Occasionally, you come across people who derive pleasure from belittling others and making them feel miserable. An emotionally abusive and manipulative person will take every opportunity to continually make your life difficult.
Emotional abuse can have an adverse effect on you if you allow them to. For example, it can erode your self-confidence. If you are suffering from constant emotional abuse from your boss, colleague or spouse, your trust in your own perceptions and instincts wear out and you may develop a feeling of inferiority in the relationship.
When you allow someone to subjugate you through emotional abuse, you may stop feeling your own sense of self and your life or work may become dominated with trying to please them and meet their expectations. It may degrade your sense of personal value. But that is not the way to live life. You must live your life with your whole being and not with a sense of obligation to another person. If you are the subject of emotional abuse, here are some techniques that may help you to restore or maintain your sense of dignity and self-confidence:
1) Recognise that you are not the problem
If you are in a situation where you are being subjected to emotional abuse, it is important to recognise that it is the abuser and not you that has the problem. Once you recognize that you are normal and OK and they are not, it will be very easy to give some context to your situation.
2) Don’t live in denial
Do not live in denial and make excuses for them if they are emotionally abusive. Accept that you have been abused and that the abuse may have had a detrimental effect on your mental and emotional state. Acceptance is part of the solution. Once you have accepted the problem, put in place a strategy that will help you recover and gain control of the situation.
3) Assess your relationship and the consequences of the decisions you will make to address the abusive relationship
If your relationship is a casual one or professional one such as that with a colleague or a boss, then you can simply severe relationship or report them to higher management without any moral scruples. If it’s a closer relationship such as that with a family member or spouse, then you have to weigh decisions very carefully as the damage can be far worse for both of you.
4) Set boundaries
If you are in a relationship for the long-haul with an emotionally abusive person, it is important to set very clear boundaries that must not be crossed. It is also important to create consequences if those boundaries are crossed. If you are keen on enforcing boundaries, they will serve as a powerful deterrence.
5) Confront them directly all the time
Emotionally abusive people will take advantage of your weaknesses. If someone is being abusive, confront them directly, decisively and consistently. Make it clear that the behaviour is not acceptable.
6) Stick to the ‘knitting’
Emotionally abusive people are bullies and are very good at derailing you with their manipulative and self-serving arguments. If you have decided that you are going to confront them on a particular issue, ensure you put your point over simply and concisely.
They will try to make you feel guilty or make the confrontation seem unwarranted. But it is important to put things clearly into perspective. You are actually confronting them because of the specific behaviour that they are exhibiting.
7) Simply cut them off
If the person is so abusive and you have really had enough, then you need to sever the relationship with such finality that there will be no room for discussions. This will be a hard decision but if you are leaving, you have obviously weighed your options and decided that leaving will be better than staying.
8) Seek professional help and guidance
If you have suffered abuse which has had a deep effect on you, then it is important to seek some professional help. When it comes to healing, there is no one-size fits all. You may need to visit a professional counsellor in order to assess your individual situation and prescribe a prescription for healing and recovery post trauma.
Psychotherapeutic counsellors and coaches can help you through the emotional trauma. Because healing from an emotional trauma can sometimes be a lengthy and difficult process, it is prudent to have professional guidance by your side during that process.
9) Find new healthy relationships
If you have come out of a difficult emotional relationship, seek support networks amongst your family members, friends, colleagues or even the community. These will be able to provide you with great comfort and will quicken the healing process.
10) Move on
Do not dwell on the past. Life is too short to live in the past. Look to the future and all the new possibilities for comfort and happiness that are waiting for you.