Momentum Podcast: 357
Entrepreneurs And Abusive Relationships
by Alex Charfen
Abusive relationships come in many forms, these relationships can be with team members, coaches, partners, and romantic partners. Abusive relationships can be mental, physical or financial. Abusive relationships affect both men and women, they do not discriminate.
Entrepreneurs are susceptible to getting into these unhealthy relationships and there are clear reasons why. It's so incredibly important to me to discuss this emotional topic because I've experienced this firsthand in a past relationship. Far too many people are feeling stuck in these relationships and I want you to know that this doesn't have to be your life.
Full Audio Transcript
Alex Charfen: This is one of the more difficult, and I believe more important podcast I've ever recorded. It's a pattern I've seen in my over 20 years of working with high producing, high output and game changing entrepreneurs. We have a tendency, there's a pattern that we get into abusive relationships. Today, that's what I want to talk to you about.
I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum podcast made for empire builders, game changers, trail blazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to, we challenge complacency, destroy apathy and we are obsessed with creating momentum, so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution.
Sure, we pay attention to their rules but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate. There could be a better future. Instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we hinder the vulnerability and exposure it takes that make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution and we always will be.
A lot of people have told me that they listen to my podcast with their kids, which I'm very proud of. I actually really love the fact that children are exposed to my content and get to hear about being an entrepreneur, about being an entrepreneurial personality type, but for this podcast, it might be best that adults, parents listen first and then decide whether you want your kids to listen just because some of this is rather sensitive. I want to talk about the pattern that I've seen over the last 20 years of working with entrepreneurs, and some of the most talented and the most game changing entrepreneurs on the planet and us getting into abusive relationships. Now, this can take the form of abusive relationships with team members, abusive relationships with coaches, abusive relationships with partners and abusive relationships in a romantic relationship with a spouse or a boyfriend, a girlfriend, somebody that you've decided to become involved with.
There is such a clear pattern of entrepreneurs getting into these relationships, and I believe there's a reason why or there are reasons why. First, I want to share with you why I think we are so susceptible to being in unhealthy abusive relationships, and there's a clear correlation here to the entrepreneurial personality type. We tolerate. Entrepreneurs are bound to tolerate far too much. Here's why? Everyone of us has been in the situation where we didn't have enough resource or didn't have enough time. We shouldn't have been doing what we are doing. The whole world told us we should turn around, walk away, do something different and we press through and that's where we in fact changed our lives, became who we are today and broke through and because we have this pattern of being up against the odds and then breaking through, we also have a pattern of tolerating far too much in our lives.
We put up with things. We think things are going to get better. We always are looking forward rather than looking at the present where we are right now in pain and frustrated, and being hurt. As entrepreneurs, we are prone to tolerate far more than the average human being. That's just one reason we end up in these challenging abusive relationships. The second one, and I'm going to share four with you. The second one is we're optimist. Entrepreneurs are born optimist or we wouldn't be entrepreneurs. You say you're going to start a business on Facebook, and there's crickets. You say you got a new job on Facebook and 200 people congratulate you. Why? Well, because most people don't even understand how we think. We are optimists. We're always looking at a situation for how it's going to turn out well.
We always want situations to get better. We actually believe the world can get better, people can get better, we can get better because that's what we do. We improve things around us constantly, and as a result, we're optimist. We will put up with things far longer than the average person and we will tolerate things far longer than the average person because of our ability to be optimist because we're always looking for the positive. The next reason we end up in abusive relationships is we see the best in people. We look at someone and instead of seeing their faults, their challenges, their issues, we see their strengths, their possibilities to things that they could be, they could do, and we want to see the best in people.
We actually look for what is right in people and everyone of us has been bullied or called names or put down some time in our past, and so we see the best in the human beings around us because we know what it feels like to have someone do the opposite to us, and the fourth reason, we want the best for people. In some way, every business, every entrepreneur who's out there making living is also making a contribution and making a difference in the world and trying to improve the world around them. It doesn't matter what we do. In some part, what we do is our way of making a contribution, our way of showing who we are, our way of improving the world around us and I talked about it last night on the podcast. We hear the call of contribution. We want to improve the world. We want to help. We want to make things better. We want to leave the world a better place, and so we want the best for people.
These four things, the fact that we tolerate, the fact that we are optimist, we see the best in people, we want the best for people allows us and sometimes tends to make us step into relationships where we are not getting treated correctly and we don't see it because overtime, someone who is charming or loving or caring or have made us feel good about ourselves and made us feel positive slowly starts to make us feel the opposite, and I've just coached too many men and women. This isn't just a women thing. This is a men and women thing that have been in abusive relationships, and the easy ones for me are when it's an abusive relationship with a coach or an abusive relationship with an executive in their company, or an abusive relationship with a business partner and the most difficult ones are where it's an abusive relationship with a spouse or a significant other because there are so many emotional attachments that we create as entrepreneurs.
I always tell people when we hire someone in our businesses, we create this new reality, this future. We're going to hire this person. We're going to achieve the other. We're going to do things together. We're going to make things happen together. That's why so many of us have a difficult time finally redeploying or firing somebody. Well, imagine if when we're hiring someone, we create this new future. When we get into a romantic relationship with somebody, it's that to the 10th power. We create this new future for us, for them. We start seeing ourselves differently as someone who's in a relationship. We start seeing ourselves as a part of that relationship. We start imagining what is going to be, how it's going to feel, everything that we're going to get out of it and that feeling, that attachment is what often keeps us in abusive relationships and overtime, here's what happens. Because we tolerate, because we're optimist, because we see the best in people, because we want the best for people, we are always making excuses for that person.
We are always putting up with what's going on and we are always thinking we're just around the corner from it getting better, and I want you to know if you're thinking right now, "Is he talking to me?" I want you to know I've been there. I have been in a relationship that once I got out of it and went and saw a therapist and sat down and talked to him for a while, he let me know that I had been in a long term abusive relationships, that I had been in a relationship that was mentally abusive, that was emotionally abusive and that's why I was having such a hard time reconciling what had happened in my relationship. I want you to know this isn't just something I've seen in other entrepreneurs, this is something I actually experienced myself.
When I look back on that time, I think about how difficult it was and how challenging it was and how bad I felt about myself and how much I look down on who I was and I never knew, I never understood what good would come of that time or how I would be able to use it for anything positive in my life. I remember when I finally got out of that relationship, it just felt like it had been so long and there was no reason for it, but if in some small way me being in that situation, so I could help other entrepreneurs understand, then I actually think it probably was meant to happen because far too many of us get into abusive relationships and don't see a way out. In fact, far too many of us get into mentally, emotionally, physically abusive relationships and we make excuses, we pretend it's not that way. We sometimes don't even see that it is that way and we start doubting ourselves instead of seeing what's going on with the other person.
I want to help you if you're in a relationship where you feel like maybe things aren't like they should be or maybe they're not going as well as you want them to, or maybe you've thought that it just doesn't have to be this hard and it doesn't have to be this difficult and you shouldn't feel this upset so often. Here are some signs that you are in an abusive relationship, and I want to share them with you. I want you to think about these because if you're in a relationship where you are being mentally, emotionally or even sometimes physically abused, things don't often improve unless there is radical commitment on the side of the person who is abusing you, and they're going to make radical life changes and you're going to go to therapy and there is the admission that something is going on, things don't normally get better. In fact, I can tell you from the career of working with entrepreneurs that things get worse.
Far too often, I've taken the phone call after something dramatic has happened, after something serious has happened, after somebody has been injured or hurt or bank accounts are cleaned out or there's something that has happened that's irreparable and I don't want that to happen to you and if you know you're not in this type of relationship, maybe perhaps you should just listen, so that you can recognize this in your friends, your family members, the people around you.
If you may be in an abusive relationship, if you're with someone who is consistently blaming other people and doesn't take responsibility for what they do and they often blame you for their issues, if you're with someone who always has a reason for their behavior and it's other people's fault, it's the world in general, it's society, it's how they're feeling, but it's never, never them. They never take responsibility, they never admit there's an issue, they never admit they made a mistake, then you may be in an abusive relationship and if they're consistently blaming you especially for their behaviors, if they behave in a way that makes you uncomfortable and then they tell you why it's your fault, there's a high likelihood you're in an abusive relationship.
If your partner insults or belittles you or makes you feel small, if there's a consistent feeling of being insulted or belittled or made you feel less than, then you are probably in an abusive relationship. If you're with someone that uses fear or intimidation of any kind, now this is often seen as fear or intimidation of a woman by a man and that can be by physical confrontation or by posturing or by yelling or by screaming, but the same goes for men with women. If a woman is consistently saying she's going to leave or saying she's going to sleep with other people or causing you to feel fear for any reason, then you're probably in an abusive relationship.
If there's alcohol or drug use that results in you being uncomfortable, you're probably in an abusive relationship and I want to make that as broad as possible. If there's alcohol or drug use that results in you feeling yelled at or belittled or screamed at or unsafe or unheard in any way, then your relationship is probably abusive. If you are with someone who wants help, they wanted you to help them, they expect you to do things for them, they expect accommodations from you, but won't help you in return, then you're probably in an abusive relationship. This happens all the time. It's the husband that refuses to help in any way, but then yells and screams when dinner's on the table or it's the wife that refuses to support her husband in any way but then wants him to do everything for her.
If you're in that type of relationship, then you're probably in an abusive relationship. If you're with someone who consistently makes you feel guilty, guilt is not a healthy feeling in a relationship and so many of us have been in a relationship for so long ... Sorry. I can get a little emotional when I talk about this. I love my wife, Cadey so much because she is the absolute opposite of the relationship that I had before. If you're with someone who consistently makes you feel guilty for who you are, for what you're doing, for how you feel, for what you ask for in a relationship, you are probably in an abusive relationship because guilt is an unhealthy feeling in a relationship. Sure, we all feel that sooner or later, but if that's a consistent theme, a consistent feeling in your relationship, that is not how it should be.
If you're with someone who is unpredictable, you don't know what you're going to get, you wake up every morning wondering what direction are they going to go today? If they're unstable, unpredictable, if you feel unsafe or if you feel unsafe physically, but then that's usually men to women. Guys, if you feel unsafe emotionally and that's one of the hardest thing for a man to admit is that we feel unsafe because we're with someone who's unpredictable and irrational and doesn't act the same way day after day and we don't know who we're going to get each day. If you're in that type of a situation, it's most likely an abusive relationship.
If you're with someone who's hypercritical, constantly telling you what you're doing wrong and how you could do things better and always wanting you to change things and telling you that it's for your own good or telling you that they're doing it to help you, having someone constantly critique you, telling you what's wrong, telling you what you need to improve, that's not a normal way for a relationship to be. Sure, any partner is going to have suggestions for another partner, but if you feel like that is the primary mode of communication or one of the primary modes of communication, that hypercriticism, then you're probably in an abusive relationship.
If you're with someone who is fluctuating from one extreme to another where they ... I can't tell you how often. I've been on the phone with somebody talking about their spouse saying ... Or talked to one of my coaching clients or talked to a friend who is saying one day she is saying that she loves me, and the next day she wants to leave and then the next day she can never be without me, and then two days later, she's packing a bag or I've been on the phone with women saying one day he's calling me names and yelling at me, and then the next day he's trying to be close and physical and intimate and it makes me sick to my stomach. If you're feeling that way, that is not a healthy relationship. That is not an okay place for someone like us to be. It is not going to improve. You're most likely in an abusive relationship.
Then, there's just a couple left. If you don't feel safe in your relationship, if you don't feel safe and I mean, if you don't feel taken care of, if you don't feel like your partner is emotionally available, if you don't feel like you can tell them what's going on for you, if you don't feel like you can communicate with them, chances are you are in an abusive relationship and feeling safe, having safety in the most important relationship that you have is one of the things that helps people like you and I move forward. It helps us create momentum and it provides a foundation for who we are, for what we do everyday and if you feel unsafe in your relationship, it's time to look up and say, "Is this how it really needs to be? Because it isn't."
Then, the last one and this one may be the most obvious, but sometimes it's the one that people put up with the most. Thankfully, I've never been in this situation but I have had way too many friends and clients that have. If you're in a relationship where your spouse or partner gets physical and this sounds like it's just men against women, but it is both the directions. If you're in a relationship with a spouse who throws things or breaks things or puts holes in walls or postures physically or intimidates you physically, or pushes you around or touches you in a way that is violent or makes you feel scared, you are in an abusive relationship.
People like us will stay in these situations far too long. I've seen it far too often. The reason I'm recording this podcast, even though it's a serious subject that's so difficult to talk about is that I have taken way too many calls when things have gotten past the point of safety, and past the point of being okay, and past the point of the question is in an abusive relationship and getting to the place where there is now legally an abusive relationship, and something irreparable has happened. I've known too many men and too many women that have ended up hurt and damaged physically or emotionally, and confused and lost because they have stayed in a relationship like this for far too long and I want you, if that's where you are, to take an inventory because if the person you're with is one, two, three, four or more of the things that I said today, it's time for you to sit down and start making a list.
Start writing down the things that make you feel frustrated and upset and confused and unsafe, and I don't mean just physically, unsafe emotionally. What are the things that make you feel belittled and small? What are the things that make you feel vulnerable and weak in your relationship? What are the main things that make you feel scared or intimidated? Write them down. Here's why? Because when people like us go through the day to day of this, we are such optimist. We are so future focused. We are so out in the future creating a new reality that we will put up with far too much in the present, and we will continue on the assumption that things will get better and we continue to put our attention out in the future.
I want you to know that it doesn't have to be that way. If you feel any of the things that I've described, sit down and start making that list, confront the reality of what is really going on and admit to yourself that not only do you deserve better, but you must have better if you're going to be the person that you've always known you should be. See, people like us end up in these relationships for a reason, but we can also release ourselves from them and it may be the most difficult thing you've ever done in your life, but I want you to know being intimidated and vulnerable and scared and feeling unsafe and like things are irrational in a day to day of a intimate relationship that you have is one of the most challenging things for people like us and it will hold you back more than just about anything else in your world. The sooner you sit down, make that list and admit it doesn't have to be this way, the sooner you become the person you've always known you should be.