Please read this article prior to doing the following exercise: Understand the Cycle of Healing
It is human nature to want to feel secure. There are many things that can give us a feeling of security, even if it is false security. The basics are food, shelter, and safety from danger. After leaving an abusive relationship all three of the basics are in jeopardy either in our minds or in reality, that difference will be discussed later. After leaving an abusive situation you likely can provide those things for yourself even if you don’t see it that way and may tend to hoard food (or other items), become overly possessive of what you deem to be your area (shelter) or become combative in ways you never were before your abuse.
These actions can be unhealthy and can also prevent balanced harmonious relationships. When talking here about relationships, I mean all types of relationships. Romantic, family, friends and even work related interactions are all individually a relationship. This following applies regardless of whether you are looking at a relationship with your parents, friends, children, romantic attraction or your co-workers.
Security addictions can take over our emotional lives and lead us into relationships that we view as loving which are really only for security, with little or no love involved. As human beings we can only experience true unconditional love when it is free of insecurities and fear. This kind of love is also free of being dependant on the other person; it wants that person in your life, not feeling that you need them. So really security can only be obtained from within ourselves, and is based on faith in our own ability to continue to survive, despite all odds.
If you look back to what you have already encountered and lived through you can begin to build this faith in yourself and will soon realize that you can feel secure in your abilities. You have come through many situations where you were scared, feared for your life, and some things you may not even be able to attach an emotion to. Those things have passed and you now must begin to use what you have learned and move forward. Life is change and in a world of constant change there can be no external security, which is why you must look within to find true security.
The cycle of healing is very often hard and challenges us in ways that we have not previously been challenged. As mentioned before change threatens what we perceive as security and that can lead to addictions which can throw us off track. If too many changes are introduced at once we can develop a sense of hopelessness and thus prevent any healing from actually occurring and start the whole cycle over again. Many will go through several of these cycles before arriving at a true starting point, so don’t be overly hard on yourself to “fix” things. That will only lead to further frustrations and also can prevent any real healing from taking place.
To prevent yourself from being overwhelmed try to work only three things at time. Some will find it useful to only work on one area at a time while others may find it useful to deal with multiple issues all at once since they are related. This is a time of inner reflection and you should not attempt to judge yourself to someone else’s standards. Do what feels right for you. Try many different things and ways until you find what is comfortable for you. It will all lead to inner growth and in the long run you will be better off for taking the time to sort it out.
Many people will write out everything in letter form. The method of writing out a letter focuses more on emotion and feeling rather than needs. For this exercise I’d prefer you stick to your needs. There may be feelings or emotions that you need which you can include in this. But try to stay away from writing the feelings or emotions you are currently experiencing. The long letter can be useful here in getting you started by getting it all out so that you can think with a clear mind, so if you feel that is the way you must start out, by all means do what is most useful to you.
None of the exercises should be rushed and some may even take you several days to several weeks to complete. The important thing is to do an honest assessment of you. If you are having problems with these exercises then skip them and come back to them when you feel it is right to do so, or try using some relaxation techniques or get into your enjoyment basket to order your thoughts and calm yourself a bit before trying to tackle this.
Needs exercise: What Do I Need?Start by making a list of ALL your needs that are not being met to the degree that you would prefer. Include needs that are physical, emotional, and spiritual. Also, include things that are in your control and things that are not. Do not include how you used to feel or needs that you had in the past, this list is for the present and future, and what needs you have right this minute.
Beside each need write a brief description as to what that need means to you. It may be a good idea to date this list if you plan on keeping it to work from later on.
Pick the three main items that you feel you have to work on first, or that are most important to you. Like I stated earlier you may choose to work on only one thing, three things or more. So use your own judgment here, three is just a suggested starting point. You may want to go ahead and answer the questions about EACH of your needs and then just order the pages by level of importance and work back and forth as you are going through things. Reading about one thing may trigger a thought about something else and you may want to already have a page for it started.
It would be helpful if you wrote each of these things on a separate piece of paper and lightly cross them off the original list. You may also decide to use this as a starting point for a journal, so allow yourself enough room to come back and make notes as needed, giving each topic its own page or two should give you enough room for that.
If you are the type of person that doesn't like to keep a journal or would prefer not to do all this writing, that is fine also. Just mentally make your original list of needs and then in your mind go through them to do this exercise. But, please give this exercise just as much thought as if you were actually writing it out. Don't short-change yourself by half way doing this.
Answer the following questions about each thing you have chosen from your Needs list:
What (if anything) do you expect from someone else to satisfy this need?
Who do you expect that satisfaction from (if anyone, if no other person could help then put that)?
What emotions or feelings surface when you think about this need not being met?
When do you expect to have resolved this need to your satisfaction?
How do you expect to resolve this need to your satisfaction?
Be honest with yourself when answering these questions. Remember that you do not have to share this with anyone that you do not feel comfortable sharing it with. Some find it helpful to talk this out with someone else and some don’t. Since trust is often something that we lose the ability to do when we have been abused it is understandable if you do not want to share your true inner feelings, thoughts, emotions and pains with anyone else at this point. Do not let anyone that is not a trained professional tell you that you must talk about it to get it out. Do what you are comfortable with and seek guidance when needed from trained mental health professionals.
If you are coming up with a blank as far as where to start with your list here are some suggestions that may be able to get you started thinking.
Clothing and other personal items
God/Supreme Being/Creator (whatever your belief system is)
Space (physical, emotional and/or spiritual)
Some people find that having it all down on paper is an easier way to order their thoughts and also a way to keep thoughts from constantly jumbling around in their heads all the time when they are trying to concentrate on other things. If that method doesn’t work for you or you just simply hate lists or writing for whatever reason, then just think about it and keep it in the back of your mind to work on. However, if you do choose to write it out you will be able to look back at the progress you are making and that in and of itself is very healing in the long run.
The next block will go through analyzing your needs and making your plans to meet those needs. That block will be posted on Friday, August 5th, 2008.