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Ten Examples of Crazy Making in Relationships

Ten Examples of Crazy Making in Relationships

Crazy making in relationships is a subtle dynamic that can leave you full of self doubt, wondering if you might be going crazy. Crazy making is a form of emotional abuse involving things such as mind games, intended to make you question yourself. It destabilises your confidence and slowly allows the other person to gain more control over you and the relationship.Thoughts such as “Is it just me?”, “Am I imagining things?” and “I am not sure anymore of what is wrong or right” all suggest that you might be in a crazy making relationship.

Crazy making in relationships involves calling in to question another person’s sanity, insisting on their ‘version of reality’ all the while projecting their defective inner landscape onto their target. Crazy makers are abusive individuals who try to convince their partners that they are defective in some way, in this way they make the victim more emotional, more needy or dependent. 

Do you experience more self doubt than before, a sense that you used to be happier and more confident than you are now, feeling on edge when in the company of your partner, feeling as if you can’t do anything right, apologising far more than you ever used to, constantly second guessing yourself, finding it harder to make simple decisions, or doubting your perceptions of the world around you?

All the above may be signs that you are in a crazy making relationship. Let me explain it a little more by giving you ten examples of crazy making behaviour. This article might just save your sanity…

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1. When your partner convinces you that something happened when it didn’t (or vice versa)

An example of this could be a social event. You might be 100% sure that you were not made aware of an upcoming party and your partner will insist they told you. A one-off occurrence can happen to anyone but when this happens several times it is a form of crazy making.

2. Passive-aggressive behaviour

If you need to be somewhere at a specific time, your partner may appear to be dawdling. They will deny this if you point it out, but subtly they are thwarting your plans. You might ask for something and they will pretend not to hear you. An item that you keep in a regular place might get moved from that spot with denials that they ever touched it. These are all examples of passive aggressive behaviour. It is manipulative and subtle. Crazy making people are too clever to be overt in their actions as they know that their behavior would never be accepted so they find clever ways to undermine you. Ways that aren’t as obvious or could be open to interpretation.

3. Everything is somehow your fault

Crazy making partners rarely admit to doing anything wrong. They manage to twist events around and somehow the blame ends up back on you. Crazy making partners seem to end up as the victim all the time. They may provoke you until you can’t take it any longer. When you eventually react negatively towards them, they will be the ‘hurt’ ones.

4. Projection

Crazy makers project their internal chaos onto others. The emotional environment around them is tense, not rational and easy-going. Instead, people in their company often feel on edge, waiting to be picked on or judged in some way. When they make you feel anger, they are giving you a taster of what they feel all the time. They may cleverly disguise it, but crazy makers often have a history of tumultuous relationships. Generally, the more passive their partner is the longer the relationship will last.

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5. Non-verbal body language sends a dismissive message

Crazy makers will often make you feel as if you are doing something wrong without uttering a word. Instead, they will sigh loudly, roll their eyes (and make sure you see it) or shake their heads while you do something. This sends you a clear message that they disapprove of your actions. Instead of engaging in rational verbal communication, their subtle gestures will become something you are very in tune with. This is perfect for crazy makers as they can then carry on with their disapproving signs even when in public. On an ongoing basis, this erodes self esteem and confidence making a person even easier to manipulate.

6. Making you doubt your perceptions

Crazy makers will say provocative statements and when you react, they will immediately let you know that you are being too sensitive or that you are overreacting and that you should listen more. They will tell you that you have misunderstood them. It will always be your fault, never will they apologise for saying something that upset you – it will be your fault for not understanding them correctly. They will rarely be bothered that they have said something to upset you, instead you will be blamed for your reaction. They rarely see their part in the ‘play’. You may try harder to please them because it feels like you are the cause of all the trouble when in fact, your perceptions are valid but are completely undermined in a crazy making relationship.

7. Hypocritical behaviour

You would think that a crazy maker would be perfect in every way as they seem to have so much to say about what others do wrong. Yet, often, crazy makers are the biggest hypocrites. There is one set of rules for them and another for everyone else. Don’t anyone dare tell a white lie or withhold information yet many crazy makers do this on a regular basis.

8. It’s all about control

Crazy making in relationships is all about gaining control. Crazy making behaviour often develops in childhood. When, as a child their emotional needs are not met, children learn dysfunctional ways to cope. They take these dysfunctional strategies with them into adulthood and try to use the same manipulative techniques in their adult relationships. Their manipulation tends to work better with other individuals with low self esteem although anyone is open to succumbing to this type of relationship depending upon their mental state at the time. Crazy makers are generally insecure people.

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9. Subtle brain-washing

This can also exist when crazy making in relationships develops. Again, this is done in a subtle way as crazy makers try to get you to come around to their way of thinking. You may have packed the dishwasher for many years in a way that works perfectly well for you, when suddenly, this method will be challenged. “Why have you done that?” or “Why are you doing it that way?” You begin to question your way of doing things and the process of confidence erosion and self doubt commences. This is a form of control and links in with rigid thinking. Things have to be done in a certain way and if they aren’t, you can be made to feel that you are lacking in some way.

10) Setting you up to fail

This is a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. You will find that the rules change according to a crazy maker’s fickle wants and wishes. As the dynamic shifts, you will try harder to please them yet nothing ever seems to be quite right. I have witnessed confident people become a shell of their former selves after being in a crazy making relationship. It can happen to the best of us.

How to deal with a crazy making relationship

When you start to realise that it isn’t just you and that there is more going on in the relationship which makes you feel you might be crazy, it relieves the pressure. It also becomes easier to identify crazy making in relationships. Remember that no matter what someone else does or how they try to influence your mood, you still have ultimate control over how you react. Remove yourself from the situation temporarily if you need to but refuse to allow another person to manipulate your mood. This is what helps them to feel powerful. When they see that their subtle ways are causing an emotional reaction in you, they feel that they have won. It’s a sad way to go about trying to feel important and powerful but then again crazy makers don’t think the same way as a healthy normal individual.

Crazy makers have dysfunctional thinking patterns that more often than not begin in childhood. As a child, when parents do not lot allow free expression of healthy emotion or suppress their children in some way, it sends a message to children that they are powerless. Subtle manipulation is one way a child can still feel like they have power – whether they do this by lying, stealing or withholding information, it allows them to cope with the stressful situation. These coping skills stay with these children but unfortunately do not serve them well in adult relationships. Manipulation will never get a person as far as good open communication will. This is something many crazy makers were denied as children. The parents ruled and the children obeyed.

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Crazy making in relationships comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be difficult to spot as there are many variations. If you find that you have become indecisive, doubt yourself regularly (whereas before you were quite self assured), have lost confidence or generally feel something is amiss but you cannot put your finger on it, it might be that you are in a crazy making relationship. Learning to interact as adults is key to forming a solid relationship where manipulation is not used as a form of control.

Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via shutterstock.com

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Mandy Kloppers

Mandy is a Psychologist/CBT therapist who believes getting through life is easier with a robust sense of humour.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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