We have to dream to stay hopeful, but we often try to reach our ideal life without taking some important healing steps first. Without this foundation, even the best goals and opportunities will (most likely) collapse around us.
Everyone healing from abuse has to go through the same (or at least an extremely similar) process to heal. It consists of 6 key steps—together building the foundation you need to thrive after abuse.
Each stage is therapeutic, mindful, and leads to deep inner transformation. It’s proven to help survivors of abuse.
This might sound like I’m saying everyone heals in the same way. That’s definitely not true, we’re all individuals! Rather, this 6 step path is a framework that’s totally customizable. It simply guides you towards the most important concepts to thrive after abuse. These core ideas can be tweaked to fit your individual path.
If you want to find out what stage you’re on, take this quiz here!
The 1st Stage: Acceptance
Acceptance is, quite literally, the foundation to helping us thrive after abuse. No healing can happen until we accept the fact we were abused…and how that trauma effects us today.
This doesn’t mean forgiving our abusers or being okay with what happened. We can still feel like it was unfair and wrong—because it was.
This stage, instead, teaches us to stop resisting the fact abuse happened in our past. We can’t travel back in time and change the trauma that happened. We can’t magically erase our disabilities or the post traumatic symptoms we live with today.
Acceptance is also about feeling all your emotions, whenever they come up. The grief from past betrayal, the fear and anxiety, the sadness, the fatigue. Joy, calm, and hope too. Ignoring these feelings slows our healing.
So, acceptance is realizing trying to change something we literally cannot change (no matter how hard we try) is pointless. It’s simply wasting energy we could use to empower ourselves—which is the 2nd stage.
The 2nd Stage: Empowerment
This stage is all about choice. When we were abused, we lost the ability to make choices about ourself, our bodies, and our experiences.
After going through acceptance, you know you can’t control everything that happens to you. Sometimes we face unfortunate situations, or past struggles continue to linger with us in PTSD or chronic illness.
Because you have accepted this reality, you now have the ability to take the energy you were spending resisting reality and focus it on making choices about current situations.
This is the foundation of empowerment. Realizing you can always make choices. You can decide what you do with everything life throws your way. It’s your choice to get up and go to work, to attend a class, to keep living another day even in the face of mental illness. Even “obligations” are things you can choose to follow or not.
You can’t control how others treat you or how past trauma shows up (like in flashbacks). But, you can choose what you do with each situation.
Here, you are essentially learning you have the power to create a life you enjoy even in a world you can’t control. Your power to thrive after abuse awakens with this.
The 3rd Stage: Design Your Dreams
You discover what it’s like to thrive after abuse here. You uncover your dream life.
Because, up until this stage, you likely didn’t even know what that looks like. You’ve been so focused on survival—but after the first two stages, you now have the strength and freedom to dream.
The third stage is where you get clear on the life you want to live. It’s like finding the address to plug into your GPS, rather than just hoping you drive up to the right house. The clearer you are on the life you want to live, the easier it will be to get there.
You’ll be able to map out an exact route to your ideal life.
This is the stage we tend to want to jump ahead to. It’s exciting to dream of a better future. Sometimes fantasizing can help us escape the pain of our past and present.
But, when we focus on this without doing acceptance and empowerment work first, we can never really reach these dreams. Because we haven’t come to terms with our past and built a strong foundation to rise from.
Take this quiz to see if you’re ready to dream. You don’t want to rush into if you haven’t yet mastered acceptance and empowerment!
The 4th Stage: Unearthing Obstacles
We often think to solve an obstacle as soon as it comes up.
Anger pops up—how do we get rid of it? We have an argument in a relationship—how do we fix it? A limiting belief arises—how do we change it?
And so on. Rarely do we actually stop and get to know the obstacle in front of us. But, this is the most important thing to do before trying to solve it.
Without getting to know the challenges we face, we can rarely come up with meaningful solutions.
This stage is becoming acquainted with the limits, challenges, and struggles in our life. Fully understanding what lies in front of us will help us find the best path forward in the next stage.
Basically, we have to know what the mountain in front of us looks like before we can design a path over it. It’s all about observation. Intimately understanding what stands between our present life and our dreams.
The 5th Stage: Strategizing Solutions
Now that you know exactly what the obstacles are in your way, you can come up with solutions. Fully understanding them makes it far easier to design plans to overcome them. Plans that will actually work.
This stage is only brainstorming.
You’re mapping out your path over each mountain—not starting your hike. Because, well, if you only have half your route planned before jumping in, you’re far more likely to get lost along the way.
So, gather a clear idea of how to solve each major issue. Create lists with ideas of what to do to heal and overcome these challenges. This is the time to ask for advice and do some research.
The point is to plot the exact journey you need to follow—taking you from today directly to your dream life. The journey itself may take years—but after this stage (which doesn’t take nearly as long!) you’ll know every step you need to take to reach those dreams. You’ll have a few back up plans to adjust solutions as needed, too.
Struggling to come up with solutions? Ask the compassionate Uncover Your Joy community for advice here!
The Final Stage: Taking Action & Thriving
This is where all previous work transforms your life. This is where you’ll begin to really thrive after abuse.
One step at a time, you’ll follow the path you’ve painted and watch everything fall into place. Of course, you may need to adjust course sometimes, but for the most part you’ll simply work on building your dream life.
You have your exact path to your dream life mapped out. All you have to do here is take the steps, one at a time, to thrive after abuse.
Basically, pick one obstacle to work on first and follow your solution plan for that. Then, once that is solved, you’ll move onto the next. Then the next. Before you know it, your entire life will be incredible.
Momentum builds here. It might start slow, but each little moment of progress will help you move faster and faster—until you’re flying towards your dreams.
How this Whole Process Helps You Thrive after Abuse
Each of these stages builds upon the previous, so these must be done in order. Each step will help you feel more healed meaning you’ll notice momentum building in your life. Things will start to go your way and your resilience to hardship will grow.
You will start to thrive after abuse, becoming a little more healed every day. Trauma will no longer control your life.
Obviously, this journey takes time and effort. It’s not always easy, as it often challenges perspectives you’ve held for a lifetime (especially the acceptance stage!). You never have to walk this journey alone, though. This group is here to help.
I’ve created an empowering program with these 6 steps here—something I call The Prosperity Path. Like I mentioned in the beginning, it is totally customizable. I’ll teach you the tools, then you’ll pick which ones work for you and learn how to implement them into your life.
As you move through the stages, you’ll get closer and closer to discovering how you can thrive after abuse. Learn about the program here!