WHO do you THINK you are?

Great Health Guide - - FRONT PAGE - Words Susie Flash­man-Jarvis De­sign Olek­san­dra Zuieva

WWhat gives you your iden­tity? What causes you to view your­self in a cer­tain way? Are you al­ways driven to suc­ceed, do you al­ways work re­ally hard? Is your life out of bal­ance, as you run as fast as pos­si­ble, be­cause stop­ping will mean you have to take a long hard look at your­self?

What if your iden­tity finds its root in how you were raised dur­ing your early years? Whether some­one be­lieved in you, or told you that they loved you? Maybe, after all, it’s noth­ing to do with how much you get paid or how high you rise through the ranks. Maybe it’s noth­ing to do with how fat or thin

you are. Maybe it’s all about love and about be­long­ing rather than just fit­ting in.

The ef­fect of child­hood trauma.

As a trauma ther­a­pist, I have worked for many years with men and women who see them­selves in a deroga­tory man­ner. Trauma can af­fect the way we view our­selves and the way we view the world we live in.

It has been dis­cov­ered over the past decade that our brains go through var­i­ous stages in de­vel­op­ment. There are two key times; when we are tod­dlers and later when we are teenagers. Dur­ing th­ese chal­leng­ing times our brains are re-hard­wired. Imag­ine the strug­gle to reign in a tod­dler and the strength in­volved to stand up to an an­gry teenager who is push­ing the bound­aries. Both in­di­vid­u­als op­er­ate in an or­bit of self. The world, for many of them, is to en­sure that their ev­ery whim is catered for. Ev­ery­thing is fine if they are given bound­aries that flex but re­main in place and if they ex­pe­ri­ence love.

What hap­pens if they don’t ex­pe­ri­ence love? Imag­ine once again, chil­dren who are:

1. un­able to flex any mus­cles

2. de­prived and ne­glected, abused phys­i­cally and men­tally

3. harmed by one par­ent and the other par­ent does not pro­tect them

4. aban­doned, given up as un­wanted

5. witness to the abuse of an­other, a par­ent or a sib­ling and are un­able to save them


6. free to do ex­actly as they please be­cause no one cares, no one guides them or shows an in­ter­est

7. left to their own de­vices; no one asked where they have been or who they have been hang­ing out with.

The re­sult of trauma can be a per­son who


lacks self-care com­pletely at one end of the spec­trum, or can be driven to prove them­selves at any cost. What is the an­swer to this dilemma?

Re­set­ting back to fac­tory set­tings.

There are var­i­ous ways to re­store your­self when you have grown up with trauma. Some­times, it

is through a safe, ther­a­peu­tic re­la­tion­ship. It is here that re-par­ent­ing can take place, where you may find a new way to live. Hear­ing your own thoughts with some­one to witness them can bring about mas­sive change. Dis­cov­er­ing that you had viewed your­self in a cer­tain way be­cause of some­one else’s skewed view, can bring lib­er­a­tion.

Some­times all is takes is a grow­ing aware­ness that stops you in your tracks; a friend who chal­lenges a life­style, or voices an opin­ion. Maybe hav­ing your own chil­dren and want­ing some­thing more for them can start you on the jour­ney to dis­cover who you re­ally are. In the end, it is al­ways about find­ing a safe place so that you can un­der­stand why you are liv­ing the way you are.

The best fac­tory set­tings en­sure that you:

• are un­der­stood and ex­pe­ri­ence a nur­tur­ing en­vi­ron­ment, one that en­cour­ages, chal­lenges and be­lieves in you

• are in a place of re-di­rec­tion and that con­se­quences come from within you, rather than from oth­ers

• find a state of mind that sup­ports you so that you can un­der­stand your­self and come out from un­der the shame and live again

• dis­cover that fail­ure just means you are try­ing, rather than not do­ing any­thing.

How about you? Will you give your­self an­other chance to leave the har­bour? It is, after all the only way that you will reach a new hori­zon.

Susie Flash­man-Jarvis is an ac­cred­ited coun­sel­lor, speaker and am­bas­sador for the char­ity Re­stored work­ing to­wards bring­ing an end to vi­o­lence against women. Susie’s novel At Ther­apy’s End tack­les the is­sue of do­mes­tic abuse and is avail­able on Book­topia. Susie is also an ex­ec­u­tive coach based in the UK and is avail­able for skype ses­sions. Susie may be con­tacted via her web­site.

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