When I was divorced, I was crushed. I lost my sense of self and didn’t fully realize what I was dealing with. It took many years for me to learn what I am sharing here. I had no knowledge or experience in coping with people who are not credible and were not concerned for my well-being. Looking back my weaknesses opened doors for more mistreatment. When you must deal with a person who intimidates you or knows how to push your buttons, these tips will help.
As a single parent you may find yourself in a confrontational role with an ex or even other family members. Almost everyone I work with has at least one difficult person in his or her lives. Some have a nasty person that has left them with serious scars. If this isn’t you, say a prayer of thanks and read some other post. This one is for those of you who do have a ‘nasty’ in your life.
Nasty people are not difficult people who just bother you, but are really devious people who are evil, sneaky, and have no conscience — sometimes called sociopaths. They are not always easy to recognize.
A few authors have helped me identify and cope with some more-than-difficult people in my life. People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil by M. Scott Peck is a deep study. Nasty People: How to Stop Being Hurt by Them without Stooping to Their Level by Jay Carter is much lighter but still applies. Since this could be a heavy and lengthy topic, I will keep it simple with three major points.
Realize it is not you. This requires that you:
- Be objective. Intimidators are masters in turning the tables and acting as though the conflict is your fault. Maintain clarity about what is really happening.
- Remind yourself of the Nasty’s actions in the past. They can make it easy to forget. Forgive and only remember in order to protect yourself.
- Recognize the Nasty for what he is. And that it is not your fault. The person is usually unhappy even though they may not appear to be.
Plan ahead for communications.
- Avoid impulsive reactions. Practice remaining calm when you would naturally react. Respond. Don’t react. Pause and take a breath often.
- Write points and keep a list in front of you to keep you from losing track during any calls that you have with the Nasty. If conversation gets off course and into dangerous territory, a written list will give you healthy boundaries.
- Eliminate inflammatory language. Never say, “You are wrong,” to a Nasty. Instead, acknowledge them, which does not mean you agree. This is the only way they will actually listen to you.
Trust yourself and your convictions.
- If questioned by the nasty, restate your original position.
- Know what you plan to say. Make your point. Some people feel so intimidated by a strong spouse or ex that they may be convinced that they are wrong and the other person is right. Remind yourself that you have a right to your point of view. Respect yourself.
- Stand your ground. “Stand firm, and you will win life” (Luke 21:19 NIV). We are often told in Scripture to stand firm. A few examples are: Exodus 14:13, 2 Chronicles 20:17, Job 11:15, Psalm 20:8, Proverbs 10:25 and Ephesians 6:14, all NIV.
- Most of all, remember that you are a child of the most high God. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 NIV).
Ironically, the nasty people of the world have low esteem and large egos. This is the root of their problem. Nasties aren’t on the inside as they appear on the outside. Do not allow their issues to become your problem.
“The only way out of this trap is to be able to listen, to be able to express anger constructively, to be able to be wrong and to change when the situation requires it. And if everyone could live that way — there would be no invalidators!” — Jay Carter, Nasty People