How The Victim Thinker Thinks and Why He Will Never Be Happy

What’s your reaction when someone tells you, “You hurt my feelings”?   There could be two possible reactions: You’re going to be either me-focused or other-focused. That is, if you’re me-focused, you’re going to feel irritated, offended, angry, insulted or—this is the famous one—“picked on.” If you’re other-focused, you’re going to feel compassion for the hurt you may have inflicted on the other person.   If you’re me-focused, several things will ensue:   1. You will never, ever make the person you’ve hurt happy. On the contrary, since you don’t want to hear and deal with the complaint, you’ve probably already forgotten what the complaint was even though you’ve been licking your wounds for having been told you did something wrong. You certainly haven’t fixed the problem.   2. You, yourself will not be happy. By focusing on the pain you’re imagining you’ve received, you have to feel unhappy. By fashioning yourself into a victim, you have compelled yourself to remain unhappy. You may try to escape from that awful victim feeling, but you can’t get too far away from it. Every time you get happy, the little voice inside of you that wants you to remain a victim will be sure to remind you.   There it is: Unhappiness for the person you hurt and unhappiness for yourself.   Now, you can legitimately ask: “But what if I did not hurt that other person? What if she/he is the one that’s playing victim? Why are you making it my fault?”   If you did that, I guarantee you that you are thinking like a victim. A compassionate person...

Emotional Dissociation And What To Do About It

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from the Florida Jewish News There was a spate of books some time ago about women who had been severely emotionally abused and sexually molested as children and grew up with “split personalities.” The Three Faces of Eve was even made into a movie. A well done and true story was presented in The Flock. Milder cases of dissociation are described in Marlene Steinberg’s Stranger In The Mirror.   While a complete barrier to conscious awareness to the extent described in these books is very rare, there are degrees of everything, including the tendency to split off, or dissociate, feelings or information. In fact, disconnecting oneself from painful feelings is rather common. What’s scary about it is the fact that the person doing it is usually not aware that he or she is doing it. That’s a problem. How Prevalent This Problem Is: 1. When going through a divorce, the nicest people frequently can shut down any feelings of compassion for someone who they now consider an adversary, even if they had presumably been in love at one time. When you talk to them about this phenomenon, they deny that’s what they’re doing and tell you they never had any positive feelings for that no-good so-and-so.   2. Mothers who went through all sorts of tribulations to nurse their babies manage to turn off that feeling of connection to those same children six years later when the children get wild. Not only does the mother feel intensely angry, but they often cannot recall or recreate those warm, fuzzy feelings they once had toward their own children....

Controlling People Don’t Know How To Control

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from the Florida Jewish News, January 27, 2006, pp. 16, 22. Abusers are complete wusses. I’m serious. I’ve never met an abuser who knows how to be assertive. Abusers abuse because they have no skills at getting—the nice way—what they want and need in life. All this stuff that abusers are “controlling” is utter nonsense. Let me ask you something. Why do your kids want the Nike sneakers? You know, the ones that they can roll down the street on? The answer is because those darn commercials worked. The commercials got those kids under their control, didn’t they? Isn’t that the same reason you want the Gucci bag? Don’t deny it. You want it because everyone “knows” it’s good. Marketing worked. That, my friends, is control. That is real control. Control happens when someone gets you to do what they want—and you’re thrilled to do it. You want to do it. That’s control. Anything else isn’t. The abusers, on the other hand, don’t have that skill. They wouldn’t know where to begin. The best control is one that you don’t even know is happening. As another example, think of your most cherished beliefs. How did you get them? The answer is that somehow, in a loving and important way, the message of what those beliefs stand for got transmitted to you—and you accepted them. You would die for them. Now, that’s real control. Only it doesn’t feel like it. Real control is pleasant and painless for both parties. Take another example. Take a child who is highly self-disciplined and a hard-working student. How did she or...

8 More Ways To Heal From Abuse

Many people don’t even realize that they were (or are being) abused. But the assumption that the pain will go away is not correct. What is needed is to take active steps towards recovery. This includes a bunch of wonderful tools. 1. The First Tool Is To Discover Yourself The worst part about verbal abuse is that over time, the victim loses track of who he or she is. That sounds weird, doesn’t it? But it is true. Imagine a small child sitting in a high chair being fed. Mom wants that child to eat. Eating is obviously important, so mom says, “Oh, this is delicious, soooo good.” The little child tastes it. Now, one of two things can happen. Either the child decides it is good, eats it, and grins, or the child hates it. The child may spit for the fun of it, so spitting is not an indication of whether the child likes it or doesn’t. (Spitting is actually a develpmental exercise of the tongue and throat and is, to the baby, a brilliant discovery of what great talents he or she has. Although it is annoying to the adult, it seems to be a standard developmental process that you just have to get through.) Suppose the child spits it out and grins. What should the mom do? Mom should put that food aside, end the meal, and let the child go play. Why? Because if the child were really hungry, he or she would have eaten it. The grin indicates a game. But suppose mom is worried the child hasn’t eaten well. Suppose the mom...

Substance Abuse & Family Abuse–They’re Connected

Substance abuse and addictions do not occur in a vacuum. It is not merely the result of vulnerable kids becoming involved with the wrong crowd. If only it were that simple. In fact, substance abuse is more a symptom of the real problem than “the” problem. The real problem falls in one of three categories: abuse, neglect, or failure to discipline. Abuse Physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual abuse will inevitably lead to later scars. Even people who cope well and rise above it are forever hurt by their horrible experiences. For some individuals, the best way to blot out the pain is substance abuse. When chemicals anesthetize emotions, a person can go on with life. There isn’t much quality to that life, but it is bearable. Neglect Neglect does not mean leaving a child without food-although that too happens. Neglect may simply mean being too busy to have formed a relationship with one’s child. My hunch is that Noelle Bush’s history involves this category at least [She is the daughter of former Governor of Florida, caught with drugs]. As children grow, parents become models for them of how to function in the world. Children also discover who they themselves are through the feedback they get from their parents. When the small girl constantly picks out the frilly clothes, her parents may say, “She’s all girl.” Those remarks help that little girl define her personality. Parents who ignore their children not only fail to give this feedback that is vital to their personality development, but instead give a most undesirable message: You are not important enough for us to pay...

7 Things You Can Do To Heal From Abuse

1. Accept The Fact That Everything You Did Made Sense I was once speaking to a brilliant and accomplished woman who had recovered from alcohol abuse. She had been severely emotionally and verbally abused most of her life. Abuse hurts. Sometimes there is only one way to deal with the pain: cover it up in a brain-fog. This woman made a wise statement to me. She said, “Thank God for every drink I ever took or I wouldn’t be here today.” Now, I know that I am talking heresy from the perspective of the recovery program. How could drinking make sense? they would ask. DrDeb, you’re crazy. Everyone knows drinking destroys brain cells. Everyone knows drinking destroys the liver. Everyone knows that hard drugs are even worse. There is nothing good about drinking, they would say. Of course they’re right. There is nothing at all good about drinking. Except if it saves you from dying. It is, indeed, better than being dead. And if, as a ten year old or 14 year old or whatever age you started using substances to avoid the pain going on around you, you didn’t know any better, then it was a blessing. The key words in the above sentence are “to avoid the pain going on around you.” Here is a list, a short list, of the kinds of things that are so painful as to induce a young person to booze it up so they no longer know what is going on: being verbally abused being sexually molested watching a sibling being sexually abused knowing a sibling is being sexually molested being...

Yelling Does NOT Get What You Want

If I had a dollar for every time a frightened woman said, “It’s when he gets a certain look in his eye that I become really frightened,” well, then, I’d be rich. The unconscious mind picks up body language even when we are not consciously aware that it may be threatening. That is why some people make us uneasy: On the surface, they say the right things, but somehow, they manage to convey a vastly different message. Surely then, how very uncomfortable we feel when someone overtly and obviously uses scary body language. Scary Faces So how many ways can someone make a face that is frightening: angry eyes grim mouth baring teeth taut muscles or tendons at the neck or forehead flaring nostrils And that’s just the face. How about the voice? There are harsh tones, there’s yelling, and one little girl (correctly) pointed out that there is a difference between yelling and screaming. Which do you think is worse? Why? See what I mean?–You do know the intricacies of body language. And then there is the rest of the body: Tense muscles, rapid heartbeat, sweat. A lady once told me that even when her husband is joking she knows that he is angry if his neck gets red! Which proves my earlier point that a “joke” is frequently not a joke. High-Conflict Men Here’s a fascinating piece of information: Neil Jacobson, a brilliant researcher for decades, put all kinds of monitors on men who were in his lab having conversations with their wives. These couples had volunteered for the research because the men were verbally abusive. What...
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