Three Facts About Abusive Body Language That You Probably Didn’t Know

What’s the most ancient form of communication, still existing in full force in the animal world? You got it–body language. Oh, those rolling eyeballs that speak volumes! The nasty piece about body language is that people “read” it unconsciously and only register it as weird when the spoken language and the body aren’t saying the same thing. Let’s take an example: “Oh, sweetie, you can talk to me any time.” Sounds nice, inviting, warm, right? Now suppose someone said that with a frown, or in such an undertone that it was barely audible, or with their nose in a book. Wouldn’t that be confusing? The listener would be forgiven if she or he wasn’t sure if it were sincere. So, suppose someone was saying, “I respect you,” but they were looking bored, eyes cast off at a spot on the floor. What message would the listener hear? Suppose a mother says, “I love you” but her arms are stiff as she holds her little child. Suppose your own true love holds your hand very, very loosely as you walk down the street. Can you see how each of these gestures of the body convey an unclear meaning or one that is the opposite from the spoken one? Here are some rules of words and deeds: 1. If words and deeds don’t match, the listener doesn’t believe the words. In other words, the deeds rule. Usually, the listener doesn’t know why. In other words, the action speaks to the unconscious so the listener doesn’t consciously know what was communicated. He just feels uncomfortable. Or, the listener could come to believe...

What Is The Job of A Soulmate?

If you have wandered around this website, you will notice that there are links to a bunch of other websites all of which represent possible results of having been verbally, emotionally, sexually, or physically abused: substance abuse, borderline disorder, post traumatic stress, and there’s more too. An abused person could become both a victim (say of a spouse or boss at work) and an abuser, say of a child. A victim could turn to eating disorders or even multiple personalities (now known as “dissociative identity disorder”) as a way of hiding from the pain. He or she could just have a bad temper, or the opposite–be emotionally withdrawn–or be depressed, or a not-so-talented parent. Besides substances, a person could become addicted to sex, gambling, shopping, or work. Any possibility goes. One way or another, the soul had to run and hide. Given all that, did you ever wonder why a person marries someone who seems healthy, clean, sober, whatever, only to discover something from the above list lurking underneath? And you wonder: How did I miss it? And when you stop wondering that, you start to go, “Woa! Why do I keep meeting people with all these problems???” Being With Your Spiritual Other Half Here’s my answer: It’s not your fault. It was built into our souls. I’m not kidding. I don’t want you to think that means we are fated to keep making a mistake. In fact, I don’t even think the whole thing IS a mistake. I think the ending can be good, so hear me out. You’ve heard the term “soulmate” before. Did you ever wonder...

Techniques for Fighting Anger Addiction

REPRINTED FROM The Jewish Star Times, p. 16 [edited] What do alcohol and drug abuse, bulimia [gorging on food and then vomiting], and anger have in common? They all discharge tension, bringing short-term relief and long-term agony. They’re all addictions. And they are abuse. And anger is the most common one of all. Who doesn’t get angry? But, like the others, when it comes to solving interpersonal relationships, it accomplishes absolutely nothing. Not for the angry person, not for the listener. The Discharge Of Tension Is Calming It dissipates tension in one mad, powerful burst of energy that –leaves the anger bearer momentarily winded and calm, –the recipient bleeding (either outside or inside; it doesn’t matter which–the pain is the same), alienated and frightened, –and the relationship in tatters. For the moment, the angry person is relieved of stress. For the moment, that person feels much better. That is the seductive pull of anger. That Is Its Addictive Nature That is the seductive pull of chemical addictions too. They all do the same thing. They discharge nervous energy and produce artificial calm. And that calm feeling is so wonderful, so delightful that the addict, the angry soul and the bulimic keep returning to it when stress builds. Returning and fighting, like caged tigers, to keep doing what doesn’t work. Of course we all know that these are merely Siren songs. They don’t achieve calm, peace, and serenity. They don’t resolve the situations that caused the stress. They don’t communicate real feelings. They don’t deal with old wounds. And after the outburst, the anxiety is back. Obviously, because the blowup...

Two Examples Of Emotional Abuse

REPRINTED FROM NATURAL AWAKENINGS MAGAZINE, pp. 30-31 Abuse doesn’t have to be obvious. It isn’t that simple. There are some kinds of abuse that call for a really careful look to detect. But they hurt nevertheless. Example: Never praising. People Cannot Tolerate More Than One Negative Comment If Only Five Comments Are Positive Scientists have actually discovered the ratio of negative comments that a human being can tolerate before his heart breaks and something inside dies with it: 5 good: 1 bad. That’s right. People can not tolerate more than 1 negative comment or criticism in 5 positive ones or praises. So what about that kid who gets nothing but put-downs? What about that family where it isn’t obvious, where there is no foul language and no put-downs? Well, the ratio applies to any negative, any criticism, even well-meant, constructive criticism. If that’s all you hear, whether it’s from your parents or your spouse, you begin to feel like that’s all you are. And you begin to think that that’s all life is. Life is rotten. Because, for those people, it is. Let’s look at some of the ways this manifests itself in emotional abuse: 1. the Blame Game. So let me ask you something: Why do things always have to be someone’s fault? I mean, the dish broke, the car is smashed, the whatever is whatever. Can it be mended again if we just find out whose fault it is? Blame is the surest way to kill any feelings of self-worth in a child. Children who grow up always made to feel at fault suffer intolerably. When everything...

How To Respond To Put-Downs

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from Natural Awakenings, March, 2001, pp. 32-33 “Sticks and stones” are not all that hurts. Knowing what put-downs really are, the damage they do to the soul, how they escalate and how to respond to them will erase the notion that “words can never harm me.” What put-downs really are Let me begin by saying what they are not. Put-downs are not “harmless jokes.” The test of the difference between a put-down and a joke is this: Would the jokester be happy if someone he respected used that very same so-called joke on him? Put-downs are not “constructive criticism.” At a construction site, people are building something. To construct is to build. To give the kind of criticism that is constructive, you must see evidence of it helping the receiver to grow. For instance, when my children were little, they took music lessons. When they hit a wrong note after having practiced long and hard, the teacher would say, “I can tell you have been practicing well.” She would then recite, very specifically, five or so things they did well. Then-and only then-she would say, “Now play that [name of note] again for me.” If it was right this time, she would say, “Do you hear the difference from before?” This helped the child feel good about what was done right and turned the mistake into an opportunity to train the ear. In contrast, “You played the wrong note!” is just plain criticism, not constructive and, “You played the wrong note again. I don’t know what’s the matter with you” is a put-down guaranteed for the...
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