What new thoughts does a woman living in an abusive relationship need to embrace to start feeling empowered in her life?
Unless women in abusive relationships get clear about the beliefs that program their thoughts and actions, they will not be aware of why they do things or the way they do things when they do them - they thus continue to find themselves stuck and remain in abusive, intolerable situations for longer than is necessary.
We are talking about a shift in paradigms.
Paradigms are thought patterns and beliefs that guide HOW WE THINK, BEHAVE AND ACT.
Here are 7 paradigm shifts that a woman living in an abusive, toxic relationship needs to make in order to feel a sense of empowerment in her life.
1) Let Go of Drama: Abusive relationships can be filled with lots of acting out, drama and noise. It is thus easy to get stuck in a position of always reacting and being sucked into the noxious behaviour of others.
Empowered women focus on staying centered. They put their energies into determining how they think, feel and act and thus do not get drawn into someone else's bad behaviour.
2) Define Your Own Beliefs and Values: Women who live in abusive relationships not only struggle with a sense of who they are and what's important to them, they struggle with issues around entitlement and the idea of embracing that they not only need to have their own beliefs and values, but that they have a right to live by them.
Empowered women not only take the time to think through what is important to them, they know that they are entitled, and have a right to have their own beliefs and values, and make every effort to live by them.
3) Let Go of Co-dependency: Women living in abusive relationships tend to put their focus on what the other person is thinking, doing and feeling, rather than defining themselves and their own needs. Their sense of self is often defined by the other person in the relationship and is located outside of themselves. They thus look to the other person in the relationship to enhance their self-esteem and self-worth, so that they can feel more positive about themselves.
Empowered women prioritize their own needs and know that this is not being selfish but that it is vital and necessary to their well-being. They understand that their self-esteem and sense of self-worth is located within them and not outside of them. They thus take responsibility for their own feelings, behaviour and actions.
4) Develop Reality-based Relationships: Women in abusive relationships often find themselves living in relationships based on hope and have difficulty acknowledging the reality of their situation. This allows them to continuously minimize poor behaviour and propel into a future of fantasy wishful thinking which is not grounded in present reality.
Empowered women pay attention to their partner's actions and behaviours and call them on it; they don't just focus on listening to their words, they pay attention to their behaviour and look for congruency. They stay grounded in the present and the here and now.
5) Learn and Understand Child Development. Women in abusive relationships are often unaware of the impact that aggressive, hostile behaviour can have on the developing minds of their children. Research in the area of child development tends to reinforce that the early years continue to be of prime importance.
Empowered women take the time to learn and understand more about their child's growth and development. They understand that Children are like sponges and soak up what they see and hear. They know that a continuous hostile and unhealthy environment is detrimental to a child's ability to learn and grow in a healthy way.
6) Take Responsibility for Their Personal Safety: Women living in abusive relationships can tend to lack an awareness of just how important their role as primary caregiver is to their children; thus they can minimize the impact and fear that their children experience when they witness and hear the person they depend on being mistreated.
Empowered women take action and take control of their personal safety as best they can, thereby relieving their children of this burden and responsibility; in so doing they reduce their children's potential for hyper-vigilance, fear and anxiety.
7) Understand the Importance of Role Modeling: Women in abusive relationships are inclined to minimize and can even dismiss the importance of the impact of what their children see and hear in terms of how genders relate to each other. They tend to unrealistically think that their love can overcome the negative effects of aggressive bad behaviour.
Empowered women understand that parents are teachers, and are thus responsible for modeling appropriate and respectful behaviours to their children, in order for them to grow up to be responsible, law-abiding people with good social skills. They understand that much of this modeling is done within the context of family life.
EMPOWERMENT means TAKING ACTION ON one's OWN BEHALF and rather than being acted UPON.
The simple act of changing her way of thinking in terms of how she views herself and her situation, can be the most important paradigm shift that a woman living in an abusive or toxic relationship can take in her journey towards EMPOWERMENT.