We have developed a way of communicating in our society that we have come to accept as normal but when we explore it in detail, there is a lot of abuse that we ignore, don’t recognise or don’t know how to deal with.
What type of communication is abusive?
Most of us have different ways of speaking depending on whom we are addressing and how much we feel free to express our deeper feelings or our dominating emotions. We are polite to a stranger but with friends, family and in some workplaces there can be a level of abuse that should not be considered acceptable. Unloving words, tone of voice and body language are just as harmful psychologically as physical violence is on the body and long term psychological abuse can lead to mental and physical illness.
Here are some examples of abusive communication that I’m sure most of us have experienced:-
• Siblings speaking to each other in an argumentative way
• Parents talking to their children with frustration and no appreciation
• Teenagers being sulky, rude and uncooperative
• Friends being sarcastic or insulting making out that it’s funny
• A boss who is angry about something criticising everybody
• Drunken men and women staggering about and shouting in the street
• Couples bickering and sniping at each other
Most of us have come to accept this kind of abuse as part of everyday life, not knowing that it doesn’t have to be that way, and that we can all treat each other with decency and respect no matter what. It may take some years of introspection to change the way we are but it can be done if we are motivated to change.
We all know that abuse begets abuse so where does it start?
Let’s look at one of the most insidious forms of abuse and that is self-abuse: i.e. what we inflict upon ourself through our own internal communication, how we think about our self, how we speak about our self, and how we treat our own bodies.
Many of us are constantly criticising our self from the moment we get up and look in the mirror. It goes from picking holes in our appearance to apologising for all the things we think we did wrong throughout our day.
Where does this come from?
I can only speak for myself…
I was brought up as a Catholic and we were all told that we were born with ‘Original Sin’. Not only that, we had to go to confession every week to confess our daily misdemeanours and were told to say three Hail Marys and two Our Fathers in order to atone for our sins. There was never a mention of appreciation of our delicate beauty and the qualities we brought to life, only the things we did wrong.
For me that self-abusive feeling of constantly being wrong followed me well into adulthood, and I would assume that if somebody reacted to what I’d said or done that it was somehow my fault. If something went wrong, I would apologise and I’m not alone – there are many men and women who apologise all the time, even when something is not their fault!
We can all communicate with our self in a negative way, for example, looking at food that we use to numb our feelings: we may criticise our self for eating unhealthy foods but there is insufficient self love to want to truly nourish our self, so it is an ongoing cycle of abuse – eat, feel guilty, eat to numb the guilt, feel guilty again.
The criticism we communicate to our self can be about the bad things we think we have done, or the flaws in our appearance, our speech, our home, and our relationships. Every single time we speak or think that way, it is like sticking pins in a VooDoo doll – we are hurting our self, cursing our self with our negative self-talk.
Instead of all that internal abuse, we could make space to appreciate the qualities we bring to the world, the values that we live by and the way our bodies move and support us no matter what. There is much to appreciate in our self and in each other and that is what will change the world.
Once we stop the internal abusive communication, we can begin to value and appreciate our self and then there is no way we will accept any level of abuse from another or towards another.
With more confidence in our self and what we feel, we are able to stand up, call the abuse for what it is, no longer accepting any kind of abusive communication as normal.
We can also role model how to treat people with decency and respect by how we are with others in our everyday communications.
“Not adoring another is abuse.”
– Serge Benhayon –
“Not adoring our self is abuse!”
– added by Gayle Cue
(1) Understanding in Relationships How Judgement leads to abuse