Wayne Dyer accurately quipped that, “Some people are always looking for a reason to be offended,” and most of us don’t have to look too far to see evidence of that.
We will all find ourselves, at one time or another, interacting with people whose behavior seems to be way over the top. Unfortunately, as Codependents, we are quick to take responsibility for other people’s feelings and actions. We doubt our reality and instead resort to our old childhood programming, where we internalized what other’s said and did and made it all our fault. We weren’t taught that people will behave however they are going to behave, independently of us. Our caregivers were quick to blame and shame us, so we learned early that our behavior had a direct correlation with the behavior of others.
Consequently, we never learned how to protect ourselves, nor did we learn a healthy way to deal with harmful and manipulative people. Part of our journey back to health is learning how to react in a manner that is better for our well-being .
Coping with Crazy
I have a mentor that I cannot offend. Believe me, I’ve tried. He finds humor in everything and is always looking for an opportunity to laugh. I’ve also had encounters with unhealthy people, who are always looking for slights and who want to create drama out of thin air. I’ve developed a coping strategy for whenever I find myself in an emotionally charged situation, with someone whose behavior is unstable.
Assess the Situation Rationally: Take the emotion out of it. Ask yourself, “Is their behavior appropriate for the situation?” “Was my behavior out of line?” “Are they over-reacting?”
What was the Intention: Were they trying to hurt you, manipulate or, insult you? Think about why they are behaving the way they are? What is their agenda? Are they acting out of faulty programming? Think about your intention, are they reacting to something you did? Did they misinterpret your behavior? Are they making mountains out of molehills?
Resist Your Programming: As Codependents we really want to make everything our fault. If you notice that thought train creeping in, stop it in its tracks immediately. Resist the urge to make other people’s behavior your responsibility. Look at the other person as separate from you and that their behavior is a product of their programming, thoughts and experiences and has nothing to do with you.
Be like Teflon: For some of my European and African readers – Teflon is a non-stick surface used in cookware – nothing sticks to it. Most of us have heard the old saying, “Like water off a ducks back.” It means – let things slide off of you – don’t let anything stick. Learn not to absorb other people’s energy and issues. Nothing can affect you unless you allow it, so develop a thick skin and just shrug off other people’s crazy.
Look at the Source: If you’re interacting with someone that you know is unstable and makes a habit of acting out, then this is probably someone that you should not be interacting with .
Don’t Engage: Let people be who they are without the need to involve yourself in their problems. Don’t try to fix or change them, or the situation. Their issues are none of your business. You don’t need to convince them that you’re right, they don’t have to like you or agree with you. If someone is claiming that you’ve offended them, say you’re sorry and that wasn’t your intention and move on. You don’t have to have a Power Point presentation about what you meant or why they should agree with you.
Pass it Back: What you don’t pass back you pass on. If someone is cray cray that’s ok. It has nothing to do with you. If you post a picture of a person beside a picture of George Michael and they look surprisingly similar and it’s funny and then that person gets really upset (this may have happened to me) and they start freaking out saying, “(Xxxx was right about you)” and other crazy things, it’s important that you don’t internalize their issues. Maybe that person is homophobic, maybe something bad happened to them while they were listening to Carless Whisper, who knows. All I know is , “You cray cray and I’m gonna leave that crazy with you.”
Resist the Urge to Get Recruit People to Your Side: People that are insecure often feel the need to tell others what happened and get them on their side. You know what I find? The independent third party you pulled into this, will agree with either side depending on who is in front of them at the time. So their support is usually superficial at best. You don’t need a team of supporters. It’s enough that you know you didn’t mean anything by it. The less you make of it, the better for you and the other person.
A colleague of mine thought she was alone in a room and she uttered a bad four letter word. She turned around and cringed as she saw the religious fanatic, of the company,standing behind her. Let’s call him Jim. “Sorry Jim,” she quickly said. He then started preaching and said something about her eternal damnation.
She got very upset and replied, “You don’t know what I believe. You don’t know the life I’ve lived. You don’t have the right to judge me.” She came into my office and told me the whole story, still huffing and puffing over it. I said to her. “Jim is crazy. (Not because he’s religious. He has a history of very odd behavior), so you shouldn’t even have engaged with him. You’re just encouraging more of his behavior. You said you were sorry and that’s enough. You don’t need to make him see your point of view. Who cares what he thinks? Let it go and move on.”
There are lots of unhealthy people out there and they don’t have to be narcissists, or psychopaths to express inappropriate behavior. The trick is to always keep yourself in a state of harmony and balance. Don’t allow yourself to get wrapped up in the drama. You always want to walk away from anything that threatens your sense of well-being. When other people’s behavior changes your emotional state – that’s a problem. Your emotional state is very important. It not only controls your mood and behavior in the moment, it also changes the vibrational frequency you are sending out there, which controls the people and situations that you attract into your life, so your emotional state is your business and your responsibility. When you can master your emotions, take the emotional charge out of the situation and then let the negativity slide off of you, you are the master of your domain.
If all else fails, you can do what my mentor does, when someone acts crazy around him. He yawns and acts bored. Not only is it effective, but it’s pretty damn funny too. “Sorry Jim.”
Subscribe to our mailing list and receive our weekly posts right to your inbox and follow us on Facebook and Twitter
Do you need to talk? Click on this link to find out how you can Skype with Savannah.
Image courtesy of artur84 at freedigitalphotos.ne
Hi Savannah, I totally relate to this especially there’s cray cray people in our workplace all the time. Recently, I encounteredd the cray cray lady. I didnt work with her because she’s handling another department not connected to me until now she got involved with the products. I’ve known her as kind and sweet. Oh boy! It started when she just buzz in our meeting, chasing my team members out, telling me that my boss was looking for me. Not even saying excuse me, in respect that I was there. I returned to my desk and my boss told me it’s nothing big deal nor urgent. The following day, she called my attention to say that the CEO waited for me because I promised him to submit something at the end of the day. I was confused with what hapened, had no idea what she was talking about. What do you think Savannah? She seems insecure and tends to exaggerate things. I told myself “I don’t deal with cray cray and I’m not going to waste my energy” I just ignored her. Or do I have to confront her? -waste of time right? because these people will deny it at act like it was nothing.
Thank you Savannah for posting this article, I am going to read it daily from here on out.
Sorry this is kind of all over the place. The short version of this is- you reminded me that I am a co dependent child of an alcoholic. I need to remember the lessons that were forgotten in the face of grief.
The long version is…
My mother was a bipolar alcoholic narcissist and I grew up co-dependent and over responsible. In the space of 5 years, my mother, my step-father and my sister all died. The whole family unit I ran away from. I dared to choose my own happiness over them. My sister suicided three years ago yesterday. My whole family struggled with addiction issues and the resultant impacts on their lives.
I was going ok before all of this. I worked hard with a therapist on my trauma and had good boundaries. But my sister’s death shattered me and I reverted to square one. Only I’m not the same person as I was when I first started my healing, so let’s say it’s square 1.4. The irony is my line of work means I’m very strong and assertive. In fact, I’m a good judge of character. But in my personal life over the last two years I have edited out all the red flags (and if I haven’t, I have mistakenly thought I could heal the cray cray. WRONG)
I attracted to me PDs and addicts galore over the last two years. Wow it has been a hard journey having to relearn.
I thought I had this all figured out but I now realize that I can’t ever relax. I need to remember the lesson. My head has been so messed with that I worried I was the narcissist. I’m not. I just need to pull myself out of the spiral and take no sh*t from anyone. I could go into great detail about each of the four encounters I’ve had but I won’t. What I can say is that because I had such poor boundaries, I put up with very poor behaviour and I dragged drama and neediness into my stable relationships – trying to figure out what was going on!
I came here to this site searching for the more subtle signs of a narcissist friend – to see if I was one. The behaviour you wrote about fit the bill for two people in particular – and I thought it was me.
I call my time after my sister’s death The Wilderness. I met my so called friend during that time. She comes across as so nice and caring but actually, she’s the sort of person who thrives on your chaos and vulnerability. When I started to get stronger, take control of my grief, weight, mental health and became more settled at work, she changed towards me. The escalating behaviours started in June and the blow outs got more frequent (not to mention the changing goal posts, canceled plans etc). She never told me the full story in any situation, there was always an enemy here and here and here. My alarm bells rang when on social media, another women wrote about how she felt so grateful to my friend for ‘putting up with her. Funny…I often felt as though I was intruding also. It seems I’m not the only one then.
I have completely removed myself since then and feel such relief. In fact, I’ve removed myself from social media. The fewer touch points for drama, the better.
I feel such regret for running after people and trying to fix situations that I didn’t create or break. But hey. Let’s start from today.
Hi. My narcissist who I kicked out 8 months ago was the parasite user type. Didn’t want to share what he has but wants everything of mine. Manipulated things so I did most of the work in our business and household chores. That was beneath him. Now he’s begging me to give him another chance. Going to a therapist and is owning up to everything. Going to a therapist weekly working on this. I don’t believe a change like that is possible. He’s 60 years old. What do you think?
Priceless! Right on the money. No need for labels.. crazy is as crazy does. Love it! I’m totally going to act bored and yawn around crazy behavior. Oh, and keep on meditating. Sorry, crazies … 🙂
This is an important article because not many discuss narcissists in the work place and those you’re not emotionally attached to.
I’ve had back to back narc/sociopath experiences, one with a pathological lying covert and the other a somatic boomerang with felonies. Now I work with a guy who I suspect might be a covert narc. I can’t be sure, but here are some signs:
Overall, as far as work goes, he and I work together well. He is helpful, knowledgeable, if I ask him to do something, he will do it, and he’s not going to throw me under the bus, (at least I don’t have evidence of this) since I am on ‘his good side.’
However, he has a history of unrest with the morning crew, where nether side will speak to one another. My co-worker, (let’s call him Dave) will completely shut you off if he feels you’ve slighted him.
He has issues with trust and thinks everyone who is nice is shallow and after something. He’s pretty much a recluse that works out for 3 hrs per day at the gym, looks great, and has women all over him, but he always says he’s ‘above that’, meaning he’s too good a guy to take advantage of a woman. Sounds nice… but…
He has this smug arrogance about him where he will state his opinions on things he knows nothing about. Such as books he’s never read and films he’s not seen. Several times I’ve noticed him gaslighting me and undercutting my opinions and things he knows are important to me. He trivializes my ideas. He’s also told me that the morning crew (who dislikes him) also dislikes me. I don’t believe him b/c I have absolutely no evidence of this. They have always been nice to me. I know he’s saying this to try to rile me.
He’s known by some women as being ‘teddy bear sweet’ (as coverts are) but then he doesn’t seem to have any empathy for others. Once he disappeared from work for 2.5 hrs and didn’t bother telling me or the other guy we work with he was going to be gone. Upon return, he offered no apology but only his dimples. I said to him, ‘What did you do, go get laid?’ And his response, ‘No, I’m not that kind of guy.’
Once again, portraying himself as ‘above’ something but he has no problem just disappearing without word, leaving the work for others to do. (Most of the time, he doesn’t do this, but a heads up would have been helpful.)
He often tells me I am stubborn and closed-minded, when I believe that’s what he is.
He claims his standards are ‘very high’ when it comes to women he will date, but then he seems to only be attracted to obsessive workout types with no depth. His goal in life is to ‘make a lot of money’ but when asking him to elaborate, he’s wanting it so he can attract women (the same ones he complains don’t ever appreciate him for who he is).
He works out at the gym so much because ‘girls like big muscles.’
I say all this b/c if he is a narc, then I feel I have 1st hand access to what goes on in their minds, and what I notice is this pervasive shallowness and hollowness within. sometimes I even think how Dave has potential to be a great guy if he just had more substance.
He is very sensitive to his own feelings but not very sensitive to others. (Like disappearing from work or telling me the morning crew doesn’t like me.)
I don’t know if he is a narc or not, but he definitely has some emotional issues that are very strange. I know the best thing is to NOT engage him on personal topics and things that matter to me, and rather stick to casual chit chat and getting work done. On that level, he is fine.
Which makes me wonder: are narcs ok to deal with just as long as they’re not feeding off you and you’re not emotionally involved?
Next time I feel gaslighted by Dave I will be sure to end the convos immediately and walk away blissfully.
I loved that you said “cray cray.” It makes this so playful and light and I think that really helps with the weird and crazy out there. I have a neighbor who is an alcoholic and drama queen. I moved next door to her when she was off the sauce and thought she was fun and lovely. Six months later she was drinking again and became someone else. Fast forward to recently (3 years later) and I found myself working with her at a restaurant. To my dismay she began all this crazy behavior like telling me what to do, panicking when the phone would ring then running to get it, hyperventilating, messing with the reservations, and not bussing the tables. A sarcastic bar tender who is very down to earth rolled her eyes and said, “Crazy Jeanne. I just hate her,” said in a funny lilting voice to show her sarcasm. She cracked me up and I stopped taking the drama queen so seriously. I deeply believe in eye-rolls.
This topic confuses me. My husband (non-narcissist) and I have always lived according to the emotional bank account – try to always put deposits of kindness into the account because there may be days when you make drains on the relationship because of sickness or stress. We usually discuss what’s going on and forgive the other person and go back to being kind. But, occasion al forgiveness is definitely part of us getting along.
Enter the male narcissist, a supposed friend to me and my husband. I had more contact than my husband did because my husband’s a bit of a hermit and I’m more extroverted. For six months he seemed friendly and kind, then he said he was getting suddenly very busy with his business but seemed pleased to get some cheer-up texts as he was dealing with crises. Then, he started to delay responding, then he popped back up and had the time to be friendly, then he started telling me that other people were more important to his business, and finally he got very hostile and insulting and shunned me.
Obviously at the end I knew that I was being dissed and walked away. My question is, where in the beginning of somebody seeming to sincerely tell you that their business has gotten crazy and they are a little delayed in responding to you, do you decide that you should walk away?
My sense when this whole thing was over was that I was like the frog in the pan of cold water and the heat is turned on – the frog doesn’t know they are in trouble until the water starts to boil. I now know that there was lots I didn’t know, but until I was being actively ignored and insulted, I thought I was dealing with a friend who was a little overwhelmed.
I guess my question is, when do you decide not to forgive somebody if you seemingly have a good history with them?
It took me two cancers to finally walk away from the mental abuse of a (N) Twin sister!
Maybe now I will live.
Your articles are so affirming and positive. Thank you!
Hi Savannah. I want to let you know that you are my “internet mentor”. I found your web site a year ago when I made the conscience effort to improve myself and heal from a Narcissist mother. We were living together for 35 years of my life and now 4 years apart from her. I have transformed tremendously and learning to love myself day by day. I can relate to all of your articles through experience and find you to be inspiring to me. I thank my higher power for leading me to your site. Thank you for being a blessing! 🙂
I just realized I am in a phase where I tend to be defensive about my kicking my narcissist out of my life because I couldn’t Teflon him on a daily basis.
Emilie you shouldn’t have to Teflon your romantic partner. If someone in your immediate circle is abusing you, in any manner, to the point where you have to tune them out – cut them loose. This post is about casual people/acquaintances/co-workers in your life that want to serve you up some occasional crazy.
R I totally sympathise because that happens to me too. I think it’s really important for self respect that you cut him/them dead and just stonewall your “friends” if they sing his praises. Seeing him or getting involved in telling stories prolongs the links back to him and is demeaning. You are too important to be compromised in that way. My common acquaintances know now that I won’t voluntarily go somewhere that he is going to be. I don’t care what they think about why. If they don’t value me enough to respect my wishes, then they are doubtful as friends anyway. I might still move, in my own good time. It’s a year now since all the s**t came to light. I know that because of a family event that occurred at the same time; not because I’ve been keeping track. I just achieved a big goal and, in doing so, identified some of the voices that dog me and worked on eradicating those. Small steps. Thank you Savannah. I still read your posts each week and am glad to hear from my fellow travellers.
I wish I were not insecure and sometimes try to convince those who do not know my ex-narcissist, trying to explain he isn’t who he pretends to be. I wish I could just let it go and move on. My ex, who used to live a comfortable 2 hours away, now has a new victim/lover in my town so I see him, and her, much more than I would like to,and my friends are including them in their circles, inviting them to parties and are totally conned by his charming handsome demeanor and it sets me back weeks every time I hear how impressed they are by his bs. So I let some stories slip out to try to convince my friends what a charlatan he truly is. I know I should just roll my eyes and step away, but it kills me. If there were an amnesiac pill to take to never think of him again or to remember nothing of the painful 13 years of mental abuse I would take it in a second. I’ll just try harder and try to yawn, act bored when his new congregation of suppliers rant, and count my current blessings. Thank you for helping me.
r: Your wellbeing is your responsibility, so if your friends are telling you things you don’t want to hear don’t act bored, tell them, “I don’t want to hear this.” If they don’t respect your wishes then I would question their friendship and stop spending time around them.
I’m loving your posts they are so helpful. Co-dependence is something I haven’t understood but your posts are changing that and I am learning how this is something I need to work on. Thanks so much Savannah.
Are you becoming a reflection of the crazy with your responses, though? Yawning sounds like the deflection I have dealt with in the narcissist in my life. Gas lighting? Deflecting?
B I probably should have made it more clear it is never ok to act bored when your romantic partner is trying to express their feelings to you. Their agenda there is to dismiss your feelings and render them irrelevant. It’s all about the context. If an employee comes to my mentor very upset – no of course he isn’t going to yawn and act bored, but if a wave of crazy is coming at him under the right circumstances he will subtly let them know their behavior is way over the top.
This was hilarious as well as affirming. Thank you! I just went through this with a new boyfriend, who broke up with me twice, due to perceived slights which did not exist. He would blame me for his mistakes, rather than taking responsibility for them. Your article confirmed that I handled this situation correctly…although I was still reeling a bit from the blame game. I really loved your article.