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Self-talk: Undoing Verbal Abuse

November 26, 2010

Verbal abuse can be overt – in your face, or covert – subtle, like slights. Quite often this abuse is employed by unhealthy narcissists who abuse their children to make themselves feel better. Children who are victims of abusive parents who use either method often carry the remnants of this verbal abuse in the form of something called, self-talk.

Self-talk is the script that runs through the mind of an abused victim. Being that most abused children suffer from repeat episodes of verbal abuse, the results are the abused child has been programmed to think of themselves as worthless, inadequate, weak, inept, stupid, never good enough or not measuring up . The last two are very damaging as the bar for ‘measuring up’ is some illusive mark that can never be achieved. The abuser does this to keep the child in a subordinate position. The child then becomes more focused on getting approval from the abusive parent rather than developing their own unique authentic self. Life becomes performance over real engagement.

Overt verbal abuse may be insults, put downs, and bullying remarks: you’ll never amount to anything, you’re a failure, can’t you do anything right, you don’t know what you’re talking about, can’t you do better, shape up, etc.

Covert verbal abuse are slights, insinuations, negative comparisons, and digs: that dress is nice but you need to lose a little weight, I was hoping you would get an ‘A’ on that test (and then no praise for the ‘B’), you know your friend Johnny is so smart, or, I’m busy, we’ll talk about it later (later never comes).

Slights can be very damaging as they are full of disdain – unworthy of notice – a powerful emotion aimed at denying the child’s value as a person. It implies, ‘you’re unimportant’. Narcissists need to feel superior and so often they will throw out disdainful remarks. They just roll off their tongue with no regard for the other person’s feelings. Slights undermine the targeted person’s self-worth impacting their self-esteem and this has long term effects.

To undo the script, I suggest in my book to take on new ways of living, thinking, feeling, behaving and being – effectively reparenting oneself. One aspect is to become aware of the script that is running in one’s head. Reject the negative thougts and accentuate the positive ones. Realization that one was a target of an unhealthy person’s personality problem helps to relieve the burden of feeling one deserved the abuse – a common feeling by many abused children. No one deserves to be abused. Abusing children is particularly a heinous act for the child looks to the parent as a primary source of love and affection; they naturally trust the parent and is vulnerable to whatever they say and how they say it.

To tackle the problem of undoing verbal abuse I suggest starting small. Starting small means to simply say to oneself, I am good enough and always have been. I am a good person. I love myself. You can say it over and over again, or upon waking up in the morning, or in your car, or during meditation. Then begin to introduce self-reinforcing positive thoughts. Surround yourself with friends who are happy and positive. Read books on philosophy and psychology. Try to set aside old habits that may be linked to old behaviors learned in your childhood. Do not obsess over the past — we cannot change the past. We can learn from it though and change ourselves. I suggest in the very beginning of my book to forgive others for this clears the path to allow you to move on and make forward progress from the negative place the unhealthy narcissist placed you. Forgiveness will help you to the next stage – awareness and mindfulness. And from there, healing, recovering your dignity, and regaining your self-worth.

My book, It Has A Name!, is available in softcover at CreateSpace or at Amazon, Kindle books, Smashwords, and Scribd.com. The links are under the Asheham bookstore link above. The Kindle version can be purchased by clicking on the upper right hand image of my book.

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