Anger: Abuse That Shoots Yourself In the Foot

You’re angry. Boy, are you angry. She didn’t do things the way YOU wanted them. A lot of good that anger’s going to do you. I mean, did you think that because you’re angry, she’s going to say, “Oh, I’m so sorry!” Did you think she will turn to you with eyes full of love and affection and stroke your back? Were you expecting your anger to turn a hostile environment—that YOU created—into the warm, loving one that you long for? Who are you kidding? Oh, did I say these things before in an earlier post? Well, I guess I have to do that again. For all of you who are tired of hearing me remind you that anger is one of the most worthless emotions and we could all do well to leave it at the door, just skip this post. But there was someone out there who needed to hear this again. I just know it. And by the way, repeated anger is abuse. No two ways about it. “Worthless emotion?” you’re saying. “Why? Isn’t it a natural expression of feelings?” Anger may be natural. So is poison ivy. It’s certainly not helpful. It’s decidedly unhelpful. The angrier you get, the more you push away those you love, the more you muddy up the waters as to what, exactly, you want, and the more hostile an environment you create. Everything you want gets pushed that much further away. Is that what you want to do? I don’t think so. Instead, learn to see the world from your partner’s place. How about trying one simple exercise the next...

Compassion Training For Abusers

“Boy, your last post must have been about me,” someone said. “For me, as soon as we’re in an argument, it’s all about winning at any cost. I can be sarcastic, do the put-downs, yell, whatever it takes to win. And you know what? I don’t want to be an abuser any more. What can I do?” I assured this individual that I’ve met so many, many people with this same complaint that I could not possibly have had just one of them in mind. Why We Have To Win The problem is that when the argument begins, people with this issue slide back in time to the fights with their father or their mother, the arguments that escalated into intense power struggles. The only way out of being humiliated, injured (physically, emotionally, sexually or verbally) and lost was to strike back, and if the strike was really powerful and the parent was devastated, then all the pain would be over for the moment, until it would start again. Those original fights were struggles for survival. At least, that’s how they felt. Losing would mean not losing the argument over the topic at hand; it would mean losing their sense of self, their identity, their ability to hold their head up and live one more day. That’s the reason they take over so quickly when people are starting to argue with their partner: Since it’s all about survival, their fight-or-flight mechanism kicks in and the thinking brain disconnects. How can this sudden takeover of the brain be stopped? How We Teach Children To Be Compassionate The answer is compassion....

Stonewalling–Is That A Man Thing?

It is normal to be upset when upsetting things occur. “Normal” doesn’t mean good or healthy, just what is expected under the circumstance. So, for example, someone, let’s call her Caroline, might scream because her husband had been attacking her relentlessly, even waking her up at night to do so. Phil, her husband, might be jealous and that could be “normal” in that it makes sense under the circumstances. His jealousy was a result of his insecurity which was a result of his relationship (or lack of one) to his parents growing up. But all of that doesn’t make it good or right. What Is Stonewalling? What about Ben? Ben is a nice, friendly guy. He’s good to his friends, gives a hand when needed, plays ball with his sons. But when he and his wife argue, he is cold as ice. She can yell at him and he remains calm. Why is that? No, Ben has not had years of meditation or yoga. Ben had a rough beginning, spending nearly all his time at home waiting for the inevitable beating from his father. There was some point his father needed to make and he would hit harder and harder to make it. Although there was no escaping the beatings, Ben learned that he could still “win” the battle of wills if he could somehow let his father know that his point was not taken. The cooler Ben would be, the more furious his father was, and amidst the pain, Ben felt good inside. So for Ben, experiencing pain while being unfazed became a desirable combination. Any threat of...

Is Jealousy Normal?

I wrote a post about someone, Caroline, who was hysterical after her husband, Phil, accused her of having an affair when she was not. He was relentless in his attack, even waking her in the middle of the night to “discuss” it. Her over-the-top reaction was normal under the circumstances. Next, “Caroline” wrote me that she was thrilled to find out that she was normal because her spouse really gave her good reason to yell. Uh-oh. So I wrote another post explaining how I felt about screaming and anger in general. Now “Caroline” wants to know if perhaps her husband is not normal for his jealousy. Why Jealousy Is Self-Defeating Let me be clear that jealousy is not good. It’s not helpful. Not only doesn’t it improve the relationship, but it’s one of those things that creates a self-fulfilling prophesy: It is guaranteed to push away the very person whose love you want. But is it normal? How To Raise A Child To Become A Jealous Adult Let’s take a look at Phil’s early relationships to see whether it would be normal for Phil. Phil grew up with hard-working parents. His mother was a high-powered corporate attorney and his father owned a successful business. There was always a nanny around who made sure that Phil ate and had clean clothes. He was not deprived of toys. He was smart and picked up two foreign languages from his nannys. As a small child, when he saw his parents, he whined for their attention and they brushed him off with cool statements to “grow up.” He never knew what was wrong...

Why Lashing Out Backfires–Even When You Are Right

Last post told Caroline’s story. She was falsely accused, attacked, actually, and awakened in the middle of the night for “discussions” until she finally lost it. I contended that under such circumstances, her behavior was not at all crazy, but normal. “Thank you, so much Dr. Deb,” Caroline [I’ve made up that name] wrote to me. “Now, I feel normal. I was so badly treated, that of course I screamed. Sheesh, anyone would scream.” Not A Free Card And I’m sitting here thinking, “Uh-oh, now people think I just gave them a free card to scream when they’re provoked.” So please allow me to clarify myself. Part of our wiring is to express emotions. It is normal that some of those emotions may include outbursts of hysteria or out-of-control behavior. However, that does not make any of these behaviors good, right or acceptable. Not only that. These behaviors are harmful because they hurt the other person so much, dangerous because they escalate, and self-destructive because they always end up shooting the person who exhibited them in the foot. You’re Helping Youself Lose Your Battle — And The Relationship What I mean is that when you lose it and lash out at someone, it is guaranteed that now you will for sure not get the very thing you wanted. It makes the whole job of straightening out whatever the problem was even harder. That’s because it (1) “proves” to your spouse that the problem is you, not him (or her), (2) makes your spouse angry with you in return, and (let’s have a drum-roll here) (3) it doesn’t even address...

Normal Reactions To False Accusations

This poor woman sat in my office weeping; she thought she was going crazy. We’ll call her Caroline. Here’s what happened: Her husband, we’ll call him Phil, decided that she was having an affair. She insisted she wasn’t, but he refused to believe her. Attacking a person with false accusations is abuse. He started questioning every second of her day; it became a grilling. Not only didn’t he let up, but the stony silence of dinner was replaced after she’d fallen asleep at 2AM with more grilling. Needless to say, Caroline couldn’t readily fall asleep after that. She finally drifted into a disturbed sleep around 5 only to be awakened by her alarm an hour later. In the morning, she came unglued, shouting and screaming. The children were frightened and Phil rushed to “protect” them from their “crazy” mother. This was the last straw. Now fear was added to distress and anger. Fear of losing her children. She called me for an emergency visit. “You’re not crazy,” I told her. “Your reactions are consistent with a person under stress who is deprived of sleep, and who feels there is no exit.” How many people out there think their reactions are crazy? How many of you are worried about this? Being calm in the face of attacks, especially false attacks, is highly unusual. That level of calmness tells me that either a person has been doing yoga meditation all his life or that he is emotionally cut off from his feelings. Now, that would be something to be concerned about. In other words, it is normal to become upset, and...

Verbal Abuse Scale From 8 to 10

This is Part III of the Verbal Abuse Scale 8 – “You S.O.B” This is overt name-calling. There’s no other label to pin on it but verbal abuse. And there is never any excuse for it no matter how frustrated you are and no matter how badly abused you have been by the person you’re giving it back to. 9 – “Nobody would want you” This is an example of a put-down that has the effect of attempting to raise the abuser’s self-esteem. The abuser believes he or she is a nothing so to compensate, he tries to lower your self-esteem. There are many websites discussing verbal abuse and they all have this one tiny point wrong. They claim the abuser wants to control you when he does this. This is incorrect. As you can see from the statement, if he says “nobody” would want you, then “nobody” includes him. If he really didn’t want you, he has no need to control you! This backwards logic even evades the speaker himself. He assures himself that he doesn’t “want” this person, gets a divorce goes to court, and then seems glued to the legal system. Why? Because he’s still connected. He does want her! He thinks he hates her but he cannot let go. The real underlying reason for his statement and behavior is his clumsy and hurtful attempt to raise his own self-esteem out of the gutter. If it’s in the gutter and he can convince himself that “nobody would want” his spouse, then hers must be even lower down than his. This gives him a hair’s breadth of...
Show Buttons
Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkdin
Hide Buttons