Ending Emotional Abuse Requires a Commitment to Compassion

If not compassionate in love, you will become abusive.

Posted Jun 09, 2009

A quarter century of working with chronic resentment, anger, and abuse of all kinds has firmly taught me what the ancients knew. The only way out of the relentless pendulum of pain that keeps loved ones hurting each other, over and over, in fairly predictable intervals, is through sustained compassion.

I don't mean the Mother Theresa kind of self-sacrificing compassion. I'm talking about simple, everyday, basic humanity compassion that allows you to be true to your deepest values even when you greatly disagree with loved ones and when you must set limits on their behavior.

The first thing we require in our Love without Hurt Boot Camps for resentment, anger, or emotional abuse is that all participants make the following pledge.

I will make a supreme effort to be compassionate to you:

  • I will recognize that when I'm resentful or angry, I'm really hurt, anxious, or uncomfortable and that you are most likely hurt, anxious, or uncomfortable, too.
  • I will care when you are hurt, anxious, or uncomfortable.
  • I will try hard to heal my hurt, regulate my anxiety, and improve my discomfort, and I will support your efforts to do the same.
  • I will always treat you with value and respect, even when I disagree with you or do not like your behavior.
  • I will always appreciate the assets and qualities you bring to our relationship.
  • I will not criticize or ignore you.
  • I will not purposefully talk over you.
  • I will not control, manipulate, coerce, threaten, or intimidate you or purposefully make you feel bad in any way.
  • I will try hard to discover and correct blind spots about my behavior.
  • I will try hard to understand your perspective and sympathize with your feelings, especially when I disagree with you.
  • I will stay true to my deepest values.
  • I will be the best person I can be.

The boot camps succeed for the vast majority of participants simply because they learn how to keep their commitment to be compassionate under stress and in conflict. No matter what they disagree about, they are able to hold onto self-value when they don't like their partners' behavior and hold onto their value for their partners while they negotiate change.

If you are not compassionate in an intimate relationship, you will almost certainly become emotionally abusive. If you are emotionally abusive, you will not stop until you become more compassionate.