***Due to the lengthy nature of this month’s exercise blog, we have split it up into two distinct posts. The first half was posted on 7/17. ***
Earlier in the series, we discussed the impact of nonsupporters or individuals who are only capable of passive support. We now turn our attention towards individuals who are better equipped to provide more active methods of support. Our hope is that you can discover ways of better engaging these support systems to provide you a more impactful form of support, as well as discover ways you can learn to become a more mindful supporter to people and causes you hold dear to your heart.
A term that is currently pervasive, this person offers support in a more active way that examines the many facets of an issue and serves as an empathetic ear to facilitate improvement.
Ally is a prominent buzzword today. It conjures up close friends and family who you can call in a trying time. You trust this person will create time to listen to you and provide you a sense of peace and safe haven that helps you formulate a game plan to solve your most pressing issues. The following exercise will help sustain healthy relationships with the allies in your life.
Create a relationship bank to avoid ally Compassion Fatigue:
A relationship is like a bank, a dynamic acting as a system of emotional debits and credits. In order for you both to be healthy, you need to avoid overdrawing and going into emotional debt and ensure you both enjoy a relatively equal exchange of give and take.
Create a space and find an object that you can use as a bank. Feel free to select something you can decorate to allow for a more personal touch. The next time you speak with your ally, have your bank nearby. Be mindful of your conversation and dynamic. Whenever you find yourself asking for advice or direct intervention, put in a penny or a nickel. Yet, whenever you find yourself asking about their interests, concerns or life put in a quarter or dollar. Repeat this process with your future interactions. Set aside a period of time to allow the money to accrue and then review what you have in the bank. Notice how many smaller coins you have in the banks, versus larger amounts. What is this telling you about your ability to facilitate a balanced dynamic? If you see more low-value coins, can you identify ways to increase engagement in their life? Finally, use the funds from this time period to pay for a fun and joyful experience with your ally to lift both of your spirits.
When times are at their most pressing, an activist is a person you can depend on to assist you in creating the necessary change to benefit your life as well as help the greater good.
To be an activist, a person must put personal investment into solving a problem. They are a person that not sees that someone is amiss but works tirelessly to improve the situation, not just for the moment, but for the long-term.
Envision who the activists in your life. These members of your support system are individuals who not only seek to fully understand your experiences, but are mentally, spiritually, and even physically prepared to take direct action to support you.
You don’t have to worry about giving them detailed directives on how to support you, because they are so engaged in your life or a cause near to their heart. Activists see the opportunities to make impactful change, can identify the key players with whom to align, and will then work alongside those stakeholders (like yourself during your times of need) to create and implement substantive change.
The activists in your life can be counted on to check in on your long after the “crisis” has passed to ensure you are living life to the fullest and have all the tools necessary for you to live a life of abundance. Please explore the following exercise to help better engage the activists in your life, or to awaken the activist within you.
Embrace Activism by awakening and strengthening your passion!
Allow yourself to reflect on your values and what matters to you. What issue intrigues you and moves your soul? Have you recently seen an issue or community addressed on the news and felt stirred to take action, but at a loss as to how to help? The great news is that YOU CAN!
Go beyond the hashtag or segment and seek out knowledge. #Blacklivesmatter encourages us to dismantle systemic racism not just through protest, but through mindful consumption of black art and stories, and then promoting others to experience it as well. This is also true of movements like #pride, #disvibility, of course #metoo. Listen to music, watch movies, and read written works featuring members of this community. Whenever possible seek out works created by members for a more authentic telling of the story (for example, opt to watch Pose or Harriet rather the Help or Pocahontas). Shop at ‘minority’ and women-owned businesses and pay attention to how certain businesses have handled the Covid pandemic.
As members of the sexual abuse community, consider this an invitation to explore the perspective and experiences of other community members. Earlier in the month, we brought up the new social media movement, #speakingout, which exposed sexual abuse in the wrestling industry. In less than two weeks activists associated with this movement rejoiced as the United Kingdom closed a loophole regarding relationships between minors and people in positions of trust (like a manager or trainer). But there are other movements to address sexual abuse to men, and in LGBT, indigenous and international communities.
Allow yourself to read books or articles, watch content, or listen to podcasts to begin learning more about these perspectives. Immerse yourself in these stories. Consider their perspectives and needs. Be willing to reach out to members to listen to their stories and reach out to leaders to understand the ways you can most effect the desired changes. Then make sure you share these stories, methods to cultivate changes, and any resources you have picked up along the way, with your friends, family, and social networks. Each small step can add up to significant progress forward.
Support is multi-faceted and there is no one size fits all approach. This means that one method is not any better or worse than another. At our core, humans desire to feel included and valued by those we love and society. This can be amplified for individuals with a history of trauma, since we may be in even greater need of external sources of empathy to help stimulate loving-kindness and grace within ourselves. The best way to achieve inclusion is to shine light on indifference and cultivate love, care, and empathy. It is our hope these exercises help you better relate to the individuals that comprise your support systems and inspire you to be more loving and mindful of how you support others.
Finally, this blog marks a year since we launched Survivors to Thrivers. Thank you for all your input and encouragement as we grow into a global community cleansing the world of the shame and secrecy that surrounds sexual abuse. As we embark on our second year, we are committed to listening and implementing your feedback to create a more inclusive community that reflects the values and experience of all individuals affected by the rippled effects of sexual abuse trauma. Please leave us feedback either in the form of a blog comment, email, or social media interaction. Thank you for being an integral member of this uplifting community.