I’m off to grand old ‘Ally Pally’ (Alexandra Palace in London) tomorrow to teach a workshop at The Mind Body Soul Experience about Boundaries. So, as you can imagine that topic is consuming my brain today.
This is an issue that from time to time affects a great many of us. Try as we might, we can’t help being challenged by a strange vibe at work, busy crowds or feeling invaded & exhausted by an overly demanding friend, lover or family member.
It’s a subject I feel I know about from the inside out, due to my own history (read my article here in Soul & Spirit magazine if you like) & it’s something that comes up again & again for my clients. In the last few months my sessions have involved dealing with the effects of bad bosses, the legacies of extremely tricky ex boyfriends & toxic parents.
For tips on how to stop merging your boundaries & how to healthily separate energetically, check out this blog.
The truth is that boundaries can get ever so confusing when you’re dealing with difficult personality types.
I think boundaries are two fold. They are about negotiating where your line is-where you need space, and where you won’t tolerate certain behaviour from another. They’re learning how to kindly or assertively say, ‘No’ without excessive guilt. But, I believe they’re also about healthily negotiating your needs.
We all have our subconscious issues & accidentally sometimes communicate these to others—which is where boundaries can get murky.
However there are those people that are the MOST difficult to handle for our boundaries. I’m going to use a term coined by Julia Cameron, author of ‘The Artist’s Way’ & call them the ‘Crazy Makers.’
Do You Know A Crazy Maker?
You could say that these folk are the least aware of their subconscious patterns & whilst there are many definitions & personality types (such as narcissistic personality disorder) that can account for them, there are 6 key features you’ll probably spot:
1) Lack of empathy. These people struggle to understand another’s point of view & put themselves in other’s shoes.
2) They blame you. Therefore when you express a reasonable need or object to the crossing of a boundary, they blame you, telling you that there’s something wrong with you or judge you harshly.
3) They over react. If you assert a boundary in any way, they may over react, take things very personally & try to subtly emotionally manipulate you (which can be hard to spot) or at the worst, become an out right bully.
4) They have good qualities. They may be powerful, charismatic, good looking & talented or just seem nice at first. This is even more confusing because the difficult behaviour often comes out slowly over time & may not seem consistent.
5) They are always right (& better than you). They can’t bare to be in the wrong, rarely apologise and want to come out as top dog.
6) They are the victim. They belief they are always the poor injured party & possibly that life is constantly cruel to them (which is never their fault or responsibility).
A ‘crazy maker’ will call you crazy & may slowly convince you that you are (otherwise known as gas lighting)! But, some of the behaviour can be so subtle, you can’t quite put your finger on it. You’ll notice it though in how you feel– over time you realise you feel drained, anxious to meet their demands or lower self confidence from their criticisms or neglect.
How can you deal with a ‘crazy maker’?
If you can, get away! If you’ve tried reasoning with them & depending upon the degree to which they are affecting your life, this is often the most sensible solution.
However, if you can’t quite be free of them, how can you limit contact? Or spend as little time with them as possible? Keep it civil & as painful as it may be, limit your expectations of what you may receive from them (look for it elsewhere in life).
If you do have to be around a ‘crazy maker’ (they’re called this for a reason) look after yourself.
And if you grew up with one or had a longterm relationship with one, you may need some support (psychotherapy, counselling or coaching) to undo the negative effects & learn how to trust reasonable people again.
The truth is that many ‘crazy makers’ grew up in difficult environments or inherited particular genes—some are capable of change & in important relationships, it’s always worth attempting better communication. Will they come to therapy with you, will they meet you half way?
Many of these people struggle with low self esteem & even self hatred behind the facade—they are desperately trying to protect what feels like a vulnerable self that they feel could crumble. They must feel better then you, higher on the hierarchy to survive, they feel.
Nevertheless, boundaries are your right & healthy for all humans. I’ve seen so much suffering, illness & talents hidden because of the unreasonable demands, harsh words & emotional neglect of a parent (even though you might be grown up now) or because of a past or current ‘crazy maker.’
It’s time to look after yourself. You have a right to healthy boundaries & it is these that will set you free, allow you to fulfil your purpose & to give love-both to yourself & to those in your life that deserve lots of it.
Be bold— get clear on your boundaries & become the person you can be without any crazy making behaviour dimming your light & life.