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FAMILY FUSION: Under your skin (2)

Reverend Haynesley Griffith, [email protected]

FAMILY FUSION: Under your skin (2)

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THE HUMAN SKIN is like a fortress with millions of well-trained sharpshooters equipped with sophisticated deadly weaponry designed to fight off, and where necessary, permanently put to rest anything that threatens the health of the body.

From head to toe this large external flexible “blanket” covers every possible area of the body while offering crucial important services on which internal organs depend.

As good and efficient the “sharpshooters” are, there are times when some determined enemies of the body may overpower them and as a result may create some discomforts for various organs underneath the skin. As it is with the physical skin, so it can be with your emotional “skin” when people get under it. Emotional irritations may be experienced.

Last week I began looking at people who “get under your skin”. If you would recall, I mentioned three types of people that may be guilty of this behaviour: those that have serious underlying emotional issues, “takers” and “caretakers”. Three more groups will be addressed today. The critics, the whiners and the boastful.

People who habitually criticise you or are constantly seeking to paint you with a negative brush by saying offensive things either to your face or behind your back, can definitely get under your skin.

One of the reasons why individuals may display such distasteful behaviour rest in the fact that they are often struggling with past disappointments or failures and your success creates continual flashbacks for them.

The following and similar expressions are sometimes common with such persons: “who does she think she is showing off that engagement ring?” “he was so dumb in class – I don’t know how he got that degree”; “I don’t know why they gave her that position, I believe she must have done something to get it”; “I hate the best bone in him”.

How should you treat these individuals? The greatest weapon you have to fight against any attack of this nature is knowing who you are.

If you understand that you are not the problem but the individual is reflecting some of his/her internal conflict, you may be able to free your mind from that person’s attacks.

Secondly, just simply ignoring some individuals may work well.

Thirdly, with those who may be more persistent, try looking them straight in the eyes and consider using responses such as: “I am so sorry that you are seeing yourself in that light, it has to be very difficult for you to live with yourself” or “O my goodness, I never thought of myself in that manner, how do you think you can help me?” or even “your analysis of me is way off the chart, have you ever thought that you may be having an issue with yourself ?”

If you know what the individual is saying about you is not true, never plan for a time when many people are present to “tell off” the person because you may be lowering your moral standard to the dirt-path level of your aggressor.

It might be more beneficial to wait for the right moment to calmly and yet firmly and assertively address the individual. Setting out to embarrass individuals in private or in public is also a reflection of your character. Such an action may not lend itself to the possibility of such an insecure individual opening up to you to get help for their inner pain.

People who are whiners, complainers and grumblers can get under your skin. Have you ever come across people who seem to have nothing good to say about themselves or others? When it comes to themselves they are consistently belching forth negatives. They complain that they are always broke; have some form of sickness; somebody is constantly doing something evil to them; regularly having a bad day; everybody is always against them.

When it comes to attacking others, this group of people seem to delight in relaying some negative stories, real or imagined, about other folks or themselves. These are people who for almost all their foundation years may have been programmed to think negatively of themselves. Rather than quickly dismissing the individual as annoying it may be a good idea to get to see the strengths of the individual and try to build a rapport with him/her.

If you can affirm those strengths and constantly encourage and reinforce their positive expressions and discourage negative mouthing, you may be surprised to see a marked difference in that person’s language and lifestyle over time. I have seen the strategy work in the lives of people.

People who are constantly talking about themselves can sometimes get under your skin. They often talk boastfully about their academic, sporting or artistic achievements; their looks; their assets; with whom they are associated; where they live; what they drive; to where they have travelled and a whole long list of crutches that prop up their fragile security walls. These are the individuals who demand that you publicly and privately elevate them, especially if they have acquired or gave themselves certain titles.

Failing to meet their demands may result in your being verbally or otherwise cut down to size. This category of individuals is often extremely insecure. They display a superiority complex that is irksome and often cause people to avoid their presence. The very assets they claim to possess are often turned into liabilities because of their irritating attitudes.

If you get close to him/her you may realise that he/she may have buried their childhood emotional hurts and concentrated his/her efforts in one of the three areas mentioned above and perhaps did very well.

You cannot easily escape from people who may get under your skin, but wherever possible you can try to motivate them to minimise, if not eliminate, anything that may not work in their best interest and that of others.

• Haynesley Griffith is a marriage and family life consultant. Email: [email protected]