Something I have heard from more than one client: “I spent so many years being told I was worthless… even though the abuser is finally out of my life, his voice is still in my head every day, cutting me down.”
You are enough
I wish I could face every child, teenager, and adult who has ever been verbally abused or bullied and say, “You are enough, just the way you are. Whoever told you you were less than that is the one who is lacking.”
It might not be about you
The way a person makes other people feel is mostly a reflection on that person, not the people they are affecting. If you are a relatively sensitive / observant person, try this sometime: pay attention to how you feel when you are around someone. Later, in a quiet moment, reflect on whether that person is someone you would describe as how you felt with them. Very often, an anxious person can trigger anxiety in others. A depressed person can lower the mood of those around them. A jovial person can make you smile. And a self-loathing person can make you feel bad about yourself.
Hurt people hurt people
In addition to the energy and tone of a person, there is how they treat us- the things they say to and about us. Anyone who goes out of their way to hurt another person is a miserable person. That miserable person may appear to be the most popular girl in school or your boss who keeps getting promotions, but the fact is that they are miserable. You see, a person who tries to hurt another is consumed with their own insecurity. They may even hate themselves. On the other hand, a happy person lifts up other people. A content, confident person walks into a room and makes everyone in the room feel seen and appreciated. A worthwhile associate is someone who is generous in their perspective and looks for the best in others.
It’s sad: anyone who needs to pull others down was probably verbally or otherwise abused at some point, and that cruel voice of their abuser is constantly in their heads, giving them low self-esteem. Don’t let that person who is stuck in their suffering pull you into the same boat. See them for the broken person they are, offer them healing, and then keep your distance. Hopefully, they’ll find a way to be happy and stop hurting other people. In the meantime, surround yourself with a tribe that will see your wonderful qualities and appreciate them.
In the practice of forgiveness, there is an adage: “hurt people hurt people.” In other words, in order for someone to intentionally hurt another person, he must be in pain. Happy people don’t hurt other people. When it comes to cultivating compassion and forgiveness for those who have hurt us, it is helpful to remember this. It is easier to forgive someone when we can see them not just as the person who hurt us, but as the person who has been hurt and carries that hurt around.
Take your distance
Whether someone you just met has attempted to bring you down once or you have lived for years with a verbally abusive person, it’s your right to set a boundary and not let that person speak to you like that. For a lot more about setting boundaries, this past article of mine addresses things to consider when setting a boundary and ways to speak to make your expectations clear.
It’s possible you are living with the voice of the long-term abuser in your mind, holding you back with insults every day. Another article I wrote on this exact topic explores daily practices you can incorporate as a response to that voice.
Remember: you are enough, just the way you are. If any past or current voices are telling you otherwise, it’s up to you to refuse their narrative and make your own.
Important skills you are strengthening: