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This Is How You Can Overcome The Past And Move Forward

This Is How You Can Overcome The Past And Move Forward

I think that one of the most difficult things for a human being to do is overcome the past. Our past defines us, shapes us, and for the most part we carry these experiences for the rest of our lives. For better or worse. Just yesterday I attended an acting class where the instructor said that she sensed my tension and apprehension at following her directions. As part of an exercise, she wanted me to lay down on the floor, close my eyes, breathe, and relax. However, she could see that this was challenging for me. My shoulders were tense, I continued to fidget with my hands, and closing my eyes was a very difficult thing for me to do in that unknown environment. These are all side effects of my own past life experiences.

I grew up in the streets of the South Bronx, under the constant threat of random and often targeted violence. As such I developed a very high level of awareness, and relaxing translates into letting go of that awareness. Something which I am not too keen on doing, particularly when I am outside of my comfort zones. She insisted that I comply and I did my very best to relax. This is part of my own process at overcoming the past. As you can see, in my case it is still very much an ongoing process. Perhaps you feel the same way, and that is why you are here. With this article I will attempt to share some points that may help you on your own journey.

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Acknowledge the past

In order to address or move on from any problems in life, we must first acknowledge that they exist. You have to look at your life and acknowledge that you are still struggling with something that happened in the past. For many of us this is not easy, particularly tough guys who grew up in the mean streets of the South Bronx. If you are really determined about moving on, first recognize that the past happened. Understand that it is the past, and contrary to what I said earlier it doesn’t have to define you. You get to choose who you are today, and you can leave the past in the past.

Lyrical therapy

Writing has always been a major outlet for me. I still recall writing in a diary at a very young age. This continued on to my teenage years and evolved into poetry and music. During a particularly rough time during my teen years, I was attending counseling sessions. The way that my counselor and I communicated best was through my poetry. He found that I best expressed myself through writing and this became our primary means of communication. Here I am some 20 years later, and I still heavily rely on my writing and poetry as a means of coping with life and it’s challenges. Many poets that I know strongly credit their writing as the reason that they are still functional human beings, myself included.

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Being present

One item that I still struggle with is being present in the moment. This is a topic that I have been covering since the infancy of the web. I still remember making youtube videos when it was a brand new fad, and one of my earliest video blogs was about “being present in the moment.” I’m not the only one either, many others have been sharing this kind of information for a long time as well! Our lives are so busy and so connected that we are often “not present.” Our bodies may be somewhere, but our minds are in 20 different places. This is not a good way to live and it robs you of the simple pleasure of just “being.” Practice mindfulness and focus on being present. One technique that I was taught was to put my feet flat on the ground, to focus on my feet being on the ground. Feel the ground beneath your feet and acknowledge that you are there at that moment. Simply placing your feet on the ground should provide you with some form of calm and relaxation.

Feel

One thing that I consider myself is a master of blocking things out. I am so good at shutting down that some people have perceived me as cold and cruel. The opposite is actually the truth. In fact, this is a common defense that sensitive people practice as a form of survival and self preservation. We feel so much, that things hurt that much more. However, you cannot truly let things go if all you do is bury and deny them. You have to allow yourself to go through the range of emotions, whatever they may be. Let them pass through you, feel them. Don’t deny yourself this or you will never truly move on. Trust me on this one, in some instances I am still working on this.

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Communicate

I mentioned earlier how writing was a form of therapy for me. Well, talking to someone can be just as valuable. There is one person whom I wish that I could speak with and gain some closure from. This opportunity has been denied to me for decades now. The person has gone on to become the topic of many a song that I have written, and only with the passage of time has the pain subsided. However, the true closure has not come since we have not been able to speak. One technique that I have implemented is talking to them on my own. Sure, this sounds like I am a crazy person, but a little crazy isn’t all that bad now is it? My father died, he’s gone, so there is no way that I will ever get the opportunity to talk to him. Even so, I still speak to my dad. I tell him through my soul that I miss him and that I wish we could actually talk again. I cry silently and I tell him that I know he did his best. If physically talking to the person is not an option, and a friend is not available, then be a little crazy with me and use this method. Just be aware of your thoughts and don’t listen to any odd statements!

Overcoming the past is not easy, and 1,001 people will give 1,001 ideas on how you can do it. Ultimately it is up to you to find your own way, but we hope that these ideas may help you on your journey.

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Featured photo credit: Alan Cleaver via flickr.com

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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