How to Stop Internal Mental Abuse
How to Stop Internal Mental Abuse
What is the difference between a healthy push and self-imposed mental abuse?
Have you ever heard someone say, “You really shouldn’t be so hard on yourself”? For many of us, our inner dialogue can be incredibly cruel, harsh, and relentless.
We mentally abuse ourselves thinking that is what is necessary for us to change, to do or be better, or to succeed. It may be the only way we know. Self-imposed mental abuse is a real issue. We constantly tear ourselves down with our internal dialogue and create emotional instability and insecurity within ourselves in the process. Our confidence and ability to trust ourselves is destroyed.
Of course, we all want to be the best version of ourselves, but internal mental abuse is not the way to get there. Learning the healthy push is the better way to go.
The difference between self-imposed mental abuse and a healthy push is that one uses blame, shame, and guilt, and the other uses quality words of encouragement and inspiration. A healthy push comes from a place of understanding that we are all human doing the best we can in every situation and are always growing and improving. A healthy push uses quality words to encourage the best version of ourselves to rise to the surface. A healthy push is motivated by love. Mental abuse is motivated by fear.
Where does self-imposed mental abuse start?
What we witnessed from our parents while growing up determines if we adopt mental abuse or the healthy push as adults. You may have heard your parents being hard on themselves for mistakes, blaming themselves repeatedly, or even calling themselves names. Maybe when you made a mistake, you were met with blame, shame and guilt, and heard, “Why did you do that?”, “That was dumb”, or “That was so stupid of you!”
In that moment of hearing those words as a child, your impressionable mind was listening.
When we are young, our mind behaves like a talking parrot. Whatever our parents say, our parrot repeats. When we grow into adults, our parrot comes with us. When we mess up, our parrot speaks the words of our parent.
I witnessed an example of the blame, shame, and guilt model while traveling a couple of months back. I was on a flight to Indonesia in a window seat next to a 3-year-old boy and his mom. He was restless as most 3-year-olds are. He had slept most of the 6-hour flight, but woke up as we were about to land. He did not want to keep his belt on for the landing and in a last-ditch effort to keep her child in his belt, this sweet, well-meaning mom says, “If you don’t keep your belt on, I guess I can’t be your friend anymore.”
I cringed on the inside because I knew his parrot was listening and would turn on him with shame as an adult in moments where he wasn’t doing what he “should” have been. This brief moment of stress and fear from his mom set him up to mentally abuse himself as an adult and teach his children to do the same.
How do we change this for ourselves and adopt the healthy push for ourselves and those around us?
Awareness. Understanding. Compassion. Encouragement.
Be aware of what we are doing to ourselves and others by using the old model of blame, shame, and guilt…motivated by fear.
Understand that we are all doing our best based off of our current level of knowledge and decision-making abilities. We all mean well.
Remember that during those moments that don’t go as planned — those that seem to have mistakes — we can act from compassion…Compassion for ourselves and others. Mistakes happen. We are all human. We are on the same team.
Meet those mistakes with objectivity and encouragement. Assess the situation. Collect the facts. See what we can change or make better. Put the time and effort in for that improvement. Accept the parts that we have no control over. Leave that mistake or event in the past. Bury it. It’s no longer your business or part of your life. Move on in a positive and well-informed way.
The healthy push is proactive and productive as opposed to mental abuse that only results in discouragement and lack of self-confidence.
The healthy push moves you past those mistakes, armed and ready to improve and grow stronger.
Mental abuse will keep you stuck in the past and destroy your confidence and your ability to move forward and improve.
I think if we could learn to be the best coaches and motivators, to ourselves, our children, and those around us, everything we touch would change for the better and we would never find ourselves stuck ever again.