It’s been another interesting week for me with a good few ‘ah-ha’ moments sprinkled in along the way. So this week I decided to write about how we are influenced as well as how we influence others and ourselves. First off, I’m wondering how many of you have seen the Skype Laughter Chain on Youtube?
The description below it says “Laughter brings us closer together – it’s a language we all understand. It’s also contagious..” and it was made by filming peoples’ reactions as they watched other people laughing. My son introduced it to me at Christmas, and since then I’ve watched it over and over as I continue to share it with friends. And you know what? Each time I can’t help but start giggling within seconds of it starting, and I always end up laughing out loud – even though I’ve seen it all before!
And so it got me thinking. And I started wondering about how just one thought or direction can influence us and how, if we choose where to focus, we can change our mood in just a few moments. The laughter-chain example is, of course, a positive influencer – and one I highly recommend to brighten up your day. On the other side though, (as all of us here know) we can also be influenced by negative messages. It’s the same physical process, but in these instances I believe a better label is ‘manipulation’ rather than influence.
The Inner Spiral
Sadly, we all know how it feels to be told or have it implied that we’re not good enough. We know the pain. We understand the shame. And I guess most of us are also familiar with the spiral of doubt and fear that is then triggered inside? For me it was a familiar feeling – and because it was so familiar, I would slip in to it easily and effortlessly, adding my own internal critic to whatever judgments I felt were coming at me from the outside. “Foolish girl,” I’d curse in my head “you shouldn’t have done that! You should have known it would only cause trouble!” It was a subconscious reaction, and while the criticism burrowed in to eat away at my self-esteem, I kept the painted smile on my face in an attempt to mask my pain.
But of course the pain didn’t go away. In fact it got worse, as I continued to allow ‘bad things’ to worm their way in and take hold on my self-image. When I was still a child, after my parents died, I regularly received the message that I was worthless. That somehow I was to blame, and that I’d never amount to anything. As I grew up I worked to counteract those damaging messages and learned how to feel good about myself. When, many years later it finally dawned on me that I was being subjected to the exact same manipulation by the man I called my soulmate, well then I just knew I had to find a way to break free and heal.
It is said that we don’t know what we don’t know – so ok, if we don’t understand that we’re being controlled and manipulated well, then that’s all there is to it. We just don’t know. But surely, once we’re aware of what’s happening, whilst we may not immediately know the answer, it must stand to reason therefore that we can decide to do something about it? Doesn’t it? Equally, surely the seeds of strength, the beginning of reclaiming our power, must lie purely in that decision alone? Because as human beings, once we settle on something, our minds can’t help but start searching for ways in which to achieve our resolve.
Now then, I am not naive or insensitive enough to suggest that just by deciding to do something that our situation will instantly change. Of course not. I understand that there is no simple solution for escaping the grips of any abusive kind of situation. I’ve been there too many times to know that it takes focus, courage and determination to make lasting changes. And as I’ve said before, I know the ensuing journey can be fraught with challenges along the way.
One Thought At A Time
What I am saying, though, is that it is always within our power to create some kind of positive improvement in our experiences – no matter what the situation or difficulty we’re facing. And I’m also saying that, with consistent practice, we can eventually create new habits that serve to support us and eventually help us break free.
I remember in the early days (not long after I discovered the meaning of the word ‘sociopath’ in actual fact) I was standing in my kitchen, holding on to the sink for dear life while my body shuddered with painful sobs. Confused, hurt, and still trying to understand where I had gone wrong, a fleeting thought suddenly entered my head. I had read an article on Lovefraud earlier on that day, and it went along the lines that we can’t ever make sense of their madness. That the void is their problem, not our doing – and with that I pulled myself back, stood up straight, and declared out loud “this is not my fault! It never was!” and with that I got up and searched out some defiant music. Around that time Pink’s “So What” became a firm favourite…!
It only took that one thought. That one fleeting realization, to cause a chain reaction of similar thoughts that led me to seek out the music. And once the music was on, I started jumping round the kitchen, punching the air with my fists and singing (well, shouting!) at the top of my voice. And boy did I feel better!
Did it mean that I’d solved my problems? No, of course it didn’t.. Nor did it mean that all my difficulties miraculously disappeared. But what it did mean was that in those few moments I felt better – and right then, that was all that mattered.
And you know what? As I’ve moved forward and continued my healing journey, I’ve come to realize that how I feel is really all that matters. Because when I feel good, I know I can stand up against anyone or anything that threatens me or those close to me. When I feel good, I can also give more love and kindness to people I care about. When I feel good, I can get on and secure business deals and widen my network.
So yes, these days perhaps more than ever, I am still acutely conscious about the thoughts and decisions that effect my day. I may not always be able to blast out music, and it may not always be appropriate to dance around shouting at the top of my voice. But even if I can’t do it in person, I can always imagine it – and there is no person and no situation that can ever stop my imagination.
Even in public – a crowded tube, a busy supermarket or even a silent library for example – it makes no difference. Because my thoughts and imagination are just that… mine. They belong to me and nobody else. So, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I can choose to create a party in my head… and guaranteed it will soon make me smile. And then… guess what… my smile may then be seen by somebody else who will also smile… and then their smile may be noticed by someone else… How’s that for a chain reaction?
I happen to believe that any of us here can help to positively influence ourselves and others along the journey to healing after the devastation created by sociopathic personalities. We’ve all been there, seen it and got the T-shirt – many of us are still battling to break free. And right here on this site, we’re in exactly the right place to share, to mend and eventually to become whole again.
A huge thank you to Donna for having the foresight and courage to create this site in the first place, and a massive TOWANDA to everyone who has found their way here. Because now we’re all part of our own chain reaction to heal and reclaim who we really are.