Do you struggle with traumas of your past? Memories of your childhood that continue to resurface? Sam had been tormented by disturbing images inadvertently flashing across the screen of his mind for many years. Daily, he felt forced by his subconscious to watch himself being violently punished and beaten bloody by some unrecognizable person. He couldn’t help it. No matter how hard he tried, these frightening thoughts pushed themselves relentlessly into the forefront of his mind, leaving him emotionally drained and depressed. He often wondered, “Why do I do this to myself? I must have some form of severe mental illness.” Naturally, these thoughts didn’t help the development of his self-esteem and confidence.
Sam told me that as a child, he was regularly beaten and slapped around by his father. Almost every evening before dinner, he received his punishment, which was most often administered without Sam having done anything wrong. Just before or during the beatings, Sam’s father responded to his desperate pleas for mercy by saying, “Don’t cry, or I’ll give you something to cry about.” For Sam, as a boy, life was very confusing and unpredictable, and soon the only certainty he had was the daily dose of physical and emotional anguish.
At first glance, it may seem pretty obvious that the violent images that tortured Sam as an adult were nothing but vivid memories of his traumatic punishments. Yet every form of therapy he’d sought to relieve the effects of these traumas had failed, and a part of Sam continued to project these images onto the screen of his mind.
During one of our sessions, Sam recalled a day when he was in his early teens. He decided to beat his father at his own game by being the first one who caused himself pain. All he needed to do was to imagine how his father laid into him and how much it would hurt―before it actually happened. Sam figured that this way he would at least gain some control over the unavoidable torture. Can you imagine the desperation that led this young boy to such a survival strategy? Yet, at the same time, this was an ingenious method Sam’s mind had developed to give him some sense of control during completely disempowering circumstances.
In the beginning, this strategy worked. His father’s beatings weren’t as unbearable anymore because, in Sam’s mind, the punishment had already happened. Over time, Sam even gained some sense of self and personal power. Although he wasn’t able to control his father, at least he could control himself and how much he would allow the punishments to affect him.
When Sam was sixteen years old and strong enough to fight back, his father stopped using him as a punching bag. However, Sam’s self-inflicted internal beatings continued. While the images of being beaten to shreds relentlessly haunted him, Sam gradually forgot that they had once served a purpose. By this point, he was just irritated with this “cruel habit of his mind.” Irritation grew into frustration and anger, until Sam was consumed with hatred for whatever was inside him that kept torturing him in such a sick and malicious way. The first time we met, Sam had just turned fifty-one. His internal struggle had raged more than twice as long as his external troubles with his father.
Although Sam’s example may appear quite unusual and somewhat extreme, the theme of beating oneself up—for example, by using harsh, self-critical thoughts or self-defeating deflating comparisons with others—is rather common. The protective intention behind this internal critic can be to keep you small, so that you don’t get in trouble with others, or to keep you on your toes, so that you don’t fail or slack off. And similar to what Sam experienced, the part of you that berates you and beats you down may believe that you’re better off rejecting and hurting yourself than having to endure receiving this pain from others. As Sam went through my Breakthrough Program, he as able to release the stored emotions of his difficult childhood and convince his subconscious protector that he is safe now and that there is no need to protect him with these outdated and ultimately self-destructive ways. Once he learned to embrace the source of the violent images as a caring supporter, rather than an inner tormentor, Sam experienced a sense of peace and wholeness he never had before.
If you are curious on how to heal the traumas of your past, schedule a free consultation with me, so that we can talk more about how my Breakthrough Program can help you to find the peace and wholeness you have been longing for.
Training Camp For The Soul
Join me this Thursday, July 15th at 12PM ET / 9AM PT on Get Real, where I have the pleasure to interview my friends Anat Peri and Chris Marhefka about the Training Camp for the Soul, a unique opportunity to confront the past and accelerate your growth.
We all hit the same ceiling at some point. We grow up learning beliefs, behaviors and habits that are so ‘normal’ that we don’t know why they are there – and that we don’t notice how they can keep us trapped in a life we don’t love. If you are not absolutely thrilled with your life – and yourself – then Anat’s and Chris’ Training Camp For The Soul may be for you.