There are times when you want to share what you learn on this show with an abusive person, but is it the right thing to do?
This show articulates emotionally abusive behavior in a way that almost anyone can understand, but if the abusive person doesn’t want to change or doesn’t think they need to change, is sharing this show and other helpful material with them a good idea?
(The following podcast transcript has been modified for easier readability and to benefit the Deaf and hard of hearing)
Today’s show is the result of a struggle that I’ve had regarding a question on my mind, and on the minds of many people that listen to shows and read material like this, which is something you may ask yourself:
“Should I share the material that I hear on this show (and other places) with the abusive or hurtful person? Should I share this content with the person that’s controlling or manipulative?”
This question has come up many times. I’ve received quite a few emails. I’ve had people reach out to me and ask a variation of that question:
Should I share this with my partner?
Should I share this with my mother?
Should I share this with the person that is being hurtful toward me?
I’ve struggled with this because I do create this show for anyone to listen to on either side of the emotional abuse spectrum. Meaning, the victim of emotional abuse can get a lot from this show. But I also think the perpetrator of the emotional abuse can also get a lot from the show.
The struggle for me has been on whether you should share this with the abusive person. I will say this, my initial thought regarding this was, “Yes, share it. And have a discussion on it. And try to work through things and try to figure things out. Maybe you’ll get somewhere. Maybe you’ll reach a new level of understanding with each other, especially if you feel the other person doesn’t understand the level at which they’re hurting you.”
So my initial thought is yes, it would be a good idea to share this but be aware that they may not take kindly to it. They may not like that you’re sharing this with them. But this material does help you articulate what’s happening in your life with the other person if you’re experiencing this side of the coin, where someone is mistreating you or hurting you or disrespecting you or doing something that doesn’t make you feel good. So, you probably want to articulate to them how they’re doing it and what they’re doing but you may not have the words to do that.
I work with people and talk about this stuff all the time. I come up with the words to articulate what might be happening in your life. It would seem like a good idea to share this with somebody who you want to express to. You want them to understand what they’re doing to you and the reason you’re so affected by it. It makes perfect sense on paper to share something like this with them because it will help you express what’s happening.
However, the person doing the behavior, A: May not think they’re doing anything wrong. And B: Might actually use what they learn on this show against you.
This can happen with a person that doesn’t think they need help and isn’t looking for it. This is where you have to be really careful. I think you should be really careful about what information you share with the person that might be in your life that is causing you grief or harm.
I teach you all kinds of empowerment tools and knowledge on this show to help you understand what’s going on and become more independent and less dependent on the person doing the bad behavior. The more dependent you are on the person doing the bad behavior, the more control they have over you.
That doesn’t mean you should just drop all your dependencies, it just means you need to look at the areas of life that you are most dependent on another person and gauge whether they use that dependency against you or not.
For example, there are some people in relationships that depend on the other person for most, if not all their financial needs. If you don’t have the money, then what do you do? You might have to depend on someone else to do that. If that someone else is abusive, then they use that dependency against you.
I talk about that. In The M.E.A.N. Workbook. There are several areas of life where you might be dependent on someone. And the more dependencies you have on that person, and that person is also doing bad behavior, those dependencies will be used against you.
It’s sort of like someone I know, right now, who is just starting to make his own money. He’s been dependent on his dad for so long, but his dad has been emotionally abusive all his life. This kid is really learning how to get out into the world and get away from his dad so he doesn’t have to be so dependent on him because that dependency allows his dad to continue to be harmful to him.
This dependency exists, which means this kid has little control in his life unless he makes his own income. I’m sure there are a lot of people that are relating to this right now. What are the dependencies in your life that are being held against you, in order to control you?
This is where you might have to reconsider having those dependencies, which is not easy, and it might feel impossible, but wherever you are most dependent is where you need the most work. Yes, there is probably harmful behavior going on in some relationship that you’re in, but if you have any type of dependency, that harmful behavior is usually amplified through that dependency.
I want you to just be aware of any of those dependencies that you have. This can come in any form. It can come in the form of money, it can come in the form of love. It can come in the form of family. If you think, “I have to have family”, that could be your dependency; “If I don’t have family, then what do I have?”
But that family could be abusive! We have to be really careful how much value we put on our dependencies so that we don’t get stuck in a toxic situation. Sometimes those dependencies can work against us and sometimes they are purposefully used against us. Just be aware of that and take inventory of your life and where your dependencies are to help you figure that out.
Coming back to what I was saying about sharing this show, sharing resources like this with the person that might be hurtful or abusive in your life, you want to be careful because they can use this information against you. If I tell you how to be empowered and if I tell you the right things to say, or at least something that helps you honor yourself, and that person hears what I’m telling you to empower yourself coming out of your mouth, they may just say, “Oh, you’re listening to that Love and Abuse guy again. This isn’t you, this is him.” Or they might say something more abusive, like, “Ever since you started listening to that show, you’ve been nothing but a jerk or a bitch.”
They could make you feel bad by simply redirecting what you said, pointing it back at you, and saying that this right thing you’re doing is wrong. So you have to be aware of that. Again, I know there are some of you that relate to this very well.
Then there’s the other aspect of Do you give a helpful resource to someone that doesn’t want it and isn’t looking for it? I started addressing this earlier. Do you give someone that doesn’t want it, doesn’t think they need it, and isn’t looking for it, a resource like this to help you convey or express yourself?
The problem is when you do that, if they’re not looking for it, they don’t want to change. They don’t want to get better because they think they’re right.
That’s kind of an unfair statement. I know it is. Because I know there are people that listen to this show that are on the other side of this coin. I know there are people that listen to this show to try to understand their own behavior. They have written to me and they say, “I am an emotional abuser, and I want to change.”
I get these letters. There is hope! There is a lot of hope for people like this. There are people who recognize this behavior in themselves like I once did many years ago. Back then, I started recognizing some of these behaviors in myself that I could say I almost hated. I did not like myself. I didn’t hate myself, I just hated the behaviors.
When I discovered my own behaviors, I wanted to change them because I realized how bad my behavior made my partners feel over the years. But I didn’t recognize how bad my behavior made them feel until I recognized those behaviors as being toxic, and learning about which behaviors are harmful. I did that by asking myself, “If I were that person, how would I feel?” It enlightened me to understand that I needed to change. You could say I became enlightened because I did not want to be that person anymore.
Anyone that that recognizes some behavior in themselves where they say, “I don’t want to be that person anymore,” or “I don’t want to do those behaviors anymore,” that is enlightenment. It’s not the full totality of enlightenment, but it is absolutely a step toward enlightenment or a level of enlightenment that is so important with which to follow through.
I’ve already heard from lots of people listening right now, and those who listen to my other show, The Overwhelmed Brain, that write to me and say, “I am the emotional abuser and I want to change. What do you have for a resource for me?
This has made me realize that not only do I need a resource like The M.E.A.N. Workbook for those experiencing emotional abuse. The workbook is also for the people doing the abusive behavior as well, but it isn’t 100% for the abuser. It is mainly for the victim of abusive behavior, and the one who wants to work with their partner or the abusive person to figure out what they can do better.
The workbook does walk both of you through the process of learning about the behavior, helping you understand which behaviors are problematic, and what you can do to start healing, or if you need to actually go your separate ways. What does that mean and what’s involved with that? The workbook talks about all that stuff.
My point is, I’ve come to realize I need to create a resource specifically for the person that wants to change their harmful behavior, something specifically written for them. That is my next step for the people listening that might be on that side of the coin. There is a resource coming and I will mention it on upcoming shows about how you can learn more about it so just stay tuned for that.
If you are on that side of the coin, where you are the person doing the harmful behavior as I once was, then I will share my process of how I healed from it, got past it, and what you can do to heal and get past it too, so that you can start changing your ways and no longer want to control other people.
In a nutshell, healing from abuse comes down to focusing on yourself, and what you can do inside of you to heal. Of course, that’s the simplistic explanation. It’s so much more than that, but I’ll get into that in a future episode and tell you how you can learn more about that. In this episode, let me answer the original question which is: Should you share this show?
I went back and forth trying to answer that. I’ve talked to clients that are in emotionally abusive relationships and many people that I’m connected with. I’ve asked them the same question. The majority of them said they would not share this with the other person. Most said they wanted to keep it a secret because they wanted it to be something that they learned about so they could be empowered.
Most wanted to have the knowledge for themselves; Not to hide it from the other person, but so there would be no interference from them. They didn’t want the other person affecting their progress in learning about themselves and healing.
Much of the process of getting out of an emotionally abusive situation is internal. Much of it is understanding yourself, going through an internal healing process so that you show up differently so that you aren’t such a target for their control, abuse or manipulation. You want to understand your dependencies. i.e. How dependent you are on certain people for certain things. And if these people are doing bad behavior, you need to know how they use those dependencies against you.
A resource like this has a lot of good information for people on the victim side of abuse – the person receiving the emotional abuse or hurtful behavior. This type of information can become sacred to them. It can become their own thing, like a safe place they can always go to and know that it is meant for them.
If the other person, the one who isn’t ready to change, who doesn’t want to change, who doesn’t think they need to change (or heal or get therapy), if that person is hearing the same material as you, how safe do you feel then?
The goal of most people that might share information like this with the harmful or hurtful person is to help that other person understand what they’re doing to them. But your efforts may be pointless if you try to express how their behavior is hurtful but they still don’t care enough to change. Many don’t see that they should change, or they don’t believe that they’re even hurting you, even though you might be crying, depressed, or feeling down. Or they see that you’re feeling down but it doesn’t faze them enough to realize that maybe they should try to help or do something differently.
The sad truth is that some people are not ready for this kind of information. They’re not even at that level to want to hear anything that I or anyone else would have to say on this subject because they’re not in a space of learning. They’re in a space of wanting to control. Some even feed off of hurting you for some reason. That might be where they are right now.
Or they still have a lot of fear. Most perpetrators of abuse have fear running their life, and they fear so much they have to control you and the environment they’re in. If they control all these things then they don’t have to face their fears. This is why I’m telling you to lean against sharing.
I know some people have already shared this podcast or material like this and I absolutely recommend you share this with people that need it, but if the person that is harmful to you or toxic in your life isn’t asking for help, they won’t be ready for this kind of information.
If they’re not telling you they can’t stop hurting you but they want to and they’re saying that on their own without any coaxing or convincing from you, then absolutely, it sounds like they’re ready for this information. At that point, they may be open to learning and healing. They may want to get better.
If that’s the case, by all means, share away. But if they don’t want to get better because they don’t think they need to get better, and they don’t think they need to heal, and they don’t really believe they’re hurting you and perhaps you’re just hurting yourself so maybe “you’re the problem”, and they claim to have no problems, then don’t share this podcast.
I don’t think you should share it if they don’t believe they’re doing anything wrong. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to them and tell them how they’re affecting you, but I don’t recommend you say, “Listen to this. This is what you’re doing” because you might get worse results.
If you already have shared this, don’t worry because when I create this show, I know who’s listening. You are listening. The people that don’t want to change are listening. There are also people listening that are looking for loopholes. They’re looking for ways to help them keep their control and manipulate in ways I haven’t addressed yet.
There are people that don’t like me, or that don’t like me spreading this information because it removes their control from the relationship. They want to continue being in control. I’ve heard from those people. You’ve heard me talk about them before. Sometimes they reach out to me and they’re not happy. I realized when I created a show like this that all of the above exists. I know I’ll reach all types of people with this show. Because of that, I talk to all of the above. I don’t exclude anyone in the show.
I want people to have great relationships. I want you to be in a relationship with someone in your life, whether it’s a friend, family member, or romantic partner, that you can enjoy talking to. And when something happens and someone is misbehaving or treating you badly, I would hope that the person acting badly would access their empathy and compassion and says something like, “You know, I probably shouldn’t do that. I don’t want you to feel bad, I want you to be happy.”
Love is supporting the other person’s happiness. When you love someone, you want them to be happy, even if their path isn’t in alignment with yours; even if they don’t want to walk down the beach in the same direction holding hands with you. They may not be on the same path as you. You may not be on the same path as them, but you can still love someone and support their path to happiness, even when it doesn’t align with yours.
That applies to everyone. That is for the all-of-the-above crowd. It’s for anyone that listens to this show. I think the most powerful thing you can do for anyone is support their happiness in any way you can because people who feel supported want to be with you. Period.
People who feel supported by you want to be with you.
People who don’t feel supported, and they feel chastised or belittled, or judged, or disrespected, or put down, or insulted, or offended, or yelled at, they don’t want to be with the person doing that to them. Or at a bare minimum, they don’t feel loved or cared for. And they probably aren’t happy.
Happiness comes from many places, but when you’re with someone who really loves, supports, and cares about you, and wants you to follow your dreams, and will do everything they can to help you, and will talk about the compromises and try to find balance, those are the people that you can work with. You’re not always going to agree but at least you’ll have the conversation without feeling like you have no say at all. We do have to be diligent about who we allow into our life that doesn’t support our happiness or doesn’t support the path we’re on.
If they’re making all the rules and those rules don’t benefit you but they benefit them, then it can appear there is no support coming your way. You won’t feel the love and you’ll feel perhaps like you’re being controlled. Or if you have all these dependencies on the other person, then the happiness wanes. It dissolves. It’s very hard to find happiness when all these other variables exist.
In a roundabout way, I hope I answered the question about should you share material like this or not. I really believe that the person that you believe should hear this stuff to help you articulate how you feel and what you’re experiencing needs to seek help on their own. If they’re looking for resources on how to stop being emotionally abusive, my show will likely show up in a browser search. I wrote an article that shows up at the top of Google when you look for the inquiry, “How do I stop being emotionally abusive?” Likely, you’ll see my article called “My Healing Journey from Being an Emotional Abuser” right at the top of the search results.
But the person doing the bad behavior has to want to change. They need to be actively searching for content like this, showing you that they are serious about wanting to help themselves. It has to be a self-initiated thought process that can’t be drilled in their head. It has to happen out of empathy and compassion for you. It has to come from a place of them wanting to heal. They need to do it for themselves.
If that doesn’t already exist in them, then sharing something like this is going to be premature. I just don’t think it’s going to work out. I’m not saying it can’t as there are probably some people out there that it absolutely will be helpful to, but you need to hear the call. You need to know they really want help, that they really want to change and will do anything they can to work on themselves.
When you hear or see this from them, then yes, it might be a good time to share this with them. If you already shared this show with them before listening to this episode, and that person is listening now, know that I care about you too. I really do. I’ve been in that situation.
I’m not saying that you and I are the same or that we have the same issues. I’m just saying that if you are listening to this show because you were asked to, or you’re being forced to, I promise you this isn’t all about blaming you and putting you in the hot seat and telling you that you’re wrong. It’s not that at all. I’ve been through the process. I’ve been a person I didn’t like and I didn’t want to be anymore.
When you’re willing to finally say, “Okay, I’ll take a look at myself and I’ll do the work. And I’ll do whatever it takes to heal through this because maybe there is something that I could probably do differently…”
If you’re willing to do that and you follow through with it, your life gets better. I know this because I’ve been through too many relationships where I was never happy. They all broke up with me so I finally decided that I was the common denominator for all those breakups.
In that moment I made that decision, when I took responsibility for all the breakups and took responsibility for my role and my behavior, my life changed. I stopped walking around with emotional triggers. I became happier! I didn’t feel the need to control. And all the pressure to control was gone.
Do you realize what it feels like to walk around with no pressure to want to control someone else? It is liberating! It feels so good. If you’re a person that has been accused of bad behavior, or you know you’re doing bad behavior, or you don’t know you’re doing bad behavior but were asked to listen to this show, I care about you too. I care about anyone going through this because there are many facets of a relationship like this.
There is the person receiving the bad behavior and the person doing the bad behavior. Sometimes they look at each other and feel the opposite. The person doing the bad behavior may think the person receiving it is doing the bad behavior, and vice versa. Many of us carry perceptions like this around. These perceptions can really keep us in our box and make us think that we’re right.
All I can say is if you’ve been told to listen to this show and you aren’t accessing your empathy or compassion to understand how the other person feels, then you may be probably a little closed-minded. You may feel like you’re not doing anything wrong and you don’t need to listen to this, but if you don’t access that empathy so that you can really connect with their tears and how hurt they are, if you don’t go into that space of empathy and actually experience that yourself, it’s very difficult to get on board with the idea of change.
I’m talking to several different people in this particular episode, but I wanted to make sure that I covered all of this because there are people that tune in for many reasons. I want you to heal and I want you to have the best relationships possible. I believe what I teach on this show is a helpful resource for anyone that listens.
At the end of every episode, I always say “Share this with others that might benefit.” However, now that I’ve thought about this, I want to clarify that I want you to share this with others that might be going through emotionally abusive situations themselves, or with someone who wants help, because those are the ones that are ready to listen, ready to heal, and ready to move into a new phase of life.
I’ve heard from people that have gone through the workbook and listened to the show and said things like, “We worked on our relationship and our lives changed for the better.” They’ve told me that their results were amazing.
But I’ve also heard from people that told me nothing changed. The person behaving badly was still behaving badly. The person receiving the bad behavior learned a lot, but they didn’t notice any change in the other person, even after telling them that they were being hurtful. People in that situation might not be able to make changes in their life yet due to circumstances like this.
Like I always say, share this with others that might benefit, just maybe not the person who’s doing harm to you and isn’t trying to stop. They probably don’t believe they need help.