Awareness of the Self in the Present
When in an abusive relationship, most of our being is concentrated on our abuser and we gradually lose the awareness of the Self, of who we, in our innermost core, are. This in itself can cause greater anxiety and depression. A lot of survivors of domestic violence have said that they needed time to become aware of the Self again, to find out who there were, as it had become lost during those years spent in an abusive and corrosive environment.
A lot of our anxiety, stress and depression is allied to the past or the future, our regrets and experiences in the past keep replaying in our mind as though we were still in those situations which were traumatic and influence our expectation and vision of the future, filling us with dread rather than energy, and effectively robbing us of the now, the present.
We need to remind ourselves that we are living in the now, not the past or the future.
We also have a tendency of always being busy, doing things, keeping ourselves occupied and forgetting that we are human 'beings', not human 'doings'! This constant busy-ness of mind and body robs us of the peace we can find in ourselves and in getting in tune with our spiritual Self or Higher Power/God - we tend to neglect our spiritual needs and practising peace/serenity/oneness and being comfortable in and aware of our Selves is an aspect which many survivors have found to be one of the most vital aspects of their recovery.
This might sound very heavy, especially if you have never thought much about your spiritual life, or even worse, have had experience of spiritual abuse/rigidity. It needn't be frightening and many of us have found a greater awareness of the Self to be freeing. Here are a few ways in which you can get in touch with your spiritual self and/or your Higher Power:
Awareness of the Self: the Exercise in being Oneself
... is designed to be just that, an exercise which only takes a few minutes and can be repeated as often as you like which will help you find peace within yourself:
You will find that if you repeat this exercise at least twice a day, you will feel generally more peaceful within yourself after a few weeks. You might also find that it is very difficult to begin with - we are so used to filling our mind with all sorts of things all the time, that we don't even notice how crowded it is!
To download a PDF version of the above Exercise, please click here! (Make sure you have Adobe Acrobat enabled on your computer). Then you can hang it in front of your mirror in the bathroom, in the wall in the office or just a keep a copy in your bag for quick reference!
Re-discover nature and your creativity
A walk in the countryside or by the sea can really help us put things into perspective. Try to notice not only the general landscape, but all the little wonders - spring is wonderful for that ... the buds on the trees and bushes, snowflakes and daisies coming out, the grass turning greener ... as in the exercise above, try to clear your mind of your troubles and anxieties and just be aware of the colours and sights and textures around you, the smells of grass, mud or sea and sand, the feel of wind or rain or sun on your skin, the feel of the ground underneath you. Somehow, being more aware of the intricate, wonderful parts of nature all around us, helps us to feel more aware of the Self, more in touch with the world and less isolated. If you don't feel safe or comfortable going for a walk by yourself (e.g. in case of a panic attack) ask a friend to go with you, but try not to fill the time with talk, but enjoy the peace together.
If you have some spare time, or time that you would usually spend worrying or thinking negatively, try instead to explore your creativity.
- Maybe you used to play an instrument, or draw or paint or do pottery? If you have never really done anything like that, why not give it a try?
It is so easy to get so caught up in things which have happened and our thoughts and feelings, that we don't give ourselves time to just do something because it is fun or because we enjoy it - we might even find that we feel guilty for doing something for ourselves. Art and music and other creative activities give us something for ourselves to concentrate on, something to take our mind off our worries, fears or negative thoughts (it is difficult feeling depressed when trying to read music!). Quite a few of us have found that having a creative outlet for our feelings and emotions has also been therapeutic, i.e. we have been able to express in our drawings or our music what we have been unable to express consciously in words.
© Hidden Hurt, 2014
In This Section:
Domestic Violence Articles
Life after getting out of an abusive relationship often continues to be a struggle, and It's My Life Now offers guidance to overcoming common pitfalls, blending worksheets with insights on self exploration and ongoing growth. From handling feels of loss and guilt to overcoming feelings associated with having loved an abuser, this book continues to offer invaluable lessons and be a real source of help and strength:
To order in the UK: It's My Life Now
The Self-esteem Workbook by Glenn R. Schiraldi - recommended by workshop facilitators.
The Self-esteem Journal: Using a Journal to Build Self-esteem (Overcoming Common Problems) by Alison Waines - A very helpful work book with exercises to dip in and out of while recovering.
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Recommendation by Lindsey Mason
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