Heal your Trauma with Loving Words

 

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Another world is not only possible,
she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing
.
—Arundhati Roy

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A few years ago, I had a wonderful dream. I dreamt that I was walking around my neighborhood and two brown squirrels scurried up my legs. One perched itself proudly atop my head, while the other one lazily draped itself across my shoulder. They made little happy squeaky sounds.

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For me, this was a moment of incredible bliss! Squirrels are my absolute favorite animals! They represent so much that I love: cleverness, playfulness, and intuition. I felt like an absolute queen with these two beautiful beings adorning my body.

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So, in the dream, I am walking around, asking my friends to take a photo of this amazing moment. I am trying to hand them my phone, saying, “Please, please will you take a picture?” But no one is saying yes. Everyone is shaking their heads, looking at me like I’m crazy. No one else understands the magic of the moment.

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After many failed attempts, I realize finally that no one is going to help me. So, I breathe and just forget about the picture. I settle into the present, feeling grateful. I know I will remember this moment forever—I don’t really need a photo of it anyway.
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When I awoke in my bed, I allowed myself to contemplate the meaning of the dream. I realized that it was a message about how to love myself. The truth is: No one else needs to believe my reality. No one else needs to endorse my viewpoint. The only viewpoint that matters is mine. This is not selfishness—rather, this is the ultimate act of self-love!

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In that moment, I bonded with the squirrels and was in total bliss…who cares what anyone else thought!!
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Similarly, when we are in the process of healing trauma, we learn to appreciate our own words as the most important words.

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At first, it’s a difficult lesson to learn. It seems very counterintuitive. We are raised in a culture that tends to say, “What matters most is what others think about you. What matters most is what the community says.”
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The truth, however, is that the deepest healing happens when we can tune out all other voices and tune into the loving words that we create for ourselves.
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When we talk to ourselves in a compassionate, generous, supportive, unconditionally-loving way, deep restoration happens. We reclaim the vitality that we seemed to have lost in the moment of trauma.
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There are many ways of practicing positive self-talk. One way that I particularly love is called Mirror Magic.

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When you wake up in the morning, before doing anything else, go to your bathroom mirror and look into it. Take a deep breath. Gaze into your own eyes. Then, begin to shower yourself with praise. Tell yourself all the things that your caregivers never told you (or rarely told you) when you were a child. Tell yourself all the things that you wish your past friends and old lovers would have said to you. Tell yourself all the beautiful things that you’ve longed to hear.
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When I practice Mirror Magic, these are some of the things I love to say to myself:

  • You are strong, Anya.
  • You are beautiful, Anya.
  • You are powerful and courageous, Anya.
  • You have so many gifts to share with the world, Anya.
  • You are wise, Anya.
  • I love you no matter what you do, say, or think.
  • I love you unconditionally.
  • You will always have my love and support.
  • I’ve got your back.
  • I’m your best friend.
  • It’s ok…You are doing the best you can.
  • You are perfect, just as you are right now.
  • I love to watch you grow.
  • You’re doing an amazing job, Anya.
  • I like you, Anya.
  • I love you, Anya.

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Please note that when you begin experimenting with Mirror Magic, it may feel very uncomfortable. You may feel like you are doing something wrong or even lying to yourself. Please know that it’s okay to feel this way…and, in fact, it’s totally normal to feel this way!

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When we have undergone trauma, our brains are wired to believe negative statements rather than positive ones. So, when we hear words of praise, we may feel—at first—like something is “wrong.” When we hear beautiful, life-giving words, we may get a stomach ache or we may cringe. We may even begin to cry.

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Even though it might be difficult at first, I encourage you to keep practicing. What you are doing is slowly and gently moving yourself toward a different accepted reality.

 

Through each affirmation, you are constructing a more positive way of viewing yourself and all of life.

 

When I first began to do Mirror Magic on a daily basis, it was so beautiful and also so challenging! First thing in the morning, I would stand in front of my mirror, my hair a mess and my eyes still blurry from sleep. I would set an alarm on my phone for ten minutes. And then, for the next ten minutes, I would gaze into my own eyes, telling myself as many wonderful statements as I could. Another after another after another. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Sometimes spoken softly, sometimes loudly. Oftentimes, I would break down sobbing. As tears rolled down my cheeks, I would maintain eye contact with myself.

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In those moments, watching myself cry, I would feel such immense compassion for the little girl who tended to hear only complaints from her parents. I felt such warmth for the little girl who had few friends as a youngster and was often bullied in school. I felt such tenderness for the young woman who tended to cling onto toxic boyfriends out of desperation and loneliness.

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An important aspect to this practice is how we phrase our statements. In particular, it’s powerful to talk to yourself as “you.” When I say “I love you, Anya” (rather than “I love me”) it creates a powerful dynamic of connection within our brain. By creating our sentences this way, we are subtly tapping into the spiritual source within us.

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Who is the “I” that speaks to the “you”? The “I” is the deeper self, the wiser self, the self that already knows about unconditional love. And who is the “you”? The “you” is the frightened self, the part of you that has been traumatized and hurt. This “you” is like a child: it is longing for affection, warmth, and comfort.
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Through this kind of loving, mothering language, we are creating a sense of connection between the various parts of ourselves that have been disconnected. Yes, fear is a reality that all human beings feel from time to time. However, when we’ve been traumatized, we feel we are drowning in an ocean of fear. It’s too much fear.

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By offerings ourselves loving words, we are throwing out a life preserver for ourselves. It is something that will help us float in this world. It will save us. Even if it feels foreign or scary to do at first, we can learn to do it. And in time, the practice will become easy and even enjoyable. We savor our appreciative words. We thoroughly relish these moments of praise.
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