Barclay Littlewood

An Insight Into My Life

Coping with abusive behaviour from others

Coping with abusive behaviour or unloving behaviour

If you’ve been on the end of unloving behaviour or abusive behaviour from others, it can always feel very personal. Why me? What did I do to deserve this? The truth is, often, you did nothing.


Abuse may feel even more personal when the abuser highlights you as the cause of their abuse. They can in no uncertain terms tell you that it’s all your fault, and that you are to blame in totality, that you deserve what you got.

That never feels good, and often, we react. We add fuel to the fire, we bite back, we often can’t resist. Hurt breeds, hurt. Yet in the end, what is the best way to go about coping with abusive behaviour from others? In my experience, the answer is love. More love shown within, more love shown outside. Only love turns away hate, only a kind word turns away wrath.


Coping with abusive behaviour – taking responsibility for our own actions

Of course, we can all contribute to circumstances, but ultimately, we all must take responsibility for our own actions. You see, anyone that acts out abusive behaviour, is really reflecting some issue within. Either something that existed within them as of right, (they initiated), or something outside of them they reacted to and couldn’t cope with. (They reacted.)

For example, you may have not started the harsh words, but you retaliated because of the power they had over you. You may not have given out the rude service, but you sure reacted in a rude way!

All our interactions with others, really, ultimately, reflect the relationship we have with ourselves. And that relationship, is often heavily influenced by past events and relationships, especially with our parents. When anything outside of us threatens the love we feel within, we can feel hurt, we can bite.


Coping with abusive behaviour can take many forms, let’s take a look.

Did the abusive person steal? Then they want to feel love by having something outside of them. They think that the item, or the drugs bought with the proceeds will make them feel love. And often for a while it will, but it won’t cure the real lack of love they have within. Often that lack of love can come from the problems of a broken home, or an emotionally distant parent or parents. Do they deserve punishment, of course, but ultimately, they are sick. As a victim of theft, you have to be careful not to let their sickness become yours.

Did they cheat on you? Again, they have rejected your love, and have gone looking for it elsewhere, without a thought for you and your feelings. Often, this is because the person within doesn’t love themselves enough to respect those that do love them.

Are they excessively jealous or paranoid? They are simply showing you how insecure about themselves they are, that they lack true love for themselves.

Are they being aggressive with words or actions, even violent? They might be reflecting inner turmoil and suffering, or they may feel threatened by you, something you said or did, or what you are, maybe your nationality, race or religion.

Are they always trying to put you down? Well they are simply trying to build themselves up, because a lack of love they feel within.

Are they being very critical of you no matter what you do? Chances are that’s how they treat themselves deep within.

Do they criticise you for your different beliefs? It’s likely that they try so hard to meet a certain standard within, that anyone that doesn’t adhere to their ways they take issue with. When I hear a pastor say “this is the only way” I know they are just trying to convey God’s word. I have learned to live and let live here, because as compelling as the argument is, the facts, show something very different. People do come to God via different paths, the real of interpretation of our experience, is secondary to the realm of actual experience. And that includes my interpretations as well!


The source of all abusive behaviour is within each of us!

Ultimately, all abusive and hateful behaviour has it’s source within. It comes from us being abusive of our self or when we place the power of our well being not in our own hands, but in the hands of others. (I call this reactive abuse.) Should I feel threatened by something outside of me, which is natural, and be abusive, I have to handle that reaction and improve it. The person that is abusive, well, their issues are theirs to resolve.

The world, is realising that there are cures to the suffering we all feel within. The cures are not what we buy, our achievements, popularity or our social status, those things are addictive mirages. The cures are meditation, prayer, worship, counselling, support of friends and groups, fellowship, forgiveness and love – those are the real answer. The problem is not out there, and never was, it is within – within us all. We are all the victims and we are all the perpetrators.

The less love you feel within for yourself, the greater the outside world will affect you, this is all our challenge to meet. The true source of love is a wonderful relationship with oneself, and our source, that which goes under a thousand names, the suffering outside of us, will lead us all to suffer less and less.

Best Wishes & God Bless


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