Have you ever felt that you don't think much of yourself and that you have trouble understanding how you feel emotionally?
Has anybody ever condemned you about the way you have felt, think, or wanted?
Has anybody ever shut you down when you talked about a topic you are interested in to the point where you have decided to not talk about anything you cared about?
Has anybody made you feel that you were insignificant, a slave and/or just around to please them?
These are some of the symptoms of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is difficult to understand because nobody can see the scars and victims have most likely switched off their capacity to feel so they can't understand what is going on, even though they know something is not right.
Victims usually like to think that the emotionally abusive partner doesn't understand what he/she is doing and it isn't their fault. But, they do know exactly what they are doing. People who bully have a very sound cognition so they are aware of what they are doing and the consequences. Their threats are designed to shut you down, so you are under them. Their aim is to feel better about themselves by making you feel worse.
The partner of the emotionally abusive person will also find it hard to talk to anybody about the situation because usually the perpetrator seems like a wonderful, helpful person outside of the family home but has a completely different character inside the home.
Victims who are in emotionally abusive relationships also think that their partners love them deeply. They also feel that no body else will ever love them the same. So they stay in the situation, because that is all they know.
If you are in this situation, learn to love yourself like nobody has ever loved you before. Learn to feel again, learn to get to know yourself (probably for the first time) and learn to discern.
I say discernment, because victims will most likely become naturally submissive and it will take effort to discern fact from fiction. If the victim gets out of an abusive relationship and finds another before they learn to discern then they will most likely be another candidate for an emotionally abusive person.
If you are the emotionally abusive partner, then learn to love yourself also. Learn to feel on the inside so you will understand what your partner is feeling. People who become abusive are usually lacking self-esteem, although very smart, and has not yet had the chance to understand who they are. Therefore they spend their years criticizing other people so they feel the same way as the perpetrator.
Adverse life events can have negative consequences on the mental health and wellbeing, although it can increase strength of the person, meaning that adversity can have benefits (Seery, 2011). Some adversity is better than too much or none at all (Seery, 2011).
The Seery (2011) study examined why some people were able to bounce back through adversity and why some were not. It was found that catastrophising was a cause for maintaining a negative outlook on the event (Seery, 2011). Catastrophising occurs when a person exaggerates an experience or its outcome through negative cognitive processing and not being able to stop thinking about it (Seery, 2011).
Benefits of cognitive processing includes having a positive attitude and seeing the learning experiences through adversity.
Also the Seery (2011) study found that practicing coping resources built resiliency. Coping resources may include meditation, talking to people who have a positive and empathetic nature, and exercise.
Therefore, exposure to stress is more likely to build control and mastery within yourself (Seery, 2011). Resiliency is about learning to be in control of a stressful situation or getting back in control. Learning to build control and mastery after adversity doesn't take away the bad experience, it just means that there is potential to find your strength through it. There is also the potential to learn more about yourself.
5 Ways to Build Resilience:
Bag of coping Skills - Go through your bag of coping skills or if you don't have any explore which ones suit you. Your coping skills may include going for a walk in nature to clean your energy, meditating, talking to positive and empathetic people, or writing in your journal.
Problem-focused coping - It may be your environment that may be causing the adversity which needs to be changed. Therefore problem-focused coping includes fixing the problem that is causing the adversity.
Emotion-focused coping - If you can't change your environment then you may decide to manage your emotions to cope. This may include staying positive, or going for a walk to take a break and feel better. Although emotion-focused coping may be an avoidant strategy that won't take the problem away, but give you space to consider using problem-focused coping.
Have a positive attitude - Attitude is about what you like or don't like. If you don't like your environment, think broadly and examine if your are either catastrophising, thinking negatively, or need to move on as you have outgrown your environment. Having a positive attitude may also include thinking about what is working in your life or writing it down in a gratitude diary to change your negative schema that may have formed from the adversity. Although awareness is the key, as you will have to be aware of what you need to work on.
Stay motivated - Firstly, there usually is a goal that you want to achieve, secondly work out how the stress/adversity you are experiencing is getting in the way. For instance, if it is your work that is suffering as a result from the stress/adversity, then spending time managing/resolving it will help you achieve your goal which therefore enables you to put more energy and enthusiasm in your work. The stress/adversity may also get in the way of your relationships, so your goal may be to learn from the experience to have better relationships. Keeping your goal in mind will encourage you to build resiliency and stay motivated.
Reference: Seery, M. (2011). Resilience: A silver lining to experiencing adverse life events? Current Directions in Psychological Science. Sage, 20(6), 390-394.
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