April 28, 2015

On Steps Two and Three: The Sanity and Decision Factors

This week, we wrap up our series with Rivka Edery, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. in which she shares the healing power of trust and letting go of control.

STEP TWO:   “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” 

In social work we say: “Start from where the client is.”  This applies to trust issues:  if you feel you cannot trust enough to ask for help, then you have just identified your starting point. You will begin your journey from the place of “I don’t / can’t trust”.

During your personal process of recovery from trauma, by applying the Twelve Steps, you will learn the difference between belief and trust.  A person can believe that a spiritual power exists; but that does not mean that he necessarily trusts that power. 

It is true that traumatic events shake up your world, have you questioning the meaning of life, and this puts up barriers to trust.  The goal of trusting a power greater than you can be an exacting taskmaster.  As a result, many survivors are attempting to do much more to heal than what once was
just a longing.  Having the courage to take your first steps in recovery is what lays down the bricks on your path, in order to “come to believe” that you could be restored to wholeness.

When you apply Step Two to your own life, you can begin the process of developing a sense of trust for safe others.  The essence of Step Two is coping with loss, including grieving for what is now gone and cannot be undone (perhaps you were once a very trusting person; innocent and vulnerable, and something or someone robbed that from you).  It is also about learning to know a Power greater than yourself, as a loving, sustaining energy, and not as an authority figure that will harm or control you.  Step Two is also about achieving some cognitive understanding that no matter what happened to you, a Power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity and integrity.  Think about this for a moment.  You are not to be blamed for your loss of trust, or any other reaction or formed beliefs.  Actually, it was a perfect response in the context of what happened.  

STEP THREE:  “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” 

You have worked Steps One and Two with a safe and trusted person – you have surrendered and you have demonstrated your willingness to try a new approach to your life experiences.  When you admit your powerlessness over your traumatic history, you learn a comforting and critical truth: that you experienced certain painful life events that you absolutely could not have controlled. You were also not always in control of the coping patterns that have emerged.  For some survivors, this can be a frightening and humbling experience. 

In addition to your traumatic life experiences, there are numerous things in life you cannot control.  Your willingness to view your experiences in a different light infuses you with a new sense of hope and relief.  However, if you do not translate your hope into action, you will revert to old behaviors.  

Your old behaviors, formulated by you as coping mechanisms, leave you feeling resentful, frustrated and angry.  As a trauma survivor, you try to be in control in many different ways.  Using your sexuality as punishment or reward, using guilt, dishonesty or “learned helplessness” to get your way, you try to get the results you want.

Another very common dysfunctional behavioral approach in dealing with people is trying to “take care of” or “fix” things, even if it is unsolicited, unnecessary or inappropriate.  Some of you may resort to threatening others, manipulating, or bullying to get your way, even if these tactics are not necessarily used maliciously. 

Your willingness to receive the care of a power greater than yourself will produce a life-changing transformational shift, because it opens you to new, broader possibilities.  You participate in rather than try to control life.  No one gets anything right without an appropriate amount of practice and patience, and this step is no different.

If you are anything like the average person, you will find that your openness will come and go.  However, as long as you remain on your personal spiritual path, a little bit of faith is enough to bring you back.  When you feel like giving up, remember that you are wired for growth and change (neo-plasticity).  By remaining honest, open and willing (H.O.W), you will be in the best position to change any negative and false beliefs about your Higher Power, yourself, and other people. 

Thank you so much for your participation up until this point!  I am delighted to have had this opportunity!  If you are interested in learning more about this process, please see my contact information below.  Good luck on your healing journey, and trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. 

Rivka Edery, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Social Science and a Masters in Social Work from Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service.  She is a highly intuitive and sensitive psychotherapist, with a private practice in Brooklyn, NY, and is a first time author specializing in trauma recovery and spirituality.  She has been active in the treatment and recovery field for more than eighteen years.  Since 2009, she has been working as a clinical social worker assisting clients who are recovering from trauma-related disorders.  She has treated numerous clients and has talked with hundreds of recovering addicts.  As her career was advancing, Rivka wondered if the ancient spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous could be applied to the healing of trauma.  One day, she was suddenly inspired with an idea that had a firm hold on her and has not let go since.  It combined the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous that saved her life, with life problems that are a result of surviving traumatic experiences.  The result is a unique approach for trauma survivors who are seeking a combined spiritual and clinical approach to their personal effects of surviving trauma. www.rivkaedery.com

Author of: “Trauma and Transformation: A 12-Step Guide”
To purchase my book, “Trauma And Transformation: A 12-Step Guide” (2013): http://goo.gl/o3BndU

My podcast, "Trauma and Transformation: A 12-Step Guide", is available at the iTunes Store, Microsoft Windows Zune, and other podcast providers. You can search using my name, book title, or key words.

Bi-weekly Radio Show Guest Host
National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA)
“Stop Child Abuse Now" talk show.  Every other Thursday is SPECIAL TOPIC Night - "Child Abuse, Trauma and 12-Step Recovery". Please see our web page at: www.NAASCA.org/Trauma-12Step

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