What Are Your Goals For Healing?

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I don’t really make resolutions at the new year, because, let’s face it, most of us mean well, but never really get anywhere with them.

On the other hand , I found myself intrigued by this article:

Why “New Year, New You” is damaging to mental health

The reason I found it so interesting is that it does a really good job of laying out how those big, “bold”, resolutions are doomed to failure, and that has everything to do with how many survivors look at healing from child abuse. How often have you heard a survivor talk about how they aren’t healed, they are still troubled by the abuse, it still affects them in their lives, they’ll never heal, etc. I’ve heard it many times. I’ve thought it many times.

But, the problem with those statements is the same problem we have when we declare that this is the year we’ll run a six minute mile. Doesn’t this seem familiar?

This is the year of my six-minute mile. I know it. Sure, I’m only running a 15-minute mile now, and by “now,” I mean “I last ran three years ago,” but how hard can it be?

Let’s rephrase that.

“This is the year I get over being abused”

OK, like running more, great, I’m happy that you see the hope of healing, and have set yourself a goal of getting there. But, if you don’t know how to get there, it’s going to fail. Like running a six-minute mile, getting to “healed” is going to require work, time, effort, and it’s going to require some changes to your life. Have you figured out what those changes are? Do you know what skills are necessary for you to get there, and do you have a plan for developing those skills?

Or, better yet, what does “healed” look like for you? Is that even realistic? I’ve seen many a survivor who might define that as going back to being the person they were before the abuse, but I would argue that is already an unrealistic goal. If you were abused as a young child, you can’t go back and be a young child again.

So, maybe instead of setting the goal of being a whole new, healed, person this year, aim for something better defined, and realistic. Let this be the year you aim to learn more about the effects of abuse, develop a self-care ritual that you commit to doing monthly, share your story with three people who can support you, work with a therapist, or devote time to work through a therapeutic workbook on your own, connect with other survivors online, etc. (These are just a few of many, many potential examples)

These may seem like very small things, because they are. But without the small steps, you never get to the big goals. Find the small steps that help you get to the big goal, and you’ll get there. Set the big goal without ever figuring out what the small steps are, and you’ll continue to fail and continue to beat yourself up over every failure.

That’s no way to get anywhere. Set some small goals that are steps in the process. Meeting those will help you get to the larger goals, as you introduce new, healthy, things into your life, and it will also start a feedback loop that is positive, giving you the confidence to add another step, and so on.

It’s not a binary thing. There’s a lot more than healed or not healed. There’s so much more to it, and learning how to properly set goals is a big part of it, so I encourage you to read the article, and spend some time coming up with S.M.A.R.T. goals for your own healing.

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