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Section 6
Creating Self-statements

Question 6 | Test | Table of Contents

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In the last section, we discussed Secondary Wounding.  In my practice, I have found five basic types of secondary wounding experiences. They are disbelief, discounting, ignorance, labeling, and cruelty.

In this section, we will discuss Healing Self-Statements.  I have found that by repeating healing self-statements, clients may learn to react to stress before negative feelings flood their minds.  I’ve also found that healing self-statements give clients the opportunity to evaluate choices without allowing emotions to take over. 

I use three steps in helping clients to create healing self-statements.  They are considering grief neutrally, identifying needs, and identifying strengths. If you have a client who may benefit from healing self-statements, you may find it useful to play this section for your client. 

Chris, age 48, was a car-accident survivor.  Chris grieved the loss of his wife, Rebecca, in the accident.  Chris stated, "I’ve got this scar on my neck from where they did surgery on me.  The surgery saved my life, but I almost would have rather died.  I suffered some head injuries that affected my brain.  I lost my job because I’m a little slower now.  I get real embarrassed and that makes it hard to deal with people.  My scar burns like a reminder of all of that.  My wife is dead, I don’t have a job, and of course I don’t have a future.  How can I have a future when I can’t even deal with people anymore?" 

Chris’s mental deterioration from sustaining injuries during the crash was slight.  Mainly, he suffered small gaps in his attention span. Chris’s grief magnified the problem with his attention span.  Chris began to react to stress negatively.  Chris stated, "I do OK for awhile and then I start getting real nervous about somebody noticing how slow I am.  That’s when I either start freaking out or I just stop talking altogether." The purpose of creating healing self-statements for Chris was to increase his range of choices beyond the two extremes of ‘freaking out’ or just shutting down.

Three Steps to Create Healing Self-Statements   

♦ Step #1: Considering Grief Neutrally
I had already completed some grief-processing work with Chris and felt he could benefit from healing self-statements.  The first step was for Chris to consider his grief neutrally without any self-blaming.  Chris stated, "I felt guilty that I lived and Rebecca didn’t.  I know it’s not my fault, so I no longer feel guilty.  I’m not blaming myself, but I think if I can stop being ashamed and accept my injuries, then I can live in a way that honors Rebecca." 

♦ Step #2: Identifying Needs
The second step was for Chris to identify his needs.  I asked Chris, "What do you want out of life?"  Chris stated, "I just want to find a way to live my life in a good way.  I know that first I need to accept the way I am now.  I also don’t want to feel cheated anymore."  Do you have experience treating a client who feels cheated by their loss? 

♦ Step #3: Identifying Strengths
In addition to considering grief neutrally and identifying his needs, the third step in creating healing self-statements was for Chris to identify his strengths.  Chris stated, "I’m a good person.  I think of others before myself." 

Chris used these three steps to write his healing self-statements.

♦ Example: This is Chris’s healing self-statement...
"It wasn’t my fault that I was in a car accident.  It will be my fault, however, if I let my grief keep me from living my life.  I was cheated out of a good marriage and a job.  I don’t want to cheat myself out of what I can accomplish with the rest of my life.  I want to live my life now and not in the past.  To help myself, I’m going to repeat my healing self-statements.  My brain condition doesn’t make me a failure.  It doesn’t mean I’m different than others.  My grief is a natural result of what happens when you lose someone.  It doesn’t mean I’ll be alone forever.  It’s up to me to contribute the good that I can.  Holding back what I have to offer won’t bring back what I’ve lost.  Punishing the people still in my life will not do me any good.  By punishing others I will only punish myself."

I advised Chris to carry his written healing self-statements with him.  By carrying his healing self-statements, Chris could read them whenever he anticipated a stressful interaction.  At a later session, Chris stated, "My healing self-statements help me to fight my fears about my mental condition.  I’m starting to get past it and that really helps me to come to terms with losing Rebecca."  Chris soon memorized and internalized his healing self-statements.  By repeating healing self-statements, Chris learned to react to stress before negative feelings could flood his mind. 

Healing self-statements gave Chris the opportunity to evaluate choices without allowing emotions to take over.  If you have a client who is writing healing self-statements, would it be beneficial to play this section for him or her?

In this section, we discussed Healing Self-Statements.  There are three critical steps in creating healing self-statements.  They are considering grief neutrally, identifying needs, and identifying strengths.

In the next section, we will discuss the physiology of grief as it relates to clients suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome.  I have found that there are three major physiological aspects of grief.  They are the mind-body connection, acute stress reactions, and emotional triggers.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Beller, J., & Wagner, A. (2018). Loneliness, social isolation, their synergistic interaction, and mortality. Health Psychology, 37(9), 808–813.

Bellet, B. W., LeBlanc, N. J., Nizzi, M.-C., Carter, M. L., van der Does, F. H. S., Peters, J., Robinaugh, D. J., & McNally, R. J. (2020). "Identity confusion in complicated grief: A closer look": Correction. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 129(6), 543.

Captari, L. E., Riggs, S. A., & Stephen, K. (2020). Attachment processes following traumatic loss: A mediation model examining identity distress, shattered assumptions, prolonged grief, and posttraumatic growth. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Advance online publication. 

Golden, A.-M. J., & Dalgleish, T. (2012). Facets of pejorative self-processing in complicated grief. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 80(3), 512–524.

Merluzzi, T. V., Burgio, K. L., & Glass, C. R. (1984). Cognition and psychopathology: An analysis of social introversion and self-statements. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 52(6), 1102–1103. 

Wood, A. G., Turner, M. J., Barker, J. B., & Higgins, S. J. (2017). Investigating the effects of irrational and rational self-statements on motor-skill and hazard-perception performance.Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 6(4), 384–400.

What are the three critical steps in creating healing self-statements? To select and enter your answer go to Test.

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