Up, down, high, low, good, bad, black, white, push, pull. Psychological or emotional abuse, a veritable rollercoaster, places a heavy burden on our hearts and minds, planting lies in our psyche that, if neglected, can last long after that rollercoaster is over.
5 effects of psychological abuse and how to heal
It is difficult to look within and identify these wounds, especially when you may not even be aware that you are still injured. However, months or years later, your current behavior and changes of character can help shed some light on what really needs to be addressed.
With most forms of psychological abuse, the victim is left feeling helpless, worthless, and broken inside. These wounds will not leave visible scars, although they are just as painful as any physical injury. We collect the pieces and put our lives back together as best we can.
And sometimes, the best we can do is patch up the pieces. We return to our daily existence thinking that everything is fine – but something seems different. Many survivors describe two different beings: “before abuse” and “after abuse.”
The simple truth that you are a real human being who is suffering, can break through even the tightest heart and take you to a place of self-compassion that you’ve never felt before.
The truth lives in our body and behavior, and the truth will continue to manifest itself in increasingly strange ways until we find our way home.
Here are five signs that suggest you might still be suffering from the lingering effects of psychological abuse:
You isolate yourself, making yourself more of an observer than a participant in the world. Everything feels blocked. You don’t feel bad – but you don’t feel good, either. You don’t feel much of anything at all. Even when you know you should be happy, it’s as if there were a wall built around your heart at all times, keeping anything from coming in or out.
This can feel hopeless – as if you were permanently damaged and unable to feel emotions normally. However, it’s actually the first step to approaching your trauma with a kind and loving perspective.
Let your insensitivity exist, and understand that it wouldn’t be there except to protect you from some pretty overwhelming things. Your body is trying to help. Concentrate on that noble effort, and gradually you’ll begin to develop the feeling of love necessary to bear this pain.
Seeking approval – a sequel to emotional abuse
This can be very sneaky because it manifests itself in ways that are socially acceptable: pleasing people, excessive achievements, being “nice” to everyone and hyper-focused on appearance.
The underlying current of approval-seeking behavior is that you are somehow “not enough” without it. This is a lie that was planted in your heart, and must be banished forever. Our value as human beings does not depend on any of those things.
If you slow down and tone down these behaviors, you will likely feel a lot of shame, failure, and even jealousy. Your first instinct may be to run back to that bad habit, but you should encourage yourself to face these feelings (and seek professional counseling, if necessary) until you really understand how much you are really suffering.
Only then can we begin to see ourselves with compassion and discover that love heals, and that it doesn’t have to be earned.
Resentment after psychological abuse
This can accumulate over time, and it’s not about throwing things or yelling. The most common signs are irritability, guilt, changes in blood pressure, tightness in the heart, frustration and impatience.
The key word in resentment is “should have”. (This bad thing shouldn’t have happened. People should have behaved in a different way). In essence, we are living in a constant state of resistance to reality.
Most psychological or spiritual paths describe the reasons why resentment is toxic, but letting it go isn’t so easy. We need to be kind to ourselves and not feel any shame if we notice this resentment. All we need is the simple intention to let it go, and it will start to happen.
Forgiving oneself is very effective as a way to healing, but there are many other ways. Once you stop focusing on others being “bad”, you will finally have time to attend to the wounds in your heart.
Judging and analyzing
This is a personality change that happens slowly. Nice words are coming out of your mouth, but your thoughts are somewhere completely different. You are obsessively analyzing what others do, to the point that it becomes difficult to trust anyone. You have a hyper-focus on people’s behaviors.
Again, the key here is self-compassion. You have to be gentle with yourself and understand that these are all protection mechanisms – fear of not being in control. Judging ourselves for being judgmental is an infinite loop that can only be broken by love. It’s okay, you didn’t ask for this. You did the best you could with an impossible situation, and the more you can accept this truth, the softer your heart will become.
Anxiety and depression psychological abuse
Insomnia, changes in appetite, constant fear, feelings of death and despair: the mode of self-destruction. It’s your body saying “no more”. Your mosaic – the previous four solutions – aren’t working anymore, and your body will torture your mind until it is surrendered to the only permanent solution: love.
You should seek professional therapy for anxiety and depression, but it is strongly recommended that all survivors of psychological abuse approach therapy from the perspective of love rather than a constant analysis of their undesirable behaviors.
Instead of searching through your memories, try to feel your feelings. The simple truth that you are a real human being who is suffering can break through even the most guarded heart, and take you to a place of self-compassion that you’ve never felt before. Perhaps a new reality in which you are as kind with yourself as you have always been with others.
After psychological abuse, there are so many lies that clog the heart: you aren’t good enough, you’re inadequate, worthless, you’re a bad person, you’re broken, you are replaceable, not worthy of being loved, it’s your fault.
The good news is that you can heal yourself. The bad news is that there is no quick fix – just a lot of patience, hard work and dedication. It can take months or years of practice, but finding love itself is a permanent solution.
On this journey, we leave behind the division between our “former happy self” and “new abused self”, for a whole being who is loved and accepted completely.