Do you ever read any newspaper advice columns? Some of you probably scan through them every now and then. Some may read them thoroughly on a daily basis. My mother did. She was an Ann Landers regular. And she regularly shared the columns with us, whether we wanted to hear them or not. You could count on it. The two things she read and discussed without fail were the Bible and Ann Landers.
Mother’s Bible reading influenced me. Apparently her curiosity regarding newspaper advice dispensers also rubbed off. That’s not to say I’m a regular reader of the Lander’s sequel, Annie’s Mailbox. Nor do I make it a habit to peruse Dear Abby. But I do sometimes glance at the captions and dip into the tidbits. I’ve used some of the columns as illustrations. A former NFL football player who heard me speak claimed that I even got him started reading them.
I share all of this now because I recently ran across a column that could illustrate many situations in various walks of life. The essence of the submitted problem is that a 16-year-old girl had a boyfriend who was physically and verbally abusive. She said he drilled into her head that she was ugly, fat, and good enough only for him. She finally gained the strength and courage to break up with the abusive boyfriend and found a great guy.
Now for the deep problem: the 16-year-old said that even though her new boyfriend tells her she is attractive, she doesn’t believe him. She said she hasn’t been able to believe anyone who has complimented her. She goes on to explain she realizes the lack of belief is based on the actions of her abusive ex. The question she seeks advice on is how to make herself believe she is worthy of the positive comments she receives.
Consider the situation. How many girls, women, boys, men, students, workers, children, athletes, spouses, and others are negatively affected by physical and/or mental abuse?
In the case of the 16-year-old girl, the advice columnist referred to the former boyfriend as an abuser, and explained that abusers use criticism and insults to chip away at the self-esteem of victims and make them incapable of leaving. The columnist said the girl hit the nail on the head when she claimed the abuser made her think she was good enough only for him” The columnist’s advice can be summed up with three points: (1) the reason the girl has trouble believing she is attractive is because she’s still feeling the effects of the psychological poison (2) the abuser’s words had nothing to do with reality, only with control (3) if the girl were not attractive, then the abuser would not have wanted her, and she should always remind herself of this when she feels like putting herself down.
No age or status group goes untouched by physical and mental abusers. They are in homes, businesses, schools, churches, and other realms of society. Be aware of them. Don’t allow someone else to make you less than you are. If you feel this is happening to you or to someone you care for, seek help from counselors, ministers, or other authority figures you respect and trust.
In People of Passion: Stories of Faith & Determination That Will Touch Your Heart & Warm Your Soul, one of the accounts opens with, “When Jessie Hargrove was born in the early 1900s, his mother didn’t like him. She never wanted him in the first place. Jessie’s father had run off with another woman, leaving his wife to have the baby on her own…” The story then details the mental abuse Jessie endured from his bitter mother. But it ends with, “Jessie was chosen as the first president of the first bank in this Smoky Mountain community.” Jessie’s desire and courage to rise above abuse, along with the love a minister’s daughter had for him, helped Jessie to become the child of God he really was rather than what an abuser told him he was.
Carl Mays, author of 13 books and speaker at over 3,000 events, can be contacted at email@example.com or 865-436-7478. His books, including A Strategy For Winning, People of Passion, Anatomy Of A Leader, Are We Communicating Yet? and Winning Thoughts, are available in stores, on www.carlmays.com, www.amazon.com, and other Internet locations.