Chances are you’ve seen and heard an emotional manipulator at work. Perhaps you even live or work with someone who regularly pulls out their blame gun and sprays accusations on everyone but themselves.
Finger-pointing is a behavior by people targeting their anger at us rather than owning their own frustrations because the world isn’t the way they think it should be. Those folks control by intimidation. They don’t like it when someone speaks up their truth if it’s different from theirs.
They get angry and indignant and go on and on about how stupid, ineffective, or lame others are. They use their verbal tirades to dismiss situations and ideas that are divergent to their position. Everyone else is responsible and wrong; they’re right and know how to fix any problem.
Anger Is Natural
Being berated for spending too much money, not keeping the house clean enough, for the way we drive, or for a decision we made gets old. It takes a toll on our self-worth, health, and well-being.
There are other destructive consequences. We become afraid and defensive, waiting for the next strike. Love takes a dive out the window.
We can’t help but take what they say to heart, and get down on ourselves, feeling hollow, a bit numb, and sad. We’re pissed off at being unjustly accused and demeaned.
In fact, anger is natural. It is a pure bodily sensation, characterized by the impulse to strike out and destroy physically or verbally. It’s a natural emotional expression but needs to be expressed constructively.
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How To Deal With Other People's Anger
How do we deal with someone who fuels their own anger and gives voice to their frustrations in a negative way? You can do something about people in your personal environment who exhibit negative behaviors, such as blaming, criticizing and name-calling.
Here’s what can we do (and not do) when we’re the object of someone else’s frustration and anger:
1. Don’t take the bait and respond. Don’t try to defend yourself and strike back with similar tactics.
Let their comments roll off your back. Pretend they are speaking a foreign language or reframe their cruel words by reminding yourself that they are feeling the emotion of anger. You are merely the convenient target. The reality is you are fine. They have an awful style of communicating.
2. Excuse yourself and in a safe place identify the comment, criticism, or blame that really bothers you. Deal with your own anger, fear, and/or sadness physically and constructively when you think about the comment. Express the emotional energy as a pure sensation:
A. For anger that means pound, stomp, yell nonsense words. While pounding hard, fast and with abandon, make sounds, oooowww, and keep to the facts, stating, “I just feel so angry. Angry. ANGRY.” While moving out the emotional energy, it’s imperative not bad-mouth or focus on the blamer. Take a tennis racket to your mattress or punch a pillow. Go for it until you are exhausted. Catch your breath and do it again, thinking about the comment but refrain from name calling or swearing.
B. For the fear, get in touch with how scary it is being around a loose cannon. Shiver and shake. (See video demonstration here.) Keep shivering until you touch the fear and your body trembles on its own.
C. For sadness, allow yourself to cry, because it hurts to be so misunderstood, negatively viewed, and repeatedly not being seen for your true self.
3. Figure out what’s true for you about the comment. What do you want to say about yourself? How does it feel to be targeted?
For instance you might want to say, “I’m afraid you’re going to be critical no matter what I say. I feel like I can’t win. I can’t get it right. I feel like I’m being unfairly attacked for minor things. I don’t want to be attacked, because it makes me feel like shutting down. I don’t like being constantly corrected. I want to feel more love and more connected with you.”
4. At a neutral time, speak out your truth. More than likely you will have to lovingly repeat your truth many times to counter their deflections and knee-jerk reactions. Stay strong. Make it clear that it is up to them to change their behavior.
Don’t get distracted but clearly repeat your truth until you feel it is heard. If necessary set a boundary – say what you will do in the future if the blamer continues his barrage, such as leave the room, hang up the phone, break down and cry, etc.
End your communication with an appreciation of the blamer, thanking them for listening and acknowledging something you like in them.
If you follow and practice these guidelines, you will feel good about yourself for finally breaking the cycle, and calmly standing your ground to say what you’d finally been bold enough to say.
©2015 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
All Rights Reserved.
Article written by the author of:
Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
With practical tools, real-life examples, and everyday solutions for thirty-three destructive attitudes, Attitude Reconstruction can help you stop settling for sadness, anger, and fear, and infuse your life with love, peace, and joy. These concepts can be easily understood and integrated into your daily routine, regardless of your spiritual path, cultural background, age, or education.
About the Author
Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life. In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education. Word spread about the success of Attitude Reconstruction, and it wasn’t long before Jude became a sought-after workshop and seminar leader, teaching her approach to organizations and groups. Visit her website at AttitudeReconstruction.com/
* Watch an interview with Jude Bijou: How to Experience More Joy, Love and Peace
* Click here for a video demonstration of the Shiver and Shake Process.