Are there really people in this world that are hostile in how they treat others? Is it possible to be in a dysfunctional relationship and be trapped in a conversation and/or environment that is damaging to your spirit and emotional state?
The answers to these questions are a RESOUNDING YES!!!
The outcome of these types of situations usually drives the target of the hostility into a tailspin emotionally; they begin to feel as if the issue is their fault; and they spiral into this cycle where they feel trapped and as if they will never be able to break free from the manipulative grip of the one who is presenting the hostility.
This happens more than we would care to admit. We would rather not think about it hoping it will go away, or acting like it is not really an issue. We can be afraid to speak up or confront the person who is covertly or overtly causing the distress, because it may actually make it worse.
The only word for this behavior – is bullying. Bullying is hostility in relationships. Bullying and hostility happens when someone has crossed the line and begins to direct their abusive behavior or talk toward a particular individual that has not done anything to merit that behavior or talk.
There could be MANY reasons behind this kind of behavior or malicious talk. Maybe the personal life of the bully is a tornado of circumstance. Maybe they have a valid reason (at least in their minds) why they have chosen to direct their abusive behavior outward.
What I have found is no matter what the reasons are, there is absolutely no grounds to target an innocent individual, simply because they are different, have differing viewpoints, or may be a threat to your power or control.
I used to believe that everyone has good intentions and that there is a reason for their bad behavior or manipulative treatment of others. Through personal experience and research into this, I have discovered it is possible for an individual to have malicious intent toward another human being. There is no simple explanation as to WHY someone would do such a thing.
I would like to think it is an anomaly, but unfortunately it happens all too frequently in this world.
The question is…how does someone who is the recipient of bullying behavior to respond?
First of all, we could respond out of fear. This is a tough one. The fear this person is experiencing is usually a fear that if they confront the issue it will only elevate the negative behavior against them driving them further into depression, questioning themselves and keeping them from moving forward in their life.
Another response is to lash out. The recipient of this behavior can press down their feelings for so long that they become like a ticking time bomb. A person can only take so much pressure before they break. This breaking point can manifest in several ways. No matter how it manifests, the outcome is not positive.
Another response is to direct your anger towards those that you love. In other words, bullying can beget bullying. The way to stop this vicious cycle is to get the recipient of the bullying or hostility to open up in a safe and trusting environment – address it and provide a way out of it.
Still yet another response is to shut down completely and enter into a depression that affects you and those around you.
Any one of these responses has one thing in common. The recipient has allowed the source of their pain to have control over their heart, their emotions and their immediate future.
This is unacceptable.
I have been the recipient of this manipulative controlling behavior. It doesn’t feel good. I lost sleep. It affected my health. I allowed it to affect my family relationships. I even entered into a depressive state for a while.
Then a couple of things happened.
- Someone in my life saw what was happening and helped me to see what I was allowing to happen to me
- I realized that I needed to confront the issue or it would continue to drag me down.
- I understood (with some counsel) that I was yielding control of my life, emotions and heart to someone that did not truly have my best interests in mind.
- I realized my life, emotions and heart need to be protected, if only for those I love to have the best of me, and not the broken pieces left from a dysfunctional relationship.
- I decided not to willingly walk into any situation where this person could possibly manipulate me, control me or drag me down with their hostility.
None of these things were easy.
There is a way to frame this that I have found is the best possible way to deal with hostility in relationships.
I have a relationship with God that helps me understand that my identity is not the sum total of all my experiences, my life is not defined by the negative people who wish to step on me in order to get to a higher level.
My identity is found in my relationship with Jesus Christ. If God would send His Son for the express purpose of providing a way for me to have a relationship with Him – God sees value in my life – His creation.
I am not perfect. I am far from perfect. I make mistakes. I mistreat others on occasion.
The difference? My relationship with God helps me to see where my flaws are relationally and to work on them. If someone decides to treat me unfairly, with malicious intent, or with narcissistic tendencies – whether they know it or not – I decide how I am going to respond.
My first response now is to pray. My second response is to understand that Jesus is my source of strength. Everything that comes out of that is framed around my relationship with God.
As long as I maintain my integrity, honor and dignity in a situation – I believe God will protect me, avenge me, and provide what I need to make it through the relational emotional storm at the words and actions of someone else.
Besides, even though I cannot control or even change someone who treats me with hostility, I do not have to allow them to control my heart – because it belongs to God. I can confront the situation and rest assured God will give me the courage and the words to say.
One young man decided to take control over his emotions and heart after being bullied and treated with hostility. His example can become a catalyst for us to effect change in our surroundings – to help others to become less “me-centric” and more “you-centric”.
Watch this video and then feel free to post comments, email me directly or share your own story of how you overcame a hostile relationship.
I would LOVE to hear your stories and how you may have worked through a hostile relationship – whether work or personal. You can leave a comment on this blog OR email me at TheSophosGroup@gmail.com. Thanks for reading!