According to Webster’s dictionary, to survive is defined as to endure or live through (an affliction, adversity, misery, etc.). The way my brain works, a survivor then, is a person who has endured or lived through something horrible. Seems reasonable, right? Given the option of surviving or giving in, surviving seems like a better option, right? When I look back at my own life, I’ve been described as a survivor most of my life. I started out that way. I survived bacterial pneumonia four times before I was a year old. But what if there’s another possibility? One that, seems so simple we have all been overlooking it. In 2007 I was brutally raped, beaten and assaulted. As much as I knew about trauma, did not help me recovery or escape the lingering effects. As much as I didn’t want it to begin to control or define me, that’s exactly what began to happen. I read all of the “post” rape books, I did therapy, and I explored every possible solution toward healing. And then I met an amazing therapist (whose name has escaped my brain), he was the first person to introduce this concept to me. He introduced to me the beginnings of something that my brain has absolutely exploded over. All he said to me was, “What if there’s something beyond being a survivor?” And that was a huge catalyst for me. When we look at the definition of survivor it implies enduring the trauma or negative event. I want more than that. I don’t want to simple endure…I want to thrive. Webster’s dictionary defines thrive as: to grow vigorously. THAT’S what I want. I want to live with peace, joy, comfort, and ease. I’m assuming that, because you are reading this, you have the same goal. Below is a list of how to move from a survivor to a thriver: 1. Affirmations: All of my affirmations start with the words “I am”. Each of them is followed by what I want to accomplish, in the present tense. The key is to write them as if they have already happened. 2. Gratitude for everything: This is no exaggeration. I seriously express gratitude for everything that occurs in my life today. Not just the good stuff, the painful stuff, as well as the negative stuff. My conclusion is that when I’m grateful for happy things, it magnifies those things. When I’m grateful for less than happy things, it automatically halves the pain or discomfort. 3. Find reasons to laugh: When you are laughing at things it changes your vibrational frequency, as well as your focus. Find something that makes you laugh (no matter how silly) and watch it or experience it. In the past, I have even experimented with ‘faking’ laughing to stimulate laughing. Maybe call someone up and just see how much you can laugh. 4. Replace the tapes: If we were all honest for a moment, most of us have tapes of conversations, interactions, experiences we have had with other people. For those of us who have described ourselves as survivors; some of the tapes are not all that positive. I encourage clients to create a lengthy list of affirmations and record them reading these affirmations. Some of my clients listen to these recordings as they sleep, others listen to them while they are awake. Whatever works for you, is what is relevant. 5. Create rituals: I don’t mean the creepy or abusive kind. I mean the type that create within you a centering or focusing feeling or sensation. For me this includes spraying on my favorite smelly thing, or placing a piece of jewelry on myself, or even getting my favorite iced tea. 6. Self-hypnosis: This therapy technique created perhaps the biggest change in my life. I continue to use it in my life and the lives of my clients to this day. My favorite thing about it is that I now understand that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. And I am in control of it the entire time. How much more empowering can we get that that? 7. Language: Every word has meaning, right? We don’t exactly have words that just don’t mean anything at all. So what if it all starts with our language? What if when we stop defining ourselves by our traumas or negative experiences, we lost the shame of them as well? That possibility excited me beyond all descriptors. 8. Be wary of who you talk to: Some people in my life would call me secretive. But those that know me well, understand that in order to know the intimate details of my life, you need to have a certain level of trust. Even Brene’ Brown talks about who to be authentic with. The reality is not everyone is worthy of our authentic selves. 9. Take back your power: For me this started when I no longer allowed the way the police to treat me to influence the amount of guilt and shame I carried. I have actively taken back my power in numerous ways, from not keeping it a secret, to letting go of the guilt and shame. Once I took back my power, I began to realize exactly how powerful I was.
I hope that this blog is able to empower people to move beyond surviving and into thriving. My encouragement to each of you is to ask what else is out there, what else is possible. Don’t limit yourself, your healing, or your abilities in life.
Jenn Bovee, LCSW is a spiritual psychotherapist and life coach. She offers in person counseling as well as distance sessions. Learn more about her here: www.JennBoveeLCSW.com