What happens when you create a show about abusive behavior? You hear from people that aren’t happy that they are being called out on that behavior.
On today’s episode, I read a letter from someone that thinks what I teach is dangerous and that I should find other things to do with my time. This is a special episode for both the abuser and the victim, filled with lots of lessons on healthy communication.
(The following podcast transcript has been modified for easier readability and to benefit the Deaf and hard of hearing)
As a reminder, all information on Love and Abuse is meant for educational purposes only. Always seek a professional for your mental health and well-being. I’m so glad I say that at the beginning of every episode because it’s bound to happen:
Someone is not going to like what I talk about on the air.
Someone’s going to send me hate mail or give me a critical review of what I talk about. It doesn’t often happen (I think it’s only happened maybe once or twice in the years I’ve been doing this). But every now and then, someone won’t like something I say.
What’s interesting about Love and Abuse is that a lot of people that are experiencing toxic relationships will listen to this show, learn something from it, and then take what they learned into their relationship, or go one step further and leave their relationship, or communicate with their partner or the person being toxic in a way that’s more productive than destructive.
What I mean by that is, let’s just say that you’re the victim of emotional abuse or some sort of toxic relationship, and you normally find yourself being defensive when the toxic person is trying to put you down or make you feel bad about yourself.
A toxic person will do this because they want you to stay on the defense so they can keep their power over you. As long as you’re on the defense, they get to call the shots. And they get to do whatever they want to do because you’re too busy defending yourself and wondering what you did wrong.
But you might listen to a show like this or some other resource material and learn a different strategy on how to deal with someone who does this to you. That different strategy might be:
Don’t automatically go into defensive mode. Just stay on track.
For example, someone might tell you you’re too sensitive. I’ve heard that many times by victims of emotional abuse. They are told, “I can’t say anything around you because you’re always just so sensitive.”
When something says that to you, you might go into a state of inflection and start wondering if they’re right.
“Am I too sensitive? Maybe I’m just taking it the wrong way. Or maybe I need to reflect a little bit and figure out where exactly I’m too sensitive. Maybe I need to learn something new here. Maybe I need to toughen up. Maybe I need to figure out what my triggers are.”
Sure, that might be true. Maybe you need to figure out what some of your emotional triggers are. But at the same time, someone who says that you’re too sensitive, knows you’re sensitive, yet, they are still being harmful; They’re still trying to hurt you; They’re still being aggressive.
Someone who loves you isn’t going to be aggressive toward you. They’re not going to put you down for being sensitive because they love you. And they know you’re sensitive so they wouldn’t take advantage of that.
Then a show like this will come along and give you the tools to respond to someone who, for example, says something like, “You’re too sensitive.”
If you need to learn those tools, you can actually listen to an episode I created called The You’re too Sensitive Game. Check that out if you’re looking for a way to deal with that.
In this episode, I’m talking about the people that listen to the show – there are going to be people looking for tools, resources, and a way to stop feeling so bad in their relationships.
Other people, like the emotionally abusive people themselves, also listen to this show. These are the toxic and hurtful people that tune in. Some want to heal and change that behavior. Others don’t. But I try to connect with both people in relationships like this because there is healing that needs to happen on both sides.
I want healing for everyone that comes along and listens to this show. If your life is going great and your relationships are going great, and you’re not experiencing controlling or manipulative behavior, then you probably don’t need a show like this.
But if your relationships aren’t going great, this is probably why you’re listening. You probably need tools or want to know what you’re doing wrong or what you’re doing that isn’t helpful in the relationship and maybe even hurtful.
As I said, I started talking about how every now and then, someone’s gonna get ticked off about what I say on the air. I like to have full transparency and always read those messages I get on the air. Because I think it’s fair that you have all the information at your disposal, that you can do what you want to do with that information. That way, you can make your decision based on that information, so that I’m not the judge and jury of myself.
With that said, I’m going to read you a message that I received through Facebook. And I’m also going to break the elements of the communication down so that you understand what can be toxic in someone’s communication. This is really twofold, actually, I’m going to read you the message I received, which was hurtful and meant to hurt me.
It was hurtful when I read it because it’s hard to do something for years and years and years and trying to help people, both people, trying to help everyone. I’m not just trying to get victims out of emotionally abusive situations, I’m trying to help the people being abusive, so they stop being abusive, and I want you to have a great life. I want you to have great relationships.
I’ve been there I’ve been emotionally abusive. I know how much it weighs on you when you’re in that state of mind. You’re always emotionally triggered, you’re always wanting to make your partner feel bad and guilt them into changing their ways. It’s a terrible, crappy place to be, to be on that side too. I mean, when you actually are a kind person underneath. When you have empathy, when you have caring and compassion
If that’s underneath, yet you find yourself wanting to control your partner, and wanting them to feel bad and trying to guilt them into submitting, to conforming, and you also know that perhaps your relationship isn’t turning out the way you want it to turn out, then maybe it’s time to look at yourself and figure out what you can do differently, that maybe will give you better results. Because if the results you’re getting now aren’t working, then something has to change.
Sometimes that involves going inward and telling yourself “Well, maybe it’s something I’m doing. Maybe I do need to look at myself and figure out what I can change that can make my relationships better, make me a better person, or at least heal from what I’m holding on to – any anger or hurt I’m holding on to from the past. Maybe there’s something I can do to change that.”
I’m telling you all this because I want to let you know that if you’re listening as the victim of abusive behavior, I want you to heal. I want you to be able to communicate effectively with the people in your life and not be in that state of victim mode anymore.
I want to help empower you so that you can make the right decisions. That doesn’t always mean you have to separate, that doesn’t always mean you stop communicating with the person. Sometimes it means you communicate in a different way. Because some relationships can heal. Some relationships can get better.
I don’t promote divorce. I don’t promote separating from someone, so you never talk to them again. I always try to promote the healing of any relationship first, and if that can’t be done, then you might have to take the next step of separating because someone isn’t cooperating or doesn’t get it, or doesn’t want to change, or work on the relationship because they are so stuck in their ways. And that can happen too.
I’m talking to the victims. I’m also talking to the perpetrators, the abusers, the manipulators, and the controllers. I don’t mean to label you as that I’m just using that for brevity. I’m just using that to say there are people that do this behavior. You might be one of those people that does this behavior.
If you’re listening to the show, you probably don’t want to do that behavior anymore. Or you’re like the person who wrote to me, which I’m going to read right now, and we’ll go over it. This person wrote… what did he write? I’m going to read it word for word:
You are not a qualified professional. He says, “All your advise are based on your own experience. Every case is different. Your ego is too big, constantly reminding you how good you are and how bad you were. No need for the pity card.
“Because you couldn’t change and save your relations. You expect that to be the case for everyone. You are wrong again. You are not a professional, and you should leave this to those that are. You have a nice voice, please find another business, as you are hurting more than helping.
“Sad to see so many people trying to help and making a business of it. But, in fact, they don’t help and are a danger for others. Share your experience if you like, but please don’t tell people what to do.
“You are not qualified, and you measure everything through you. Please stop doing damage.”
There it is. There’s the message I got. The first thing I always say to anyone who writes to me and doesn’t like me is, “Thank you.” Seriously, thank you. Thank you for sharing this. Thank you for expressing it because there is either hurt or anger or something inside this person that needs to come out.
It comes out in words that can be hurtful to someone. When I read this, of course, it doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel good to read this. It’s like, “Oh, no, I have been doing this for free for like seven years just trying to help people, trying to give them new tools…” and somebody comes along and says this. It hurts.
If that was the goal, you succeeded. At the same time, I appreciate you sharing this. I really do. I’m not being condescending because I would rather have you share this than hold it in and take it out on someone else or be hurtful to someone else.
I’d rather have you share that with me because I’ve done a lot of healing. I’ve done a lot of personal growth. I’ve done a lot of reflection. I have been depressed, I’ve been anxious. I’ve been through all that. I’ve been through the healing, and I’m not trying to boast or brag I’m just telling you, I’ve been through a lot. So when I receive a message like this, it doesn’t affect me like it used to.
It doesn’t come at me and ruin my entire day. I still feel it, though. I still feel the intention behind the message, which I would like to break down and talk about.
Again, I’m fully transparent on the show. if you really have something to say to me. If you are hurt by something that I said, I want to hear about it, I want to talk about it. I want to get it out in the open, let’s put it on the table. Let’s just discuss this. I want to be open with you.
The person wrote, “you are not a qualified professional.”
When somebody says that to you, they’re trying to tarnish your reputation. They’re trying to make you think about your own qualifications, and perhaps you should feel like an imposter because you’re coming on the air acting as the authority and you’re telling people what to do. I mean, that’s what I’m getting from this.
I may be wrong. I mean, he may have another thought in his head, and I don’t want to take that away from him. But the way I read this since I received this message, this is my interpretation, the way I read this is that he wants me to go inward and question my own credentials and my qualifications.
He also doesn’t say, what qualifies me. Does a Ph.D. qualify me to talk about toxic relationships? Maybe that’s what he’s looking for? I don’t have a Ph.D. I’ve said that on the air before. In fact, I’ve been honest about all my qualifications on the air before. But what I get from this is that he’s trying to put me on the defense again, trying to make me feel as if I’m not qualified to talk about this.
What do I say to that? “Hey, you may be right! You might be 100% right. I might not be qualified to talk about this.
Yet, I’m gonna come on the air and tell you my experience and tell you what works for me, tell you what works for my clients. But for this person, maybe I’m not qualified. Maybe there are things that I talked about that I don’t have all the information for, that I don’t have enough expertise in.
I’m perfectly willing to accept that. Yet I get hundreds of testimonials saying all the time, how much I’ve helped people, so I really have to just go by feedback. I mean, of course, I got certified as a coach many years ago. I’ve done many, many years of study. I’ve been through training, and I’ve received other certifications. But I’m not a Ph.D.
To tell you the truth, I actually wanted to become a therapist about ten years ago. I looked into it. I decided not to. Maybe that makes me a loser, I don’t know. But when I decided not to, I realized that having a Ph.D. actually limits my ability to speak about some of the stuff I talk about on the air because there are actually licensing requirements in different states. And I might be restricted from sharing certain pieces of helpful information.
I’ve tried to have Ph.D. therapists on my show many years ago when I took guests, and some of them wouldn’t come on. Some of them said they couldn’t talk about what they talk about because they need to be in a closed environment with a paid client. That’s why I start every episode with “Please seek a professional for any medical or psychological advice.” Because that’s not what you’ll get here.
You’ll just get my opinions and my experience. I’ve been doing this for years and I get a lot of good feedback. Quite frankly, I want you to be discerning. I want you to hear someone like me and ask yourself, “Is this guy legit? Should I listen to this person?”
I want you to do that. To the person who wrote that message to me, I want you to do that. Absolutely. If I’m not good for you, then stop listening to me.
That was the first line of the message: “You’re not a qualified professional.” Not sure what he’s saying that qualifies me. Maybe he wants me to be a therapist? I’m not, and I don’t claim to be. I’m pretty proud of my accomplishments over the years.
The second thing he says is, “All your advise are based on your own experience.” I think what he’s saying is, all your advice is based on your own experience. “Every case is different.”
I don’t disagree. I think that’s 100% accurate.
“Your ego is too big, constantly reminding you how good you are, and how bad you were.”
I don’t know You may be right. I don’t know what to say about that. If my ego is too big, well, here I am reading this message to you so you can decide if that’s true. If you believe my ego is too big, and that bothers you, then I would certainly stop listening.
I don’t think my ego’s too big, but maybe that’s my ego talking. But I give you the freedom to say that to tell that to me, and if you feel like I’m just swimming in my ego over here, then maybe I’m not the right person for you. I don’t see it the same way, but I certainly welcome your opinion on that.
He says, “…constantly reminding you of how good you are, and how bad you were.” Oh my god, I don’t think I’ve ever said how good I am. I think, in fact, I say I have a lot to learn. When I was talking about judgments on my judgment episode, I had to do a lot of healing around judging other people.
But I also know that those judgments still sneak up on me. They do. I am not perfect. When these emotional triggers come up, and I feel like judging someone or putting someone down, or feeling superior, I have to check-in with myself.
So yes, perhaps my ego is still playing a role there. I absolutely believe that you should check in with yourself when you have these emotional triggers come up and tell yourself, “Hey, you need to look at this. You need to reflect on that.”
By saying, ‘constantly reminding yourself how good you are and how bad you were.’ I mean, I did do bad behavior. I was emotionally abusive in the past. I don’t know if I need to remind myself or you of that, but I say it just in case you’ve never heard my story before, or you’re a new listener, and you’re wondering who what this guy is all about. Maybe this is what you need from me, but I don’t think it’s to fill my ego.
Then he said, “No need for the pity card.”
I don’t know what to say about that. I’m not looking for pity. I’m just out here helping. I’m just out here providing information, and if you benefit from that information, great. But I don’t think I’m looking for pity.
The next thing you said is, “Because you couldn’t change and save your relations.” I think he means relationships “You expect that to be the case for everyone. You are wrong again.”
Well, I don’t expect anything. I just hope that somebody learns something and takes it into their life and they have a great tool that they can use. They get better, they feel better, and they’re happier.
I don’t expect that to be the case for everyone. In fact, some people are going to be able to save their relationships, some people are going to leave their relationships. I didn’t think I was right about that. That statement just doesn’t make any sense to me. But again, thank you for expressing it.
The next one is, “You are not a professional, and you should leave this to those that are.”
Again I’m not sure what he’s qualifying as a professional. If it’s a Ph.D., then absolutely tune into a podcast by a Ph.D. or seek a professional as I say at the beginning of every episode. I don’t hide that. So absolutely find the right person for you.
The next one, “You have a nice voice.” Thank you! “Please find another business, as you are hurting more than helping.”
I don’t know what to say about that. I get hundreds of testimonials. I get hundreds of people writing me letters saying how much the show has helped. You can go to https://theoverwhelmedbrain.com/about/testimonials/ and see what people have written.
Every time I get a new message, I throw it up on the testimonial page. Of course, you might say, “Well, they’re all positive. Of course, you’re only going to post the positive ones.”
Well, to that, I say I read the negative ones on the air. This is what I’m doing now. This just sounds like he’s trying to make me feel bad about myself. He’s trying to put me on the defense. He’s trying to make me feel guilty, I’m not sure.
But he goes on, “Sad to see so many people are trying to help and make a business of it. But in fact, they don’t help and are a danger for others.”
I agree. I mean, there are people trying to make a business of talking about mental health and well-being and talking about toxic relationships. They are trying to make a business of it. Some are very helpful, and some aren’t. Yes, some can be a danger to others. If somebody is out there saying, “If you’re depressed, you should drink a lot,” that might be dangerous advice.
I agree. It is sad to see so many people trying to help him make a business of it, when they might, in fact, be dangerous. Though I think he’s implying, “That’s you, Paul! That’s you, you’re doing this!”
All I can say is I disagree. And I respect that you have an opinion on it.
He goes on to say, “Share your experiences if you like, but please don’t tell people what to do.”
I don’t think I do tell people what to do. I think I give them suggestions. I give them my experience and what might work. But I don’t think I come out and say you should do this. Well, maybe I do. Maybe I do every now and then say, “You should do this.” He might be right there, as far as telling people what to do.
He wants me to share my experience, but don’t tell people what to do. Again, I respect your opinion on that. But I have a feeling it’s coming from a place inside of you that may not necessarily be happy with anything I do.
I’m not sure where this comes from. The only thing I could think of is that maybe you do behaviors that I talk about, and you don’t like that and you don’t want to change. Or, you’re offended by me.
If I’ve offended you, I apologize. I definitely don’t mean to offend anyone on the show. I am really here to help everyone that listens, no matter what side of the abuse spectrum you’re on – if you’re the victim, if you’re the abuser, again, just terms for brevity – but I really do want you to heal. I really want you to be happy. I want you to feel better.
And his last comment is, “You are not qualified.” Again, trying to make me reflect on my credentials. And his next line, “You measure everything through you.”
Yeah, there might be some truth there. There’s a lot of stuff that I talk about that I measure through my own experiences. But I’ve worked with a lot of clients for many years. It’s not only through me. It’s through all the people I’ve talked to and what they’ve gone through as well. So, that sentence isn’t 100% accurate.
Then his last comment is, “Please stop doing damage.”
Okay, I won’t do any damage, I promise. I don’t think I am, but this is your opinion. Thank you again for sharing this.
Why am I dedicating a show to this? Some might think my ego is now dedicating an entire show to this to this message.
Well, there are two reasons I’m talking about this today. One, I was hurt when I read this. I’ll be really transparent about this, I was really hurt. It sits in you when you’re hurt. You can feel it. You sit with it. You might think, “What do I do? What do I say?”
I wasn’t so much in that space, like, ‘What do I do? What I say?’ as I knew as soon as I received this that I had to read it on the air. Not to oust him or anything like that. It wasn’t that at all. I just really do want to be transparent about this. I really do want to address this because there are people out there that will feel this way.
My guess is that he probably doesn’t like what I’m saying because it probably affects him in a negative way. Because of that, there might be things that he’s dealing with. Forgive me for saying this, but to the person who wrote this, there might be things that you’re dealing with that you don’t want to face inside of you. There might be a way that you are that you don’t want to change. Therefore, you get upset when I talk about the things that may need healing.
When you have something inside of you that may need healing, and you feel pretty darn good about yourself, then all I ask you is, Are your relationships turning out for the best? Are you getting the results that you want in your relationships?
Because if you are, then you’re right about everything that you said here, because it’s ticking you off, and you’re doing your own thing, and you’re getting the results that you want. And I apologize to you. And you definitely don’t want to listen to the show anymore, because it does sound like I might be harmful to you.
But if you’re not getting the results you want in your relationships, all I ask is that you do reflect on your own behaviors, on your own willingness to look at your results, and tell yourself, “Maybe I’m the common denominator for all these results. Maybe do need to look at something.”
That’s a very, very hard place to go. When I was doing it (this is my own experience again), it was so hard to admit that I could be doing anything wrong.
I thought, “Because they should change. They should conform to me. They should be doing what I want them to do.” I wanted to change the people I was with. I believed, “If she would only listen to me, we would be happy.” That was my M.O.
“If my wife would only listen to me, we would both be happy.” But she kept feeling that judgment. She kept feeling that pressure for her to change into something that I wanted her to be. I just read this the other day in a post given to me by my client, something about “the dream woman”.
She was talking about a heterosexual man having this dream woman in mind. When they first get together, this is the dream woman. Anything outside that perfect view of a woman would crash their reality and cause them to want to control and manipulate the other person to conform to their dream woman.
I’ve seen this a lot. I’ve seen this in my own life. I married my dream woman. When I found out other things about her that I didn’t like, I tried to shape her back into my dream woman. I wanted her to be this perfect person that complied with my vision of what a perfect wife would be.
Of course, that’s going to be pressure. That’s going to be abusive because when you’re trying to change someone else, trying to make them conform, trying to control them so they can’t be themselves, then they don’t feel loved. They don’t feel supported. They’re going to want to get away from you.
Or, they’re going to get depressed like my wife did. She kept getting more and more depressed with me because of the way I was showing up.
When you’re in a relationship, and you’re getting these results, where you think you’re 100% right, and your partner needs to change, that’s what caused the end of my relationship.
But as this person suggests, I’m not looking for pity on that. I’ve done my healing on that. I don’t need anyone to write to me and say, “You poor thing!”
I’m not looking for that at all. In fact, I’ve had somebody write to me and say, “You were a jerk to your wife.”
It’s true! And I laugh when I read that because I’ve healed. We (my wife and I) have a better relationship now than when we were married. I don’t really talk to her anymore. But I know she’s in a great relationship now. She’s happy.
That’s all I want for her. I mean, since I’ve healed, I’ve wanted nothing except for her to be happy. That’s the goal I think with any relationship, “I just want my partner to be happy,” or “I just want my ex to be happy.”
Imagine if you can say that and be okay with it?
“I just want my ex to be happy. If they’re happy, I’m happy. Because I love them so much that I would rather have them be happy without me than be unhappy with me.”
That is a very brave, bold thing to say. When you can come to that place inside yourself, I think that’s really loving someone in a healthy way. I think that’s a great way to look at it.
I love seeing my ex-wife in another relationship happy as anything (as far as I know), and I believe she’s in a much better place than she was with me. I think that’s a great thing that we should want for everyone in our life.
How can we help them be in a better place, whether it’s with us or not?
That’s truly loving someone when you’re willing to support them, even when they don’t want to be with you. That’s so tough. That’s a crushing feeling. I totally get that. I’ve experienced that many times in my life. And when it’s happened in the past, I’ve not been able to handle it well.
I only started being able to handle that when I realized that I was the common denominator of all these problems and I needed to look inward instead of trying to focus on someone else, trying to change them or putting them down, or trying to make them feel guilty, on and on. I’m not proud of any of these behaviors, but they happened, and I can’t deny how I used to show up.
Like this person wrote, “It’s all about your experiences, you can share your experiences, but don’t tell other people what to do.”
Absolutely. Don’t listen to me. Only do what you should do for you. Every situation is different. I agree with this person.
I don’t agree with a lot of what he says. But again, he’s entitled to his opinion. And I appreciate that he wrote to me. And I hope that he’s having the time of his life and he’s happy and that everything is working out for him. And I don’t mean that sarcastically. I honestly mean that because the more happy people are in the world, the happier my world gets.
There’s a little bit of egoistic selfishness in there. I want people to be happy so that I’ll be happy. Yes, that’s in there. It does help when I’m around people that are already happy, that are more fulfilled, that are taking steps that empower them so that I get uplifted around them. They also get uplifted around me because I’m in a good space, and I’m working on myself all the time. No one’s perfect. Everyone has something to work on.
When you don’t believe you have anything to work on, that’s when you should probably look inward. That’s when you should probably reflect. And this works for anyone listening. It’s for the victim and perpetrator in a toxic relationship that points their finger at the other person and says, “It’s all them. If they would change, then I would be happier.”
Ironically, that’s same attitude that comes from either side of an abusive relationship. Both the victim and perpetrator feel the same: “If you would only change, we would be happier.”
It’s interesting how the abusive person and the victim have the same root thoughts:
“They need to change. They need to do this.”
Except one person goes at it by controlling and manipulating. The other person goes at it by trying harder to be nice and trying harder to be kind and more compassionate, trying to change themselves.
The dichotomy exists where one person starts to dominate and become more aggressive, and the other person gets more and more submissive sometimes. Or the other person becomes more drained as they’re trying to comply and do the “right” thing for the other person.
When you’re in a relationship, and you see this dichotomy, you can tell the person who’s really trying to change because they’re asking what else they can do to change, and what they can do to please, and what else can they do to show up in a way that the other person wants them to show up… You can almost always tell the difference between the victim and the abuser when you observe their behaviors.
The abuser might ask, “Why won’t they do this? Why won’t they comply? If they would only just do what I asked. If they would only (fill in the blank)”
That doesn’t sound like an equal relationship. It sounds like an authoritarian relationship where there has to be a dominant person and a submissive person. And when the submissive person does not comply, it upsets the dominant person.
The dominant person doesn’t really care about having a conversation about what can be done to improve the relationship. All they care about is compliance, submission, and making sure that the other person does what they’re supposed to do to make them happy.
That could be “the dream woman,” or “the dream person” scenario where “That person’s not being the who I want them to be. That person is being independent and thinking for themselves. I don’t want that. I want them to think the way I want them to think.”
When you have a loving relationship, that turns into this, it’s very hard to change the dynamic until the abusive person finally stops being controlling and manipulative, and looks inward and says, “Maybe I’m being a little too hard. Maybe I’m being too judgmental. Maybe I’m just not being empathetic. I mean, what if that were me on the other side of this? What if I were being told to do this? What if I were being controlled? What if I were given that glare when I did something that they don’t like?”
The empathy, when it disappears from the relationship (or it never existed), makes the relationship go south really fast.
When you don’t have someone that actually cares and can’t put themselves in your shoes, so they just continue mistreating you or disrespecting you, then it’s time to have a real conversation or a hard conversation maybe. Because if they don’t care, it’s going to be hard to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t care.
I’m going to conclude this episode by the type of communication that you have with each other, with the person in your life or your family or friend, is so important. Words can hurt, or they can heal. Words can make someone feel bad, guilty, and ashamed, or they can make someone feel on top of the world.
How you say something can make all the difference. Saying, “When when you do that behavior, it makes me feel bad. Could you please stop doing that?” gives the other person a chance to respond from an empowered place. That is something that I hope my girlfriend says to me if I do something wrong or hurtful.
What a wonderful gift to give someone:
“Hey, when you do that, it makes me feel bad. Would you please stop doing that?”
If someone I loved said that to me, I’d reply, “Oh my god, I never want you to feel bad. Of course, I will stop doing that. I didn’t know that was a problem. Or if I did, and I was just being a jerk, then I needed to hear that. Thank you so much for sharing that.”
There’s a big difference between that and saying, “You need to shape up. You need to do this behavior or that behavior. And if you don’t do it, you’re a bad person.”
There’s a big difference between those two approaches. I’m not saying either one of these is 100% right either. There are times when you might have to stand up and say, “You need to stop doing that right now.”
Often, the victims of emotional abuse don’t stand up and say something like that. The victims are usually the ones that don’t say enough of that. They just keep getting abused. Whereas the aggressive person, the person who is being controlling and abusive, they are the ones that are going to say things like that.
If the roles were reversed, if they started actually talking the way the other person talked. If they both did it, it might lead somewhere. I’m not giving that as a suggestion, but it is something to keep in mind.
It’s interesting how if an abusive person says, “You need to stop doing that right now,” and the abuse victim says the same thing, they can have two totally different meanings. That’s why emotionally abusive behavior is hard to really pinpoint.
The victim and abuser can say the same thing, but one of them is trying to stop getting hurt and the other is trying to control and manipulate. Same words, entirely different meanings.
This stuff is really hard to pinpoint sometimes because you can have a friend tell you, “When they do this, it makes me feel awful.” And you might respond to your friend, “What? That doesn’t sound so bad.” Yet that friend has to deal with “that” over and over and over again.
You probably know what I mean. If you’re the victim of emotional abuse, you have probably told your friends, or your family, that something is happening in the relationship, and your friend or family member says, “That doesn’t sound so bad. What, he said that? Anyone might say that. That sounds normal.”
That’s when you really feel lost and hopeless because no one understands what you’re going through. If you listen to the show many times, you’ve probably heard me talk about the pattern of emotional abuse as opposed to the one-offs.
Your friends and family typically won’t see the patterns of the abusive behavior, they’ll only hear what you say happened in that particular moment or time. They’ll think, “Well, that’s not so bad. Anyone would get mad at that, or anyone might say something like that.”
That’s when it’s really challenging to explain emotionally abusive behavior, because you have trouble explaining the pattern. Of course, a lot of the time, the emotionally abusive person is charming, kind, and generous outside the relationship. But inside the relationship, they’re controlling and hurtful. We just have to be cognizant of that, that other people outside of the relationship won’t always see that behavior.
The observant ones will. The people that have gone through it themselves will. But if you’re in a situation where you’re trying to share something with your friends or family that someone in your life is doing, and they just don’t get it, I wouldn’t spend too much time trying to explain it. Because they probably won’t get it.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. I think, yes, you should probably say, “They do this behavior over and over again.” Maybe even give them an example of the behavior like, “Let’s just say that you were me and I was my husband or something. And I did this to you on day one. Then on day two, I did the same thing. And on day three, I did the same thing.”
You might have to run them through that scenario, so that they understand the pattern because, eventually, it’s going to get through to them.
So again, this is if you want to share what’s happening in your relationship with people But if not, keep listening to the show. Keep looking for other resources, or, like the person who wrote to me today, make sure you avoid shows that don’t work for you!
That’s good advice: Don’t listen to shows that don’t work for you. Don’t listen to shows that you think might be dangerous to you. That’s what this guy wrote and said about me. So I want you to make up your own mind. I want you to follow your own path. And I especially want you to focus on what’s most important in your life.
If you are the victim of emotional abuse, and it won’t stop, even if you’ve had the conversation, even if you’re telling the abuser to stop, and you feel bad every time they hurt you, and you just want them to stop, but they don’t stop, then you might need to focus on what you need to do for yourself. You might need to take the next step for you.
I encourage communication first, but if that doesn’t work, then you might have to make harder decisions. You might have to make bigger decisions. If you are the person doing the bad behavior, if you are being abusive, I’ve got one piece of advice for you. I’m going to tell you what to do:
Whenever you’re about to do or say something to the people that you love in your life, I want you to ask yourself a question. The question is:
Am I doing or saying this because I want to control them or change them in any way?
That’s a good question. I mean, I still have to ask this of myself. I make sure that I never go down that road again by asking myself the question every now and then when it comes up:
Am I about to do or say something to my girlfriend that is an effort to control or change her in any way?
I especially ask this whenever I feel emotionally triggered. Whenever I get angry, or whenever I get perturbed by something she does or says, before I respond, I will ask myself “Is what I’m about to say or do an effort to change or control her?”
Because if it is, I have to back off. I have to go inward. I have to ask myself, “What do I want? Because I know I can’t control her. If I did, it would drive her away. What do I want for myself? What’s important to me?”
If it really bothers me that much, I can certainly say, “When you did that, it bothered me. Can we talk about it?”
I think that’s a fair question for anyone. “When you did that, it bothered me. Can we talk about it?” Hopefully, her answer would be like, “Of course, what happened?”
Or she might be angry: “No!” But it’s still a fair question, regardless. Hopefully, she’ll want to talk about it. We’ve always been able to talk about everything, which I think is important.
But ask yourself that question: “Is what I’m about to do or say an effort to control or change that person?”
When you say no, then you are coming from a place deeper inside you, about you, instead of wanting to shape or mold someone else into the person you want them to be.
When you allow someone to be who they are, they want to be with you.
When this happens in a healthy relationship, when you allow someone to be exactly who they are, an autonomous, independent person who loves doing their own hobbies and has their own likes and dislikes… When you allow someone to do that, without giving them any grief for it, without judging them, they’re going to want to be around you more and more. The reason for that is people love people who let them be themselves.
I’m going to end this here. Again, I want to thank this person for writing. I hope you don’t stay mad at me. I hope you don’t stay upset with me. And if you really can’t stand me, then definitely don’t listen to me anymore. And I’m sorry for anything I said that offended you.
For everyone else that listens to this show, I appreciate you. And I am grateful for you.