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PTSD Recovery Tip of the Week: Build Up Your Self-Confidence

Posted Jul 09 2012 1:18pm

Anne is the daughter of very controlling parents. She’s 22, just out of college and healing from a brutal rape and attack at the hands of an abusive boyfriend. Together we’re working to help her release the past and reclaim her present. At the end of a recent session she said, “My inner flame feels so much stronger!”

I love the image of an inner flame. As we discussed it further Anne defined that as the part of herself that feels full of confidence and shines brightly from deep within.

One of the changes I so often see in the trauma survivors I work with is a loss of self-confidence. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Often we hold ourselves responsible for what happened, or that we didn’t prevent what happened, or that we didn’t speak out about it, or that we didn’t handle it in a way that we feel was most appropriate. Whew, the list goes on and on!

Part of recovery means building back that sense of self-confidence, relearning to trust yourself, your ability to take care of yourself, and manage your world and protect your safety. There are specific actions you can take to rebuild your self-confidence. It’s a process that happens slowly. Today, a few ideas that can get you going.

1 – Give yourself small, achievable goals in which you can succeed. The more you build up a track record of success the more you will automatically believe in your ability to accomplish things.

2 – Get in touch with things you do well. Spend more time doing things that make you feel good about your capabilities so that you are often (daily!) in touch with how your actions lead to positive outcomes.

3 – Be helpful to someone else. Sometimes we’re much better at helping others than ourselves; this can be a great place to build up feelings of strength and self-efficacy that can be used for our own benefit later.

The key to (re)building confidence lies in believing that your inner flame actually exists. More than that: It can brightly burn, shine and flicker in ways that help you reclaim your life, your world and mostly importantly, yourself.

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