When I was 21, I was sexually assaulted. The worst part about this healing process was the shame I felt. The shame was my real poison. Sexual assault is never easy on the mind or the body, but most of the pain we feel during traumatic experiences, is fuel by shame.Shame allows your mind to become a battlefield; you are constantly either blaming yourself for the assault or cultivating hate towards the perpetuator. One thing we must remember is that love cannot thrive on a battlefield.
Most of us when faced with trauma choose to isolate. Dr. Brene Brown however states in her book “The gift of imperfection” that isolation is a dangerous behavior, when we are trying to heal from trauma. Shame is fed by secrecy, so when dealing with trauma we want to avoid isolation. In fact, what she suggest we do to heal is look for a healthy support system. The best support system are people who can feel empathy and compassion towards your situation, not judgement. Easier said then done, right? How can you share such a painful experience with anyone when you are already feeling so disappointed with yourself?
You can start with self-compassion. In essence self-compassion is the ability to become your own best friend. It is a way of becoming free from self-judgment. I find the work of Dr. Kristin Neff, an associate professor at the University of Texas, on self-compassion extremely helpful in my own personal self-love practice.
Dr. Kristen Neff summarized the practice of self-compassion in 3 important components.
1. Treating yourself with kindness:meaning addressing your needs with the same softness that you would someone whom you love. Refrain from using harsh words to refer to yourself or you actions.
2. Common humanity:I personally think this is my favorite point; Common humanity is the understanding that we are all connected. We’ve all experience trauma at some point in our lives. Common humanity ask for us to recognize this truth in order to stop the “this only happens to me” or the isolation syndrome. This point helps us remember that trauma happens to everyone, we are never alone in our journey. (If you are looking for a group of women of color helping each other heal, don’t hesitate to join our tribe)
3. Mindfulness: this point states that although we are allow to feel every and any negative emotion our trauma may bring, we should be careful not to identify with these emotions.
The practice of self-compassion will allow you to feel valued as a human being, you will be empowered to believe you are worthy of life in that very moment. This by itself can give you the strength you need to share your story with other trusted individual whom have earned the right to support you in your journey, and this will eventually help you heal.
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