Wednesday, August 19, 2020


This is the twenty-fourth in a series of periodic reflections on the "ordinary things" that many people do on a regular basis without much thought. During this pandemic, I am developing a need to "rage, rage" against haste and laziness and replace it with care and attention. My hope is to become personally more intentional about doing ordinary things with care and focused attention, while inspiring others to maybe do the same.


Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the Lord's vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail. Forgive your neighbor's injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. 
Sirach 27:30-28:2 

One of the things I like to do regularly is to do a quick "life review" to see if I have any enemies. During this pandemic, with a lot more time on my hands, I have had more time to think about it. 

I realized years ago that having an enemy is a heavy bag of stinking garbage to carry around. Mark Twain nailed it when he said, “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” I agree with him so much that I regularly "take stock" of whether I have any enemies and try to "love" them anyway. 

I do not think I have any real "enemies" at this time, but it seems that there has always one or two people who let me know they dislike me for one reason or another. I may still have some raw feelings, I may even crack a harmless joke about the lingering bits of pain once in a while, but I refuse to "hate" anyone! 

At this time, I can only think of three or four people who have been "problematic" in the past as far as my relationship with them. The interesting thing about it is the fact that three of them were priests! Since I have known hundreds and hundreds of priests, I guess that's not too bad! None of them confronted me openly with insults or name-calling. They "punished" me with the "silent treatment." They simply did not speak to me, give me the time of day or acknowledge my existence. In trying to find out the cause of this punishing silence, I have been told that some considered me "too liberal" and some were "jealous" of my visibility! I guess they thought that needed to be punished. 

In reading about it, I found out that the "silent treatment" is a form of abuse that is often used by narcissists, consciously or unconsciously, to make their victims feel unworthy, to deny them emotional care, to deny them praise, to starve them of love, affection, compliments and positive feedback, to regularly reject, degrade and deny them emotional responsiveness. It is a form of repetitive abuse that is aimed at controlling, diminishing another person’s well-being in order to hurt, punish, harm or control them. Best of all, it can be used to control their victims by keeping them guessing! It makes sense that punishing silence is a favorite technique of narcissists. Narcissists cannot tolerate the fact that someone else might shine as bright or brighter than them! Starving their competition out makes more sense to them than sharing the limelight or attacking outright! 

The person on the receiving end can end up resigned to feeling isolated, intimidated, insignificant, despondent, angry, resentful and even revengeful. Emotional stress brought about by persistent silent treatment can actually affect physical health. Some victims have noted that their abuser becomes notably happier the more worn down and miserable their victims become. In order to cope, the victim must appreciate that an abuser thrives on observing the negative effect they have on their target. Therefore it is necessary to stop “feeding’ their desire for control and power. This means not giving them the satisfaction of seeing the negative emotional effects of their immature behavior. They can derive a great sense of self importance and triumph if you get irate, annoyed, upset, capitulate, apologize, weep or plead with them to talk to you. The best thing to do is to starve them of these rewards by simply ignoring them! Meanwhile, they can always tell themselves they did nothing, said nothing and therefore are free of any blame. 

In my reflection, I have come to admit that, in these cases,  I was part of the problem! I let these people “get to me” because I held a few of Albert’s Ellis’s “Irrational and Dysfunctional Beliefs.” Here are two of those irrational beliefs that regularly cause me pain. BELIEF #1. "It is a dire necessity for adult humans to be loved or approved of by virtually every significant other person in their community." BELIEF #2. "People absolutely must act considerately and fairly and they are damnable villains if they do not. Ellis called it “awfulizing” as in “ain’t it awful!” 

When you hold those irrational beliefs, you are bound to be “let down” over and over again! The secret to a resolution is not giving their negativity attention.   You just have to "let them go" and let them "feel whatever they feel" without allowing it space in your mind. Most of all, you should not allow yourself to turn them into an "enemy." Big mistake! That would give them even more power over you! 

1 comment:

  1. Apparently, many many people don't find you too liberal. You're just right!

    Bev Metzler