Coercion and mind control are two tools an abusive partner uses to maintain control over their victim. Decision making in these relationships relies on the abuser’s power to overwhelm your ability to think clearly or check the abuser’s perceptions against reality. As long as an abuser can keep you from thinking freely, they can keep you under their thumb. Getting out, staying out and building a life you love depends on tearing apart the “logic” that was tailor-made to keep you in the abuser’s “trance.”
Free yourself by improving the way you attend to your decision making process in every aspect of your life. This post addresses how to take control of your mind/emotions when it comes to making decisions that satisfy your needs.
Let me suggest 5 principles based on Universal Human Rights that you can use to reclaim your dignity and your decision making power.
- When you are trying to make a decision and you feel guilt, recognize guilt as a tool someone else has used to unfairly influence you in the direction of making the decision they prefer. If your choice poses no harm to anyone else, move forward with that choice. Not choosing the way someone else would have you choose is not the same as doing something wrong. You have the right to decide based on what you need/want.
- Feeling angry? Maybe someone has done or said something that is causing you to feel that way? Anger is a signal to you that something is wrong. Instead of ignoring it, pay attention. Try to pinpoint the exact button inside of you that the other person pushed and go from there to see how you can address your need. Be cautious though, decision making when angry usually leads to poor decisions. Give yourself time to calm down and think about it. It’s perfectly fine to express your anger in responsible ways – a skill that requires practice.
- Remember that you don’t have to take responsibility for making decisions that others are also responsible for carrying out. What am I talking about? Your co-worker suggests a potluck. You take in on yourself to organize it but that responsibility isn’t yours. Don’t overextend. The potluck is a group activity. It’s okay to decide to bring chips.
- When you are making a decision and you need more information, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for more information or clarification. There is noting wrong with saying “I do not understand” without feeling guilty or stupid. Be confident. Not everyone knows everything about everything – and you aren’t expected too, either. You have the right to ask for and get all the information you need before moving forward with your choice.
- It’s okay to not make up your mind right away. If someone presses you for a decision, it’s okay to say “I don’t know.” Take the time you need to be confident about your choice. If you need more time, take it. When you feel rushed about a decision that is yours to make, be sure you are not responding to the pressure by allowing guilt to derail your process. When time pressure is involved in pressure to make a decision it is usually best to let the time pass, even if the opportunity is lost. Time usually brings wisdom and a sense of gratitude for not jumping too fast.
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© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2016 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.