Standing Up to the Verbal Abuser in Your Mind
For years, I’d been doing my best to recover from verbal abuse. It felt like a part of me had been stolen.
I tried to identify how and when it happened, with little success. It was subtle at first.
I would just notice how a conversation left me feeling weak and full of self-doubt.
Then, there would be obvious condescending remarks brushed off as joking.
In heated arguments the real zingers would smack me across the head, stunning me into submission. I’d never been talked to like that before! Not out loud.
I excused it because everyone says things they don’t mean when they are angry.
After several different relationships and a few controlling bosses, I started seeing a pattern.
What was the common denominator in all of the verbally abusive relationships?
It was hard to swallow. Then, I remember the first time I caught The Abuser in action, inside my head and feeling absolutely humiliated.
All these years, I wondered how I could allow someone else to talk to me this way, with so little respect, so much disgust.
Now, I was realizing the abusive voice was coming from inside me first, not the other way around.
It hadn’t started with these grown-up relationships, it started when I still a young girl.
I had no one else to blame. I tried to blame my dad, but it didn’t work because this was happening in real time. Plus, I knew I would never be able to control or change another person’s behavior.
Plus, I knew I would never be able to control or change another person’s behavior.
I was the one deciding on some level to perpetuate it.
Is it possible that all of these condescending men were just a perfect reflection of how I was treating myself?
The voice in my head was good at convincing me that I was inferior to other people even though, I had more experience.
It was never satisfied with my progress. I was never good enough. Isn’t this how I felt when these men talked to me? Isn’t this how I felt when my dad talked to me?
It still wasn’t about them, though. I still chose to listen to the voice inside when they were not around, which brought it back to me again.
I clearly saw that no one has power over me unless I give that power away.
I always thought taking my power back looked like leaving or fighting back, but this was different.
I just didn’t know what it meant or what to do about it. If I couldn’t change them and it wasn’t about leaving or fighting back, what could I do?
How to Stand Up to the Verbal Abuser
How do we stand up to the Verbal Abuser inside or outside of us? It is the same for both. We stop the cycle of verbal abuse. We stop playing the game by their rules.
- We accept what is happening objectively.
- We acknowledge how we feel.
- We take responsibility for our part in it (not by finding blame.)
- We drop it.
- We make a different choice.
I had to start by acknowledging what was happening and what part of me felt threatened. That is when I found that part that was threatening as well.
Inside each of us is an aspect of the abuser and the victim.
When we can fully accept both of these parts and find compassion for them, allowing them to heal, we can find our power within again.
Then, the outward projection either stops or has less of a pull on us. They can throw anything at us that they choose, but we have a choice to catch it or not.
The Abuser can throw anything at us that it chooses, but we don’t have to catch it. We don’t have to hold it either. We can just drop it or move out of the way.
When we get out of reaction mode, we can decide to move toward what we truly want.
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We can drop in a little deeper and come from our own authentic creativity. First, we have to get out of fight or flight.
We can stop and notice how we feel, before immediately attacking or fleeing.
Just breathing into it can give a whole new perspective and help us see what experience we would rather have.
We can stop to breathe in compassion, acceptance, honoring, and love. This is a more empowering choice.
It is amazing how it can shift the situation into a more positive direction.