Emotional Bullying and Being a ‘Winner’ in Life
By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota
“Once a target realises this, they can take comfort from the fact that every time they are blamed, criticised or subjected to another specious allegation by the bully, the bully is implicitly admitting or revealing something about themselves.”
For a few years, a woman contacted me regarding a story about her in the shadows that was widely circulating.
Bits by bits the story unfolded itself to her, not through honest and open discussion, but slander, projection, bullying, emotional blackmail, gaslighting, mental abuse, harassment, and stalking.
The story began with another woman who wanted to bring her down and humble her. This woman saw herself as a matriarch and took it upon herself to act as Judge, Jury, and Executioner of the town. She demanded respect from everyone and wanted all women to acknowledge her sense of greatness in their eyes.
This woman created a team of people and designated each a role. One played the spokesperson, other the spies, some the hyenas who publicly attacked the woman targeted if she responds back. Others played an assigned role when it was needed.
At first, the targeted woman was defensive and confused and reached out to understand their perspective, then this backfired. I shared with her an article “It’s opposite day: When psychopaths project,” by Linda Hartoonian Almas and “How bullying works: projection and scapegoating,” by Kitty S Jones. I explained to her these individuals are skilled at projection and probably have learned this skill by practicing it on others.
Find out the advice they give others, and share it with them to help them see themselves. With people skilled in projection, just turn the mirror around.
Jones explains: “A target’s awareness of projection can help them translate whatever they are being accused of into an awareness of the bully’s own misdemeanours.”
She found an article written by one of the women and what she discovered was disturbing at best…
They did not believe their own advice at all.
What’s wrong with what they did?
The scheming games were abusive, harmful, toxic, and destructive. Instead of showing *any* acknowledgment of the target’s pain and suffering, and then working from there, the scheming crew *completely* ignored her thoughts & feelings. The target was filing police reports given the harassment and not sure if they were real or imaginary as when she reached out to verify, they denied and feigned innocence.
Next, they boasted “stop pretending.” She was clueless as what to stop pretending, and all attempts for verification were rejected.
However, they continued with the harassment. When she opened up about how she was feeling, their response was, “We don’t buy it!” There was no real compassion or empathy. Empathy is to recognize what someone is feeling *from their perspective*–not your own. And compassion is non-judgmental understanding of those feelings—even if you don’t particularly like them. Acknowledgment, empathy, and compassion are necessary ingredients of any successful relationship. On the contrary, emotional bullying is to dictate to someone what is or is not acceptable for them to feel and think. Perhaps the fact that they had absolutely *no* idea that she felt her life was in danger and was trying to figure out who was behind the games, that she was struggling with family and health problems is indicative of this lack of ability to see things, not only from their own perspective—but from her perspective, as well.
“But it didn’t work!” And that enraged them!
Umm, how do we know? She started to monitor them and take notes and give each person a piece of false information to see if it travels to the suspected crew or not. And it did, and yes, they feigned innocence when caught. After numerous attempts of trying to frame her and falsely accuse her, they could not build a case against her. Hence, they set the hyenas or attack dogs to bully her into submission. They hid behind half-truths and tried to build facts on the ground or manufacture evidence by sending people to make all sorts of false claims.
Seriously? Human psychology is just a little more complicated than that. Notice that the entire story in the shadows is written from *their* perspective. Where is *her* perspective? The only thing we know about her feelings are the very feelings they write off by saying they don’t “buy it.” Had their hearts and minds allowed her perspective to emerge, then they could say they really know how she feels. However, they were no different than those who yell “Free speech” when people attack Muslims, and “Hate speech” when Muslims respond.
But to say that what they did was ‘successful’ just because they kept trying effortfully to frame her to prove their story is correct is simplistic at best. The CIA tried to frame Muslims and other social justice activists. Framing is a reflection of the darkness of the soul of the perpetrator, not the target. And if they have substantial evidence – why not bring it to the table and allow the target to see it?
They didn’t ‘buy it.’ Or what if she just agreed to the false accusations because they were acceptable to them and they didn’t want to look like fools after all the scheming behind the scenes. They used a technique of manipulation where after creating the problem, they come offering her help.
Brad Thor explained this tool in the following: “Hegelian dialectic—a psychological tool used to manipulate the masses. In this case, you create a problem, wait for the reaction, and then offer the solution. What people historically fail to realize, though, is that those offering the solution are the same people who caused the problem in the first place. They also fail to realize that no matter what the solution is, it always ends up providing its creators with more power.”
This is a technique used by many charlatans with people they want to control, and it’s an unhappy day when we applaud its use on community members!
We also need to discontinue measuring the success of any relationship by merely the fact that the person stuck around to volunteer and joined community events and dinners. There is something more profound about successful relationships than just ‘sticking around.’ That is not the measure of success. So many people automatically applauded them for their actions just because they weren’t the ones who left. But they refused to imagine the situation from her lens (a perspective we know nothing of first hand).
Remember, the one who wants to leave isn’t always the villain, and the one who stays isn’t necessarily the martyr. Relationships are a bit more complicated than that.
They accused her of wanting to be famous for leaving and hurled tons of toxic false accusations and kept harassing her over and over again with emails and calls after her repeated requests to stop the harassment. They used fake profiles, emails, and twitter handles.
As much as they tried, they failed to get their desired outcome. She said to them very bluntly – “if I were meant to be controlled, I would have come with a remote.”
What would have been a better way?
She repeatedly invited them to a discussion to share their facts, feelings, and perspectives before an agreed upon independent conflict resolution mediator. They refused. The reality is they had no facts or evidence to speak of. No emails, texts, phone calls, pictures, nothing to support their false claims.
First, they should have told themselves they don’t know. Instead, this matriarch claimed knowledge of the unknown and played the role of God.
Second, they should have acknowledged and respected how she felt, instead of denying or ignoring her feelings and reality. After acknowledging her feelings, they should have proceeded from there. Perhaps a more healthy response than framing, scheming, denying, discounting, twisting and distorting, belittling, and attacking her expressed thoughts would have been to suggest group therapy or reflect on what things they could change within themselves to fix the conflict. Instead, they ultimately denied that there was any *real* problem with their behavior (after all she just had an adult temper tantrum, and they just needed to ‘duck’). Then they put 100% of the blame on her. They diagnosed the problem as being 100% outside themselves and then proceeded to harass her and fix her, so she thinks and feels like them. That is everything you should *not* do in a relationship or on the path of self-development.
There was absolutely no introspection or reflection on *anything* that perhaps they could change in themselves to improve the relationship (starting probably from learning to acknowledge and respect her feelings, beyond their own—even when they don’t particularly *like* her). Instead, they framed the entire situation as her being emotional and they are grateful, humble and modest. They convinced themselves that they had a one-way ticket to heaven.
They did many Oscar-winning performances to promote themselves as grateful and humble to the community like receiving a gig, or tons of rewards and applause after they got into a public fight.
They were so elated with the applause and gigs; they would yell “God is Great!” celebrating loudly that they won and God was on their side. It was all a game. That is all it was, a game. Yet, they didn’t know how to genuinely win by honoring their soul. They could not face a court of law or take an oath asking God to judge between, because deep down within they did not believe their own conjured up story. They knew they were lying, but they didn’t want anyone else to know. They prefer to engage in the shadows, because they want to win by honoring their ego over their soul, and fear to lose before a court of law, mediator, or being exposed to others.
I think it speaks about the mercy and compassion they claim to have in their hearts when their actions are not only tolerated but applauded. That is not humility, but arrogance.
Even if the target was displacing some inner unhappiness on them, to believe that there was absolutely nothing they were doing to contribute to the problem or that there was absolutely nothing they could do to change the difficulty and tension is self-righteousness at best. To think that they are ever just passive bystanders of their problems or that the issues in the dispute are 100% her fault is self-centered and just plain wrong. Of course there was some part they played, and of course, there was something they could have changed in themselves to resolve the dispute. No one is perfect, and we all have things in ourselves that we could improve to strengthen our relationships. But chalking up the entire problem to just her being depressed and inner dissatisfaction, while completely exonerating their role, is putting the blame entirely on her and implying that they have nothing to improve or change.
But there is a third kind of relationship. The third kind of relationship is not perfect, not even close. But a decision has been made, and people have decided to love each other for the sake of God, and that love means allowing the person to stay or leave, as they are not your possession, but God’s. It is not a relationship of possession, control, and manipulation, but of invitation, healing, growth, and transformation. Hence, such a person lives their faith by healing and promoting self-healing. On that journey to healing, one gets closer to God and is used by God to heal others, including charlatans who are blind that their target was used by God to purify them from the diseases of their perverse souls.
It is easy to write a book to purify the heart from such diseases, however, reclaiming one’s heart is another matter.
It is self-healing, transformative, and revolutionary, in the purest sense of the word.
As Susanna Barlow says in Understanding the Healer Archetype: “Promoting yourself as someone who can heal others rather than promoting self-healing is a common theme among Shadow Healers. To avoid the pitfall of the charlatan, the Healer needs only look to their own heart and bring the truth back to the situation. In the words of Paracelsus ‘The practice of healing lies in the heart. If your heart is false, the physician within you will be false.’”
Until we start seeing God as Lord of the Worlds, the All-Knowing and
All-Seeing—rather than a jackpot or a role to play to control others—we will never succeed at building a society of relationships founded on faith, healing, and transformation.
Fedwa Wazwaz is a Palestinian-American born in Jerusalem, Palestine and raised in the US. She was the chair for the Interfaith Relations at Islamic Center of Minnesota. She has completed training in restorative justice at the University’s Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking. She was a 2008-2009 policy fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. She is a public speaker and writer and lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.
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Posted on February 22, 2018, in Engage Minnesota, Fedwa Wazwaz and tagged Engage Minnesota, faith, Faith Healing, Fedwa Wazwaz, healing, human condition, imperfections, ladder of prejudice, sexual harassment, Vulnerability. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.