Brainwashing, Compliance and Abuse

The Logical Heart Knows Best


I’ve procrastinated on publishing this post which I began in early April. And I’ve also been coping with the fallout from the unhealthy patterns that have affected those closest to me. It touches on aspects of life that I want to release. Yet, it has had an impact and also affects others in the world. It is about abuse and what we are conditioned to allow and tolerate in our lives because we are indoctrinated into this system. I want to move on and also avoid getting bogged down by past issues, and keep positive, focusing on what I want. On the other hand… I’ve learned valuable lessons, have been resilient, and believe that being aware of and releasing, healing, and changing because of painful experiences equates to growth. Sharing knowledge, experience and individual perspectives may help others going through similar situations. So here goes.

Your feet are so ugly, look how flat. You look so clumsy when you sweep, bumbling, so uncoordinated. When you run, it’s like slow motion. Remember that time you left the paper on the cheese in the lasagna, while laughing at your expense (twenty years later and you can’t live it down).

Why do you put the toothpaste on like that? Let me show you, this way is better. Why do you look out the mirror that way when you drive? What are you doing? That’s the wrong way! No, you’re wrong, it was this weight… they demean you in front of someone else, scoffing at you, arguing that you have it wrong (you have it right though and they’re wrong, it’s in the records, plus it was your body, you should know?!)

You look just like so and so when you do that (not a compliment). You’re pronouncing that word funny, you sound like a dumb hick. That’s so typical of you, you always screw that up. You are so absent-minded, what’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you more normal like so and so. You’re so weird, goofy, an airhead, and incompetent.

You are smarter than that grade you made. You’re just lazy and unfocused. You’re grounded for life! I’m taking away your privileges until you dress as I told you, lose weight, wear makeup and make straight A’s, and win, win, win! Look good for me, don’t shame me, be what I want you to be… or else.

You are an extension of me, a reflection of me, so you better be the best! You better do it my way, agree with me, think like me, or you are against me… if you’re not amenable to me, you are my enemy. If I can’t control you, I will beat you into submission or hurt you, because you aren’t being what I want. When you don’t do what I want, it hurts me, so I’m gonna make you see how it feels. Really? Egocentrism, objectification, narcissism, and co-dependency run amok. People using others as pawns, trophies, slaves.

Yeah, some things sting, even if there may be truth in them. Does this constant judgment, criticism, fear, and control, manipulation really help? Does this help?

Or have you ever been around people who constantly gossip? Criticizing others, judging them, making fun of them in disparaging ways? Or when watching TV or when seeing people out and about, they make jokes about their physical appearance, mercilessly. Objectifying people, degrading people for sport?

Sarcasm, teasing. Put-downs. Being under a constant microscope until you’ve been bombarded/corrected so many times that you believe you can’t do anything right? Sounds insignificant, just joking. Why so sensitive? I didn’t mean anything by it. I’m just trying to help. It’s for your own good. I’m just being honest. I’m just picking at you. I didn’t mean it. Come on, can’t you take a joke?

Constant violation of boundaries until you lose yourself, and it seems to be the norm. That’s life, that’s just how people are, get used to it, you need to toughen up…

Yes, we can all be playful sometimes, or want the best for others, but if it’s constant and belittling over long periods of time, it erodes at our self-worth. We then view ourselves in an unfavorable light. Mean teasing at another’s expense is not really playful or loving. Children are most negatively affected because they are forming their identity and these scripts, labels, beliefs forced upon them can shape them for a lifetime.

What about constant criticism? After a while, one questions their competence and becomes disempowered, deferring to others for fear of not doing something in a preferred manner. Constantly telling someone they are doing something the “wrong” way and showing them your method of doing something in the guise of helping is abusive and controlling. There are a multitude of ways to do things and just because you think your way is best does not mean it is the only way or appropriate for another because we are all different with unique perceptions, skills, neurology, etc. Your way may be absolutely wrong for them.

Emotional outbursts, unpredictability and raging. The silent treatment, withholding. If someone is hostile, glaring (if looks could kill), stomping, slamming, throwing things…(then claim nothing is wrong to top it off). If there is shouting, throwing objects, destroying property, and driving like a maniac with you a passenger hostage. These are all abusive.

If the person rages over insignificant or even imaginary slights equally with bigger issues, assigning no priority so that there is always something to complain about and be angry about. If they have Jekyll and Hyde, mood swings causing you to walk on eggshells, not knowing what’s gonna set ’em off. That’s abusive. For example, you drank the last soda. They rage just as much as when someone stole their new Mustang convertible. Or if they become an irritable a-hole when they are ready to leave and you’re not, like at a social function or running errands, etc.

Maintaining a relationship with self-absorbed, immature people is not loving of yourself. In fact, it’s allowing yourself to be abused. Of course, children have little choice. Emotional abuse goes unrecognized and untreated in families for generations.

Isolation. Manipulation, it’s covert. The abuser complains, fusses, and whines, criticizes your friends, your family… until you, without realizing it, limit your time with your friends/family because it’s just too much drama. You keep the peace by taking the path of least resistance. You also limit your phone and computer use because of the comments, the insinuations. You are told stories about how all this bad stuff happens from social media and use. They accuse you of liking someone you’ve never given a second thought to. Your celebrity crushes are taboo. Jealousy rears its ugly head and you isolate yourself even further because you crave peace.

Gaslighting. You doubt your smarts, your memory, and your sanity. The abuser lies or misremembers, so you are convinced that you are losing your mind because your version of reality does not match up at all with the abuser’s. Or even more strangely, the abuser claims to remember an outside incident, recounting it as if it happened to them when it actually happened to you. They have hijacked your experience as one of theirs. What does that mean?

You feel humiliated, intimidated, and attacked. You become unsure of yourself and fearful of making mistakes, with increased anxiety and hypervigilance. You live in fear and become a shell of yourself. But you certainly are complying and are an accomplice in the perpetuation of the abusive environment. Though by then you may not be aware of what’s really happening, it’s insidious. Stockholm Syndrome much? How to wake up and break free? What about the children who are stuck and at the mercy of their families?

Much of this harmful behavior is based on fear and control and is difficult to see because it is manipulative and covert. There is not a clear, black and white delineation as in physical abuse. Excuses can be made, spinning, rationalizing, minimizing, blaming, shifting blame, denying, compartmentalizing, projection, repression, displacement, intellectualization, passive-aggressiveness, guilt-tripping, shaming, lying, lying by omission, diversion, evasion, intimidation, playing victim, scapegoating, etc. Defense mechanisms help us get by in the short term, but when used habitually, cause dysfunction. We never get to the source and the truth where we can actually address the underlying issues. We keep ourselves blind and wonder why life never gets really consistently wonderful for us?

What’s the answer? Forgiveness and compassion. Acceptance that you can influence another, but only they can change their own behavior and may be incapable of the magnitude of change that would be needed to have a healthy relationship. Letting go with love. Then making your relationship with yourself, your presence, your source/love, be the number one priority. To become conscious that you are the only one who can permit love to flow in your life or not. As adults, we have a choice. Children do the best they can.

As adults, it is our responsibility to heal ourselves and actively work on breaking the cycle. To take our blinders off and have the courage to face our demons and reveal the truth. Then consciously reprogram/heal ourselves into being the most loving versions of ourselves. All of us need self-help, healing, personal development, reflection, mindfulness, introspection, spirituality…no one lives here without being affected by our abusive blind spots. Everyone experiences trauma, abuse, loss, heartbreak, and grief in varying degrees. We all need to work on ourselves. We can all change and improve the flow of love in our lives.

We get to decide what we view as abusive and do not have to permit abusers to take residence in our lives. We get to choose who we hang out with.

I began writing this in April. Interestingly, recently, I thought about this issue regarding veganism, objectification, and the definition of abuse.

Would you think it was abusive to have to eat at a dinner table with a family who was eating cats and dogs? Something to think about. Many vegans view all animals as everyone else views beloved pets. Cognitive dissonance anyone? 🙂

What about the objectification of women as sexual objects? What about human trafficking, slavery, the holocaust, all the atrocities which have occurred and continue? Can it all be caused by our blindness, brainwashing, unconsciousness, and our learned self-loathing, abuse passed down through the ages? It is what it is? Just accept it? What’s the solution?

Maybe if we all loved ourselves enough to let go, forgive, and see truly, then things would get a little less scary here. We wouldn’t feel attacked or feel the need to attack because we would see that it doesn’t work, anyway. Only love works. We wouldn’t be able to be anything less than that which is in alignment with love. We would break through this illusion of otherness, lack, and the need to defend, possess, or control. Maybe everyone could live peacefully, in joy and harmony?

It can be scary when we have little social support, but small changes over time can add up to freedom and more love. Dare to love yourself and speak up for love and truth, especially with the most impactful person in your life…you! Love abusers from a distance, or at least learn good boundaries and coping skills and navigate with care.

We can have healthy, loving boundaries without hostility and anger, or self-righteousness, or the need for retribution or vengeance. We can choose to grieve, process, heal and forgive while separating the abuser’s behavior from the actual beautiful soul that in truth the abusive person is, and as are we all. We are all beautiful and worthy, no matter what. We all have our baggage, which blinds us, imprisons us, and weighs us down. Yet, to allow more love to flow in our lives, we must behave in ways that are intelligent and are also loving of ourselves as well as others. It is pure common sense, logical and hard wired in us to know what is most loving. We can tell by the way we are truly feeling, reconnecting with our true selves, and by consciously following the truth that speaks from the space that connects with the fabric of everything, the love speaking from our logical hearts.

We can change the way things are, always. But in order to begin, we must be able to become aware and conscious of unloving ways which we accept as “It is what it is.” How about, “It is what I choose.” How about we take our power back and act from the highest love from our loftiest vision of how life could be. Why not? Is accepting the status quo the best it can be? We get to decide what we tolerate in the world from the choices we make from day to day, moment to moment. Choosing the seeming path of least resistance may temporarily or indefinitely keep the “peace” but is it, really? Is it truly peace?

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Michelle Miyagi
Hi! I was an RN, BSN in mental/behavioral health for 27 years. Now I'm helping empower caring people like me to prioritize themselves by maintaining healthier boundaries for more freedom, peace, and joy. I am also active in Long Covid advocacy.

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