This could hurt a bit.....
Modified courtesy of John Nutting Growing Aware
I wrote this and modified it from the voice dialogue work which forms
"part" of the healing work I include in working with clients. It was also taken from my website. This page
was originally written by John Nutting. and includes my own
observations. I decided to post it to explain why many people are so stuck in “victim” mode they are not
willing to change. They feel paralysed by an unconscious fear a bit like a deer stuck in the headlights and so
it feels more comfortable to be in the same place they are in.
As a result however uncomfortable it is they continue to attract the same people and
situation they want to be away from over and over again. As Pia Mellody describes in her book Facing co
dependency it feels just “like home”
Everyone needs to construct a belief system (a map of the world) which helps:
1. Prepare them for what might happen in the future
2. Protect them from unexpected outcomes or actions by other people
3. Interpret other people’s motives and the meanings behind other people’s actions
If your map of the world around you (your belief system) is based on well balanced, accurate and
positive beliefs then your predictions about the future should be fairly accurate.
However, if a belief system is based on unbalanced or negative beliefs, the forecasts, predictions
and prophecies will also be unbalanced, and inaccurate and will lead to misinterpretations, misunderstandings
and setting up of a series of self-fulfilling predictions.
Unbalanced core beliefs can be responsible for some awfully bad forecasts about what is going to
happen especially if your belief map is upside down!
Let me give you an example. A woman grows up with sexual abuse and her core belief is that she is
damaged goods and that she cannot say no because as a child she felt helpless. As a result
this is reinforced by the fact that her mother did not support her when she reported the crime to the police
and the perpetrator got away. The woman develops a strong coping mechanisms but this “negative belief” is
still in place but remains invisible to HER but very visible to the very type of people she doesn't really
want to attract. On continue into adulthood she attracts a number of different men who “test” her belief. One
is an abuser, the other is a batterer. She is left feeling that she is damaged goods and no one will love me.
She feels totally helpless and powerless to say no. As a result her negative core belief is being reinforced
over and over again.
On a conscious level she is thinking "why is this happening to me? I am not a bad person. I
didn't deserve this. What did I do to make this happen ?"- and yet on an unconscious level she has a little
red flag over the top of her her head which may saying to abusive men come and get me!
Of course I not I am not suggesting that all women or men that get abused by narcissists or
sociopaths have had bad childhoods or been sexually abused because these people will con anyone but they are
more likely to be targeted.
So what makes these people who have grown up in been in
abusive relationships less likely to change than others?
When you are used to doing something a certain way, it feels comfortable. Personal growth involves
facing reality and becoming “aware” is going to involve some emotional pain. And that can be a scary place
for people to put themselves in. It also involves stepping out of denial. So most people carry on doing what
they are doing and yet as a result they will continue to keep on attracting the same people over again. The
expression “if you keep on doing same old same, you will keep on getting same old *&it.” The thought of
having to deal with “their” own stuff makes them want to run a mile. Its far easier to blame the other person
for having hurt them and so they remain in victim mode. There is even a syndrome which I talk about in the
book which goes along with the Post Traumatic Stress section which talks about some victims who remain locked
in this state for years and become embittered and unable to change at all.
Many victims will say "its not me its them". "They hurt me", "you don't understand how much of a
hard time I had". Or worse they may decide to go back to the abuse(r) and make excuses for them trying even
harder to understand them. I have seen it over and over again where women who have been raped, abused and yet
the victim still wants to go back to their abusers and try and get them to “get it”. One woman said to me
about her controlling abusive manipulative husband who literally treats her like a doormat “but he loves me
and needs my help!”. Another woman said about her multiple cheating husband “Its not his fault, he just can't
help himself” and yet she spent years depressed on anti depressants unable to look after her children!. I
often hear victims say but one day he will "get it" the minute their abusers apologise and go back to
behaving for a few weeks. These people will never get it and neither will the victims until they get what
they are doing to themselves to start healing.
So why do victims stay around. Those wonderful inner protector characters (inner selves) that work
so hard to protect you from pain, fear and vulnerability that you have been experiencing for so long do know
what they are doing. Even though they are experts, they can only provide short term protection and in the end
whatever it is they are protecting you from remains in place.
This ‘whatever’ is your ‘core pain’. It is a kind of basic emotional sadness that never quite goes
away, no matter what you try to do about it. The selves unfortunately cannot do much at all to fix core pain.
Instead they work like powerful painkillers that hide those hurt feelings to the point where you can almost
forget them (for a short time).
Hiding or healing?
On the other hand, facing your reality and the hurt associated with it, is like coming off
painkillers. It’s hard for a start, but the more you learn about your hidden pain, the more you can do to
heal it. It is your new awareness that gives you the power to heal the pain. Increasing your understanding
and sense of reality combined with developing your aware adult state can lead to a real and permanent cure.
But it is never a ‘quick fix’. Healing any emotional core pain takes time.
When you truly start healing you will find you no longer need “pain killers” and more importantly
you will no longer need this people in your life to reinforce the core pain you experienced over and over
As I found when I did the work most the things I had done during my adult life such as running a
successful business being very high functioning were done by my inner child. On the flip side I attracted on
abusive man over and over again. I was very good at stuffing down my pain and numbing myself out, convincing
myself with a whole load of stories that everything was OK and yet my inner child was all worn by the time I
got to work with John Nutting at the age of 45. I realised it was time to GROW UP and really start to heal.
Then when I worked on my dealing with all the pain I had stuffed down for so many years did not seem so scary
So why does reality have to be so scary?
Confronting reality is scary. It means looking face to face at some things about me that for a
long time I have successfully avoided seeing . It means accepting that while my inner protector characters
(inner selves) for example inner child, or negative beliefs were keeping things comfortable for me they were
also keeping me safe from the hurt and fear of having to look at things about me that I really needed to see
and deal with . When I finally start connecting to reality I face a number of different issues (most of them
scary or painful) . John explains that his own main fears were that:
1. The fear that the more I get in touch with my awareness, the more my
life is going to change and the more I am going to have to move out of the sheltered comfort zone my
inner protector characters (inner selves) had built for me.
2. Real and appropriate grief about the things I have lost over the
years that can never be replaced, for example the devastating understanding that as a child I may have
heard people say they loved me when I acted the way they wanted me to, but the truth was that there really
wasn’t anyone around who (truly) loved the real me or even wanted to know who I really was.
3. Healthy guilt and shame about things I have done in the past that
hurt others, such as the way I ended a relationship; things I would have done differently if I had
been able to handle my reality and could have seen things more clearly at the time. It hurts to accept that
some parts of my life, until now, have been a waste of time or a string of mistakes.
4. Understanding that some past choices including my career, my
marriages and my lifestyle were selected by my inner protector characters (inner selves), more to protect
me from my core pain, than because these things suited the ‘real me’.
5. Taking my life back from those protector selves (when my awareness
tells me they are no longer helping me) is going to be hard and will bring up a whole new set of
fears. Pia Mellody compares this to what a lizard must feel each time it grows out of its skin and the
pain of shedding the old skin before the new one can take over.
6. If some of my most active inner protector characters (inner selves)
think that they will be totally discarded, as part of the change-over, they will amplify this fear.
inner protector characters (inner selves) are terrified of being sacked or permanently unemployed. The hardest
working ones, however respond well to suggestions that they can safely take a short break at times while the
aware adult takes over and drives the bus.
7. Awareness that as I grow I may have to find new ways (and
develop more adult boundaries) to protect me when family members or old friends can’t understand or appreciate
my growth into adult awareness. The same applies to anyone else who wants me to stay locked inside my old inner
self driven lifestyle.
8. One more source of fear comes with my recognition that growing in
awareness and adopting an adult lifestyle also makes me a more “powerful” person in every way. From past
experience, many people associate becoming ‘powerful’ with being ‘unlovable’ or abandoned. Until this belief is
resolved it will be enough by itself to block most real growth.
9. The real fear of having to start living life without relying on
the protection of those inner protector characters (inner selves) that up ‘till now have been looking after
me and instead handing over to a new and untried part of me called my ‘aware adult’.
These inner protectors are so used to taking responsibility for fixing things. And trust me
they are brilliant at fixing things in their own way!. The more responsible an inner self has been in the
past, the harder it will be to get its cooperation. The one-above rule maker self in particular, can set up
all kinds of barriers to block a change-over. Combine its efforts with a strong ‘inner patriarch’ and you
will hear inner messages like for example:
‘Nobody likes a woman who is too independent’. He will leave us.’
‘She won’t feel safe with you any more once she finds out what you are really like under your tough
‘Don’t even think about changing. Stick with the
old way, you know it works.’
Other inner protector voices can come in as well to question
‘What if they don’t like us as much when we act like an adult?
‘This new awareness thing doesn’t seem half as interesting. The old way may have been more risky but with all
that drama and intensity it seemed like we were living life in the fast lane.’
The last one above has to be the most appropriate. So ask yourself this:
How long do you want to have drama and intensity in your
Perhaps this means risking you health, your sanity and your well being
or that of your children if you have them?
If you have
been saying to yourself:
Should I go
back to my abuser,
I keep attracting these types over and over again
I want to understand them
I want them to try and "get it"
Its all their Fault
If you have been asking the questions above. Perhaps more importantly
you should be asking yourself these:
it in YOU than feels the need to be abused over
and over again?
makes YOU feel you deserve nothing more
than a relationship with an abuser?
What is it in YOU that feels that you need to keep on fixing them up
If you know intuitively that it's not your fault then what beliefs do YOU have in place
that keep you stuck from walking away permanently?
Are you afraid to change ?
My own fears were that no one would like the new Sarah Strudwick and yet the work was not
as terrifying as I thought. It was the little girl in me scared and frightened that needed to change.
I wrote in Dark Souls - Healing and Recovering from Toxic
“One of the reasons why women who come from dysfunctional
families find it so easy to bond to these types of men is because they are not bought up to express a full range of
wants, needs or feelings. They may be unable to discern when someone is not good for them and are often drawn to
the very dangers that they so want to avoid in the first place. These types of women may have received little
nurturing in their early life and therefore attract men who appear to be needy. They may respond to
emotionally unavailable men better because they don't know anything different. If they are the type of children
that have always been there for their parents they may do almost anything to keep the relationship from dissolving
taking the responsibility and blame in the relationship when things go wrong because that is how they have been
conditioned as a child. They may even find that “nice men” are boring.
I ran a workshop about negative beliefs and explained that if you did not resolve them then you
would keep on attracting the same type of relationship over and over again. Say for example you have a little
red flag over your head saying only “abusers” apply then, if a nice man were to come up to you, you wouldn't
even recognise them. It would be like taking a wet fish and slapping it round your face. It would feel odd
and it would smell bad. Why ? Because you had no idea what a nice man
But I realise now that boring is good and that nice is perfect and that I didn't need the excitement
of a psychopath in my life any more.
One of the other things that bonds dysfunctional women like me to psychopaths and narcissists is sex
because they use sex as a way of forming a “false” bond with their victims.”
If you want to find out more about the “false“ bonds and how sex bonds you to the
psychopath and why you are literally “addicted” to them on a chemical basis,
including why the more you have sex with them the more you will feel unable to