Hello everyone and welcome back to another post here at The Journey to Wellness! I’m very happy to be writing to you again on a more regular basis! I was also very excited to see the results of last post’s poll to be a topic that I find very close to my heart: Forgiveness and Acceptance- learn to see what drives the offender.
Just a little note before we get started, this post is essentially a continuation of a previous blog post I wrote about Forgiveness given by the following link http://thejourneytowellness.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/forgiveness/. If you haven’t had the chance to read this post yet, I feel it would be very advantageous to check it out so you have all of the tools you need to know about Forgiveness so you are up to speed on today’s blog post!
Otherwise, let’s get started! As said in my previous Forgiveness post written many months ago, forgiveness and acceptance are processes that we take in order to heal ourselves from the wounds that others may have inflicted upon us. Often times after the wound has been created, it is very difficult for the victim to not personalize the painful, neglectful or even abusive actions and believe that we deserved them in some way or that WE are the reason for them occurring. In order to truly heal ourselves from the pain that someone does onto us, we must take the time to realize that ANYTHING anyone does to hurt us is usually never personal- it is often a reflection of them, their belief systems, their behavior patterns, and how they were raised. I know this is not an easy task to accomplish, since when we are in relationships with people (especially those we love and care about deeply), it’s difficult to not feel as if the harsh actions or mean words are personal. Here are the tools necessary in order for you to accomplish this so you can feel better about your past wounds, your past relationships and about yourself!
As mentioned in the book How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To by Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph.D., there is an Appendix named How The Offender’s Childhood Wounds Shaped The Way He Treated You. Here is where the main focus of today’s blog post will be. Here it is said that “In trying to understand the offender’s behavior apart from anything you said or did, it helps to look into his past and speculate about his critical early life experiences. Dr. Jeffrey Young identifies five ‘core emotional needs’ everyone must satisfy in order to develop into a healthy, well-adjusted individual. When these needs are frustrated, he points out, we develop a warped view of ourselves, of the world , and of others. The person who hurt you is likely to carry his share of dysfunctional thoughts and feelings into adult life, and into his relationship with you.
I invite you to look at the following list of core emotional needs and ask yourself, ‘Which of them do I think the offender was deprived of?’ Even if you know little or nothing about him, it may be helpful to consider his unmet emotional needs, if only to remind yourself that he has now, and always has had, a life independent of your own.
The five core emotional needs are:
1. Secure attachment to others
2. Autonomy, competence, and a sense of identity
3. Freedom to express valid needs and emotions
4. Spontaneity and play
5. Realistic limits and self- control
Someone who is deprived of any of these core needs is likely to react in one of three ways: surrender, avoidance, or overcompensation.
These coping styles usually start out as healthy strategies that help the offender survive and adapt to toxic childhood situations. By the time you cross paths, however, these strategies may become maladaptive and destructive. Let’s take the example of a boy whose father abandoned his family for another woman. If the boys adopts the coping pattern called surrender, he may grow up seeking out people who allow him to feel just as alone and unwanted as he felt when his father deserted him. He may find himself attracted to someone who isn’t there for him, thus reopening familiar childhood wounds.If he adopts the coping pattern called avoidance, he may stay away from people who trigger disturbing memories or feelings from his early years. He may avoid relationships altogether. If he adopts the third coping pattern, overcompensation, he may behave in ways that allow him to do battle against the painful thoughts and feelings he experienced as a child. For example, to overcome a sense of helplessness and the expectation of loss, he may take control of his life, preempt your abandoning him by abandoning you first, and throw himself into a series of affairs designed to reduce his dependence on anyone. People who surrender to their painful experiences are less likely to hurt you than those who practice avoidance. Those who practice avoidance are less likely to hurt you than those who overcompensate. Let’s look at each of the five core needs and try to determine which of them the person who hurt you was deprived of, how he coped with his deprivation, and how his coping strategy may have hurt you. What matters is not that you distinguish every coping pattern but that you recognize how the offender’s behavior may predate you, and learn not take it too personally.
CORE EMOTIONAL NEED #1: SECURE ATTACHMENTS TO OTHERS: We all seek a sense of connection and the feelings that come with it- stability, safety, acceptance, nurturance, empathy, respect. If the offender was stunted by any of the following traumatic experiences, particularly in his early years, he is less likely to form satisfying, enduring attachments as an adult:
-Mistrust and abuse
-A sense of personal defectiveness (disapproval, censure, and reproach)
CORE EMOTIONAL NEED #2: AUTONOMY, COMPETENCE, AND A SENSE OF IDENTITY: As children, we all need to be encouraged to explore, to learn from our mistakes, to develop a clear sense of ourselves independent of our parents or caretakers. If the person who hurt you was overprotected or made to feel inadequate, he may have grown up doubting his ability to survive on his own and make a success of his life. Carving out a future in such an uncertain world may seem fraught with danger and likely to end in disappointment.
CORE EMOTIONAL NEED #3: THE FREEDOM TO EXPRESS VALID NEEDS AND EMOTIONS: We tend to flourish in an environment in which we’re free to express our legitimate needs and emotions. The offender who was reared by authoritarian or needy parents may learn at an early age to stifle self-expression and be overly responsible.
CORE EMOTIONAL NEED #4: SPONTANEITY AND PLAY: We all need times when we can give in to the moment, go with our natural inclinations, and have fun. If the offender grew up in a home that imposed strict rules, valued impulse control, and conveyed a need for perfection, he may never have learned to value ‘nonproductive’ activities that promote happiness, creativity and intimacy- like sex or socializing with friends.
CORE EMOTIONAL NEED #5: REALISTIC LIMITS AND SELF-CONTROL: If the offender’s parents taught him to be responsible, respectful and empathetic, he is likely to grow up learning to balance his personal rights against his obligations to others. But if he was spoiled by his indulgent parents- if no one set appropriate limits on his behavior or taught him the importance of reciprocity- he may grow up thinking that he is privileged and above the dictates of common decency. He may act superior, not because he is, but because he needs to feel powerful and exert control over you. A stranger to the word, ‘no’, he’s likely to have an inflated sense of entitlement and an exaggerated sense of his importance to you and the world.
It’s hard not to feel crushed when someone expands to fill the space you’re in and leaves no room for you. But if you can step out of the picture and see the degree to which the offender’s behavior is a statement about him, not you, you will be better equipped to stay centered, maintain your self-respect, and rise above the violation”.
I hope that pieces from the book How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To by Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph.D. have helped you as much as it has helped me through some of the darkest moments in my life. If you are curious to know more, feel free to buy it! It’s an amazing book and I would recommend it to anyone.
I hope that this information has helped you understand better that anyone who has hurt you in the past has reasons by they do it,and the reasons have absolutely nothing to do with you. Hopefully this will help you heal, gain acceptance, forgive yourself and the offender as well as gain some self-respect.
As usual, I have left a poll below for you to pick which topic you would like me to talk about next time.
Thanks so much for supporting me, I couldn’t do this without you!