Crazy Making: Why You Shouldn’t Try to Make Sense Out of Nonsense
Have you ever experienced someone pulling a switch in a situation where they were originally in the wrong? By the time the other person has finished with their crazy-making attempts, they had stepped, as sure footed as a mountain goat, into the Victim position. What on earth just happened?! You may be left wondering;
- Am I going crazy?
- Did I even say or do what I’m being accused of?
- Am I being ‘oversensitive’?
- Did I imagine it or did they just cross my boundaries?
I often hear stories of people feeling disorientated after someone has effectively pulled off a Switch Up, I wanted to share some thoughts on these bizarre situations.
When a person is already primed and ready to play the Victim, it means that you, me or whomever they’re engaging with, will need to be positioned elsewhere on the Drama Triangle (Karpman); be this the Persecutor or the Rescuer. You will become one or the other in the blink of an eye when triggered their Victim reflex. Let the Game begin.
Regardless of whether you had wanted to be the Victim, there can only be one Victim. Them. The Switch Up happens when you say or show that they have overstepped your boundaries in some way. In asserting your boundaries, you step into what they regard as their role – the victim. Instead of discussing, apologising, clarifying or whatever, their next and subsequent responses are about becoming the victim again through guilting and attacking. The tone will change; you may be told that you’re oversensitive, needy or whatever, yet they don’t explain what was meant. Whatever they say and do next compounds the original boundary bust.
What are your options here? If you try to defend, you are ‘wrong’, ‘difficult’ and ‘provoking’ their behaviour. If you respond with the irritation, anger, frustration, upset and other emotions and behaviours that situations like this elicit, you are also ‘wrong’ or accused of being angry. Once they say that you’re angry and eventually after they’ve found a way to provoke the anger, you do get angry and you’re still ‘wrong’. Meanwhile, they may choose to be matter of fact in their insults and claim that they’re not insulting you and that you’re being oversensitive.
Whatever you say about or to them becomes what you are now guilty of.
Whatever they say and do becomes what you are now responsible for.
Anything they say is the truth and voicing an opinion.
Anything you say is lies and distortion.
If you repeat what they say, that’s also a lie and distortion.
Is this making you crazy yet?
It really doesn’t matter what you say – the ending of this is already made up in their mind. You’re just a player in the drama. The only way to end this is to step out of the drama.
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of attempting to make sense out of nonsense. Believe me, I have fallen into that trap many a time, but have learnt to not try to make sense out of nonsense.
Look at this in another way – would you ask why it’s going to hurt if a car runs you down? No. You know it is pointless so you keep yourself safe by not stepping out into oncoming traffic and trying to be alert. If a car is driving straight at you, would you stand there asking “Why are you running me down?” while they’re saying that it is your fault that they’re behind the wheel and driving at you when they’ve had more than enough time and chances to stop. They are intent on running you down – what else do you need to know?
None of the behaviour of someone who pulls crazy making nonsense on you is normal. It might seem normal or feel comfortable at times if you’ve grown up around this carry-on or become acclimatised to it with someone. The fact of the matter is that it is not normal and some part of you has already registered that it doest feel like it.
What I can tell you without hesitation is that: it is not about you.
Stay alert to the oncoming traffic.