The Courage to Save Yourself

Zeus at Shambala

“When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sand paper. They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished and they end up useless.” Chris Colfer

A woman on Facebook reached out to members for advice on how to deal with rude and over-controlling inlaws plus a submissive husband.  At first glance, the situation reminded me of abuse.  However, abuse victims tend to suffer in silence.  This is because abusers will severely punish the spouse or child that has sought help or mentioned their suffering to a friend.

From what I’ve experienced, abusers have extremely low self-esteem, fragile egos, and feel powerless.  In order to feel superior to their victims, they beat them up mentally, emotionally, or physically.  Abusers can’t tolerate the thought that they might be doing something harmful.  In fact, they’re often convinced that their vicious words or cruel actions were necessary or even educational.  If screaming relentlessly for hours didn’t deliver a strong enough message, they’ll resort to physical violence to drive their point home.

Abusers live in fear.  They generally see their spouse or child as extensions of themselves and are terrified that their spouse or child will reflect badly on them. Worse still, they fear they’ll lose everything because of something their spouse or child, said or did.  They seek to gain control over their lives by controlling their families verbally or through physical force.

Abusers thrive on secrecy. An abuser’s worst nightmare is to have their twisted behaviour exposed in the eyes of the public. Victims have been murdered for breaking their silence.  The movie “Sleeping With the Enemy” is an accurate depiction of an abusive relationship.  A young couple marry.  Fears are triggered then one spouse becomes a terrorist and the other spouse becomes a prisoner in their own home.

Every situation can be unique.  Whether the issue is abuse, negligence, or control, perhaps the following suggestions would be helpful:

Self-love is number one.  When you don’t take care of your own needs, when you put everyone else first, and put yourself last, others follow your example. When you really love yourself for who you are, others love you for who you are.

When you’re really hurt and suffering deeply, the last thing you want to hear is that you yourself have the answer.  However, it’s true.  With courage, careful thought, and tremendous effort, we can get through major challenges.  When we look, we often find ourselves holding the solution in our own hands. Ask someone you trust for help.  Chances are they’ll help you in confidence.

When people hurt you, it’s because they themselves are hurting. If you have a tendency to feel like a victim, opportunities appear to make you feel more victimized. May I suggest you ask yourself, “How are the people who hurt me hurting themselves?  In what ways do I feel like a victim? How can I shift and learn to feel better about myself?” Start knocking on doors for answers and for help.  Have faith.  Those doors will open and solutions will be provided.

Are controlling parents or in-laws afraid of losing their adult children, afraid of losing their influence over their children, or be afraid of one day dying in loneliness. Ask yourself, what will reassure them? How is your spouse hurting?  What is he afraid of? Perhaps he is afraid of losing parental approval (i.e. their love). What prevents everyone from seeing eye-to-eye?

We can get stuck in our fears.  We learn fear as children and it becomes a program that runs in our subconscious. Subconscious fears are not thought-out. They’re triggered and generally irrational. Deep down inside, what is everyone afraid of?

Thankfully, most situations can be resolved and fears released with tools like open dialogue/communication, counselling, and hypnosis to raise internal awareness. Either way, every challenge presents an opportunity to learn and grow.  Step back and start evaluating the situation by asking, “What can I learn from this?” “How did I attract this situation?” “What thought, emotion or event triggered the situation?” “Has it been a pattern or recurring theme in my life or their lives?” “Are channels of communication open or closed?” “How can they be opened?” “What would it take to bring everyone’s concerns or fears to the surface?” “Is the situation beyond repair or can it be resolved/healed?” Professional counselling might be the answer. Prayer and meditation are also excellent solutions.

“You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” Epicurus