Caring About How We Think in Abusive Relationships

"Thinking" Courtesy of Wikipedia

“Thinking” Courtesy of Wikipedia

Researchers of cognition estimate that people experience upwards to 60,000 automatic thoughts a day, and for most of us 80% of our contemplations are negative. These negative  thoughts are repetitive ideas that we continuously tell ourselves throughout our lives. They are primarily formed from experiences with feelings and actions in our family environment and intimate relationships. They are not facts and are often not accurate reflections of reality. Especially when our family communication patterns are destructive and our intimate relationships are abusive. Our inner dialogue has a strong effect on  emotional states, actions, and how we cope with life.

Imagine you have a problem with an emotionally abusive partner that you are trying to cope with. You could think, “This is not about me, I can manage, even though it is difficult,” or, you could think, “This is hopeless, there is nothing I can do right, I’m completely overwhelmed and it’s impossible to make a change.” How might you feel, think, or act differently in these situations? If you feel anger or resentment, the challenge is to acknowledge it, learn from it, and then release any self-destructive thoughts.

Thoughts can affect your reactions to your partner’s emotional abuse and your ability to cope with it too. In particular, thinking his or her abusive behavior is about you. Participating in the emotional cruelty with your partner is likely to make you feel more helpless to change and to suffer more. In contrast, thinking that makes you feel competent to cope with the relationship can make you feel better about yourself and allow you to change the circumstances. When you feel misery, force yourself to think grateful thoughts. When you feel blamed, reassure yourself that who you are is okay.

Thoughts often seem to be out of our control. Even so, the truth is that we can learn to monitor our thinking, notice thoughts that are more or less helpful, and make choices about how to counter or change those thoughts. By doing these things, we reduce thoughts that contribute to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness and increase thoughts that contribute to feelings of competence, confidence, and determination. These thoughts can then help you a) act more effectively with your partner and b) stop creating your own emotional pain c) help you leave your relationship. This also helps you make emotionally fulfilling choices like spending time with loved ones, accomplishing your work or educational goals, or reducing the negative effects of your abusive partner.

The three steps to changing your thinking are to:

1. Notice your thoughts (if you are feeling bad, you’re thinking negative thoughts).
2. Ask yourself, “Is the thought helpful or harmful. Is it accurate?”
3. Change your thought, if harmful or inaccurate; counter it with a positive coping thought and behavior.

Thoughts can be empowering thoughts or self-defeating thoughts. They can be thoughts that reinforce you to believe in your value or thoughts that punish you for being or making a mistake. Looking at your own relationship experiences, which types of thoughts are most likely to be helpful? Where does your mind hang out? Make a list of these inner dialogues to help you notice the thoughts that make you feel bad. This action will help you to stop attending to the seemingly involuntary thought processes and the continuous negative monologues.

Questions to ask for empowering coping thoughts in an emotionally abusive relationship are:

1. Am I blaming myself for something over which I do not have control?
2. Are there any strengths or positives in me or the situation that I am ignoring?
3. Have I had any experiences that show that this thought is true all the time?
4. If a friend had this thought, what would I tell him or her?
5. Have I been in this type of situation with my partners before? What happened? Is   there anything different between this situation and previous ones?
6. What have I learned from prior experiences about the signs of an abusive relationship that could help me now?

These actions will help you in emotionally destructive relationships and can help you get through times of stress in healthy relationships. Listen to that voice in your head and do what you need to do to take care of your thoughts.

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Thank you for reading this article. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience. As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to put an end to the self-judgment and critical thoughts. And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-acceptance and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

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How to Stop Obsessing Over a Narcissistic Relationship

Love_wheelObsessing over a narcissistic relationship is stressful and tiring; leading you to feel down, frustrated or hopeless.  Fixating over your painful experience can interfere with your life by keeping you from doing the things you want to do.  A particularly helpful skill to stop compulsive thoughts of the abuse is learning to control your attention, the degree to which you are focused on the mistreatment, the more you are aware of it.  This is not about denying your pain; it is attending to something else.  Negative thoughts are ideas that we tell ourselves and are not always accurate reflections of reality.

When we take feelings to seriously, we let how we feel control all our decisions.  While learning to focus on the things you have control over, you will empower yourself to end the destructive attachment. Letting go of your resentments (desire to hurt your partner) happens when you believe in your right to happiness.  Sometimes we need time to ready ourselves to cope. Change your thinking about the abuse, and about yourself, so that you don’t blame yourself, or believe things are hopeless.  The following steps are ways to stop your obsessions.

I believe the first step below requires us to give up our desire for vengeance and letting go of a victim mentality.  If you want revenge let it be your own success at creating a decent manageable life.  Allowing your abuser to rent space in your head means they get to continue punishing you.  Narcissists feel all-powerful when they think your life is miserable with them, and especially without them.  Feel your anger and use your emotional pain to motivate change in your life.

  1. Take responsibility in part for having chosen your abusive partner and/or for staying in purgatory.  Accept the lesson and learn from the relationship pain so you don’t repeat it. Ask yourself, “what is the gift” from this relationship?
  2. Stop talking about your ex-partner to others; refuse to establish a victim identity. Create a state of well-being within you.
  3. Spend time each morning focused on forgiving the narcissist for not being able to love you, so you can free your ego from the desire to hurt them. Move on to a new freedom.
  4. Care enough about your well-being to stop the self-punishing thoughts. Refuse to build drama stories in your mind.
  5. Practice hearing and feeling the critical voice in your head. Banish fear and guilt from your mind. Acknowledge and observe the destructiveness of your compulsive thoughts and emotions.
  6. Keep your thinking and feeling centered on good things, care about how you feel. Lower your dark curtain and emerge from darkness.
  7. Work as hard on accepting what is good in your life as you have the painful and the difficult. Learn to trust yourself by finding out what is right for you.

Thank you for reading this article. I have dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-love by teaching from my own experience. As a result, I’ve learned a lot about abusive relationships and what it takes to put an end to victimization.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

Postmodern Learning Journey

Consciousness 17th Century Courtesy of Wikipedia

Consciousness 17th Century Courtesy of Wikipedia

The questions “Who am I?” “Who are we?” and “What is consciousness?” is fascinating to think about.  These issues carry within itself another, even more important question:  “Where do I belong?”   The answer to that question is discovered within a fellowship of friends.  I believe belonging is a core need of nearly all of us in the quest for answers and truth.  On my postmodern journey (belief there is no one objective “truth” rather many possible intrepretations of any event)  I connected with the article, The Essence of Self (Russell, 2003).  Russell believes when the mind is quiet we are experiencing our true essence which is a state of pure consciousness.  He says we develop our sense of self from people, places and things.  I have learned that the challenge is to understand that “I am” not my appearance, my work, my achievements, or my bank account, etc.  This “I am” realization is a sense of my own presence, it is not thought.  Russell describes this well in the following quote:

“When the mind is silent, and the thoughts, feelings, perceptions, memories with which we habitually identify have fallen away, then what remains is the essence of self, the pure subject without an object.  What we than find is not a sense of “I am this” or “I am that,” but just “I am.” (p. 12).”

It is during meditation that I sense this “I am.”  I feel my own presence (authenticity) in my breathe with such peace that my thinking, emotions, physical body, and the passing of time, seem insignificant in comparison to it.  It takes me beyond what I previously thought of as “myself.”  This presence is essentially me and at the same time greater than me.

Russell (2003) also delineates the concept of self, time and space in his article and I connected with his words. I can observe when my mind gets caught up in identification with the past and continuous compulsive projection into the future.   I believe Russell would say when I’m getting caught up in mind thought I am building my sense of self from time.  As soon as I am conscious of this mind process, I become present.  I seize to be my problems and emotions; I stop acting out my compulsive projections and instead become consciousness of which I really am.  The challenge is to stay in the present moment and stop punishing myself for behaviors in the past or with anxious predictions about the future.

Ken Wilber’s integral psychology model has also had a dramatic impact on my postmodern learning.  He has put into words my spiritual awakening with such accuracy that my sense of belonging to something greater then myself is much stronger.  I have learned of this postmodern thinking and shared experiences after the fact and it gives credibility to Wilber’s teaching and my awakening.  A chapter in his book, Integral Psychology (2000), “The Archeology of Spirit” was the most profound.  He writes about the experience he calls looking deep within the mind so well. “In its gentle whisperings, there are the faintest hints of infinite love,” and “It is reached by a simple technique: turn left at mind, and go within” (p. 111). The descriptions are wonderful.  I have felt the hints of infinite love during meditation and as a result, in moments of dialogue with others.

Wilber speaks of “at-home-ness” with the world developing deeper as the self integrates various “streams.”  I think of this as having a place wherein I fit, at home with self, with family, with the world.  Spirituality helps me find that experience by accepting myself, including my relationships with others, and especially my family.  Because of this, I have learned to see my relationships in a different way and to better fit with others.  Wilber calls this process identifying, “If you identify with your friends and family, you will treat them with care.  If you identify with your nation, you will treat your countrymen as compatriots.  If you identify with all human beings, you will strive to treat all people fairly and compassionately, regardless of race, sex, color, or creed” (p.116).  This passage struck me because when I had a spiritual experience as a result of losing my forearm, I than possessed the most profound need to connect with others.  This need helped me overcome the uncomfortableness with looking different and gave me the courage to be myself.  This loss was a powerful lesson in understanding that I am not my body or mind and that my real self had not changed though my outward appearance had.

My postmodern learning journey requires an examination of my invisible inner world through introspection, interpretation, and conscious awareness of my mind talk. My beliefs about subjective reality have been changed by what I am learning.  We live in an exciting time of conscious evolution in which the scientific method is inadequate in its explanations.  Modern science is uncomfortable with subjective uncertainty as are most of us.  The challenge of nonresistance to change and unpredictability is shaped and affected by our own culture, community and compulsive thoughts.  We are the shaper of our reality, environment and culture.  The good news is that we do have some control over our thinking and hold the key to our personal freedom from self-bondage.

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Thank you for reading this article.  I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-love by teaching from my  experience.  In the past, I’ve sacrificed my emotional and spiritual well-being for perfectionism and looked to others for approval at the cost of trusting my  intuition and developing my self-worth.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to put an end to the self-judgment.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

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Coping With Chronic Pain and Stress

By learning how thoughts and actions influence our feelings and coping we can learn to reduce and better manage life’s emotional challenges.  The figure below is the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) paradigm for negative automatic thoughts leading to painful emotions and resulting in unhelpful (actions) coping strategies.  The thinking process is repetitious and circular, whereby thoughts lead to feelings that lead to actions continuously ( I could not add directional arrows to my diagram).   Thoughts, behaviors, and emotions affect our physical experiences and sensations, including emotional pain, and vice versa.  How we think also affects the severity, intensity, and duration of chronic pain episodes, emotional pain, stress levels, and disease progression (i.e., diabetes, terminal cancer, arthritis,  back pain, etc.)

THOUGHT

                                          “I’m not achieving enough”

PHYSICAL PAIN & STRESS LEVEL INCREASE

                                         w/NEGATIVE THINKING

ACTIONS = “Isolate”                                             FEELINGS = “Fear”

This approach teaches us ways to change thinking and behaviors to best cope with stress/pain and reduce negative thoughts.  You may believe that talking about your fears is a weakness.  Or you may perceive that other people believe these things, causing you to feel embarrassed and angry.  Either way, you might hide your fears from others, criticize or make excuses for yourself, and smile when you are feeling sad.  It is estimated that a deep thinker (perfectionist) has somewhere around 60,000 automatic thoughts per day.  Research shows that for most people, 80% of thoughts are negative and repetitious.  As the saying goes, “It is a bad neighborhood in my head and I try not to go there unsupervised.”

You may believe that there is nothing that can be done to stop your negative thinking and to better cope with stress.   Learning to tune-in to ourselves, learning to listen to ourselves takes practice. You may be dependent on others for approval in order to cope or don’t talk to anyone about your concerns.  Lastly, you may believe that you need to get rid of your problems on your own in order to live your life.  You believe that you have to endure alone. These beliefs are mental traps!!!

Thinking you are not achieving enough during these unpredictable times can be stressful and tiring and this can make it hard to think clearly, leading you to feel frustrated and hopeless.  However, it is possible to improve your mood and to learn to cope effectively with your problems that remain unresolved.  By learning to focus on the things you have control over, you can change parts of your reality by choosing how you will think and behave.

 Total reality is made up of at least the following parts:

1) What you see, hear, and can measure, 2) how others think and act, 3) how you think and feel, and 4) what you do.

EXAMPLE:    Different responses to negative thinking and stress can produce many types of  “realities.”

WHAT YOU SEE, HEAR, AND CAN MEASURE

My thoughts tell me I’m going to lose everything, I’m  not good  enough, and I must be worthless.

HOW OTHERS THINK AND ACT                                               1.  Supportive

2.  Dismissing

3.  Critical

 

HOW YOU THINK (you have a choice)                                    1.  This is what my mind does.

2.  I can change my thoughts.

3.  I can’t stand it!

WHAT YOU DO (you have a choice)                                        1.  Isolate

2.  Get angry with others.

3.  Appreciate what is good in my life.

4.  Learn techniques to cope effectively with stress.

Negative thoughts may be interfering with your life by keeping you from doing the things you want to do.  It is important to remember you do have some control over your thinking.  You may feel vulnerable and powerless when negative feelings appear.  But keep in mind (excuse the pun) that you can learn to notice your thoughts, feel your feelings, figure out if there’s something you need to do, and then go on with your life.  Life works best when you take charge of making change in your thinking.

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Thank you for reading this article.  My learning journey with chronic physical pain is a result of my experience with phantom limb pain.  I was graced with the gift of self-acceptance upon realization that my forearm was amputated.  Before my limb loss, I sacrificed my emotional and spiritual well-being for perfectionism and looked to others for approval at the cost of trusting my intuition and developing my self-worth.  My drive for perfection was crushed along with my arm.  I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to put an end to self-created emotional pain.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

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Stopping Complusive Mind Chatter

Thinking Courtesy of Wikipedia

Thinking Courtesy of Wikipedia

Meditation is the single most important thing you can do for yourself each day to stop compulsive mind chatter.   Starting the practice of meditation is often a salvation.  Your authentic self will appear in moments of quite awareness, and in non-resistance to the present moment, the dialogue in your head will stop and so will the compulsive emotional pain.  During meditation one’s still self can become present and is empowered to de-identify with the drama the ego manufactures in order to feel alive and keep the negative chatter going.  By practicing meditation you will experience stillness, peace and self-acceptance.  We all have the power to stop attending to the seemingly involuntary thought processes, the continuous negative monologues, and the repetitive victim stories playing in our minds.  Emotional, physical, or mental pain can be used as a gift to motivate you to stop the mental fighting in your mind.

My experience with emotional trauma and chronic pain has been a major influence on my values and self-care.  I have been moved by intense struggling into accepting “what is.”  When I practice acknowledging that my emotional pain is self-created and I am not a victim, my thoughts commence to change dramatically.  Moment by moment I practice giving up my attachment to past, future and present thoughts to make living in the present my main focus.  I have found peace through this surrender and a profound need to demonstrate kindness through my actions.  The compulsive drive for more, better, new, in order to feed a false image and ineffectively heal emotional wounds is no longer fulfilling to me.  This awareness came from an accumulation of personal losses, emotional pain and chronic physical pain.  I use to have a voice in my head that continuously attacked and punished me for not doing enough.  I decided I would no longer tolerate the self-created misery and unhappiness.  The negative thoughts still lurk, but I practice observing and releasing them without judging.

I have found it is necessary to practice not taking people or situations personally and to stop building negative thoughts.  The minute I make a situation “about me,” my fear is in charge and creating a story.  I have learned that the challenge is to respect that who “I am” is not my minds activity, my appearance, my work, my achievements, or my bank account, etc.  This “I am” realization is a sense of my own presence, it is not thought.   As soon as I am conscious and stop the compulsive mind chatter I’m hearing, (i.e., “Hello old friend that has come here to make me feel like crap, you can go now”) I become present.  I seize to become my reactions and negative emotions; I stop acting out my compulsive projections.  I quit beating myself up and instead become conscious of my present worth.  The challenge is to remain in the present moment and give up identifying with the drama for things that happened in the past or with fearful projections into the future.  I take responsibility for my actions and self-respect.  I recognize that I am continuously creating my minds reality and I give myself permission to be “perfectly imperfect.”

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Thank you for reading this article. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-love by teaching from my  experience.  In the past, I’ve sacrificed my emotional and spiritual well-being for perfectionism and looked to others for approval at the cost of trusting my intuition and developing my own self-worth.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to put an end to the self-judgment and self-bondage.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

How Codependents Leave Abusive Narcissistic Relationships

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Courtesy Wikipedia

Courtesy Wikipedia

You may be feeling crazy because you love a narcissist and are afraid to leave the abusive relationship.  It will be easier to help yourself leave the more you know about codependency and narcissistic personality disorder.   Abusive narcissists require someone who is willing to cater to their needs and to give up their own desires.  Narcissists are self-destructive people with concealed low self-esteem and insatiable needs for attention and nothing to give. They parasitically attach to a giving, supportive person who avoids center stage and thrives on taking care of others.

Expecting something from an abusive narcissist who has nothing to give can make a codependent feel crazy.  Trying to pretend that the narcissist is someone he or she is not can drive you wild.  So what is codependency?  Codependents are people who have spent years negotiating with reality concerning particular people from their past and present.  Codependents spend years trying to get mom or dad to love them in a certain way, when that parent cannot or will not.

The development of codependence has its roots in dysfunctional family systems and occurs over a fairly long period of time.  Overly rigid, dogmatic, or authoritarian types of families where there may or may not be alcohol abuse or dependence appears to produce codependency.  These families tend to emphasize discipline and control where rewards are given for compliance with strict and often illogical rules.  Children learn that any positive feelings about self are dependant on the mood of someone else.  These families may appear to be perfect to neighbors, but there is a great deal of pain and secrecy behind closed doors.  Children learn early to not express their thoughts or feelings and to ignore family behavioral problems.   This family survival response effectively raises the child’s tolerance for emotionally abusive and inappropriate behavior in others.

As adults, these children have a greater tendency to get involved in abusive painful relationships with people who are unreliable, emotionally unavailable, or needy.  Lacking entitlement to their feelings, these adult children tend to be indirect about their needs, deny feelings, and distrust intimacy.  They start with the belief that love is sacrificing for my partner and putting up with what ever my partner wants to dish out.  This is a set up for making the abusive relationship more important than you are to yourself.  Generally, codependents feel consistently unfulfilled in relationships and are the ones who tend to get deeply stuck in purgatory with an abusive narcissist.

If you are a codependent in a relationship with an abusive narcissist and are asking yourself, “Why am I feeling so crazy?”  It’s time to let the narcissist go.  It is time to let him or her off the hook.  Like your caretakers, the abusive narcissist is constitutionally incapable of loving you. That doesn’t mean you can’t love that person anymore.  It means that you are ready to feel the immense relief that comes when you begin accepting the truth and stop denying reality.  You release the narcissist to be who he or she actually is.  You stop trying to make that person be someone he or she is not.  You deal with your feelings and walk away from the abusive relationship. You stop letting what you are not getting from the narcissist control you and you take responsibility for your life.  You then begin the process of healing and loving yourself.

Get angry, feel hurt, and land in a place of self forgiveness.  Your life in purgatory will end.  You will no longer be a victim of abuse.  You will recognize that you have been mistreated and allowed yourself to be mistreated.  You will no longer create, seek out, or re-create situations that victimize you.  You stand in your power and no longer live in quiet desperation.

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Thank you for reading this article. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my  experience.  In the past, I’ve sacrificed my emotional and spiritual well-being for perfectionism and looked to others for approval at the cost of trusting my intuition and developing my self-worth.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about relationship abuse and what it takes to put an end to the self-judgment.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.