Editor's Note: Do you need sound, Biblically-based advice on an issue in your marriage or family? Dr. David Hawkins, director of the Marriage Recovery Center, will address questions from Crosswalk readers in his weekly column. Submit your question to TheRelationshipDoctor@gmail.com.
You plan on meeting a friend for lunch, but after twenty minutes of waiting at the café, you realize you're being stood up—again! If you confront them, they'll have a hundred excuses.
You've been insulted by your mother-in-law and dread how to confront her about it. You've tried before, only to have your words twisted, turned back on you, and made to feel like you've done something wrong. She slips easily into feeling like the suffering victim.
You want to talk to your boss about your job, but each time you've tried before she becomes belligerent, angry and intimidating. You feel anxious and apprehensive about even approaching her.
You want to talk to your wife about how she's hurt your feelings, but each time you offer anything that hints of criticism she escalates the conversation. How can you think what you think or feel what you feel, they insist? You weigh out whether to say anything, risking an explosive outburst turned on you.
Welcome to the world of CrazyMakers. In an arena filled with Egotists, Aggressors, Sufferers, Borderlines and Control Freaks, it seems that you don't stand a chance of having a sane conversation. That because CrazyMakers:
- Create chaos
- Are Storm-Centers
- Twist, distort, manipulate and turns our words back on us
- Dodge the truth
- Paperclip one issue onto another
- All the while playing innocent victims.
Far from being innocent and benign, CrazyMaking is very, very destructive. A small dose of CrazyMaking is enough to ruin an otherwise healthy relationship. You're trying to work out a problem to keep relationships healthy, and they (CrazyMakers) disrupt you. Not only can you not work out the problem, but they add even more problems to the pile. As you try to work out that workplace conflict or anger toward your mother-in-law, you experience even more resentment because of words being manipulated, twisted and distorted. You can't talk about your hurt feelings, because somehow it will turn out that you're guilty of hurting them. It's enough to make you feel crazy!
If any of these scenarios feel familiar, don't feel bad. We've all had these experiences. In fact, CrazyMakers have existed since the beginning of time. The Bible is riddled with characters such as Haman who used deception, manipulation, playing the victim and other maneuvers to try to get what he wanted -- in this case to kill Esther and the Jews. Even honorable people such as King David slipped into CrazyMaking when he acted as if he had done nothing wrong even though he plotted to have the woman of his adulterous desires killed.
Consider this story from one of our readers:
Dear Dr. David: I need help. When I think about confronting a friend about her actions, I get so nervous. Confronting her about anything she's done wrong always turns into a bigger deal than the original problem. All I want to do is talk to her about a small problem—how she hurt my feelings by something she said--but she turns it into an even bigger one. She acts like I'm the one making a big deal out of something, when the whole time she is the one not handling the situation well. I'm left with two choices—either let her get away with the hurt she has caused me or face her anger. In the end I'll feel worse than when I started. She is so prickly that sometimes I just want to walk away from the friendship. What is the right thing to do?
This story is so typical of what we face when trying to talk to a CrazyMaker. This woman wants to approach her friend in a calm, clear manner—which could be the best thing to do—and yet her friend, stuck in childlike ways of acting, is likely to handle the encounter poorly. She may exhibit traits of the Sufferer, playing the victim, or perhaps even the Aggressor, bullying her friend into submission. Her friend may twist words like the Egotist, making it be "all about her." Finally, her friend may act erratically, exhibiting a variety of reactions, from crying and feeling remorseful, to anger and attacking her.
In the weeks that follow you'll read about particular CrazyMakers. You'll see videos describing each of the different types of CrazyMakers, how they impact and hook us, and what can be done to stay sane. In the next several weeks I'm going to help you understand CrazyMakers and how they make us feel so crazy.
Do you have anyone in your life who makes you feel off-center? Do you fear confronting someone because of their reaction? Do you walk on eggshells because you fear an explosion? Chances are, you're dealing with a CrazyMaker.
Likewise, do you act like a CrazyMaker at times? Do you find yourself slipping into acting like the victim in order not to feel the guilt of wrongdoing? Is it hard for you to take responsibility for your actions? Perhaps you have a bit of CrazyMaking in you!
While we cannot directly change CrazyMakers, we can be aware of how we are enabling their destructive behavior and consciously choose to stop our part in the destructive dance. This empowers you to make healthier choices and possibly even impact the CrazyMaker for good. As we learn more about these destructive behaviors, we can choose healthier actions. Not only can we choose not to be manipulative and deceptive but we can carefully confront such behaviors when we see them - in ourselves and in others.
I welcome your feedback at mailto:TheRelationshipDoctor@gmail.com.
Dr. David Hawkins is the director of the Marriage Recover Center where he counsels couples in distress. He is the author of over 30 books, including Dealing With the CrazyMakers in Your Life, 90 Days to a Fantastic Marriage, and Saying It So He'll Listen. Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.
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