When people treat you as if you are stupid, it isn’t because they think you are stupid, it is because they want YOU to think you are stupid.
Their purpose or motive for the way that they treat you is actually about what serves them much more than it is the way that they see you. These people have a motive and it isn’t a motive driven by love, it is a motive driven by the desire to have control.
Understanding this made all the difference in the world in my recovery and in overcoming the false definitions of “me” that had been put on me by abusive, uncaring, controllers and manipulators who felt entitled to treat me like I didn’t matter. The ways that I was treated by these people communicated to me that they were more important than I was. Part of the way that they convinced me of my lesser value was through the subtle or obvious messages that something was ‘missing’ or ‘wrong’ with me and with my reactions to life.
When I was a child and my teacher yelled at me saying that I wasn’t paying attention because I didn’t have the right answer, and then she rolled her eyes and added that I was such a frustrating child, I reacted by trying harder.
I didn’t like being shamed in front of the entire class. I didn’t like the disapproval that was communicated to me. I didn’t like the feeling that I was such a disappointment; as long as I was trying harder, the teacher felt like she was in control.
And as long as I was trying harder, she was in control…
Remember the kids in school who ignored the teacher and didn’t seem to be affected by the reprimands and just kept doing the things that made the teachers angry but kept the rest of the class giggling? Those kids seemed fearless. I remember being afraid for them! I didn’t even consider being one of those kids.
I hated the way she defined me as “a daydreamer” and “lazy student” and how she would say “oh what am I going to DO with you Darlene?” I would never risk being even more of a disappointment by continuing to frustrate her.
As long as I was trying harder, her actions against me were validated; if I was trying harder it proved to her that she was right. It served her purpose to define me as frustrating and difficult or lazy and exhausting. As long as I was feeling shamed and trying to please her, she knew she had the power.
People like that have their power mixed up with their worth.
It served her purpose to make me feel guilty. When I felt bad, I tried harder to please her; when I tried harder, she felt better about herself. It served her purpose to define me in ways that hurt my self-esteem because I would focus on HER and on pleasing her.
If my teacher had ever validated me (like a confident, healthy, teacher who was secure in her own self-esteem might have done) I could have relaxed and flourished in the warmth of her approval. In a healthy and functional relationship this is a wonderful thing! But in her world, I was the object of her self-esteem.
In her mind, if she had enough power to make me feel guilt or shame, then she felt better about herself.
If she could cause me to ‘try harder’ she felt worthy. She felt better by tearing me down.
And because my trying harder didn’t give her ‘real’ worth, the abuse tactics never ended. She needed a little more of this false self-esteem booster, all the time. She had to keep me in the spin of always getting me to keep looking at myself to see why I was such a disappointment to her so that she could keep feeling the little buzz she got from having that power over me.
That teacher had her power mixed up with her worth. She could only feel her own worth when she overpowered other people.
When people treat you like you are crazy, lazy or stupid think about what their motive might be. Slow down long enough to think about why they are reacting to you that way. Why would a healthy person be responding to you as though you are crazy or stupid? Think about what I have shared here and notice what tearing you down can do for them.
Do these people that constantly ask you to jump through their hoops want to empower you to be who you really are or do they want to overpower you because getting you to do what they want, be who they want and act how they want you to makes them feel some sense of worth?
Is the way that they regard you, or define you, really about you or is it about how they want YOU to feel about you?
Think about this. Oftentimes realizing the motive provides the most clarity when someone is talking down to you.
We all have power however there is a proper use of power and the proper use of power is to empower ~ NOT to overpower or disempower. The sad truth is that a lot of people who have low to no self-esteem have been taught that power IS worth and they can’t seem to let go of the need to overpower as a means to ‘proving’ to themselves that they have worth.
My mother had her power mixed up with her worth too. It would never serve her purpose to tell me how wonderful that I was. If I ever stepped out of the spin of trying to figure out how to make her love me and approve of me, I would have seen her for who SHE was and I think she knew it. I think that was her biggest fear.
Her biggest fear was that SHE would be exposed so she kept the finger of blame, shame, guilt and failure always pointed at me. As long as I was spinning around in fear, shame, guilt and failure, I would never see her for who and what she really was.
As long as I didn’t know my true value I would never see that her treatment of me was wrong and that her treatment of me only proved HER lack of self-worth.
When people treat me as if I am stupid, crazy, frustrating or as though I am less important than they are it isn’t because they think I am stupid, crazy, frustrating or less important than they are ~ it is because they want ME to think I am. As long as I am looking at me I will never look at them and as long as I am not looking at them I won’t see the pathetic person behind the abusive, controlling belittling and self-important attitude. As long as I am busy trying to prove that I am worthy, and that MY motive is NOT for harm, they have me right where they want me; under their spell.
This is one of the most important concepts to cement into your new belief system going forward in the healing journey. Please feel free to share your thoughts and discoveries or your struggles and frustrations in the comments.
Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time,
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