Archive for October 4th, 2007

Pink Buds (c) Lynda Bernhardt

How do you heal from childhood abuse? While there are many steps involved, I can sum them all up in one sentence: Learn how to love yourself. That’s it. It really is that simple. Unfortunately, simple does not necessarily mean easy.

Learning how to love myself was truly the hardest thing that I have ever done. Since I was a toddler, I was programmed to hate myself. I saw myself through my abusers’ eyes, and what I saw was ugly and reprehensible. What was there to love?

Each one of us is precious. We each have a piece of the divine inside of us. We deserve to love and be loved just because of who we are. We do not have to earn our place at the table of life: There is already a place waiting for us. No matter what your abusers told you, this is the truth. Healing is about removing all of the lies and reaching the place where you see this truth for yourself.

So, how do you get there? There is a Cherokee Legend that provides a lot of wisdom in how to do this:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

– From First People

Each time you choose to think about how worthless you are, you are feeding the evil wolf, but each time you choose to do something compassionate for yourself, you are feeding the good wolf. The one that ultimately wins is the one in which you invest your energy.

One tool I used in learning to love myself was repeating a mantra in my head, “I love you. You are safe. I’m sorry.” These were the three messages that I most needed to hear and the three that I did not believe. So, I said these words to myself repeatedly every single day, even though I did not believe a word of them. As I repeated this mantra, I was feeding the good wolf. In time, by feeding the good wolf these morsels, I slowly grew to believe them. Today, I can honestly say that I do love myself, I do feel safe, and the emotional wounds that needed an apology are healed.

You can do this, too. This is one simple change that requires nothing other than a commitment to saying these words to yourself several times a day. It is okay if you don’t believe them. Your good wolf is starving, so throw him some morsels of energy so he can regain his strength.

Related Topic:

The Guarded Heart of the Abused Adopted Child

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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