Are you on a roll? Are you a shining star early in life and your future looks very bright and promising? Well, I am very happy for you and I wish it continues forever. Because, when young, some of us did not build enough character to back up the talent we were blessed with, only to realize much later that character and the ability to navigate thro’ life is the cornerstone of success. One big pitfall where I have seen very talented women just got sucked in and never to show their face again in public is falling in the hands of one wrong person. Just one wrong choice, one wrong person in their life. Oh yes, I am talking about very talented, very successful women who fall into this cycle.
We all know the kind of abuse that is visible and one that is violent. Physical domestic violence. It is the scariest type of abuse and it causes physical pain and heightened scare. It is almost the same feeling you get when a huge animal like a lion or tiger comes attacking you. Our immediate response to this kind of abuse is to run from the abuser, call for protection OR in developed countries, call helplines.
There is abuse of another kind of an equally dangerous level. It does not raise its hand nor its voice but slowly and gently plays on your psyche to the point that someday you just end up hating yourself. The kind that usually starts as love, grows into your personal space, mistakes your kindness for weakness and one day makes you lose trust and confidence in yourself. I generally call this slow poison. A poison that tastes so sweet in the beginning that your brain is drugged into believing that this is actually good for you. The person administering you this poison is actually someone who is very close to you and loves you to the moon. A father, mother, spouse or anyone too close for you to mistake that you are being abused. The usual suspect is the person who apparently has high stakes in your life with whom you are kind of trapped emotionally.
Emotional abuse succinctly stated is permission giving to a control freak who takes charge of you, your life and calls you names that you would not imagine hearing from a loved one. Giving control of your life to someone else and living a life of approval seeking, wanting permission slips and excessive fear of being rejected is the other way to look at emotional abuse. There could be an endless list of things the abuser does to such victims because nothing gratifies a person’s ego than controlling others. This is human. Given power and authority anyone can act like a hitler. My question therefore is why are we making someone a hitler? Why do some people give so much power to someone who is just yet another human being? This is not love - Love is freedom and independence. I know of women who were too scared to step out of the house, choose clothes of their own liking, hang out with people they like and continue to live in nerve wrecking fear. I also know of women who ruined their careers & financial freedom in fear of an overpowering spouse who would intentionally sabotage their careers and financial independence. But I do not sympathize with them half as much I sympathize with the abusers. Because it is self inflicted.
Let us dissect the personality of people that are very successful, talented and well recognized yet become such victims and later become failures at crucial points in life.
These are people with excellent communication and people skills. They have an outgoing personality and they are appreciated(more than an average Jane) for some unique talent and showmanship they bring to the forefront. They are smart, perhaps academically doing very well and with an attitude to make it big in life. They are quite naive and innocent. They love people and tend to say a lot. This so much about the upside of their personalities. Coming to the exact attributes that makes them go down in life, on top of that list would be: Highly egoistic & tuned to a major sense of entitlement that has grown from being constantly appreciated, admired and praised for. You can sense this from the way they go shopping, constantly pampering themselves with stuff they don’t need.
Other qualities that lets them down the dreaded road are : They are people pleasers for the selfish reason of being admired in return. They dare not hurt anyone and they don’t know how to say No. Some of them are highly emotional to the point of being illogical, not thinking. They lack in self-confidence and you can sense that they are nervous and insecure in their own skin.
All that aside, the worst of all, they did not have anyone to tell them all this. Because they were so successful in certain aspects of life, they did not know their own blindspots. Surprisingly it is the women folk that are predominantly prey to personality traps.
Such women start out as independent, self-reliant women but a the same time, fail to develop some basic tenacity & character required to sustain the momentum. This puts them right in the hand of someone who initially looks perfect but later shows a personality of controlling others and the downward journey kickstarts. It is as though the two personalities attract each other. A person with a need to be accepted by someone all the time and a control freak who wants to dominate. A major dent in confidence, disruption of peace, loss of goal & purpose manifests in different proportions because when you fall for someone who wants to control every aspect of your life and keep you several steps behind, they will do and say anything without decency. Because they know that the victim is under their spell. Many women do not comeback in life after enduring a very prolonged sabotage by a controlling partner. Or they live in constant trauma torn between a good outside life and a pathetic personal life.
Does any of the traits mentioned above feels like you? Do you seek approval all the time in spite of all the talent and success?
Then be aware of where this can lead you and focus on how to build character before talent. How to build a character to stay strong and safe for yourself and to take care of yourself.
Declare your freedom through financial independence. Nothing can chain you as much as financial dependence. Nothing can be as liberating as financial freedom either. Most victims tend to put up with unfair control because they are afraid where to go next because they have no control on their finances. Never give up control on your finance, leave alone giving up your right to earn and sustain your financial independence. This is why it is extremely important to think wealth and career right from early college days all the way till passing out of post grad days. And then to sustain that momentum all the way till you die. Never ever get into financial issues in life.
Keep control of your affairs and your life no matter how simple or hard the decision it is. Letting others decide for you all the time can make you feel heroic for a temporary period, later it becomes a pain. From what to wear, to how to spend your time, how to invest your money, what career choices you made, what to speak - let every choice be yours. Be responsible for yourself because no one else can think for you. Even the best well wisher around. You are uniquely you and when you decide for yourself, you cant go wrong as the ownership is also yours. Discuss with others, take others opinion but let the decision be yours. Establish from the time you cross the teen phase that you will have the final word in your matter.
Don’t fall a prey to your own ego. Keeping our ego humored all the time can be a very detrimental practice. Failure to be insulted, to be rejected , not walking thro’ that rough patch, not taking tough decisions and being too timid and not being audacious. A high ego can keep you in a constant drugged state if mind - similar to watching too much TV. Entertaining your ego all the time can also be very harmful. This is what most psychologists also call being in the comfort zone. You never get far staying comfortable. Every time you catch yourself taking easy decisions, tell yourself - Not me, not again. Be ready for the rough. Imagine yourself for big picture, long term success and ask yourself whether your current life is serving to that big picture? If not, however uncomfortable it is, tell your ego to live thro’ the pain and just move on.
Listen instead of being overtly optimistic. Oprah says this all the time, which is to listen to your inner voice or intuition. Never counter intuition with intelligence. I have known women that never give up on abusers in the hope the abuser will change, things will get better in spite of knowing deep down in their hearts that something is not right. When your body or higher intelligence(that unknown butterfly) says “No” listen to it the first time. There is a secret shortcut to finding out whats best for you and that is your heart. Listen to your senses. Listen to feedback. When people that you trust, your well wishers point out something is wrong about you, introspect instead of washing it off as a joke. Oh yes, you can go through a full lane of pain and then decide it was all wrong, but why do that when you have an inner voice guiding you just as well?
Create a purpose for yourself. An identity for yourself, a purpose driven life is what makes you, gives you confidence and propels you into action. That purpose could change as we grow but have a moving purpose nevertheless. Without standing up for something, you will fall for everything. More so, fall for the easy predators if you have a very wavering personality. Hence, by the time you are 18, it is a good time and maturity level to understand yourself well and to sketch an avatar. Pursue a few areas of interest, where it seems your heart is and create an extra-ordinary image for yourself. Put in continuous 2-3 hours of effort everyday in fields that are promising for you. Spend enough time building your body and character. You need to know who you are so others do not define who you are. Enormous confidence comes from holding on to an image of yourself, a purpose and commitment to action.
My wish is that instead of blaming abusers and the law, women should take control in their hands from very early on. I hope to the girls of today as smarter women of the future. I hope this becomes an education in itself. I write to share my learnings with girls so they don’t go through the journey that I did.