Why a Relationship Can Turn Abusive

Thu, 10/04/2012 - 10:14
Submitted by Lawrence Lanoff

Have you ever been around somebody who is criticizing you a lot? especially in a relationship? If you are like most people, this is very disturbing to your sense of well being. Why? Because when somebody points out something that we did wrong, they are generally pointing out something that is completely outside of our awareness.

It’s easy to do. New research in neuroscience is shedding light on how and why a relationship can quickly turn abusive. Consider: our senses are taking in about 11 million bits of information every second but our conscious brain can only process 40 bits per second – only the tiniest fraction of all that information that’s available. Basically this means there is an endless supply of information that is out of our conscious awareness at any given moment. Pointing things out to us that is beyond our conscious awareness has the effect of creating a mild trance state.

So when a partner or close friend points out something to us that is outside of our awareness, this also creates a mild hypnotic trance, leaving us very suggestible to any message.

In hypnosis, this pointing out something that is outside of our conscious awareness is called a non-awareness set. The non-awareness set has 3 main components to send someone into a deep trance.

Bypass the critical mind through focusing a person’s attention on something they weren’t consciously aware of. The critical mind filters out data and messages that we don’t want in our psyche. It also filters out the unimportant. Pointing out to someone something a person is not aware of naturally bypasses the critical factor.

Evoke, create or stimulate an unconscious emotional response.

Direct that response in the direction you want it to go through memories or projections to into the future.

It turns out that we civilians run the non-awareness set on each other all the time in real life. When we do this in relationships, we end up programming into our partners the very things that we don’t actually want.

I have a friend who, when she’s not feeling well inside herself, tends to criticize her partner for all kinds of things that he’s not doing “right”–in her perception and opinion. However, it kinda sucks for him because she spends a fair amount of time pointing out things he’s not doing right. And when she really gets into it, it seems like her list of things that he’s doing “wrong” are endless!

But here’s the interesting thing. She assumes, as most people do, that he has her same psychological frame and perceptions–or at least that he SHOULD have her same frames and perceptions if he really loved her.

Frankly, given that each brain is wired completely differently and uniquely, this is an insane thought. But it is a thought we all have on a regular basis. We actually believe that other people should know what’s in our heads and should see and react to the world in the same ways that we do.

We also tend to believe other people should make the same moral distinctions that we make. We tend to believe that we are right and just, while others are wrong and misguided about anything and everything that matters to us morally. And people are very fast to criticize, complain, blame and shame other people who they believe are wrong.

So what does this look like in relationships? It looks like very negative hypnotic programming, what I call Abusive Hypnotic Communication - an effective negative non-awareness set.

Here’s why. As I mentioned, the process of pointing out something that somebody did wrong is actually easy to do, and is a perfect way to bypass a person’s critical factor. When a hypnotist does this, she is generally pointing out something that is outside of her client’s awareness, something that is emotionally neutral, with the intention of leading the client to some kind of insight or healing.

But when a friend, lover or partner does this, it’s generally done from a place of implicit blame, or with the explicit intention of making the other person feel ashamed and guilty so they “learn their lesson.”

This is also the standard abusive parent model, and is one of the reason’s why relationships can get so fucked up so fast! First of all, when we come from this place, essentially we are coming from the framework of the parent. I don’t know about you, but I left my father’s house at age 15 and left my mother’s house at age 17. I couldn’t get away fast enough! Who the hell, as an adult, wants to be in an intimate relationship with their parent, much less an abusive parent?

So when a partner comes from the critical non-awareness frame, it basically evokes the parental archetype. If you want to loose sexual attraction in any relationship rapidly, then I suggest you evoke the parental archetype and be critical of your partner. That will diminish sexual attraction rapidly! It will also destroy your partner’s confidence. Some people like that. I’m not really a big fan.

When I was a director, early in my career, I was an asshole. Not a mean bully asshole, but an insecure asshole. I would tear my assistant directors apart, limb by limb. It was tragic actually. I just wasn’t all that confident in my abilities leading a 300 person film crew, so I would constantly point out things that my assistant director did “wrong” (in this case read “differently”) from how I would have done it. I came up as an assistant director, so I knew “the right way” it should be done. Like I said, I was an asshole. And they never got to bring their gifts to the table.

I noticed that when I did this as a director, the more I did it, the more I did it more. Being critical gained momentum because that’s how the brain works-it associates. The more stuff I saw that they did wrong, the more stuff I remembered they did wrong, which in turn made me criticise them even more harshly. The more I did that, the more they did even the most basic things wrong, and the harder I pushed against them to show them how much was out of their awareness the more fucked up they got. In fact, by the end of the shoot with me, the assistant director was a broken person, which always proved to me how incompetent they were as an assistant director in the first place.

But wow, was I ever wrong about that!

I didn’t figure it out until I worked with a producer who just about destroyed me as a director. In fact, I look at that movie as the beginning of the end of my film career. It was the movie I directed with Kathy Ireland. The crazy part is, the producer seemed to delight in it all. He would openly criticize every decision I made because it wasn’t the “correct” decision, meaning his decision.

Basically, he would have shot the entire movie his way, if he was directing it, and thought that way was the only right way to shoot a movie. That being said, it made it impossible for me do ever do anything “right.”

I was a shell of a human being by the time that movie was done. In fact, at one point, the director of photography, who became a friend, told me that my job was to just get through the movie, to survive. I was a shell by the time I was done. The producer had used critical hypnotic programming to completely break me down.

I honestly don’t think my confidence ever recovered from that movie, even though I went on to direct 6 more movies. It also seemed to be the beginning of a decade of my life lost to tolerating abusive people and relationships.

For those of us that would like to break this cycle of Abusive Hypnotic Communication, I will teach you to undermine its power by strengthening your critical mind. By pointing out the absurdity of the underlying assumptions–that every individual has to make–in order to perform Abusive Hypnotic Communications.

Abusive Hypnotic Communication Underlying Assumptions:

That out of the 11 million bits or so of information coming into all your senses at any given second, your way of seeing things or doing things is the correct way, the true way, the just way, and or the only way. BULLSHIT.

The underlying assumption of guilt and shame – that your partner “should” be seeing and doing those exact same things that you are seeing and doing. BULLSHIT.

The word “should”, especially in this sense, becomes a very effective, abusive, violent word.

That what you don’t see or don’t notice says a lot about you as a human being. That’s just unadulterated bullshit.

Abusive Hypnotic Communications are easily combated once we understand what’s going on, and therefore we can rebuild our own internal framework, creating a stable, psychological immune system, thereby strengthening our critical factor.

Counter Points to Strengthen the critical factor.

Remember that when something is out of our conscious awareness and another person calls our awareness to it, it automatically throws us into mild trance. Immediately recognize the trance feeling and bring your conscious brain back on line as rapidly as possible. Hypnosis has a feeling to it.

The reality is that most of what is coming into our brain is happening at an unconscious level. So it’s easy, in fact most likely, that you can pick anything that you notice while sitting in a room, and another person will not be noticing the same exact thing. And here’s the crazy part, even if they are, their experience of that thing is completely different. Why they notice it or what it means to them will be completely different. The key point: We have to realize that each brain is wired completely differently and no brain’s perception of reality is absolute truth!

If you feel emotionally stimulated with guilt and shame, it should immediately trigger your psychological immune system to say “This person’s comment or reaction only says they are keying into different perceptions than I am. Neither one is absolute truth. Therefore I can hear what they are saying as feedback about what they are perceiving or noticing.

Just because I don’t notice what you notice doesn’t say anything about me as a person, regardless of what you believe or feel.

Just because you don’t notice what I notice doesn’t say anything about you, regardless of what I believe or feel.

There is no absolute truth when it comes to our perceptions.

Recognize that insecurity is probably at the root of the person shaming you. If they can break down your self esteem, then you will probably never leave them. It’s sick, but it happens everyday.

Remember, there is always another way to do, see, or say anything.

When it comes to how things should be arranged, organized, noticed, folded, cleaned, etc, there is no such thing as the right way. There is only the way that you think it’s right because that’s how you learned it.

The bottom line is that with practice, we will come to know there is always more than one way of doing anything - even if we can’t imagine it being any other way. There is always another way of doing or seeing anything.

President of Pleasure. Buster of shame and myths.

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