The main problem in dealing with a toxic personality is being able to identify it. We go into denial, especially if it’s someone close to us or on whom we depend: “Such a good person, she’s always been like that, it’s her character, you’ll tell me”. But if her behavior is predictable, repetitive and inflexible, if she doesn’t see a problem despite your explanations, if she is insensitive to the impact it has on you, if she makes you bear the brunt of the problem, if she punishes you because you dare to point it out, if she doesn’t want to change, let alone take responsibility for the effects of her behavior on you, then we have the right to assume that it’s not just a character problem.
There is more, and there are a lot of them! They are concerned about their image in front of others. Difficult to detect. We talk about narcissistic, borderline, paranoid, dramatic, antisocial, sociopathic and psychopathic personalities. In the last two cases, we refer to little or no awareness. According to statistics, 1 in 5 people in the United States suffer from a personality disorder and 1 in 25 from a disorder of consciousness. Not all of these people are in prison. They may be a boss, a neighbor, a counselor, a relative, a close friend. Often, they are in a position of influence. And yes, in many cases they are charming and very intelligent. They act normally but from a distorted perception that taints their visions and intentions. If you are uncomfortable in their company, if they flatter you and then denigrate you with a calm smile, beware.
If you think you can change or convince them, don’t even think about it. In the words of Sandra L. Brown, one of the authors of Women Who Love Psychopaths (2009-2018): they are sicker than you are bright! Instead, ask for advice on how not to escalate the situation and become the target of their torment and anger.
Do you know that fable about the donkey who saw the grass blue while the tiger saw it green? Here it is in my words. The donkey insulted that the tiger contradicts him goes to complain to the lion (the judge) who grants him that the grass is blue and that he will punish the tiger. The donkey leaves the scene happy with his victory. The tiger first checks that the lion can see the green grass too. Yes, says the lion. So, why are you punishing me? the tiger asked. I’m punishing you because it’s a shame that a tiger as intelligent as you are wasting his time arguing with someone as stupid and stubborn, and on top of that you come to see me and disturb me to confirm that your vision is the right one. For this I punish you. If you face a donkey who sees the grass blue, do not waste time trying to convince him, keep your energy and move to better horizons.
If you are suffering from the disease to please, manipulators will spot you from a mile away. This visceral need to please puts you at risk. Manipulation creates fear, anxiety and guilt. Whenever you feel any of these emotions, your reflex is to concede quickly to avoid conflict and stifle discomfort, which reinforces the other person’s tactic of manipulation and winning the argument. Author Harriet B. Braiker in her book Who’s Pulling Your Strings? (2004) has good advice to help you strengthen yourself in the face of this problem of urgency to please.
The consequence on your physical and mental health if you do not intervene to counteract the manipulation and continue to feed it, out of fear or insecurity, is the gradual loss of your respect, integrity, self-confidence and judgment, motivation and ultimately depression. To paraphrase Harriet B. Braiker (2004), there is something worse than leaving or losing a relationship, it is losing yourself (your values, needs, beliefs) in the fog of manipulation. A huge price to pay!
To help you untangle and see through this, I’m offering a 2-hour webinar, The Challenges of Difficult Relationships (in French) on Saturday, March 18th from 1:30-3:30 Eastern Time, and it’s free. In it, I give three important keys to identifying if you are dealing with an attitude problem or personality disorder. I detail the profiles of seven toxic personalities, ways to avoid them and how to deal with them if you choose or are obliged to maintain a relationship with them. I also provide an exercise to help you take control of your life.
This is a full 2 hours that I offer you to allow you to take an important step forward.
1) go to my website relationsdifficiles.com
2) scroll down to find a registration form
3) fill out the requested information, and you are registered!
I look forward to accompanying you on March 18th. Until then, take care of yourself!
Jocelyne Durand, M. Ed. and ABW
Expert in difficult behaviors and specialized coach
Certified in PSYCH-K®, NLP and Japanese Psychology