If you experienced child abuse, you've likely had the messages of family shame ingrained into the depths of your being. Do you remember hearing the following types of messages?

Message #1: "You won't amount to much."
Message #2: "I'm bending over backwards raising you kids. There's so much that I sacrifice. I haven't even bought myself a new pair of shoes in 2 years."
Message #3: "You need to…" (be or do something your family approves of)

Maybe the messages weren't stated aloud, but communicated in a more subtle manner. Nonetheless, the messages of family shame still got through loud and clear, chopping your confidence down with each shaming remark, even if you didn't realize it at the time.

Getting over child abuse is anything but easy. Your caregivers weren't the greatest teachers for giving you the positive strategies for dealing with adult life. Plus, the shaming messages you learned stunted your own personal development into a healthy and happy human being.

As a child you were flexible and open to learning anything - including messages and beliefs that you didn't realize would hurt you. After all, you thought it was the job of your parents to take care of you and you trusted they were doing the right thing at a very vulnerable time in your life. So if you heard anything like the above, it's time to start letting it all go. Here are some ways you can help yourself heal.

Strategy #1: Grieve. Yell. Cry your eyes out. Hit a couch cushion until you collapse from exhaustion. It's time to discharge all the anger and sadness you've built up as a result of internalizing the messages of family shame. Grieving enables you to process painful events and integrate them into your life so you can move on.

Strategy #2: Leave your guilt behind. Messages such as "can't you see how much I've done for you" were designed to keep you feeling guilty and hence, more easily controlled. If you had a parent who said that to you, know that it is the job of a loving parent to ensure their child's needs are met through whatever sacrifices are necessary. You don't have to feel guilty because your parent couldn't handle the adult responsibilities of parenting and the stress that goes with it. In fact, you may want to give yourself permission to feel anger at the injustice of it all.

Strategy #3: Draw a line in the sand with clear boundaries. If you're in the midst of the healing process, you need to make your healing a top priority. If that means you have to put some much-needed distance between you and your abusive family, go ahead. You don't need to do or be anything but yourself. Give yourself the space to heal. You deserve it.

Strategy #4: Consider getting professional support. Healing from abuse is a serious issue and deserves serious attention. If you have good friends who are willing to lend a kind ear, that's a good start. But if they can't understand everything you're going through because you have specific issues, don't be afraid to seek out a mental health professional. A good therapist will help you learn to trust others, and more importantly, yourself.

Strategy #5: It's goal-setting time. Change can't happen unless you empower yourself with goals backed up by action. Set some realistic goals for yourself. Make a goal that says "I will walk 4 miles two days a week by March 30, XXXX." Then go out and get it done. Setting goals and reaching them gives you a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. Achieving something you set out to do helps you take your power back and override the messages of family shame that say you won't succeed at anything.

The amount of natural happiness that starts coming into your life when you stop believing shameful messages is amazing. Happiness starts to feel effortless. It's a natural outgrowth of your self improvement.

If you want to continue on your journey of healing from child abuse, please visit http://www.zentactics.com/mental-health-articles.html.

Author's Bio: 

Adam Appleson has been actively involved in using self improvement techniques to promote psychological health and goal-oriented success for the past 11 years. He is the founder of ZenTactics.com, a website with advice written especially for survivors of abusive and dysfunctional families.

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