Chinese character for crisis is made up of two parts: danger and opportunity.
Crisis tends to light a fire that can initiate positive action. Crisis allows
people to dip deeply within, to open doors that have been closed, to breathe energy
into new directions, to be creative out of necessity. When someone goes through
a controlling relationship, they develop lifesaving strategies to help them get
through these difficult times. They acquire special skills that they may have
labeled as bad or useless. However, the expertise they
developed during this difficult time can actually help them take better care of
themselves now and can be helpful in their following relationships. These qualities
may have come from existing in a crisis mode, but now they can offer themselves
an opportunity to transform these qualities into highly functioning skills.
example, your patients probably have a tendency to take things personally. They
learned to put out their antennae and tune in to the mood and level
of their controlling partners behaviors. Observing, noticing, paying attention
- these were their strengths within the relationship. Why not help them to capitalize
on this sensitivity after the controlling partner is no longer around? By being
attentive and trusting the intuition they developed in the controlling relationship,
they are able to become exquisitely sensitive to people and situations around
them think back to the energy they put into noticing the cues around them. One
patient recalled, I felt like I had highly developed eyes and ears. Even
the pores of my skin felt like they were ultrasensitive to incoming signals.
Reading their partners moods - the way they sighed at dinner or walked through
the door after work - was one way they learned to get through the day.
patient may have discovered different ways to maneuver through some difficult
times in their relationship. They may have learned to play a caregiving role,
such as the mediator, the placater, the scapegoat, the go-between, or the joker.
These roles were important to the functioning of the relationship, and they had
a job to do - fill that role. This provided them with an identity - they were
needed. In fact, they may continue to see themselves that way, repeating the same
function in their new, healthy relationships. For example, one woman identified
her role as the garbage bag for the relationship. Being a scapegoat has
been my job description for ten years now. I dont want this job anymore.
addition to their assigned role, perhaps along the way they developed certain
adaptation strategies to protect themselves from their controlling relationship.
When something threatened their well-being or peace of mind, or if something felt
like a life-or-death situation, they did whatever they had to do to survive the
best they could. The trouble is, sometimes they did not just adapt to the situation,
they may have overadapted. By the time they reach another relationship, these
overadjustments are not always serving them so well.
may have put up barriers or built walls around themselves. One patient described
her wall as Brick, with turrets on top; no light got through. In my next
relationship, as I learned to feel safer, sunlight began filtering through, and
the wall began to come down, brick by brick.
may have learned to space out - to emotionally leave. Its as
if in the difficult moments of their relationship, they were not a part of time.
In Unchained Memories, Lenore Terr describes this altered state of consciousness
as unlocking the gears and coasting a while on neutral. When the emotional
pain became too great to bear, they did not think they had they had the option
to leave the room, so they did the next best thing: they found a way to emotionally
disconnect from the pain, to dissociate. They could watch from a safe place and
people who have not been through controlling relationships do not seem to appreciate
the usefulness of these skills. They dont understand why someone in a controlling
relationship would joke around to deflect arguments or space out when the emotions
got too much to handle. Because these protective devices are seen by others as
weaknesses rather than strengths, they take on negative connotations.Your patients
who are out of the controlling relationship have a treasure chest of useful attributes,
but they are unable to gain access to them. In fact, they most likely see them
they same way that other people have taught them to see them - as quirks, shortcomings,
defects, weaknesses. How can they turn these stumbling blocks into building blocks?
How can they repackage these undervalued traits into valuable assets?
Adapted from:Savage, E., Ph.D. Don’t Take it Personally! The Art of Dealing with Rejection. iUniverse BackInPrint.com.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Liebers, N. (2021). Unfulfilled romantic needs: Effects of relationship status, presence of romantic partners, and relationship satisfaction on romantic parasocial phenomena. Psychology of Popular Media. Advance online publication.
Stewart, V. T., & Clayton, R. B. (2021). Achieving the ideal-self while harming my relationship: Examining associations between self-discrepancy, instagram photo manipulation, and romantic relationship outcomes. Psychology of Popular Media. Advance online publication.
Willie, T. C., Powell, A., Callands, T., Sipsma, H., Peasant, C., Magriples, U., Alexander, K., & Kershaw, T. (2019). Investigating intimate partner violence victimization and reproductive coercion victimization among young pregnant and parenting couples: A longitudinal study. Psychology of Violence, 9(3), 278–287.
Clients who are out of the controlling relationship have a useful
attributes, but they are unable to gain access to them. Why? To select and enter
your answer go to .