Abuser and Victim

Apr 12

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Matt. 7:16.

A friend recently asked a fascinating question: “How do I respond to people whose actions are cruel and hurtful but who say that what they are doing is part of their greater purpose?”

This question has so many aspects. Like so many other things in life, the answers become clearer when we ask clearer questions. Let’s explore a few.

Are the people who say they are living their greater purpose being cruel and hurtful to you or to others?

If to you, by all means find a way of protecting yourself. You serve neither yourself nor others by staying in the relationship and allowing yourself to be abused.

There is always a cooperative dynamic going on between an abuser and a victim. The abuser needs to hurt others to temporarily increase his feelings of power and importance. (Abusers are people with low self-esteem.) The victim indirectly supports the abuse by maintaining the relationship and making herself available to be abused.

If you choose to remain in an abusive relationship for whatever reason, get clear on why you are staying. Are you financially dependent on the abuser? Do you have children together? Is your own self-esteem so low that you think you can’t survive without this relationship? Do you love and trust too much? Do you believe in commitment at all costs?

Once you get clear on why you are staying, you will also be clear on what really matters to you. Maybe it’s financial self-sufficiency. Maybe it’s your children. Then you can find other ways to manifest what matters without having to subject yourself to abuse. While you may choose to stay temporarily, you can begin to plan your escape.

If you do stay, you will have to make moment-to-moment choices about how to respond to the abuse. What kind of abuse is it? Verbal put-downs? Screaming? Throwing objects? Hitting? Rape? All are potentially damaging, but you’re not going to change the abuser directly. Your power and effectiveness lie in changing yourself.

By changing yourself, the dynamics of your relationship with the abuser change. As a result, you may change him indirectly. Changing the abuser cannot, however, be your motivation. Aim instead to improve your own life and to focus on the things that matter to you personally.

Whatever you do, keep a calm head, make your own choices, and don’t allow the abuser to suck you into his game. You will only escalate the ugliness.

Can you say, “Please stop that. I don’t like it when you act that way?” Can you say, “You seem very angry. What is it you need? I’d be happy to help if I can.” Can you simply walk away? There are shelters for abused women. (Are there also shelters for abused men?) Or do you want to learn krav maga, karate, or other self-defense techniques?

If you are perceiving others as victims, you are in much trickier and more difficult dynamics. Instead of one relationship, there are now three: Abuser to victim, you to abuser, and you to victim.

Again you simply have to make moment-by-moment choices as to how you are going to respond depending on the resources you have available (time, money, energy) and the context of the situation. Do you confront the abuser? Do you encourage the victim to stop enabling a dysfunctional relationship? Do you detach and allow the abuser and victim to work through their relationship and personal growth issues on their own?

There is something else going on here. Sometimes pain is necessary for growth.

When I think of my own life, it was only when I felt driven to divorce that I developed the courage to became a lawyer. It was only when I was filled with terror that I was willing to humble myself and ask for help from a Power I couldn’t see or understand. It was only when I was horribly abused that I learned to take care of myself first and others second. It was only when I lived in a no-recourse culture (the police and legal systems were totally ineffective) that I learned self-preservation, fortitude, creativity and patience. It was only when I became so angry that I could have murdered that I learned how to shift my focus away from things that anger me to people and environments that bring me peace.

As far as people saying they are living their greater purpose, how do they know? Why should you believe them? What do you believe? About them? About yourself?

Can You Really Get What You Want Simply by Shifting Your Focus?

Feb 09

Old Hag or Young Woman?

You absolutely can get what you want simply by shifting your focus from what’s “out there” to what’s “in here.”

It’s all about noticing your thoughts, noticing your emotions, choosing the ones you want, and taking the necessary action steps to make them happen.

What’s “out there” doesn’t change. What changes is what your mind and emotions do with what’s “out there.”

It’s just like looking at an optical illusion. Once you understand the different ways your mind can organize “what’s out there”, you can choose what you want to see, what thoughts you want in your head, what emotions you want in your heart, and bring them into your life.

For more food for thought, listen to Linda S. Thompson’s interview of Janet Smith Warfield on The Author’s Show,


Can You Be Authentically Angry and Authentically Fair at the Same Time?

Sep 05

My first thought was, “No, I can’t be authentically angry and authentically fair at the same time.”

In our human world, I frequently experience a sudden shift from being fair and reasonable to feeling rage when a person on the other side of a transaction stops being fair and reasonable, blames, doesn’t listen, doesn’t respond, and tries to control, manipulate or dictate an outcome that is not mutually acceptable. 

However, at a different level of consciousness, I think I can be both authentically angry and authentically fair.

On the human level, “fair and reasonable” assumes that the other and I have a mutual goal – working together to create a result that neither of us could create alone. We brainstorm and mastermind, throwing our thoughts out to each other and exchanging information about what we can do and what we can’t. We look for alternate ways of creating the result. Together, we make it happen. This happened for me recently with the help of almost 40 other people. It was both mind-boggling and humbling. 

“Fair and reasonable” at the human level breaks down when the goals of the parties are no longer identical. The homeowner wants a beautiful, well-built home. The builder wants to pocket as much money as possible with as little expense as possible. If the original understanding was that the builder would construct a house in accordance with specific plans using specific materials, and the homeowner would make progress payments, when one of them does not do what they agreed to do, it’s very easy, on the human level, to shift from “fair and reasonable” to authentically angry. 

“Authentically angry” is, of course, an emotion. “Fair and reasonable” is a function of the rational mind and normally involves committed action.

What does it mean to be “authentically angry”?

It does not mean lashing out with blame, criticism, and name-calling. Those are actions, not emotions, and often they’re done re-actively, not consciously. Experience tells me they are not useful. 

It does, however, mean noticing and feeling my anger. Then I can decide what to do with it. 

Usually, I have to shift from creative mode to assertive mode. While before I was working with another to create a mutually beneficial result, now I am taking unilateral action to create a mutually beneficial result. I am still being authentically fair and reasonable but I am using my authentic anger to change my own actions.

Change is never directed at the other. It is only directed at myself.

The mutually beneficial result may not feel mutually beneficial to either of us on a human level at the time, but from hindsight, it is always a karmic vehicle for bringing both of us into harmony on a more expanded spiritual level. 

When I first moved to the part of the world where I am now living, I rented a home from a Long Island real estate investor. I told him I needed to stay in the rental until my own home was built. He agreed. I thought my lease protected me. 

Two years later, someone  else offered to pay him more money and give him a three year lease. He asked if I would match the offer. I said, “No. I couldn’t make that kind of commitment.” He sent me an eviction notice. 

Fury does not adequately describe what I felt. I had always paid my rent on time and took good care of the place. Yet this man didn’t care. All he wanted was more money. 

I spoke with several local officials and attorneys. They told me he had every legal right to evict me. 

“What if I refuse to leave?” I asked. 

“You’ll get a judgment against you,” they replied. 

I had no legal support and no other worldly options. However, I had spiritual options. I left politely and quickly. I wanted my landlord to receive as little additional money from me as possible.  

My landlord breached his agreement with me. At the human level, there was nothing fair and reasonable about this. But was there a spiritual benefit? Absolutely.

I had learned once again that I needed to be more selective in choosing the people to whom I gave my trust and my money. This man had helped me step into my own sharpened discernment, assertiveness and power.

And the spiritual, karmic benefit to him? My landlord’s wonderful new tenant breached his agreement with my landlord. The house has now been vacant for over a year.

Do People Need to Socialize?

Aug 09

This is one of those questions that truly can’t be answered in its present form. There is no general answer. Some people need to socialize. Others don’t. You may need to socialize sometimes and not others.

One of my workshop topics is “Ask the Right Questions to Get the Answers You Need.” Isn’t that the bottom line? Getting an answer you need, right here, right now?

The questions I’d ask would be: 

  1. What do I get out of socializing with other people?
  2. What do I get out of being alone?
  3. When do I need to be with other people?
  4. When do I need to be alone?
  5. What kinds of people do I enjoy socializing with?
  6. What kinds of people drain my energy?
  7. Do I need to socialize with someone now or do I need to be alone?
  8. If I need to socialize, who can I socialize with who will support me and fulfill my needs?

Those are questions each of us can answer for ourselves at any given moment.

Socializing with positive, creative thinkers can be hugely supportive to your goals and visions. Choose wisely the people you socialize with.


Goals vs. Intentions

Jun 17

I find it useful to think in terms of intentions, rather than goals. Goals are fixed results that allow no room for divine intervention. So often, when I’ve thought I knew where I was going and where I wanted to end up, divine intervention has taken me on a different path. When I haven’t been willing to listen thinking my goals were better than the larger plan, I’ve been gently blocked, sometimes paddled, sometimes whipped, until reluctantly, I’ve pulled back and let go of my goals in order to allow something better to manifest. Not in my way, but in Thy way.