Dr. Gregory Jantz

Do You Have Negative Thoughts Patterns From Emotional Abuse?

January 30, 2021

Almost everyone I’ve worked with on uncovering and healing from emotional abuse will, at some point in the process, ask why they have to go through the pain all over again. Feeling pain to heal from pain seems counterintuitive. Yet, emotional abuse needs to be uncovered and confronted, even if it was years in the past. 

Those patterns of abuse can negatively affect the present and, if untreated, the future. Emotional abuse doesn’t stay in the past.

Ten Ways Emotional Abuse Can Lead to Negative Thought Patterns

  • Low Self-Esteem – Automatically devaluing your own thoughts and opinions and elevating the thoughts and opinions of others. 
  • Lack Of Self Confidence – Difficulty making decisions, second-guessing decisions you’ve made, seeking situations that don’t threaten your low opinion of your abilities.
  • Transfer Of Needs – Finding comfort and solace for the pain in addictive behaviors.
  • Acting Out Sexually – Using sexuality to seek comfort and meet needs. 
  • Loneliness – The inability to establish meaningful connections with others, including yourself. 
  • Failure Syndrome – A deep-seated fear that you aren’t worthy of good things in your life, so you make sure they don’t happen.
  • Perfectionism – An obsessive preoccupation with doing everything “right” in order to deserve love and affirmation. 
  • Unrealistic Guilt – Believing anything wrong that happens around you is your fault.
  • Crisis-Oriented – Believing your “job” is to fix whatever is wrong and your only value is when you are working hard to do so. 
  • Unresolved Anger And Resentment – Anger at the injustice and pain can go unresolved, building up year after year, relationship after relationship.

Emotional abuse is like the thief Jesus talks about. He comes to steal (your sense of self), kill (your joy in life) and destroy (your relationships). Jesus said this isn’t the life he wants for you, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b). 

Emotional abuse seeks to limit your choices, your value, and your worth. Healing from emotional abuse gives you the opportunity to regain a full and healthier life. 

The message of emotional abuse is often “You never do anything right.” The reverberations of this message may cause you to set the bar too high on what counts as progress in recovering from the effects of emotional abuse. 


Healing isn’t a task you have to be perfect at, nor a race that only has one finish line. Healing is a process. You know this from physical healing. A person who has broken a leg isn’t expected to walk overnight, even with a cast. Emotional injuries can be like physical injuries; they take time to heal. 

If you are on a healing journey from emotional abuse and looking for a healthier approach to solving problems, here are 10 action steps to consider.

Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, Washington, voted a Top Ten Center For Depression Treatment in the United States. Dr. Jantz pioneered Whole Person Care in the 1980’s. He is a world-renowned expert on eating disorders, depression, anxiety, technology addiction, and abuse. He is a leading voice and innovator in Mental Health utilizing a variety of therapies including nutrition, sleep therapy, spiritual counseling, and advanced DBT techniques. Dr. Jantz is a best-selling author of 40 books and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN.

If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, PTSD, addiction, eating disorders, or other mental health challenges, call The Center at 888.771.5166 today.