As a survivor of child sexual abuse, you may be constantly giving to other people. It’s common for survivors to be caretakers, to make sure that everyone else is taken care of, and it can be exhausting and draining. But, with planning, mindfulness, and a focus on gratitude, giving to others can increase your happiness like it did for the survivor in the story below.
Jane* felt as though she was drowning in anxiety every day. She rarely left her basement apartment, couldn’t sleep, barely ate, and wasn’t sure how she was going to make it one more day. She’d been reading a lot of self-improvement books, trying to find something to pick her up out of her rut. In one of those books she came across an idea that changed everything. Starting today, that moment, Jane was going to mindfully give something to one person every day for a month.
The first thing she did was think of things that she could give, not just gifts or things that cost money, but ways that she could give of herself. Next, she tried to think of who she’d want to give to, leaving space for strangers she may come across. Lastly, she decided to mindfully look for opportunities to give.
The first day she felt awkward and uncomfortable as she gave a thank you card to her landlord for fixing her water heater. It wasn’t something she would have usually done, but the smile on his face made her feel good. The second day she almost forgot about it, but in the grocery store the woman in front of her at the cash register was short a dollar and Jane gave it, grateful for the opportunity.
Jane looked forward to finding someone to give to every day. She called her mom, knowing it would mean a lot to her. She helped her friend move into her new apartment. On a walk at lunchtime, she picked a flower and gave it to one of her coworkers.
Some days were better than others, but Jane found that she looked forward to her giving moment every day. Slowly, it pulled her out of her rut. It encouraged her to reach out to family and friends. It helped her feel less shame accepting help.
At the end of the month, Jane found that she was happier, more grateful, and so much more willing to let others give to her. It was just one small change, but it opened Jane up to the opportunity to make more changes. It didn’t change everything, but it changed enough that she was able to move forward on her healing journey, with giving and gratitude paving the way.
*Jane’s story is a combination of many survivors’ experiences and not representative of just one individual.
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