LIST-Building Connections Well-being

Words of Encouragement

A few words of encouragement at the right time can make all the difference. So we have collected and included a whole load of words of inspirations, comment and encouragement.

  • ‘You can recover. Its a hard and ongoing road, but it can be done.’ – Man Age 34, sexually assaulted at age 23
  • ‘The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • ‘Character, is how you treat those who can do nothing for you.’ – Anon
    It’s no who you are. What you do defines who you are. The abuse happened to you not because of you. The abuse does not define you…love yourself.’ – Man age 45, sexually abused from age 9-10
  • ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.’ – Aristotle.
  • ‘I spent so much of my teens and twenties just numbing. Now, I choose to live a life of relevance.’ Member of Living Well Support Group.
  • ‘Now and then, it is good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.’ – Guillame Apollinaire
  • ‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it.’ – J. Hughes
  • ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable.’ – Charles Darwin
  • ‘I’m letting go of the thoughts that do not make me stronger.’ – Anon
  • ‘It is important to remember that it is not your fault or your responsibility. The abuser is the only person responsible and being male does not make what was done excusable.’ – Man age 25, sexually abused from age 2-14
  • ‘So do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • ‘Once you choose hope, anything is possible.’ – Anon
  • ‘You possess great knowledge and skills relating to survival and living, make the most of these and be kind to yourself always, you are worth it, as am I.’ – Man age 47, sexually abused from age 11-15
  • ‘Living well is the best revenge.’ – George Herbert
  • ‘Anyone who has never made a mistake, has never tried anything new.’ – Albert Einstein‘
  • ‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle.’ – Plato
  • ‘Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.’ – George Bernard Shaw
  • ‘Don’t be afraid to stand for what you believe in, even if that means standing alone.’ – Anon
  • ‘I am thankful for all of those who said NO to me. Its because of them I’m doing it myself.’ – Albert Einstein
  • ‘The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.’ – Steve Jobs
  • ‘Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.’ – Farraj Gray
  • ‘Life has two rules: #1 Never quit #2 Always remember rule # 1.’ – Anon
  • ‘When life knocks you down, try to land on your back. Because if you can look up, you can get up.’ – Les Brown
  • ‘A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.’ – Anon
  • ‘It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.’ – Epictetus
  • ‘This too shall pass.’ – Persian Sufi poet
  • ‘I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.’ – Henry David Thoreau
  • ‘Everyone has inside them a piece of good news. The good news is you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is.’. – Anne Frank
  • ‘Fighting for your dreams isn’t always easy but it’s so worth it.’ – Anon
  • ‘Every day, a new opportunity to decide where your next step will go is given to you. Your future will be determined by the accumulation of these daily decisions. You control your steps and therefore your destiny, so choose wisely.’ – Kevin Ngo
  • ‘It is time for us all to stand and cheer for the doer, the achiever – the one who recognizes the challenges and does something about it.’ – Vince Lombardi
  • ‘There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.’ – John Holmes
  • ‘Encourage yourself by encouraging others. It’s tough to encourage others without lifting your own spirits up.’ – Kevin Ngo
  • ‘To encourage someone is to help instill courage in them so that they can stand up and keep pressing forward.’ – Kevin Ngo
  • ‘Do just once what others say you can’t do and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.’ – James R. Cook
LIST-Building Connections Well-being

Pleasant things to do

There are times when stress and life difficulties can seem to be getting the better of us. The more we try to sort things out, the more tired and frustrated we can become. Sometimes, it can be useful to give yourself a break, to go away and do something else, something relaxing, something useful, something pleasant or simply something different:

  • Go to the movies or book to see a play.
  • Go to the ocean, a river, a lake.
  • Go for a walk, run, swim, or a cycle ride.
  • Walk in the park.
  • Read a short story.
  • Pick up a pencil and paper and draw something.
  • Visit a fresh food or flower market.
  • Try a new recipe.
  • Choose a gift card for a special friend.
  • Look up at the stars or the clouds.
  • Wander around in a book or antiques shop, or a fishing and camping store.
  • Take a trip on bus, train, ferry.
  • Take yourself out to lunch.
  • Visit a library.
  • Listen to some music, go and see live music.
  • Do the washing up.
  • Contact a friend.
  • Take a dog for a walk or play with some animals.
  • Cook a favorite meal or snack.
  • Re-organise your files, cupboards, living space or shed so that it works for you.
  • Do a puzzle.
  • Plan a trip or short break.
  • Watch your favourite TV program, a good movie or a play.
  • Do some exercise.
  • Get out, go bowling, go fishing.
  • Sit and watch the sunrise and sunset.

Try to mix life up a little, book in something pleasant to do every few days.

LIST-Building Connections Well-being

Grounding Exercises

It is useful to have a selection of grounding exercises that you can draw upon to keep your mind and body connected and working together, particularly for those times when you are becoming overwhelmed with distressing memories, thoughts and feelings.

People who have experienced childhood sexual abuse or adult sexual assault can sometimes be confronted by flashbacks or intense memories of what was done, to the point that they are feel as if they are back there, re-living the abuse all over again.

Grounding exercises are a way for you to firmly anchor yourself in the present.

The following grounding exercises are about using our senses (see, hear, smell, taste, touch) to build our mind and body connection in the present. In working through the grounding exercises suggested here, you might find one or two that work for you – remembering only to use the exercises that you feel comfortable with.

  • Remind yourself of who you are now. Say your name. Say your age now. Say where you are now. Say what you have done today. Say what you will do next.
  • Take ten breaths, focus your attention on each breath on the way in and on the way out. Say number of the breath to yourself as you exhale.
  • Splash water on your face
  • Sip a cool drink of water
  • Hold a cold can /bottle of soft drink in your hands. Feel the coldness, and the wetness on the outside. Note the bubbles and taste as you drink.
  • As you wake, during the night. Remind yourself who you are, and where you are. Tell yourself who you are and where you are. What age are you now? Look around the room and notice familiar objects and name them. Feel the bed your are lying on, the warmth or coldness of the air, and notice any sounds you hear.
  • Feel the clothes on your body, whether your arms and legs are covered or not, and the sensation of your clothes as you move in them.
  • If you are with other people, and you feel comfortable with them, concentrate closely on what they are saying and doing, and remind yourself why you are with them.
  • If you are sitting feel the chair under you and the weight of your body and legs pressing down onto it.
  • If you are lying down, feel the contact between your head, your body and your legs, as they touch the surface you are lying on. Starting from your head, notice how each part feels, all the way down to your feet, on the soft or hard surface.
  • Stop and listen. Notice and name what you can hear nearby and in the distance.
  • Hold a mug of tea in both hands and feel its warmth. Don’t rush drinking it, take small sips and take your time tasting each mouthful.
  • Look around you, notice what is in front of you and to each side, name first large objects and then smaller ones.
  • Get up, walk around, take your time to notice each step as you take one then another.
  • Stamp your feet the sensation and sound as you connect with the ground.
    Clap and rub your hands together, hear the noise and feel the sensation in your hands and arms.
  • Wear an elastic band on your wrist (not tight) and flick it gently, so that you feel it spring back on your wrist.
  • If you can, step outside, notice the temperature of the air and how much it is different or similar to where you have just come from.
LIST-Building Connections Well-being

Pets & Well-being

Pets can make a positive contribution to our overall well-being. The known benefits of pet companionship include:

  • decreased risk of depression, heart disease and cancer;
  • increased immunity and general physical and psychological health;
  • increased self-esteem; and social support.

Pets encourage us to be active, to get up and get out and to establish healthy routines. Significantly, a pet can also help us to develop healthy relationships. Where an experience of childhood sexual abuse can cause us to become isolated, not daring to trust or risk ourselves physically and emotionally, pets can help us to learn that building a safe, caring and supportive relationship is possible. Pets help us to:

  • Learn about safety and building trust
  • Gain a sense of belonging (through shared experiences)
  • Develop interpersonal management skills (communication, setting boundaries, controlling strong emotions)
  • Accept physical closeness and affection
  • Recognise our limits

Pets can provide healing and hope for an improved future. As one man commented:

“(my dog) taught me that it really is possible to be in a room with a single other living creature and have them do you no harm. In a way I really feel like she taught me to love.”

Pets become part of our community of support, they are often considered “as much a part of the family as any other person in the household”. It is no surprise that dogs are sometimes described as ‘man’s best friend’, there by your side, listening, offering support and encouragement through good times and bad.

If you are looking for a pet, speak with your local RSPCA. They will be caring for abandoned animals that will benefit from your support and will be able to offer professional advice on finding the right pet for you.

LIST-Building Connections Well-being

Helping others and Helping yourself

Sometimes you can lose sight of the fact that you have something to offer. Doing things for other people actually has a beneficial effect on developing our own well-being. Recent research in neuroscience shows that helping others and working cooperatively activates and strengthens certain parts of the brain, enhancing well-being.

Giving our time to others in a constructive way helps us strengthen our relationships and build new ones. Relationships with others also influence mental well-being.

Doing things to help others influences your perception of yourself and the world. The more people see you as a person with skills and abilities, the more you are able to see yourself that way.

In putting this into practice it is important to take care of yourself, to check that you are not doing this out of duty or continuing a habit of always putting others before yourself.

For some men, accepting help becomes easier if they can also do something in turn that helps someone else.

Giving can take many forms, from small everyday acts to larger commitments. Today, you could:

  • Say thank you to someone, for something they’ve done for you.
  • Phone a relative or friend who needs support or company.
  • Ask a colleague how they are and really listen to the answer.
  • Offer to lend a hand if you see a stranger struggling with bags or a pushchair.

This week, you could:

  • Arrange a day out for you and a friend or relative.
  • Offer to help someone with DIY or a colleague with a work project.
  • Sign up to a mentoring project, in which you give time and support to someone who will benefit from it.
  • Volunteer in your local community. That might mean helping out at a local school, hospital or care home. Find out more about how to volunteer.

You could put this into action in any way that suits you. It might be volunteering with a formal organization, offering to help a friend or an elderly neighbour, or making time to listen to someone you know who is having a hard time.

In helping others, take time to notice the conscious choice you made to offer assistance and consider how this fits in with the kind of person you want to be.

LIST-Building Connections Well-being

Staying Connected

Staying connected to people has a positive effect on our general well-being. Feelings of depression can thrive on isolation and loneliness (which is different from ‘alone time’).

Knowing that other people are there and care about you can make it easier to care for yourself.

Try to make time to catch up with people and avoid being isolated. Mobile phones and the web are useful tools for staying connected when meeting people face-to-face isn’t possible.

It is helpful to have a range of people in your life that you share different levels and kinds of connections with. Relationships help build a sense of belonging and self-worth. There’s also evidence that well-being can be passed on through relationships, so that being around people with strong mental well-being can improve your own mental well-being.

Take time to nurture relationships and connections:

  • Go for a coffee or drink with someone
  • Do something fun or relaxing with a friend
  • Join a social group
  • Take up a team sport or activity
  • Engage in random acts of kindness
  • Check the local paper for what is going on in your community
  • Write a letter to a friend
  • Say hello to people walking in your neighbourhood
  • Visit your local library
  • Make time each day to spend with family or friends. This might include “family time” that is fixed each day, or time that you find around other commitments.
  • Arrange a day out with friends you haven’t seen for a while.
  • Switch off the TV tonight and play a game with the children, or just talk.
  • Speak to someone new today.
  • Have lunch with a colleague.
  • Visit a friend or family member who needs support or company.

Remember, that not everyone in your life has to know everything about you. It might be worth making that extra effort to connect with supportive people who give you energy and taking a break from relationships that seem draining at the moment.

While ideally there may be a few people you would trust to talk to about problems related to sexual abuse, there are probably other people in your life as well who it might be good to just connect and spend time with.

LIST-Building Connections Well-being

Maps of Life’s Territories

We all benefit from maps of life’s territories

Many of the people we live and work with have faced challenges and difficulties in their lives. Too often, these difficulties have been a result of abuse, hurt and betrayal by those in positions of responsibility (including: childhood sexual abuse and assault, family violence, removal from home, country and culture). This can leave us and our family, friends and colleagues struggling, feeling lost and uncertain which way to go.

Maps help ground and orient us.

Maps help us to identify and be aware of places, people and habits that are good for us, where we can draw sustenance and energy, as well as those that produce stress and distress.

Maps can help us find our way through difficult terrain.

Maps help us to connect, share and draw upon the experience and knowledge of community and those who have come before.

Every person and community can benefit from developing maps of life’s territories. We invite you to make use of the ‘No Straight Lines’ painting to help identify and name different patterns and influences in your life. Consider:

  • Where and from whom do you draw strength and sustenance from?
  • Where is a place of safety and sanctuary for you?
  • Where can you rest and replenish resources?
  • How do you know when a person, place or pathway is not good for you?
  • What are signs of discomfort and distress?
  • What resources can help you to overcome difficulties?
  • Who will assist and encourage you on this journey or part of a journey?
  • Who or what activities bring good energy into your life?
  • Who around you or in your community knows this terrain and can provide guidance?