Article by Wendy McCance
My kids have had a rough time dealing with a controlling person. This person is someone the kids have regular contact with and it has been hard on them to deal with the chaos that goes on in the mind of this person. It took me until I was in my 30′s and dealing with someone like this to realize an incredible secret.
Did you know that controlling people tend to tell you all of their insecurities and shortcomings? I was having a talk with the kids about a person who would accuse these kids of lying. The kids are truly wonderful, honest children who are very good at articulating their feelings. They will willingly tell you what’s on their mind and don’t lie. There have been many moments when they have admitted things that they know would not please me or cause me to get upset, but they will honestly and bravely admit to mistakes and moments when they haven’t been proud of the way they handled something.
To know that they are constantly accused of lying is painful to hear. They try so much to be good kids. It is an incredibly insulting accusation because they try so hard to be true to themselves and face things head on, honestly and with integrity.
So, when I was talking with the kids about their dread of seeing this person who spends all of their time looking for problems that don’t exist, I gave them this advice: When someone is insecure, has an intense need to feel in control of all situations and doesn’t have the utmost in moral character, they tend to accuse others of the very things they do themselves. It is a crazy concept, but it is incredibly true. It rang true with the kids as well. Immediately they were discussing events (many of them) where this person was caught lying. They said that this individual was always stirring up trouble and would drag down the innocent to cover up their own failings.
When I was in my 30′s, I experienced the same thing. I’m sure I have had experiences like this when I was even younger, it’s just that it finally dawned on me what was really going on. I was going through a horrible divorce and my ex-husband would accuse me of ridiculous and outlandish things. I would be stunned each time and couldn’t figure out where he was coming up with some of the things he was accusing me of. All I could think was how could he not know me at all? Well, the joke was on me. Apparently I didn’t know him at all. Each time an accusation was thrown my way, within a short period of time it would be found out that he had done the very thing he was accusing me of doing.
I’ll give you the example I gave the kids. Let’s say you have a friend that you have plans with. For whatever reason you have to cancel those plans. You aren’t the type to cancel and feel horrible about having to do so. Your friend accuses you of always cancelling plans. Worse yet, you have heard this for years. Even before you had ever cancelled plans with this friend you were told you do this all the time. You can’t understand why they have always said you do this and really feel uncomfortable when you finally do have to cancel. Your friend says something along the lines of, “see, I told you you were always cancelling plans with me and now you’re doing it again.”
You feel trapped and bullied about the whole situation. When you really start to think about it, it dawns on you that your friend cancels plans all the time. Surely they can’t be mad because you cancelled once and for a good reason. You feel better and confront your friend with this information. Your friend says that of course she has cancelled plans with you because you do it all the time to her.
It’s an infuriating situation. Even though your right, your friend is so used to cancelling plans that they are under the impression that is what everyone does. They can’t see past their own way of doing things. They don’t understand that everyone isn’t that way.
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to help them see the light. An extreme amount of insecurity and feelings of always being the victim drive these people to react in this fashion. It’s sad that there is no way to reassure someone that what they are perceiving isn’t what is happening.
When the kids were talking about the person who always accuses them of lying, they worked so hard to prove it wasn’t true. When this person asked the kids about any particular situation and what was talked about, if the kids gave a summary instead of stating an exact word by word account, that would be enough proof to this individual that they weren’t telling the truth. If the kids said that they couldn’t remember exact words, but said what basically happened, it would be construed as a lie, even though they had stated they didn’t remember word for word what was said.
The bottom line is this. You can’t change people. Some people are so set on control that they have to manipulate every situation to play out exactly in the fashion they would prefer. If you get into a situation with someone where accusations seem to come out of the blue and are blown way out of proportion, stop and really listen to what the person is saying. Many times that person is telling you what is going on deep in their mind. They will basically tell you through their complaint what they would do in that situation.
This is the advice I gave the kids. I wish I had learned the same thing years ago. I hope that if you have been in a situation like this that what I have said is of some comfort to you.
To contact Wendy McCance about a writing assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]
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