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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 March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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