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Earlier this month we talked about looking at limiting beliefs and understanding how the resulting thoughts and attitudes affect our actions and behaviors. I promised that you didn’t have to be bound by your limiting beliefs and that you can turn them around to be life-giving and lead to thriving. Now we will explore how!
Let’s take the next step with our activity. We started with this flow:
· A limiting belief and unhelpful mindset is formed. Mine was “I’m not worthy”.
· Thoughts and attitudes grow from that belief. Mine were “I must prove my worth and earn my value”.
· Finally, actions and behaviors result from the thoughts. My actions were to strive for grades, achievements and accolades to prove myself and gain love which led to a lifetime of striving.
Now let’s move to another flow. We want to see what the positive/helpful mindset or belief would be.
Although it can be as quick as a few minutes, a traumatic event, such as sexual abuse, has harmful ripples that extend out decades and even generations. If the deeper struggles aren’t addressed, brought to light, and healed, each survivor will pass on the proclivity for poor choices and destructive relationships to the next generation. Sadly, I know this firsthand as my family has suffered multiple generations of trauma and sexual assault. Starting with my grandmother, and cascading down to most recently, my beloved daughter, the women in my lineage have been and are survivors.
I never thought my family would be a part of a statistic. The Center for Disease Control reports that 1 in 5 women have experienced completed or attempted rape in their lifetime. 1 in 3 female victims have experienced it between 11-17 years old. (1) I just didn’t think it would happen to my daughter. As the parent of a teenager who was raped, I thought I had taken all the precautions to safeguard her from sexual assault. Understanding the statistics, taking an active interest in her friends, and creating a safe space for important conversations, we discussed sex, intimacy, and safety. My daughter was encouraged to come to me with any concern. I was vigilant! I monitored relationships, supervised time with friends, all to protect her. Hell, I was the poster child for the helicopter mom.... and yet it happened. Right under my nose! She was silent about it for months, and the assault kept happening. When she finally worked up the courage to tell me about the ongoing rape and abuse from her church youth group boyfriend, I was shocked. Not only did it bring back vivid memories from my past, but as a sexual assault survivor myself, I was floored that I had failed to shield her from this horrific trauma. All my carefully crafted protective parenting didn’t shelter her from this terrible assault.
Expectations, although often helpful, can have a shadow side that can produce unnecessary stress and pain. At the point of creation, an expectation can serve to facilitate our self-growth. Yet, with time an expectation can become unreasonable, and therefore unattainable, causing profound disappointment and difficulty in one’s life. People with a history of trauma like sexual abuse, are especially vulnerable to these swings in perception. We can ruminate over unmet expectations, amplifying our limiting beliefs and lingering pains. Enduring trauma can cause a person to become obsessed with maintaining control in their life. When control eludes us, we can face a debilitating crash that negatively impacts our self-worth.
To better understand the root of our expectations and whether they still may benefit our growth, we must be able to listen to them. To listen to them we must cut through the clutter of noise that surrounds us both internally and externally. This means creating periods of silence and silent reflection into our self-care routines. Explore the following three exercises to better understand how silence is or could be helpful in your journey towards Thriver mindset.