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5 Truths About Abusive Relationships

5 Truths About Abusive Relationships

The first time it happened I don’t even think it settled in for a day or so. We were in a fight about something when suddenly his hands were wrapped tightly around my neck and I was pinned up against the wall. He didn’t hit me. There was never striking by hand. Most of the time I was shoved and pushed into walls or furniture, shoved up against a wall and pinned against it beyond my will. Thrown head first into a headboard, resulting in a bloody nose. One time in the middle of a fight the shotgun was suddenly taken down off the wall. There is nothing like seeing your partner grab a gun during a fight.

Those were the physical things. The verbal attacks were about as damaging. “You’ll never amount to anything.” Or “If it wasn’t for your long hair you wouldn’t even be remotely attractive. Don’t ever cut it, or you’ll be nothing.” Or “Gee, looks like you’ve lost some weight, I think your ass seems less wide than normal.”

Fear, control, manipulation and threats were a part of my daily life. Combine all that joy with late nights out drinking and you may wonder why I didn’t go running for the door – right? What’s wrong with women (or men) who stay in these relationships anyway? (Domestic abuse victims are approximately 85% women and 15% men.)

Nothing. Well, nothing at the start other than a good heart, a bent towards forgiveness and searching for love in the wrong place. At the end of enduring this type of relationship for any length of time a lot of damage has been done. Over 38 million women will find themselves the victim of abuse at the hands of their intimate partner at some time during their life. See this link for even more sobering facts.

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Here are some insights about abusive relationships from someone that’s been there. Even if you don’t want to admit it, if you are in an abusive relationship then these are truths for you also, as painful as they may be to admit.

1. You are worth more

What starts off as well intentioned forgiveness turns into forfeiting your life for someone who is never going to be capable of being a truly healthy partner. Controlling, abusive partners need help. You are worth more in this life than waiting for their sickness to get better. You are worth a partner that respects you exactly as you are. You are worthy of a partner that does not control you or force you to hide parts of who you are.

What if you even had a partner that was there to be a catalyst – even to your own personal growth in a healthy way? Imagine how far you could go in your life by shedding what is dragging you down. The longer you stay, the more difficult you will find the truth something you believe. Experiencing abuse will eventually rob you of your self-worth.

2. It won’t get better

After every fight you hear promise after promise of how it will get better, and how sorry they are. It won’t get better. Your abusive partner has already shown a lack of respect for you, and that will not improve by putting up with being treated with abuse. Better exists, but not inside this relationship. It took years for them to learn to deal with people in this abusive, controlling, manipulative way. It will take a lifetime for them to unlearn it, and that is only if they want to do the difficult work required with help.

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Back to point one: you are worth more than forfeiting your life. The next time you want to fill yourself with false hope that this could change, please read these facts about your future staying with your abuser.

3. This is not your problem to fix

Being the victim in these relationships can cause you to think, “If only I had dressed better, or cleaned the house better, or been more affectionate… then maybe the fight wouldn’t have started.”

You should never think this way. If you had done everything perfectly the fight still would have started. The abuse still would have happened. Your partner is fighting something in themselves not of you, but taken out upon you. Nothing you do or don’t do can fix them or prevent this from happening again. You are not in control of this situation no matter how wonderful you are to them.

4. There is no prize for who survives the worst

Ask yourself, “Why am I hanging on to this?” What do you have to gain? There is no award at the end of years of long abusive relationships except a heart full of regret. Just because you love this person does not give you to right to forfeit the gift of your life.

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You are worthy of wonderful, healthy, loving blessings. You are not serving your life’s purpose by putting yourself in this jail, wasting your gifts from being shared with the world, under this person’s control and abuse. Fast forward your life to age seventy. What will you regret most?

5. You can help others

Abuse of all sorts is still hidden in our society and not talked about openly. Victims shield their abusers from judgement by staying quiet and not reaching out to others. It is common to stay silent to even your closest family or friends about abuse because of point 2, above – you are still in denial that it will get better. As victims we dream of the day the pain will end and they will see our worth, so we decide not to tell our family and friends. We fear judgement of our partner, our choices and ourselves.

If you believe everything happens for a reason, then maybe the reason this has happened was for you to overcome this struggle and grow from it so you can help others. My situation was not something I often talked about unless I met someone I recognized as possibly in the same situation. In those cases I always shared my story in private and encouraged them to reach out. There are ways to overcome and transcend this part of life.

No, getting out of an abusive, controlling relationship isn’t easy. It’s scary, difficult and at times you will want to retreat. I personally remember about six months of being in fear for my safety in every way. But staying and giving your life up to this person who has zero value for you is not the answer. Reach out to someone you trust. For more resources about what steps to consider to actually get out this is a great link with a helpline link near the bottom of the article.

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Even though my experience with this happened over twenty years ago, it’s still a part of who I am. The experience changed me in a way nothing else could. The most difficult part of the entire thing wasn’t actually the abuse. The most difficult part was letting myself down for not walking away sooner. The most difficult part was forgiving myself for putting up with far less than I deserved. Forgiving myself took far longer than forgiving him.

Remember that when you think about just treading water and just waiting a bit longer to see what happens. Give yourself a chance at life. You are worth so much more!

If you are in, or know someone who is in an abusive relationship, consider checking this link.

If you are in the United States then you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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