Claire’s narcissistic, adult children bullied and abused her with their negativity, demands, distain and blame. And she let them get away with it. She always reached out and apologized. She always minimized everything they did and magnified her imperfections in any incident.
They were not the least bit afraid of her. They knew there’d be no consequences that mattered for them.
It’s the same in many situations.
I’ve seen the same pattern when siblings gang up and back-stab or bad-mouth the one who is nicest, when toxic and demanding parents’ guilt-trip and try to force children to do what they want, when a co-worker mocks and demeans someone who tries to be kind and understanding, and when selfish customers expect staff to be their servants or slaves.
Tolerating bullying, abuse and narcissism only encourages predators to do more. Following the Golden Rule only encourages true bullies and narcissists to do more.
Instill a healthy fear in bullies and narcissists.
Fear is a normal and healthy part of growing up. We need to fear sabre-tooth tigers and rattlesnakes. We need to fear the consequences of stealing and killing. We need to fear the consequences of using and abusing people. Fear is often a step in our learning to be polite and civil because that behavior is “Right.”
Many people understand that early on and consistently treat people decently. But many other people need to have a healthy fear of messing with you or taking advantage of you before they act civil and polite.
Bullies and narcissists understand only power. So it’s healthy for us if they’re afraid of being nasty or taking advantage of us. It’s also a healthy step for them if they’re habitually takers and users.
Should I turn the other cheek?
Be a scientist; do an experiment. Give them a chance. If they still bully, blame and abuse, make them afraid of you.
Am I being just as bad? Two wrongs don’t make a right.
No, Claire was not being just as bad when she made them afraid. She was simply standing up for good standards of behavior. Her adult children were trying to beat her into submission, loot her treasure, drink her blood. There’s a difference and she knew that in her heart.
Claire took charge by charging back at them.
She started by ignoring what they were angry about and saying, “Don’t you dare yell at me. I’m your mother and you’d better have more respect.” And she hung up on them. They assumed she’d call back but she waited them out. Then she demanded an apology before continuing on to any other subject. And she said they had to prove their apology was sincere by maintaining decent behavior over time.
When they tried to make their anger important and demand things from her, she said, “You’re the problem. Remember your manners. If you want anything from me, you’ll treat me nice, you’ll ask nice and you’ll be grateful.”
Claire never argued with them and never defended herself. Instead she simply demanded good behavior. Not sending them birthday or Christmas presents made the point but, I think it was telling them she was cutting them out of her will that really affected them. They’d thought they could do what they wanted and still be rewarded. Now they became afraid and started behaving themselves.
Was their change sincere?
Claire decided probably not, but it didn’t matter. She knew that continuing the old way would guarantee the same old behavior. The new way, she could enjoy being treated nicely. If she had to bring them back into line once in a while, she could live with that. Her choice.
Claire’s task was easier than many people’s because her children didn’t have grandchildren to threaten to withhold. And her ex wasn’t alienating the children.
Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation. The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:
- Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
- Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.
Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.