Category Archives: Trauma Tools

Listening to this recording regularly can help you to cultivate a state of relaxation, let go of your thoughts and allow your body to rest so that your sleep might become more and more effortless.

The recording of Dr. Babbel’s CD’s started upon the request of her clients who found her voice soothing and comforting. As she continued to create guided meditations for her clients she was encouraged to make them public so that others might benefit from them as well. The intention of the CD is not only to create restful sleep but also to reach a sense of calmness, tranquility, and peacefulness.

Dr. Babbel is a certified client-centered hypnotherapist, licensed psychotherapist with a private proactive in San Francisco, and many articles related to trauma for Psychology Today Blog.

This CD is intended to enhance your sleep and to help you relax. It is NOT intended to be a substitute for any medical or psychological care. If you have any kind of mental, emotional, physical or neurological condition, we suggest you consult with a physician or therapist and use this CD under their supervision. Those with a history of seizure, epilepsy, or clinical depression should consult a physician before using this product. Do not use the CD while driving, operating any machinery, or when you need to be alert. Only listen to it when you can safely relax or sleep. Using the CD is at your own risk and Dr. Babbel does not assume any responsibility for any improper use of this CD. 

 

Your Inner Child

Your Inner Child

Many of us have a younger part within us, also called the “inner child”, that has not been heard, seen, or treated the way it wanted or hoped for in her/his live. As a result, whether it is an inner child, adolescent, or younger adult, feelings of being ignored, abandoned, or not loved may be retained. The memories of these unresolved feelings are carried into our adult life and often become buried in the subconscious. However, the younger part within us remains waiting to be found, to be listened to and to be nurtured, and keeps acting out in attempt to be discovered and attended to.

Anna described having a deep sense of loneliness and struggling with depression. When she searched for the answers of where these feelings originated, she discovered her 9 year old inner child. Her little girl was feeling lonely, bored, and sad, waiting in her room for her mother to arrive from work, even though she knew she was going to be yelled at. Her mother was working many hours and wrapped in her fatigue and worries, she became blind to what her daughter needed. During this time this young girl came to a few conclusions and beliefs about herself, her parents, and the world around her. One conclusion was that she had to stay busy to distract from her pain; the other decision she made was that she needed to please her mother as much as she could in hope to be loved in return. A pattern of having to please everyone and staying busy had been ingrained to the current day and she eventually forgot where these habits were coming from.

Anna decided to contact her “inner child” and began to have age appropriately conversations with her. These dialogues felt strange at first and building a connection between the inner child and the adult took time and trust, and did not go smoothly in the beginning. But after a while, they both formed a beautiful relationship in which little Anna was finally heard and was able to express herself. Although Anna’s work did not change her childhood, it changed her habits and perceptions because she recognized that her habits were coping techniques that had no functions anymore. She also realized that loneliness was an old feeling that lingered inside of her and unconsciously colored most of her experiences. As her relationship with herself improved, so did her feelings of lonesomeness, her relationships with others and the world around her changed in return.

Depending on children’s ages they do not always interpret their environment and parents’ actions correctly. When connecting to the younger part, false memories can be uncovered and give the inner child a chance to understand and make sense of something that was misunderstood in the past. For example, a pregnant mother told the story of her 4 year old daughter Sophia who believed that she no longer was needed because her sister was going to be born in a few months. In a straightforward way Sophia claimed that it wouldn’t matter if she died. The surprised mother told her that it would matter and that she is the best thing that ever happened to her. Her daughter replied “but you have Mikaela now”, to which she explained that Mikaela could never replace her and that she could love both of them. Children are not always able to make sense of their situation the way an adult can and therefore sometimes form beliefs that are not based on reality but their conceptual ability.

Many leading authors such as John Bradshaw, Erika J. Chopich and Margaret Paul, Whitfield and 12 step programs have written about the importance of building a relationship with the “inner child” and found that it can help with many issues including loneliness, fears, depression and raising confidence. The journey of discovering younger parts within us can be surprising and awkward at first but may also be very rewarding.

Power of Being you

Power of Being you

Giving too much of yourself and saying yes too often is something many people are accustomed to doing to avoid conflicts and feelings of guilt. A sincere desire to give is wonderful, however, there’s a distinction between giving of yourself and giving up yourself. Ignoring your own desires and views may not only deny “who you are” but, over time, may lead to resenting others, feeling fatigued or anxious, and experiencing stress induced physical symptoms.

The pattern of avoiding conflicts and pleasing others without considering your own needs is typical for someone who was not allowed to say no in his or her family – being criticized, yelled at, or abused in childhood. Bradshaw, an inner child specialist, adds that this pattern might also stem from not having been able to properly complete the toddler phase between 18 months to three years. While still feeling dependant, toddlers are trying to separate from their parents to explore their autonomy by opposing their parents. These interactions are often interpreted as power struggles by parents whose patience is pushed to the edge. If parents do not know how to model healthy ways to handle frustrations and set appropriate limits, children might not be able to test their power successfully. As a result they may end up having difficulty saying no to others or even asking for what they want without feeling great remorse or shame. As adults they might continue this particular pattern without knowing where their behavior originated.

One of the most helpful ways of gaining back a sense of “power of being you” is to spend time with your “inner child” that still needs to complete this toddler phase effectively. The best way to access your inner child is when you are still and quiet such as in a state of meditation or self-hypnosis. Before you start, set an intention of how you want to feel. Additionally, telling yourself that you are looking from the here and now is important so that you don’t regress during this exercise.  Also remember that you are not in the same situation you were during childhood. If going back to childhood memories brings up traumatic experiences, I would advise you to have the support of a psychotherapist.

When you are in a relaxed position, ask your inner child to come forward – the child that that holds the original pain of what you are currently struggling with. For example, if you want to resolve your issue of needing to stand up for yourself, you need to connect to the child that is linked to the time you learned not to stand up for yourself. Our subconscious holds “inner children” that are of various ages and therefore a different child may come forward at different times. With a little practice, connecting with your inner child becomes easier and you might receive an image, a sensation, or recall a scenario from your past where you were hurt or needed attention.

Once your inner child appears, do not push or force your inner child to do anything – just observe her and let him or her guide you for a while. Stay with it and notice what is happening as you pay attention. Even though you would think the child knows you, it needs to learn to trust and to get to know you. Often people are not sure what to do or say. Test out what your inner child responds to and value the child’s accomplishments. Say something nurturing and comforting like “I am here for you;” or “It is Okay to say no, to be mad or sad, and to explore;” and “I will make sure you don’t get hurt.” Be patient as all new skills require time and practice.

To help this process, try to gather information about each of your developmental stages and find out as much as you can about your childhood. Additionally, I encourage you to debrief your experience with someone that you can trust and who will support you. Once you have completed the toddler stage successfully, you can reclaim the power of being you and saying “yes” to your own desires and opinions. As you respect your own desires and boundaries and stop repressing them, you might experience increased energy, less anxiety, and less stress on your body. Even more, others have a chance to see who you really are and get to know you on a deeper level.

forgiveness

forgiveness

Learning to recognize and respond to our internal “alarm signals” which assess every situation and inform us about appropriate reactions to follow, might help us to let go of grudges and to forgive another person.

A woman, whom I will call Laureen, expressed that she noticed getting upset at her friend’s comment made a day ago. Time had passed and rehashing their conversation did not seem to be the right solution. She believed that her friend had no intention of hurting her, yet her anger would not subside. Laureen explained that she just wanted to forgive her friend but did not know how.

Forgiveness is accepting what happened in the past and what someone did, not holding on or dwelling on it anymore. Forgiveness does not mean denying important feelings such as anger or sadness. In fact, in order to access forgiveness, connecting and paying attention to anger is often a necessary step. Yet people who have been abused or had poor role models in their lives are often not comfortable with their own anger. Because anger was not safe to express but necessary in the circumstances to suppress, feelings of anger were avoided. Not showing anger could be a conditioned cultural response as well.

Ideally, Laureen would have felt comfortable to talk to her friend and express her feelings, if not immediately, a short time after their encounter. However, she wanted to look at her anger and her difficulty in forgiving. Forgiveness is not an act of kindness for others; it is the coming to peace for ourselves. According to Frederic Loskin’s research, holding grudges can negatively impact one’s health, whereas forgiveness has beneficial health effects.

With a method called Somatic Experiencing, Laureen discovered that her friend’s comment had triggered Laureen’s childhood memories when danger was a reoccurring theme. She discovered that holding on to her anger was a subconscious survival method — an attempt to prepare her for a possible reoccurring “attack.” She noticed that her state of anger put her into a fight mode whereas forgiveness would have meant being relaxed and not ready to act. Her session revealed that because her “alarm sensor” did not indicate her hurt and anger immediately, her subconscious decided to hold on to her delayed emotions so that next time she would be ready to protect herself.

Everyone has a built-in alarm system, monitored by the Limbic Brain, that indicates when we might be in danger or not. This alarm system prepares us to react quickly with a fight, flight (escape), or freeze (shutting down feelings) response. When the situation appears to be danger free, we go back to our “base” state. Over time our experiences form associations so that we can analyze new situations even faster. However, Psychological Trauma or conditioned cultural responses may result in a delayed reaction of our “alarm sensor.” People can find themselves reacting hours or days later rather than reacting in the moment. Because it was always dangerous or they were not allowed to express their emotions they might have learned to suppress their alarm system.
On the other hand, with repeated trauma the limbic brain might also habitually overreact and perceive a threat when there is not one. For example, a combat veteran might jump into a bush when he/she hears a car backfire even though there is no current danger.

Laureen realized that she needed to recognize her alarm signals so that she could react in the moment.

What follows are 4 powerful steps that she used to improve her “alarm system”:

1) She visualized her conversation with her friend.
2) Then she began noticing what she was sensing in her body when her friend made the comment. Laureen became aware of tension in her stomach. It is not only our thoughts that give us our warning signals but our bodily sensations as well. These sensations might appear in different forms such as headaches, shoulder pain, and other physical symptoms. This exercise can also help a person to differentiate between the here and now versus past painful memories.
3) Laureen paused and became the kind observer of her tension.
4) She now knew that her stomach would send her warning signals she needed to listen to. Laureen reported that she felt her stomach again in another conversation but this time she paused for a minute and recognized she was getting irritated again. This time she had the choice to speak up and decided to address her irritation immediately. Her tension and anger were resolved and she no longer needed to hang on to her feelings of anger towards her friend in order to protect herself.

Forgiveness is part of a healing process in which we take responsibility for what we are feeling. We free ourselves of the people who might have hurt us.

Recognizing our internal alarm signals and paying attention to our “warning” sensations can pave the path to forgiveness and, as a result, have additional health benefits.

Follow these 4 simple steps for an alarm signal tune-up:

1.    Visualize the situation that is distressing.
2.    Notice what you feel in your body.
3.    Observe your sensations without judgment, especially if they bring up painful memories from the past.
4.    Return to the original situation or picture another similar situation. Notice what you are feeling. Recognize sensations that signal an opportunity to make a new and different choice. Appreciate your body’s wisdom and commit to noticing its alarm signals earlier, honoring them (not suppressing them), and expressing yourself honestly with kindness toward others and yourself.