counterdependency

Tips for reducing stress in your life #4

Tips for reducing stress in your life #4

So, how many tips have you used this week to reduce stress in your life?  Looking for more?  Well, here they are!

  • Be optimistic
  • Visualize accomplishing your goals
  • Practice grace
  • Pray
  • Light candles

How Dysfunctional Families Affect Children Part 4

How Dysfunctional Families Affect Children Part 4

A child naturally feels wants and has needs. This is built into them as babies- we are helpless, therefore we need and want things from our caretakers. In a dysfunctional family, a child can become too dependent on their family or even anti-dependent (meaning they are without needs or wants).

Serenity Prayer: Wisdom

Serenity Prayer: Wisdom

This week, Imagine Hope is discussing the Serenity Prayer and it's meaning.  So far, we have gone through serenity, courage and change.  Today we will discuss wisdom. The serenity prayer states "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;  courage to change the things I can;  and the wisdom to know the difference." 

H.A.L.T.- Tired

This week, we are discussing the acronym HALT- Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.  As you've read, all of these can be triggers to both addictions, as well as a host of other struggles in life, such as depression, anxiety, and physical illness. 

How toxic and healthy secrets impact our relationships

Teri and Tammy have discussed both toxic secrets and healthy secrets, but how do each of them impact our relationships with others? Toxic Secrets:

  • Create an unsafe relationship which makes intimacy difficult, if not impossible, to have
  • Create distance between the secret keeper and the one who is kept in the dark
  • Create alliances and dependency between the secret keeper and anyone who knows the truth
  • Usually come out in time, and can create a great deal of resentment and anger when they emerge
  • Can be dangerous and cause people harm, which doesn't protect and nurture those around you
  • Can cause the secret keeper to feel isolated and alone (which other people feel... even if they can't name what it is.)
  • Doesn't allow for the freedom of healthy decision making.  If someone is keeping a secret that is toxic, how can the other person make an accurate decision if they don't have all of the information to do so?

Healthy Secrets:

  • Can create a sense of healthy mystery in relationships and help to keep passion and intimacy alive
  • Create a sense of "self" separate from the other person (or people), which is interdependent
  • Promote respect and allow a relationship to have healthy boundaries
  • Nurture a relationship and protect it from hurtful information that will only harm (as opposed to help the relationship grow)
  • Creates a sense of "grace" and kindness that allow a relationship to grow stronger

These are only a few examples of how both toxic and healthy secrets can impact our relationships. Check back tomorrow when we will discuss how you can tell the difference between toxic and healthy secrets.  Thanks for reading!

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

The Masks We Wear... Counterdependency

This week, as a tribute to the Halloween season, we are talking about masks.  Every day we can unknowingly put on different masks that hide us from various things we need in life:  intimacy, self-worth, love, belonging, identity, and freedom.  So far this week, we have discussed the masks of Shame, Codependency and Addiction.  Today we will talk about the mask of Counterdependency. What is the mask of Counterdependency-- what does it look like?

Counterdependents wear a mask that shows the outside world a "tough outer shell" with various traits that represent strength and success (though as you read through this, picture the parts of this "mask" as hiding or covering up a very insecure, needy and vulnerable person underneath).  Some of the main Counterdependent traits that make up their mask include:

  • grandiose, or overly confident (to the point of being cocky)
  • Presenting to others that they are "always right" ( Their way is the "right" way and they are "always right")
  • Controlling
  • Success driven, to the point of being a workaholic
  • Independent-- Not good at being vulnerable and "needy"
  • Non-emotional or emotionally cut off
  • Abrasive
  • Show anger as a main feeling
  • Very visionary-- Counterdependents have great plans for the future to make them more successful, but little follow through
  • Not in touch with their own limitations (Counterdependents aren't good at recognizing when they feel sick and taking care of themselves when they need to go to the doctor, sleeping when their body tells them they are tired, etc.)

How can this mask  impact a Counterdependent's life?

Being successful can be a wonderful thing, but it can also destroy relationships if someone becomes so focused on success and a workaholic to the point where they aren't able to invest in their relationships.  A Counterdependent's difficulty with being vulnerable, expressing the full range of emotion, and allowing themselves to be in touch with even healthy needs, causes them to have difficulty with intimacy, which causes the partner of a Counterdependent to feel alone-- like they don't really "know" their partner.  It also causes a Counterdependent's children to feel a lack of authentic connection with their parent because the Counterdependent is often not present physically (often due to work), or might not know how to "let go" and have fun through play on their child's level.  Their abrasiveness, use of anger, and having to always be "right" and in control doesn't allow for mutual give and take in a relationship, can intimidate the people around the Counterdependent, keeps people at a distance from the Counterdependent, and doesn't allow relationships to be an intimate, two-way street.  Because of these traits, Counterdependents can often find themselves in the position where they lose many relationships and have relationships that are highly conflictual.  Not recognizing their limitations can cause premature death (not going to the doctor because they can "tough it out", when there is really a life threatening illness that eventually takes their life), burn-out, and a loss of relationships.

What Can Help?

It's important for a Counterdependent to recognize that the behaviors they have adopted to protect them early on in childhood, actually keep them isolated and many times, alone.  Addressing the fear that drives the counterdependent behaviors and learning how to be in touch with the full range of human emotion can improve relationships and help the counterdependent realize that they do, in fact, have needs.  Learning how to recognize their limitations and nurture themselves, as well as having intimacy and nurturing their relationships is imperative in their recovery process.  Also, acknowledging that the "mask" of Counterdependency is only just that-- a "mask", and realizing that they really are trying to protect themselves from feeling the fear, vulnerable, insecure parts of who they really are, is very important to moving past Counterdependent behaviors.  Many times, with Counterdependency, professional counseling with a therapist who has knowledge of Counterdependency is needed for healing and growth to begin.

So, which "masks" did you see in yourself from this week's blog?  We would love to hear from you!

References:

Counterdependency: The Flight From Intimacy by Janae and Barry Weinhold

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

Are You Creating a Shame-Based Family Environment? 16-20

Teri, Tamara and Natalie did a great job at explaining the issue of shame:  a feeling of toxic guilt, or where you feel bad-- even though you haven't done anything wrong.  Guilt is where you feel bad for what you did, or how your behavior or choices effected someone else.  Shame is where you feel like a bad person.  I hear many people describe their shame issues as feeling as though nothing they do is ever good enough, or feeling like there is something wrong with them as a person. Shame is such a core issue for so many people we see in counseling, and it can impact our lives in all areas:  work, family relationships, romantic relationships, friendships, parenting, and our relationship with ourselves!  Unfortunately, toxic shame can also be handed down from generation to generation.  If a parent has unresolved toxic shame, they will parent their children in a shame-based manner as well.  Here are the final 5 characteristics of shame-based families:

  • Shame-based family environments have a "Me" concept, instead of seeing the family as an "Us".  When a family system operates in this way, decisions are made based on one persons needs and desires, instead of seeing what is best for the family as a whole.  This denies the needs and desires of the rest of the family members-- which means that someone's needs will constantly go unnoticed and unmet.  As a result, this can create feelings of unworthiness in the family members whose needs weren't validated.  As an adult, this person may not feel worthy of vocalizing their needs because they either don't believe they deserve to, or they are afraid their needs will just go unnoticed or unheard.
  • Shame-based families have very limited and constricted feelings.  There may be unspoken (or spoken) "rules" about what feelings are "appropriate" or not.  For example, a family who doesn't allow the expression of anger or sadness, but expects for all family members to smile, show happiness, or act like nothing is wrong.  This causes a person to assign a negative label to certain feelings, or to see feelings as "bad" or "wrong".  Some families are even more severely restrictive with feelings, where the spoken or unspoken rule is "don't feel".  This can result in a person "cutting off" to, or being unaware of feelings altogether!
  • On the same note, shame-based families have painful or unresolved issues (e.g., abusive behaviors, addictions, toxic secrets, etc.).  Because they don't allow expression of the entire range of feelings, the relationships between family members can't be authentic.  We are limited in resolving true conflict or issues in our relationships if we can't be real about how we feel and what is effecting us!  This causes the family members to become too tolerant of painful things-- things that are inappropriate and toxic. As an adult, you may allow painful or hurtful things to happen to you, not realizing that you have the right to use your feelings to set boundaries with others.
  • Shame-based families are critical of each others needs, and often those needs are denied.  For example, if a child comes to a parent and is needing their time, attention or affirmation, and that child is ridiculed, criticized or dismissed, that child will end up feeling like that need was "bad" and because they have that need, they are a "bad" person.  We see this frequently in our sessions with clients, where they have a need arise, but because they have so much shame (or feel "bad") about having that need, this conflict in their mind will cause them to not have a voice in what they are needing from others.
  • Shame-based families also have little respect for each others limitations.  If someone expresses a limit-- whether physical, emotional, mental, or otherwise, those limits are overlooked.  For example, if you are physically sick as a child, but not allowed to stay home from school without getting in "trouble" or being ridiculed, you don't learn to set good boundaries and limits as an adult and take care of yourself when you don't feel well.  Basically, when limits aren't acknowledged and respected in a shame-based family system, you don't usually learn proper self-care.  Having personal limitations becomes "weak" or "bad", as opposed to healthy and nurturing.

Have you noticed any of the characteristics of a shame-based family?  Perhaps you recognize some from your family growing up, or recognize ways that you might be shame-based in your own parenting.  If so, we encourage you to begin addressing shame, and making healthy changes, both for yourself and for generations to come!

Stay tuned for next weeks blog topic:  common obstacles to growth in therapy.  As always, thank you for joining us!

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

Negative Thinking Patterns Alternatives Part 4

Here are the last 4 alternate ways of thinking that are healthier and less destructive: 12.  Fallacy of Change:  You expect that other people will change to suit you if you just pressure or cajole them enough.  You need to change people because your hopes for happiness seem to depend entirely on them.

Alternate:  Recognizing that no one can "change" another person is  good start to healthier thinking.  Also, recognizing that each of us are responsible for our own happiness.  It is unfair to put that expectation on another person-- to do so is setting up the situation to be disappointing for you, and can feel overwhelming to the other person and create resentment in them (who wants to feel responsible for someone else's happiness??!).  Instead of pressuring a person to change, learn to set boundaries about what you will and will not allow.  The difference is that with boundaries, YOU are the person who makes changes... those changes can in turn influence change in others around you.

13.  Global Labeling:  You generalize one or two qualities into a negative global judgement.

Alternative:  Recognize the "all or nothing", "black and white" thinking pattern, and ask yourself if there is an exception to the generalization you are making.  Learn to challenge your labels by trying to see the "grey" area, and ask yourself "where is the evidence to support this label?".  Be open to learning more about whatever the subject of this label might be, which will help in challenging your thinking.

14.  Being Right: You are continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct.  Being wrong is unthinkable and you will go to any length to demonstrate your rightness. (We see this one quite frequently in marriage counseling).

Alternative:  Being wrong is inevitable and is part of a safe and humble relationship.  Remind yourself that if you are constantly trying to prove how "right" you are, and can't admit when you are wrong, you are only pushing people away and destroying intimacy in the process.

15.  Heaven's Reward Fallacy:  You expect all your sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if there were someone keeping score.  You feel bitter when the reward doesn't come.

Alternative:  Each of us is an active participant in our lives, which includes choices-- even if it is a choice to do nothing. We also reap either the rewards or the consequences of our choices.  If we choose to sacrifice, that was our choice-- no one else can be responsible for that.  Changing our expectations to embrace that sometimes (often times), we don't get the outcomes we had hoped to get, and recognize that disappointment is part of life.  Inevitably, regardless of the circumstances, we are each responsible to cope with our feelings-- no one else can do that for us!

Check back next week... the therapists at Imagine Hope will be discussing perfectionism!

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

Negative Thinking Patterns

Did you know that negative thinking can really impact your life and relationships? Many people don't realize how damaging your mindset can be if it isn't focused in the right direction. This week we are going over the 15 styles of negative thinking. If you find yourself stuck in one of these destructive patterns it's time to make a shift and move on to a healthier journey! 1. Filtering: You take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out the positive aspects of a stiuation.

2. Polarized Thinking: Things are black or white, good or bad. You have to be perfect or you're a failure. There is no middle ground.

3. Overgeneralizing: You come to a general conclusion based in a single piece of evidence. If something bad happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again.

4. Mind reading: Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, you are able to divine how people are feeling toward you.

Keep checking back this week as we share 11 more with you!

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.  Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.

Signs of Unhealthy Boundaries Part 4

By now, you might have already recognized some ways that you or the people in your life have unhealthy boundaries.  Here are a few more to wrap things up:

  • Believing others can anticipate your needs
  • Expecting other to fill your needs automatically (without having to directly ask)
  • Falling apart so someone will take care of you
  • Self abuse (e.g., cutting self, burning self, addictions)
  • Sexual and physical abuse (and emotional abuse)
  • Food abuse

If you recognize any of these signs of unhealthy boundaries in yourself or others, then it is important to work on becoming healthier, in order to be a "safe person".  The book recommendation for today is just that!  "Safe People" by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  Stay tuned for next weeks blog where we will talk more about safe people...

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

Signs of Unhealthy Boundaries Part 3

Teri and Tamara have given us many signs of unhealthy boundaries in ourselves and in our relationships. Are you identifying with any of them in your life? Here are a few more:

  • Taking as much as you can get for the sake of getting
  • Giving as much as you can give for the sake of giving (people pleasing)
  • Allowing someone to take as much as they can from you
  • Letting others direct your life
  • Letting others describe your reality
  • Letting others define you

I have not personally completed this book but it was a recommendation from a client who felt it was helpful: Boundary Power: How I treat you, How I let you treat me, How I treat myself (Workbook), by Mike O'Neil and Charles Newbold. Joleen will finish up tomorrow with more signs and a recommendation. Thanks for reading.

*Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC, LCAC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling.  We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.

How to Keep Your Sanity: If a Counterdependent Won't Get in Recovery

By now, you have heard the characteristics of Counterdependency.  But what do you do if you're in a relationship with one or work with one who refuses to address their issues or get into recovery? 1.  Get into recovery yourself.  When one person begins changing and growing towards being healthier, it has a direct impact on those around them-- even if they won't work on their own issues through counseling.  Learning how you contribute to the relational issues (even if it's in a passive way), can provide your relationship with changes that happen through your individual growth.  You may not be the one who is directly causing the issues, but you might be the one that is allowing them to be in your life!

2.  Don't argue with a Counterdependent.  Because Counterdependent's are "always right" and the way they argue is usually  grandiose and often times destructively critical and contemptuous, it can prove to be more frustrating than healthy to engage in arguements where you can't ever seem to be heard.  This doesn't mean to avoid conflict, but rather to choose your battles, and agree to disagree.  Know your own truth, and don't become engaged in contemptuous, belittling, rageful, grandiose, or attacking and unhealthy conflict.  Learn appropriate detachment through a professional counselor.

3.  Don't feed into their grandiosity.  Many times a Codependent will become involved with a Counterdependent, whether through work or relationship.  Initially, the Codependent will feed the Counterdependent's inflated ego and grandiosity.  This doesn't mean to withhold positive interactions and compliments, but do so in truth and not out of a place of seeking approval.

4.  Above all else, keep your boundaries!  Counterdependents can be pretty oblivious to the boundaries of those around them-- whether boundaries of physical space and time (standing too close, consistently showing up extremely late to meetings or committments with little remorse), emotion, thought, or sexual boundaries.  It is so important to not only set firm boundaries about what you will and will not allow with a Counterdependent, but even more important to follow through with the consequences of violating a boundary.  Boundaries with no follow through have no power.

5.  Find your own sense of "self", independent from the Counterdependent.  Many times, a Counterdependent takes ownership of the relational identity, including the majority of the "power".  If you find that you are "dependent" on this person to make you feel good about yourself or "worthy", find other ways that are healthier (and come from the inside) to have a better self esteem and self image.  Find your own hobbies and interests that make you feel good about yourself.  Develop healthy relationships outside of the Counterdependent.  If it's a work environment, develop healthy relationships with your co-workers that help promote a good support system for a healthier work environment.  Don't wait around on a Counterdependent to give you the things you can be giving yourself already.  After all, it doesn't usually feel very good to someone when you make them totally responsible for your own happiness!  Take ownership of your own happiness, and you will feel much more rewarded.

These are just a few of the things you can do to help you grow as a person, and keep your sanity if a Counterdependent refuses to get into recovery.  For more information, feel free to give one of our relationship experts a call!

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

Counterdependency Part 2

On Tuesday, Tamara gave us great descriptions of 4 of the 7 characteristics of Counterdependency: Grandiose, Not knowing/respecting boundaries of others, Arrogant, and Independent. Thinking of anyone you know yet? Here are the remaining 3. 5. Oblivious/ Self-Centered- We often talk about how codependents stick their heads in the sand in denial but a counterdependent has their head in the clouds. They are very oblivious to others: their feelings, what’s going on in their lives etc. They can also be very self-centered, feeling as if the world revolves around them. This usually plays out in some sort of addiction- work, sex, drugs, alcohol, affairs. They often feel entitled and even justified in why they do what they do. “I am just providing for my family- I HAVE to work 80 hours a week!” Or “My wife hasn’t had sex with me in 2 months- I am entitled to sex with my co-worker!” Those are extreme examples but you get the point.

6. Controlling- The counterdependent thinks their way is the best way and thinks everyone else should think that way, too! If anyone deviates from their way, they are “stupid” or “they can’t do anything right!”. They can also be very controlling in relationships with money, sex, and making sure their needs get met.

7. Shows sadness thru anger- Because counterdependents are really insecure at their core, they have difficulty expressing any emotion that might make them appear weak. Therefore, they hide sadness and show it thru anger. Often a counterdependent who is showing anger either by raging or controlling, is really sad or afraid of something. It is very difficult to get them to see this and understand it because anger is so familiar to them. Once they can see this and how their anger effects others, some healing can begin.

Now you’ve recognized one in your life, haven’t you? There are many counterdependents in the world and most of us do deal with one at one time or another. Tomorrow Alexa is going to discuss how to keep your sanity if you have one in your life that is not in recovery. Thank you for reading today!

*Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.

Counterdependency

Many people are familiar with co-dependency issues, but do not always understand it’s counterpart: The counterdependent. This week we will help you see the many aspects of counterdependency and the impact is has on relationships.

The following is a story of a counterdependent person:

Sally has been married to Jim for 15 years. They have 2 elementary age boys, and live a fairly good life.  Jim is a high-powered businessman in the nearby big city. He likes that many people know his name. Jim works 75+ hours a week and rarely takes time away from his computer and blackberry at home, and he often plays golf with his friends in his down time. Jim demands respect wherever he goes, including at home. His son’s are always begging for more time to play with him, but he often only connects with them through sports. However, the boys are often embarrassed by their dad’s behavior at their games when he yells at anyone who disagrees with him and often stomps off the field after getting kicked out by the referee.

Sally finds herself struggling to meet Jim’s expectations at home. He is a hard man to please. All she wants is to sit down and connect with him on a deeper emotional level, but that rarely happens. Even when they have special date nights it seems like he controls the conversation talking about all the great things he’s doing, or complaining about people who don’t see things his way.  He always seems guarded, rarely apologizes for his sharp digs and criticism, and has trouble seeing things that he does as a problem in the relationship.

Do you know someone like Jim? Keep reading through the week to learn more about counterdependency!

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.  Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.

Counterdependency

Many people are familiar with co-dependency issues, but do not always understand it’s counterpart: The counterdependent. This week we will help you see the many aspects of counterdependency and the impact is has on relationships.

The following is a story of a counterdependent person:

Sally has been married to Jim for 15 years. They have 2 elementary age boys, and live a fairly good life.  Jim is a high-powered businessman in the nearby big city. He likes that many people know his name. Jim works 75+ hours a week and rarely takes time away from his computer and blackberry at home, and he often plays golf with his friends in his down time. Jim demands respect wherever he goes, including at home. His son’s are always begging for more time to play with him, but he often only connects with them through sports. However, the boys are often embarrassed by their dad’s behavior at their games when he yells at anyone who disagrees with him and often stomps off the field after getting kicked out by the referee.

Sally finds herself struggling to meet Jim’s expectations at home. He is a hard man to please. All she wants is to sit down and connect with him on a deeper emotional level, but that rarely happens. Even when they have special date nights it seems like he controls the conversation talking about all the great things he’s doing, or complaining about people who don’t see things his way.  He always seems guarded, rarely apologizes for his sharp digs and criticism, and has trouble seeing things that he does as a problem in the relationship.

Do you know someone like Jim? Keep reading through the week to learn more about counterdependency!

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.  Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.

Dealing With Difficult People- The Know-it-all

Do you have a difficult person in your life?  Perhaps it's a boss, or a relative-- or maybe a co-worker... or even a spouse!  This week, Imagine Hope is discussing the different types of "difficult people" and some ways to cope more effectively with each type.  Today we will cover the last type of difficult person:  The Know-it-all! The Know-it-all is a strongly opinionated, competitive, imposing, pompous and intimidating person.  They often try to make others feel foolish or dumb.  This type of difficult person might actually say demeaning or shaming things about you in front of others.  Their put-downs might feel not only overwhelming, but make it intimidating to speak up around this person.  No matter what you say to this difficult person, they can "top" you, and you don't ever feel like you can "win" with this person, much less feel heard-- they are always "right" (and you can't seem to do ANYTHING right in their eyes!!).  Dealing with this type of person in a group setting can feel like you are being squished like a bug!

What to do when dealing with a Know-it-all:

Realize that behind the know-it-all mask is someone who is very insecure.  Look at their arrogance as insecurity under the surface.

Know your facts.  Ask them to state their facts behind statements, and restate views if necessary.  Allow them to save face when they are inaccurate.  Deal with this person alone when necessary.

Don't take it personally, and don't take everything they say as factual.

Don't let them get away with things that do not add up based on the facts.  You can call this person out, but it's important to keep your fear on the back burner (don't let them see your intimidation).  Try to quiet your inner voice that makes you feel nervous or ashamed around this person, and keep reminding yourself that they are really insecure under all of that bravado shown on the outside!  Remember:  No one can take your personal power away from you unless you allow them to (under most circumstances).

Agree to disagree, or table the conversation for another time.  Getting into a power struggle will be draining and self-defeating.  Being able to say "I will agree to disagree", helps you keep your appropriate personal power, while still taking care of yourself.

We hope this week's blog has been helpful for you-- especially if you recognize that you regularly interact with a difficult person!  As always, thank you for joining us this week...

Resources:

"People Skills" by Robert Bolton, Ph.D.;   "Dealing With Difficult People" by R. Cava;  "Since Strangling Isn't an Option" by Sandra A. Crowe;  "Secrets of Dealing with Difficult People" by Mark Lauderdale, MD, FRCFC

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.