|One of the most difficult
concepts for the abusive and the abused is "control." The difficulty
is compounded because "control" has two opposing meanings:
"Controlling" vs. "self-control."
"Controlling" refers to when people try to run other people's
lives. For example, if I tell you how to behave (even if I am "right"), I am
being controlling. Controlling people insist, persist, or make a fuss when they don't get their way
- until they get their way.
"Self-control," on the other hand,
is analogous to self-discipline. The individual with self-discipline skills runs his or her own
life, not the other person's. If I don't like the way you behave, I let you
know. I may make my argument once or twice. Then I drop it. I have no (sane) choice but to
accept that you choose to behave
in a way that I do not like. I am free to make more choices for myself from that
point on. I am free to take into consideration the fact that I do not like
Both abuser & abused need to stop
controlling each other, and instead control themselves.
are co-dependent. These individuals attempt to achieve closeness and unity with the
person they are trying to control. They seek to bond with other and obtain self-esteem
supplies by the approval or gratitude received. The objective: Let
me take care of you so you will love me.
These people attempt to diminish their own pain by dictating what the other person should
do - so that they (the abuser) may feel better. This control is experienced by the victim
initially caring, and then as rejecting. The objective: It is your
job to take care of me. Don't fail.
Emotional Freedom and
"Self-control" implies the ability (a skill) to
express modulated emotion. The disciplined individual experiences emotion, but
instantaneously (automatically) subjects the raw emotional experience to the logic of the
cerebral cortex (the part of the brain that makes us uniquely human) prior to any
verbal and behavioral expression. The result is an expressive, yet controlled response.
Self-control skills are prerequisite in producing assertive responses.
The individual in control has the ability to recognize and
interpret their internal affective state. They have the impulse control skills to tolerate
the discomfort of painful emotions; they hold onto the emotion until it is
"processed." They possess the concomitant ability to accurately interpret
reality and implement sound judgment skills. Finally, they have verbal assertion skills
that reflect an underlying, internally-based self-esteem. They know where they
stand and have no need to prove it to or convince anyone of their position. These
individuals are internally connected to themselves. They passively listen to what their
feelings convey and impose no control over the emotional material that wells forth. What
they do control is their response.
A Dangerous Duo: Cognitive
Distortion & Lack of Self-Control
The cognitive and behavioral style of both the codependent
and abusive individual differ markedly from that of the assertive individual. Both
codependent and abusive persons blunt their emotional reactions. They control their
experience of the normal full range of emotions via denial, self-imposed rules, and
expectations, all of which are fueled by an irrational underlying cognitive set. In other
words, they distort aspects of reality.
victim mindset seeks to win approval. Approval provides a semblance of
||The abusive person's
mindset is survival in a dangerous world. They expect to be hurt...again. Do not
mis-anticipate them! Aaarrrgggg!
When individuals with distorted underlying cognitive sets also
have poor self-control skills, watch out! Distorted cognitions coupled with
poor self-control skills are the reason that abusers and victims both
Both need to challenge the distorted cognitions which fuel their
negative emotions, and both need acquire the requisite assertion &
related skills to more effectively negotiate life.
See an example of a victim's passive-aggressive anger