Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Old Thinking and New Thinking


Most women who are in abusive relationships get stuck in some thinking errors. These thinking errors are to me like computer glitches or viruses. Once they become part of the programming, they infiltrate the hardware and it is very difficult to clean it up and get your computer (read: brain) working in a healthy way.

One way to reprogram my thinking that I found to be the most helpful, was self talk. Yes, you read that correctly. I talked to myself... out loud... and A LOT. Still do sometimes. Did I look crazy? Probably. Did it help me form new ways of thinking? Definitely! Here are some examples of "old" thinking and "new" thinking that may help someone out there.

OLD: I LOVE him!
NEW: I may love him, but that doesn't mean it's in my best interests to stay with him.

OLD: I can't stay away from this person - he is my family after all!
NEW: I can stay away from anyone I want to. I don't have to spend time with people or be where they are just because I am related to them.

OLD: It is best to forgive and forget.
NEW: I need to heal from the bad things that have happened to me. I don't need to forgive anyone I don't wish to, and forgetting is impossible.

OLD: I can't survive without him.
NEW: I can do anything I need to do to take care of myself and support myself.

OLD: I just want the whole family to be together.
NEW: Keeping the whole family together may be a very bad idea. The children are being harmed by witnessing the abuse. One healthy parent is better than two unhealthy ones.

OLD: I must not hurt his feelings.
NEW: I need to take good care of MYSELF. If that means I have to hurt someone else's feelings, I may need to do that.

OLD: If my husband abuses me, I just have to put up with it because if I told someone, it might hurt the feelings of other people in the family and/or those people might be angry with me.
NEW: I can tell anyone I want, including the police, and family members have no right to get angry with me about this. If they are not supportive of me, I need to stay away from them and spend time with people who are supportive.

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