The first decision 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.
The Four Options
There are four options, or processes, one can use regarding how to address unwanted behavior:
The External Option, The Internal Option, The Agency Option, and The Ally Option.
In this article we will be looking at the first option, The External Option. The External Option relates to how one’s character, behavior, and traits appear to others. This applies to your traits as seen by others as well as the attributes of others that you observe. This dynamic relates to appearances and therefore is called “external.”
There are two basic components of the External Option:
1) How someone appears to you, which can be analyzed using profiling techniques.
2) How you appear to others, which can be altered intentionally to attract or repel others.
We have discussed in previous posts the domestic behavior patterns: The Cycle of Violence Type, The Controlling Type, The Sadistic Type, The Stalking Type, and The Codependent Type, please have a look for more specific information. Although these behaviors and characteristics might vary from person to person, they typically are found in combination. These types can all be detected through observation, criminal, domestic, and civil records, and through the person’s friends and former relationships.
There are five concepts that form the premise of the External Option:
1) The human brain is a pre-wired mechanism designed to perform certain behaviors and actions which are initially shaped by physiology and are reshaped with age, emotional maturity, and experience, which are further affected by family, trauma, local customs, social events, culture, etc.
2) A large population, easily in the millions, feasts, craves, and promotes abusive behavior, dependency, conflict, and selfish acts.
3) To a great extent this population of abusers is attracted to, and continuously seeks, interaction with those who possess particular personality and physical traits. Some potential partners are co-dependent, some are innocent and sincere, and some are insecure and vulnerable.
4) Someone who can detect abusive attributes and patterns generally can intentionally disconnect from this person and avoid engaging in a relationship before abuse manifests.
5) Someone who understands the nature of these abusive personalities and who wishes to prevent harmful interaction or end ongoing abuse can make intentional adjustments of how he or she acts and responds, and therefore would be perceived by an abuser in a way no longer promoting, or at the very least, diminishing the opportunities for abuse.
Simply stated, the External Option includes the choices that are made regarding observing the characteristics of another, attempts to re-invent the characteristics that are portrayed, or a combination of the two. For example, if meeting someone you are attracted to and want to know better. Before you are fully invested in this new relationship, take note of your own relationship tendencies and attempt to use the External Option. In other words, profile and evaluate your characteristics, their characteristics, and then examine if there is any indication that the five major abusive patterns may exist in either of you. Take your time to better determine their natural state.
Utilizing the External Option requires patience and a large amount of time. A rush to intimacy may be more exciting, but then this becomes a relationship founded on physical attraction, emotional attraction, affirmations, etc., all the while this person's true nature goes undiscovered, perhaps for years.
The other dynamic of the External Option pertains to how you choose to be observed by others. If you have stalkers always on your tail, knowing the qualities they find attractive and knowing their mindset can enable you to project new information that they would find distasteful or unattractive. You have the power to appear, sound, act, and respond in new ways that can help manage your safety and comfort, should you choose.
Rules of Observation
When using the External Option, there are Rules of Observation to consider. These rules help formulate more truthful and clear assessments:
- Those who intend to manipulate and deceive, attempt to create false impressions until trust has been created. Therefore, later observations about someone are more authentic than initial impressions. Over time more authentic behaviors always emerge, but should these be negative attributes, victims find it hard to let go of the initial image portrayed by the abuser and attempt to find, in vain, the "nicer person" that used to exist.
- Be aware how you respond to those around you. This means that if you are predisposed to like or dislike someone, their character and behavior is often viewed through the prism of your views, which can obscure reality. Guard against misinterpreting information that wishes to conform to your hopes, attractions, and predispositions.
- Difficult times usually offer a more accurate sense of one's true nature and character. When all is well, people act properly, but when things go bad, conflict, challenges, and uncomfortable situations arise. Use difficult situations as an opportunity to learn.
It can be difficult to understand the intricacies of who someone truly is or how we are seen by them, but with time and practice we can become aware of these external factors and how to avoid negative interactions or projections. The more we educate ourselves and pay attention to what is happening in and around us, the more likely we are to change these patterns. Next week we will be discussing the second option to address unwanted behavior, The Internal Option.
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.