Boundaries and Abusive Behavior

Psychological boundaries serve two primary functions. They protect us from harm and help define who we are. A boundary may be a conscious principle such as “abuse me and you lose me” or a deep emotional knowing that we are not consciously aware of until it is activated by a real time event. In either case the violation of our well-being incites us to act in our self-interest. Enforcing our boundaries has a two fold effect. It makes us stronger and it makes our boundary system stronger as well. Strength leads to self-confidence and greater clarity about who we really are. Strong boundaries enhance our sense of self.

Never Tolerate Abuse

There is never a valid reason for tolerating abuse. If you allow yourself to be abused you are strengthening the bad tendencies of the abuser while weakening your own sense of self. When you allow the abuser to take your power you inflate his sense of control over you. This creates a very real psychic dynamic in which the abusive person has all the power and you have none. When someone steals your power you will be full of fear, rage, and resentment. These emotions are a dangerous trap. As you long as you harbor them the abusive person has the upper hand and you are stuck in harm’s way. Then, if you should choose to stand and fight it is too late. When you have internalized what your abuser wants you to feel engaging him is like giving him a gift: the opportunity to abuse and wound you further and steal what energy you have left. This uplifts the abusive person and destroys you.

Strategies for Dealing With Abuse

The best strategy to deal with an abusive person is not to internalize the abuse, take it personally, and let the abuser steal your energy but to walk away at the first sign of abusive behavior. Restraint and self discipline keep the abusive energy your attacker wants to dump on you inside him. It is better that it eats him up than it weakens you. After all, it’s his energy not yours. Don’t allow his problem to become your nightmare. You are not responsible for the way he feels or the circumstances of his life even though he may try to make you responsible for the weight of his situation. Don’t let the abusive person use guilt to
manipulate you.

However, if you have been involved in a painful transaction with an abusive person and experienced the fear, rage, and resentment that accompany a negative encounter it is important to clear those emotions from your system. Internalized emotion does not go away on its own. The sting may lessen; the memory may fade; but that energy has been stored in your subconscious as part of a permanent culture of weakness. Future events will trigger those emotions and they will create havoc in your psyche and weaken you further.

Changing Yourself

An important part of building a strong boundary system is clearing the toxic emotions from the past that will weaken you when activated. You can’t change an abusive person but you can change yourself. When you rid yourself of stored toxic emotion from the past you will be far less vulnerable to taking the abusive person’s attacks personally and internalizing their shaming emotions.

Do not forget that internalizing shame gives the abuser the upper hand. If there is no hidden shame inside you the abuser’s attacks will bounce off you and be deflected back at him. Then, instead of successfully passing his shame on to you his toxicity will weaken him.

Never feel that you are big enough to take on the abuse; or that you deserve it; or that you are being helpful and spiritual by doing so. The truth is you are neither being helpful nor spiritual. You are being foolish and untrue to yourself. The whole point of having boundaries is to be true to yourself.