‘Who Do You Think You Are’ by Susie Flashman Jarvis and published in Great Health Guide (July 2017). What gives you your identity? How do you see yourself? Are you someone who is always driven by success or someone whose life is out of balance? How you perceive yourself can be attributed to your childhood. Some people may have experienced trauma as a child thus affecting their perception and happiness in life. However, it is possible to ‘reset’ life and to overcome the negative emotions caused by childhood trauma. In this great article, counsellor Susie Flashman Jarvis describes the root cause of childhood trauma and how a ‘factory reset’ can achieve a more positive mindset in life.
Read other Mindset articles on Great Health Guide, a hub of expert-inspired resources empowering busy women to embody health beyond image … purpose beyond measure.
MINDSET: Who Do You Think You Are
written by Susie Flashman – Jarvis
What gives you your identity? What causes you to view yourself in a certain way? Are you always driven to succeed, do you always work really hard? Is your life out of balance, as you run as fast as possible, because stopping will mean you have to take a long hard look at yourself?
What if your identity finds its root in how you were raised during your early years? Whether someone believed in you, or told you that they loved you? Maybe, after all, it’s nothing to do with how much you get paid or how high you rise through the ranks. Maybe it’s nothing to do with how fat or thin you are. Maybe it’s all about love and about belonging rather than just fitting in.
The effect of childhood trauma.
As a trauma therapist, I have worked for many years with men and women who see themselves in a derogatory manner. Trauma can affect the way we view ourselves and the way we view the world we live in.
It has been discovered over the past decade that our brains go through various stages in development. There are two key times; when we are toddlers and later when we are teenagers. During these challenging times our brains are re-hardwired. Imagine the struggle to reign in a toddler and the strength involved to stand up to an angry teenager who is pushing the boundaries. Both individuals operate in an orbit of self. The world, for many of them, is to ensure that their every whim is catered for. Everything is fine if they are given boundaries that flex but remain in place and if they experience love.
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What happens if they don’t experience love? Imagine once again, children who are:
1. unable to flex any muscles
2. deprived and neglected, abused physically and mentally
3. harmed by one parent and the other parent does not protect them
4. abandoned, given up as unwanted
5. witness to the abuse of another, a parent or a sibling and are unable to save them
6. free to do exactly as they please because no one cares, no one guides them or shows an interest
7. left to their own devices; no one asked where they have been or who they have been hanging out with.
The result of trauma can be a person who lacks self-care completely at one end of the spectrum, or can be driven to prove themselves at any cost. What is the answer to this dilemma?
Resetting back to factory settings.
There are various ways to restore yourself when you have grown up with trauma. Sometimes, it is through a safe, therapeutic relationship. It is here that re-parenting can take place, where you may find a new way to live. Hearing your own thoughts with someone to witness them can bring about massive change. Discovering that you had viewed yourself in a certain way because of someone else’s skewed view, can bring liberation.
Sometimes all is takes is a growing awareness that stops you in your tracks; a friend who challenges a lifestyle, or voices an opinion. Maybe having your own children and wanting something more for them can start you on the journey to discover who you really are. In the end, it is always about finding a safe place so that you can understand why you are living the way you are.
The best factory settings ensure that you:
are understood and experience a nurturing environment, one that encourages, challenges and believes in you
are in a place of re-direction and that consequences come from within you, rather than from others
find a state of mind that supports you so that you can understand yourself and come out from under the shame and live again
discover that failure just means you are trying, rather than not doing anything.
How about you? Will you give yourself another chance to leave the harbour? It is, after all the only way that you will reach a new horizon.
Author of this article:
Susie Flashman-Jarvis is an accredited counsellor, speaker and ambassador for the charity Restored working towards bringing an end to violence against women. Susie’s novel At Therapy’s End tackles the issue of domestic abuse and is available on Booktopia. Susie is also an executive coach based in the UK and is available for skype sessions. Susie may be contacted via her website.
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