Self-Soothing

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Butterfly

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Re: Self-Soothing
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2014, 11:59:46 PM »
Thanks Kizzie. Here's some highlights from Walker on inner child that helped me understand better and is something I can work with going forward.

When a child’s mothering needs are adequately met, self-compassion is installed at the core of her being. When the same is true of her fathering needs, self-protection also becomes deeply imbedded. Self-compassion is the domicile of recovery, and self-protection is its foundation. When self-compassion is sufficiently established as a “home base” to return to in difficult times, an urge to be self-protective naturally arises from it. Living in the world without access to these primal instincts of survival is truly terrifying.
. . .
Self Mothering
Let us return to the concept of self-mothering. As mother to ourselves, we commit to increasing our self-compassion and unconditional positive regard. Self-mothering is a resolute refusal to indulge in self-hatred and self-abandonment. It proceeds from the realization that self-punishment is counterproductive. It is enhanced by the understanding that patience and self-encouragement are more effective than self-judgment and self-rejection in achieving recovery. You can enhance your self-mothering skills by imaginatively creating a safe place in your heart where your inner child and your present time self are always welcome. Consistent tenderness towards yourself welcomes the child into the adult body you now inhabit, and shows him that it is now a nurturing place protected by a warm and powerful adult. Self-mothering can be enhanced by thought-correcting the critic’s negative messages with healing words that the child in all likelihood never heard from his parents.   

Here then are some useful messages for nurturing the growth of your self-compassion and self-esteem. I recommend that you imagine speaking them to your inner child, especially when you are suffering with a flashback.

Reparenting Affirmations
    I am so glad you were born.
    You are a good person.
    I love who you are and am doing my best to always be on your side.
    You can come to me whenever you’re feeling hurt or bad.
    You do not have to be perfect to get my love and protection.
    All of your feelings are okay with me.
    I am always glad to see you.
    It is okay for you to be angry and I won’t let you hurt yourself or others when you are.
    You can make mistakes - they are your teachers.
    You can know what you need and ask for help. You can have your own preferences and tastes.
    You are a delight to my eyes.
    You can choose your own values.
    You can pick your own friends, and you don’t have to like everyone.
    You can sometimes feel confused and ambivalent, and not know all the answers.
    I am very proud of you.

Self Fathering
While self-mothering focuses primarily on healing the wounds of neglect, self-fathering heals the wounds of being helpless to protect yourself from parental abuse, and by extension from other abusive authority figures. Self-fathering aims at building assertiveness and self-protection.   

One of my favorite self-fathering exercises is the time machine rescue operation. I have used it to help myself and to help clients. With clients I use it to model a process for fighting off the overwhelming sense of helplessness that often accompanies emotional flashbacks. This is a version of the time machine rescue operation that I use with myself as well as with my clients. I tell my inner child that, if time travel is ever possible, I will travel back into the past and put a stop to my parents’ abusiveness. 

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Butterfly

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Re: Self-Soothing
« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2014, 12:03:04 AM »
This helps me understand why my primary problem is freezing and unable to protect myself. I was groomed to comply, I wasn't protected but instead enF passed onto me his own response of doing anything possibile to calm the beast including staying mute, apologizing, agreeing and to avoid it in the first place by making myself as small, insignificant and hidden away.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2014, 12:04:42 AM by Butterfly »

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Kizzie

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Re: Self-Soothing
« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2014, 06:53:23 PM »
Tks for this Butterfly, I really find it helpful to think about the need to "reparent" myself.  I love the part in Walker's book where he talks about telling his IC he would go back in the time machine and send his parents to bed without dinner, and his IC "laughed in delight." I was was groomed to be a "good daughtter" too so the thought of being mischievious, cheeky and a little bit bad a** really appealed to my IC. 

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Annegirl

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Re: Self-Soothing
« Reply #18 on: September 16, 2014, 02:51:15 PM »
These things are all SO helpful and interesting. Thank you for starting this off.
For my children I make sure they can come to me with all their emotions and hug them through it. Rub their backs, they sit on my lap, if they want me to just sit with them and take an interest in what they are doing etc etc etc
I want them to know it's ok to have anger etc and it helps them be very stable, it is so encouraging for me to see how mature they are, even more understanding of themselves and their own needs than I was when I was in my twenties and they are only 2-10 (4 children in between these ages)
Is thumbsucking a form of self soothing?
I also play piano and violin and write songs which really helps.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2014, 03:03:38 PM by Annegirl »

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bee

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Re: Self-Soothing
« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2014, 05:15:01 PM »
What do you do if self soothing is triggering? Has anyone else experienced this?
I believe self soothing is supposed to be calming, but even reading the lists of what to do makes me cry. It's like my inner child is sooo desperate for what she never got, that even the thought of getting a little soothing sends her over the edge. I've tried self soothing when I am upset, and it seems to result is an escalation of crying, up until I am so upset, that I am upset over being upset. I would feel like a complete ninny admitting this, but it is not a choice I make, it happens no matter how hard I fight it. I've even tried the opposite, of just going with it, same thing, a sobbing mess.
The only thing that works is to detach. My T has helped me create a 'peaceful place' in my head. If I concentrate I can focus on that, and go there in my head, then I can calm down.
This topic has been very helpful, in that I now realize that thinking of self soothing triggers an EF.
My uPDM was one who liked to say, 'I'll give you something to cry about.' So no soothing there. And my enF said 'Don't upset your M, you know how she is.' so no protection there.

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pam

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Re: Self-Soothing
« Reply #20 on: September 17, 2014, 02:25:50 AM »
"All of your feelings are okay with me."

I LOVE THIS ONE!

Also I read the other day in Walker's book somewhere in the codependent section:

"Disapproval is okay with me."

I smile and laugh because part of me loves it and another part thinks it's crazy. I used to be triggered into suicidal feelings from rejection so I have improved a lot with this, but seeing this sentence made it seem so unimportant (getting approved of). Hopefully I can truly make it sink in.

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pam

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Re: Self-Soothing
« Reply #21 on: September 17, 2014, 02:32:40 AM »
What do you do if self soothing is triggering? Has anyone else experienced this?
I believe self soothing is supposed to be calming, but even reading the lists of what to do makes me cry. It's like my inner child is sooo desperate for what she never got, that even the thought of getting a little soothing sends her over the edge. I've tried self soothing when I am upset, and it seems to result is an escalation of crying, up until I am so upset, that I am upset over being upset. I would feel like a complete ninny admitting this, but it is not a choice I make, it happens no matter how hard I fight it. I've even tried the opposite, of just going with it, same thing, a sobbing mess.
The only thing that works is to detach. My T has helped me create a 'peaceful place' in my head. If I concentrate I can focus on that, and go there in my head, then I can calm down.
This topic has been very helpful, in that I now realize that thinking of self soothing triggers an EF.
My uPDM was one who liked to say, 'I'll give you something to cry about.' So no soothing there. And my enF said 'Don't upset your M, you know how she is.' so no protection there.

Bee, I'm not sure how to ask about this, so I will give an example and maybe you will know if it's the same thing.

Once recently I got mad and ripped up a paper I had made that had an inspiring message on it. (Cant remember why I did this, lol) Then my boyfriend got the pieces and taped them together and came over stood next to me and pu this arm around me and handed it to me. It was the nicest thing anyone ever did! And I cried and cried. What he did was so perfect (altho in the past he would just yell at me--he's got PTSD too and we trigger each other to our pasts a lot!) It was something NO ONE ever did. Noon ewas ever patient and understanding and tried to make things better for me. So it was just too much! I also felt a little undeserving, but I tried hard to let myself accept this gesture of love & caring.

Another example is from my childhood--I remember when i was crying once, I took my teddy bear's hand and wiped my tears with it, feeling like he cared about me, but it backfired--I cried way harder then!

It is kind of confusing but I think it's ok to cry about it. Maybe it's a good release if you do. IDK.

Re: Self-Soothing
« Reply #22 on: September 18, 2014, 09:58:17 AM »
What do you do if self soothing is triggering? Has anyone else experienced this?

Now that I think of it... yes, a bit. My reason is different from yours. I can't trust good things. I think it's because my mother regularly blew up "for no reason". She had reasons enough, of course, but since she "protected" my brother and myself from knowing the worst things, we never had a way of knowing what mood she'd be in. So the abuse came erratically. It really felt like someone was flipping a switch. Ever since, I can't trust it if people are "too nice" to me.

Why is that? Hm. I think for one thing, I was caught in an up-down-up-down, wavy kind of rhythm: aggressive emotional and some (mild) physical abuse, followed by neglect and the "softer" forms of abuse (withholding, trivializing, "advice", "helping"). And yes, that got interspersed with really good times. But those good times are a part of the pattern. So people being "too nice" makes me think the whole pattern is going to start all over again. It's Pavlovian, probably.

And if people are "too nice", that might mean (so my child self thinks) that they have over-blown expectations in me; that they simply mistake me for a person who deserves all that kindness and attention. Soon as they'll find out what I'm really like, our relationship will freefall into abuse.

Lastly, my life has taught me to be wary. Anyone can be in an exceptionally good mood that makes them be suddenly generous towards you. That won't last. It's fairy gold that melts away in the morning. What lasts are slow, steady acts of affection.

And my mother's a Hero Child who was parentalized at a young age. She's a very helpful, generous person, but then pulls back and distances herself when she gets exhausted. So she can go from a high degree of kindness and care directly to Medium Freeze. So maybe I'm still misreading kindness and care as a part of that kind of thing. I prefer low-key kindliness to a shower of affection. A pendulum that swings too far in one direction will swing just as far in the other.

Also, having had a taste of good things (kindness, or an abuse-free environment) makes the return to "normality" heartbreakingly difficult.

Funny. At first I thought our stories are really different. But your question has made me realized why I'm sometimes so avoidant when it comes to taking care of myself. Thanks for asking that question, then.  :)

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Annegirl

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Re: Self-Soothing
« Reply #23 on: September 18, 2014, 10:29:06 AM »
Also Pete Walker talks about if you find it difficult to love yourself, this is similar to being triggered by self soothing I believe. He says because of our parent's abandonment we abandon ourselves. Maybe this is where the trigger starts.....(pg 249 CPTSD from surviving to thriving: Pete Walker)

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Kizzie

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Re: Self-Soothing
« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2014, 05:07:46 PM »
Hey Bee - I have had this exact reaction, I just didn't realize it before. There was a time whenever I'd go to the doctor's or was in the hospital I would feel like I wanted to break down crying, not because I was afraid but because they were taking care of me!   It brought out a deep, deep hunger for any form of caring and triggered an EF.  I hadn't thought about my reaction in a long time.

And acts of kindness have sometimes triggered me too.  So it's not only negative things that can trigger us, the positives (things we crave like love, tenderness, caring) can as well - yes.  Tks for your post Bee, it has given me some more insight into EFs and soothing. Back to your reaction though, would it help to work with your T get through the grief in smaller, more manageable steps do you think?
 

 

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bee

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Re: Self-Soothing
« Reply #25 on: September 19, 2014, 04:23:28 AM »
pam - yes that's what I mean. Thank you for understanding.

schrodinger's cat - I also feel very uneasy when things are going well. Anytime I got to feeling too good about anything my uPDM would swoop in and do something that would make me wish nothing good would ever happen to me again. Thank you for showing me the connection.

Annegirl- thank you for the Pete Walker reference about self abandonment, I will look into that.

Kizzie - thank you for sharing that you too have experienced this. I think my T saw how difficult soothing is for me, and that's why she taught me how to calm myself with a peaceful place in my head.

Because of suggestions on here I asked my inner child what she wanted to do when I was upset earlier this week. She said she wanted to draw. So I got some paper and crayons and was calm in minutes. It is sort of letting my inner child soothe herself, but it worked.


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Badmemories

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Re: Self-Soothing
« Reply #26 on: September 19, 2014, 04:28:51 AM »
That is great! Now You have one tool that You can use to help YOU!

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pam

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Re: Self-Soothing
« Reply #27 on: September 20, 2014, 05:45:28 PM »
Bee, I'm glad you asked and then let your inner child do what she wanted. Inner child expression always works for me too. I believe they are the ones who need to work it out and feel what they need to. In my life, the more I let that happen, the less flashbacks I will have. Makes total sense, doesn't it?  ;)

I have a question for everyone--especially Kizzie, since you mentioned how being taken care of (at the doctor's or at the hospital) and other acts of kindness have triggered that hunger for caring. I totally relate to that too. I have actually cried like a baby in the past from nice comments people wrote on my blog over at SAS. I feel like my younger self at the time and I'm happy but crying those hot tears that hurt when they come out! Ok, so I was going to ask: How do we know that we are having EFs? Couldn't it just be that we are more sensitive all around? (I also cry when I watch Disney movies or if I see any child at all on TV who is crying, I have to cry along with them). Maybe I just answered my own question--I felt like a kid again.......But what I don't understand is what EVENT or experience am I flashing back to? I'm not sure. Usually I flash back to negative things.

Also what happens when we get "better"? Are we going to be less sensitive?!?  :-\  Because honestly, I like that I cry easily--I just want to feel more comfortable/less embarassed about it. I don't want to lose that trait.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2014, 05:49:58 PM by pam »

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Kizzie

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Re: Self-Soothing
« Reply #28 on: September 20, 2014, 06:04:45 PM »
Oh yes, those hot tears that hurt Pam, I know what you mean.

I think there is a difference when I'm crying because I'm having an EF and when I'm just sad or happy about something in general.  And as you mentioned, I feel like my younger self is doing the crying  whereas when  I watch a sad movie (that doesn't trigger me in some way), it is adult me. It's not the same welling up of painful emotions that seems to accompany EF crying - like when I would go for medical care and I would experience this deep yearning for care (although I'm not sure I knew then quite what was going on). 

 And I don't think it's always a particular event that we flash back to, in fact that's the difference between PTSD and CPTSD (although we can trigger because of a single event - confusing I know), it's all the backlog/logjam/repressed feelings from being abused that we shoot into if I am understanding Walker correctly.  In my case it was emotional abuse so when I flash back to use Walker's word, a "melange" of feelings rush over me, the deprivation, loneliness and the loss of love and safety I felt in my childhood rather than specific scenes of being physically or sexually abused. I may occasionally see an incident where someting abusive happened, but usually it's this rush of feelings.

That's my take on things at this point in my recovery anyway. Good questions/points Pam (and everyone) - really helps us unpick this CPTSD tangle  :D

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CrystalB

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Re: Self-Soothing
« Reply #29 on: October 09, 2014, 11:48:43 PM »
Hi, all.  I have found Belaruth Naperstak ' s six CD Guided Imagery for PTSD very healing.  I listen often, especially when going to bed, as often as I need to alleviate symptoms.  Also Dr. David Illig - Stress reducing hypnosis with subliminals.  Both are excellent.  Naperstak ' s work is phenomenal.