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How to find your way out of a bullying or abusive relationship

If you’ve ever been in a bullying or abusive relationship then you know just how soul-destroying it can be. How it diminishes your sense of self-worth and saps your energy. You may feel angry but unable to channel the anger where it’s most helpful and instead finding yourself expressing anger with other people, other situations or directing it inwards towards yourself. You feel frustrated, helpless or depressed and little strength or energy.

A bullying or abusive relationship can take place between anyone. I myself have experienced it with a parent, a boss, a colleague and a spiritual teacher. It can happen between partners and friends. It may be “mild” and not what you might immediately label as abusive but ask yourself if you’re repeatedly uncomfortable or unhappy within the relationship, unable to express yourself for fear of consequences, frequently suppress your own needs, values or beliefs in preference to theirs and generally walk on egg shells.

I never really saw any pattern with what I encountered. I was bullied at work and then had several jobs where I wasn’t bullied. So I saw it as that individual’s behaviour. I never made any link to me. I then encountered an abusive relationship with a spiritual teacher. All my other relationships were fine. So I still didn’t see any pattern.

However, there was one common denominator, me! What I see now is that these relationships were reflecting my beliefs about myself. I lacked any deep self-worth, self-esteem, self-value, self-belief.

On the surface I had plenty. I experienced success at work, I gained qualifications, I enjoyed good relationships. When these things were going well I felt good about myself.

But underneath there was obviously some part of me not agreeing and it would bring me relationships and situations where this lack came to the surface.

I uncovered a long-held belief that I’m not good enough. I also believed that I don’t deserve to be happy. Along with a whole bunch of other beliefs that I can see gave me the experiences I had.

On an energetic level I was expecting to be treated badly. It wasn’t conscious and I had no idea what was going on at a subconscious level. So there was a conflict between the conscious me not liking what was going on, knowing it was “wrong” and undesired and the unconscious me agreeing with the behaviour I was experiencing. It fit with beliefs about myself that I didn’t even realise I held.

So the way out of a bullying, abusive, undesirable relationship is by changing the patterns and dynamics at play. One of the main ways to do this is by changing your beliefs about yourself. There are various methods to do this.

One step that can help with shifting things is to know that it absolutely can change. Believe that you are in control of you and your life and have a right to exist according to your own beliefs and values. That starts to bring you back to your own inner power and self. You can decide that you no longer want this kind of experience, that you deserve love and respect.

Asking yourself powerful questions can also help you. Instead of asking “why is this happening to me”? “What did I do to deserve this”? “Why are they being so horrible to me”? Ask yourself “How can I be loving and respectful to myself”? “What would be most helpful to me in this situation”? “What would a happy outcome look like”. The important thing is to frame your questions in a positive way and steer them towards the outcome that you’d like.

These two steps alone will put you firmly on the path to enjoying more loving, supportive, fulfilling relationships. By implementing these on a consistent basis you should start to see positive changes occurring.

Sometimes it can feel normal when you're experiencing the put-downs or the lack of validation or any behaviour that feels uncomfortable because you're used to it. If the person is in a position of authority, such as a boss or teacher/adviser, you may feel that you have to "put up" with it because you need the job or the help or you're being over-sensitive.

Realising and knowing that it's not ok connects you back to your own power and your own energy and provides the strength and ability for change to occur. The outside experience may continue for a while but that inner shift starts a process and each time you reinforce that belief within yourself it gets stronger and stronger and then you really do see the outside changes.

Remind yourself constantly "I am in charge of my own life. I am in control of me. I enjoy loving, respectful, fulfilling relationships".

Love yourself, be kind to yourself. What you believe and think about yourself shows others how to treat you.

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