5 Ways to Deal with Setbacks in Your Healing Journey

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.

-Lyrics from “Pick Yourself Up”-

At The Younique Foundation, we liken your healing process to a journey. And, just like a journey, there will be setbacks along the way. There are times when it feels like all progress is lost in one bad moment or incident, but you don’t give up the final destination just because you hit a bump in the road.

There are ways to make sure that you can overcome the bumps on your journey without losing your way entirely. Like anything, it’s a skill that you can develop over time. Here are a few hints and tips to make sure that dealing with a bad day doesn’t lead you to thinking it’s a bad life.

1. Find a healthy way to cope.

Too often, the way that we cope with difficult situations is by indulging our worst impulses – drinking, eating junk food, or doing things that are emotionally destructive. Find something that gives you comfort and is good for you. Pick up a new sport, write out your feelings, or volunteer at an animal shelter – whatever makes you see the world in a better way.

 2. Avoid the words “always” and “never.

When things go wrong, it’s easy to get caught up in extreme thinking, but it’s rarely helpful to generalize your experiences. Saying things like “I always do this…” or “I’ll never find the right person…” aren’t going to make you feel better, and they aren’t very productive either. Instead turn those thoughts around into positive declarations.

3. Talk to someone you trust.

Sometimes the easiest way to work through something is to talk it out. Whether you call your therapist, your best friend, or a coworker whose been through a similar thing before, find someone you can talk to about what’s going on.

 4. Focus on the positive.

There have been studies about the power of positive thinking, gratitude, and writing as a way of healing. Utilize those tools to your advantage by thinking of all the wonderful things in your life. If it’s an especially bad day, just focus on ONE positive thing, but be as specific as possible. Instead of saying/thinking/writing “I’m grateful for my comfortable bed,” you should go into more detail. “I’m grateful that I have a large bed that is the perfect softness for my body. I’m glad I have soft pillows and a blanket that was a gift from a friend that always gives me comfort.” See the difference? One is more general and the other is something only YOU have.

 5. Disconnect or reconnect.

For some people the best way to handle something is to turn off the phone, computer, and TV and spend some time alone. For others, they need to have loving and supportive people around them. Find what works best for you – and what’s healthiest for you – and do it.

Setbacks don’t have to derail your hard-earned progress. Although it’s hard to see while you’re in the middle of the struggle, they can lead you to greater healing in the long-run. No matter what you’re dealing with, make sure to deal with it in a healthy way and enlist help when you need it. Use the Faith Strategy to Reclaim Hope to remind you what you’re working toward. You’re amazing and you can do it!

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I Share My Story to Give Strength to Others

I share my story so that anyone who has ever been through what I’ve been through can
get the help they deserve and learn that they are strong, they are beautiful, and they are loved.

-Brittany, Survivor-

I had the amazing opportunity to attend The Haven Retreat. Words cannot even begin to express how amazing of an experience it was for me! I have never been so at peace with myself and stress free in my life as I was for those four days.

Yes, it was highly emotional and tears definitely flowed but it was like a release. Before my tears lead to anxiety attacks and severe anger problems. Now, I have learned how to control these moments and be happy and courageous.

I share my story so that anyone who has ever been through what I’ve been through can get the help they deserve and learn that they are strong, they are beautiful, and they are loved. Thank you so much to all of the wonderful staff that made us feel like royalty and taught us how to feel beautiful again!

-Brittany, Survivor

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Not Living in the Drama: Getting Used to a Life Outside Fight, Flight, or Freeze

If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.

-Peter Drucker-

When you live with trauma, you often live much of your life in a hyper-aroused state. This means that you are constantly stuck in fight, flight, or freeze. Starting the healing process calms that constant stress, and real life can sometimes feel a little, well, boring.

One survivor was talking about how she felt like a warrior as she was battling her anxiety, her triggers, and her past demons. But once those things had diminished to a manageable state, she sat back and said her life felt strange.

She looked around and thought, “Is this all there is?” Although she had fought so hard for the life she had, in a way she felt a void when the constant battle was gone. This made her feel discouraged. She didn’t WANT to live in a constant state of “drama,” but it was what she’d known for so long.

This is something that many survivors can relate to, unfortunately. It doesn’t make you ungrateful, or a drama queen, or a victim. Change is hard for everyone, and it will take some time to adjust.

Here are three ways to adjust to your new life outside of flight, flight, or freeze impulses:

1. Find a new battle.

Have you always wanted to try something but never had the strength, courage, time, etc.? Now is the perfect time to take on a new challenge that can enhance your everyday life. Read a book about it, watch a video, or take a class.

 2. Help someone else who is struggling.

Sometimes the best thing that you can do is share your healing journey with someone else. Tell them your story and listen to theirs. Offer your support and let them know they are not alone.

 3. Create a positive declaration about change.

When you wake up say out loud, “My life is changing for the better.” Or after you brush your teeth you can say, “I embrace change.” Find a positive declaration that feels right for you and utilize it when you need it.

Your healing journey is not a straight line. There are going to be bumps and turns and difficulties along the way. Not all difficulties can be defeated. Some need to be embraced. Embrace the new, healing, changing you.

Forward Was The Only Direction To Go

“I had decided I had to quit looking in the review mirror and face it head on.”

-Rebecca, Survivor-

 

I had applied to The Haven Retreat in March of 2015, thinking that it would take a while for them to review and approve my application. I heard back from them within 1 month, I was stunned and got really nervous that it came up in short notice.

But I couldn’t go at that time. So reapplied in August 2016 and heard back from them, and I made arrangements to go in January 2017. I had decided I had to quit looking in the review mirror and face it head-on. Of course, my feelings started to rise back up, the skeleton started to come out after 28 years of being in the closet.

I am a mother of 4 children, 2 handsome sons, and 2 beautiful daughters. A grandmother of 3 handsome boys and one Diva granddaughter. I was sexually assaulted at the age of 7 and 8 years old. Then when I was 13 years old I was raped. I was also a victim of verbal and physical abuse for 5 years. I would pray that one-day God would give me the strength to get out.

I had very low self-esteem of myself. I finally decided that I needed to curl up and die or get up and fight. I made the decision to fight, and make a better life for my 3 children. Because this was not the life I wanted for me or for them to see.

I knew then that I could only cry out to my God to give me the strength, wisdom, knowledge & understanding on how to be the best single mom I could be to protect my children from harm and give them a better life than I had.

My favorite scripture is Philippians 3:14 “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God”. So every time I get discouraged or feel like I couldn’t go on, or I am not good enough. I just refresh my memory of this scripture. Know that God holds the key to my future and my children’s future. I know that what I went through was not right and I didn’t deserve it but because of it I am the Woman I am today. It only made me stronger and better not bitter.

I am thankful for The Haven Retreat. It made me realize that it’s okay to talk about it, to get counseling if needed.

-Rebecca, Survivor

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The Haven Retreat Was My New Beginning

“The retreat is just the beginning, but it is the most profound beginning I’ve ever had.”

-Rebecca, Survivor-

I learned of the Haven Retreat from a brave survivor on Facebook. I am forever grateful she shared. While the decision to attend was not easy – there are so many emotions that accompany such a decision – I am so glad it came down in the affirmative. I made a choice to learn. I made a choice to grow. I made a choice to turn and face the storm inside because I really wanted to calm it.

Arriving at the retreat was surreal. I was surrounded by women who were strong and courageous enough to come and face the same demons I was up against. We were all nervous and scared in some way. The staff were all welcoming and radiated acceptance, confidence, and love in such a powerful way, we were all put at ease and the work began almost immediately.

I was concerned about group therapy, but found that I truly enjoyed it. I had the most considerate ladies in my group. Their stories touched my heart and created a bond I will forever cherish and draw strength from. We still talk almost every day in a messaging group we set up. They are respectful, uplifting, and encouraging. They are my sisters and they fill what had been a gaping hole of family, friends, and connection.

Speaking of connection, the focus on getting in touch with your own body was so helpful. As survivors, we tend to disassociate with our own being. I found that to be so true for me. The Muay Thai was particularly profound for me. It was very rhythmic, much like the drum circle we experienced the first night. That was another thing I was skeptical about – but I went in open minded and I loved it. I could feel myself start to feel again, if that makes sense. Don’t get me wrong, I stunk it up! HA Good thing nothing important depended on me doing it well. But I learned a lot about how rhythm affects the body. I am continuing the work to find mine.

There is not a moment that I regret going. Even when the road seems so long still and I feel overwhelmed because there is so much to do in this healing journey, I am grateful I chose to begin the healing process. I have a lot more tools in my bag to handle the challenge, thanks to the retreat.

If you are in that moment of deciding whether to attend, if you feel a traumatic sexual event in childhood is still affecting you today, summon the courage and submit the application. You will need courage for more than four days, though. The retreat is just the beginning, but it is the most profound beginning I’ve ever had.

-Rebecca, Survivor

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Loving Your Body: 5 Tips for Having a Positive Body Image

To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.

-Oscar Wilde-

Everyone, at one time or another, has struggled with their body image. For survivors of childhood sexual abuse, body image issues can slow down the healing process or derail it completely. Although it’s challenging, loving your body is important.

Here are five ways that having a positive relationship with your body can help you on your healing journey:

1. Focus on what your body can do.

You breathe, move, dance, run, jump, etc. If you’re looking and only seeing faults, focus instead on what your body CAN do. The amazing things that you’re able to do because you have a functioning body.

2. List the positive.

For every negative thing you say or think about yourself, find two positive things. If you think you have a big nose, make yourself notice that you have beautiful eyes and elegant fingers.

3. Drop the downers.

If you are around people who are constantly complaining about their looks (or worse, your looks), it might be time to find a better group of people to hang out with. It’s hard to be confident and self-loving when everyone around you is doing the opposite.

4. Quiet that negative inner voice.

When you look in the mirror you should be able to look at your reflection without a bunch of negative thoughts bumping around in your brain. If you can’t get the negativity to stop, try talking out loud to your reflection. “You’re amazing. You’re beautiful. There’s no one in the world as awesome as you.” Vocalizing positivity may feel a little silly, but it works.

5. Take a look behind the scenes of media.

A lot of women are influenced by the images and messages that are surrounding us every day on every platform of media. Whether you believe it or not, these can have an impact on your body image. If you see someone and feel a tinge of jealousy or self-loathing, take time to really think through that feeling. Is this image real and untouched? Is it possible that this message is intentionally making you feel bad? Would you feel better about yourself if you ignored it?

Positive body image can have an unbelievable influence across your life. Take one small step today to create a happier, healthier, and more hopeful relationship with your body.

There is Work to Be Done, But I Can Do It

“I have a lot of work to do, but I know I can do more than exist.”

-Connie, Survivor-

This is probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to write. I’ve contemplated for days on how to adequately express myself. I have struggled with deciding to say anything at all, but I would feel like a horrible, selfish, ungrateful person if I kept it to myself.

I was given the opportunity to go to The Haven Retreat.

This past year has been one of my hardest yet. Why my mind remembered things I haven’t remembered in 20+ years baffled me. It made everything else I had to deal with seem unbearable. I could feel myself eroding away back into a shell of myself, and I didn’t want to be there again. So even though, I was petrified to go, I went.

I attended many classes that explained the different ways our bodies and brains change after trauma, all sorts of trauma, which I’ve had more than my fair share of. I learned that for all the times I’ve been called weird, questioned why I can’t sleep, why I did this, why I don’t do that, and why I felt crazy, had a reason. Those things were normal for trauma survivors, and that some things can change.

I cried a lot. I laughed a lot. I also got angry for allowing myself to feel this way for so long. I was finally able to say things out loud that I’ve never said to anyone. It’s impossible for me to explain how healing it is to just be honest even if what you have to say is “terrible.” I made friends that I’ll always cherish, and we continue to support each other.

I received the purest form of unconditional love, kindness, and understanding from complete strangers. It completely overwhelmed me because I never have thought I was worth very much.

Most importantly I learned to accept that I do deserve to be happy, that I am worth something, and that I am not alone. I can honestly say, it saved my life. I’m not “fixed” or “cured.” I have a lot of work to do, but I know I can do more than exist.

-Connie, Survivor

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