How Speaking In Catastrophic Language Harms Our Mental Health

 “Today was the worst day EVER!”

Was it really? The absolute worst day you’ve ever experienced in your whole entire life? No day has ever been worse than this one?

“I have the WORST headache!”

The worst? So bad it’s not preventing you from staring at your glaring phone screen and lamenting about it online instead of treating your headache and resting your eyes?

“Life is NEVER going to get better!”

Never ever? For the rest of your life you have seen all of your future days ahead and have resolved to yourself that life will never improve?

“I just CAN’T take another day!”

But you’re here the next day, still saying you won’t be able to take the next day either… or the next… or the next. So really, you actually can take another day.

“My life is OVER!”

Is it? Over? You’re dying because your mate left you or you lost that job or you’re having a high anxiety or pain day? That’s it? Life just ends? You see no possible solution available? Not even the ones being offered to you that you’re finding reasons not to try?

This may not be a popular post. I might piss some folks off. That’s okay.  I get to speak on this subject. Why? I have been on this journey. I’m talking to you from experience. I’m speaking from days, weeks, months and years of crawling through the muck of my catastrophic victimhood into some harsh realizations that changed my life for the better.

Catastrophizing our language is extremely damaging to our mental health. The above statements were often heard leaving my lips as I was writing “Cult Child“. The process was brutal. There were times I really believed I might die from grief.

Yet, here I am. I didn’t die. How might I have made my healing process slightly softer had I known what I am about to share with you?

In order to understand the biology of how our language affects our lives, we should take a brief look at the scientific connection between linguists and neuroscience.

Antonio Benítez-Burraco Ph.D. states:

“This effect of framing or filtering is the main effect we can expect—regarding language—from perception and thought. Languages do not limit our ability to perceive the world or to think about the world, but they focus our perception, attention, and thought on specific aspects of the world. In summary, language functions as a filter of perception, memory, and attention. Whenever we construct or interpret a linguistic statement, we need to focus on specific aspects of the situation that the statement describes. Interestingly, some brain imaging facilities are now allowing us to examine these effects from a neurobiological perspective. For example, in one study, authors prove that language affects the categorical perception of color—and that this effect is stronger in the right visual field than in the left visual field. Discrimination of colors encoded by different words also provokes stronger and faster responses in the left hemisphere language regions than discrimination of colors encoded by the same word. The authors conclude that the left posterior temporoparietal language region may serve as a top-down control source that modulates the activation of the visual cortex.

This is a nice example of current biolinguistics research (in a broader sense) helping to achieve a better and more balanced understanding of classic questions in linguistics—like the relationship between language and thought.”

Are you thinking, “What the hell did I just read?” Alright, let me break it down simply. When you read your favorite author, as they describe a room in detail, can you see that room in your head? If you nodded yes, they have done their job.

They’ve used language to create an image in your mind.

We see this in our mental activity when we create scenarios which have not happened yet, for instance. Have you ever thought of the worst that could happen in a situation, finding yourself falling down a visual rabbit hole where you actually see it happening in your mind? You’ve just created your own visuals with your thoughts. That thumping heart you feel? You’ve just manipulated your own emotional state as you created that mental visual.

We can take this a step further by looking at great speakers and story tellers. They use their skill of language to create a picture in your mind.

Here, David JP Phillips rolls out an excellent TEDx talk in which he explains how media is used to manipulate your emotions to the point you will spend your money excessively or search endlessly for a love which has been unrealistically described to you.

All of the above are examples of how language influences your thoughts, your own words, your behavior, your buying and voting patterns and the simple ways in which you think and see situations and the community around you. More importantly, it influences how you view yourself.

This brings me back to being inside of our own minds, our thoughts and being aware of how we speak in general. Speaking negatively to a child or AROUND a child blocks them from building healthy self-esteem.

Someone I know had a decent childhood. They had everything they wanted. They weren’t abused or neglected. However, the one thing they did deal with was a mother who consistently spoke bad about herself. Because of this, my associate developed body dysphoria, something they fight every day, a lowered self image simply from being exposed to someone else’s lowered self image.

Alternatively, speaking positive to or around a child helps them develop a good sense of self. So then, imagine what you could do for yourself, if you focused in on changing your language.

I used to joke about myself when I was very overweight. I would hurry up and call myself fat, because that’s what I assumed everyone was thinking anyway. Then, I’d feel horrible and eat to soothe myself. When I changed my lifestyle and took pride in being healthy, I stopped speaking so poorly of myself. I have occasional moments I fight self-deprecating thoughts. The difference is that now, I catch myself. “No. Stop that. You are who you are.”

As children, many of us were left ignored and un-cared for as we suffered with pain in silence. This left an imprint on us, an illusion that we needed to inflate the seriousness of our struggles out of fear of being unnoticed.

If my lumbago is having a flare up, I don’t head to social media to lament about it. In fact, I put social media away, purposely keeping my mind in a very clean state. I go into self-care mode. I rest. I do what needs to be done to soothe the flare up. I don’t allow phone calls. I don’t allow stress. I listen to my body’s needs.

If I am in an off emotional mood, maybe having a day where I feel like I may be easily irritated, for instance, I bring my self-awareness higher. I don’t want to lash out or project those emotions toward anyone else or any slight situation. I try and avoid spaces where controversy might trigger me. Occasionally, I fall prey. I have an alpha tone to begin with. Imagine when I’m irritated. I do what’s right for myself. I sit with the emotions and process them.

What if you chose to look beyond the pain? What would your language look like?

If my hips are aching, I thank my legs for still working. I stretch slowly. I say to myself, “Alright, it’s one of those days.” If my heart is sad, I find gratitude in the fact I get to choose self-soothing. I have the freedom to write it out in my private journal.

I could have died as a tortured child. I survived. I triumphed. I fought my way through the rubble of Sam Fife’s sick, sadistic cult. I refuse to fall prey to their misery. So what worked for me? How did I flip my catastrophic language into uplifting ways of speaking to others, about others and most importantly, to and about myself?

I first designed my journal “Becoming Gratitude” in a notebook I used for myself. The sole purpose of taking that journey was to re-program all of my senses away from catastrophic and negative thinking. It absolutely worked.  I decided to share this extremely inexpensive, simple, five-week gratitude course with the world because it worked for me. Consistency with the daily five minute task was absolutely the key for my success. Within as short as a week, I was saying to myself, “Okay, this feels good.  I’m onto something here.”

Becoming Gratitude” even worked for one of my most hard-headed and dearest friends! She left a hilarious and super real review about why she did not think it would work for her, which you can read here

You can choose to exercise gratitude in your life in many differing arenas. The key word here is choice. Ending catastrophic thinking and speaking and beginning forward-moving, solutions-based thinking and speaking takes active self awareness and work until it becomes natural. Your change will happen quickly.

You’re going to get addicted to feeling good inside.

Choose your words in a way which creates a positive image in your own mind. As I am constantly working on growth in regard to my mental and physical health, I visualize myself where I want to be, how I will be living, my environment and joy. As I continue to speak good about myself, the better I feel and the better I become.

You deserve your good. Speak kindly to yourself. Speak highly about yourself. Accept your abilities. Accept compliments. Embrace the positive parts of yourself. It’s okay. You can be a Thriver and still speak about the wounds you have endured. Healing doesn’t erase what happened to you. It just makes living a lot easier.

The journey into the realm of thriving really does begin with a first step. Choose Gratitude.

The Girl In the Mirror

You loved me,” I said, “when I was at my lowest. Yet, I didn’t quite know you were loving me. I was in tears so many days. You held me. Together we traveled the tunnels of rewound memories, finding ourselves sometimes on clouds and others in quagmire. Through these times, these deep struggles, you were always there, even when I wasn’t aware of your presence. Now, as I look into your eyes, clear and concise, I am elated that you were patient. You waited. You got to know each part of me explicitly. We have grown into one moving energy, crafted through the moments I struggled to find you, calling you to please come to me as you were wandering. Today I am grateful. Today I say thank you. Thank you for returning to me; for finding me and being inside my wholeness.”

You’re welcome.” Replied the girl in the mirror.

Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and the hostess of Survivor Voices Show. She is an advocate, poet and artist.

Balancing Our Trauma and Creativity

The other day I was having a conversation with a fellow trauma survivor and writer. She posed a question to me.

How do you balance everything you want to do and keep your head together?

There are many blogs about creativity which advise on this subject, and many of them contain very valuable information.  So, I had to answer her from my own personal perspective.  Instead of repeating what is suggested, I wanted to answer her direct question about my daily process specifically.

You see, I am a free-flow creative. Forcing me to follow a set schedule is a sentence for the death of my creativity and passion. It is the driving force that will push me into emotional flat feel. I will strain against the confined system and begin to have a growing irritation towards the control of a schedule until I wither.

Any rigid type of living, for me, is a recipe for depression as I stare at the screen because it’s 1 PM, this is my scheduled time to write, but I don’t want to be writing at the moment. My soul wants to create art, work on other projects or even rest for a while.

Many branding gurus advise to stick to that strict schedule and don’t vary from it. because that is how successful people happen! So it was that I redefined the meaning of success for myself.

Read here to find out makes me feel successful.

Do I pay attention to the marketing side of my brand? Absolutely. I am a lone wolf with a friend who helps me with computer tasks when she can. I have no expectations of her. She has a family and helps me for free. I bow and kiss her feet for that! 95% of my brand is solely controlled and operated by me.

Do I read branding blogs? Absolutely. Following branding bloggers like BadReadheadMedia, by 30 Day Marketing Challenge author Rachel Thompson, have given me excellent information. Partaking in Twitter hashtags like #MondayBlogs, #SexAbuseChat and #NoMoreShame, have helped me connect with some great trauma survivors who are vulnerably baring their souls. Connecting with creative trauma survivors, like artist Liz Ianelli and podcaster Matt Pappas, keep me inspired.

What I don’t do is allow what I read about suggested success methods to pressure me. I glean what feels fitting for my own life and my brand, and I incorporate it. I don’t change the specific routine I have for my-self care, a routine for which no specific schedule really exists. I make a “to do” list almost every day (because 1/2 of it is usually carry over from the prior day), and if there’s a timeline due, I make note of it. In the end, though, I always do things in a rhythm which matches my own positive flow. If something sinks me, it’s not for me.

Being a trauma survivor and a creative can be daunting. When I put too much pressure on myself, I tend to drop into shutdown. My creativity flow is dependent on the state of my mental health.

I always put my mental health and quest to continue being the healthiest before everything.

If two hours is all I have to give to my creativity on some days, that’s what I give. Some days I don’t create at all. Other days I catch a wind and go for hours. All of this is is unpredictable and unknown for me.

My creativity is flowing water at a pace I currently feel happiest following. I cannot re-carve the banks of its river. Instead, I float its calm stretches and row its rapids, staying with the grain of the waves and enjoying the view along the way. To me, this is balance. For me, this is the best route to reach the vast sea of success.

I hope you stay balanced through your creative journey by putting yourself first. I hope you take walks in the trees or lay in the grass and count the clouds. I hope you free flow with yourself, absent of any painful expectation, and know that if you care for the growing plant of your creative well, you are guaranteed to grow into the tallest tree.

P.S. Today I accomplished vacuuming and this blog post. SUCCESS

Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and the hostess of Survivor Voices Show and her live Sunday broadcast Off the Cuff. She is an advocate, poet and artist.

The Day I Disappeared

Life Behind the Veil

“Life Behind the Veil” by Vennie Kocsis. Click the photo to view more art.

Click to Listen to the Spoken Version:

https://anchor.fm/e/99f7a0?at=2202210

The day I disappeared and
Became invisible
Was the moment
I became invincible.

I got lost inside
The existence of my absence.
I lost my laughter,
Which had
Trickled in moments
Of hopelessness,
So I could feel and
Deal with the real.

I disappeared and
It brought me here.

Now I stand
Unexpected
Affected and feeling.

I am healing.

It is said the sum
Of the numb means
We have succumbed to
Acceptance.

I call that self-rejecting.

I want to be affected
By the dejected.
I want to hold their fears
In my palms, dip my
Fingers in the ocean to
Release the tears.

I let myself see.
It’s my freedom
To go nowhere
So that I’m always
Somewhere and

Even now as these words
Run through minds
Who question meanings
Of bending time

I fade into the distance.
I am no longer
Resisting the calls to
Explore caves lined with
Files of memories waiting
To fill the gaps and
Bring the rest of the
Memories back.

The day I disappeared,
The world was quiet.
My face never reached a screen
Nor an ear, my screams.
I became an echo of a dream,
A memory slowly fading
Into remnants of words
Melting into the earth.

Vennie Kocsis is the author of Cult Child and hostess of Survivor Voices Show.

One Badass Redhead

Click the graphic to visit Rachel’s website

In this journey of traveling the grid of the internet, I’ve been privileged to connect with a variety of individuals.  Through these connections, I have learned, found support, grown and joined the ranks of strong survivors who are shamelessly telling our child abuse stories with the intent of helping others.

When I met Rachel Thompson, owner of Bad Redhead Media, on Twitter, I resonated deeply with her writing.  In her books, Broken Pieces and Broken Places, she passionately pours out the rawness of her pain in a writing style akin to painted, language art.  I was immediately hooked.

Being an independent author, I equally latched on to her amazing marketing book, The BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge, geared toward toward supporting the budding author in learning how to market on their own.  I took the challenge, and I learned!

I recently had the honor of talking with Rachel on my radio show, Survivor Voices Show.

Click below to listen as she shares her life, her story of child sex abuse, her triumphs and how she masters focusing on self care, writing and growing her brand.

Click below to listen to Rachel’s Interview through Survivor Voices Show on YouTube:

Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and the hostess of Survivor Voices Show and her live Sunday broadcast Off the Cuff. She is an advocate, poet and artist.

GASLIGHTING: The Movie That Should Make You Shudder

Gaslighting

GASLIGHTING is a twenty minute film packed with a raw and candid look into the true-life story of a teenage girl named Brooke, played by Hannah Walters, who has suffered sexual abuse as a child. In just a short twenty minutes, her whole life unfolds. With a mother who is caught in a domestically violent relationship and rearing three other children, Brooke is often left in the care of questionable adults who use her compliance and fear to their advantage. The child welfare system continually fails her. Held silent in mental fear, she is victim blamed by teachers, her own mother and a court judge. In essence, for Brooke, there is no safe place.

If this film makes you cringe, cover your eyes, gasp or even cry then you are one of the good ones. This movie is a raw depiction about how a child protection system, justice system, parents, teachers and caregivers continually fail children who have been abused.

GASLIGHTING is a perfect example of what society must fix in order to bring about change in our world. This movie is a reminder that the planetary social construct can no longer ignore the horrors being wrought upon the most innocent of its inhabitants, our children.

Children deserve to have a safe space. Children deserve care, love and protection. GASLIGHTING will remind you of something incredibly important. That teenager you can’t stand, who you think is so horrible, is most likely in even more emotional pain. Beneath their sullen silence, the lashing out, the self-harm and inability to communicate, is a child needing someone to listen to them tell us why they are broken.

As a survivor of sexual abuse I can assure you that this ripping of innocence shatters the very core of a child. I am a firm supporter of anyone working with children being required to go through an intensive course on recognizing the signs of child abuse. GASLIGHTING should be added to the list of required viewing.

Anger is not a base emotion. Pain is. Anger is the projection of that emotion. When you see anger you are really seeing pain.

Watch GASLIGHTING here:

Gaslighting

Please support  GASLIGHTING by leaving a review or donating to the work involved in utilizing this film for global education.

Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and the hostess of Survivor Voices Show and her live Sunday broadcast Off the Cuff. She is an advocate, poet and artist.

Are You Successful?

img_0384

“From Waif to Warrior” by Vennie Kocsis – Available for Purchase at: vennie-kocsis.pixels.com

I was asked “Do you feel successful.”

Yes. I do.” I answered.

Their face squinched up.

But you don’t even own a house.”

I had to chuckle. I wasn’t offended. I actually welcome these conversations. It opens up perspective. I was able to explain that I have never wanted to be tied to a mortgage. I don’t like being tied to payments period. I have never had that desire. Anytime I was, it was a great struggle for me. I felt chained and inside of the humanoid mill.

I have always been a wanderer, a traveler, even at times, a runner, from situations I couldn’t handle. But I never have longed for riches or looked at that as a definition of success. If I ever longed for it, it was in a thought of how many people could be helped if wealth was in the hands of the compassionate. Yet, mainly, my mind is always ablaze with possible creations, projects, new ideas to filter in or let blow away in the wind.

You see, I am successful because I walked through fire, burning and scalded to now stand in the most authentic space I’ve ever felt. I am successful at owning the totality of my own life, shamelessly. I am successful because I wrote my story, years of aching and crying, vomiting into plastic bags, most often alone, in dark rooms, screaming out the childhood torture to expel it from my molecular structure.

I am successful for the songs which flowed through me to soothe my spirit and the poetry book so eloquently penned; that I found my gratitude and can look at four brilliant, independent publications. MY hands made those. MY DNA poured those timeless scrolls into tangible literary works. I am successful because they will remain forever, precious to someone.

I am successful because I get to be who I was born to be. I get to create art. I get to CREATE anything I wish. I get to call my own shots. I get to stand in a place of empowerment and not fear of loss. I am successful because I am at peace in this space.

Our definition of success could be defined the moment we are doing what we love, when we are healing and growing. Maybe therein is the critical switch, a word definition, away from accumulation and into inspiration.

I am successful.

Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and the hostess of Survivor Voices Show and her live Sunday broadcast Off the Cuff. She is an advocate, poet and artist.

img_3657