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Payoffs Related to Becoming
Punishing, Explosive, and Abusive

All human behavior, including punishing withdrawals, aggression, and abuse, is purposeful and occurs for a reason. There is always some meaning to what we say and do. Look through this list and start to think about why you have acted in hurtful, disrespectful adn explosive ways with other people in your life.

by Dave Decker M.A.

  • Control (short-term only)
    • You can control the other person or the situation that is occurring around you
      ...but this is always only temporary
    • You can get your way
    • You can gain compliance from others get others to do what you want them to do get others to be quiet, stop talking, or quit “nagging” you get others to “listen” to you get others to “back off” and “calm down” get others to change their behavior and things about them you don’t like end arguments/discussions/conflicts that you don’t want to have
    • It allows you to “get the last word”
      ...your perspective gets “heard” “get your point across” to the other person
    • It serves as a “shortcut” to getting what you want
  • It allows you to gain revenge/get “payback”/get even/get “satisfaction”/hurt others for the “wrongs” you believe they have done to you
  • It brings others down to (or below) your emotional level of pain and misery
    ...e.g. then they may feel even worse than you do
  • Your intensity and “over-reaction” demonstrate how important the issue (or the person) really is to you
    ...”I only yell about this issue because I really care about you and what you do (or because I love you so much)”
  • You avoid and never actually get to address important relationship issues
    ...i.e. you can divert attention from them by getting angry and explosive if you don’t want to talk about them
  • You can avoid intimacy and create emotional distance between you and others
    ...i.e. you can “protect” yourself and stay “safe” if being truly close to other people is actually scary or uncomfortable for you
  • It proves to you and others that you are not dependent on anyone else in your life
  • It provides you with a “rush” or a “high”
  • You can feel powerful/strong/touch/”in charge”/”important”
  • You prove that you’re “superior” to and better than other people
  • You prove that you’re “right” about whatever is going on
    ...i.e. “might makes right”
  • You cover and avoid feelings that may be uncomfortable and difficult for you
    ...depression, anxiety, sadness, fear, disappointment, hurt, self-doubt, and other emotions that “make you more vulnerable to others”
  • It feels “comfortable” for you, i.e. it’s “who you are and what you know”
    ...your punishing and disrespectful anger becomes a “bad habit” and an important part of you identity as a person
  • You can hide your inadequacies and insecurities temporarily from those around you “cover up” the feelings underneath your anger
  • You can get attention/acceptance/approval/”respect” from others, especially when you are young
  • It serves as a stress reliever can be a temporary emotional and physical release can “dump” your stress, frustration, and emotional pain on others
  • It creates intensity and excitement that can replace the boredom or “numbness” that you may be experiencing in your day-to-day life
  • You can be successful and make a lot of money in the world of work
  • You might be able to get sympathy or sex from a partner
    ...experiencing the “deception” or “honeymoon” phase of the cycle of abuse
  • You can stay self-absorbed, self-centered, and focused only on yourself and what you think, feel, and want rather than thinking about others’ wants and needs
  • You can avoid social engagements that you don’t want to attend
    ...e.g. when you get explosive and disrespectful just before you are supposed to go somewhere with your partner and you or they have an excuse to cancel
  • It makes it easier to become explosive and disrespectful the next time because you have already “crossed the line” previously
  • It forces a partner to “caretake” and try to “change” you rather than focusing on and developing themselves
  • It allows you to “make a connection” with the other person
    ...”connecting” with a partner in a disrespectful way, for some people, is better than having no connection at all
  • It is one way to “protect” yourself and others
  • It can actually serve as a way to get some real help for you, which can then promote self-knowledge, change, growth, and healing (for some people)
    ...this is the only truly “positive” payoff in this list

© 1987 David J. Decker, MA, LP
Phone: 612-725-8402 or 651-646-4325 -






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