Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Unraveling: The 12 Steps to Healing From Childhood Trauma & Codependency

By Jenna Ryan

If you experienced trauma or abuse in childhood for any reason, you may realize that you have a mess on your hands. Hopefully there will come a time in your life when you are ready to heal. The following steps are of my own personal journey to healing, wholeness and self love. It is not easy, it is ongoing and must be conducted for each wound you hold in your heart. Steps 1-5 are the hardest and most painful, but once you get past these 5, you will be a different person.

It is within your own power to heal yourself. You have everything inside of YOU to get the job done. I hope these steps help you as they have changed my life.

1. Gain Self Awareness.

It is impossible to heal without a higher level of self awareness. This self awareness is gained through mindfulness. You must figure out your true feelings, wants, needs, desires, preferences and thoughts. You must get hold of who you are and why you do what you do. Self Awareness involves locating the toxic shame that holds you prisoner as well as getting in touch with your unresolved anger. The Self Awareness phase continues throughout the process. Step 1 also involves understanding that your life is a manifestation outside of what's going on with you inside. Like attracts like.

Hint: The tendency is to focus on other people, work, dating or anything else than getting to know yourself--this is the trauma speaking within you. You must resist the urge to abandon yourself and focus outside. You must pull yourself in and train your mind to concentrate on YOUR feelings, YOUR issues, YOUR needs, YOUR preferences. It's okay. It's not selfish. You have a deficit of self concern, even though you probably think you're the most selfish person in the world already. Don't listen to that voice. FOCUS ON YOU. Read: How to Pull Yourself Inside.

2. Come Out of the Fog.

The FOG is a child abuse recovery term for waking up to the truth of what happened to you as a child. This is common for Child Abuse Thrivers around 40 years of age. It's like a veil is lifted and you can see things as they really are for the first time. This process can be painful, but is also enlightening and ultimately one of the most freeing experiences you will encounter during the healing process. Prior to coming out of the FOG, you will most likely be in some state of misery, perpetual abuse and denial.


Figure out the real reason you are repeating the same emotional cycles. The answers are inside of you. Those of us who were abused as children, or who were neglected or otherwise failed to get our developmental needs met experience the same scenes over and over throughout our life, as if we're trying to right wrongs of the past. We must step outside of today and realize that what's happening now is actually a projection of your emotions from childhood. You are actually attracting the same abuse from others until you deal with the original source of the abuse.


Allow yourself to experience your repressed emotions that occurred as a result of the wound.  (See Healing Frozen Feelings & Blocked Emotions)

5. Grieve the Loss from the ORIGINAL WOUND.

You must allow yourself to fully grieve the losses from not receiving the time, attention, affection and direction you would have gotten had your family of origin been fully healed themselves. Grieving emotional losses is like grieving a death; it's the same process. Completing Step 5 is the Key to being able to easily and effortlessly complete Step 8.

6. Experience Healthy Connection.

Step 6 is done throughout each of these steps. It's important to stay connected to a trusted person throughout the healing process, though I've done a lot of my healing on my own, so it can be done. We humans are created to connect with one another. We are all connected, but when you experienced a traumatic childhood, you may have difficulty trusting, giving and receiving in a healthy relationship. In order to heal, you must share your pain and resolutions with an empathetic other, whether that is a therapist, sponsor or trusted friend. The importance of finding the right person for this job cannot be over-stressed. Step 6 also involves staying connected to mentors, writers, blogs, forums online and support groups. It's all about staying connected and sharing your inner world with another or others.

7. Reparent Yourself.

You must reparent your inner child through techniques such as self care, self talk and self soothing. Reparenting also occurs during the transference process of therapy. 

8. Detach from External Locus.

You must learn how to detach from external measures of worth. It is impossible to detach, however, if you have not completed Steps 2 and 3 related to each individual wound. If you find that you are having difficulty detaching from present circumstances and relationships, that is a sign that you need to use Step 1 to go back and do more work on Step 5. Step 8 includes resolving addictions to people, places or things. Once you DETACH, you will need something to ATTACH to inside your own heart, and that's where Step 12 comes in handy.

9. Re-Compute Negative Core Beliefs.

Step 9 is about rethinking the negative core beliefs, that is, the lies you believed about yourself as a result of the wounding. The truth is that you are pure love, your essence is truth. Anything that you believe contrary to the fact that you are pure love causes perpetual wounding. This is a gift of knowledge that I received on my own without the aid of another. You learn so much about your capabilities through the healing process, the wisdom you gain is almost worth the lifetime of pain you endured up until now... It's incredible, this journey!

10. Clear Away Resentment. 

 Clear away resentment through forgiveness, but only AFTER you have completed Steps 1-9. Doing this step too early can delay your progress big time.

11. Reprogram Your Mind.

You must reprogram your mind to think differently and take different actions than you've taken all your life in relation to the wounding. This is an ongoing process that can be painstaking and takes time, but is the way to get the best results. 

12. Create a New Story.

Anchor / Fortify Your Beingness - Having come full circle, you are now ready to anchor, attach and bond internally. During this step you will be able to fully connect with God, or your higher power. Visualization can be used at this stage to build a new identity, one that is weighted with your own love and which includes a recognition of your value. It's the most beautiful step as you are getting in touch with your truth, your beauty and your inner wisdom.

Once you complete these steps FOR EACH WOUND in your heart, you will be a completely different person. Your shame will be greatly reduced, you will be capable of living authentically, capable of intimacy, integrated with who you really are and you will love yourself like you never dreamed possible.

Leave me a comment to let me know how this article has helped you. I really love hearing from you!


  1. Very helpful! Not sure where I am in this journey but I do know all steps must be done! Thank you!

  2. This was my experience except there was a step of examining the other persons behavior and working through their mind to the point I felt sorrow for them rather than hatred toward them. This took a long while and perhaps a lot more thinking about it than is comfortable for most people, however I probably found it the most freeing part. I don't forgive as such, but I understand.

    1. You are so right. Understanding is central to experiencing true forgiveness :-)

  3. This "article" is irresponsible you cannot use a "blanket fix all" set of HOW TO's when it comes to healing childhood sexual abuse.

    Each experience like each individual is unique the effects, impacts vary to claim 12 steps will heal everyone is false...there are no proven steps to heal all. Shame on you for stating something which is 100% false.

    1. "Shame on you"?? Aren't we trying to heal from that!? While each individual will travel his or her own path with this, I believe a basic road map has been effectively and truthfully presented here.

    2. I agree sometimes we need a road map to follow i've known i need to heal for 20+ years but i live in a area with little contact with trusted people at least now i know where to start I guess Kimberle shame on you if i had not found this article id till be stuck and if you really read the article [i doubt it ] it also says elsewhere some of this stuff may not work for everyone or it might just help follow all the links for all the article

    3. Totally agree - we all have to live through the same steps to get whole and able to live life to the fullest possible.

    4. Teaching people that they "attract abuse" is very sketchy, and "the transference process of therapy" is also a very dodgy concept. You can wind up with an abuser or an abusive therapist through absolutely no fault of your own. I find this article very disturbing.

    5. Sucks to find these negative comments in a place where I needed to find healing. I was sexually abused as a child, I found this article comforting and helpful, thank you to the author.

    6. Thank you, very enlightening

  4. I have done everything and live as happy is possible but I can't forgive my Mom - so no wonder this relationship is still in avoidance - I can't stand her too long around me.

    You described well and easy what to do - even it's a hard job to do it but well worth it!

  5. More information on this can be found under Adult Children of Alcoholics

  6. Hi Jenna Ryan, I am so touched by the deep revelations made to heal. I run 3 flagship programs in which I profile Monuments whose stories can inspire and empower a cross section of people, entertain viewers to start a new with positive core values engraved in their hearts, minds and spirit and enable panelists to air their grievances on certain topics considered taboo in my environment. In my search for knowledge on ways to honour self because we do not honour ourselves the way our personalities deserve, I was sent to your blog by google. I read out your intellectual and mind transforming piece to the viewers who were so carried by the frankness of your piece. I am so glad my wish to serve my community pushed me to meet a potential like you.

  7. I don't think this article is irresponsible at all. These steps are not hard. there is a clear suggestion in step 6 to connect with help. I think it is great and have followed these steps. There is a lot of work to do and if you read more of Jennas articles you will see that she clearly states this will not happen over night. It is a lot of hard work and these are the steps you go though how long each step takes depends on the trauma and the individual. Keep it up Jenna you are doing a fantastic job. Thank you so much for your brilliant insite.