For many sexual abuse survivors, these times have been trying. I’ve hardly been able to get on social media. I could get into all the reasons why they are specifically hard for me right now but that wouldn’t help anything. So instead, I’m going to talk about a positive realization that’s come out of all of this abuse-ridden mess.
I’d recently posted about negative thinking and where that leads me—to depression. But what I hadn’t yet figured out is where those negative thoughts come from. Why do I think them? It’s one thing to recognize them and another to understand why I go there in the first place. Because of all the constant bombardment of sex-offenders in positions of power, I’ve been diving into some deeply negative thought patterns again.
As always, I use my tools to pull out of them. But I also noticed something interesting…
The specific negative thoughts I’m thinking change depending on the stimulus. The fact they change not only caught my attention but then I began to ask myself, “Why these specific thoughts?” If they were all the same—like I’m useless, worthless, a loser—and so forth, then I’d not have noticed. But as they change, I began to look at what my body wanted to do at that moment. What I came to is that my negative thinking is tied to my flight response.
I’m not under any direct threat. A perceived one maybe, but not direct. The truth is, I don’t know how the recent changes to the Supreme Court will affect me. Or anyone. I can only speculate based on past behaviors of others. But speculation takes our power. Fear takes our power. So the last thing I want is to be full of fear over something I cannot control.
It’s that fear that kicks in my flight response.
But I don’t need to run away any more than I need to entertain negative thoughts. There’s no need. Past trauma doesn’t get to define me. I define me in the present. And now that I understand where my negative thinking comes from, it makes it that much easier to recognize it and address it before it takes control.
Today, I took the next step and talked about all these things. Plus so much more. Things I’ve not been able to talk about before. I felt myself trying to check out, but I didn’t. There was no need to. I wanted to talk about the things I was talking about. However hard it felt, I did it. And at the end of the day, all of it was just feelings. Nothing real in the here and now, only feelings from past events that my body was reacting to. Which meant I could address my need to flee and realize that it wasn’t necessary. Talking took the power of the negative thoughts away.
I’m sharing because I think many of us get so caught up in our thoughts that we don’t realize where those thoughts are taking us. They acted like a safety mechanism at one point, but now the thoughts themselves are the threat. They are the things causing us to feel more pain, fear, anxiety…and they aren’t needed. When there’s a real threat, we won’t be stopping to contemplate negative thoughts. We’ll be in the actual act of fighting or fleeing.
If we’re going to give our thoughts power, better that we do so to the constructive thoughts. The ones that tell us we’re worthy, we’re beautiful, we’re powerful, that we can make change by being that change… Thoughts that urge us to be present, like understanding that I’m sitting at my giant, lovely desk right now, writing this.
I’m okay with giving my thoughts power as long as they are thoughts that make life better. Anything less, I’m no longer willing to entertain. There is too much life to live and I want to spend as much as possible in the moment.