One thing that we often overlook in the field of personal growth, is that trauma comes in different shapes and sizes. Physical assault, war, sexual abuse, rape, torture, major accidents, are forms of trauma that we can call as Big T traumas. Experiences like childhood neglect, insecure attachment, verbal abuse and shaming, are also forms of trauma and can be called Small t traumas.
Whether you have experienced a Big T or a Small t trauma, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the kind of imprint it has left on you. One of the enduring effects of trauma is the way it shapes our core beliefs about our self, others and the world. Often those beliefs are based in fear and are limiting in nature.
For example, a sexual abuse survivor may have beliefs such as, “I am dirty and unlovable”, “I don’t feel safe in my body”. A person who was neglected or experienced insecure attachment as a child, may have beliefs such as, “I am not good enough”, “I am not worthy of love”, “If I show my true self, then people would leave me”, etc.
These beliefs are quite damaging to our sense of self and our psyche tries to protect our core self from this damage by creating defensive structures. Over time these defensive scripts can become so well-practiced that they act like a separate personality in our psyche. We can experience these “parts” as the Inner Critic, the Fixer, the Fighter, the Addict, the Perfectionist, the Caretaker and other forms, depending on what you needed to adapt to your life situations and protect yourself from the effects of trauma. This forms the basis of “parts work” in therapy and I discuss it further in the article on Internal Family Systems.
It could be that you experienced trauma, but did not get PTSD-like symptoms and instead picked up some negative core beliefs. These core beliefs are now hampering your life and your relationships in myriad ways and no amount of positive talk seems to help.
In my practice, I use techniques such as parts work to identify the inner personalities and aspects of yourself that are holding these negative core beliefs. These are like software programs in your operating system which haven’t been updated since 1998. We working on updating these parts with more positive, adaptive and life affirming beliefs.
It could be that parts work and Inner Child work might not be enough in some circumstances and we need to work on transforming the way the traumatic memory is stored in your psyche. That’s when we bring out the heavy guns and use EMDR therapy for trauma processing, after making sure that this modality is suitable for you. Read more about EMDR therapy here.
If you are suffering from negative beliefs and want to reprogram them to something positive, then contact me for a free 30-min phone consultation and we will go from there.