March 11, 2011

You Can Heal - Part 1

If a brood of fierce tigers lunged at me, I imagine Stephanie Clayton would jump in front to protect. I think this because her words ward off the tigers of life that relently stalk -- darkness, pain, and hurt. Stephanie co-leads a Christian based support group for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. She holds a BS in Pyschology and a Masters in Counseling; she's certified as a LPC-Intern and I'm honored she's agreed to share her expertise. Jesus offers many ways to heal; one way is counseling. Please tune in today and tomorrow for Stephanie's wise words!

Tickled pink to introduce to you... Stephanie!

I fell apart. Right before graduating. The little girl inside started screaming so loud I could no longer drown her out. She had been raped at 15, the culmination of an abusive relationship. She had to breathe. She had to speak. I had to find a way to let her. It took many hours of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), but eventually that sweet 15 year old emerged with strength I never knew she had. When allowed out of the dark, God lavished her with a beautiful crown of grace and mercy. Any faithful instruction from my lips is because God has given it to her, to me. She speaks.

Survivors of abuse or assault often use words & thoughts in ways God never intended. We can beat ourselves black and blue without realizing it. In the depths of my depression, I journaled. The pages are filled with a plethora of negative thought patterns. At one point I even wrote, “Some people cut themselves with blades and knives, I cut myself with words and thoughts.”

Negative thoughts I battled: I am worthless. I am alone. I’m not capable of loving or being loved. I am stupid. I will never get better. I deserved it. It’s my fault. It’s not okay to still be struggling. What is wrong with me?

I slugged everything I saw or did (or anything anyone else said/did) through the filter of these negative thoughts. I pulled anything through my muddy pit & made it look nasty. The power of belief and thought patterns is amazing! They become so ingrained in our brains’ wiring, we refuse to see anything outside their filter.

Sam asked me to talk about negative thought patterns from a CBT viewpoint. Basically, our emotions and behaviors are a direct result of how we perceive events in our lives. For example, as you read this…

…on the one hand you’re thinking about what you are reading
…on the other hand, “automatic thoughts” may be occurring

Perhaps they are:
I will never understand this CBT junk
Nothing can help me stop negative thoughts; why am I wasting time reading this?
I am not smart enough to understand this
Hey, this makes sense
She kind of gets me

These automatic thoughts could be ANYTHING and are unique to every individual. Based on circumstances and events that happened throughout your life, you developed automatic thoughts that stem from “core beliefs.” We might not even be aware of “core beliefs.” A couple of mine were “I’m unlovable” and “I’m worthless.”

You can see how negative thoughts & beliefs quickly affect our behavior:
We experience an event
We have a thought about the event
The thought directly relates to our core belief
We automatically act based on what we believe to be the truth

So what on earth do we do about the automatic negative thoughts? Tune in tomorrow to find out! Oh, and be sure to pop over to Stephanie's blog for loads of encouragement!

This is part of our Jumping off the Train {of Negative Thought} Series. Pop over to read the rest here!


pinkdaisyjane said...

Thank you.

Amy Sullivan said...

So glad to follow you here. Your words always encourage and inspire. So many can relate to your message.

stephanie said...

Heatherly and Amy, thank you for your sweet comments.

stephanie said...

And Sam, I would TOTALLY lunge in front of some tigers for you LOLOL!

Follow2Serve {Lorna} said...

Well said. Looking forward to tomorrow's post.

Fields of gold said...

Thanks ya'll! Stephanie really sheds powerful light on healing and wholeness in Jesus! Thankful for her!

Fields of gold said...

Awww, thanks Steph!! And I, you!

connecting with the soul said...

It's posts like this that encourage Gods healing that got me to start writing my own abuse story adding the healing power and scripture I have discovered along my journey.I wanted to write my story to let others know they werent alone, but Steph, Wendy, Mellisa and so many others I have shown me I'M not alone either.