Emotional Manipulation #15 – Trivializing
The abuser trivializes any problem or issue you have into something small and essentially tells you that your problem isn’t a problem. Instead of rightfully and gracefully acknowledging your point and hurt feelings, they will tell you that you’re wrong, and your opinion is wrong and more important, they aren’t at fault for anything. They don’t have to own up to anything they’ve done wrong if they can convince you that you are the wrong one, or you are making a big deal out of nothing. This is manipulation at its finest and leads you to feel dramatic and unworthy of your abuser. Perfect for them – they win on all fronts.
I recall one night while sitting around the dinner table, our daughter asked me to be a judge for her upcoming Distributive Education Club of America (DECA) competition, as I used to be the President of our club in High School.
“I’d love to,” I said. I was so excited that the school and my daughter had invited me to be a part of the competition.
Scott laughed. “You don’t know anything about working having not been an integral part of the workforce in years.” He continued, “You’re not qualified to be a judge for a dog contest, yet alone a high school competition!”
After the children left the kitchen, I told Scott that his comments hurt me profoundly and embarrassed me in front of our children.
Scott just continued to laugh, saying “You’re making a big deal out of nothing.”
You see, my opinions didn’t matter. Neither did my feelings.
Scott would relish in telling our friends embarrassing stories about me that he thought were hysterical. When I would express my feelings were hurt or that I was extremely embarrassed, Scott would trivialize it stating, “Come on, it was funny. You’re being too sensitive.”
The same applied when I would question Scott’s flirting and promiscuous behaviors. On more than one occasion I noticed what was obviously finger nail like scratches on his back. According to him I was just acting jealous, delusional, and/or making a big deal out of nothing. How dare I even question his fidelity! They were just scratches from the weight bench. ( Yeah right!)
Unfortunately, most of the time when a narcissist trivializes your feelings they are acting in a hypocritical way. A narcissist, simply put, is a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves. Most importantly, narcissists are slow to believe they are “wrong” (if they ever do at all), don’t listen well to others’ opinions, and believe their way is the right one—the only way. If you put narcissism and hypocrisy together, you get a marriage made for one another.
So what can you do when a narcissist trivializes your feelings?
- Determine what’s most important to you. Not what your parents told you, not what your boss says is true, not what your friends care about, but rather, what matters to you and OWN IT.
- Examine where you are in alignment with what you care about and where you need to make modifications. Don’t judge yourself, don’t berate yourself, just notice the misalignment and figure out what to do to bring your thoughts and actions more closely together. Don’t argue, don’t engage as much as possible the narcissist.
- Refrain from telling others what to say, do and believe. The biggest hypocrites/narcissist tend to be the ones who believe they know what’s right for everyone but themselves. The next time you catch yourself about to tell the narcissist what is right or wrong for them, just stop. They won’t listen. They will just project back onto you.
- Spend quiet time. Meditation is not for everyone, but in a world with a constant barrage of information, opportunities for reading nasty posts or posting them yourself, are not a good idea. Finding personal space can be very healing. Take a walk—without the cell phone or earbuds. Stand outdoors and listen to the air. Go into a quiet place in your home and simply sit. Find ways to give yourself space to just be.
- Focus on you. It’s very freeing to stop trying to fix or change others and to focus on what you are doing. If you put your energy into watching your own actions and reactions, and carefully choosing the words you use, you will cease having interest in what others are doing. The hypocrites will run merrily on their way, but you won’t be hooked by them. Jump off that crazy wheel!