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These are suggestions that could be helpful on your path to healing:
1. JOURNALING: Keep a private journal, and when you feel the need to vent feelings or get a perspective on a troubling issue in your life, just begin writing and you will be able to make more sense out of whatever is troubling you.
2. WRITING LETTERS: Write letters to people in your past who you feel harmed you. This is an excellent way to constructively deal with anger. You can burn the letter after you're done if you wish.
3. INVENTORY: Do a thorough inventory of your past, including the people who harmed you, how you were affected by it and how you may have retaliated. Share this inventory with someone you trust, such as a good friend, a therapist, or a priest or minister.
4. THERAPY: Seek additional help in therapy if you feel you need it. It is a good way to get new insights about yourself.
5 EXCHANGE PHONE NUMBERS: It is important to have people who you feel comfortable with when things come up from day to day for which you need support.
6. SELF-WORTH AFFIRMATIONS: This can be very beneficial for your self-esteem. As you begin to declare some positive things about yourself, you may begin to believe them. Here are a few suggestions for self-affirmations:
I am a good person with a good heart.
I am worthy of all the blessings I receive.
I am an attractive person.
I am worthy to be loved.
I am a loving person.
7. PRAYING: When we pray we are talking to our Higher Power. When we begin to see our prayers answered, it increases our faith and also our self-esteem, as we begin to feel worthy of God's blessings.
8. MEDITATING: Meditating is listening to our Higher Power, which has a calming effect and builds a closer relationship with God, however we understand Him to be. Listening to meditation tapes is also very relaxing.
9. NURTURE YOUR INNER CHILD: It is very important to nurture your inner child, as our inner child was wounded when we were little and suffered much trauma. Our inner child was neglected years ago and we need to give him or her recognition, validation and love. Here are ways to nurture your inner child:
Hug a teddy bear when you feel insecure.
Tell your inner child you love him and will never abandon him or her.
Take a warm bubble bath.
Give your inner child a pet to love, such as a dog or cat.
Go for a walk and enjoy nature.
Be silly and laugh. Watch a funny movie or act goofy. It is a good way to lighten up and not be so serious.
10. SEEK SUPPORT FOR SEXUAL ABUSE: If you were sexually abused, we encourage you to seek additional help for this, either in F.A.C.T. with someone else who was sexually abused, in a sexual abuse support group, or with a qualified sexual abuse counselor.
11. WORK THROUGH EMOTIONS: As we begin to feel our feelings that many times
have been buried, we need to find ways that will be helpful in venting them. One of our strongest emotions is anger and many of us will have a tremendous amount of it about the unfair circumstances of our past and the people who harmed us. It is very important to work through our anger and we need to have healthy ways to do this. Working through anger can be a bridge
to healing and can even lead us to the beginnings of forgiveness. Here are some constructive ways to work through anger:
Throwing rocks outside or kicking rocks while you are walking
Yelling in your car
Talking to an empty chair and pretending it is whoever hurt you
Writing your anger down on paper
Crying--Allow yourself to cry when you need to-- not only is it a healthy way to release emotions, but it also has a tranquilizing affect.
Exercising--Doing anything physical, especially running or walking.
Exercise releases bottled up energy and will raise your endorphin level, which has a calming, yet uplifting effect.
Make a gratitude list of all the things for which you can be grateful. Try to see your cup as half full instead of half empty. This helps a person to feel happier.
Become more health conscious--More and more evidence suggests that nutrition affects our mental and emotional states; so learning proper nutritional habits is essential in maintaining a healthy body, mind and spirit.
12. GRIEVING: As foster children we suffered many losses and we therefore have serious grieving issues. Grief is the process of withdrawing psychological attachments from events, persons, or objects which reality says no longer exist for us. Unresolved grief can lead to a multitude of problems, including depression and even suicidal tendencies.
It is crucial that we allow ourselves to grieve because this will bring about healing.
As former foster children, many of us remain stuck in the depression, but we aren't even aware that we have denial and anger. In order to begin grief work, we need to recognize what we have lost. It could be helpful to make a list of all of your losses and then write down how you think each loss has affected you, emotionally and otherwise. Since much of our depression is repressed or suppressed anger, working through anger in constructive ways will alleviate it. Venting our anger with safe people will also be beneficial and will be validating and releasing at the same time. It is important that we express our emotions and accept the confusion that these emotions generate.
An additional place besides F.A.C.T. to work through grief could be a grief group or with a qualified therapist. As we work through our grief, we will begin to discover deep underlying sadness over all of the losses we suffered as fostered and abandoned children. Many unshed tears will accompany this sadness and we should allow ourselves to cry when we need to cry. Nurture your inner child a lot when you are working through intense grief because your inner child will be especially vulnerable at such times.
Here is a list of self-help books that could be helpful in your healing process:
HEALING THE SHAME THAT BINDS YOU--by John Bradshaw
THE COURAGE TO HEAL--by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis (For survivors of sexual abuse.)
TRAUMA AND RECOVERY--by Judith Herman, M.D.
GENESIS--by Julie Bowden and Herbert Gravitz
LETTING GO OF SHAME--by Ronald Potter and Patricia Potter-Efron
SELF-PARENTING--by Dr. John K. Pollard, III
THE FEELING GOOD HANDBOOK--by David D. Burns
THE SURVIVOR PERSONALITY--by Al Siebert, PH. D.
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED--by M. Scott Peck, M.D.