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How to Build Self-Esteem After a Verbally Abusive Relationship

How to Build Self-Esteem After a Verbally Abusive Relationship

Moving on after a verbally abusive relationship is challenging because your abuser has convinced you that your character is somehow deficient. Verbal abuse can leave you with enduring psychological wounds; scars that can influence every part of your life and damage your self-esteem. Best-selling author, Patricia Evans, founded the Evans Interpersonal Communications Institute in order to emphasize the devastating consequences of verbal abuse. She says, “Verbal abuses creates emotional pain and mental anguish. It is a lie told to you or about you. Generally, verbal abuse defines people telling them what they are, what they think, their motives, and so forth.”

Step 1
Confront the pain. Allow yourself to express any negative emotions you have towards your abuser. Face your anger and sadness. Recognize that the abuse wasn’t a result of your deficiencies, but a result of your abuser’s defects.

Don’t attempt to hide your emotions. Repressing the anger can force you to simply accept the abuse as a reality, rather than allowing yourself to face the devastating consequences of the manipulation, says psychoanalyst Jane Bolton. She says that by suppressing the resentment, you’re allowing your abuser to hold emotional control over you. As a result, the “…internal pressure builds up until the self-suppressing can no longer hold and emotional eruption follow.” Subsequently, she says, you feel “…remorse, shame, and self-esteem plummets.”

Step 2
Direct your feelings towards a constructive outlet. Find an active means by which you can express your frustrations. Engage in activities that allow you to focus on your well-being and your self-improvement.

Challenge yourself by participating in new hobbies. Sign up for a half-marathon and join a marathon-training group, take martial arts classes, participate in a cooking challenge or register for an intellectually demanding class at a local college. Your abuser has controlled you through domination and submission techniques, says social scientist and educator, Michael J. Formica. Give yourself an opportunity to recognize your strengths and prove that you can achieve success, even when you’re presented with a difficult task.

Step 3
Give and receive support. Find a support group for victims of abuse. Not only can you receive help for coping with your suffering, but you can also assist others in their journey through the pain. Empathizing with others can produce a healing effect in victims, says Bolton.

She says that the ability to recognize a need for understanding and compassion in regard to others can “…heal and support blossoming of the self and relationships.” Be open and honest within the group by sharing your experiences and receiving feedback from other victims who have shared some of the same hardships—you’re not alone. Bolton says that when you see someone who’s attempting to understand how you feel, it can give you a “…burst of hope, optimism and energy. That renewed energy brings us closer to being able to act upon what we need…” and permits you to take care of your physical and emotional needs.

Step 4
Replace negative self-talk. Replace the negative thoughts or words in your head with positive self-affirmations. Remind yourself that you were strong enough to leave the abuse and move on with your life.

Make a list of what has changed since you left the relationship and compare it to your life when you were absorbed in the abuse. Focus on your needs and do whatever it is that allows you to feel a sense of joy and accomplishment. Psychologist Daniel Tomasulo says that you should take time each day to identify and ponder the positive aspects in your life. He says that if you focus on moments of happiness or inspiration, you can transfer your “…mindset toward finding and savoring the good things in our life which, in turn, allows for a genuine resilience in our spirit, mind, and body.”

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Some men see things as they are and say “why?” I dream of things that never were and say “why not?” George Bernard Shaw

Use these strategies to improve the quality of your mind-calming meditation: 1. Practice meditation at the same time each day and in the same place so that your mind becomes accustomed to entering the desired serene state as soon as you enter the peaceful place. 2. The early morning is undoubtedly the most powerful time to meditate. Indian yogis believe that the pre-dawn time has almost magical qualities which aid in achieving the super-peaceful state so many meditators attempt to attain. 3. Before you start, command your mind to be quiet by using affirmations such as “I will be focused and very calm now.” 4. If thoughts do enter, do not force them out but simply let them pass like clouds making way for the beautiful blue sky. Picture that your mind is like a still lake without even a ripple. 5. Sit for ten minutes at first and then increase the time every few sittings. After a month or two, you will not be interrupted by any pressing thoughts and will surely feel a sense of peace that you have never felt before.

Forge and foster great friendships as such relationships are essential for maintaining a healthy and successful life. Find a few minutes every day to jot down some warm wishes to an old friend or to place a telephone call to someone you have not had a chance to speak to for a while. Show compassion and sincere consideration for all your friends and watch the results which follow. Develop long lasting friendships by being a good friend. Also, make it a priority to seek out new friends no matter how many you may be fortunate enough to have. This is one of life’s greatest joys which many of us miss.

Purchase a cassette or CD of Miles Davis’s Kind Of Blue. It is a uniquely soothing compilation that will refresh and soothe you after a challenging and productive day. Music such as this is good for the soul.

Drown your appetite by drinking more water – ten glasses a day is ideal. It revitalizes the system and purifies the body. Also, get into the habit of eating soups and more complex carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes and pasta which feed your hunger with far less calories than other less healthy foods. You truly are what you eat and must ensure that your diet is designed to maximize your energy and mental clarity.

Develop the essential habit of punctuality for it is most important for high success. Punctuality reflects discipline and a proper regard for others. Without it, even the most sophisticated person appears slightly offensive. Do not be early and certainly never be late. Budget your time and, should you arrive early, take a walk or simply relax for a few moments to ensure that you arrive on time as requested. You will be appreciated and welcomed always if you cultivate this important quality that appears so rarely these days.

The telephone is there for your convenience, not for the convenience of others who are attempting to contact you. If you are busy with a task, do not answer the phone or have someone answer the call so that you may return it at a more suitable time. Do not let such interruptions waste your time. Most phone calls are not important and last far too long anyway. Over the course of the average American’s lifetime, she will spend two years unsuccessfully returning phone calls. There are so many important and fun things to do in life. The challenge is to respect precious time so that we can achieve a fuller, more satisfying life.

Before you get out of bed each morning, say a prayer or repeat your personal affirmation giving thanks for the day and all the positive things you will see and achieve. Make a conscious decision to make this the best day of your life and meet with pleasure, success and fun. If you believe it, it will most certainly happen. A timeless secret for lifelong success is to live each day as if it were your last.

Confide in your partner. This will strengthen the relationship and allow you both to grow at the same pace. It is also a wonderful tonic to share important or otherwise troubling things with the person you are closest to.

Push yourself just a little harder and a little farther each day. Winners on the playing field of life push the envelope of their potential daily. Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain. Winners do the things that less developed people don’t like doing even though they also might not enjoy doing them. This is what strength of character and courage is all about. Tackle your weaknesses. Do the thing that you have consistently put off. Write that thank you note or letter that you have neglected for so long. Exercise your discipline muscles and they will rise to the occasion by filling your day with more satisfaction, more effectiveness and far more energy.



A contented mind is a continual feast. Greed and material desires must be curbed to achieve lasting happiness and serenity. Be happy with what you have. Do you really need all of those material possessions? One can develop contentment just as one develops patience, courage and concentration – with daily practice and sincere desire.

Make a new friend or acquaintance every day. Keep an updated list of all contacts close at hand. Rich relationships are the DNA of a rich, rewarding life.

Remember this ancient Indian proverb: “if you conquer your mind, you conquer the world.”

Place greater importance on staying happy than amassing material possessions. A zest for life is developed and carefully nurtured through thoughtful activities and pursuits.

Contrary to popular opinion, stress is not a bad thing. It allows us to perform at peak levels and can assist us through the flood of chemicals it releases within our bodies. What is harmful is too much stress, or more particularly, a lack of relief from stress. The times of stress must be balanced nicely with times of pure relaxation and leisure for us to be healthy and at our best. Many of the great leaders of our time were exposed to crushing workloads and the burdens of high office. But they prospered by developing strategies to balance the challenging times with fun and calming times. President Kennedy would have regular naps in his White House office. Winston Churchill had the same practice and slept for one hour every afternoon to stay alert, focused and calm. Not only is it essential to be physically relaxed to maintain optimal health but one must couple this trait with mental serenity. Too often people think that vigorous exercise, good nutrition and pleasant leisure activities will be the panacea for all ills. These pursuits must be combined with positive thinking and peace of mind for true happiness and longevity.

Get into the habit of taking mental vacations throughout the day. Visit Bermuda for five minutes in the morning. Visualize a swim in the Mediterranean in the afternoon and skiing down the slopes of the Alps just before you head for home at the end of your busy and productive day. Try this for two months and schedule these rest periods into your agenda just as you would your essential meetings or tasks. The rewards will be significant.

A change is as good as a rest. Whether this change is as major as a change of employment or as minor as a leisure pursuit which occupies your entire attention for an hour three times a week, these changes in routine, and mindset are entirely beneficial. In selecting the activity, try to find something totally engaging which requires deep concentration so that your mind is free from the mundane but seemingly important aspects of your day. Many executives are becoming involved in the martial arts for just this reason. If your mind wanders for even a split second, a harsh lesson is soon learned. Pain is a great motivator and always will be.

Study these 10 fundamentals of happiness:

i. Pursue a productive, exciting and active life.
ii. Engage in meaningful activities every minute of every day.
iii. Develop an organized, planned lifestyle with little chaos.
iv. Set realistic goals yet keep your mark high.
v. Think positively – you cannot afford the luxury of a negative thought.
vi. Avoid needless worry over trifling matters.
vii. Devote time to fun.
viii. Develop a warm, outgoing personality with a sincere love of people.
ix. Get in the habit of giving more than receiving.
x. Learn to live in the present. The past is water under the bridge of life.

Strive to be humble and live a simple life.

Read “A History of Knowledge” by Charles Van Doren which chronicles the history of the world’s ideas. In this one book is an absolute wealth of knowledge. Get it, read it and enjoy it.

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