seeing is believing but feeling, now that is exceptional. ” als

1)PHYSICAL BODY MAPPING JOURNEY™ exercise by Alison Leigh, MFT

Take out a sheet of paper and write down your “physical body journey”. This is  a chronology of your body from the very beginning of time. It includes *facts* not feelings. It also includes *objectivity* , meaning your describing a narrative of what you saw from a perspective *about* your body. Similar to your seeing your body from another perspective. In other words, you didn’t feel it, but you saw it, you observed it. “I saw my body growing, I saw my body moving faster than the boys, “i noticed my  physical appearance as (insert here). It might sound something like,  “my body came out of my mom at 7.4 lbs”. “When i was 8, i remember jumping, climbing trees and running around with my brother”. Write down your active moments, your non-active times, and everytime in between. Write down times you or another used or abused your body. “she did this to me, or he did that to me”.  Or, perhaps you were inactive but used your body to do simple things, like play board games.  It may sound like this, “I remember playing chess with my grandfather but I was not into sports much”. Remember to include physical injuries and how they made you feel plus physical victories, (do you remember getting taller?  Stronger? Sexier?). If you find this exercise too overwhelming, then just choose one year of your life or maybe even one day.  You could choose a decade or from a particular age like 13-20, or your entire 35th year. So, again, you are writing from *just* a physical bodily perspective. It would be as if your body was talking and writing the story herself.

2) After you are done, email it to me or a friend and discuss. You would be surprised how much you get out of this exercise.(askalisonleigh@gmail.com)

3) EMOTIONAL BODY MAPPING JOURNEY exercise™ by Alison Leigh, MFT

Now, I would like you to do the same here, but this time, either choose the same time period as you did earlier, or you can choose a new one. Describe in detail the emotional body feelings you had during that time. You might say something like, “I felt hopeless, I had feelings of despair”. Or you might say, “It was the first time in my life I felt love and I felt it all over my body”. Remember to note *where* in your body you felt it. People feel their feelings everywhere or sometimes in a specific place. Even, sometimes they don’t or can’t locate them. That is okay. Try anyway. If that doesn’t work, you can just say, “I felt it but didn’t know where”. In contrast, there are feelings that aren’t felt, called, “numbness”. That is where you might tend to disappear, dissociate and forget. If that happened, that is okay too. Just stay with that. Don’t try and change the past just note it. Saying what was in the past won’t hurt you now, it just names the fact as it *was* without a label. (unless you put one there) Remember while writing that often times there will be two voices speaking at once. One will be the cognitive (brain) talking. That is the one who tells the story, no matter how you feel, that is the author. Then, there is the emotional body story teller who tells the story of how it feels, instead of *what* happened. Sometimes, the two get mixed up and it’s all confusing. That is why I’m separating them here. This way, you get a fresh perspective on both ends. You will hear from your physical body as well as your cognitive mind. The cognitive mind often times does not get along with the physical body voice so often times people have challenges in that area. Your body’s words might say, “I liked what he was doing to me”, and your cognitive words  might say, “I hated what he was doing”. In anycase, just write down your feelings, and just note your thoughts about that. Should you have any questions, please let me know. Until then, enjoy your process and be open to what you might find. I believe it might help heal you.

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