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decorative image mindset for survivors

It takes extraordinary strength to recover from a relationship full of dangerous situations and psychological, physical and emotional abuse. Sometimes survivors can get stuck in a victim mentality that no amount of mental toughness can help them escape.

You have to do the hard work of changing your mindset to overcome your past. Today we are going to dig into mindset for survivors and learn about some of the good things you can do to improve your thought life and mindset. I include a list of 8 helpful items that can help you as you work on your new mindset.

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Mindset for Survivors

It takes extraordinary mental strength to change the way you think about yourself and what you believe about your life. As a survivor, you have already changed your mindset in order to leave or face the truth of your situation.

Sometimes you begin to feel stuck after the initial adrenaline of escaping begins to wear off. You settle into your new life and finally have the time and mental space to assess where you are and where you want to be.

If you are feeling stuck it may be time for a new mindset. Changing your life begins with how you think about your life and yourself.

It is easier to stay in your current comfort zone than to stretch your way into where you want to be. To even think of change takes bravery and courage.

You may have to fight the negative feelings that come up when you start making changes. Working on your mindset will make it easier to navigate the difficulties that can come with change.

A Positive Mental Attitude Can Change Your Life

When you have a positive mental attitude you focus more on your personal strengths than weaknesses which leads to lifestyle change and a new mindset. Mindset and a positive attitude work together to build a more positive thought process and help you overcome the bad things and memories from your past. 

As you move forward you will begin to break free from some of the survival skills you learned that no longer serve you. Learning to have a more positive attitude and growth mindset can help you feel safe in the present. Your mind and body can begin to let go and heal from a past traumatic event. 

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What Is a Survivor’s Mindset?

Did you know there are two different types of mindset? You can have a fixed or a growth mindset as explained in this article from verywellmind.

A fixed mindset means you are not very open to the idea that you can change your life. A growth mindset means you believe it is possible to learn and do new things and are not held back by your current or former circumstances.

Moving into a growth mindset is the key that opens your mind to the possibility of change.

If you have been working from a fixed mindset the first step to change is being open to the idea that you can change your mindset. Sitting with that idea until it is comfortable will prepare you for the deep work of upgrading your mindset to upgrade your life.

A survivor’s mindset is one of radical growth and change. It may be uncomfortable at times and that is when you know you are changing your life.

How Do You Change Your Survivor Mindset?

You start by asking yourself questions about who you want to be, what you want your future to look like, and what is stopping you now. It can be helpful to journal through these questions and the feelings they bring up until you feel like you are ready to embrace a new mindset.

Once you have done the background work of checking in with yourself about where you are and the work you want to do it’s time for the next step.

May I suggest you choose a mantra as an anchor for your new mindset? This will be your catchphrase that you say aloud or in your head when you notice doubts creeping into your thinking.

You can choose your mantra from a positive comment someone has made about you, what you want your outcome to be, or your plan for the future. You can also choose one from a list of prewritten mantras. The most important requirement is that it touches your heart and makes you want to change your situation.

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I was given my first mantra after I left a terrible situation. When I gave a friend I hadn’t seen in a while an update he responded with, “I admire your resolve.” I began to repeat that to myself whenever I became unsteady in my thoughts. I believed in what he saw in me when I didn’t believe in myself.

Plan to recite your mantra when a person, place, or thing appears as a roadblock. Believe with all your heart and soul that you deserve a better life and that your life will change.

You might realize partway to your goal that things have changed. That you’ve realized you want a different outcome. As you grow, your goals naturally change and that is OK. It’s all part of the journey.

When your plans change or your mantra no longer serves you feel free to choose a new one.

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Strengthen Your Survival Mindset

Once you have started on your new path obstacles will appear to try to send you back to the life you know you can survive. Making changes, even healthy changes can be harder than staying stuck. You will need some additional support to keep moving forward.

What a person does in the face of adversity says a lot about their survival mindset. You can see how far you have come with your mindset by how you react or respond to things that try to stop you from changing your life.

Here are some ways to get your mind moving towards a mindset for survivors. It takes time to change and these tools can help you stand strong as your mind heals.

  1. A kick-butt playlist. Turn that baby on and get your fight back. Going for a walk while you listen to your playlist is a great way to improve a bad day. Physical exercise helps your body work off any negative energy you may be feeling.
  2. Friends who know your struggle and support you. You can blow off steam by whining, crying, or just talking it all out. When you hear your thoughts out loud you realize what you need to do and what you need to stop doing. Having fellow survivors in your life to cheer you on is an amazing way to support yourself. Survivors need a community to heal.
  3. A counselor (or coach). This is similar to number two above but slightly different. A therapist or trauma recovery coach will have resources to help you as you navigate your way through stressful situations. They can ask you the questions you need to change your focus and open your mind to change. They can help you set goals and break them down into action steps so you don’t become overwhelmed or give up.
  4. The internet. It is almost always there when you need to research something about your situation, find real stories of others who have overcome similar struggles or learn more about how narcissistic abuse and domestic violence impact you. There is nothing wrong with taking some time to relax and watch your favorite show or movie to help your system learn it is okay to be calm and relaxed instead of always walking on eggshells.
  5. Good self-care. A change of mindset is intense work and can wear you out physically and mentally. You need to be able to unplug and relax. Give your mind a break once in a while. Eat well, exercise if you can, enjoy nature, and find something that is healthy and healing to do at least once a week to recharge so you can keep moving forward into change. Here is a blog post I wrote to help you create your self-care habit.
  6. A taste of freedom. Taking off for a drive is an excellent way to reinforce that you are free and can come and go as you please. This is especially important if thoughts that you need permission before doing normal things often come up while you are out and about.
  7. Helping others. Doing something for someone else changes your focus and helps you realize the bigger picture of life. It takes your mind off of your own problems when you are able to help others with their needs.
  8. Mental Health Affirmations. When you are trying to break the habit of negative thoughts and negative emotions it can be helpful to add a positive habit to focus on instead. Choosing and/or writing mental health affirmations will help you as your change your mindset.
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The year I changed my mindset was full of growth, heartache, and challenges. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It has made me who I am now and I look back on that time fondly.

Enjoy Your New Lifestyle Habits

A healthy mindset for survivors is so important to long-term survival from narcissistic abuse and domestic violence. Being open to changing your mindset is a wonderful first step in moving toward a life of freedom and peace.

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