What is a stronghold?
An incorrect thinking pattern that has molded itself into our way of thinking; These patterns can affect us mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Many women who have reached the survivor phase in recovering from childhood abuse and trauma; experience feelings of inferiority or exclusion from society, where they may fear they will be victims of judgment. Through their journey, they have developed the strongholds of limiting self-esteem or underestimation of their power. Strongholds alter how we think and feel about ourselves. For every gift that God has blessed you with, be sure the enemy is at the forefront trying to assemble a stronghold right next to it. Today, we will focus on three defining strongholds: fear, guilt, and the inability to trust.

An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.

When we are driven by fear, we are blind to our true potential and the exception abilities within us. What are your fears? Are you fearful because of the trauma you’ve experienced? Keep this message in your forethought; the moment we become fearful, we relinquish our power to somebody or something that’s underserving to have it. We have been afraid long enough its time to do something about it. Begin by identifying your fears, calling them out by name. Below are some valuable practices that will help guide you in regaining your strength, confidence, and self-worth.

Become aware of your fears.
Know that fear keeps you in captivity. Starting today, get in front of it! Ask yourself questions. Is this fear based on an active threat, or is it something I’ve held onto for years? If so, how can I put this fear to rest?

Admit that you are fearful of particular things.
If you have a fear of flying, recognize it, and call it out in the open. There are options, have a conversation with your physician; maybe they can prescribe a light sedative to get you through the flight. Breathe and enjoy your flight.

Use a mantra.
Fear is a natural and temporary response that the body experiences. Try repeating, “This too shall pass,” or another soothing mantra of your choice when you feel anxiety rising in you. Pay special attention to your breathing; as your heart rate, and cortisol levels decrease and return to its normal levels.

Take a bold step.
An effective way to overcome fear; is to confront goals that fear has prevented you from attaining. For example, this can be a goal to graduate college or start a business. Furthermore; when we begin outlining steps to accomplish such goals, the ambiguity where fear breeds begin to dissipate. As a result; we begin to gain an “I can do it!” mindset.

A feeling of deserving blame for offenses.

Similar to shame, guilt almost always comes to those of us who experienced abusive childhoods. If you struggle with guilt, you are not alone. The strongholds of guilt steal our peace, joy, trust, and even our faith. Sin is a weapon that the enemy uses against us to isolate us from our Savior.

As we alienate ourselves from God, we provide the enemy an opportunity to make gains on his agenda of mass destruction and torment. As a survivor pursuing her healing journey; regret and self-judgment may arise prevalently, nonetheless, we must combat the instinct to feel guilty about things beyond our understanding or control. The Scripture reads, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36). However, is that always the case? Let me explain, we can have a sense of freedom and still be hiding behind the dark shadows, all because the guilt and shame remains within our minds and hearts. 

Also, if we continue to dwell on our past occurrences without implementing healthy boundaries, the corrosive powers of guilt will indeed tear us down mentally, physically, and spiritually.

How to overcome guilt.
Feeling guilty can make it hard to overcome the adverse effects of your childhood and or traumatic experiences. Overcoming guilt will take time; this is not something that can be remedied overnight. Most important, know who you are in Christ. When you know who you are in Christ, the enemy cannot take that identity or love away from you.

Read the Bible daily.
The only way to fight the spirit of guilt is to stay in your word every day. As you read the word and apply it to your daily routine, you will begin to recognize growth and assurance in yourself, to the point where God’s word is so embedded in your heart that the stronghold of guilt begins to disappear.

Forgive others and forgive yourself.
If you are still troubled by guilt, you may not have forgiven yourself or the individual(s) who harmed you. My dear sister, when you forgive someone, you are healing yourself. The moment that you have released that person who caused you harm, you give yourself the power to live your life unencumbered by pain and therefore with joy and happiness.

To have no confidence in someone or something.

When babies are born, they do not know good and evil. A baby relies on their caregivers to meet all their needs and keep them safe. When a baby first learns to walk, they trust that an adult will guide them as they began to wobble and eventually fall.

When one’s ability to trust is jeopardized by a family member, friend, or stranger, one slowly learn to shy away from people by building a barrier around them as protection.

In this particular case, the compromise is by way of some form of trauma or abuse. When we no longer trust people, whether it is the offender or an unrelated person we encounter in our day, we are continually awarding power to the individual that compromised our trust.

Mistrust has no home in our mind, heart, or spirit and therefore is not conducive to a healthy, happy, or loving relationship with our fellow man. The tighter we hold onto mistrust, the longer we drag out the healing process.

Will you ever be able to trust again? Absolutely! However, this new trust may come with conditions or a sensation of apprehension.

Trust yourself.
To ever trust another person, we must first reestablish trust in ourselves. Trust your judgment, instincts, and ability to make sound choices. Reiterate to yourself that you bear no fault in what happened to you, nor did you exercise poor judgment.

Allow yourself time to process your thoughts.
When you have a lack of trust, it’s essential to give yourself space and permission to grieve. Denial, anger, shock, and depression are just a few stages of grieving. Unfortunately, the person that hurt you was not the person that you thought they were; it is natural to have that feeling of betrayal; give yourself time to grieve that relationship.

Open yourself up to vulnerability.
Easier said than done, right? Nonetheless, we eventually do need to rejoin the world. I get it! When you’re vulnerable, sometimes you will feel exposed, as though you are out in the open for all to see, which can be terrifying. Come from behind the screens. Accept that you are worthy; you have goals and dreams, what are you waiting for? Now is the time to pursue them.

What strongholds are you struggle with? Which ones have you overcame? Share your experience in the comments below.