A long-time reader sent me a note asking me to address a situation of how to reframe their mental state when it is now in a negative state due to someone’s belittling and ranting about how horrible they are or have been. I said I would write about that today as I have had more than my share of experience in this area over a lot of time.
This kind of situation seems to most often occur in parent/sibling and romantic relationships. In my case, they were all in marriage. At some point, I did not meet the expectations (whatever they may have been) by doing something they disapproved of, or wanted to be involved in, or made decisions without them, and more. Then anger would cause them to rant and yell and generally be upset.
What do you guess the very first thing someone on the receiving end of this would do? They would become very defensive. When you are attacked, you automatically defend yourself. Then the argument escalates and many, many things are said in the heat of the emotion that perhaps would not have been said in cooler moments. Feelings get hurt, the pain deepens. There is never relief in this scenario. It is always more pain and it creates a further separation from the other in both the offensive and defensive position.
In Transactional Analysis or T.A., they call this transaction, Critical Parent and Adapted Child. The only thing in T.A. that breaks this circle of pain is the non-emotional Adult (reason, compassion), or the Nurturing Parent and Natural Child combination.
For years I wanted it to end. I finally took the tack that I learned in my twenties about ‘owning my own feelings.’ In other words, those attacks on me are not my feelings, it is theirs. I can choose to think differently about myself.
I learned that whenever someone is yelling, belittling, verbally abusing you, that it is never about you. It is about them. They are trying to express themselves, but not realizing how much harm they are trying to cause at the same time. Some used to say, “Oh, that’s the Italian in me.” It’s just someone who doesn’t know what else to do except explode like a volcano. And, in a so-called loving relationship, that is nowhere near love. It is fear. The opposite of love.
Sometimes people say, “I do this because I love you.” I say, “please stop loving me right now!” No, it isn’t even close to love. It is way on the other end of that stick.
In the most recent episodes of anger, yelling, belittling, and more that I was on the receiving end of, I worked on not plugging into it. I just refused to accept it. I got good at that. But there was something else going on too. My wife was ill. Two years before her diagnosis of ALS, she was vocally belligerent many times to the point that was way more than anything like normal. One day she ranted at the top of her lungs for about an hour and fifteen minutes. It was ridiculous. Toward the end of that one, I had to take off and go for a ride, but it was her illness getting traction. As her illness progressed, she couldn’t talk, so she wrote her nasty comments.
Let me say that this kind of verbal abuse is not something that one gets used to. And, in situations, like I had, leaving wasn’t the right option, so I was forced to find a different way to come to terms with it and be okay in myself.
It is said, that you cannot love others until you love yourself. I never really understood that inside. Superficially, yes. Internally, no. But, I came to understand it. When you can’t escape the abuse, you have to open your mind. I began to love myself.
That is probably easy for some, but loving myself was not easy for me. I had to play with it, study it, learn about it, and allow it. I’m still on that trail. Now I understand how if you don’t love yourself, you really don’t love someone else in the way that is truly loving. You can appreciate them, respect them, serve them, but loving has to begin with ourselves.
When we love ourselves–truly love ourselves, the opinions of others have less meaning. Someone can say all they want in whatever manner they choose, but it is all rejected as if it is bouncing off a rubber barrier. When we look to our own inner guidance, our God within, our inner being, or whatever words you like to use, that entity loves us as God loves all creation. Others opinions have no value here. It is only our inner source and our own love of ourselves in total harmony. Once there, no one gets through to cause any pain.
We are best served by seeking only our own inner guidance and loving ourselves, and at the same time, because that is the love of God, we love those who attack us too. This doesn’t mean we need to hang around and accept abuse very long. We can exercise our ultimate choice of who we enjoy being around. As we accept none of what others have to dish out, they stop dishing it out soon enough. Either way, we are the ones who are always in control. If we can’t change the circumstances immediately, we always have the power of how we choose to think about them, and consequently, how we feel about them, and the other person.
The short answer is to learn, or rather remember to love ourselves as God loves us, and that love is without any condition, without any reason, without any need. It simply and beautifully is.
It Has Been Said, ‘Love The One You’re With.’ What That Really Means Is YOU Because You Are ALWAYS With You Wherever You Go.
Spread Some Joy Today–by letting go of the resistance of trying to satisfy others. Be yourself. The best you could ever be is to be your best self.