This is a book that I will recommend again and again! Thriving after Trauma is a beautifully written, inspirational account of courage and resilience. Thanks to author Shari Botwin, LCSW, for both sharing your courageous personal story as well as your expert clinical wisdom. Not to mention, your compassion and heart make this book really hit home.
For a chance to win a signed book, see information at the bottom of this post. Be sure to check out Shari Botwin’s website to learn more.
Thriving After Trauma: Stories of Living and Healing
From Chapter 7: Reaping the Benefits of Your Recovery
HEALING STRATEGIES AS YOU REAP THE BENEFITS OF YOUR RECOVERY
Strategies to Manage Fear, Trust Love, and Use Self-Compassion
- Validate your fear. It is normal to feel afraid of having intimacy if you were hurt by someone physically or mentally. When you feel fear, place it. Ask yourself if these feelings match the relationship or situation you are currently in. For example, has this person or circumstance proven to you that you are in any type of danger, physically, sexually, or emotionally?
- Talk about your fears with your partner, your therapist, your therapy group, or your friends. Keep reminding yourself you are not alone in this feeling.
- Develop a strategy for when the fears take over. If you experience high anxiety or panic attacks when you try to connect with someone or be present in a new situation, implement grounding techniques. If you are doing CBT or DBT, grab your notebook and use the tools of mindfulness for reframing your negative thinking, for example, if you hear yourself saying something like, “He is probably going to be just like my abuser,” or, “Once she finds out more about my past she will never want to stay.” These are thoughts that lead to feeling fear. Ask yourself if you are with a person who is demonstrating a lack of empathy or who places judgment when you open up to that person.
- If you are having flashbacks during intimacy, talk with your partner about how to create safety in that setting. Tell him or her what you need. If there are certain physical sensations that trigger flashbacks, talk about that. Bring that into your therapy. Journal about it. Meditate on the feeling and imagine putting it on a bookshelf as a way to place the fear and remember that it is based on the trauma, not necessarily what is happening in the present.
- Use self-compassion when you question your worth. Are you struggling to feel worthy of the benefits after allowing yourself to work through your trauma? Think of some ways you can love the part of yourself that feels the most unworthy. Imagine talking to your younger or hurt self. Talk to yourself the same as you would to your best friend, daughter, mother, partner, or friend. Grab a journal and write yourself a letter. Remind yourself of the work you have to do to get to the point in your life where you feel safe and happy.
- Continue to talk with friends about your story and which parts you are most determined to reclaim. Did the events or experiences you survived take away your childhood? Did they make you feel like you could never love another person? Did they make you feel like you would never feel safe in your environment? Consider the people you are connected to in the present and write down how they are different from the people who hurt or betrayed you.
Win a Signed Book! To enter to win a copy of Thriving after Trauma, please post a comment below, answering: What is one gift of trauma recovery (i.e., greater empathy, closer spiritual connection, etc.)? Two winners will be randomly selected from all who comment. (Winners must be US residents.)