The first action needed to create change is to decide that the current situation is unsatisfactory and unacceptable. There must be recognition of unwanted behavior and a desire for it to come to an end in order for true change to occur. A decision to change has no value unless action is taken and approaches are adjusted over time, remedying the unacceptable current situation.
Almost all misconduct is a result of immature, selfish, unjust, or disrespectful behavior. All abusers share these attributes. It is difficult to create permanent change in another person, and especially with someone who is immature, selfish, unjust, or disrespectful. Therefore, it is the victim of abuse that must do something or the change is unlikely to manifest. It is also very important to be diligent about finding the right combination of actions and tools that help maintain transformation. The many possible reasons why someone would be attracted to these situations can often create difficulties and resistance from breaking free.
Transformation is not easy and a good deal of mental focus and determination are required to move past abusive relationships. Abusers are happy with the current situation and will resist all measures of change. Despite the formidable resistance an abuser will attempt to offer in order to keep power and to maintain domination and control, the victim and their allies must remain diligent and conscious of the situation. It is possible, but rare, that unwanted behavior in an abuser can be banished forever. When a victim insists that an abuser prove themselves before believing their promises, promises "to be good" are more likely to be kept, if even for only a few weeks or months. However, usually an abuser makes promises that are not kept because they are pretending "to be good" to regain trust, only to abuse again, as in time, a person’s true nature always emerges. When someone is committed to change and starts to take actions, finding the right method (or combination of methods) is only a matter of willpower, resources, and flexibility.
There are four options, or processes, one can use regarding how to address unwanted behavior:
Option 2: The Internal Option
The internal option involves remaining mentally composed to more clearly determine the nature and consequences of other people’s actions, as well as choosing how to respond to these actions. This option is known as “internal” due to its focus on personal development. The sort of personal development necessary here requires creating new thought processes and reconstructing your inner self to become more beneficial to the situation at hand.
The Internal Option is a process that includes managing one's own emotions, reactions, and behaviors. Many victims, including the victims of domestic violence, continue to move from one abuser to another. They may feel as though being abused is not only normal but part of their self-identity, adding to their ongoing feelings of self-worthlessness and insecurity. The brain is a mechanism that re-wires itself to accommodate and adapt to trauma and emotional experience. Fortunately, the mind is changeable and we can use this opportunity to include new, beneficial revisions.
There are four concepts that form the premise of the Internal Option:
1) The brain is an organ trained to think and is constantly in action. While we are asleep the brain is quite active and surprisingly, it is often several times more active while we are dreaming than while we are awake.
2) Although a highly active brain is useful for problem solving, this high activity can often obscure the detection of new information, interfere with processing data appropriately, and diminish making logical and effective decisions. Post-traumatic stress is described as a diminished ability to think clearly, function logically, and respond effectively, and is particularly likely to develop for victims of abuse and those who have been exposed to certain negative experiences.
3) When a person is able to keep the mind and thoughts calm, new information is more accurately detected, data and conditions are better understood, and making logical and effective decisions are more likely.
4) Despite post-traumatic stress and other emotional traumas, a person can intentionally retrain and refine thought processes in order to regain a calm and clear mind.
A process nicknamed the “The C3 Approach”, discussed in another post, may assist in alleviating the impact of abuse by transforming one's mind. The C 3 Approach method recognizes that a victim has the ability to take control. This process originates in the Theravada Buddhist, Hindu, and New Age traditions and has been adapted by domestic violence survivors to help create internal shifts in thought, response, and emotion.
Please continue to check in with us each week for a new post about abusive behavior and how it can affect your life and the lives of those around you.