Emotional trauma is a part of all of our lived experience; As humans, we all experience emotional hurt. However, it is the beliefs that grow out of these hurts that cause long-term suffering for us in life and not actually the initial hurt. Often these negative beliefs are ones that lessen our sense of personal power, especially in terms of worth, ability, or safety and security. It is these traumatic beliefs that actually need to be healed and not the initial hurt that triggered the beliefs.
Traumatic beliefs have a few characteristics that are important to understand before self-healing can begin.
They are unique to each person. Two people can experience the same emotional hurt and those two people will develop different beliefs in response to the hurt.
They are self-fulfilling in nature (in a negative way). If a belief that we are not good enough emerges from an emotional hurt, then we subconsciously create life experiences that uphold and fulfill this strong, negative belief and then fulfill and create more evidence for why this belief is the truth…yes, a vicious cycle.
The belief persists because an emotional need is going unmet. If we allowed ourselves to feel worthy (the need), then unworthiness (the belief) would not persist.
They are ours; We own our beliefs and therefore, we are the only ones who have the ability to change them. Hurts may have been caused initially by others, but in order to heal the beliefs that developed, we have to take full responsibility for our own healing.
The emotional pain we experience as a result of our negative beliefs is our alarm system. It is telling us “Alert! Alert! There is an intruder! There is pain here that needs to be healed”
Now that we understand a bit about the general character of these beliefs, we can begin to explore the unique specifics of our own negative beliefs. A good way to narrow down the beliefs that might be active in your life are to look at themes. What type of negative beliefs are you carrying?
Theme #1 Power:
“I don’t have power over what happens”
“I can’t change”
“Nothing will ever be different”
“This is how I’ve always been and always will be”
Theme #2 Worth:
“I’m not good enough”
“Nobody likes me”
“I’m not smart enough/good looking enough/social enough/, etc”
Name calling and comparisons to others
Theme #3 Loss:
“No one will ever love me again”
“I am going to be alone forever”
Theme #4 Safety and Security:
“The world is a scary place”
“I can’t trust others”
“I can’t trust my own self or instincts”
“What if something goes wrong?”
“What if I make the wrong decision”
Maybe your beliefs are connected to one of these themes and maybe they are connected to a few or all of these themes. It’s ok if you have several negative beliefs or if you have one very subborn and persistent one. They can all be healed
Check your readiness and commitment level to having change happen. It is ok if you are not ready. This work takes some energy and focus. Just know that when you do become ready, that healing and change are very possible.
If you are ready for change, take some time pondering these themes in negative beliefs. Grab a pencil!
Start to become familiar with your own negative beliefs. Begin to scientifically, and non-judgementally, observe some of the self-talk you hear in your mind or even hear yourself say out loud. Self-talk is how our beliefs manifest in our daily lives. Take notes. What is that self-talk? When is it happening? Is there a particular environment or time of day where it is strongest? When is it less active?
Once you have gathered some solid data over several days, you are ready to carry forward with healing your emotional trauma. Part 2 of this post will be up soon enough and walk you through the process, but in the meantime, get to know your negative beliefs.