Tiger Software's - Psychology for A Better Tomorrow

                        Dealing with Mean and Jealous People.

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                                                Quick Comebacks Are A Last Resort. 
                                Use A Little Psychology To Understand Them.
                             It Will Help You Not Take Their Barbs Personally.

                                           by William Schmidt, Ph.D.

                                 I'm talking here about people who cannot be reasoned with and think they can
                       do no wrong and must blame someone else.  I'm talking about sarcastic, snippy, rude,
                       chip-on-shoulder types who enjoy putting you down.  These are the malicious, mean-spirited
                       bullies, psychological and physical.  They are very envious of others' successes and will
                       do their best to prevent someone else from succeeding.  Some may be truly sadistic. 
                       Most are simply very unhappy, frustrated and socially isolated.  Remember that their
                       bad behavior towards you is probably typical of how they treat others.  They may actually
                       be looking for arguments and hostility to confirm their own negative view of the world.

                                  Should we tell them off?  Whimper spinelessly, 'sorry'?  Hit 'em back?  Leave 'em alone?
                       Recommend therapy?   All these are options.  It's not easy under stress to make the best choice.

                                 Of course, we should understand that it's them, not us, as long as we take ownership
                       of what we are truly responsible for.  We should try, I think, to defuse their hostility
                       by not responding in kind.  Why encourage them with negative rejoinders?  Offering
                       something else that is positive may work.  Staying calm is always best.  Their negativity
                       feeds on others' emotional responses.  If one can't stay calm, it's best to leave them.
                       You can try writing them, to give them new information by email that perhaps they had not
                       considered.   But above all, don't take what they say personally.  It's them. 

                                This is all very easy to say.  It's much harder to do.  The problem is that turning the
                       other cheek seems to bring out the worst in some people.  Though,  I've seldom had to
                       resort to clever and devastating retorts to silence a bully, because I'm pretty big, it is fun
                       to ponder a bully's reaction if they were treated to some of these glorious "come-backs"
                       that I came across.   More important, I want to share some thoughts on aggression, anger
                       and meanness, that I have read in psychological essays and in literature.

                                That doesn't prevent me from thinking about perfect come-backs,  if I were pushed
                       too far.   So I read these and laughed.   Maybe you will laugh at or use one or more of
                       them if provoked.  Sometimes, showing you are verbally armed will stop a verbal bully.
                       It would be nice to think one would never, ever have to resort to meanness in kind.
                       Almost always, one can do better than return an insult with an insult.  Understanding
                       their hurt is at a deeper level is usually a better solution, so that you don't take their
                       insults personally..

                                   Replies to the bully who won't relent:

                                         As an outsider, what do you think of the human race?

                                          Hi! I'm a human being! What are you?

                                          I won't call you stupid because that would be an insult
                                                                to stupid people.  
                                         Did your parents ever ask you to run away from home?

                                         Do you ever wonder what life would be like if you'd had
                                                     enough oxygen at birth?

                                         I'd like to help you out.  But the root causes of your discontent
                                                    are so deeply rooted, it would take years of intensive
                                                    professional help? 

                                          I'll never forget the first time we met - but I'll sure keep trying.

  If ignorance is bliss, you must be the happiest person alive.

  Personal Experiences

When I was in college I went on Freedom Rides in the 1960s, to register to vote
                       Black Americans in the South.  We were warned by Quakers at Swarthmore and SNCC
                      (the organizers) about the angry people who would do most anything to provoke us.  They
                      were right.  That is one of the things that made me become a Quaker later on. I never
                      felt more hatred than on these trips to the South.

                                 I must have always had such proclivities.  I remember standing up verbally to a
                       bully in a boys camp in the fourth grade and being thanked by many of my fellow campers. 
                       That was a transformative experience.  And in high school, I remember sitting on the players' bench
                       in a basketball game (which is what I was good at, the sitting, not the playing (humor - there)
                       and my team-mate, who was more frustrated than I was at not playing, for some reason
                       got it in his head to provoke me into telling him to  "go to hell" or some such thing. 
                       But I wouldn't do it.   He persisted and got angrier and angrier.

  The Pecking Order

                    Why are people so mean, sometimes? There may be "bad seeds", I suppose.  But the
                      main reason is that they are hurting themselves and want to peck at someone else to try to feel
                      better.   It's the pecking order thing.   With chickens, a hierarchical social structure is said to develop
                      to minimize uncontrolled and random inter-chicken violence.  Chickens only are to peck on those
                      other chickens  that earlier conflict has shown to be weaker.  They can peck without fear of
                      retaliation.   Dominance means access to food and mates.  

                                       Some interesting links about the pecking order of humans.
                                                Love, Shame and The Human Pecking Order

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                                                       Root Causes of Aggression

                                Frustration makes for aggression.  I still remember reading about it when I wrote a term
                     paper on the "Psychological Roots of Nationalism:".  The Germans after World War I were
                     a prime example.  When goals are blocked, people become aggressive and mean-spirited
                     towards others.   And they can easily be turned against those that they are made to believe
                     are the cause of their frustration.  It is always easier to blame someone else, so scapegoats
                     are proffered and found.   "Identification" with flag and country, builds up the weakened ego.
                     Displacement", I wrote, was similar to the pecking order phenomenon.  Displacement
                     redirects the hostility from those that might stroke back to those that won't strike back.
                     It would be a better world if people would only release their anger at cushions or|
                     punching bags.   Anyway, my very kind professor encouraged me at a point in my youth
                     where it has helped all my life.

                    Poverty and Child Abuse        wpe12D.jpg (11590 bytes)

                               When I was a statistician and researcher for the State of Washington, I was charged
                      with helping develop a better management information system for child protection.  I had to
                      read the case studies of many, many cases of child abuse.  I was struck by the economic
                      hardships that underlay so much child abuse.  Unemployment, poverty and the pressures of
                      working long hours for too little pay were dominant themes in these files.   Years later
                      research supports my conclusion.  

                                "Poverty is the most frequently and persistently noted risk factor for child abuse."
                                          (American Family Physician)
                                "Poverty is the single best predictor of child abuse and neglect."
                                          (American Humane)

                                 Child Abuse Poverty Causes Child Abuse

’s Relationship with Child Abuse and Neglect

                                  Fighting Poverty Would Reduce Child Abuse - Child Abuse

Much mental illness stems from poverty and arbitrary social and religious taboos.
                      Thomas Szasz.in his controversial The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a
                      Theory of Personal Conduct
  wrote: "If you talk to God, you are praying; If God
                      talks to you, you have schizophrenia. If the dead talk to you, you are a spiritualist; If you talk
                      to the dead, you are a schizophrenic."[2] While people behave and think in ways that are
                      very disturbing, this does not mean they have a disease.

.                             Abused Children Become Tormented Abusers
                                           and Bullies Themselves

                                   On a bumper sticker: "Mean People Breed Little Mean People."

                                   This precept is widely held in social work circles for empirical reasons, i.e.
                         it is a commonplace finding in the field.  And it makes theoretical sense.  We learn to cope
                         using the mechanisms of our parents.  It is hard to escape that training at such an
                         impressionable age,

                                   Below is a table from http://www.havoca.org/HAVOCA_home.htm

                                   It shows the perception of the world when one is a "victim" of abuse.  Compare
                        that with a person who is a survivor who seeks help and someone who is healthy.




Doesn’t deserve nice things or trying for the "good life." Struggling for reasons & chance to heal Gratitude for everything in life.
Low self esteem/shame/unworthy Sees self as wounded & healing Sees self as an overflowing miracle
Hyper vigilant Using tools to learn to relax Gratitude for new life
Alone Seeking help Oneness
Feels Selfish Deserves to seek help Proud of Healthy Self caring
Damaged Naming what happened Was wounded & now healing
Confusion & numbness Learning to grieve, grieving past aggrieved trauma Grieving at current losses
Overwhelmed by past Naming & grieving what happened Living in the present
Hopeless Hopeful Faith in self & life
Uses outer world to hide from self Stays with emotional pain Understands that emotional pain will pass & brings new insights
Hides their story Not afraid to tell their story to safe people. Beyond telling their story, but always aware they have created their own healing with HP
Believes everyone else is better, stronger, less damaged Comes out of hiding to hear others & have compassion for them & eventually self Lives with an open heart for self & others
Often wounded by unsafe others Learning how to protect self by share, check, share Protects self from unsafe others
Places own needs last Learning healthy needs (See Healing the Child Within & Gift to Myself) Places self first realizing that is the only way to function & eventually help others
Creates one drama after another See patterns Creates peace
Believes suffering is the human condition Feeling some relief, knows they need to continue in recovery Finds joy in peace
Serious all the time Beginning to laugh Seeing the humor in life
Uses inappropriate humor, including teasing Feels associated painful feelings instead Uses healthy humor
Uncomfortable, numb or angry around toxic people Increasing awareness of pain & dynamics Healthy boundaries around toxic people, incl. relatives
Lives in the past Aware of patterns Lives in the Now
Angry at religion Understanding the difference between religion & personal spirituality Enjoys personal relationship with the God of their understanding
Suspicious of therapists-- projects Sees therapist as guide during projections Sees reality as their projection & owns it.
Needs people & chemicals to believe they are all right Glimpses of self-acceptance & fun without others Feels authentic & connected, Whole
"Depression" Movement of feelings Aliveness


                               So, how should we react, when hit by someone's misplaced hostility and meanness?
                       This is a challenge.  And each case is different, but here are some more ideas.

                               Showing love, turning the other cheek and being still kinder is a real challenge.  Such
                      love and innocence are beautiful qualities to behold.   A man I met who showed this quality
                      was a Catholic priest and pacifist named David Dellinger.  I talked with him a very short
                      time, but I felt something wonderful in his presence.  I  picked him up at the local airport
                      before he gave a speech at the college I taught at.   He exuded more love, peace of mind
                      and kindness than anyone I have ever met.
  Imagine the effect on the world we would have
                      if we each could learn to exude the same love, understanding, kindness and confidence.

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                                         David Dellinger,  at 88, a lifelong pacifist and one of the Chicago Seven antiwar
                                         demonstrators during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.  He died
                                         in 2004.  "I went from Yale to jail," he said, "and got a good education in both
                                         places."    A life-long pacifist, he was jailed during World War II.  He protested
                                         against nuclear testing, against the bomb, against the Korean War, for prisoners'
                                         rights, for Puerto Rican independence was, of course, against the US War in

                                                                        Billy Budd

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                                Herman Melville, most famous for his Moby Dick, wrote a wonderful shorter book
                        Billy Budd about this quality of pacifism and kindness when confronted by hostility.
                        Bill Budd;'s behavior was modeled after Jesus and an innocent ideal, more than a thought-out
                        or coherently expressed philosophy of non-violence).   The captain of the 19th century ship
                        Billy Budd is on,  becomes enraged because Billy becomes is so admired by his fellow
                        crew.   Claggart, the captain becomes obsessed with making the pacifist Billy Budd strike
                        back at him.   Billy cannot find the words to defend himself.  This makes the Captain bully
                        him more.  Claggart fabricates a preposterous plot of mutiny.  Still Billy is mute.  But at last,
                        tormented past his breaking point, he lunges out and strikes the captain with one lethal blow.  
                        Billy is shown no mercy.  He is hung  by the Admiralty.  The captain has his revenge. 
                        He breaks Billy's innocenc


                             Useful Links
                                         How To Deal with Impossible People - wikiHOW.
                                         How to Deal with Mean People - A Quick Guide
                                         How to Cope with Mean People at Work

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