How to Stop Emotionally Abusing Others

Everyone has a bad day and takes it out on someone else now and then. Everyone has people they like less than others. Some people may even dislike other people in general. But if you are constantly acting hostile towards a particular target, you may be inflicting emotional abuse. Here are some steps you can take to try to stop.


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    Take care of yourself. If you don't feel happy, you may be more inclined to make others unhappy. Work healthy habits and relaxation time into your life.
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    Identify causes of stress in your life. The person you act angry towards may not be the problem at all. If you have problems in your life that you feel are beyond your control, you may lash out at an easy, convenient target, even one that has nothing to do with your real problem. Figuring out what's really troubling you is an important step.
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    Talk openly about your problems with someone you trust. Talking is a positive way to release your pent up frustration, anger, worry, or sadness that you normally direct at the target of your behavior. Take care to choose a person who you have not targeted in the past, such as a long distance friend or better yet a counsellor or therapist. Try to be receptive to what this person might say. Do not talk at the person, or use them as a dumping ground for your anger.
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    Work to reduce, end, or cope with your problem as much as possible. Remove yourself from stressful situations when possible. Talk to friends and family about ways to solve your problems. Find everyday coping strategies that work to help you deal with or release tension when you can't get away from the stress.
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    Be very conscious of your words and actions. Think about what you're going to say before you speak. Are you being angry, hurtful, or derisive? Is it necessary for you to say this thing? Could you phrase your statement in a less hurtful way?
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    Utilize some of the coping strategies you use to deal with the problems you're having. If you're really upset with a certain person, excuse yourself momentarily. Remember, this person is probably not the real cause of your problems.
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    When you are making noticeable progress towards stopping your angry behavior, try to apologize to this person. This is best done in person, but if the person is avoiding you, a phone call or letter may be better. You may mention the problems in your life that prompted your behavior, but make it clear that you do not consider this an excuse for the way you acted. Explain that you are working to get better.


  • If you really want to stop, try seeking outside help. Not a friend or family, but someone more professional and private. Sometimes the real issue is hidden for reasons of embarrassment, and maybe telling someone not directly involved with their life would be easier for the first steps to get it out into the open.
  • Emotional distress doesn't always take the form of a huge outburst of shouting. Offhand, jokey comments can sometimes be equally or more harmful. People who share close friendships may sometimes make comments about each other that seem hurtful, but are known by both people to be benign. However, when these jokes are constantly aimed at a single target and cause the target to be genuinely hurt, the "joking" is a form of emotional abuse. Always consider the feelings of the other person before you make a derogatory comment, even if you're just kidding.

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Categories: Anger Management | Abuse