Thanks to ALL of you who read and shared my recent post (7 Things Spiritual Teachers or Friends Should Never Say to Someone with CPTSR CPTSD or Severe Codependency) which went mini-viral which means people were really touched by it. One woman shared it on her Facebook wall along with the note: Please! Memorize this list. I’m SO GLAD!! THANK YOU! These 13 steps are a follow up to that writing. But don’t worry, this one stands on its own. For those of you who follow Pete Walker’s pioneering writings about healing CPTSD, this post is a reframe of his 13 Steps for Managing Emotional Flashbacks.
I would love to know… What are your dreams? What are your struggles? Where in your life could you benefit most from self-championing?
13 Steps for Self-Championing Yourself After Emotional Trauma, CPTSR, CPTSD or Severe Codependency
1. Say to yourself, “I am having a moment of EMBODIED PRESENCE.”
Embodied Presence is a choice to be conscious rather than compulsive. It’s a choice to be awake rather than asleep. It’s a choice to be here, with YOU, right now. It’s a HUGE act of self love.
2. Remind yourself, “I feel content or peaceful or amazing and that is becoming my new normal.”
Having lived through emotional trauma or abuse, you know what it’s like to feel like a misfit, to feel alienated, to feel alone. Validation was not part of your reality. Your perceptions and feelings were not deemed important or worthy. UGH. Feeling content or peaceful or amazing is NOT the norm in our culture, but this doesn’t make you a misfit. It makes you a pioneer, a trailblazer, a light and a beacon. Now that you know this, you can find others who are just like you, who care about growing positive feelings, developing their gifts, nurturing their mindsets and who are being pioneers just like you. You aren’t alone anymore. In this aspect, the internet is very much your friend. Reach out and connect.
3. Own your right/ need to have support.
You weren’t born to grow up and just give-give-give. Or to receive-receive-receive. Humans have hands and elbows, to give and to receive. We are wired for RECIPROCITY. And a reciprocal relationship is one that will allow you to thrive. But there can be 2 challenges for you if you’re coming out of CPTSR/CPTSD or severe codependency. #1: Finding those relationships. If you don’t succeed at first, try, try again. There’s a whole world out here for you to explore. You’re worth it. Do it. #2: Letting yourself be truly RECEPTIVE. If you’ve spent a lifetime overgiving, it can be really difficult at first to let yourself be truly receptive. It can feel humbling and even humiliating at first. Spirituality can help you here when you allow yourself to receive the amazing sense of being part of the grandness of life. You can also look at nature and see how receptive she is. Psychology can also help you here by showing you how to be more discerning, set healthy boundaries and make better choices for yourself.
4. Speak self-championingly to both the inner child in you as well as your inner adult.
You were born to explore, to take risks, to contribute, to take up space IN THE WORLD. Almost every great sports team has a cheerleading team to cheer them on! WHY NOT YOU? Notice who among your friends or family is truly happy for you when you’re feeling good or when you have great news. Let their voices harmonize with your own growing, self-championing words.
5. Engage present-moment awareness.
After emotional abuse, it can be easy to stay in the habit of hiding in your inner cave, no matter what kind of image you are presenting to the world. Take a look outside yourself. Orient yourself to the world. Not in a hyper-alert or hyper-aroused way, but in an innocent, curious manner. Let your senses feed you and fuel you. What do you see, smell, hear, taste and feel right now?
6. Remind yourself that you are in an adult body and that you have options, choices, resources and opportunities that you did NOT have while in an abusive relationship where there was an uneven power dynamic.
Ask yourself, “What would I LOVE to see, hear, touch, smell and taste?” Answering this question is a little risky because it can bring up delight if you can actually have these experiences, but it can also bring up a sense of disappointment if you believe you cannot have them.
If you feel delighted, relish in the feeling, mark it on your calendar and do it! But if you feel disappointed or discouraged, this is for you: remind yourself that you are an adult now and that you can not only handle disappointment but that you can come up with other ways to enjoy your life. Disappointment no longer has to overwhelm you or overpower you or even discourage you. You may have to grieve first, but you can handle that, too! You’ve already been through the ringer. It’s time to let yourself enjoy your freedom now. That’s why self-championing is so awesome and so important.
I encourage you to let yourself imagine something you would like to be or do or have which you can feel is BELIEVABLE to you. Then take baby steps in that direction. You have more agency and power than you were once conditioned to BELIEVE. Baby steps of progress can be a HUGE source of strength and joy, IF YOU LET THEM. That’s one of your powers. Let the self-championing of your baby steps become one of your superpowers!
7. Utilize the greatest gift human beings are bestowed with: your creative imagination.
We get to admire, emulate and aspire to be like others who we deem awesome and great. Gosh, as I read that I realize it might sound so corny. But really, why not? Where else will we get our inspiration from? I love the people who’ve pioneered greatness in our world. When I think about them, I feel elevated. But let’s not stop there! Let’s take our imagination to the PARTY of pure CREATIVITY. Let’s CREATE who we truly want to BE. Here’s a simple 3-step process for you:
- Relax your body and mind. Create a state of being that allows you to be receptive and open to new possibilities. There are many ways to do this, but if you need a starting place, I’ve created a few Embodiment Meditations that help my clients get more centered, focused and receptive at the start of a coaching session. I’ve posted a few live recordings here at the JBL blog. They’re usually around 5 or 10 minutes.
- Bring to mind someone you admire. This person can be real or fiction, living or croaked. Use all of your senses and let your mind creatively “play” as you imagine this person doing something or saying something that makes you feel good. Really employ every sensation that you can in your imagination. Here are a few prompts. What do you see her doing? What do you hear her saying? (Weird example just to give you an extreme: if she’s sitting and meditating, can you hear her slowly breathing)? What do you feel in your body when you imagine her? (examples: I sit taller, my back feels stronger, I feel energy rushing through my legs, I want to stand up and cheer!) What do you smell? (Flowers in the garden? Incense on an altar? Hot dogs at a concert? Soup cooking on the stove? Cookies in the oven?) What do you taste? (This one might not apply, but the more vivid you make this experience, the more you’ll engage your inner sensory muscles, so see how far you can stretch your imagination.)
- Now, with your imagination activated, let yourself EMBODY her or his persona, his or her feeling state, his or her vibe. YES, you can do this. Ask your inner child for help if you need to. When you were a kid, you spent YEARS absorbing other people’s feeling states, behaviors and vibrations. Now, as an adult, YOU CAN DO THIS DELIBERATELY. You are not trying to play pretend. You are “taking” them in. Peak performers do this in sports and business all them time. Todd Herman uncovered this common habit among this crowd and revealed it in his new book, “The Alter Ego Effect.” It’s fun, engaging and powerful. I suggest you take this practice very personally, and DO IT. You really will become your own best self-champion if you do!
8. Embrace any resistance you have to any or all of the above suggestions. LOL!
Neutralizing resistance is KEY to your peace of mind as well as your ability to be the most badass creator when it comes to shaping the life and relationships you most desire. I highly recommend the book Letting Go by David Hawkins, as well as a process I developed based on his work. It’s called WHOLEHEARTED MASTERMIND. You can purchase an example of me and my friends walking through a WHMM worksheet. In the video portion, you can see us releasing a ton of resistance around toxic shame. One of the participants titled it BRING IT ON! You can find it at the JBL store for now. I created the WHMM process because some of my resistances kept hiding and lurking in the shadows of my psyche and I wanted a way to safely find them and bring them to the surface of my mind so they could be set free. It’s truly amazing and it’s fun and it works!
9. Allow yourself to CELEBRATE!
This is such an important aspect of self-care! Earlier I mentioned finding people who reflect your joy back to you when you feel good. Celebrating your baby steps is a powerful way to embody your JOY!! You can celebrate by yourself or with others. It’s a FABULOUS self-championing habit! Give yourself gold stars every time you catch yourself celebrating something you did right. I don’t care how tiny or micro the step is. GOLD STARS FOR YOU! JUST SAY YES! JUST SAY CHEERS!
10. Cultivate “mirroring” relationships that generate feelings of safety, support and security within your body and being.
This might seem like a repeat of the above, but it’s not. I wrote a few blog posts about it because it’s so important! The FELT SENSATIONS in your body are key to your success in the endeavor of becoming your best self-champion. You might have to start the mirroring process in your own imagination, but you’ll DEFINITELY want to develop real, external relationships that offer you a opportunities for truly experiencing secure attachment. Here’s one of my blog posts and a 2 minute video:
- Black Mothers Whom I Admire and Adore – and Mark Twain, too! This one can be a great starting place for exploring examples of mothers who validated and mirrored their children with empathy and championing, even after they became adults. These mothers can serve as role models for our inner champions.
- Mirroring mother and baby – this one had my hair standing on end when I first saw it. Connection speaks through the body. We are wired to recognize it.
11. Identify, name and articulate the types of thoughts that lead you to your best activities, your best feeling-states, your most contented or joyful embodied sensations.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. And repeat some more. If I had to pick only ONE skill for you to choose from this list, this would be it. This is what EVERY GREAT COACH does.
For extra turbo power: You can combine it with the Alter-Ego exercise I described in #7. It can be a great way to EMBODY your best self-champion and CREATE your most AWESOME RESULTS.
12. Imagine and keep re-imagining who you want to become.
Make these grooves in your brain so rich through repetition and creative imagination, so thoroughly wired with positive familiarity, that you can’t help but experience it in your life. Your brain’s reticular activation system – and the entire Universe itself – will conspire to move you, guide you and lead you there. With each re-imagining, you will be stoking the fire within. With each re-imagining, your inner self-champion will become more real and more alive to you.
I dare you to allow him or her to become mythical in scale and size within your imagination. You deserve to feel that AWESOME.
13. Be super patient with yourself.
What I mean is: make this a superpower. Seriously! You are so worthy of that type of kindness and compassion. You are so worthy of that level of BELIEF. Being your own self-champion may require that you establish a new sense of self. This requires new ways of being with yourself and new ways of interacting with the world. It can be one of the most exciting, fun and even profitable journeys you ever take. In fact, I LOVE employing these ideas and I have continually used them to help some of my favorite people increase their business results. It’s so much fun because I never ask them to stare at the scoreboard. But then, we look backwards, and viola, WOWWEE!!! You can read about my coaching and their testimonials here.
I want you to believe in these ideas so that you can empower yourself with them. I want you to practice them and make them a real and stable part of your psyche and your life. I want you to be your own very best self-champion. This is YOUR life. You are so worthy of creating the absolute very best experiences for yourself and those you love. I believe in you. YOU GOT THIS!
Debbie Happy Cohen
also fondly known as HAPPY D!
I want you to LOVE negotiating for JOY! | Author | Coach at Joy-Based Living
ps. you might want to note that we covered each of these 3 aspects of Joy-Based Living throughout this article. GOOD ON YA for learning and growing! Thank you for being with me today!