Dealing With Emotional Abuse

This may surprise you – it did me when I first studied it years ago – but emotional abuse is the most common form of abuse although maybe we don’t always recognise it as such. Perhaps that’s because a lot of it is considered ‘normal’.  It’s not always very dramatic either and is often made up of a series of small incidents occurring over a period of time.

It may not be intentional but anything that insults, humiliates, threatens or controls someone else, is actually emotional abuse.

If this has happened to you, or is still happening, you’ll know that it cuts deep into your very core, often leaving you fearful and feeling undeserving and unloveable. It’s almost as if you’re being punished.

Overcoming it can be very hard but recognising what’s happening is the first step and that happens once you know what to look for. After that it’s important not to think that you must somehow work harder to fix the relationship whether that’s with your partner, a friend or a colleague. There may be elements that you need to work on but you also need to recognise that what’s happening is hurtful and wrong.

Write down the messages that you’re receiving and then think about how you can counter them. For instance, if someone in your family or at work says “you always mess things up”, try to think about the times that actually you made a difference in a positive way by, say, arranging a birthday lunch for that person, taking part in a charity walk or saving up to buy something that you really wanted. These are the times when you didn’t ‘mess things up’ and it’s important to remember them and then find ways to be kind to yourself.

If you can’t communicate with the person making negative claims and tell them how it makes you feel, try to work on how you can be more assertive next time. When you’re alone, try out different techniques such as “When you speak to me like that, it’s very hurtful” and use your new-found skills next time that person, or people, try to put you down. It won’t be easy because changing entrenched habits never is, but whatever you’ve been told about yourself, whatever your age and gender, you are worthy of respect and love – don’t accept anything less!

If you’re finding it hard to be assertive, read about it online and practice responses with a friend who’s willing to help.

Please do comment on my blog if you have found it interesting, useful or otherwise. You can see my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

It’s Healthy To Talk

Below is the link to a blog that I wrote last month, which was published by my professional body, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

The publication was over four weeks ago, but I’ve only just received the link for publication on my website. This particular blog is about men’s mental health as that was the requirement for June 2021.

I hope that you find it interesting:

Talking is part of taking care of ourselves

Why Do We Choose The Friends We Do?

Having someone in our lives who think our opinions matter, who value our company and make us feel wanted is important to most of us. I think that this applies to most human beings as most people ultimately want and need to feel close to other human beings.

Having good friends can also help us to develop our self-esteem but there can, and often are, other reasons for choosing our friends. And be in no doubt, mostly we do choose people to be in our lives – they’re not always there by chance.

So why do we choose certain people to be our friends?

One reason is that it’s easier to get on with people who have similar values – while having different opinions is good in lots of ways, most close friendships are with people who think in the same way as us. If they don’t have the same values as you, there will be lots of compromises and sometimes that can be a strain, to say the least. When friends have similar values, it helps them to be accountable to each other and the wider world.

The pandemic has highlighted this for a lot of us – suddenly, people whom you thought were great friends have had different opinions about vaccinations, isolation and quarantine. It’s been a real eye-opener for many of us!

Having common goals is a big thing with a lot of friendships – if you’re ambitious in your work-life, you might choose people who can help your career take off up to the next level. This sounds a bit calculating but it may not be deliberate, just the way it’s worked out. If your usual friends are happy in their careers and don’t want or need to advance, it can help to be with people who feel the same as you.

Choosing friends who bring some balance to your life is important too – some friends have the skills and abilities that you don’t and vice-versa, so you can both enhance one another’s lives.

Past shared history is hugely important to a lot of us – that’s why it’s often hard moving to a new area, because you didn’t grow up there and can’t laugh about the crush you had on Ryan Smith in the last year of school. That’s partly why school reunions are appealing to some people – you can look back on your shared past and reflect on it, laugh, cringe and generally know that you got through it somehow.

Choosing friends with the same interests makes life more fun – if you both enjoy walking, the cinema, playing music or eating out, it’s great to have someone who shares those passions with you.

So, choosing the right friends for you is important for your happiness and self-worth. If you find yourself choosing people (or they choose you!) who don’t enhance your life, but pull you down and make you miserable, ask yourself why they’re in your life. Maybe your self-esteem is very low and you feel that you don’t deserve someone nice as a friend, so you have people in your friendship group who you can’t really relax around and, worse still, you can’t rely on. If that’s the case, look at your reasons for staying in a friendship like this and if it’s not what you really want. try to disengage from it as gently as possible. See less of that person, don’t respond to texts straight away and gradually ease away.

Lastly, if you want great friends you need to be one yourself so treat them as you want to be treated – that way your friendships will be rewarding as well as fulfilling.

Please do comment on my blog if you have found it interesting, useful or otherwise. You can see my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

Is Your Partner Emotionally Unavailable?

It may have taken you some time to realise that you’re sharing your life with someone who isn’t really available for you on an emotional level. Maybe you were so in love in the early days that you thought that their reticence was due to them having been hurt before or because they came from a family that didn’t demonstrate their feelings towards one another.
Whatever the reason, over time living with someone who’s emotional distant can take its toll and it’s not just women who complain about this as men can also find their partners disconnected on a deeper level.

Ideally, it’s better to deal with this early on in the relationship when you start to notice that they’re always guarded when it comes to their emotions; it’s a good idea to let them know how you feel about it. Be clear about what you expect and want from them and if they’re willing to be open with you, the relationship has a good chance of developing.

However, if you’re some years down the line and things haven’t changed you may well feel very disappointed because most of us need strong relationships where feelings are expressed openly. It’s natural to want deep and meaningful interactions with the person we love.

You may find yourself thinking “They seem completely oblivious to my feelings”, “What does it take to get through to them?” or “They care more about their work/the children than they do about me”.

So if this is you and you want to stay with your partner (they’ve got lots of good points and you’re generally compatible), before you get completely disillusioned, how can you manage that? Well, you could try the following and see if things improve:

  • Although you may have done so many times before, encourage them to sit down and try to find out what’s happening. It may be that they’ve always been like this, but if you’ve tried talking many times before and they want to change it may be that they’ll need to access counselling to learn how to open up to you.
  • Having said that, once you’ve tried to ‘fix it’ and found that you just can’t (we can’t really change a person – they need to do it themselves), try to work out whether you might be able to get used to it. I’m not suggesting that you tolerate something that you find completely untenable, but it may be that they have a lot of good points and it’s worth concentrating on those, rather than focussing on their lack of emotions.
  • Shift your focus: give them time to think over what you’ve said and then change the focus to yourself by getting involved in things that interest you, making sure that you’re busy and happy doing things that leave you feeling fulfilled.
  • Realise and accept that you can only do so much – if your partner cannot contribute to your relationship in a way that fulfils at least some of your emotional needs, you may need to think about the future and whether you want to live like that. People do manage this because they feel that the positives outweigh the negatives, but you’re the only one who can make that ultimate decision.

You can read my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#anxiety #familyrelationships #stress #self-esteem #workonyourself

Still Having The Same Old Arguments?

Whether you’re having the same disagreements with your mother, your partner or a friend, the arguments can become pretty tedious, not to say tiring and repetitive.

So how can you avoid the ‘same old, same old’?

Here are some things to focus on:

  • Listen carefully – when we’re in critical mode, we often don’t take time to reflect on what the other person says. What do you want out of the disagreement, other than the other person to give in completely? Why are you feeling angry? Try to take responsibility for what you’re feeling and then say it out loud in a non-confrontational way.
  • Try to focus on what is working rather than what isn’t going well. Create a list of the good things the other person does for you, whether it’s your mother looking after your child or your cat, your partner filling your car with petrol or your friend going out of her way to give you a lift home. Thank them for these small acts of kindness – they will appreciate it.
  • If you feel hurt because they are not there for you, acknowledge to yourself that there might be a reason for that and rather than saying, for instance, “you’re always going out/doing things for other people”, say “I wish that you were here with me. I know that you can’t be, but that’s what I like and need sometimes”.
  • Stop making sweeping accusations – if you say “You always……” and “You never….” It feels heavy with criticism. Try saying “I’d love it if you could do ……………” because then the other person with know what would please you and has the opportunity to make changes.
  • Try not to shout – whatever the relationship, nothing can blossom when voices are raised. Even if the other person shouts, and there’s then a temptation for you to do the same, try to keep your voice calm and make a conscious effort to keep it low too.

See how you get on with the above – hopefully you’ll find them helpful.

You can read my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#anxiety #familyrelationships #stress #self-esteem #workonyourself