Tell Your Inner Abuser to Get the F*#@ Out
You may not know it, but you may be in a horribly abusive relationship, where you are being subjected to degrading, demeaning comments and sabotaging behaviors every, single day.
Now how could you possibly be in such a dangerous situation without really knowing it?
Because the abuser is you.
Don’t believe me? Then let me ask you something:
Do you dream of a bright, positive future but don’t see how you could possibly achieve it?
Any chance it could be because you keep telling yourself you’re not talented enough, not educated enough, not lucky enough, or worst of all, not worthy of it?
How about this:
Has anyone suggested that you try something to improve your situation (like volunteering to meet new people, joining Weight Watchers to lose weight, seeing a therapist to deal with your depression, exercising to improve your sense of physical mastery, etc.) and you’ve immediately waved the idea away, without even trying it or at least investigating it?
Yeah, well, both of those instances (and a bazillion others that happen to us all day long) are giant red flags that you are saying some pretty destructive things to yourself—abusive things. And those messages take a terrible toll on us psychologically, spiritually, and even physically.
True, like all verbal abuse, it will leave no physical marks on you. But it will eat you up inside. The less threatening changes are things like change in sleep (sleeplessness or sleeping away the day), change in appetite (having no interest in food or eating everything in sight), shallow breathing (not being fully oxygenated), back pain, headaches, and stomachaches.
If it persists, the changes can become even more pronounced. That stomachache can turn into an ulcer. Those tension headaches can morph into migraines. The back pain can become debilitating.
You get the idea.
And that’s just the physical impact of that endless audio tape in your head telling you those horrible things. You already know firsthand what the psychological and spiritual impact is. You’re inside it:
A loss of interest in learning, in growing, in healing, IN LIVING.
So let’s call out the shit that’s on that inner audio tape. See if these ring a bell:
“What’s the point? I’ll just fail again.”
“I can’t do that—I wouldn’t know where to start!”
“I’d never survive _______________(cutting out sugar, going back to school, leaving him, etc.)”
“I’m too _________________ (sensitive, fragile, ugly, fat, stupid, etc) to try something like that.”
Or the most dangerous of all, “It’s all pointless. I’m just unlovable.”
Now, admit it: are any of these playing on your inner playlist?
I could (and probably will) write an entire blog post on each one of these horrible lies, but I’m going to start with the most evil of them:
Let’s put this sucker in its place right here and now: This is a bold-face lie. Period.
You know how I know this? Because it’s predicting your future and no one can predict your future.
Here’s what I mean:
To say “I’m unlovable” really means, “I’ve been unlovable in the past and I will be unlovable in the future.” Translated: I’ll always be unlovable; no one will ever love me, ever, and I will go through my whole life never feeling loved for who I am.
There are so many things wrong with this.
Let’s just tease them apart one by one, because each layer teaches us something important.
At the very basic level, “I’m unlovable” is a lie. You’re stating a “fact” that can’t possibly be proven. You can’t possibly know that, if we paraded you and all your amazing attributes in front of all of the 7.3 billion people on the Earth, every one of them would say, “Nope, can’t find anything there to love.” That ludicrous.
Of COURSE there are thousands of people who would love you, if given the chance! TENS OF THOUSANDS!
I mean, murderers on death row have people fall in love with them! I’m assuming for the sake of argument here that your flaws do not include this biggie. So can you really and truly claim that you are unlovable?
No. Absolutely not.
So today, if this is one of your abusive phrases, every time you slip into that audio tape, pick your head up and say out loud, “STOP. Just STOP.” And then follow up with, “You know that’s a lie, so stop saying it.” I do it all the time, and if I’m with people, I say it loudly inside my head, and I keep saying “Stop!” until the abusive message has finally evaporated. It works like magic.
But let’s go a layer deeper.
Let’s say you correct yourself and instead say, “OK, well, I FEEL like I’m unlovable.” Ah, now THAT may be a true statement. You may indeed feel as if you are unlovable.
So here’s what you need to ask yourself:
- Who taught me that dumb idea? (And it is totally a dumb idea. We are all lovable. We might not feel loved at this moment, but we are all capable of being loved by someone worthy of us.) When did I first start thinking this way? What circumstances was I in when this idea first took hold of me? Sort all of it out, maybe even write it out.
- Even if it might be true that no one currently loves me, if someone WERE to love me, who might that person be? A family member? A friend from your old neighborhood? A pet? Write them ALL down and post that list somewhere prominent.
- Is there anything I’m doing that is making me not like myself? (Hillel once said, “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?” We must learn to be our own best friends. And to be our own best friend, we have to behave in ways that we ourselves approve of.) Are there things you’re doing that are dishonest? Lack integrity? Are unkind? Are abusive to yourself or someone else? Write them down. All of them. No matter how ugly, no matter how shameful. Write them down. Bring them into the Light.
- Which one of these can I improve on today? Right now? How will I go about improving that trait or behavior of mine? Write out the plan. Do you need to apologize to someone? Do you need to face a health or drug issue and see a doctor? Do you need to call a debt counselor or lawyer to start getting yourself out of debt? Do you need to get a therapist to help you make some core changes? (Make sure you read our Special Report, 15 Questions You Must Ask Before Choosing a Therapist.)
I know these are tough things to face. At some point in my life, I’ve faced all of these.
Here’s a secret I learned that I want to share with you to make this journey a little bit easier:
As counterintuitive as it may seem, the more you face and own the things you’re not proud of, the BETTER you’ll feel about yourself.
I know—totally opposite of what you’ve believed all these years, right? I mean, isn’t that exactly why we hide these things out of sight? Because we believed that the more truths we faced about ourselves and more other people knew about us, the LESS loveable we’d be?
Well, as it turns out, that’s all rubbish. In fact, the opposite is true.
It’s exactly like rappelling down a mountain.
You’re standing at a cliff, looking down. Every fiber of your body is screaming that going over that cliff is insanely dangerous.
But in rappelling, not only are you going over that cliff, you’re going over it backwards. And not just backwards, but leaning out into the nothingness as far as possible.
Believe me, having done it, your body is shrieking that you’re gonna die if you do that.
But here’s the truth, and the brain has to accept this counterintuitive truth or bad things can happen to you: If you go over this cliff standing somewhat straight,
trying to not fall over backwards, your body will slam into the mountain over and over again as you go down. You are only safe if you lean waaaaaay back.
That is exactly what self-honesty is. The more you try to hug your “faults,” “weaknesses,” or “ugly side” close to you in an effort to stay safe, the more damage you’ll suffer from them. Only when you do what it counterintuitive and put them out there for you and everyone else to see, and you lean waaaaay out there, are you in a position of real strength.
And here’s another piece of good news: life gets so much easier when you own all of who you are.
It’s so critical, the 12-Step programs have an entire step for it: Step 4, Taking a Searching and Fearless Moral Inventory. That is where inner strength and personal power comes from. Hiding from these parts of yourself will only make you feel cowardly and vulnerable. Putting them out there makes you bullet proof.
And here’s the best payoff:
Doing this kicks the abuser out of your head.
Because once you really and truly face these things you don’t like about yourself, and you make the decision to work on them—to become a better person—your own self-worth goes up right then and there.
And when you like yourself better, suddenly that old message about being unlovable seems outdated.
It’s simple but not easy. I’ve travelled this path, so I understand. But I promise you—it is so worth it.]
So make a commitment today to stand up straighter, put your shoulders back a bit further, breathe a bit deeper, and kick that bitch to the curb.
The last thing you need is more criticism and abuse.