May 4, 2011
What's to Gain by Knowing What Was Lost?
As I work with clients recovering from trauma/abuse, the common thread that ties each client to the other is the desire to stop certain thoughts or behaviors. Clients are often focused on what they want to “cut out” rather than what they want to “add in” when they initially start coaching.
Whenever we experience trauma/abuse, however, two things are occurring. We are both gaining and losing. We gain irrational beliefs, pain, anger, distrust … but we also lose a relationship, security, freedom, energy, joy …
As you begin a journey of recovery, I encourage you to first spend time reflecting on what it is you would like to “get back” that was lost as a result of the trauma/abuse. Knowing what you want to “add in” will get you much further along than focusing on what it is you want to “cut out.”
Why is that? Starting a behavior is much easier than stopping a behavior! If we think of a behavior or thought as something we have to “stop,” we struggle more. I think being told or telling ourselves to “stop” just triggers our inner two year olds, and we stubbornly refuse to cooperate.
For example, one client wanted to stop feeling extreme anger every time her boyfriend failed her in some way. As we worked together, we discovered that one of the things she’d lost as a result of childhood abuse was the ability to trust that she could depend on others. We shifted away from talking about how to stop being angry and instead focused on what she would need to start thinking or doing in order to trust others. She learned some new communication skills. She started looking for times when the boyfriend came through rather than focusing only on the mistakes (which, as it turned out, were actually few and far between but previously seemed to be occurring frequently because this is where her focus was). She also started to challenge the belief that others would always let her down. After about two months, she was able to respond to being let down or disappointment in a healthy way minus the excessive anger.
As I was thinking about this topic, I came across this acronym for people who want to stop smoking:
S = Set a quit date.
T = Tell family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit.
A = Anticipate and plan for the challenges you'll face while quitting.
R = Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home, car, and work.
T = Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit.
START! While the outcome is to end the behavior of smoking, the path to getting there is to start – to focus on what needs to be added in rather than what needs to be cut out. By doing so, you will gain momentum, perspective, and the motivation needed to experience real transformation. Love it!
If you’d like to explore what you’ve lost as a result of trauma/abuse and get started on a road to recovery, I encourage you to schedule a free 30 minute discovery session so you can learn more about how coaching can support you.
P.S. I'm still running my "4 Free Sessions" deal for all new clients. If we decide to work together, your first four sessions are free - no strings attached!
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