Before The Storm Hits

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When We Find Newspaper Stories

Outlining details about men or women committing murderous acts against close family members seemingly “without warning or provocation”, we are often filled with dread, but in a detached way.  Interesting to note is the fact that social research has found that people are more likely to suffer physical, emotional or financial damage from someone they know, such as family, friends, neighbours, or workmates rather than a stranger. The signs are often underneath the surface if one were to look closely. Behaviors range from offensive, slightly irritating to outright dangerous, but are usually ignored or wished away. Here are some signs that you should take note of so you can reduce your risk of being exploited or worse.*

The Overly Paranoid

They are constantly worried about other people’s (negative) perception of them. In relationships, they are likely to be found scouring their partner’s messages and emails for proof or signs of cheating. At work, this is the colleague who always complains about being overlooked but delivers substandard work. This is the friend who always has a conspiracy theory; people are always doing something to “make them look bad”.

Warning Signals

  • Excessive suspicion
  • High levels of judgment and morality
  • Easily offended and gets into too many arguments because they always feel provoked
  • Extreme jealousy
  • Usually a loner
  • Dislikes people who differ from them in any way

How They Affect You

Being around them is emotionally taxing.  They make you feel broken down. You are always on edge and always measuring your words. You may also feel tense, irritable and edgy at the thought of interacting with them. They possess an irrational distrust of new people around you. When they feel rejected, embarrassed or hurt they tend to lash out emotionally or physically to those close to them.

The Narcissist

Many people love the spotlight, but narcissists live for it to the point of scheming, lying cheating and backstabbing.  They crave being number one and care nothing for how it affects others. This is the driver who maliciously cuts you off in traffic even when you have the right of the way, the social butterfly who arrives late to every meeting and blames it on everyone but herself, the colleague who revels in reporting and highlighting your mistakes to the boss, or the friend who never makes an attempt to return money they borrowed from you.

Warning Signals

  • An air of superiority even among peers
  • Extreme ego
  • Shift blame and don’t take responsibility for their mistakes
  • Wants special treatment in social situations
  • Every conversation is about them, never you.
  • Name dropping and obsession with looks
  • Materialistic even when they cannot afford it
  • An air of superiority even among peers
  • Name dropping and obsession with looks
  • Materialistic even when they cannot afford it

How They Affect You

You always feel like it is expected of you to worship the ground they walk on.  They tend to make you feel put down or unworthy. Your needs are a small matter compared to their own. They leave you feeling small, frustrated and stressed.

The Emotional Yo-Yo

These are exceptionally high-maintenance personalities. They operate on extremes; never in between. Their emotions are as unpredictable as the weather. You never know when the storm is coming. This is the couple who make up as fast as they break up,  the partner who threatens to harm themselves if you leave them, the workmate that people have to tiptoe around before asking for a document.

Warning Signals

  • Must always have the final word
  • Outbursts that border on overreacting
  • Turning against friends or family for little or no reason
  • Severe mood swings
  • Overwhelming desire to be exclusively loved
  • Intense but short romantic relationships

How They Affect You

They hold long grudges and gather perceived slights to be used in future arguments. They need undivided attention all the time and can be flirtatious and inappropriate. Dealing with their emotional instability makes you feel mentally exhausted, anxious and stressed.

Protect Yourself

  • Be conscious of how and when they attack you in case you need to present a record to management or the authorities.
  • Respond mindfully when they lash out. Resist the knee-jerk reaction that comes with attack. Handle things with integrity and poise.
  • Switch gears. Some people’s negative attitudes are triggered by specific topics which could be harmless to you. Your best bet in such a case is to introduce a new topic to lighten the mood.
  • Show the positive. Where you choose to focus your attention determines your emotional state. Zeroing in on the problems they’re facing only fuels the fire.
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