Tag Archives: Psychological abuse

Sticks and Stones are Secondary

30 Mar

Did you grow up in the era of  “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!”

Childhood memories can be brutal – especially if you were ever accosted by a bully.  It didn’t happen more than a couple of times to me, but I remember yelling these words hoping the bullies chasing me would somehow get tripped up by some magical force that the words conjured up! They never threw punches, but the unkind words they flung could be far more damaging.

“Ugly duckling!”  “You look like a boy!”  “Pigeon toes!”  Words thrown in haste that decades later, for most of us, can still sting.

Names and words can be powerful weapons that can inflict pain, rejection or verbal “spanking” of others.  I believe that words can turn into W.O.M. – weapons of mass destruction, and cause widespread damage to whole societies.  (Hitler used words to effectively control a nation and alienate the world.)

I recall the story of a bully whose father caught him taunting the neighborhood kids. As punishment, he made his son put nails into a fence for each name he had yelled.  The fence was covered with nails by the time he was finished, and the father talked to his son about the damage he was causing.  The son recognized the bad behavior and promised to stop bullying.  When a day that passed without name calling, the father allowed the son to remove some nails from the fence, until it was finally clear of nails.  The lingering message came on the last day when the father showed the son the holes that remained in the fence.  The son then realized the lingering damage of careless words.

Today, many parents refrain from corporal punishment (physical spanking), but fail to recognize the harm they inflict by the verbal spankings they unleash with their words.  (It is oft quoted that children hear the word “no” around 67,000 times by the time they reach the age of two, and the word “yes” far less!)

What is worse – physical or verbal abuse? 

If you believe the opening line of this post (sticks and stones…), you may not agree that words and tone can cause damage.  But I would bet that unless you have the most confidence and the most wonderful parents in the world, you probably still cringe when you recall harsh words of grownups from your past.  Why do we convict those who use physical abuse as their weapon and not those who use words to the same effect?

This week, a new documentary called “Bully” opened in select theatres across the country.  The filmmakers chronicled the life of a teenage victim, in the hopes of raising awareness and curtailing bullying in schools. I agree that it is time we take action to stop school yard bullies so that all children can concentrate on learning (a good strategic move for our nation!)

Next steps…

Maybe the next step after that will be to face the less obvious, but sometimes worse, cyber bullying and verbal abuse.  But, first, we as adults, need to stop and recognize the power of words to cause harm.  Guilt, shame, rejection, and embarrassment… these are but a few of the emotions we can stir up with pointy words.  We would never poke someone’s eye out with a stick, but we don’t think twice about stabbing them with words.

(Sidenote:  sometimes parents even use these tactics on their grown children to coerce or manipulate them into submission.  I’ve seen plenty of examples of this from friends whose parents don’t realize they are no longer children.)   

Perhaps the first step towards healing our societies is to reword the childhood adage… to maybe “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will ever hurt me.”

Just food for thought…

Carol

We don’t “attract” the wrong people…

23 Feb

I am living proof that the Law of Attraction (Think and Grow Rich, The Secret, etc.) combined with The Four Agreements and other philosophies work! My life is moving in the right direction with the right people around me, but my happiness journey has not been without its detours and potholes.  My divorce was the beginning of the journey, although I didn’t realize it at the time.  After a quarter century with a self-absorbed husband, I found myself alone with an out-of-control 17-year-old son (his father was my ex who moved away immediately), a stalled career, and ruined finances.  I could only imagine a better life – and today, just six years later, I am finding happiness.  My son is healthy and thriving, my daughter has found a great career, my career is back on track, I have found true friends, and life is good.

It has not been a “cakewalk” – my journey is ongoing, frustrating (at times), lonely, enlightening, exciting, and disappointing, but I am happier than I have ever been. Along the way, the books mentioned above gave me great insight about life when taken in moderation.  However, with books like The Secret, there are overzealous supporters who believe (and spout) myths about the law of attraction.  Believing these myths can actually set you back in your quest for success and happiness.  I would like to debunk two of these “myths”:

Myth #1: You attract everyone into your life with your thoughts.
Truth #1: The world is like a pile of metal shavings… you attract who you attract based on magnetism

In the same way that you cannot choose who you fall in love with or to whom you are attracted, you cannot change this in others.  Humanity is like a mismatched pile of metal shavings (people in the world), where some will be drawn to you and some will not. I believe that attraction between people is fundamentally physiological – either someone is attractive to you or they are not; it is that simple.   The adage of “people like people like themselves” seems to prevail.

What we CAN control:  We CAN change our attitude and presentation to the world and thereby increase our potential attractiveness to other types of people, but our inner beauty and personal magnetism will not change.  What this means is that no matter how hard we “wish”, we would still attract a motley mix of good, bad, toxic, sociopathic, kind, narcissistic, damaged, wholesome and mottled people into our lives. Magnetism is not selective, but allowing them to stick to us should be VERY SELECTIVE! (If only we could buy mosquito repellant to keep away dysfunctional people!)

What this means to your psyche:  When you meet someone who says that you are attracting the wrong people into your life, remember that attraction is not a choice, but selecting who you allow into your life IS A CHOICE.

It helps me to remember that the people who are in my life (through either blood or they were attracted to me and I allowed them to take part in my life) do not have a lifetime pass.  It is my right (and choice) to end or suspend relationships with people who have become toxic to me — even if they passed the screening and selection process long ago.  Even if they are blood relatives, if they inject poison (through verbal or other abuse), we need to safeguard our emotional health and keep away.  We all have the right to positive influences and people in our life!

While you cannot change who you attract, you CAN increase your screening and selection criteria for who you allow to be in your life.

 Myth #2:  Life is a culmination of everything you manifested with your thoughts.
Truth #2: SHIT happens to good people all the time, regardless of their THOUGHTS

Another “rabbit hole” that trips up people who embrace the law of attraction is that “everything in your life you made happen through your thoughts”.  What utter rubbish!

For example, I can tell you that I NEVER wished for – or even thought about – having emotional abuse in my life.  I also did not wish for years of strife with a teenage son.  Nor did I wish for an aneurysm at age 40!  Moreover, I know that whatever strife you have in your life is probably not something you wished for or thought about.  Crap happens and you did NOT manifest it into being WITH YOUR THOUGHTS!

Certainly, our life is a culmination of our actions and beliefs, but circumstances, events and “shit” simply happens, regardless of how much we wish and pray and want something else.  Yet there are those who believe they can control the world with their thoughts and want to convince you that you can too (hmm… was not there a German leader who managed to manifest his thoughts of superiority into world domination?).

I met one of these such people several years ago and it was a downright “scary” experience.  “Mark” was an organizer of a self-help cult-style weekend called Landmark. (Note, I did not realize it was a cult until I saw their abusive and brainwashing at work.) “Mark”  convinced me to attend the seminar (against my intuition) and promised to make it more affordable by picking me up at the airport.  When I hesitated, he convinced me that this was my “ego” trying to keep me from growing and learning. When the weekend arrived, my flight was delayed and Mark reneged on his promise to pick me up.  I ended up taking expensive taxis because there were no rental cars available.  When I arrived at the site, he had lost my paperwork and I had to spend an hour completing new forms.  Strangely, Mark “justified” his poor behavior and the missing paperwork because (in his words) I made all of it happen with my thoughts.  WOW!  Somehow, I had the power to delay the plane, tie up all the rental cars, and psychically destroy paperwork.  When I laughed at his audacity, Mark insisted that even catastrophes like plane crashes are the result of “a group of people whose thoughts are harmonically aligned to bring the plane down.”  Can you imagine believing in such crap?  I left the weekend knowing that insanity is available for anyone willing to embrace dysfunctional thinking, like Mark.

What we CAN control: It is said that life is mostly attitude combined with your circumstances – but at times of strife, it can become so imbalanced that we lose control.  (In statistics, an “average” is the sum of all the events (good points + bad points + all in between) divided by the number of events.  As such, there has to be some great wins to balance out great losses to end up with an average somewhere in the middle!)

We cannot control the crap that happens in our life – bad things happen to good people all the time – but we can choose how we respond to it.  We can stand around the “pile of burning crap” when it lands in our life and make a choice!  We can watch it and wail that it is awful as it burns stronger… we can step in it and get covered in it (i.e., it can consume us)… or we can grab a bucket of water and douse the flames… or we can do any number of other actions.  The reaction and response IS OUR CHOICE, the burning pile of crap that landed IS NOT.

What this means to your psyche:  Stop listening to people who tell you that your life is the way it is because YOU CHOSE IT to be. This is NOT true and you know it! People do NOT choose to be unemployed or lose their home or have loved ones die… it JUST HAPPENS.  These things happen to good people all the time!  Change the things you can, wish (and envision) a better future, and adopt a healthy attitude.  It will not stop things from happening, but hopefully what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

I am sorry that the crap in your life happens to you… it is temporary and you have a choice about your future.  Life can always be better tomorrow, and even in the darkest moments, all you really have to do is make it through the next 5 minutes…

Have a great week and do the Royal We (me, myself, and I) a favor and stop allowing crap to invade your psyche.  YOU are a good person who deserves happiness.  We can all choose happiness and success – but sometimes the universe has a convoluted way of bringing it to us.

Carol

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