There is a great misconception amongst Codependents and that is – I can win the approval of people who don’t like me, by being overly friendly, by over-complimenting, over-dong and over-giving. At this time of year many of us will find ourselves in difficult situations, where we are forced to spend time with people, who trigger us and who, have a history of being unkind to us.
This need to have external validation runs deep. It is a coping mechanism that we learned as children when we were trying to win approval and affection from our primary caregivers. When our parents were in a bad mood, under the influence or even abusive, if we could make them happy and feel good, we learned, that they would often then be nice to us and give us the love and attention we were seeking.
This is a learned behavior, that has long outlived it’s usefulness. If you’re face to face with someone that treats you like you’re beneath them, do not attempt to engage in a friendly banter, where you tell them how great they look, or where you’re inundating them with complements, hoping that that will change their mind about you. If they are an emotional manipulator, their entitlement allows them to believe that they deserve those accolades you’ve bestowed on them and they won’t respect you for uttering them, because they know how badly they’ve treated you. It will in fact make them think even less of you.
Not Everyone Is Going to Like You and That’s Okay
There is a young woman, at my place of employment, who I would always get one word answers from, every time I tried to engage her in conversation. I would complement her hair or her clothes. One day, I decided to try an experiment. I came to the realization that she never engaged me in conversation. If I didn’t start it, nothing would ever be said. So I just stopped.
We now pass each other, in the hallway, in complete silence. We’ll both be sitting in the lunch room in total silence and that’s okay with me. I’m okay with the notion that I didn’t do anything to her and her behavior is about her not me. I don’t have any animosity towards her. I just know that I don’t need to spend any energy here and I certainly don’t need to win her admiration. Not everyone is meant to be on your team.
Be very mindful, especially this time of year, that you aren’t trying to buy anyone’s affection by spending a ton of money, that you don’t have, on gifts for them. The same rules apply. If they weren’t nice to you before, a gift isn’t going to change their minds – even a very expensive gift. All that will happen is you’ll get the same treatment and be out the money you’ll wish you hadn’t spent. If you’re in a gift giving situation, with people you don’t like, or who don’t like you, it’s time to set the rules about maybe only buying for the kids, or setting a low dollar limit. It seems nonsensical to buy gifts for people you wouldn’t otherwise cross the street to talk to.
What Persists is What you Allow
It’s very common for a Codependent to not want to rock the boat, to avoid conflict and keep the peace, even when they are being put down or insulted. The old adage, “You treat people who to treat you,” is a marker we should all live by. That doesn’t mean you get into screaming matches. It doesn’t mean you match insult for insult, or take passive-aggressive jabs. It means you don’t engage and you walk away from anyone who is trying to push your buttons. If they persist you can always say, “I’m not sure why you feel the need to talk like that (or to bring that up) and I don’t care, but I’m not interested in having this conversation with you, so you can stop right there.” Have a plan in place before you head into the lion’s den. Have a few conversation stoppers at your finger tips, in case you run into the need to use them.
But Sav, what about killing people with kindness? I get this a lot. I like the idea. I love the entire premise of it and I’m a total advocate of it. BUT ONLY when you’re not trying to win someone over with it. If you can take or leave them and you have no interest in winning their approval – go ahead, but there should be a limit. You should always be practicing self-care and that means taking care of yourself first in every way – including financially. If you can afford the gift and you don’t care if they appreciate it – have atter. If you can honestly laugh off their insults and they don’t trigger or touch you in anyway – talk away. Kill someone with kindness when you are trying to maintain your inner flow, when you’re trying to keep your emotional vibration high.
Your level of engagement is always about you:
- When you don’t care – do, buy or say whatever you want, as long as you’re practicing self-care. You can kill em with kindness, you can ignore them – whatever you feel enhances your emotional vibrational level.
- When people still have the power to push your buttons and get a reaction out of you – limit your engagement, walk away and don’t react.
- If you’re trying to win them with gifts and compliments, you’ve got work to do. Stop, be mindful of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Some people just aren’t worth the effort and are deserving of your silence.
All of this is a process. You may not be emotionally able to kill someone with kindness yet. The end result is to not care what other’s think of you and where you are acting out of your own nature and what feels good to you. If you’re not at a level where you can do that – then don’t engage. Never, ever try to win someone’s affection. If it wasn’t there before, no gift or compliment is going to get you over that line. Save your money and your breath – better yet, buy yourself a present and give yourself a compliment. You’ve earned it.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!!!!!
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Lolasdad…thank you for your post, the bigger the lies…it’s incredible what some people WANT to believe! It makes them feel better about themselves but it’s so hurtful and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s just as Savanah said, you can be on your knees!!! but that will only feed them. Perverts.
Walking along the street the other day I bumped into one of ‘his’ believers…he said to me but that was your fault! I thought you poor idiot, if only you knew what he was saying to me behind your back about you while he was feeding you with lies and not just with lies, feeding you’re ego by making you privy to our marriage… making you feel important. And then my ex dumped him as a friend but he’s a macho so it’s still all my fault…and He’s not the only one my ex has done this to.
I get the impression you guys are in better place than I am. I shared a bedroom with my sister until I was 17 years old , for the last 4 years of that time not a word passed between us as I decided it was too painful to try as the rebuke from her was so…pff why would I speak to you you’re such a piece of shit…
That’s the problem when we don’t deal with our past problems they come back to haunt us and they repeat, repeat, repeat as in marrying my arrogant, cruel ex husband..
Not doing too well the Christmas.
Did you mean to write “how” here? The old adage, “You treat people who to treat you,”
How do you handle someone like this when it is your son’s longtime girlfriend and mother of your grandchild?
With coworkers the solution to ignore or lessen contact makes sense.
What about family where I wouldn’t want to lose contact with a grandchild?
I would do that in the past-try to win some cold person’s affection by giving them something. It never made me feel good.
Your example of your workmate is really telling about how codependents feel and think. I have someone like that as a roommate.
If I don’t initiate a conversation, she’d never say anything to me. I would often try to say something to make it less awkward when we bump into each other in the kitchen.
However a while ago I decided that silence is better and that she is not meant to be part of my life. We don’t have to say anything to each other and the world will not explode. Also, rather than trying to interact with a person whom I don’t vibe with, I can focus my energy on the people I do vibe with.
BTW, why are codependents so concerned with people who are not healthy for them or who just are not their type of people? It’s like their whole life depends on getting approval from these types who are certainly wrong for them.
It’s their normal. They grew up with parents they couldn’t please and they spent all their energy on trying to convince them that they were good enough. The people pleasing they do as adults is just a continuation of that.
Been there done it and got the tea shirt. But never again.x
Wouldnt you agree that with some people, kind words from someone they dont like almost enfuriates them cos maybe you dont get it that they DONT like you.!!
I have a coworker like yours, Savannah. Actually 3 who are very similar. At first I got hurt because I would say hello and good morning only to be snubbed, ignored or glared at. There would be just enough response that I got my hopes up. Only to be purposely withheld from and snubbed again. Finally, I looked up workplace bullying and discovered that I was being bullied. I then changed my behavior and withdrew even the smallest, most minimal attention, like a glance. Even that can be used against me as my glances are usually hopeful for kindness so these women can withhold even a tiny acknowledgement. It has now been about a year and a half since I discovered how to NEVER interact unless there is some work reason. My stress has gone way down! Recently, I became lax and accidentally “explained” something work related (as a courtesy that most people would have found useful). I was swiftly reminded than anything and everything will be used against me. I’d relaxed and been myself! Can’t do that with these people. Oh, and I totally agree about presents. I used to try and buy love and respect but it never worked and I’d be broke and resentful on top of being rejected. I, too, have gotten so I can simply be silent and comfortable with that. It took awhile but what a great skill! I like how you ended: buy yourself a present instead. 🙂
Absolutely true! I had a very similar situation at work you’re talking about Savannah. Except, when it came to solve difficult situation at work my co-worker lashed at me with the hits below the belt and ran to the boss with complaints about me. She actually accused me of making friendly talks with her to purposely snoop in her personal life and be jealous of her partner (we’re both divorced and she’s got someone who shares household expenses and I don’t so supposedly I am miserably envious because I have to pay the mortgage myself. Yes, that’s what I heard..) As much as this comment hurt me for I have never ever been jealous of anyone (this one trait is just not my thing) I have realized that it was just plain ridiculous and she totally went by her thinking standards. It revealed so much of her that I thought: “screw you, I don’t need any small talks with you.” Then I realized that it was always me, saying good morning and how are you. Anyway, I did stop, even saying hi, or anything at all, and at first it did feel awkward and forced but after a while I don’t even think about it anymore. My life is perfectly fine without knowing how she is, whether she’s with someone or not, and whether she’s got a good morning or a horrible one.
Each year after the holidays, their would be crazy purchases from my bipolar so.
a tuxedo at prom time didn’t seem clear enough for me their was a problem.
oh, it wasn’t rented, it was purchased. we are on disability, so no we definitely could not afford this.
a watch for her self that cost $1000.00 because she didn’y have a nice watch.
Even during predivorce discussions, this was denied, until she was shown the charge card statement.
To add to the festivities, a new hidden charge card was added to the mix, with the mail being stalked and hidden from me. Another year , more games. ENOUGH.
why would she be in therapy only to paint me as this villain with all kinds of reported abuses, physically, as well as emotionally?
This explains why when i would insist on talking to the therapy team she had to be present.
Contact between patient and family members is vital!
If you do not have a relationship with this team, you are not a part of this treatment.
You are a victim. This becomes more evident, as her family accuses me of all types of bizarre events and acts. My only defense is to remind them, of her history with old relationships is exactly the same
Storytellers. The gossip. the “poor me” mentality. omg “online” publication sites used as a humility gearing systems to gather sympathy, and attention can be quite effective tool for use too.
The bigger the lie, the more who will believe it. sprinkle with just enough truth and mix thoroughly.
my best words are to get away.
you don’t need this type of psyche games.
they have been at it longer than you realize.