“Where do I even start?!”
I get this question a lot. The initial panic of wanting to heal but being so overwhelmed with everything there is to do is something I know very well.
As a person who has floundered for years, I tried and failed several different things to get myself on my recovery and healing journey.
That’s why I decided it was time for me to give my top tips and share what finally worked. Let’s go!
Get the self talk straight.
How you talk to yourself matters. A lot of people roll their eyes and skip this part, but it’s the most important piece of the puzzle.
For more information on self talk, check out this podcast episode.
But here’s a quick recap: you can literally rewire your brain based on how you talk to yourself.
Changing how you talk to yourself is easier said than done, especially when you’re in abuse recovery. There’s a good chance that your brain has been so beaten down that it doesn’t believe in itself at all.
That’s why this is the very first thing I help my clients with.
Your first assignment is to start adding some affirmations into your day. I know some don’t like that word, but all affirmations are are things you say that affirm a belief.
Do you call yourself stupid? You’re affirming the belief that you’re stupid. That’s an affirmation.
Do you call yourself ugly? You’re affirming the belief that you’re ugly. That’s an affirmation.
Positive affirmations are the same thing, except good for your brain. For more information on them, check out this podcast episode.
To get you started, here are the affirmations that I start my clients off with:
I am strong.
I am capable.
I am intelligent.
I am worthy.
I want you to start saying these out loud while making eye contact with yourself in the mirror. Once you listen to this podcast episode, it will make lot more sense. I want you to do this every morning and every night. Get disciplined with this and make it a habit.
You’re not going to believe it at first and that’s ok. The more consistent you get with this the more your brain will believe that this is the truth. Your brain will begin to accept the fact that you are strong, that you are capable, that you are intelligent and that you are worthy.
This is life-changing. This is brain changing.
If this is the only thing you do with consistency, this will absolutely change your life.
Taking care of yourself vs. Self Care
In abusive relationships, we forget how to take care of ourselves.
We fall into the self care trap where it looks like we’re taking care of ourselves, but we’re really not.
Self care and taking care of yourself are two different things.
Taking care of yourself is giving yourself the basic necessities that you would give a child to survive. That means showering regularly, eating food that makes you feel good, moving your body, drinking water, wearing clean clothes.
I am still learning to prioritize taking care of myself, so you’re not alone. We tend to forget about ourselves when we’ve been conditioned by our abuser that we’re not worth taking care of. Giving yourself the minimal essentials will help you feel so much more like yourself.
It will give you a sense of autonomy and control which is the exact thing that we want.
So what’s self care, then?
Self care is your YOU time after taking care of yourself.
It can be taking 10 minutes to yourself to read a book, listen to a podcast, or have a dance party in the middle of the day.
Self care is more for your mental health. It’s when you step back from the world for a minute and take time for you. A lot of people reference things like a spa night or a long bath. It can certainly be those things, but it doesn’t have to be.
Knowing the difference between taking care of yourself and self-care is crucial because you need both in your life. If you’re not showering regularly, but you’re sitting down and reading your book, you cannot say that you are taking care of yourself.
Keep reading the book, yes. But go take a shower, wash off, clean up, and put on clean clothes.
Setting, and keeping, boundaries, is such an important part of your recovery process. We teach people how to treat us based on the boundaries we keep.
Start by setting boundaries with yourself.
That means telling yourself that you’re not going to allow yourself to go beyond whatever boundary you set.
This could be setting a boundary for taking work calls after a certain time. It could be setting a boundary where you delete and block his number. Maybe you tell your kids you need 10 minutes of quiet. So you teach your kids how to give that to you.
Whatever it is, set the boundary and stick to it. Start with 21 days, then 30 days, 60 days.
The more you keep your boundaries, the stronger your boundary muscle will become.
This means that you’ll be able to start setting more boundaries, which will only help you go farther on your journey.
Because this can be a difficult concept to understand, I’ve done a few episodes on the podcast about it.
I also created a course breaking down the process of setting boundaries step by step. Build your Boundaries is a course that teaches you not only how to set boundaries, but how to keep them. I also teach you how to respect yourself and others using boundaries. For more information, click here.
These three tips are the biggest things that helped me propel my journey forward: getting your self talk right, taking care of yourself and providing self care, and finally learning how to set and keep solid boundaries will change your life in ways you never expect
If you can commit to these three things and do absolutely nothing else you’ll see a dramatic amount of change. I know you can do it, you got this and please know that you’re never ever alone.
You’ve got this, boo!