What does it mean to become grounded and have a good sense of self?
Posted by: pegasus ()
Date: March 12, 2009 06:08AM

Hi everyone

I am interested to hear of others' experiences in finding themselves/learning how to be grounded after leaving a cult. For me, I had become all consumed by the cult's definition of who I should be and also I had the habit of always looking outside myself to an external measure of whether I was good enough. This way of living gave me a lot of anxiety and a disconnection from my real self. Now I am learning to change this habit and check in with my self more about how I am feeling and what I think and want. But it is not a quick process.
People say that its important to be grounded - what does that really mean? I guess for me it is to be reasonably here and now and not floating away in my head or thinking too much about what others think I should do.

This includes feeling entitiled to live your own life which is tricky because cults teach you that your own life is not your own, that it belongs to the cult and you should sacrifice yourself for the 'greater good' or god etc.

I'm interested to hear others' thoughts on this


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Re: What does it mean to become grounded and have a good sense of self
Posted by: Missbee ()
Date: March 14, 2009 02:44PM

Wow. Looking forward to future posts, because I'm really struggling with that one.

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Re: What does it mean to become grounded and have a good sense of self?
Posted by: Lady Pleiades ()
Date: March 20, 2009 12:40AM

Tough question but I'd have to agree with the idea of not thinking about what others think.

I like to just trust my instincts. What I found out is that I take a long time to make a decision. I weigh options, ask friends opinions, gather as much evidence as possible to be able to make a fool-proof decision. Easy to let a strong personality just make the darn decision for me.

so, I try to just go with the gut feeling and risk making a mistake. all those critical thoughts and "shoulds" were second nature to my thinking so part of it is recognizing those irrational beliefs.

good question though.

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Re: What does it mean to become grounded and have a good sense of self
Posted by: tsukimoto ()
Date: March 20, 2009 05:31AM

I'd love to know how other people develop this too. For me, part of the answer is just trying to stay aware of my tendency to put other people on pedestals and believe that they know more about my life than I do -- and to want to seek their approval. I was a good student in school -- always wanting to please my teachers. You did that by giving them the right answer. Since school, I've had to learn that often there isn't one clear right answer.

This almost seemed funny to me shortly after I bought a house and was doing some work on it, a few years back. The previous owner had painted the front stairs white, and the paint was dirty and peeling. I did not like the white, and decided to paint the steps gray...and I agonized to death over whether I should paint the steps gray. I finally realized that I was worrying over something that was just not worth worrying about it. They're my stairs, I can paint them any color I want! If I painted them gray and really disliked it, I could always paint them another color anyway. Did I really think people were going to walk or drive past my house and yell "Your stairs are ugly!" at me? And if they did, why should I care about the opinions of rude, nitpicking people?

So when I catch myself worrying too much about other people's opinions, or some small decision, I just remind myself, "It's a gray stairs problem, not worth worrying over."

Also, I just try to be aware of my gut feelings. In my old group, sometimes I'd be told something that just didn't feel right. I tried to explain that feeling away...feeling like something was wrong with that feeling. Now, I pay more attention to just the feeling that something is off.

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Re: What does it mean to become grounded and have a good sense of self?
Posted by: ON2 LF ()
Date: March 22, 2009 11:10PM

After spending much of my adult life trying to recover from a very harsh upbringing with great emotional, spiritual, and physical traumas, I've concluded that one does not need to have been ripped apart in the claws of a cult to know and understand the desperation of that seeming insatiable need for peace, and direction in life..at all levels.

My first encounter with a sense of feeling grounded happened when a friend inadvertently pointed out to me that my life's experiences had made me a radically introspective person, with little interest in anything but me, my recovery, and my own self-insulated custom developed world view. I began to wonder if, in trying to find grounding from inside my personally secured prison of confusion, mistrust, issues, and muted anger, I was actually just reaching into a blazing fire for that ice cold drink. My personal search for a sense of self, and to feel like I'm standing on firm and safe ground..in all aspects of my life, have evolved from a thought that maybe I've given my nemesis, the brutal inner turmoil, too much authority over my mind and my will. I began to treat that restlessness and discontent as I would an outside intruder instead of like the only inner driving force I had access to. The really hard part for me in the beginning of that process was when I felt like I was literally rejecting my own self, my own identity, and my own purpose. I felt like I'd chosen to deliberately break my own heart in some ways just to get myself out of my inner world of great discontent, turmoil, and terrible distrust of others and myself. I really should have sought out therapy, but I didn't ,and although I didn't think it would ever happen, I somehow managed to get my feet walking on a totally different path. The newness of that path was both repulsive and exciting to me, and once I found a balance on that path of recovery, I began to change from the inside too.

I don't think my change has been bad. I like people now, I like life, and I no longer wonder what it would be like to live inside someone else's life or identity, and I no longer wish I could. I no longer accept a single lie my abusive past made to look like the truth. I just wanted to know if there was a me, and if that me could learn to like this life with what ever identity I had..with whatever faults, weaknesses, or vulnerabilities I might have. That curiosity led me to stumble on my way to finding an inner grounding, and has led me to develop a sense of self that I am secure in, and I am grateful to have. I kept a gratitude journal for months at one stage, and it really helped me to begin to see how much more I had to be grateful for than to be sad and sorry about.

I feel content and grounded today, even when I have no idea what's coming around the corner. I used to be terrified of that feeling. I used to be so tormented by needing and fearing what I needed at the same time, I'd wonder if there was an actual personal identity or strength anywhere in me at all. I was so distrusting of everyone, and yet so vulnerable to the very types of people I so vigilantly tried to protect myself from. I felt as though I was the biggest joke of a human being God ever set loose on this earth..I was a mess. I often read the stories posted on this message board, and I so deeply identify and empathize with so many of those stories.

IMO, it takes something different for each of us to find our answers, or make us able to receive the answers we seek during the inner strife. In my case, it is my Christian faith that is my answer, and what gives me spiritual and emotional grounding. The more I grow in my faith, the less fearful I am, and the less I feel a need for carnal approval.

It seems that there is no single answer to the question asked on this thread..It seems to be an unwritten rule that we each require our own unique code to unlock humanity's collective doors of understanding and experience, and the journey seems to center on finding that code. There ain't a guru anywhere on this planet who holds the 'master code' for that sacred door, even though a ridiculous number of them claim they do. I'm pretty certain that inner grounding and a sense of self can't be bought in any form, and can't be sold even to the most hungry seeker. If someone claims they've got these two assets for sale, then all they've got is a bridge and ocean front property on the moon...so run for your life..and make sure you didn't drop your check book or wallet anywhere either.

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Re: What does it mean to become grounded and have a good sense of self?
Posted by: freedom fighter ()
Date: March 24, 2009 12:42AM

When something continually bothers me I know it's from not trusting my gut feelings in the first onset of a problem. Because I'm not trusting myself, I've lived in a perpetual cycle of feeling out of touch, very insecure and ultra sensitive to any critisism from anyone. My problems buzz around and around until I finally understand what I need to do to change up things no matter what it is.

It all originates from the cult picking away and destroying my self worth. The way I see it is all other problems come from a low or an absolute no self worth. The day you start saying I'm worth it and my dreams are worth it, then life starts unfolding. I no longer hold out shivering in fear and stuck in my little pot-hole.

It means that all the experiences you have are helping to make you feel that you are in charge of your destination, your space, and ultimately whatever happens to you. Even if random acts of kindness or negative stuff comes your way you are equipped to naturally deal with it because you know it's your gut reaction that you can finally trust. That's all we have - our intuition. If I can't trust my intuition just because I'm operating out of fear that's ok too because eventually I've started understanding how fear works for me. I start knowing the difference between fear that tells me not to get involved with the wrong person vs. fear of venturing into the unknown. I know I often kept to myself until I was secure enough to venture out and still I was shaking in my shoes at times.

That whole cult past really does mess up your sense of feeling grounded. It is only because of your distrust of your own instincts. They were stripped from you by force. Abuse. Just remember, you have yourself. It is still there, its just layered over by a bunch of crap from your abusers like sticky tar that's almost impossible to wash off with a shower. A good therapist, family, and other's who are understanding and trustworthy help. Ultimately I find that it's me that has to start treating myself with worth. When you're eight years old everything seems awesome. You run, play, discover, and are curious. That's what I remember. If you can combine the knowledge, wisdom, and insight from your experience and couple that with a child like curiosity for life then I think we've got it made.


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Re: What does it mean to become grounded and have a good sense of self?
Posted by: billy77 ()
Date: September 07, 2012 05:31PM

I really appreciated reading these posts. This is the hardest thing to deal with after cult abuse. I guess like ON2 LF says, sometimes I felt like a total joke of a human being how I had become this, how my sense of self was non-existent or completely broken. I actually wondered how this was physical possible to carry on in this state and what was maintaining any of it. I mean really how can a person get like this? It's not a biological illness. This is through other people and their evil.

Regular people cannot imagine what you can end up in where the self you have is so broken and downright dangerous for you to have that you end up trying to throw it out. I don't think they have any idea. I've been at that point.

Part of me feels like maybe some other type of intervention is required here to throw out all the entities and scum that has come in as a result of the cult. Like the whole broken ego system gets thrown out and sent back to these mothers like when Jesus healed the demon possessed men on the shores of lake Galilee and the demons went into a herd of pigs that were drowned. I'm not religious or Christian but maybe there is something there. I get to the point where I think of how many efforts I have made to rid myself of this stuff and what exactly is keeping there you see.

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