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The article explains the 1-9 steps which I haven't posted in full (see article). From my perspective as a child/adult grief companion some of these steps are great, a T maybe required for some of the steps, and some steps might not fit - take what resonates. I'm posting because I like the blurb written before the steps since it highlights the importance of why children need support in terms of helping them to process feelings.
Trauma generates emotions, and unless we process these emotions at the time the trauma occurs, they become stuck in our mind and body. Instead of healing from the wounding event, the trauma stays in our body as energy in our unconscious, affecting our life until we uncover it and process it out. The healthy flow and processing of distressing emotions, such as anger, sadness, shame, and fear, is essential to healing from childhood trauma as an adult.
The healthiest response to childhood emotional wounds is also the rarest: When the trauma first occurs, we recognize the violation it has caused to our sense of self, feel the natural emotions that follow, and then realize that the violation doesn’t say anything about us personally — and thus we don’t make negative meaning of it and can let it go.
But because emotions like anger and sadness are painful — and because crying or confronting others is often not socially acceptable — this process doesn’t happen automatically. Instead, we may suppress our emotions, rather than feel and process them. As a child, this process is even more difficult. What can feel like a pinprick to an adult — an insult about one’s appearance that we can brush off at 40 — can feel like a stab wound to a child and create lasting damage (body dysmorphia, depression, etc.).
Then we carry these emotional stab wounds with us into adulthood, and they affect our relationships, career, happiness, health . . . everything. That is, until we process them and heal by feeling our feelings.
Why we don’t always feel our feelings
Even the most loving and attentive parents can do lasting damage to our sense of self. Meaning well and hating to see us hurt, our parents may have rushed in after an upsetting episode. “Don’t feel bad — it’s okay,” our caregiver said when we started to cry. The truth is, feeling bad can be good for us. We needed to feel bad for a while and to think about why we felt the way we did.
Or maybe our parents weren’t loving and attentive, and they demanded that we stop crying when we felt hurt. Either way, we didn’t learn how to feel our feelings productively. We didn’t learn that emotions are temporary and fleeting, that they have a predictable beginning, middle, and end, and that we will survive. When we don’t learn how to feel our feelings, we may start to interpret all emotions as terrifying.
As children, we can’t distinguish our feelings and our “self.” We think we are our feelings. If our feelings aren’t treated as acceptable in a certain situation, we may decide that we aren’t acceptable.
To heal from childhood trauma, we have to complete the process that should have begun decades ago, when the wounding incident happened. I developed this exercise based on my decades of experience helping patients heal from childhood emotional wounds. (Find an expanded version in my book, Mindful Aging.) The first time you try this exercise, I suggest starting with a small trauma. When I work with clients in my private practice, I like to start small and move toward bigger traumas once they have mastered the technique and feel comfortable with it.
1. Ground it.
2. Recall it.
3. Sense it.
4. Name it.
5. Love it.
6. Feel and experience it.
7. Receive its message and wisdom.
8. Share it.
9. Let it go.
"Everything is within your power, and your power is within you." Janice Trachtman
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- Age: 68
I’ve followed some of these recommendations to good effect.
"Grief makes children of us all. Any intellectual difference is destroyed. The wisest know nothing."
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I came across an essay about grief recently that is helping me embrace those difficult hurts from my past and see a point in all of it:
Grief is not something to get over, but something to get into, fully. Its heartbreak is not a malady, but can be a portal into depth and communion, ripening into a grounded bareness of being that guides us into deeper, far more humane ways of living.
Unfortunately, contemporary culture is largely grief-phobic, especially regarding the uninhibited expression of grief. A few tears are usually deemed okay, so long as they’re not too loud, not too messy. “Being strong” in the presence of grief is often held as more of a virtue than letting grief have its way with us — with “being strong” meaning keeping relatively stoic, holding things together, not letting our emotions “get the better of us.” The unexpressed grief that permeates our culture — and is stored in our collective shadow — keeps us overly apart from each other.