Abigail G. Manning is an instructor and speaker to military, veteran non-profits, corporations and academies on how to develop thriving individuals and prosperous workplace cultures. She took what she learned the hard way coming from childhood abuse by both of her parents, domestic violence and the pit of PTS and combined it with her academic education from Indiana University to develop her own curriculum.
She works to proactively develop leadership and teams through emotional intelligence, advance communication skills, and her Purple Threads program. The second part of her work is focused on preventing toxic cultures including unconscious bias, harassment, sexual assault and the Adverse Spiral (stress, depression, addiction, abuse, PTS and suicide.)
It’s advanced storytelling and participants’ life sharing. Where together, we shift mindsets.
Purple Threads is a comprehensive program that revolves around “Mastering your limiting Personal Thoughts that are connected to Past Traumas that are Physiologically Tied to what we think, say and do.”
My work is my life mission, to empower others so they can live their best lives and help others do the same.
We are thrilled to have had the honor to interview such an inspiring instructor and teacher.
I was blessed to recently teach resilience and morale classes at the United States Air Force Academy and love that many of the cadets referred to me as the Purple Threads lady and asked for a follow up workshop.
How did you become interested in this area?
When I was eight-years-old, I stood in front of my bedroom mirror and made a solemn vow that the hurt, harm and abuse would end with me. I didn’t know what that really meant other than I knew at a very young age that a family is not supposed to maliciously hurt each other. It was my way of claiming a happy future, one where I was safe to have a voice and where I was accepted and loved. I would not pass on the harm to others so I picked the path of kindness regardless that it brought me more ridicule as well as physical and emotional abuse. I knew how awful it felt to be treated like that so no matter what, I wasn’t going to treat others the way I was being treated. A vow I’ve lived up to.
All I knew was, I was not going to continue the “kick the dog” cycle. That’s where the dad comes home from an upsetting day and takes it out by yelling at his wife. The wife goes down the hall and takes it out on the kid yelling that he’s lazy and forgot to set the table again! The kid who was straining over a homework assignment, looks down at his loyal dog and for a reason he can’t understand, kicks the dog.
Hurt people hurt people. Someone has to stand and say, I’ve been hurt and it ends with me. I’ve had that calling for as long as I can remember. To protect those who can’t protect themselves, yet. To speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves, yet.
What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?
self-awareness + self-ownership + self-commitment = self-master
When we have our self-mastery that means we own our power and control and no one can take it from us. We can’t be tricked by manipulators who use their tools of harassment, abuse, prejudice, cruelty, division and injustice. We can and will at times get triggered by their tricks and negative tools. We are human after all with deep feelings, emotions and thoughts and at times, we have limited emotional bandwidths. Mastery is not saying we are perfect, but that we have the internal power to go back to the start of self-awareness (I realize I’m getting upset and know that this is tied to ABC) and self-ownership (I refuse to allow someone to steal my strength and happiness so I will respond in a way that’s of integrity and healthy for me and healthy for that person) and self-commitment (I will utilize my mindset skills I’ve learned including EFT, breathing techniques, mindfulness and keep practicing them until they become my instinctual brain and muscle memory response.)
The more we work on the self-mastery loop, the more efficient we become and the less mental and physical energy it consumes, leaving us more energy and bandwidth to think deeper, love deeper and care deeper about finding solutions vs pointing out the problems. Self-mastery creates individuals who are safe to stand in their own strength and safe to let others do the same. Collaboration vs Competition. Confidence vs Arrogance. Unity of We vs Isolation of Me. That’s when we ALL are free to live our best lives.
What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?
One important piece I teach is to catch and remove all “Finger Pointing” language both on yourself and to others. Catching internal thoughts and external words, spoken or written, that are rooted in shame, blame, judgment and isolation. I call it finger pointing language because my father used to take his index finger and pound it on my chest, right over my heart, when he had a dissertation to give of all of my faults, problems, shortcomings and how I wasn’t important or loved. Shame, blame, judgment and isolation are cruel, insidious ways of telling others lies they can carry around forever including: not being good enough, never will be good enough no matter what success they achieve, not worthy of good in the world or kindness from others, never going to make it in the world, and on and on and on. The more a person hears it, especially as a child, the more a person believes it.
The person doing finger pointing language is grooming kids and gaslighting adults so neither of them speak up or fight back. Because they believe they are dumb, ugly, unwanted, unworthy, etc. they often continue on that a self-fulfilling path, hide by playing small in the world, mask or cover up with additions, and self-isolate. I took the path looking for outside positive confirmation and award earning affirmation and happily found it through sports, activities, volunteering and all the while, self-isolated my deepest thoughts and wounds from everyone around me. It wasn’t until 2013 that I told anyone about the childhood abuse I had endured. Regardless of our backgrounds, we all have some form of a limiting personal belief and negative self-talk. Many leaders silently struggle with imposter syndrome.
Whats your favorite quote?
My family oath I created which is, “I treat others and myself with Love, Respect and Kindness.” Learning to always treat myself, meaning to have internal thoughts that are filled with Love, Respect and Kindness, has been a life long journey. Strand by strand, I’ve had to unweave the negative and toxic voices from abuse, trauma and hardships and replace them with: self-kindness of productive feedback; self-respect of truth, integrity, pride (not ego); and the best yet, self-love. With self-love, you don’t desperately seek it from others, sell yourself short, put up with toxic people, build walls of perceived self-protection or feel like you’re on the outside looking in. With self-love you not only treat yourself well but you also allow healthy people in your inner circle where it’s a beautiful place to live and thrive.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about what you do?
I have transformed my struggles into my strengths, and so can you! I deserve to shine brightly, and so do you! Start today on your journey of self-mastery and through the rough patches keep your head up, ask for help and be relentless in moving forward. It will be worth it!