Which voices have you been listening to?
Everyone has had a negative self belief or a nagging voice haunt them at least once in their life. Negative thoughts about one’s appearance, competence, or their value can interfere with a persons confidence and keep them from becoming the most self actualized, creative, and happy person they can be. These negative beliefs often sound something like, “I’m not good enough,” “I am ugly,” “I am a disappointment,” “I am different/don’t belong,” “I am shameful/stupid/a bad person,” “I should have done something/I did something wrong,” “I am inadequate/weak,” “I cannot trust anyone/myself,” “Its not OK to feel/show my emotions,” “I am not in control,” “I am powerless/helpless/a failure/will fail,” “I cannot succeed,” “I have to be perfect/please everyone.” Any of these sound familiar? Imagine if you could think and feel that the opposites were true! “I am good enough,” “I am capable,” “I can succeed!”
Get to the Root of the Issue
Its common for people to have fleeting worries that sound like this and be able to rationalize, redirect, and move confidently forward, but when a person struggles with the same or similar thoughts over and over, then it could be extremely worth while to examine why these thoughts are occurring, get at the root issue, and finally experience the freedom of life without nagging negative beliefs and the triggers that cause them! With a little EMDR, you could be well on your way!
Here are 7 ways that EMDR can seriously improve your life!
1.) Make Negatively Emotionally Charged Memories Feel Neutral
EMDR identifies the memories that are driving your negative self talk and beliefs. Once identified, we give your brain more time to process these particular memories much like it processes the information that you take in each day during REM sleep. The bilateral stimulation we use in EMDR opens up channels between your right and left brain that are not typically open outside of REM sleep. Once these channels are open, your brain is more able to adaptively process traumatic memories stored in your brain. This will manifest by you having new spontaneous insights into the memory, and as processing continues, you will feel less and less disturbed when you think about the target memory. We typically dont stop until your target memory feels totally neutral, were talking a 0 on a 0-10pt scale of disturbance. Imagine if any memory you have that currently has the power to cause negative thoughts about yourself had all of its power taken away. It. Is. Possible!
2.) Learn how to successfully handle future potentially triggering situations
I’ve always joked that therapists use a flawed business model: Give our clients all the help and new skills they need so that they will never need us again. How is that sustainable?! 😉 Joking aside, its actually what we do! It wouldn’t be enough to heal your past traumas without giving you the skills to avoid similar trauma in the future! In EMDR, we utilize bilateral stimulation (getting both hemispheres of your brain talking to each other to develop new insights and new ways of thinking about things) to not only process the past trauma, but also to solidify the progress made so that you can see yourself using your new insights and skills in the future.
3.) Increase creativity and ability to venture into new areas of life previously off limits due to unresolved trauma
With all those triggers no longer keeping you in a box of negative feelings and beliefs, who knows what you could do?! Without a doubt, you will be on your way to an increased level of self actualization, ie. become the absolute best, unhindered version of yourself that you can be! Maybe now you could realize some long held dreams! Confidently give a speech to a group of people, ask for that raise, improve a relationship with someone in your family, assert your boundaries, take up a new interest, not be afraid to make mistakes and to learn from them. As the great Dr. Seuss once said, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” – Dr. Seuss
, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
4.) Increased self confidence
Imagine not telling yourself ever again that “Im ugly, Im stupid, I cant/wont succeed, I’m not good enough, I don’t deserve success, Im inadequate, etc etc etc….” Imagine instead being able to tell yourself and feel that the following is 100% true: “I am OK as I am, I am loveable, I am good enough, I can succeed, I deserve to be happy/successful, I have what it takes, I am worthwhile.” These are the positive, true beliefs that we naturally arrive at after having all of our negative memories processed. Why is it natural that we arrive at these new beliefs? Because, aren’t they true? : )
5.) Not be triggered by similar situations/things in the present
When we have unresolved trauma in our heads it can be easily triggered in our daily life. Triggers could be certain smells, looks people give us, particular people themselves, tones of voice, the pressure to please, perform or conform, watching the news, pictures or any object that triggers a negative memory from the past. Triggers can be pretty much anything, depending on what your memory is associated with. When an unprocessed negative memory gets triggered by something in the present, some or all of the original content and feelings can come rushing back. You feel the same negative feelings, emotions, and think the same negative thoughts as you did when the memory first happened. The “past becomes the present.” After successfully processing your target memories, former triggers such as certain people, places, and things that caused negative feelings from the past to come flooding back into the present will no longer have that effect! You will be able to interact with them with more confidence and objectivity!
6.) Dont be defined by negative memories ie, fights, breakups, abuse, divorce, car crashes, fires, death, embarrassment. Let positive stories dominate your life!
The title says it all. What is the dominant story of your life? Is it filled (or sprinkled) with negative dominant stories and events? Does it feel like your life is defined on some level by that high school breakup, missing the game winning shot, an overbearing parent, an instance (or years worth) of abuse, war, a decision, a regret, or something totally out of your control? What about all the positive events and accomplishments in your life? Why don’t those come more easily to the forefront of your mind? Allow your brain to ditch the negative dominant stories by giving your brain more time to process these traumas so that you’re not defined by them, but retain what is useful, and leave the rest behind.
7.) Be more present in your relationships (Make the past stay in the past)
Now that you are no longer triggered by all the pain that person XYZ caused you in the past, you can now accept them for where they are at, and move confidently forward in your relationship with them. Who knows, there might be something positive there that you missed because you were viewing them through the lens of your past trauma! And of course, having worked on future templates in EMDR, you know how to handle person XYZ and yourself in positive, constructive ways in case any interactions with them start to turn South.
If you would like more information about EMDR or would like to consult via phone or email, please do not hesitate to contact me! You can also read more about EMDR at www.emdr.com.
Jake Voelker MA, LMFT