When Don first contacted me about being a regular columnist for Mind-Body-Thought, I was honored to say the least. We’ve gotten to know each other, initially through twitter, and since then the friendship and mutual respect has blossomed.
As a male survivor of childhood sexual abuse and narcissistic abuse, life takes on a daily set of challenges that can feel overwhelming more often than we may care to admit. It’s that lack of control that can sometimes cause us to spiral out of the small bit of sanctuary that we have created for ourselves to cope with each day.
One of the things that I struggle with on a regular basis, is the feeling of not being able to control my own feelings. As a guy, often times we feel the need to have control of not only ourselves and our feelings, but also our surroundings.
Now, I’m not suggesting that all men feel this way, not wanting to stereotype anyone, but from personal life experience and from those I’ve encountered, this is not a rare occurrence.
It offers a sense of comfort and organization about life. Even if we don’t categorically consider ourselves organized, that feeling of having our mind and thoughts under control, brings a sense of peace in a chaotic world. It’s a feeling of security.
There are limits of course, because not only is the world as a whole, and our little niche on this planet constantly changing and evolving, but our emotions and thoughts can take on a mind of their own at moment’s notice.
the curve ball...
Just when we think things are going pretty good, life throws us a curve ball. It could be a change in our job status, a relationship change, our oldest child moving out of the house, just to name a few. I’m sure you can name a number of similar circumstances that have affected you.
It’s hard enough to roll with the punches, to evolve as life evolves, when you aren’t an abuse survivor. While I’m not suggesting that survivors are any more or less important than any one else, the traumatic past does create an innate sense of helplessness and worry about our current state of being, and what the future holds.
As a survivor, we had zero control over our surroundings, our caregivers, and the circumstances surrounding the abuse itself. That feeling of helplessness carries over into adulthood and can affect our judgment as well as our ability to adapt and cope with life.
When you are groomed to feel helpless and worthless, and to feel like there is no future for you, it’s very easy to slip back into that mindset even long after the abuse has past. Even for the survivor that has spent years and in years in recovery, the past sneaks back up from time to time.
It’s important to first realize that the feeling is normal and natural for someone who has survived so much trauma. It’s also important to not shame ourselves for these feelings, and to give ourselves time to examine them and work through them with “Wise Mind”.
Wise Mind Is...
Wise Mind is the combination of Emotional Mind and Rational Mind. Emotional mind is the reactive, emotionally charged thoughts that often causes us to make rash decisions before thinking them through. Rational Mind is the intellectual, logical approach to the problem. Wise Mind is the marriage between the two; being able to use the emotions we feel in a healthy, positive way, and logically think through the situation to come to the best conclusion.
Where this is a lot more to it than that simple explanation, being able to validate our feelings and thoughts, while working through each one goes a long way towards regaining a feeling of control of one’s self. Again, always being careful to take time to not self shame, and “sit with” our feelings for as long as we need too. Rushing through anything is never a recipe for success.
Even if we can’t control the way that our mind works, we can learn to control the way that we react to our thoughts and the way that we treat ourselves when faced with a tough decision in life.
As I begin this new column here on Don’s blog, I will be exploring life as a survivor of abuse in a validating, encouraging, and inspiring way so that you will always know that you are not alone no matter what you face in life.
I am on this journey with you and we can continue to heal together.
To learn more about him and see all his other articles, go to Matt's Page, Survive, Thrive And Conquer.
Blog Post And Images (c) 2017 by Don Shetterly and Matt
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