Category Archives: Life Skills

How to Handle Emotional Abuse

To those of you currently broken down because of emotional abuse: I have been there: letting the abuser get what they want, going into depression, and becoming unsure of what I am worth and how I deserve to be treated. In this post, I want to share with you how I got out, and how you can get out too.

To those of you recovering from emotional abuse: It is possible to rise up and take control of the situation and your life back from the abuser. You can find people who will understand and support you, and you have actions you can take to make things better.

To those of you recovered from emotional abuse or not yet experienced: Here are tools you can use in the future to help you and people you care about recover faster.

  • Get Out. Get to Safety — Staying alive is #1. Keep your mind and your body and your soul. Don’t worry about losing the rest of what you have. You can get them back later using your healthy mind body and soul.
  • Document Your Story in Writing. Don’t repeat yourself to people, don’t re-live the trauma by re-telling the story. Write it down. Let others read what you wrote.
  • Share Your Written Story with Trusted Advisors. Don’t go through this alone. Seek support and help.
  • Rephrase Your Story. Rewrite your story with you as the center. “Joe took my blender” becomes “I chose to let Joe take my blender because I wanted to protect myself from fighting him for it.”
  • Strategize Next Steps. Review your written story, remove distracting details like judgements on the situation (“Joe taking my blender means Joe is terrible!”) and focus on what matters (“I want compensation for the damages of my blender being taken.”).
  • Heal, Rejuvenate, Relax. Take care of yourself by engaging in healthy activities like sleeping, eating nutritious healthy food, and doing fun things with good people.
  • Forgive and Move On. Forgive yourself for how things turned out, and forgive the other person for hurting you. Don’t seek revenge: Focus on your strategic next steps and leave the situation.
  • Take Control of Your Life. Your life is back in your hands. Take care of yourself.

I’m sorry this happened to you. I wish you well. You will get through this.

Some additional tips for those who like details.

  • Get Out. Get to Safety — Staying alive is #1. Keep your mind and your body and your soul. Don’t worry about losing the rest of what you have. You can get them back later using your healthy mind body and soul.
    • Speed is important here. Don’t get caught up on searching for a perfect solution: find the quickest acceptable resolution and take it. Don’t lower your standards too far either: find your minimum, and then get that and get out.
    • Focus on activities you know will be valuable. Sleep, eat, rest, take a walk and get fresh air and sunlight, connect with supportive people.
  • Document Your Story in Writing. Don’t repeat yourself to people, don’t re-live the trauma by re-telling the story. Write it down. Let others read what you wrote.
    • Write in ONE document. Don’t make the mistake of writing in multiple emails, multiple threads, multiple windows. Put all your thoughts onto one document so that you don’t miss anything and you repeat yourself less. It will be long: let it be. You can revise later. For now just get your thoughts recorded onto the page.
    • The goal of this is to move the emotion from in your head onto the paper so that you can think more clearly and logically moving forward.
  • Share Your Written Story with Trusted Advisors. Don’t go through this alone. Seek support and help.
    • Share that one document. If you use Google Docs, your advisors can leave comments in the margins. You can then work through the thoughts and organize them with support.
    • If one of your advisors is making you feel worse, kindly tell them “Hey, your last comment made me feel worse. I felt ___.” If they apologize and change, let them stay. If they don’t, consider temporarily cutting them off from the conversation. You are being emotionally abused already, don’t add to that by getting emotionally hurt by your advisor too.
  • Rephrase Your Story. Rewrite your story with you as the center. “Joe took my blender” becomes “I chose to let Joe take my blender because I wanted to protect myself from fighting him for it.”
    • When you are thinking more clearly, re-write your story in the following format: Facts that you observed. Feelings you felt. Impact of the event. What you want next.
    • Facts that you observed. Joe was here on Tuesday. There was a blender here as of Monday. When possible, gather hard evidence and documentation to show it is true. “This is true, here is proof.”
    • Feelings you felt. I felt threatened on Tuesday when Joe yelled at me. “When I saw this fact, I felt this. “
    • Impact of the event. I now have to buy another blender. I feel less safe than before. I don’t want Joe to come over again. “After these things happened, this became true.”
    • What you want next. I want compensation for the blender. I want to forgive and not hunt for revenge. I want peace.
    • Avoid the Ifs. Remove and ignore all “If ___ then ___” statements: thinking about ‘ifs’ doesn’t help you, other people won’t take ‘ifs’ as truth when you tell them, and focusing on ‘ifs’ is distracting you from the details that are concrete and reliable.
    • SBI = Situation Behavior Impact = a common format for organizing your story
  • Strategize Next Steps. Review your written story, remove distracting details like judgements on the situation (“Joe taking my blender means Joe is terrible!”) and focus on what matters (“Joe took my blender. I want compensation for the damages of my blender being taken.”).
    • Do not want the following things: other people’s approval, other people’s opinions to change, other people’s thinking to change, anything that doesn’t materially improve your life. If someone else’s approval will get you something, focus on the getting that something. If someone else’s approval won’t get you anything other than their approval, ignore them and move on.
    • Do not want things that might cost more than the effort: if you get less than what you give, consider letting go or at least delaying that action until you’ve recovered more.
    • Do not do things that put you in a worse position. Position Power and Influence is everything. Move to safer and better positions. Always be Improving.
    • When you decide on what you want, be sure to talk to the person with the power to give it to you. Don’t waste time on people who cannot take action or make decisions to get you want you want.
  • Heal, Rejuvenate, Relax. Take care of yourself by engaging in healthy activities like sleeping, eating nutritious healthy food, and doing fun things with good people.
    • Get fresh air, sunlight, nice scenery.
    • Write down 10 things you are grateful for. Forgive yourself.
  • Forgive and Move On. Forgive yourself for how things turned out, and forgive the other person for hurting you. Don’t seek revenge: Focus on your strategic next steps and leave the situation.
    • Rediscover what you care about. Remind yourself what you enjoy. Refocus on making your dreams come true.
    • The Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh is very useful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDW6FYdIoYE
    • Don’t retaliate: Standing up for yourself
  • Take Control of Your Life. Your life is back in your hands. Take care of yourself.

Misc. Resources

Help Emotionally Troubled Loved Ones by Sitting with Them in Their Emotions

If you have someone you care about who is going through a difficult time and you don’t know how to get through to them, here’s how: Be present with them and spend time with them.  Don’t spend brain power solving their issues. Don’t spend energy telling them what they should do without them asking you for that.  Don’t take the initiative, the free will, the power to control their own life away from them.
What someone needs when they’re in an emotionally charged state is for someone else to absorb that emotional energy through active listening.
A friend recently showed me a South Park Episode about suicide (Season 21 Episode 2: Put It Down) and in it, near the end of the show, there’s two scenes that are really educational on how to help a friend.
A good friend doesn’t judge, doesn’t criticize, doesn’t problem solve. A good friend just sits with the person and listens and feels the emotions that the other person is feeling so that the person doesn’t feel alone and scared anymore because there’s someone else together with that person.  Sit in the emotions with the other person, ask them “how do you feel.” “How else do you feel?” “Wow, that sounds scary, how do you cope?” “That sounds hard, I can understand why you’re feeling this way.”  Let them express to you all that they are feeling, and listen. Sit and listen. Feel bad with them.  Keep feeling bad with them until they have said all they want to say about the topic (it may take a very long time) but only after they have been allowed to discharge all of their emotions will they be able to calm down, relax, and think clearly again.
The order of health priority in all situations is:
Emotional -> Mental/Logic -> Beliefs/Spiritual/Psychological -> THEN Physical Health -> Society (Finances/Career/Relationships).
First help your loved one with their emotions.
Then you can discuss the logical solutions and actions you can take to problem solve.
Then ensure that they can accept the logic you discussed, and have alignment between their Beliefs and the Logic. If they don’t, they may revert back to an Emotional state.
Only after all 3 Healths (Emotional, Mental, Beliefs) are healed can you then focus on Physical Health or Society Health.  This is why when you say “Go get some sleep” or “Go exercise” or “Take better care of yourself” to someone who is emotionally uncomfortable, they get mad at you. It’s because those statements do not help until you have discharged them emotionally for your loved one. .
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3 Keys to Goal Setting Success

Goal setting isn’t easy.  Setting a goal is easy.  What is goal setting?  It’s not just picking a goal.

Goal setting is about picking

  1. The right goal
    – How big is this goal?  Is it going to be 3 steps over a few days, or a hundred step over months or years?
    – What category should you set your goal in? Should it be in art, math, relationships, etc?
    – How likely are you going to be able to succeed at this goal?  1%? 90%?
  2. For you
    – Why did you decide to set this goal? Is it because parents/society? Is it because you want to achieve it? is it because you want to get something after you achieve it?
  3. At that time.
    – Why now? Why not take a different goal for now and do this goal later?
    – How does this goal fit into your current life plans and strategy?

Other good questions to ask about your goal are:

  • What is the follow up goal after you finish this goal? What does achieving this goal lead into next?
  • What is your Goal Plan?   (Next post = goal planning!) How do you specifically in detail plan to achieve your goal?

This post is part of AttemptedLiving’s Life Education Curriculum, a collection of core knowledge everyone should have.

To find out when those posts, and other life education writing, are released, subscribe on the side! Follow on Twitter, on Facebook, on Google+, on Tumblr.