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February 8, 2022

How & Why we’re Mentally Manipulated by Abusers.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.

“Get your mind right.”

Ever hear anything like this comment?

Before we take a comment like this personally, let’s examine why it’s said.

The demand to “get your mind right” is often a mind game. We didn’t know or agree to participate in it, but here we are, nonetheless. It often comes from a place of gaslighting, abuse, and narcissism.

Sick secrets:

In recovery circles, there’s a famous phrase: “You’re as sick as your secrets.”

How many of us have come from families and backgrounds in which there was a dreaded secret that was hushed, suppressed, lied about, and covered up? Abuse and addiction were usually two of those driving themes enmeshed in the group of people we were surrounded with.

“Get your mind right.”

Therefore, many of us heard this sentiment from a disordered or a sick individual. They may have been fully engaged in substance abuse or erratic behaviors, yet they still insisted we were “not right in the head.”

Why did they do this?

Their form of chaos was also their preferred status quo. Power, control, attention, and the enabling of the extreme dysfunction all needed to be kept going—at any price. Their health and well-being, others’ health and well-being, financial stability, and physical safety were all secondary to the person(s) with “the secret” being protected and provided for. Everyone else must fall in line, support, pay the price, and keep the lie going.

“Get your mind right” was often used as an intimidation tactic when that plan was not perfectly endorsed, supported, and executed.

Yes, it was real:

We had the truth, the sixth sense, the instinct to know something wasn’t right. And we were the ones who were punished, mocked, or isolated for calling it out. But it was real.

We knew what we knew. We saw what we saw. We heard what we heard.

We knew the secret was wrong, unhealthy, and dangerous. We knew. Our minds were, indeed, right all along!

Others’ faulty perceptions:

Another tool in dysfunctional systems? Inaccurate, faulty beliefs. They can occur organically or they can be crafted with manipulation and self-seeking agendas. However, both assert that another’s viewpoint, especially if it is coming from an abusive, disordered, controlling type of person, is not to be challenged or questioned by anyone.

If we dare to ask, say, or do anything to upset the delicate, dysfunctional ecosystem, we will be pegged as “crazy,” “a drama queen,” or “the problem.”

“Get your mind right.”

Or, to quote “The Wizard of Oz,” Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. It’s in the abusive person’s best interest to, through gaslighting, assert that sick is healthy, healthy is sick, wrong is right, right is wrong…you get the picture.

Common behaviors and actions that get us cast as this unstable, crazy villain?

Saying no.
Setting and maintaining boundaries.
Not participating in events or occasions where “it’s a must” that we attend.
Refusing to give money to bail someone out of a mess of their own making.

And so forth. And so on.

We often receive abusive treatment when we displease a toxic person or group. Displeasing them, in their minds, is tantamount to betrayal, or even, ironically, assault and abuse. And then, as part of their attack mode, these individuals can insist that their harsh treatment is nonexistent, not “that bad,” or justified, in some way—because “we deserve it.”

And this attitude and tactic can often reach into the next strategy when it comes to mistreating us…

Plausible deniability:

This approach is all about the need to create doubt. It’s vital to keeping the dysfunction going.

So, we can then encounter the mind games of: “That never happened,” “You’re overreacting,” “You’re too sensitive,” and “I don’t recall that happening,” among other arguments to, somehow, make their abuse “okay.”

And that’s when we, perhaps, hear, “Get your mind right.”

Instead of owning and ceasing their abuse, they need to convince us that it needs to continue, if it happened at all. This uncertainty can wreak havoc on our confidence to trust ourselves. How many of us have asked ourselves, “Am I overreacting? Am I making it up? Is it my fault?”

The inferred answer from the perspective of the abuser is a resounding “Yes!” If we do not come onboard, then, indeed, our minds are “not right.”

Black or white. Wrong or right. No room for negotiation, discussion, questioning, or debate. None. It’s settled; it’s final.

It’s mind games—it’s not in your head:

“Get your mind right.”

A hallmark of abuse and a manipulative agenda is to take the focus off from the harmful, mistreating party and place it all—with the blame included—solely on us.

Somehow, we are the problem, not them. Somehow, it is our fault and responsibility for the abuse, not their fault and responsibility for their choice to abuse. Somehow, we have the warped, delusional mind; they are right, logical, and justified.

It’s not a good game to play, is it?

And some of us have not heard the truth: we don’t deserve to be treated like this.

We deserve better.

Let’s get that in our heads. Let’s begin to experience “a right mind.”

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