Monday, January 26, 2009

Healing PTSD: 5 Ways to Banish Doubt

We’re almost at the end of our month-long work to craft a healing intention, focus it, and find ways to support it. But no examination of this process would be complete without the mention of one of the main reasons your commitment could lack staying power. It has to do with a little thing called, DOUBT. Here are 5 ways to fight the foe....

1 – Be aware when doubt comes calling. In participating in and taking responsibility for our recovery it’s important to act on both the internal and external world. Healing begins and finds its source internally, so the majority of what we do lies in this realm – including hearing what we think. We spend a lot of time listening to friends, colleagues, family, etc. talk about what they think – how much time do you spend listening to your own thoughts? In PTSD we don’t listen so much as hear the constant white noise of fear and anxiety. But beneath that, there lie other ideas, especially when we begin to heal. Some of the most destructive thoughts are, “I can’t heal,” “Recovery won’t happen for me,” “I can’t do it,” etc. When you listen to the chatter in your head you become aware of all of the doubtful thoughts you carry around all day – and you can begin to eliminate them. When you hear these thoughts you must: a) stop the thought, cancel it, and replace it with a positive idea, b) deliberately shift your attention to something else.

2 – Develop a meditation practice. The more we are in tune with our inner peace the more grounded and full of faith in ourselves we become. Meditation does not have to be a lengthy process. A simple rejuvenating meditation like this one can be all you need to break the doubt continuum. Remember, 97% of what we do every day is from habit; if doubting has become a habit of yours you will need to replace it with a more positive habit. Meditation can do this by severing the doubtful thought and refocusing your mind on feelings of peace and control.

3 – Lather, rinse, repeat. The hair care industry has hit on a very simple (very Zen, really) method for cleansing: Slather yourself in the good stuff; wash it off; do it again. Healing is like this, too. You can’t craft your intention and then – that’s it. The intention must be used, often, to cleanse your mind. You took the time to work it out, design it and put it on paper. Now, carry it like a talisman and when you feel even the slightest creep of doubt do one of two things. A) Repeat your intention over and over until the doubt crawls back from whence it came. Do this silently to yourself, or, if you’re alone, say it out loud! Say it strongly with passion and conviction. Give it air. Let it breathe and come alive. My mother always tells me, “The mind knows only what you tell it” – so, tell it you intend to recover! B) If you’re on the go and need a quick fix, repeat the word “Intention” over and over. This will cue your subconscious and on its own it will make the connection between this single word and the intention you have built.

4 – Put your feet on the floor! Don’t be surprised to realize that doubt is anxiety in another form. That good ole ego voice (whose power is threatened by your healing) will whisper doubt night and day in an attempt to maintain its supremacy; even more so when you make any kind of progress. Don’t let it win! Instead, when you feel anxiety or doubt try this: Sit on the edge of a straight-backed chair. Straighten up your back so that it is upright and straight-spined. Place both feet on the floor parallel to each other and approximately a comfortable foot apart. Now, place your hands, palm down, on each knee. That’s it! It’s that simple. This posture grounds your inner self in a position of strength and power. And the beauty of this exercise: it can be done in a crowd of people, in the middle of a meeting, in a doctor’s office, at the family dinner table – no one will notice; it is silent, and completely private. You can hold the pose as long as it takes for the anxiety/doubt to subside. My trauma therapist taught me this and while I was skeptical at first I began to use it and found that, hey, he was right: it helps!

5 – When you doubt, shout it out. Last week I talked about the benefit of having a partner along the healing process. Here’s a perfect example of when that buddy can be helpful. Like other infectious things, doubt can’t survive in the outside world. Get it out of yourself. Telling your healing partner/coach/buddy about the doubt you feel brings it out of the dark and into the light where you can see how small it is, how powerless it is; how much bigger and more powerful you are. And also, in through conversation you can hear another voice – that of a trusted friend – assure you that this doubt does not belong on your road to recovery.

Wayne Dyer says this on the topic: “By banishing doubt and trusting your intuitive feelings, you clear a space for the power of intention…”

Meaning: When you banish doubt you clear the space for the POWER OF YOU, which is inherent, supreme and limitless. You just have to, er, have the opposite of doubt: FAITH – in yourself, in the healing process; in the ultimate ability you harbor to become PTSD-free.

(photo: Linz photograpy)

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