Tag Archives: emotional abuse

If our loved one truly loves us, but they are abusive towards us…should we forgive them…and continue to stay with them even though they are hurting us…and emotionally destroying us?

Some folks, because of their raising and emotional stuff, have a hard time saying, “I love you.” or showing their love physically through hugs n’ rubs. Their kids, spouses, and other intimates sometimes develop issues because they are not demonstrative of their love. Their intimates question their love for them because they do not show it. They sometimes feel a void or emptiness because of the absence of verbal and physical manifestations of their love. This can create a great deal of frustration and tension in the relationship. So, just like WE have issues and shortcomings…we have to recognize these folks have their own issues and shortcomings…and the lack of verbal and physical acknowledgement of their love for us…happens to be one of their shortcomings. So, instead of continually questioning whether or not our loved ones love us…we ought to look at the Big Picture of their behavior towards us…how they prove their love in other ways…like the things they do for us and the way they treat us. I believe that love is an action…that when people love us, it is apparent in their behavior towards us.

But this brings up another point. Some people because of their upbringing and trauma experiences, may act in VERY unloving ways towards us. For instance, they may be physically or emotionally abusive. I believe that many of these folks actually love their people, but their emotional issues result in very unloving actions towards us and other loved ones. They act that way…not because they don’t love us…but because of Emotional Mind dynamics…and being abusive is their destructive coping behavior…they yell n’ scream and cuss n’ fuss and they may hit us. Their behavior is not a manifestation of love or lack thereof, but a manifestation of the ugly inside them…all the pain and anger and ugliness from their past. It’s like they “throw up” or vomit that ugliness on those closest to them. Why? Because they have all this toxic stuff inside them…and when they get “Big-Time in Emotional Mind,” the poison is bubbling up inside them…and they blow up…and this stuff blows out…and all over those around them. Why the family and those they love? Well, we are the safe objects…the safest place for the emotional tension to be released. Because we’re safe, we stay with them…and they can “get away with it.” They can explode on us and around us. Point…it’s not about their love for us, it’s about their emotional baggage…their past relationship experiences…their history of trauma…and how they learned to cope with negative emotions. That’s what makes abuse intergenerational. That’s how it gets passed on from one generation to the other. It’s about social learning, trauma, emotional pain and intensity, and destructive coping behaviors.

So, this brings up another point. If our loved one truly loves us, but they are abusive towards us…should we have mercy…forgive them…and continue to stay with them even though they are hurting us…and emotionally destroying us? Should we practice “love is an action” and stay with them? I believe we should protect ourselves and others and get out of the situation…because we’ll never be okay IN this toxic relationship…and if we have kids, we have a responsibility to protect our children and not allow them to be victimized…and exposed to poison. If we remain in the situation, we are just enabling the perpetrator to continue their destructive coping behavior and we are setting the stage for this destructiveness to pass through the generations…to our children and grandchildren. If we have been victimized and have emotional issues because of this, we need to get therapy for ourselves and the other victims to work through this so we are not living our lives…living this out. We have to do something to stop this destruction both in the here-and-now…and in the future. We have to stop the cycle. It will be healing to know though…that the one who hurt us…probably really loved us…but their emotional stuff got in the way of demonstrating that love in all ways. We ought to understand that what they did, had less to do with love…and much more to do with how they cope with pain and stress. They were desperate for relief in the moment, the emotional moment…and they did what “came natural” to them. They did what was “bred into them”…what their role models did…what they learned to do…and what gives them immediate relief in the moment. It’s like their drug of choice.

We all have some undesirable ways of releasing the pressure of the emotional moment. I believe we all enact destructive coping behaviors…some more so than others…and some of these destructive coping behaviors are more destructive than others. Some people are abusive to others and some are abusive to themselves. Some smoke, drink, drug, or overeat. Some over-shop, over-golf, over-work, over-play, over-Facebook…over-sex…etc. Others may withdraw, isolate, under-work, under-eat…etc. We’ve all got “stuff” and our challenge is to find healthy ways of releasing stress and pressure and dealing with our emotional issues and concerns. We’ve got to find Life-Enhancing coping mechanisms and to refuse to do our “preferred” or overlearned destructive coping behaviors.

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Working Through Verbal and Emotional Abuse: Challenging the Lies We’ve Come to Believe Using DBT-CBT Therapy Techniques

The following is an amended excerpt from the DBT-CBT Workbook. It is from Chapter 8, “Challenging Extreme Judgments,” which focuses on the negative things we say to ourselves (and believe) and the negative things others have said of us that we come to believe as truths about us.

When we’re mad or hurt, we sometimes say very hurtful things to ourselves and others. This is Emotion-Driven Behavior. Our hurtful words are based on how we’re thinking and feeling in the Heat-of-the-Moment! They’re ANGRY WORDS. We’re not in Rational Mind and we’re not speaking truth. We’re expressing HOW WE FEEL about people and things WHEN WE’RE MAD OR HURT! Words driven by a heated Emotional Mind SHOULD NOT BE TRUSTED!

The purpose of this chapter is to recognize that these statements are borne from Emotional Mind…an angry, depressed, or discouraged state of mind. They are Emotion-Driven Lies…not Rational Mind truths. The worksheet for this chapter, “The Challenging Negative Judgments of Me Worksheet” leads us through the process of challenging these lies through Rational Mind. We identify a particularly hurtful statement that has negatively impacted our self-esteem and self-concept and we identify characteristics of ourselves that prove that we are not that way. Then, we are challenged to answer the question…”What is rational to believe…that statement that came out of the mouth of someone who was upset and irrational in the emotional moment…or all these facts about ourselves that prove otherwise and the hundreds of people that agree we really are this kind of person?”

THESE TRUTHS SHOW HOW MUCH OF A LIE the negative judgment is…and has been. The judgment was NOT based on truth. It was an EMOTION-DRIVEN LIE MADE UP about us…and WE HAVE LIVED SO MUCH OF OUR LIFE BASED ON THIS LIE. We have believed the lie. We have NOTICED EVERYTHING that supported the lie, and discounted, overlooked, and IGNORED ALL THE THINGS that challenged the lie…all the things that prove we’re NOT stupid, worthless, or undesirable. LET THAT SINK IN. What was said about you is A BOLD-FACED LIE. IT IS NOT TRUTH. We know that now because THE FACTS PROVE IT! Anytime those old feelings come up, be ever so Mindful of the facts and the TRUTH. TAKE A STAND and RATIONALLY CHALLENGE THE LIE…right then and there. Don’t EVER let yourself get away with believing that lie again. RATIONALLY CONFRONT IT and DEFEND YOURSELF!

The following is the text that follows this worksheet and discussion directly about it.

APPLICATION: The Origin of the Judgmental Lies

Most of the negative judgments made about us…were first said to us when we were young. They were NOT based on anything about us…not a character trait or a personality feature.

When someone tells a 3 or 4 year old child that they’re worthless, stupid, or will never amount to anything…or they’re too much of this or too little of that…or no one will ever love them…IT’S AN EMOTION-DRIVEN LIE. How in the world can someone know something like that about a very young child? This type of meanness, ugliness, and hurtfulness SPEAKS VOLUMES about the person making the statements…AND SAYS NOTHING ABOUT THE CHARACTER OF THE CHILD.

We know that when WE make ugly and insulting comments to others, we’re being verbally abusive. Oftentimes, we’re mad and we say these things in anger. Likewise, THE PERSON saying ugly things to us is UPSET, too. Often, THEY FEEL stupid, irresponsible, or worthless and THEY TAKE IT OUT ON US. Most of them were emotionally abused…and are just MINDLESSLY PASSING IT ON to the next generation. Also, they may suffer the moodiness and impulsivity that goes with drugs and alcohol, Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, etc. For whatever reason, they’re BIG-TIME IN EMOTIONAL MIND and they’re being verbally and emotionally ABUSIVE to us. When we’re YOUNG or VULNERABLE, (22) WE TRUST THEIR OPINIONS and come to BELIEVE what they’re saying. However, WE’RE BELIEVING AN EMOTION-DRIVEN LIE.

When we did “The Challenging Negative Judgments About Me Worksheet,” we CHALLENGED the EMOTION-DRIVEN LIE by looking at the Big Picture of Our Life THROUGH THE EYES AND TRUTH OF RATIONAL MIND. When we review this worksheet and consider all the things about us that support we’re capable people with worth and value, we’re functioning in Rational Mind. When we make a DECISION that WE’LL NO LONGER JUDGE OURSELVES in a FALSE and HURTFUL manner, we’re functioning in WISE MIND. When we’re DETERMINED that ANY TIME those old thoughts or labels COME TO MIND, we’ll CHALLENGE THEM and REMIND OURSELVES of all the things about us that PROVE otherwise, then, we’ll be USING WISE MIND TO MINDFULLY PROTECT OUR PEACE AND STABILITY.

ANY TIME, ANY ONE of those NASTY JUDGMENTS comes into our thoughts and begins to hurt us, WE NEED TO CHALLENGE THEM…right then n’ there. (23) We need to STOMP THEM OUT and REFUSE to allow them to CONTROL US any longer. They are lies. WE HAVE BEEN LIVING A LIE. We have perceived ourselves based on a lie. DO NOT ALLOW THESE LIES TO CONTROL YOUR LIFE ANY LONGER! DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO TAKE AWAY your peace and stability! They’re things Coming At Us that have NO PLACE in our Inner Circle.  TAKE A STAND against these lies…and FIGHT FOR YOUR RECOVERY!

APPLICATION: Stupid Is as Stupid Does?

At this point, some folks say, “When they said that, I had done something stupid or irresponsible.” Remember, we’re human. We’re not perfect. Things WILL happen.  That’s our humanity! One stupid behavior or 10 or 12 of them means we did one stupid behavior or 10 or 12 of them. Those things describe our behavior in-the-moment or the month. They DO NOT define WHO WE ARE as a person or WHAT WE’RE CAPABLE OF. They DO NOT define our character or our make-up. THEY DEFINE AN event, action, or a behavior…NOT our WHOLE person. Just because the 8th grade educated shift team leader made a mistake, that doesn’t mean he’s stupid. That means HE MADE A MISTAKE…THAT DAY. That mistake and an 8th grade education DOESN’T describe what he’s capable of. Those things DO NOT define his character or describe everything he has ever accomplished in life. HE IS NOT STUPID. He simply made AN ERROR.(24) Stupid ISN’T as stupid does!

There may be times in our life when we make many errors…even when we totally mess things up for a year or two by making one bad decision after another. DOES THAT MEAN WE’RE STUPID? NOOOOOO. It means we’re DYSREGULATED (25) and LIVING Big-Time in Emotional Mind. It means we’re making a lot of Emotion-Driven decisions which ARE STUPID. That DOESN’T MEAN WE ARE STUPID…you know why?    Explain. _________________________________________________________________________
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We’re NOT stupid or clueless. In our gut, we usually know our behavior is going to cause problems BEFORE we do it! We have Wise Mind going on, but we’re NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO IT. We’re NOT Following Through With What We Know is in our best interests…because WE’RE BIG-TIME in Emotional Mind! WE’RE  DYSREGULATED… we’re LIVING IN-THE-MOMENT. We’re uncomfortable…we hurt…we’re not worrying about tomorrow. We’re living for TODAY…and if it feels good…we’re going to do it!

Are we STUPID because we do it?  Explain. ___________________________________
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No, we’re NOT STUPID. We’re ACTING in poor judgment. We KNOW better.  We know right from wrong…and good from bad. We DO stupid things because EMOTIONAL MIND IS DRIVING. That’s why we SPIN-OUT and LOSE CONTROL.  That’s why we wreck-out and our life becomes a total wreck.

So, does that mean we have poor judgment?  Explain. __________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

NO…because WE HAVE GOOD JUDGMENT! We KNEW it was stupid or of poor judgment…but we did it anyway! We KNEW it was going to end poorly, but we DIDN’T CARE AT THE TIME. We just did what we WANTED to do…
and no one or nothing was going to stop us. We were being VERY WILLFUL.

What we did was EMOTION-DRIVEN Behavior. We do all types of MINDLESS and IMPULSIVE things when we’re acting on Emotional Mind…ESPECIALLY WHEN WE’RE IN A DESPERATE STATE, like desperate for relief, desperate for comfort, or desperate to be held and loved on. It’s NOT STUPIDITY. It’s DESPERATION. You’ve heard the saying, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” Well, desperate measures often involve risky things that are likely to have a bad outcome. So, BECAUSE WE’VE DONE SOMETHING STUPID or two years or ten years worth, that DOESN’T MEAN WE ARE STUPID. That’s because WE KNOW BETTER.

WE JUST DO IT ANYWAY! Gladly, this workbook is about GETTING CONTROL of our BEHAVIOR and our LIFE! And, we do that by Turning On RATIONAL MIND and WISE MIND to REGULATE and CONTROL our dysregulated and Out-of-Control emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior.

Footnotes:

22- If we’re older when these lies were spoken, they usually came from an abusive spouse or romantic partner.  Over time, we’ll realize these people were angry, mean, harsh, moody, and unfair.  We KNOW their words were Emotion-Driven.  We KNOW they’re abusive, mean, and critical people, but for some reason, we believe their ugly opinions.  We believe they’re right and other people are wrong.  Go figure.  The truth, we were vulnerable and they took advantage of it.  Often, they were mean to “keep us in our place”…in a “downed position” with low self-esteem.  They wanted us to believe we ARE stupid, unworthy, and not capable…so we would never have the strength to leave them.

23- Whenever a negative judgment begins to bother you, either complete “The Challenging Negative Judgments of Me Worksheet” in your mind or on paper.  Use this RECOVERY TOOL to challenge those lies!

24- I’m pretty smart with a Ph.D…that just gives me a license to be  Piled Higher and Deeper in errors!  Lord knows if it’s 10AM and I haven’t made an error yet, I must still be asleep!

25- Dysregulated – (dis-reg-you-lated) – not in control of ourselves… we’re not able to regulate or control our behavior.

Extra margin text below:

No matter how smart we are or how much psychological stuff we know, we can get side-swiped and wrecked-out by a hurtful comment.

When we believe these lies and base our sense of self and identity on these lies, we’re viewing ourselves through Emotional Mind.  We’re not dealing with the facts and the truth.  We’re overlooking, ignoring, and denying all the things which tell us we aren’t that way…and we’re focusing on ALL the things which suggest we may be that way.  We’re ignoring what Rational Mind is telling us and we’re viewing ourselves through the distorted lenses of Emotional Mind.

We have thought poorly of ourselves and have treated ourselves poorly because of a lie.

We ARE going to do some stupid and thoughtless things now and then, but that doesn’t mean we’re a stupid and thoughtless person.  It means we DID SOMETHING that was stupid or thoughtless.

We ACTED in poor judgment.  We went against our good judgment.

“Then how do we describe this stupid, poor judgment behavior?!”   We describe it as DESPERATE behavior.  It’s not an issue of smarts.  It’s an issue of being desperate and dysregulated!  It’s an issue of being OUT-OF-CONTROL! We know better, but we do desperate, self-defeating things anyway.

This text was adapted from the DBT-CBT Therapy Workbook – “Out-of-Control:  A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior”  by Melanie Gordon Sheets, Ph.D.  – copyright 2009 – Recovery Works Publications

Working Through the Pain of Verbal and Emotional Abuse: Self-Disclosure in Therapy…A Question of Professionalism…Does It Hurt More Than It Heals?

Someone who loves me and supports me told me that I’m making myself look bad and unprofessional by writing these blog entries and sharing so much of my personal neurotic self. She questioned how I think I can look professional and be a respected author of a therapy workbook if I am presenting myself as so messed up. I’ve thought about this all along…and I did expect this point to be raised. I haven’t thought through it at a deep level though…so my thoughts about it aren’t so organized…so what I write now will be pretty raw…but here’s what I think at this moment in time.

I teach my patients that most normal people are messed up in some ways…that there are few VERY NORMAL PEOPLE who have no major emotional issues and concerns. I believe that ALL PEOPLE struggle with themselves in some way or another…at least at some points in their life. I don’t think that NORMAL people are perfectly normal. I think the kinds of emotional issues and concerns that I struggle with ARE NORMAL…that many people struggle with the same things…or similar things…or other things that dog them just the same. I think that normal people are messed up…I think being “ABNORMAL”…IS NORMAL. I think that people who are putting on a PROFESSIONAL FRONT are PUTTING ON a professional FRONT. I know that some people are highly self-controlled and very tightly wrapped…and, that’s ABNORMAL.

What’s wrong with them that they can’t admit or reveal their humanity, their weaknesses, their struggles…Why is it that they feel so strongly about presenting to the world as SO PROFESSIONAL and SO NORMAL? What is it that they don’t want people to know about them…or what are they so ashamed of that they’re hiding…or what is it that they don’t want people to think about them? What is so bad about their true self? Why do they have to hide their humanity and who they are as a person? Why is it that they feel the need to separate themselves from humanity and place themselves on a “I’ve got my life VERY WELL TOGETHER and I’m better than you…or different than you…I’M PROFESSIONAL…I’m DISTINCT…I’m in a different social class…I am one that is respectable…I have overcome my humanity” pedestal?

Boy am I going to piss these people off!

I think that if we can’t accept ourselves, our weaknesses, our humanity, then we have major, big, emotional issues and concerns. I think that if we have to put ourselves on a pedestal and create a facade of absolute professionalism and perfection…then there’s something wrong with us…something wrong that we feel we have to distinguish ourselves from humanity…from the “common people.” Has our sense of self been so beaten that in order to FEEL OKAY…we have to be SO self-controlled…and maintain such a professional self-image and presentation to others…so that we can feel a sense of integrity, wholeness, togetherness, and acceptability? Why would one have to distinguish and separate themselves from humanity in order to feel okay? Do we feel so bad about who we are…and our humanity…that we have to distinguish or separate ourselves from others…and humanity?

Why can’t I just feel okay about myself…and accept that my emotional and psychological weaknesses are okay and acceptable…and normal? Why would I have to CHEAT and DECEIVE my patients and book readers…and put on this facade of PERFECTION or near perfection…and interact with them in HIGHLY PROFESSIONAL ways…in order to gain their respect by deceit and trickery? Is my sense of self-respect so low that I have to heighten my sense of self-respect by conning other people into having over-esteemed respect for me?

Do I have to fill up my empty tank of self-respect with THEIR RESPECT for me? If my tank of self-respect is filled enough…I don’t need others to fill that tank for me…because it’s already filled enough. Granted and obviously…my tank of self-respect falls below what is healthy because I struggle with it so. However, I’m not going out in the world trying to get others to fill this tank for me. In order for my tank to be filled adequately and to stay that way, I must have the resources to fill it on my own…rather than begging, borrowing, and stealing respect and self-esteem from others.

I continually work on myself and continually struggle with my humanity and my emotional beatings and slaps from the past. I don’t want my reservoir of self-respect to be so vulnerable to the destructive whims and neuroses of others. I continually work on myself so my reservoir of self-respect increases over time…so I am not so needy of being filled with respect by others.

If I am truly to experience self-respect, it needs to come from within…it needs to be mine…else, the amount of respect I have for myself is going to be ever vulnerable to the waves of approval or disapproval from others. I’m tired of living that way. I’m tired of my sense of self being tied to what others think of me…because not everyone is so healthy as to treat us or to regard us consistent with our level of deserving. We all know that other people put us down in order to feel better about themselves…that others may blame us for things instead of blaming themselves…that others criticize or find fault with us because they don’t want to acknowledge or deal with their own faults and weaknesses…that they make us look bad so they don’t have to look bad…and they take credit for what we’ve done so they look better…or they don’t brag on us like they could because somehow it makes them feel less than.

I have received many emotional beatings and slaps in my journey through this world. I’ve had many people in my life that have been very emotionally unhealthy and have been emotionally and verbally abusive and hurtful to me. I have sucked in…and have personalized what they’ve said to me, how they’ve responded to me, and how they’ve treated me. I derived a sick sense of self-respect and self-esteem as a result…a level of self-respect and self-esteem that does not match the reality of my life, my talents, my accomplishments, etc.

I have been very hurt by several authority figures. Some have been victims of emotional abuse and have come to derive a heightened sense of self and empowerment by putting others down…they feel powerful and in control when they weaken the self-esteem of others…they feel in control by overpowering and beating others….and some of these people are filled with so much unrestrained pain and anger…that they have major Emotional Mind eruptions…and they spew the hurtful and the ugly all over their environment.

I have also been subjected to some very narcissistic people as well…people that are so sick inside or so emotionally unhealthy that they interact with the world and present themselves…and on the surface think of themselves…as superior to others. Instead of giving other people due credit, instead of speaking of others in the positive ways they deserve, they demean us, take credit for our work, and don’t show us the positive regard we deserve. They psychologically esteem themselves at our expense. They so much need this to feel okay about themselves. This is a defense mechanism for them…a defense against experiencing their humanity and emotional vulnerability…and the pain and ugliness they feel inside. This is a destructive coping behavior…it is a narcissistic defense.

I have been so beaten and demeaned by my interactions with some of these people that I’m tired of it. I’m tired of feeling this way. I’m tired of the anxiety, self-doubt, insecurities, and all the crap that I’ve felt and suffered through as a result. I’m so tired of the Emotional Mind beatings that I put myself through…that I’ve had to turn on Rational Mind to take a true look at myself…and to decide for myself who I am and what I have to offer to this world. I’ve decided to appraise my own self-worth and to protect my vulnerable sense of integrity. I’ve decided to minimize the impact these emotional unhealthy people have on me…and to rely on the positive regard other people have for me…and the positive regard I have for myself.

This psychological issue is something I will no doubt struggle with for a long time…it’s not an easy thing to overcome. I’ve spent most of my life tied to and deeply affected by how these people have regarded me or have treated me…that it is a rather engrained way of regarding myself. I am working on it…and I will continue to work on it. I will be affected by future insults…but, I will work to minimize the impact they have on me. When one of these insults comes my way, I will work to be Mindful of how it’s affecting me and I will work to disseminate the truth from it. I will ask myself, “Did I do something to deserve this? Is it undeserved and an unrealistic appraisal of me?” If I did something, I will own it…and I will work to continually improve myself in that area. If it makes me feel bad about myself that I keep doing things that cause others to have negative regard for me, I will work to soothe myself and to remind myself that I’m not perfect and that I’m a work in progress. I will try to come up with a Game Plan or a plan of action to better control myself so the same thing doesn’t continue to happen in the future. That’s all I can do. I refuse to destroy myself and my sense of self over it.

I write the things I do in this blog to reach out to other people who are hurting and are struggling with the pains of life…to recognize that in their abnormality, they are perfectly normal…that everyone or most everyone struggles with things…and that what separates the so called normal from abnormal in our mind is how much we know about them…and how much they are willing to know and acknowledge about themselves. I believe that in my abnormality, I am very normal. I feel defective, but I know I’m at a level of good repair…perhaps even better repair than most people…and that, I am a work in progress.

Further, I feel that I have the level of knowledge, skills, understandings, and achievements to be thought of by others as a “professional” and that if people know me, are around me enough…they will easily have that respect for me. I no longer feel the need to ACT professional so people will respect me. I think I can be myself and share myself…and do so while carrying out a professional job. My profession is to help people to achieve self-respect and to gain relief from all the pain and turmoil that drives destructive coping behavior, self-destruction, other destruction, and life destruction…so that they can feel okay about themselves and will begin to interact in the world in a productive, life-enhancing fashion. If I achieve that, then I’ve done good…and I’ve fulfilled my professional responsibility. If being “unprofessional” in appearance by revealing my struggles and weaknesses and my recovery journey…helps to reach a subset of hurting souls, then it is worth being regarded as “unprofessional.” Really, the unknowing opinions of others matter little in the big picture of the world…and any help given to tormented souls matters most.

Now, all this is not to say that I NEVER ACT professional. My profession requires I abide by an ethical code of conduct…and I am very invested in acting professional in that manner…because those things make a major difference in the care and treatment of those I serve. Further, when I’m around people that I am expected to impress or need to impress with my professionalism…I can generally do a good job of pulling that off. I CAN ACT professional for the sake of making a professional impression when I have to…I just don’t choose to live that persona otherwise.