Fear…It Rules Our Lives.
None of us can escape the effects of fear. In the Big Picture, most fear death or suffering. However, on a more day to day basis, fear pops up and rules much of our lives at either a conscious or subconscious level. Fear creates a sense of being out of control in some way, and we certainly do not enjoy that sensation
Our fear of rejection, failure, embarrassment and retaliation play havoc in our lives as it snuffs out or limits many of our efforts to stretch, try new things, speak our minds, and allow us to truly feel more "in control" of our lives.
There is a dark side in people, yes all of us. I know, we do not like to think that of ourselves, but really, we have dark and angry thoughts about others. We might gossip and say hurtful things about another person. We might justify and rationalize anything from cheating a little on taxes, driving over the speed limit, and of course cheating in relationships.
Hopefully, many of us have a conscience that keeps that dark side at bay, or at least recognizes the need to pull the reigns in on our behavior when it crosses that imaginary line where guilt. shame or fear of consequences awaits to pounce.
But the reality is sadly evident that not everyone has that degree of conscience. I see so many of my clients suffering from the emotional conflict which leads to anger, which leads to guilt for allowing their dark feelings out as they have been victims of needy, abusive, manipulative or controlling people. That is a mouthful ! But the fact is that many severe anxiety or panic attack symptoms and obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors are symptoms people experience because they do feel emotional conflict in their lives. One frequent source of such emotional conflict is when we allow, yes I said "allow" people to use and abuse us. We feel anger when people do harm to us, but even more so, we often feel anger with ourselves for being suckers, or gullible in the face of the users and abusers.
For many of us, our want for approval and acceptance, our desire for community, to belong, and our need for validation by others causes us to be sitting ducks for those who recognize our adapting, conscience oriented natures.
How can we take control ?
First, realize the truth that not everyone has the same morals and ethics, i.e., conscience.
Secondly, recognize the users and abusers in your life.
They may be the "needy ones",the users, who you know are selfish, self-absorbed, habitually blame everyone else for the ills of the world, but never seem to be there when you infrequently need them.They can make up stories to defend their positions, and come to believe those stories to be true even in the face of contrary evidence. They can be extremely defensive and try to turn the tables on you by using guilting tactics. Do you know anyone like that, hmmm ?
Then there are the "controlling and manipulative ones" who prey on their knowledge that you seek approval and acceptance. They can be charming, and are often quite bright and astute at using shame, guilt and veiled threats as tools to get you to succumb to their wishes. They often try to divide and conquer by saying things to cause you to doubt people in your support system, because they know if they can separate you from the crowd, you are more vulnerable. That's the "divide and conquer game". They can lie without flinching, without as much as a bead of sweat. They come in all different sizes and from mild to severe degrees of evil intent. It may be the stock broker who swindles you, a boss who sexually harasses you, or the full out sexual, physical or emotional abuser.
Most often, the adapting conscience-bound personality types, once abused by this type of damaged soul, will not say anything to their support people for fear of looking foolish and weak. Especially when physical, sexual and emotional abuse occurs, the abuser fully takes advantage of the shame and guilt routine to shut their victims up. One tactic the abuser may play out is to keep repeating the mantras, "You must have really wanted me to do this or you would have stopped me." Or the classic, "Look how angry you feel, look at the dark side in yourself, see, you are no better than I am!" Then of course there is the line, "No one will believe you, and you will just end up feeling shame and guilt for what has happened, so you cannot tell anyone." Finally, and one of the ugliest games, " You will not say anything because you know I would come back and hurt you or others that you care about. So just suck it up !"
So what can we do to protect ourselves ?
Take stock of the people in your life and remember step one and two above. Don't be naive and gullible.
If you are dealing with one of the "needy ones", start setting limits and boundaries as to if and when you interact with that person. You might respectfully approach that person saying that you are sharing what you honestly feel when he or she treats you that way, and then give him or her an example of the behavior that is unacceptable to you. If that person seems to have insight into what you are saying and makes an effort to change, great ! If they repeat the hurtful behavior again, cut it off! They are damaging to your self-esteem. And, that person will not change until they recognize consequences for their hurtful behavior, which seldom happens as too many just avoid saying anything. You may be doing them a favor by at least trying to help them face their sabotaging behaviors. However, don't hold your breath.
Also, make sure you are spending time developing and nurturing other healthier friendships, so your fear of being alone or without friends dose not cause you to allow yourself to be an on-going victim.
When dealing with or recognizing the "controlling-manipulative types," remember…
Document things that are said and done with dates and times and verbatim notes.
Share your experiences with trusted friends and, a counselor, the police. DO NOT GO IT ALONE !
Remember the divide and conquer routine, the tactics to use shame and guilt? The abusers lose their power when you share what you have experienced because they do NOT want to be exposed. You have nothing to be ashamed about, but if you have a support system in place early on, as soon as you recognize who you are dealing with, you are much less likely to be emotionally manipulated by the abuser as you feel the support and are reminded of the fact that you are not alone.
I have sadly dealt with many victims of sexual, emotional and physical abuse. Some of the worst cases have been domestic violence, abuse within families. Many have suffered more severe and long lasting trauma because they did not follow the above advice no matter how I pleaded. I know it is an uncomfortable topic, but to ensure your mental, emotional and physical well-being, you need to realize that the reality exists.
Any thoughts or questions ?
Remember my Blog, www.RuledByFear.com
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