How to Re-Wire Your Brain After Childhood Sexual Abuse
In a previous blog we discussed the different parts of the brain and the basic way that childhood sexual trauma can affect them. We also addressed the way that childhood sexual abuse can prime your brain for addiction.
The trauma that you experienced in childhood leaves a lasting impression on your brain. Your limbic system (survival part of the brain) is hyper-aroused and will do whatever it can to protect you – whether that’s good for you or not. So how do you gain control again and move past the pain? Below are five things you can do to re-wire your brain and work toward healing. Each one is inspired by one of the 5 Strategies to Reclaim Hope.
1. Mindful eating.
This can be especially useful if you have a tendency to use food as a way to cope with emotions. Take the time at one meal today to take a bite and experience your food. Chew it. Really taste it. Inhale deeply between bites. Don’t rush through your meal, but take the time to really enjoy every bite you take.
2. Junk journaling.
Writing can be intimidating if you don’t feel like you’re a good writer. You can spend too much time worrying about your words or sentences or self-consciously censor yourself. Junk journaling is the answer to that. Find a cheap notebook that isn’t too fancy and just write. No one will ever read it. You don’t have to worry about what you put into it. And because it’s just a junk journal you can even destroy it when you’re done. The act of writing in it can be amazingly healing.
3. Forgive yourself.
Too often survivors of sexual abuse blame themselves for what happened. If you’re going to re-wire your brain and move forward on your healing journey, you’re going to have to address that and forgive yourself. That process will be different for everyone, but a great place to start is by discussing it with a trusted friend or licensed therapist.
There are a lot of different ways to meditate. You’ll need to find the one that makes you feel the most at ease and comfortable. The goal of meditation is to bring your thoughts inward and truly connect with yourself once again. As you do so you calm the limbic system, which will allow you to take more control when it tries to protect you in an unhealthy way.
5. Power pose.
The way you hold yourself can make a huge difference in your feelings about yourself. Amy Cuddy gave an amazing TED talk about the benefits of power poses. So as you start your day tomorrow, stand in front of your bedroom mirror and channel your inner Wonder Woman. Put your hands on your hips and raise your chin. Do this for a minute or two every time you’re feeling low and see what it can do to raise your spirits.
The truth is that there are no quick and easy ways to re-wire your brain. It takes time and energy combined with the knowledge to change the effects that trauma had on your brain. That being said, it only takes small steps every day to make a difference. You can re-wire your brain. You can find healing.