5 Strategies to Reclaim Hope After Child Sexual Abuse
One thing that makes The Younique Foundation’s approach to healing from child sexual abuse distinctive is our use of the 5 Strategies to Reclaim Hope. We created these tools specifically for survivors to help them on their healing journey. Below is an in-depth look at each strategy and an example of how it can be used.
You should know that the strategies are not in order of importance or sequence. You don’t have to master one before moving onto the next. They can be used individually or together in any combination or order that you like. You can spend time focusing on one, or you can spend time every day trying to tap into each. One of the benefits of the 5 Strategies to Reclaim Hope is that you can make them work for YOU.
The first strategy is Awareness. We define it as “becoming more fully grounded in the reality that the only time something can actually happen is now, in the present moment.” But what does that mean? Be present. Too often we get caught up in memories of the past or in anxiety about the future. Awareness reminds us that we get to make conscious choices, to choose how we react to the situations we’re in.
One way to effectively use Awareness is by utilizing grounding techniques. These are used to get your limbic system and prefrontal cortex talking to each other. They can be used anytime but are especially useful if you experience a trigger, anxiety attack, or other unpleasant situation.
The second strategy, Acknowledgement, is defined at The Younique Foundation, is “accepting where you are. You recognize your truth and what you need to do to improve.” Think of Acknowledgement as a three-part process – you recognize your truth, whatever it may be, then you accept where you are right now, and from there you can see what you need to do to improve.
For example, if you are in the beginning stages of your healing journey, you need to recognize that you are a survivor of sexual abuse. That is your truth right now. Once you accept that, you can move onto the next step. In this case, it may be applying to The Haven Retreat, finding a local support group, or simply writing your truth down. Then, to paraphrase Maya Angelou, when you know better, you do better. You repeatedly use Acknowledgement in your life to recognize the truth of where you are on your healing journey, accept the progress you’ve made or the setbacks that have come your way, and then make a plan for your next steps.
3. Power Through Surrender
The third strategy is Power Through Surrender. We define this as “knowing what to fight and, more importantly, what NOT to fight.” You might consider power and surrender opposites, but they aren’t. You gain power by consciously deciding when you will let it be. There are thoughts and feelings that you’re going to have that won’t serve you, but fighting them, yelling at them, or berating yourself for having them will be neither helpful nor productive.
To fully benefit from Power Through Surrender, you have to be willing to recognize when something you’re thinking is coming from your limbic system. For example, when that voice in your head tells you that you’re not enough, you can argue with it or you can say, “That isn’t me thinking; that’s just my limbic system,” and move on with your day. This isn’t always easy, but with practice, you’ll be able to know which thoughts you need to deal with head on and which ones you merely recognize and let be.
The fourth strategy is Mindfulness. Although you’ve probably heard this word before, here we define it as “the ability to focus on empowering thoughts and feelings while choosing to coexist with non-productive thoughts and feelings.” Mindfulness is all about choice. Are you turning toward the sunshine or the shadows?
Mindfulness is something that you can practice daily, and you’ll actually see amazing benefits from it if you do. Every time you are in a situation where you feel overwhelmed or upset, step back for a minute and choose your response. You’ll soon realize that you feel empowered by the simple act of choosing where to aim your focus and how to deal with a situation.
The fifth strategy is Faith. While you may hear this word all the time, at The Younique Foundation we define it as “the act of moving forward on your belief that wholeness and healing are possible, even if you may not see it.” With Faith, you believe that you are capable of healing and that every day you are taking steps on that healing journey.
One easy way to think of faith is as a seed. You plant it, give it the support it needs in the form of water, sunlight, fertilizer, etc., and believe that it will grow. You may not see progress every day. Sometimes it can be weeks before you’re even sure the seed is growing at all – but if you keep taking care of it and giving it what it needs, one day it will bloom.
For more information about the 5 Strategies to Reclaim Hope and how you can use them in your everyday life, you can read our Reclaim Hope book and workbook on our website at youniquefoundation.org/resources. Which strategy will you use today to help yourself heal?