I’ve had the opportunity to speak to many people who have made it out of the prison of abuse. They found the bravery to escape the shackles of toxic, even violent, relationships. However, despite their obvious strength and courage, they still struggle to feel that they are worth the dreams and goals they once had for themselves. They wrestle often with their shadow selves— the victims they once were, in the reality where they once lived. But here’s the truth: that’s no longer reality.

Like I’ve said before, your reality is what you choose to accept as your reality.

They, perhaps like many of you, need to hear the truth about themselves— that they are worth accepting only the best, most beautiful reality about themselves. They are more than survivors, and so are you.

Today I’m going to present you with four empowering truths about you, and they are true regardless of the darkness of your past. After all, it’s not only a ‘few’ survivors who could climb up out of their past and make their lives something new. It’s not for only a ‘few’ past victims to thrive, living their dreams. Being more than a survivor is possible for you!

Truth # 1: You are more than your past.

It is easy to fall and live below and underneath the weight of past abuse. Maybe you can’t shake the names you were called, or the way your self-worth was stolen from you time and time again. But no matter how you happen to feel each day, remember that you are more than a survivor. There is so much more to you than your past!

C. Kennedy reminds us, “Don’t judge yourself by what others did to you.” What happens to you is not your fault, but it is your responsibility how you choose to respond. Tell yourself daily that you are more than your past. You are more than your victimhood. You are more than what he called you, or how she made you feel. You are you, you are amazing, and your core identity is untouchable by someone else. Never forget that you are more than a survivor!

I’ve met people who use their past as an excuse to settle, or to take it easy and play small. In fact, I once struggled with that myself. My accident left me with some major obstacles in ordinary, day-to-day life. I could have thrown up my hands in defeat, and allowed myself to be ever the victim, the target of pity. But one day I realized that dwelling on the past—the what if’s and the if only’s— was keeping me in my past. I was letting my past become a present obstacle. In order to move beyond your past, and to understand that there is more to you than your past, you must deal with your victim identity. Deal with the thoughts and emotions that tell you how you are less because of what happened to you. It’s simply not true. You are not defined by your past. You are not simply a survivor. You also have a thriving future beyond the abuse, and it’s time start living in that future now!

Truth #2: You deserve a full life.

One of the heaviest burdens that abuse survivors carry is the belief that they somehow deserve a lesser life. Sometimes the lies you were told still sink their hooks into your self-esteem. You begin to wonder if you brought some of the pain upon yourself, or if you might not be worth the kind of happiness others feel.

Stop those thoughts immediately, and remind yourself that you did nothing to deserve such vicious attacks. You cannot control another’s actions, but you can control how you think and act toward yourself.

You can and must continue to love yourself. So, respect yourself!

You have been created in the image of God, like everyone else on this planet, and you deserve a life brimming with the same possibilities given to others. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Don’t permit violent past or an abusive person to make you believe the lie that you deserve less! You deserve your own happily-ever-after.

In fact, I want you to recognize how overcoming trauma has made you into someone who is not only deserving of a full life, but is more equipped to work toward greatness. You have been challenged mentally, emotionally, and perhaps even physically. You have overcome things that others can’t imagine. This is your secret weapon. You’ve been tested, and you made it through. A full life is yours for the taking. Use your mental, emotional, and spiritual strength to thrive!

Truth #3: You may fall, but you can get back up again.

A millionaire CEO still has a bad day occasionally. Presidents and Prime Ministers get stuck in the mire of bureaucracy. Even Olympic athletes have “off” days. Hope comes not from being perfect, but from knowing how to dust yourself off when you fall.

Your past will get you down, and you are allowed to grieve the memories you have because you were stuck in a bad relationship. What you are not allowed to do is stay there. Give yourself a moment to feel the loss, and then stand back up again! Spend time reflecting on the sea of possibilities in your life.

I cannot emphasize enough that in order to truly grow into your greatest self, you must stop using past experiences as a crutch.

Although you were once a victim and perhaps you still face moments of despair or fall down, remember, every time you fall is another opportunity to get back up and leave behind another piece of past that holds you down. Stop making excuses and use your past experiences to grow in wisdom and capitalize on future opportunities. Remember: You may fall, but you must never stop getting back up.

After all, …

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Maya Angelou

Truth #4: You are strong. You have the power to set yourself free.

Sometimes, despite how far you’ve come, you will need to re-liberate yourself from the lies. You will need to work on freeing yourself, even when your abuser is no longer in the picture. It takes time, but you must take responsibility for your own thoughts and responses. Some insight from singer-songwriter Tori Amos:

It’s about realizing, painfully, you’ve kept that voice inside yourself, locked away from even yourself. And you step back and see that your jailer has changed faces. You realize you’ve become your own jailer.

Train yourself to believe the wonderful truths about you! How? By making it a habit to focus your mind on every little success when you get stuck thinking that you’re going nowhere. Remember how far you’ve come already— look back at the chains you’ve broken and remember that you are strong. You’ve made it so far already! You are shaping your own reality and harnessing the creative energy that lives within you. You are making changes, and you should embrace the fact that you have limitless possibilities in your life. You are free, so start acting like the free, accomplished person you are becoming. Celebrate your successes!

Understand and believe that you can live happily ever after, no matter what you’ve been through?

Regardless of your past, you can meet your goals.

Regardless of where you’ve been, you can control where you’re going.

Regardless of what happened to you, you can do great things.

Regardless of what you have been called or named, you are made in the image of the Creator.

Regardless of what you survived, you have the power to thrive!

Believe these truths about yourself and be empowered. You are more. You deserve a full life. You can get back up again. And you are stronger than you think. Celebrate who you are and be confident and live in your true identity— not as the victim you were, but as the beautiful, strong, successful individual you are. Begin living it now.

To your Game Changing Success,