I was scrolling through Facebook one evening in early January and came upon what looked like an interesting clip. I decided to click on it and found myself quite moved by the words of the mom in the video. Her words struck me at a personal level and were also relevant to the clients I work with, young and old. We all carry negative beliefs about ourselves and they can become so interfering. My New Year’s Resolution is to notice my own negative self-talk and observe how it impacts me in my relationships.
During a recent therapy session, an adult woman who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of close family members was having difficulty understanding that it was not her fault--a common struggle for survivors. She also has gaps in her memories and couldn’t remember what led up to the abuse, so she assumed she must have thought it was ok.
I had her bring in a picture of her very young self. She brought in a picture of when she was five. Ironically, that is when the abuse started. I had her look at herself and try to tell that sweet little girl in that picture that it was she who wanted to have sex and that it was her responsibility. Of course, she could not do it. There were many tears and great sadness. That picture helped her remember just how little she was. She keeps the picture with her now so when she is back-sliding and feeling guilt and shame, she can pull it out to help her remember and to have some compassion for her little self.
Deb, Stefanie, Angi and I are posting pictures of our younger selves as a reminder to us all in our roles as therapists, daughters, mothers or in any other role we have…when we find self-compassion, we naturally find more compassion for others…when we ourselves find healing, we are better able to be a healing presence to the others in our lives.