A Second Tool: Labeling

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Abusers deliberately create chaos, bewilderment and confusion. This helps them avoid  responsibility for their behaviors by constantly blaming someone else. Their partners begin to feel they deserve the mistreatment.

They use no-wins, deflection and projection to blame their victims and tell them they deserve the mistreatment.

A no-win demand or double-bind statement is one in which, no matter what you choose, you will lose. Sometimes these are known as Catch 22s.  Biblical battering itself is based on a primary no-win: by  forbidding a woman to leave an abusive marriage and condemning her if she does, she loses both ways. If she stays, she gets mistreated by her husband. If she leaves, she gets mistreated by her church.

Double-standards are related to double-binds. A double-standard means that privilege, ability or power is allowed one person and not the other who is an equal partner. For example, your partner expects to be able to not come home at night but calls you or tracks you from your work to your home and forbids you to go out with friends.

Deflecting means avoiding admitting his behavior by accusing you of not being obedient or some other label not related to his behavior. You may ask him why he is late and he begins to harangue you about the floor needing to be swept. Some men habitually raise their voice and act upset to intimidate their partners so they don’t have to ever explain. His reaction goes beyond what is involved in the situation.

Projecting means that he will accuse or blame you for what is true of him. Margery’s husband routinely accused her of being unfaithful, which created enormous pain for her. She found out years later he was cheating at those times when he would accuse her.

These are common and regular in the daily life of the abusive relationship

Any realistic expectation for healthy relationship will come under attack. It would expect him to take responsibility in the relationship, which limits his power or control. He is only interested in a one-way interaction with you. No-wins, deflections or projections accuse you of not being submissive or obedient. He knows this idea is important to your faith system. These are effective methods to create your sense of worthlessness because you can’t do anything right to please him.

What patterns do you see in your relationship? Are there standards that are hurtful or demoralizing? 

 If a person is regularly “locked into” a no-win about a variety of issues with a person they care about, it will wear them down, which is the purpose. 

Margery donated most of her salary to his “missionary” work yet he screamed if she spent any money. She finally had to face that he wanted to be free to spend money in any way he wanted without any accountability. “God gave you the ability to earn that money,” he said. “You owe it to give it back to God.” There was one standard for his use of our money and another for Margery, that is, she was not to have any use.

Too often the concept of “obedience” has been used to browbeat the women in a relationship. It has been used as a tool for any demand, no matter how unreasonable. Obedience does not require losing your health, your sanity, your peace, your overall ability to care for your children if you have them. Obedience is an easy weapon for a tyrant to wield to get his way without having to justify it. This is not the concept of obedience that Jesus taught.

Take some time to look objectively at what happens when you obey or when he says you deserve the abuse. Often what happens is that, even if you obey, it will not change his abusive behavior to you. That tells you that his main goal is creating fear, guilt and shame to maintain his power and control. It also tells you that you do not deserve the abuse, because you are doing your best to be a loving supportive wife.

Practice redefining and relabeling the accusations and charges made by looking at what is reasonable. This will free you from believing you somehow deserve abuse.

Redefining and Relabeling

List the words or phrases he uses.  For each one, identify the tactic.  These contain broad labels and do not have facts. Example: burning toast does not make you a lousy wife.

Is this a _____no win/double bind _____deflection _____ projection?

You can tell by your lurching gut feeling when these are not true of you. They feel foreign and are not how you behave. An objective observer would confirm this. Challenge each one in your mind by redefining or redirecting them.

Example:  “You never listen to me. I try and try but you keep on being a faithless, unbelieving and disobedient wife.”

Redefine, redirect in your mind: “Is it true that I never listen to him? I agree with him, ask him questions, try to comfort him. In fact, it is only when I don’t agree with him that he says I don’t listen to him and accuses me with these labels.”

“It is not disobedient to be who I am. He said when he married me, he loved me just the way I am. It is not possible for anyone in a relationship to be the only one responsible for the trouble as he says I am. Obedience does not keep him from mistreating me.  He is increasingly demanding I obey him as a god rather than God.”

“What he seems really to be saying is that obeying him means always having things his way, and even if I try that, he still hurts me. This is not the mutual support of a healthy relationship. It is not what God gave as a guide for us.”

Relabel: “When he accuses me of being disobedient, I realize it is because he wants his way all the time. When he accuses me of being faithless, it is because he means I shouldn’t question any of his desires. When he accuses me of being unbelieving, it is because I am not ‘believing’ only his version of things. If he can continue to use my belief in God to make me feel bad or like a failure, it isn’t good for me.”

How often does he use no-wins/double binds?  ______regularly        _______once in a while              ______ rarely

How often does he deflect? ___________regularly  _______once in a while   _____ rarely

How often does he project? ____________regularly_______once in a while    _____rarely

_____Withholding____Countering___ Discounting_____Blocking and diverting______Accusation and blame-______Judging and criticizing ______Trivializing and undermining– _____Name calling_____Ordering– _____Deliberate forgetting or denial– ____Abusive anger– _____Threatening– _____

Which verbal abuse methods are being used?

Is this behavior part of   fear ______guilt ____, shame,____ enforcing power____ or control ______?

Is this behavior part of a belief in  male privilege______, women are morally inferior and cannot trust their own judgement_______, suffering is a Christian virtue, especially for women, ____forgiveness and reconciliation are a woman’s duty.________

Which classic abusive behaviors are happening?

Isolation____Intimidation_____Threats_____Using Children___Sexual Abuse___Economic Abuse___Emotional Abuse___Physical Abuse____Spiritual Abuse______

What parts of your faith experience or relationship with God are being threatened ?

A Toxic Matrix

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Domestic Abuse Syndrome is a recognizable cycle with common behaviors among the men who abuse.*

Women often ask themselves how they become entrapped in their sinister dance of danger and sometimes even death. They blame themselves as they become exhausted trying to resolve problems with their partners.

No one would say that women are taught to accept abuse. But as with many ideas, a failure to follow an idea to its logical conclusion hides the effects that can be drawn from it.

My experience is that cultural expectations about women’s responsibilities contain the seeds and account for the persistence of these traumas. Churches can play an important if unaware role in conveying these expectations.

Outside those churches that teach submission, women won’t hear the actual words that they should accept abuse. However a predator has tools in pervasive messages given to women throughout their lives.

The first message is that their worth is defined by their relationship with a man.

That second message is that the success of the relationship is their responsibility.

Out of these messages come two strong positive expectations that a predator can turn into weapons.

The first expectation is that a good woman helps others.

The second expectation is that a good  woman forgives others.

Helping and forgiving are seen as two primary ways she ensures the success of the relationship. However there is not as strong an expectation that her partner will do the same. Instead she may feel like she has to set  herself on fire to warm other people. The matrix of these messages and expectations create a prison which traps a woman who does not question their all-or-nothing standards

They lead to two strong and pervasive fears: the fear of rejection (abandonment) and the fear of  failure.

Interviews with abusers reveal that they often get their way by threatening to leave the woman. A financially dependent woman is seriously jeopardized by such a threat. A mother with children is seriously threatened.

A man leaving a relationship is often seen as a failure of his partner. The idea of “she can’t keep her man” is embedded in our culture.

A woman who has been raised with a definition of her worth and success based on helping and forgiving will need help seeing the limitations of these ideas when they are presented without exceptions.

We all want to belong and be loved.  Abused women have been betrayed by a partner who said they cherish them. Women who give everything emotionally to their partners are cut to the core if their devotion is not reciprocated. They feel they have failed at their major purpose in life. Some feel they have failed as a woman.

The abuser is using an emotional carrot and stick to keep her confused and trapped.

This is what can fuel the cycle of honeymoon – escalation-explosion and makes it so hard to break.

If a woman can take her hurt and sorrow and step back for just a moment, she can ask herself if these two fears are fueling her one-sided struggle to make the relationship work.

She can ask herself if it is realistic to expect anyone to always help and forgive another without any limitation.

She can ask herself if it makes sense that, in a relationship of two people, she is the only one has all the responsibility for making it work.

She can ask herself if it is true that she failed the person who she supported wholeheartedly.

Unraveling these unconscious and unreasonable expectations of women in relationships is an important awareness. Women who cannot be everything to someone have no guilt or shame to bear.

They have not failed. They have simply been operating on false ideas which a predator finds ideal to use in their oppression.

If someone who says they care for her does not honor her needs and wants, that someone is not anyone she has failed. They have failed her.

Expectations of no-limit giving or a lack of personal boundaries create pain for her, no matter who has taught this role. By stepping back, examining the pain can be a doorway to her recovering her worth.

The pain makes it clear it is not failure to not be able to do the impossible. Denying needs does not create love in a relationship.

She can permit herself to be less than everything in a relationship. Reciprocal respect and regard are the foundation of a mutually caring relationship. Abusers have proven they will not provide these while they are allowed to misuse their partner.

*In every study, men are consistently 85-90% of the abuser population.

Charting: Your First Step Out of the Maze

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Charting is a way to begin to distance yourself from the chaos or emotional suffering you are experiencing.

Battering is a cyclic behavior following a predictable path. Some women have even found it follows monthly patterns.

You begin by keeping a record for a week or a month of the episodes in the cycle of abuse: the honeymoon, the rising tension, the triggering incident and explosion, and the lull afterward.

Record what is said, your response, and his reaction. What does he gain from the behavior? What does he do? Do his actions match his stated intents or beliefs?

You will begin to see a pattern emerge. You will recognize methods that your partner uses repeatedly. By seeing the pattern, you can begin to recognize how it is consistently used to create fear, guilt and shame in you for being yourself and increase his power and control to get his way.

With your chart or calendar, keep a list of your faith beliefs that your partner uses against you to justify his mistreatment of you. You may be aware of many of these beliefs, but you will be able to put things together you did not realize before by keeping a chart. You will see that what he does actively works against your wellbeing: physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. Many women are surprised at the frequency or severity of what the chart reveals. They were not aware of how very much they are being subjected to.

To keep a list of the disturbing words and behaviors that occur, use the four categories of methods in this chapter. Label what happens as an example of

A. Demoralizing and Accusing Words

B. Denying or minimizing his behavior; one-way relationship

C. Playing the Victim, Refusing responisbility

D. Threatening Behaviors

 What is his payoff for what he does?

 Power – he is able reinforce his place, his desires, right to be the final word, make the final   decision, even if it disregards your wellbeing.

 Control – he is able to prevent or make you do something damaging he wants against your will

 Intimidation – he is able to weaken your inner self, confidence, or one of the four powers of an  adult (mental, physical, emotional or spiritual ability)

 Example:

Monday:  Describe what happened.______________________________________________     

He called me a lazy slut when I didn’t vacuum the floor. An example of A: Demoralizaing and Accusing Words

Check how you were affected: ___Mental _____Emotional _____Physical______Spiritual

What you felt:    ____fear   ___x_ guilt    ___x_ shame ____anger  ___ other: shocked

What he gained:  _____power    ____x_ control  ___x__intimidation

Here is a space to begin your examples. Be sure to identify any of the 4 categories that your experience is part of. (A, B, C, and/or D above)

Monday:  Describe what happened.______________________________________________________________________An example of ____________________________     

Check how you were affected: ___Mental _____Emotional _____Physical______Spiritual

What you felt:    ____fear   ____ guilt    ____ shame ____anger  ___ other

What he gained:  _____power    _____ control

Tuesday:  __________________________________________________________________________________An example of _____________________________     

This damaged my _____mental_______emotional______physical______spiritual well-being

What you felt:  ____fear  _____guilt_____shame____ anger_____other

What he gained:  ____ power over ______control over_____

Continue this way for the week or up to a month. 

Then tally what number of time in each category you were diminished:

____A: Demoralizing and Accusing Words

____B: Denying or Minimizing His Behavior; One Way Relationship

____C: Playing the Victim, Refusing to Take Responsibility

____D: Threatening Behaviors

Now take some time to review what you have learned. Summarize it here:

Using the tool of charting strengthens you in these ways:

  1. Gives you perspective on what you are experiencing
  2. Shows you you are not crazy; reaffirming your inner knowing
  3. Provides measureable “data” that you will use later in assertive communication
  4. Begins to create a sense of control as it distances you from your abuser’s insanity and chaos

I hope readers will share what they gained from using charting as a first step on their way out of the maze of abuse in the name of God. Your words are a sacred power you can wield for your redemption.

How Churches Painted Themselves Into a Corner (And How Equality Can Get Them Out)

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We looked in the last post of some of the reasons that churches across the doctrinal spectrum have been slow or reluctant to help the 1 in 4 women of faith in their congregation who are in destructive relationships.

Churches derive their power from their claim that they represent Christ’s message on earth.

Their history is one of organizing and transmitting the legacy of Jesus Christ in the world.

Jesus is presented as the Savior, the One Who, once followed, takes our heavy burdens upon Himself and provides a never-ending source of support, love and forgiveness.

Indeed, the claim is that once people accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, they will be redeemed – made new. A transformation is to take place. A new birth, a new creature is now operating in the world.

What happens to the church’s message when this doesn’t happen?

In the slide toward political power and social approval, churches left themselves without recourse when members fall short, not in small human foibles, but in gross behaviors which even non-believers may not condone.

Such is the current fallout with sexual abuse and other extreme violations of human dignity. Discussing views on how the church got sex wrong will be held for another post, but the dilemma the church faces over members who fall below a decent not to mention Christian claim to character is a major challenge.

If the standard of character transformation is no longer a sign of accepting redemption, the church is left with the watered- down tea of social pressure and lip service.

When not just members but leaders are shown to have fed upon the fold rather than nourish them, the party line is left with nothing but condemnation. Sin becomes the focus and not relationship with God. Cries of “kick them out” arise. There is no mercy for the twice-sinned. Members turn upon each other. Traumatic house- cleaning commences.

The application of forgiveness of sins becomes problematic when narcissistic manipulation protects the predator and condemns the victim. This is the reverse of what Jesus taught. Protecting the institution becomes more important than genuine repentance but this is only cliff hanging.

The church is left with the dilemma of admitting they have been a sham show or closing ranks. What would Jesus do?

Here we are left with His disdains for the hypocritical religious leaders of his day. He did not mince words for them and instead preferred people who knew they were in trouble, needed help and were grateful when they got it.

Mock repentence in order to hold onto to position and power are not Christ-like. When churches encourage a view that we are better than those who are unsaved, they have painted themselves into a corner if the betters are less than the lowers.

The window out of the corner is to abandon the false foundation and start over.

The foundation crumbled when a static rather than a dynamic view of salvation was used to build.

In the static view, salvation remains outside the person and he still remains a worthless person, relying on Jesus outside of himself for viability. Eternal groveling is required. “Rejoicing” in what Jesus has done for me or to me, not in me, is the membership card. It becomes a system that praises suffering and death. Emotional pathology can be encouraged as pain becomes pleasure. There is glee in righteous gore.

In the dynamic view of salvation, Christ within is the hope of glory. An original worthlessness is not required to grow into a fullness of life. Indeed Christ is followed because of higher dimensions of being human. God’s Spirit lives in each person and is pleased with growth and development, harmony, peace, and continual well-being. God is not anti-human. Christ shows what is possible and invites people to do it.

In this view of salavtion, church members are not focused on social status and political power (externals) and concentrate on the power of  compassion for fellow human beings who hold Christ within (internal). They don’t hire “professional Christians” to do their faith for them or tell them the right way to do it.

That’s what Jesus did.

The church must not go away sorrowful, like the rich young ruler, when asked to follow Jesus. Nor should they organize around  power which becomes the lure for scam artists. Rather they must reclaim gender equality in leadership and use consensus to create community so that everyone is empowered and no one is excluded. There are models, such as recovery groups, that emulate the early house churches.

Being human is not what backed  the church into its corner. Pretending superiority is: members better than outsiders; men better than women. A static view of salvation leaves people fighting over manna. It is horrible to see a church torn apart as finger pointing becomes more vicious. Hurling attacks about who is the “genuine” follower is not the path of peace. Neither repentance nor forgiveness are acts that can be commanded on schedule.

Once trust has been betrayed, it is better for the hurt and the ones who hurt to receive therapy and healing and maybe not together. Often the church will have to disband. It takes time. If we are graced, a genuine group of people who want to follow Jesus will reemerge. Love is the doctrine.

The 30 pieces are never worth it.

The Battered Women of Faith: Reality vs Myth

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Do you wonder why church leaders or members don’t help the 1 in 4 abused women of faith in their congregations? Here are 4 possible reasons.

Myth One: She’s weak.

Predators are drawn to idealistic, strong and caring women. The church can be a field day for them to find potential victims. Believing women want to help others, relieve distress, give (too many) chances, and share their resources.

Rather than being weak, the Christian woman’s ideal of forbearance or perseverance will keep her trying to figure out how to change herself or help her abuser.

Those who criticize her for these strengths are not taking into consideration that these are the very traits she has been raised to display and are overlooking the fact that the church does not support her being any other way. Instead they are more likely to tell her to repent.

Myth Two: She’s Unintelligent

A mature faith is not blind but too much reasoning and questioning is not encouraged in some dogmatic churches. Indeed, believers are urged to “lean not unto your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5) or “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways  my ways, says the Lord.” (Is. 55:8) 

Abusers or controlling church leaders are quick to discourage a woman from questioning. Indeed the above verses can be used to discourage her from questioning her husband or pastor.

A woman has to defy what she is conditioned to do in many churches. She has to question, trust her intuition and inner voice, and grow in her faith in spite of resistance from members or leaders as well as her abusive husband.

Myth Three: She just needs to be a better Christian wife.

Domestic violence is not a marital problem. It cannot be healed with marital counseling. It is the deliberate subjugation of a person to mistreatment by a narcissist. He only uses God, faith or the Bible because he knows it’s important to his victim. It’s another tool. He is not trying to follow any of the faith demands he is screaming at his wife to follow.

Pastors who are more concerned about saving the marriage or advocating for the husband  more than the safety of the woman are playing the predator’s game. The doctrine of wifely submission will be used against her in counseling sessions.

Domestic violence may occur within a marriage but it is not about the marriage.  The woman is a hostage in her home. 

 Domestic violence is a man’s problem. Any other approach that focuses on her changing misses the mark. She has not failed in her marriage. In fact she is probably overdoing in trying to comply with unreasonable demands that dismiss her as worthy of the most basic humane consideration.

Myth Four: She can always leave.

Churches who are afraid to allow for divorce are more  interested  in their church’s reputation than solving this problem.  They have painted themselves into a corner because divorce is often the only reasonable action.

Going no contact with an abuser is necessary since he interprets any contact as an opening for mistreatment. This is an identifiable diagnosis – Narcissistic Personality Disorder – and the Bible is not an adequate one-size-fits-all solution in these cases.

Members who continue the conspiracy of silence, shun the woman, or want to enforce Bible study and  repentance are only re-traumatizing the abused.

Those who ask why she doesn’t leave are the very ones who will not help her. Understandably they do not want to bring violence into their own homes. But there are many ways to support women short of  taking her in.

Redemption from Biblical Battering: Your Path to Faith-Based Freedom is one of those ways. Using it or similar resources to guide a small group study or having it on hand to give to distressed women is an effective way to open and continue a conversation to help. Holding men in the church accountable is also a first step.

Another way is to refer the suffering woman to Suzanna’s Sisters, a secure Facebook group where women can communicate with licensed counselors who understand  religious domestic abuse or survivors who have been where they are for support. Contact the author for access or to schedule a presentation or training.

Easter and Domestic Abuse

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One of the most important ways in which my faith matured in the course of escaping domestic abuse in the name of God was the application of eternal life to the situation.

The way that the Bible and faith concepts were hurled against me was contrary to Jesus’ message and example, his demonstration that believers had the power of life over death.

They enforced a view of me and women generally as second- class souls. We were believing Christians, but the promise of the redemption and resurrection were somehow not fully ours.

Instead we had to keep earning our right to be treated with dignity, respect, and hardly ever the love we had been promised both in our vows and in the gospel.

The idea that my husband, a minister, was my Lord standing over me as head between me and Christ was scarcely different in the fundamentalist view than in the Catholic one in which I had been raised. The only difference was that instead of the priest between me and God, my husband was granted the responsibility.

This was one of the teachings I had left the Catholic faith over, citing the teaching to call no man Father.

Yet here I was being told that I must obey my husband who was a proxy for Christ  in our marriage.

But he certainly wasn’t acting like Christ. In fact there were many nonbelievers who had better marriages that we did.

Finally after years of begging, pleading, turning myself inside out to please, asking God in prayer for answers, I changed my prayer.

Instead of asking to change me so he would stop the abuse, I prayed to either change him or get me out of there.

The answer came. I was to leave because Christ did not die for me to live like this.

My own personal resurrection. Thanks be to God.

Resiliency Skills: Denials and Affirmations, Pt. 2

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In the last post, we began to see how to develop denials and affirmations to address our core needs for strength, positive thoughts, confidence and motivation. Let’s complete this process by looking at the three traits of effective denials and affirmations.

When assertive communication or other methods have failed or when it seems I have no answer, a denial helps me maintain my peace and avoid adding any energy to the situation. I can feel how relieved I am, how secure, as I repeat this denial to myself. I may even write it. I have heard of people changing the pronoun also and repeating the statement in words or writing.

 “No attempt to reduce Shirley’s worth is effective.”

“No attempt to reduce your worth is effective.”

I also visualize myself supported and appreciated as I say or write this statement. I add no energy to the conflict. Most dramas depend on energy to operate and when the energy is not there they often move on or dissolve. But even if the other person continues to operate in this way, my experience of it will be different. The practice of denials then helps keep me in a space where I can extend positive energy without hypocrisy. It clears away my negativity so I can move on to readiness for a more positive experience.

Next, after I have created this space through the denial, I can add an affirmation:

“I am secure in my worth.” Or “We are all equally worthwhile.” or

Or “I enjoy harmonious work relationships.”

 I state the desired condition as already present.  The phrase “I am” is especially powerful. God told Moses the Divine Name: “I am that I am. Tell them ‘I Am’ sent you.” Descartes was famous for the philosophical version of this sharing of life with God. “I think; therefore I am.” We then take it further by expressing the existence in a statement. So be aware when you think or say “I am….”

It is necessary to change exactly what we think is certain based on your past experience in order to create new experiences. By that I mean, if all your life you have felt like others did not want to be your friend, that will not change as long as you operate out of the idea that no one wants to be your friend. Einstein said that the solution to a problem cannot arise from the same thinking that created the problem. We have to reprogram ourselves to create different experiences for ourselves. At first these statements may feel strange. However Jesus said if we have faith as a grain of mustard seed, that is, just a little, we can do create an outer reality.

In Twelve Step recovery programs, it is taught that we can free ourselves of resentments by praying the Resentment Prayer even when we don’t mean it. And multitudes have proven this to be true. So even if we repeat the denials or affirmations without feeling, they can work, but repeating them will create the feeling eventually. They work more powerfully when the feeling dimension is present. The researchers at HeartMath have discovered this reality. The heart has its own intelligence and can override the mental type of intelligence. When the heart and mind work together, powerful results occur. Jesus demonstrated his knowledge of this when he would ask someone if they wanted to be healed, or when he said their faith had made them well. Medical science is filled with accounts of baffling recoveries based on the conviction of the patient. And even in cases in which the patient left this earth, the truth is that they were indeed healed, because they no longer suffer in the body.

One of the joys of relating to children is their simple bypassing of the negative. Their simple faith, goodness and love are always so close to the surface that they seek to share to uplift us naturally. For example, a father came home from work exhausted, too exhausted to greet his little boy. But the little boy did not hold this against the father. Instead he came up to him and affirmed, “It’s ok, Daddy. You’re home now.” The father immediately felt comforted. This is partly what Jesus meant when he said to become as little children, open to the good without misgiving.

Affirmations state the desired experience in the language of the present moment, as it is already here. They create and express faith in the good prevailing in our lives. They are not tied to specific outcomes but to the spiritual reality we want to enjoy. If seeking a specific or outer state, we always add “this or something better”, We are not trying to control or change someone else.*  We are clear about what we want to create: peace, harmony, love, faith, kindness, patience, goodwill, well being, abundance, or other good. The power is in our words spoken from our hearts with our minds.

Remember these traits of effective denials and affirmations:

  1. They come from a deep core of your authentic concern or desire.
  2. They are repeated with the feeling desired.
  3. They are stated and visualized as occurring, already present.

* If you have concerns for loved ones, you can identify what in you is being challenged.

Resiliency Skill: Denials and Affirmations- Part One

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In this blog, we will expand on the material in Redemption from Biblical Battering. One of the tools that rebuild strength in the woman who has been attacked by an abuser is the ability to mentally develop and rehearse denials and affirmations.

Using the power of your words to create your experiences can be very satisfying and stress relieving.  More than just positive thinking, denials and affirmations are a dynamic duo in managing our perceptions and feelings toward achieving satisfaction in relationships, work and other areas. They are based on the truth that the universe is supporting us and that love prevails in assuring us our good because this is the Divine Will for our lives. They create what Jesus called “the Kingdom of God within you”. If we think about what would the evidence be that Good prevailed, that is what Jesus meant. Harmonious relationships, happiness, fulfillment, peace, love, wisdom, kindness. We can create these through the power of our heart-mind-words.

Basically as I have practiced this technique, which has a long history in truth studies around the world, the dynamic involves creating space and affirming deeply. Some of the wisdom that supports this practice includes the idea of mind, idea and expression as the creative formula for our world; as in heaven, so below; living in faith; or practicing the presence of God.  It is not wishful thinking or a Pollyanna approach; It is not self-hypnosis because you cannot convince yourself against your will. It is based on the concept that we participate in creating our good by using our power of being made in the image of God, who made the world through the Word. They emerge from an integration of mind and heart that is life producing.

Denials and affirmations work hand in hand. Denials create space or release negativity so that a more positive experience can present itself. Then affirmations build improved conditions for living, whether materially, emotionally, mentally or in other areas.

But before I create or decide upon the wording of a denial or affirmation, I have found it important to do some depth work to identify as closely as I can what is really desired. I say this because I have had the experience of receiving what I had affirmed and then realized I was not specific or accurate enough in what I had affirmed! This is not to say that it was a negative effect; just that I saw what I had missed emphasizing that would have been even better. Good, better, best. But that is fine. I learned and did not lose out, a good growth process.

Or be prepared to find out that the results you desired showed up but in ways you hadn’t anticipated. For example, I may have been affirming that the sale process proceeds in Divine Order after my bid on a house is accepted. However the realtor creates so many problems that I never buy the house. So the sale did proceed in Divine Order. I was not supposed to buy that house. I find out later that it had many problems that I would not have been able to afford. So the difficulties that arose were not obstacles, but the process working out as it was supposed to. Continue to affirm, even when it does not appear to be working.  You will either learn how to modify the affirmation or denial to be more accurate or see the good in new ways. Repeat it daily and then go about your business, not giving it any more thought. Proceed with the assurance that it is coming to be.

So the depth work, either through journaling, counseling, talking, or other processing, helps me identify the core concern or issue I am dealing with because I don’t always know. Someone once asked if it was the problem or the feelings I had about the problem that was troubling. I thought this was an astute observation, similar to the idea of wanting money or wanting what you think money will provide. Money (tangible) is desired for what people think it will secure (intangible, such as security, fun, power, freedom, etc.).

In addition to accurate identification of the concern or issue, it is important to include the feeling desired and to associate an image with the desired outcome. Imagination plays an important role in creating denials and affirmations. In fact, it seems what is in most need of healing or fulfillment is exactly what denials and affirmations work most effectively to create. In other words the things that disturb us are usually signals from our shadow selves, some area we are not in touch with and which need resolution. Denials and affirmations are powerful tools for resolving these issues because they help us experience what filling the need feels like.

 We can examine this sample denial first. Let’s say that there is a particularly difficult coworker I am dealing with. After journaling about the recurring problems, I discover that the real issue that is disturbing my peace in interacting with this person is his apparent need to one- up me in every meeting. But the deeper realization is that this goes back to one of my trigger issues from when I was growing up of feeling “less than”. It is a core issue for me.

 I create a denial that says “No attempt to reduce my worth is effective.”

In the next post, we will explore Part II of this skill that rebuilds self-worth and confidence.

New Recovery Workbook

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More awareness of gender abuse within church groups has become news recently. Doctrinal groups both reflect and shape the culture they are in.

Groups like Christian for Biblical Equality, FaithTrust Institute, and Twitter voices such as #savedfromthe silence, #defendthe sheep, #churchtoo, #emptythepews and others are witnessing that church is not always safe for women.

During Domestic Violence month, I want to point out that an estimated 25% of church women are abused in their homes. They stay longer because of wrestling with faith questions.

Although prevalence seems to be higher in conservative religions, enforcement of patriarchy as God’s will is not limited to these groups. Many books are now coming out about the struggle to maintain faith within a system that does not honor the equality of women.

However, I did not find a self-help recovery workbook to  help women sort out the complex and subtle pressures to keep them in an abusive relationship within some churches.

That is why I am happy to report that my workbook, Redemption from Biblical Battering, is now available on Amazon and Kindle. I hope you will consider it when you meet a woman of faith who thinks she must choose between her faith and her marriage.

 

Veterans of Domestic War

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     October has been chosen as a month of over 100 chances for awareness or observances. The National Holiday Calendar list could be grouped into categories of animal care, human care, food, health, ethnicity, and more.

So it is tempting to wonder if there is a hierarchy of significance. Are, say, the human causes more important than the animal ones? Famously we are aware that there are more animal shelters per population than women’s shelters. But those who are animal lovers may brush this away because humans are supposed to be able to defend themselves.

I am proposing a shift in the way we think about the issue. I am proposing that we shift the emphasis away from violated women as a group that must be advocated for by others and therefore “lower” somehow and emphasize their strengths.    

Women who have survived domestic violence are veterans, veterans of domestic wars. Many have endured the same tactics Continue reading