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Abigail G. Manning is an Awareness Creator of Authentic Health to prevent and end all forms of Abuse. Having experienced childhood abuse by both of her parents and domestic violence as an adult, Abigail uses first-hand experience combined with her Indiana University Communications double major specializing in cognitive, behavioral and social theories, 5 years of abuse research, $20,000 of therapy modalities investigations and her own unique insights, to teach others how to build Authentic Health. In a positive and pro-active approach, she uses touches of humor to illuminate the challenges of recognizing and understanding the codes, cycles and connections found in unhealthy behaviors including toxic relationships, manipulations, sexual harassment, bullying, child abuse, domestic violence, manipulations, and more. By creating awareness, abuse moves out of the silent darkness where it starts and thrives, into the colorful light of mainstream conversations and creates a brighter future for us all.
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Mike: Welcome to the Respect Podcast. I’m your host, Mike Domitrz from mikespeaks.com, where we help organizations of all sizes, educational institutions, and the US military create a culture of respect. And respect is exactly what we discuss on this show. So let’s get started.
Mike: And welcome to this episode. Today we have Abigail Manning. Abigail is an awareness creator of authentic health to prevent and end all forms of abuse. With a positive and proactive approach, she brings insights and answers to how we can each lead healthy and happy lives. Abigail, thank you so much for joining us.
Abigail: Thank you so much for having me on your show, Mike.
Mike: I’m thrilled to have you here. Can you give a little background on what it is you do?
Abigail: Sure. As you said, I’m an awareness creator. So what that means is it’s a proactive and positive approach to helping others see where maybe they might be lacking in having true authentic health. And the whole reason behind it is because I came from childhood abuse by both my parents and domestic violence as an adult, and as an eight year old, I took a vow in front of a mirror to end abuse. And so this is my next chapter of life, and this is my next mission, is to help others learn the lessons that I have learned, but hopefully a lot easier and faster, quicker, and with a lot more positivity than the way that I learned them.
Mike: And at eight years old, you looked into a mirror and said, “I’m going to end this pattern.” I’m not gonna let this cycle repeat, is sort of sounds like you described there. I’m going to make a different path for myself. Where does that come from at eight years old?
Abigail: Right. Well, what it is, is that it was, I devoted myself at that point to love, respect, and kindness.
Mike: I mean, that’s mind boggling for a lot of people to hear it and say, wait an eight year old committed to and stayed with it. Right? Because a lot of … When we’re young, we’ll go, oh, I have this goal and this dream. I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this, or I’m never gonna do that, and that changes very quickly as we get to teen years or pre-teen years. So what kept you focused?
Abigail: What kept me focused was having firsthand experiences of harm. So I really only have one rule and when I raised my kids, it was do no harm. At all costs, do no harm. And the next best goal is to have love, respect, and kindness for yourself and for others. Now, it doesn’t mean that that was easy. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand abuse. I didn’t understand it at all, but I was committed to those values, doing no harm to someone else because I knew what that felt like, and I did not want to do that to anybody else. And what do I want the world to be? How do I want the world to treat each other? I want there to be safety and trust and respect, and for me, those words have always kind of boiled down to love, respect, and kindness.
Abigail: And so unfortunately because I didn’t understand abuse, I went through the pendulum swing of marrying someone who is not of great health and being in that marriage for over 10 years, and then swinging out of that. And that’s what I mean. I’ve learned all these different things by going through $20,000 of therapy modalities, and reading, and going through crisis center. PTSD hit me really hard. I was like, okay, I have to really understand this and be able to explain it in a way that I can understand it.
Abigail: And so other people saw that and they started asking me, can you explain to me what you’re doing and how it’s working so well for you? So from that, I started this company, Create Awareness Change Lives where we go and we speak, and we do workshops and training and keynote speeches and things like that to help others learn what I did along the way, hopefully way back at the early stages, and signs of unhealth and disrespect so we can stop it there and make it into something positive and proactive for all of us.
Mike: Well, I appreciate your openness there because while at eight years old you made the commitment, it took 20 plus years to figure out the journey which is true of a lot of us. In a do no harm philosophy, which I’m a big believer in, when I teach my all day workshops on how to do training on sensitive issues, we talk about do no harm. At the same time, you have to also make sure that you’re not doing harm by doing no harm because that can actually happen.
Mike: You can think so much about, I don’t want to harm anybody in the room, that you do harm at the ability to impact and to teach and to connect because you’re so working in fear of not doing harm. And that’s not what do no harm means, but that’s what people can interpret it to mean, and you can live it. It sounds like you went through some of that in your own personal life.
Abigail: Correct. I agree that you can’t … We’re not a world where we have to be … I don’t want to be in a world where it’s overly polite. One of the things that we are is transparent. Transparent can be firm, it can be direct, it can still be polite and kind, but it’s no longer a doormat and you don’t withhold information. So I help people. One of the realizations that I had was the crisis center told me, “When you do this work, it’s not when. You absolutely will trigger somebody else.”
Abigail: So it’s a matter of knowing you’re going into that, giving a space that’s trusting and safe for people to really vulnerably feel it because I’m about authenticity, right? Not just the robotic kind of, I mask my feelings, but someone is going to get triggered. How do we help them? Because that’s the first step. When you first realize, whoa, I have a problem, or oh, I didn’t know that was me, or I didn’t think I thought about that word that way, or something.
Abigail: So being triggered doesn’t have to be a horrible, bad thing. It can be a realization that this is the first maybe eye opening experience that you’re like, I’m ready to be better. I’m ready to be healthy. I’m ready to have control over this and not have it have control over me. Let me flip it into the positive like it’s okay, I am going to trigger people, and that is okay, but I have to have the responsibility, which I take very seriously, of letting people know that they can trust me, they’re safe with me, and that I truly, truly do care about them and their wellbeing.
Mike: Yeah, and you’re not intentionally triggering people.
Mike: There are people who do that, right? We see people in the media and in politics who go out and say insightful things intentionally to insight, to trigger in a different way than the kind of trigger we’re talking here, but it’s a form of triggering. And so you’re saying, no matter what I do, someone can be triggered. I’m out of control of that, but I am in control of the atmosphere that I create in which that takes place.
Abigail: Right, and trauma informed approach is really important. So I would never go out of my way or try to ever trigger someone in an unhealthy way, in a harmful way, in overstepping their boundary lines. But understanding that you’re going to do that and you’re doing it from a loving place, you’re doing it from an I care place, and this is the way you’re going to have to face it. Because if you don’t face the beast, the beast is always going to be there.
Abigail: So I don’t care if your beast is addictions, I don’t care if your beast is that you’re with somebody abusive, or that you are abusive yourself. You’ve got to face the beast in order to stare it down, understand it, and be able to walk away confidently from it. And you can do all that in a very healthy way. So the question is always, am I being helpful and healthy or am I being hurtful and unhealthy? That’s my measuring, and hopefully I’m never hurtful to somebody, and I’m always been helping and healthy for them.
Mike: So how do you help somebody? How are you supportive of someone? We get suggested questions for our shows and the one question is, how do I treat people who have been through abuse with respect and not pity? So how do I give that person that respect and pity? Because we see it all the time. In my line of work from the stage, I’ll tell people the number one mistake I see people say to survivors is, “Oh, I’m so sorry,” which is meant as loving and caring, completely comes off as total pity.
Mike: I’m so sorry. And it feels like I’m so sorry that happened to you. It didn’t happen to me. I’m so sorry it happened to you. And how you know it’s pity is because the majority of the time the survivor will respond with, oh, it’s not your fault, which means they’re now counseling you for your reaction to them, which tells you it’s pity. That’s a dead sign that they felt pity right there. It was not a moment of empowerment.
Abigail: Correct. And that’s interesting. I’ve never thought of pity in that way. What I wanna do is help both sides. So when someone really cares, I don’t think they want to do pity. I think they don’t know what to say.
Mike: Correct. And that’s why giving people precise words is everything in those moments. We do that [inaudible 00:08:54] all the time. Here’s exactly the words you can use that can make sure that you are empowering each other and respect and admiration. What do you teach for that?
Abigail: Well, I teach to be authentic. I teach to be honest. I teach that being direct. So having eye contact with the person and saying something like, “Thank you for sharing that,” or, “You are so brave,” or, “I didn’t know, how can I be of support?” Even to me, I see people all the time kind of go, and so I just move on into what I do really quickly because it gives them permission not to have to respond and react. Because we all feel like, oh gosh. I mean, none of us want anybody to be abused.
Abigail: So if you can just come back with, wow, I didn’t know. How did you get past it? I mean go to the positive. What could I do to help somebody in the future? Is there anything specific I can do for you? And that’s the number one thing. People don’t know how to respond. You don’t have to know how to respond. Just be yourself. If you’re kind, be kind.
Mike: Yeah, and if you can learn language that can help you be comfortable in that, then use it. Like we teach the same thing. We teach, “Thank you for sharing.” We’ll say, “Thank you for sharing. Clearly you are strong and courageous. What can I do to be of support?”
Mike: Because that opens the door. And the reason those three steps are so important. One, thank you for sharing lets the person know, I’ve come to the right person. Because the fear is, is it okay to share with this person in this moment? That’s often a fear for a survivor. Is this a safe person to share? So when you open with, “Wow, thank you for sharing,” oh, okay. And then when you say, “Clearly you’re strong and courageous because you shared,” I mean, that’s true. So that’s honesty and validation at the same time. Reinforcement is a better word.
Mike: But then to say, “How can I be of support?” They might say, oh no, I just wanted to share. Okay. But they might be like, oh, I just wish there was someone I could talk to. Oh, well have you talked to a local crisis center? Have you talked to … And you give them options. It creates this exploratory option for them to get the resources and support they deserve, which is so, so important.
Mike: And for anyone listening, this goes to any difficult news someone ever gives you. It doesn’t have to be a survivor. Somebody comes up to you and says, “My dad passed away last night.” Oh, I’m so sorry. Where do you go from there? You’ve got nowhere to go from there. Somebody says, “My dad passed last night.” Wow, thank you for sharing. Now how can I be of support? Now they see somebody trying to engage not just, let’s move on from this uncomfortable situation.
Abigail: I love it. I love it. In fact, I wrote it down because I am a big thank you and please person. Call me old fashioned, but I still really like using thank you and please with people all the time, even people I know, my family and everybody. Just thank you for helping me with dinner or something like that. So that’s acknowledgement, everything you said was just, to me, spot on, perfect, and beautiful, and brilliant. To acknowledge, to thank, to prove that you’re a safe person, you’re a sincere person. I love it.
Mike: I appreciate that. We’ve always taught it from stage and all my books. We teach that same …
PART 1 OF 3 ENDS [00:12:04]
Mike: We’ve always taught it from stage and in all my books. We teach that same statement, because it’s just … People don’t have the skill. I love what you said about be yourself and be authentic. Sadly, some people are afraid to do that, because they have been taken as being callous in the past. They feel, “If I’m myself, I could do harm.” Well, what if I could give you this little phrase? And if you said it from your authentic self, with these words, it’s going to come off as you and be loving, and caring, and supportive.
Abigail: Right. One other thing I’d like to point out real fast, Mike, is that the person who has the difficult thing to explain. Like you said, whatever that happens to be: a death in the family, coming out for the first time talking about abuse, or something like that. That person is coming from a place where they’ve already been shamed, blamed, judged, isolated, ridiculed, minimized, all of that. They’re kind of … At least in my case, I was very nervous, and I would watch people. The moment that they would kind of like at me like … like that. Shut it down. This is not a safe place. This person’s not going to be able to understand. The turtle pulls its head back into the shell real fast.
Abigail: Just know that when someone comes to you with an act of bravery, when someone looks really strong on the outside or you see them as being very strong or successful or capable or confident, we’re all the same in the inside. It’s really scary to come forward. Strong people … I know, because I’ve been called a strong person more than once in my life … It’s scary to feel weak. It’s scary to feel not in control of how someone’s going to respond to you, not that we can control it. Just know going into that that’s why I like telling people to be really authentic and just your connection with that person. A lot of times you don’t know that person, but it could be just someone you’ve met. It happens to me all the time. I will start with a compliment for them of like, “I’m honored that you told me.”
Mike: Yes. Yes, because what you said there is important about the concept of that took them strength to share with you, whatever the difficult news was. So to honor that just means the world to people. We should be honoring that. Now you talk about something that is what I’ve been doing for decades, which is to ask first. Ask first. You talk about it specifically when it comes to hugs. Because in my world, people think, “Well, Mike teaches us to ask for a kiss,” or, “Mike teaches before sexual intimacy to ask.” But you say, “Why should I have to ask before I hug someone.” You teach in your work why that’s important. Let’s go to there. Why is it respectable to ask for a hug versus just assuming, “Look, I’m giving you a hug. That’s loving. That’s supportive”? What’s the harm in me just giving them a hug?
Abigail: Yeah, right. It goes down to our healthy boundary lines, right? What is healthy for you may not be necessarily healthy for someone else based on their life experiences. For example, if someone … That was the first step of abuse, let’s say. Because that’s what I specialize in is preventing and ending abuse. If someone was abused by, let’s say, a parent who comes up and the first thing they do is they come up towards you face on, and they put their arms towards you. That person knows they have to go into fight, flight, or freeze mode, so it’s unsafe. When our brains get hijacked, we don’t know how to respond until we are taught how to respond, until we’re taught what those warning signs are. And, what is ours to own versus the other person?
Abigail: Is everyone out to attack you that’s going to hug you? No. But until we can get that through our brains and really assimilated it into our bodies and our responses, and we can understand it … There’s different techniques, like EMDR. There’s Somatic. There is EFT … on how we rewire our brain, so that we don’t automatically jump into that reactionary fight, flight, or freeze mode. You think you’re being friendly and kind, and I think you’re … subconsciously without even realizing it … coming to attack me. Because some people bury, especially childhood abuse, so far down, they don’t even know that that’s what it’s related to.
Mike: Yes. The word that we often don’t discuss here is grooming. This is how the predators often groom their victims and those who would go on to become survivors. For anyone who’s listening, what that means is a predator will start with a hug. They’ll get very comfortable with that hug. They’ll make that hug little tighter and a little longer. Then they move to touching, and they move to other things. But it all began there, so for the survivor … especially if it has not been addressed, if it is down deep … there’s an immediate moment of, “That’s where it all started, and now this person’s starting it all.”
Mike: Like you said … I love that you said that … they might not even be aware of this, because subconsciously this can happen. People go, “Well, that’s not my … I’m not supposed to know what everybody else has been through. I mean, that’s just political correctness gone awry.” You are about to touch another person’s body. If you are going to touch another person’s body, it is on you to respect the possibilities of how that could impact them, because it’s their body. That’s not like you’re just saying something from across the room, which can be harmful, but you’re literally going to engage another human being’s body in some form or fashion.
Abigail: There’s three spaces. There’s our professional or public space. Then there’s our personal space with our friends and stuff. Then there’s an intimate space that you would share with a partner, or a child, or maybe an elderly parent, or something like that. That’s your intimate space. We say that people aren’t really allowed into your intimate space unless you want it, unless it’s healthy for you. Why would I assume just because I like a hug, that other people would like it. I always try to, again, honor, respect. I try to respect the other person. I would just say things like … For the first time meeting them. I have my group of friends, we hug all the time. But there’s an understanding, because the first time that we’ve met, we’ve said, “Oh, would you like a hug?” Not, “May I hug you?” Because, again, you’re coming onto them, but, “Would you like a hug? Are you a hugger?”
Mike: Yeah, that’s a great line. I know friends that use that. Myself, I’ve done it too. They go the handshake hug kind of thing, and you’re like, “Are you a hugger?” They’re like, “Yeah,” so then you know you’re good. But if they’re like, “No, I’m good,” yep, the handshake works. I think what people forget is why are you hugging them in the first place? You believe it will be supportive. You assume. So if the hug is about supportive and/or connection, shouldn’t you make sure that will be the outcome?
Abigail: Right, right. Also, maybe conversely, because Authentic Health is really turning that mirror around and looking at it at yourself. I’m not saying hugs are bad. Personally, I love hugs, but other people don’t like them, and that’s okay. If you’re like, “I hug everybody, and I don’t even ask.” Why? What is it I need? What is the physical touch lacking in my life. What am I trying to express. Maybe question is that so important for me to do that?
Abigail: I had someone in a business setting, never me the person before. She’s actually a lawyer. When she came up to me … I always shake hands the first time I meet somebody, because in our society, that’s totally acceptable. It’s not awkward … and I extended my hand. She immediately pushed right past my hand and threw a hug onto me. I took a step back, and I said, “I’m more of a handshaker when I get to meet people.” She completely didn’t understand. I don’t know if she thought we were best friends reconnected.
Abigail: But just watching the body language. We talk a lot about cognitive, social, and behavioral theories. Well, the behavioral theory is if someone’s putting out their hand to shake hands with you, they want to shake your hand. Or, they put a hand up to high five, just do the high five. Those verbal and behavioral cues are important to watch for.
Abigail: Then ask [inaudible 00:19:55] ask, but you don’t … It’s out of consideration. It’s just a form of respect, in my opinion.
Abigail: Don’t take it personally if they say, “No, I’m not.”
Mike: Yeah, you don’t have to cure them. I think that’s the other thing that happens. I think people think that, “If I give you enough hugs, you’ll be okay with hugs.” That’s really dangerous and messed up to think, “The more I push your boundaries and disrespect what you want, you’ll learn to like the boundaries I’m giving you.” If you actually say that out loud, you’ll recognize how predatorial that is, right?
Mike: We need to help understand it. I’m not saying that I haven’t done some form of that when I was younger. Most of us have, right?
Abigail: Oh, absolutely.
Mike: In some form, we thought, “Well, if I do this, they’ll get more comfortable …” Whatever it was. It doesn’t have to be hug, touch. But recognizing just how predatorial that is, and how we’ve been taught to do that. Like, “I’ll teach them.” No. That’s not your job in that moment.
Abigail: Right. I think a lot of times … and you can tell me from a guy’s perspective … from a girl’s perspective, I was taught, “Be kind. Be nice. Give to others.” I have a saying of pour love. Pouring love, pouring love on others. That was a strong social message that was given to me that, “Don’t make waves. Everyone would be your friend.” All of those which are not healthy. In the situation, a lot of times I think women end up hugging each other not necessarily because they want to, but they don’t want to appear rude, or unfriendly, or stuck up, or something like that.
Abigail: I wanted to erase that and saying when you own your own Authentic Health … whatever it is, if it’s a high five, if it’s a fist bump, if it’s a hug … whatever it is, if you own it, it’s okay. Be good with who you are, and not have to worry that you’re offending somebody else, and not worry if you offend somebody else by saying, “I prefer this. I don’t prefer that.”
Abigail: By living authentically, it’s okay to stay within your own boundary lines, and what feels good, and is healthy for you without worry about what others and outsiders are thinking about you.
Mike: Abigail, what are red flags of a sign that someone is being disrespectful or being abusive?
Abigail: Red flags. Okay. We all have that gut feeling that goes off. We have red flags. We hear warning bells, all of those things. To me, I guess, the difference between those two would be healthy boundary lines. Our definition of abuse that I made up is repeated mistreatment. If people don’t remember anything else, if you just remember repeated mistreatment. The rest of the definition is, “Repeated mistreatment where one person uses manipulations to gain and maintain power and control over another person.”
Abigail: If someone is being disrespectful, is it repeated? That’s the first part of the definition. If it’s a one-off, maybe they’re being a jerk, maybe they are disrespectful, or something like that. Hopefully by you giving your healthy boundary lines and with a polite, but kind, but firm comeback on something, “I prefer a handshake, not a hug,” something like that. Then they will stop it. It’s not repeated.
Abigail: Now if they decide to repeated it, “Oh, yeah, there’s that Abigail. She …” and it goes on and on in different ways from emotional, to physical, to sexual, to financial. Different forms of abuse. Different forms of manipulation. Different forms of trying to take your power and control or exert their power and control over you. Then you absolutely know the person is acting abusively.
Mike: Let’s pause there, because I love the two words. Repeated mistreatment is very powerful. I think it’s also important to acknowledge that it doesn’t mean it needs to be repeated for it to have been abuse, right? Because, there could be a one-time situation that is highly abusive.
Mike: Usually what you’re describing here, what we’re talking about, is, “How do I know when a situation that I’m regularly in is one of abuse or mistreatment?” versus a one-time situation.
Abigail: Right. A lot of times, a sexual … that’s a sexual assault, which is awful. Nobody ever, ever deserves any form of abuse. No one asks for it. No one deserves it. No-
PART 2 OF 3 ENDS [00:24:04]
Abigail: … deserves any form of abuse. No one asked for it, no one deserves it. No one, even though you can be groomed or gas lighting into thinking that you deserved it, you had ownership over this. You never did. It’s what someone did to you versus what you went out and did to someone else. You were never worthy of being their target. You’re right, it doesn’t have to be awful or an assault or abusive, but when I use that term, a lot of times it starts really small, so unless it’s like you’re walking down an alley and you’re attacked, right? That’s an assault. But a lot of times in the abusive world when you have relationships with neighbors or co-workers or family it always starts small, like you said, they start with a hug, or they start with something, or they start with a lingering touch, if we’re talking about sexual harassment.
Mike: Or just not honoring your voice, right?
Mike: I don’t wanna go this far. Let’s say it’s sexual. I don’t wanna go this far. Oh, it’ll be fun. What did you not get about I don’t wanna go this far? I didn’t say whether it’d be fun or not fun, I don’t wanna go this far. It’s not on the survivor to have to say that either. The moment I said it once, you should’ve listened, but that’s a subtle, and it’s a form of somebody starting to show abuse that is likely to say they might not be respecting me as this night goes on, because they’re not reciprocating my voice right here and now. Once again, I wanna stress that’s not on the survivor to stop the criminal, it’s on the criminal to stop being abusive in the first place.
Abigail: Right, and so that is the red flag that you just mentioned. So that, well I set a boundary line and they didn’t … They either didn’t acknowledge it and blew right by it, or they made fun of me for it. They ridiculed me for it, or they’re like, “What in the world are you talking about?” Stuff like that. I thought you wanted to be my boyfriend, I thought you wanted to be my girlfriend. Just like in sexual harassment, we do some workshops for corporations and government and things like that on what’s sexual harassment and if this then that, quid pro quo, it’s the same thing. It’s not honoring those boundary lines, so just kind of watch because it tends to be small and then a lot of times someone who’s abusive is very quick, very practiced and that’s those manipulations of coming back and saying, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to do that,” or they have some story or something, so just watch for a pattern or really, not even a pattern ’cause sometimes it gets a little too tricky for people to see, just is it repeated?
Mike: Yeah, I love that statement, the repeated mistreatment. It’s perfect. Just due to time ’cause this next question we could do 30 minutes on but due to time, what is one or two steps, if somebody’s listening is a survivor, of trauma or abuse to help them feel respect towards themselves?
Abigail: Fantastic. Well for me, I would say it’s authentic health. Gaining your power and control back where you can have your authentic health where you’re not looking for outside confirmation, you really know the patterns and what has happened to you, what your life experience, we’re all shaped by our life experiences, so I guess the key would be what has shaped your life experience? What has created your story? What is that negative take or that purple thread running through you that is a lie that is not truth, but you’ve read that book so many times you believe it actually happened. You’ve heard that story so many times, you actually believe that’s who you are.
Mike: Can I pause just so I’m understanding?
Mike: Are you referring to for instance victim blaming, self victim blaming? So somebody’s sitting there going, “Had I not done this that night, that wouldn’t have happened,” and they have played that tape and that tape is causing them to feel blame.
Abigail: That could be their life experience yes, or it could be you see for example, really, really thin anorexic, bulimic people but the tape that they’ve been told is they’re big and fat and ugly. They’re on their deathbed believing that their big, fat and ugly when they’re really not, right? So we all have our tapes, I’m not smart, you should have seen my brother, he’s really, really smart. I’m not the smart one. Things like that. Like, what is your story? That my career’s never work out, my love life never works out.
Mike: I love adding the question to that, how’s that working for me? Right, so let’s say I put the story out in front of myself, I believe this. How’s that working for me? It never makes me feel better.
Mike: It’s not working, right? This story, this negative story I got has never benefited and even if it benefited once, 99 other days it bothers me so it’s a negative impact on my life.
Abigail: Right, and a lot of times what I’ll say is break it down to simple. Is it healthy or is it unhealthy?
Mike: Yeah, that’s perfect.
Abigail: Is this healthy? Is this going to propel me forward to the vision that I have for my life? Is this going to make me a better person tomorrow than I am today or is this unhealthy? Is this gonna continue keeping me in this loop, in this cycle, in this pattern, in this lane and [inaudible 00:29:02] false beliefs. So if you feel like [inaudible 00:29:04] and someone comes in and sweeps you off your feet telling you how smart you are, if you actually own your own … If you own your life story then you’re not swayed by what people may or may not say. They can use those as manipulations.
Abigail: So if you think of yourself as not charming let’s say and someone comes in your life and their like, “Oh, you’re so charming and you’re delightful,” and you’re like, “Oh wow.” They can manipulate you because they’re able to find your weakness but when we own our own weaknesses and we own our strengths, that’s authentic health.
Mike: Yes and a great example is parenting. Parents who say, “Well, I don’t want to tell my kid I love ’em too much,” oh yeah? Wait till the kid comes along that does tell them because that kid will … If they don’t believe their loved, that kid will be their new source versus them being their own source. Teaching them to be their own source. Yeah, somebody should say to you, “Oh you’re great,” and in your mind there should be a little bit of thanks and yes, right? Doesn’t mean you have to say it out loud, or you’re beautiful or you’re great, or you’re brilliant and there should be a little bit of thank you and yes.
Mike: We should feel these things about ourselves so we don’t … That’s what I loved about what you said there, we don’t need them from somebody else because if we need them from somebody else, control goes over to that person to get it. To get what they need, that can be the unhealthy part. You had three books that you told me that you really love, one was Mindful Loving by Dr. Henry Grayson, another was Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood and Renee Brown’s books, you especially like Rising Strong. Why these three books?
Abigail: Well I think anything Renee Brown has written I love. I love-
Mike: Same here.
Abigail: … her attitude and approach and she breaks it down. She inspired me to take what I know and break it down and simplify it and explain it in storytelling formats that make sense and so, that’s been a lot of things. It helped me a lot on my path on … I couldn’t stand when I opened up her book and I read the word shame. Ugh, I don’t need more shame and blame and anything like that and of course she did a big wonderful twist on all of it and it was really, really helping but again, we started the conversation with about triggering people. So I had to be a little angry with Miss Doctor Renee Brown because she was triggering me with the whole word shame but I’m glad she did and I’m glad I had the fortitude to keep reading through as well as those other books and other therapy and talk therapies and things like that because that’s how you feel the beast and you keep moving through it and you get better and you look in that mirror and you’re not afraid to look in the mirror.
Abigail: You’re not afraid. None of us are perfect, right? I’m supposed to be perfect, authentic health is not being perfect. It’s not being great at everything, it’s just being true to who we are and willing to look in the mirror and not willing to listen to the whispers of any kind of negativity and by being vulnerable and that’s a big strong theme that she has been superior in explaining to people is vulnerability and shame as well as many other things. But those are the reasons why I really like her books and I just love the way she writes too, I think it’s fun.
Abigail: [inaudible 00:32:11] for a male’s perspective as well as a female’s perspective on When You Love Too Much and that’s that healthy versus unhealthy. From different people I’ve put together what I feel authentic health is and both of them I thought from a male perspective as well as a female perspective they did a really good job of showing where that line is between what is good authentic love and what is not, because you have to keep in mind, I wasn’t raised with it. I wasn’t raised with love, respect and kindness. I wasn’t raised with mutually loving parents, I had to figure it out. I watched for it, I looked for it in movies, I watched for it in couples and so I stumbled along trying to learn these things in my own life and through reading books so that I could figure out how to have happy, healthy, successful love in my life.
Mike: Well I think that’s a great way to end our show ’cause I think too many people think things like, “Well that should be obvious,” but they forget well it’s obvious to you ’cause you might have been raised in it or you learned it because of something in your culture, your family. Millions of people have never been taught these lessons so if you’re gonna say I’m a compassionate, caring person you need to think of the possibilities of others, which you just brilliantly shared with us. So Abigail, thank you for being with us today. For anybody listening you can find Abigail at abigailmanning.com, we’ll have her Facebook link, her Twitter link all on our show notes, and remember if you’re listening or watching you can join discussions on this episode on Facebook at our Facebook discussion group called The Respect Podcast Discussion Group. So look that up on Facebook, join us in our conversation. Thank you so much Abigail.
Abigail: Thank you very much. All the best to you.
Mike: Thank you for joining us for this episode of The Respect Podcast which was sponsored by the Date Safe Project at datesafeproject.org and remember, you can always find me at mikespeaks.com.
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