I’ve noticed a funny thing about people who have trauma in their lives and have been hurt by other people; they tend to hurt others trying to protect their own wounds. What I want to talk about today is the most common way traumatized people hurt others and that’s through trying to control them.
Unfortunately I know a lot about this because I spent many, many years trying to control those closest to me, causing deep emotional pain in their lives. My hope is by sharing these thoughts with you that it may help you or someone you know break the cycle, mend relationships, and live the abundant life God intends for you.
Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why people who have been traumatized in life try to control those around them, but let’s say it out loud: We try to control those around us so they can’t hurt us by the stuff they do, the things they say, the choices they make. By controlling their thoughts and actions, we can protect ourselves from being hurt like we were before.
On the surface, that sounds perfectly sane, right? Avoid pain by not letting people do things that cause you pain. But there is some seriously faulty logic in there that Satan himself wants you to believe so that you will emotionally abuse those in your life. Yes, I said emotionally abuse them – you become the abuser!
Before we get to why we do what we do, let’s look at what it is we actually do! Here’s a list of the most common control mechanisms we deploy against those closest to us in order to defend ourselves from possible hurt:
- Control the relationships the person has with other people
- Control their time
- Control their behavior (dress, speech, reactions, etc…)
- Make them believe they are always wrong and you are always right
- Find fault with all they do to make them vulnerable to manipulation
- Manipulate them into guilt
- Use aggression (even violence) to back them down and make them compliant
- Bully them and belittle them in front of others
There are more, but you get the drift. Any of this sound familiar in your life? In my experience, men do this more than women, but I’ve sure seen my share of women who fall into this category! And I’m not saying everyone who has trauma in their lives does this – in fact some victims actually seek out people who will treat them this way because it is their dysfunctional comfort zone. But for today’s conversation, we’re talking about those people who have an issue with control.
So why do we do it? One word: Insecurity! We have seriously unresolved issues and our brains are trying to find a way to mitigate the emotional damage being done.
Here is today’s revelation: It’s YOU not the other person with the problem!
You’re the one with the unresolved issues and until you resolve them you really can’t have another person get close to you. But here’s the cool part – God can and will help you through it. Here’s how:
- You have to pray to Him and ask Him to help you work through your insecurities.
- You have to be prepared for it to get worse before it gets better as you re-open old wounds so they can heal properly.
- You have to be willing to go all in. You cannot keep a foot planted in your dysfunction and cry out to God for help. It doesn’t work that way. You must be willing to give up your dysfunction and insecurities and live the way God tells you to live.
- You need to seek forgiveness from God and those you’ve hurt. AND, you must forgive yourself for your bad behavior.
- You must seek to transform yourself from an insecure person to one who trusts God completely. Once you trust God you can trust others, because if you trust God you know that He will always provide for you no matter what people do or how people act.
- Here’s a trick: Consider others better than yourself – that means your spouse or significant other – and then treat them that way!
- Make faith-based decisions not fear-based decisions. Do not let fear manifest itself in jealousy, anger, anxiety, depression, or violence. Trust in the Lord in all things…especially the hard things.
- Recognize spiritual warfare for what it is. When you are being poked in the ribs and when those hurtful feelings come up realize it is Satan trying to pull you away from being Christ-like. Don’t start drinking, just tell Satan to go away.
- Ask those closest to you to partner with you in this task – seek their gentle guidance, reassurance, and understanding as you work on these issues.
- Start today!
Well written! It is a devastating thing to go through in life. I don’t understand why emotional abuse is acceptable in our society. My small attempt to spread awareness about this- http://inspiringevolution.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/emotional-abuse-is-not-okay/
Tom, I have been following your work, and I am happy this will send me notices of more to come.
I have been working on some of the exercises you have in your book, and now with this blog, I will be able to do more.
Thank you and God Bless You.