“I feel like I have hit a plateau in my life and I can’t reach that next level of living.”
This is a common statement for many survivors of sexual abuse and other traumatic experiences. Does this resonate with you? If so, you might be in need of creating that bridge from Survivor to Thriver. Survivor-Mindset entails a focus on understanding your experience, discovering what matters to you and healing. Thriver-Mindset is the courage to accept the trauma and finding a place where one can coexist with both the darkness and enlightenment you gained from the experience.
A thriver realizes they aren’t the same person they were before the trauma. Instead they have become a stronger and more inspirational individual who can steadfastly traverse a shifting environment guided by peace and light. It can feel easier said than done. Start small and speak kindly to yourself.
Look at the journey to Thriver-mindset as one rooted in movement. Humans seek to focus on forward or upward movements, but Thrivers are able to take a 360 view of a situation and devise realistic courses of action. We are going to focus this month’s exercises on movement to shift your perspective. We will take multiple approaches to speak to a diversity of interests. Feel free to focus on one or try them all. This is your time for self-care and there is no wrong way to grow.
Movement of the Mind:
Begin by reading finding a relaxing spot. Once you are settled, read the following passage from Rumi. Please pay special attention to the second half, as we revisit this passage again next month. Our hope is you begin a bridge from healing to living your best life by providing you a beacon of peace and divine light. Feel free to journal any sections that have deeper meaning for you.
"This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor… Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond."
"You were born with potential. You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dreams. You were born with greatness. You were born with wings. You are not meant for crawling, so don’t. You have wings. Learn to use them and fly." -- Rumi
If you could talk to your inner child what would they say about your potential or their dreams?
How have your ideals or dreams have shifted since then or after your abuse?
Are you able to see your greatness now and if not, why?
How have your kept yourself crawling and kept your wings folded?
What would it take for you fly?
What would you accomplish if you could soar?
Movement of the Body:
Are you someone who feels in touch with your physical self? Perhaps you enjoy dancing or exercises like yoga? If so, this next activity set could be impactful for you. We are going to focus on movement of body and how you feel an increase of peace and empowerment. We will work through the journey from Victim to survivor to thriver and explore how your body positioning and awareness shifts as you grow more into yourself.
Begin by dressing in exercise attire and finding a private space. Start on the floor curled into a ball like a seed with your chest on your thighs and your hands grasping the edges of your feet. Experience the closed posture and reflect on your journey of healing. Give love and care to the tight spots in your body by breathing into them. When you are ready begin to gently unfurl your body.
Start with your hands shifting off your feet and stretching out palms turned upward. Shift your weight into your glutes and tailbone and gradual roll up vertebrae by vertebrae, with head coming up last. Create openness in the body. Roll out any tension in your shoulders or neck and push the air backwards with your palms facing behind you. Experience how you feel shifting into this new pose. Is it shifting your mindset as well? Are you feeling a reawakening and a healing effect? Experience all the sensations.
When you are ready, shift your weight into your knees and slowly rise up without using your hands as support. Keep your chest forward and you begin to stand. How you do you feel while rising up? Do you feel an increase in strength? Are you finding a new trust in your body and abilities? Stand in yoga Mountain pose with weight evenly distributed between both feet. Do a full body scan for shifts in tension, or mindset. Give any hotspot extra attention and love with either breath or a gentle massage.
Shift out of this survivor pose of healing and awakening into a thriver pose. If you enjoy yoga, play with the concept of a power posture with Tree pose, where you are balancing on one leg with the other resting either above or below the knee. If you prefer to keep both feet on the ground, call up your favorite superhero and emulate their stance. Both postures will accomplish the same goal. Power poses have demonstrated benefits with improvements in hormone levels ease anxiety and helping people feel more confident.
If you are exploring Tree pose, begin to add more energy to stance. Create more space in your chest and lift your chin and arms upwards. Explore the concept of simultaneously receiving and transmitting gifts to all in our universe. If you are in superhero pose, you most likely will have both feet firmly planted on the ground and your hands actively on your hips. Make this stance more dynamic by tilting your chin upward and perhaps try pushing your hands back gently like flapping wings. How does that shift any tension you may have carried? Is the added movement having an effect on your mind? Objectively marinate in these sensations, remembering to keep breathing deeply from your diaphragm. When you are ready, shift out of your pose and end by giving yourself thanks for creating this time for self-care and self-appreciation.
Movement in Spirit:
For millennia humans have used music, especially with their voice, to create movement of spirit. I’m someone who used music to help me express the inner sensations of my trauma, finding the courage to heal and now something to keep me uplifted and joyful. Think about the songs that gave you strength at each phase of your journey. Your music selection can be as varied to include instrumentals, nature sounds, popular music, opera, world music, showtunes, throwbacks, or even playing instruments. Create a playlist for songs that helped get you into a place of Survivorship. How did you interact with the songs? Did you sing, cry or feel some other emotions. How did it make you feel in your mind and body? How do they make you feel now as you are shifting into Thriver-mindset?
Now create a second playlist for songs that you use to motivate, empower and inspire you. Those Thriver Tunes may come in handy as you try to shift into and maintain Thriver-mindset. How do these songs contrast from your Survivor Songs? Has your interaction with the music differed, and if so in what ways?
You might feel more action with your Thriver songs. While I find my Survivor Songs are more vocal driven, allowing me transform my inner world more externally; my Thriver Tunes blend singing with more dance, especially since exercise has always been central to my healing process. World music in particular, allows me to get reacquainted with my body. Belly dancing helped me fall back in love with my body, which I felt during the victim to survivor transition had betrayed me. Now I could create a new story while reinvigorating my exercise routine. As a Thriver, I still use belly dancing and Bhangra as parts of my fitness routine and find them to generate joy and light into my day. How do you experience using both vocal and dance with your playlists?
Movement is essential to life. Experiencing fluidity and understanding your relationship with shifting dynamics is key to staying present and feeling alive. Acknowledge the gift of self-care that you have given yourself. Renew your commitment to find a section of each day to reconnect with your newfound purpose. Journal your experiences and insights. Periodically review your entries to see your progress and what areas need additional care and attention. We at Survivors to Thrivers are always here to support you on your journey to peace and healing. Please share your Survivors Songs, Thriver Tunes or other ways you are finding the light and joy through movement either on our comments section or on our socials. Keep bringing that light of inspiration. You are a blessing, thank you for being a part of this uplifting community.