Hey, good afternoon!
This is Dr. Heidi! I am your Toxic Relationship Awareness & Healing Specialist.
I was out on my patio working this morning, and it is my new patio. I love it and I use it way more than I thought I would! I never used to sit down, and now I find myself sitting down every once in a while.
I had a great weekend! All my kids were in the same place…my place! It’s one of my favorite things, when I’m at my happiest. The house is very loud and very laugh-y. I don’t get all of them in the same place very often. So, if you are out there and struggling with younger kids, wishing they would get older faster…don’t. They grow up and go away so quickly. Treasure them at every age!
So, yesterday I was in the office, and I spoke with several clients, both established clients and new people I hadn’t met with before. Two of those people asked me the exact same thing. When I asked them, “How can I best help you in your situation?” two people said the exact same thing, word for word, and that was, “Can you please just tell me that I’m not crazy?”
Well, truth is, we are all just a little bit crazy, right? But the truth also is perfect is boring, so who wants to be perfect? Not me! But because I have had more than one toxic relationship in my past, I knew not only exactly what they meant, but I also knew exactly how they were feeling. The real truth is that toxic relationships, especially long-standing ones or toxic environments at home or being raised by toxic parents or toxic work environments, are “crazy makers.”
There is no doubt that you question yourself, your sanity, your reality when you are involved with people who are not healthy for you. Are you really crazy? No. Do you feel crazy? Probably.
The programming and the manipulation that is present in a toxic environment is sadly very intentional. Toxic people want us to question ourselves on everything. When we question ourselves, they feel better, they feel stronger, they feel more put together, and lastly, and most importantly, they feel more in control. The more out of control they can make you feel, the more in control they feel. It’s a security thing.
What exactly in a relationship makes you feel like you’re crazy? There is a number of things, but I’m just going to touch on a few of them today.
Fear is one of the things that will make you feel crazy. Whether or not fear for your physical safety is present, there is also a lot of emotional fear that goes into toxic environments. Fear of mean words. Fear of anger. Fear of not doing something right or being good enough. Fear causes us to always want to stay ahead, to predict what’s going to happen, to be one step in front of them. It causes a running in circles feeling that keeps us on edge.
Keeping us on edge makes us feel a little crazy.
Another thing that’s going to make us feel a little crazy is criticism. Things that we are proud of, things that we look good in, things that we feel good in, things that make us happy, things that we’re good at, things that we’re talented at, things that we’re successful in…when they criticize these things that we perceive as valuable and that are good about us, it changes the way we see ourselves.
Maybe that doesn’t look so good on me. Maybe I’m not that good at it. Maybe that doesn’t make me happy. Maybe I’m not really that talented, and maybe I’m not all that successful.
It changes our reality, and we begin to question our own opinions. When we question our own opinions and our own values, that makes us feel a little crazy.
If you are with or involved with people who are inconsistent, inconsistency is a crazy maker. For example, they will tell you something that they like, and you go and buy it for them as a surprise to make them happy with you, but they don’t like it. Or they don’t like the color. Or it’s the wrong brand. Or it’s not the one they wanted.
They say something is okay to do on Monday, so you assume it’s also okay to do on Friday. But on Friday you doing the same exact thing makes them upset.
They don’t tell you something, but rather than admit they didn’t tell you, they insist that you weren’t listening.
Inconsistency is very difficult, especially in a parent/child situation. When a child is supposed to be guided by the parent, and the parent is inconsistent, it is very confusing to the child and will make the child feel very crazy. The same thing if you have a boss that is inconsistent; it will make you feel crazy at work.
Inconsistency, while they are insisting they are being consistent, will make you feel very crazy.
Gaslighting. For those of you who don’t know what the term gaslighting is, I could talk till next Tuesday about it. Gaslighting is a term that’s used to describe when someone is lying or trying to convince you that something is true when you absolutely know that it isn’t. Something that you know to be true…they will tell you that it’s not. It makes you question your reality.
They say they were home at ten o’clock. You 100% know it was twelve-thirty, but they convince you that you were sleeping. “You were sleeping when I got home. How would you know what time it was?” Well then you start thinking, “No, I know I stayed awake, because I stayed up to hear the car.” Then you starting thinking because they’re so consistent and convincing, “Okay, maybe I did doze off. Maybe I am mixed up.”
They say that your memory is bad. That is one thing I will recommend…if you think you are in an environment with a toxic person, never, ever, say “Oh, I think I have a poor memory.” That opens the door for them to blame your memory for every single thing from now till the end of time.
They tell you that you never listen, and you absolutely know you do because you’ve been in trouble so many times for not listening that you work extra hard to pay attention. But they still tell you you weren’t listening. In your head you’re going, “How was I not listening? I swear I was listening! I try to listen all the time!” But they convince you that you weren’t listening.
They lie their way out of questionable situations for which you absolutely know the truth. You absolutely have evidence about the truth, yet they are so absolutely convincing of their story that you accept their words, contrary to the evidence you have.
Gaslighting will make you feel crazy.
When they deny any wrongdoing or hurtful actions against you and turn it around by saying “You’re too sensitive” or “You’re overreacting,” it basically takes the whole focus off of them and puts it onto you, which disregards the issue in the first place. That will make you feel a little crazy.
You spend the whole morning thinking of the best way to communicate a particular issue or topic, and when they come home you discuss it for an hour. And at the end of your long conversation, you hear, “You just don’t know how to communicate.” And then you get the silent treatment. That makes you feel a little crazy.
When they tell you over and over how crazy, how nuts, how psycho, how out of your mind, off your rocker, impossible you are…when you hear all of that stuff, that alone makes you feel a little crazy.
When they start telling others their side of the story (which is usually exaggerated to begin with) or that you’re crazy, you’re nuts, you’re psycho or out of your mind…not only does that make you feel hopeless and ganged up on, but it makes you feel a little bit crazy.
So, are you crazy? No! You are absolutely not! Just because you are made to feel crazy so they feel, look, and operate better does not mean that you are crazy.
This stuff is not normal! This stuff that we are talking about is toxic. If you are feeling like you’re crazy in a toxic environment, keep your head in reality. Just because they say it is so does not mean it is so. Write down your reality. Keep journals so you can read and go back and reread the truth. If something doesn’t add up, you are probably right. Don’t let them convince you differently.
Desperation makes us act out of character. You do not have to prove to them that you’re not crazy. Keep that little secret to yourself. You only have to prove to yourself that you’re not crazy. Because you know reality; you just have to stay focused on what you know and be true to it.
Write it down!
I spent YEARS making myself crazy thinking I was crazy when it was THEM that was crazy all along.
I hope that sheds a little light on the crazy-maker. It is just a feeling, so make sure you continually are consciously making the effort to differentiate between the two.
If you are wondering if you are in a toxic relationship presently, or if you have been affected by toxic relationships in your past, I have an assessment called the Toxicity Profile Analysis. This is an analysis that I wrote that gives me insight into your particular situation, without you telling me the whole story. As we know, when we start telling our whole story it is a seven-hour deal! But this particular assessment gives me a way to look into your particular situation, and from the outcome of the assessment I can tell whether your toxic situation is mild, moderate, or severe. I can also tell which of the toxic character traits you have dealt with or been affected by.
The Toxicity Profile Analysis is available on my website! It only takes about twenty minutes; it’s not going to take up a huge amount of your day. But it might give you some insight!
You can find me on Facebook and Instagram @coachingwithdrheidi. I am pretty accessible as far as social media goes. And, again, I love to get questions for the podcast, and I LOVE hearing that you’re getting something out of the podcast or the blog, so please feel free to post your thoughts on my Facebook page.
Again, this is Dr. Heidi, your Toxic Relationship Awareness & Healing Specialist. I will talk to you soon.