How to stop thinking like an emotionally abused woman is not something that emotionally abused women ask themselves. They say, “How can I stop feeling so bad?” “How can I make sure I don’t go back to him?” and “How can I get him out of my head?” Plus, they may well ask “How can I ever trust someone again?” These are all great questions.
However,“How do I stop thinking like an emotionally abused woman so I can get my life back?” is a better one.
How do I stop thinking like an emotionally abused woman
In fact, how to stop thinking like an emotionally abused woman is something I first wrote about in 2013. However, I realized that there was still more to add.
There is a reason why nobody asks that question (including me, back in the day when I was emerging from my emotionally abused relationship like a poor, bedraggled fledgling from a barrel of tar). The reason is simple,
An emotionally abused woman always blames herself for what is NOT her fault. In part, she honestly believes that her relationship has imploded, and her partner has turned into Mr Nasty because she was not good enough.
Naturally, an emotionally abusive husband does everything he can to reinforce this belief. He acts as the self-appointed spokesman for Planet Blame. His “mission” on this Earth – and, more precisely, in your life – to spread the Gospel of Blame.
Trained to believe the message of blame
Now, even before he happened along, you were trained – most likely in your family of origin – to believe yourself to be a tad feeble-minded. You grew up with the belief that your thought processes were worth less than other people’s.
So, when someone close to you told you that you were to Blame for Most Everything, it fitted with what you already “knew” about yourself. When that someone took the trouble to tell you that story of your blame and worthlessness over and over again, it became your truth.
You may – or may not – have tried to fight that “truth”. However, you did not stand too much of a chance against it. Part of you longed for that somebody’s good opinion. Who wouldn’t? Nobody grows up that philosophical that they can say,
“My parent/sibling thought I was a complete waste of space but, hey, I’m cool with that. It never affected me in the slightest.”
Especially people like you and me, people who are naturally empathic, sensitive and have boundaries like marshmallows, don’t do too well with blame, shame and criticism.
By the time you moved from your family to your abusive partner, you already had quite a dowry of unhealthy beliefs about yourself, the world, and relationships.
Aspirations v thinking
Now, this is the part that really confuses emotionally abused women. Most will talk, as I did, about a refusal to settle for the soul-destroying relationship(s) they had witnessed in childhood.
I wanted so much more than the relationship I had witnessed between my mother and father. It always struck me as mind-numbingly dull with tempestuous outbursts. (The outbursts interrupted the boredom but not in a good way.)
One way and another, the was-band (when he was still the will be-band) promised me the earth.
His words were a good match for my aspirations.
When I married the will-be-band, I was convinced (despite some evidence to the contrary) that our marriage would legitimize my aspirations.
Well, it legitimized something, right enough. Just not my aspirations.
Rather it legitimized the husband’s (is-band’s) bad behavior – in his own mind.
I tolerated his bad behavior for all those years because, ultimately, it fitted with my parents’ view of my world. His bad behavior was a match for their assessment of my worth. In their eyes, I got what I could expect.
You see, a gulf lay between my aspirations and the beliefs that shaped my thinking. I honestly believed that my aspirations would – and should –regulate my emotionally abusive partner’s behavior. However, my past experience – and therefore my thinking – led me to believe that his kind of bad behavior was what happened – in the real world.
When I finally left, it did not even cross my mind that I needed to stop thinking like an emotionally abused woman. Not for a moment did I realize that the way I thought was a consquences of my life experiences, rather than an accurate, unbiased assessment of normal behavior.
If you don’t stop thinking like an emotionally abused woman, you carry on living like one.
So, here’s the thing, if you don’t stop thinking like an emotionally abused woman, you will carry on living like one.
At the beginning of our work together, clients always tell me how damaged they have been by an emotionally abusive partner. They, also, tell me that they think that the damage is irreversible.
This belief does them no good, at all.
Believing that you are irreversibly broken is a dreadful place from which to try to heal yourself. It actually precludes healing. After all, how can you heal what cannot be healed.
However, when you accept that, because of your experiences, you are thinking like an emotionally abused woman, things start to look quite different. Then you only need to discover how to stop thinking like an emotionally abused woman.
Go back and heal
The short answer – which might sound glib but, truly, is not – is that you need to go back and heal the wounded places in yourself.
I am not suggesting that you do not have a lot of deep wounds. That is not the point. The point is that there are now wonderfully effectively tools for healing that are available to you.
You cannot heal until you discover how to stop thinking like an emotionally abused woman. However, once you stop thinking like an emotionally abused woman, you no longer have to look forward to the unsatisfying existence of an emotionally abused woman.
This week, I have been working with lovely clients who are amazed at the turn their lives have taken since they stopped thinking like emotionally abused women. One said to me,
“I can’t believe that I was able to deal with a major attack on her self-worth without feeling at all anxious. That has never happened to me before.”
While another said, “I can’t believe how much I enjoy my life. I would never have thought I could have the life I have now.”
They only had to stop thinking like an emotionally abused woman for their identity and self-worth to sky-rocket.
The biggest block to recovery lies not in what has happened to you but in the thought processes you retain about it. When you stop thinking like an emotionally abused woman, your past pain can disappear leaving you free to create the life you don’t believe you can have.