Monday, March 31, 2014

Praying for the Bully to Change

Jesus died on the Cross for everyone, bullies included. Perhaps part of His plan is to allow a certain amount of chaos to happen in His house, so we can pray for those who harm us. They are among the poorest of the poor, and they desperately need our prayers. When we are being tormented by someone, our prayers for them possibly become more powerful, since we are also uniting our sufferings with the Crucified Christ.

As Christians, we are called to love everyone, regardless of whether they behave or not. We also want the best for our neighbors, which would be their eternal salvation. We have to believe that God has the power to totally and completely transform them. When they get to Heaven, they will have pure souls and clean hearts. They won't be the same people we know now.

Only God can bring about this type of spiritual healing, because personality disorders that would cause an adult to bully another are pretty fixed. Although psychologists consider malignant narcissism a permanent character flaw, people can and do change. With God's help, anything is possible.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Church Bullies Can Get Away with A Lot

You'd think that just being in God's house would mean that everyone would be on their best behavior. However, sadly, this isn't always the case. Some people, apparently, have forgotten that God is watching everything and He sees all. Because most people who attend church do so for the right reasons, and are willing to cut others a lot of slack, this often gives the bully free reign to abuse others. From all I've seen, I am convinced that church is like a magnet to malignant narcissists.

A spiritual setting affords them the opportunity to do just as they please. Unless the pastor is exceptionally strong, he's no match for a narcissist determined to get his or her own way. It also has to be tough, from a pastor's perspective. His job is to save souls, and not making people feel welcome in his parish runs counter to that.

It's a tough balancing act. As followers of Christ, we are supposed to not judge anyone's interior motives. We're supposed to put up with people's personality quirks, and to see the good in them. However, there does come a point where bad behavior and unkind gossip can cause a lot of disruption.

Narcissistic types also sow a lot of confusion wherever they travel. So it's typically difficult for anyone (pastor included) to discern just where the chaos originates. Oftentimes the wrong person is blamed for the trouble, and this is the party that ends up leaving a particular parish.

The same dynamics that can play out in an office, or in a social group, can happen in church if a malignant narcissist senses a weak spot and gains a position of power. Except that, in church, he or she can get away with a lot more than they would anywhere else.

Monday, March 17, 2014

How to Tell When You're Being Bullied at Church

Discerning that you're being bullied in a house of worship won't be easy. That's because the type of narcissists you encounter at church are likely to be the covert type. To the rest of the world, they appear as angels. But only you, the target, knows of a darker side. These folks typically do their dirty deeds in secret, the opposite of how Our Lord worked. Everything He did was out in the open.

If the person who chooses to torment you is a woman, she will likely do so through relational aggression. This is a device that female bullies employ to socially isolate someone they don't like. Her aim is to make you so unsettled and uncomfortable that you decide to leave the parish. Most people have a hard time imagining how anyone who spends so much time in church, and appears so benevolent, can plot to undermine another parishioner. But church is not a deterrent to those with strong narcissistic traits. On the contrary, these types of drawn to spiritual settings because it affords them to opportunity to emotionally and psychologically abuse anyone they wish. Everyone, including the pastor, usually lets down their guard when they enter a house of worship. This pretty much gives adult bullies free reign.

So, how can you tell when you're being bullied in a spiritual setting? The first clue is a growing sense of feeling uneasy in a place that used to feel like home. You may start to feel excluded. For instance, you've volunteered at the church fair for the past several years. Suddenly, your services are no longer needed.

Or, you may walk up to a group of people standing around talking in the church hall. You receive a very frosty reception, but you don't know why. (Narcissistic abusers are notorious gossips and rumor mongers. So, by the time you realize something is wrong, the person who's decided to run you out has tried to destroy your reputation through falsehoods and innuendo.)

Just one or two incidents, such as I've described, doesn't mean that someone in the parish is out to get you. But an ongoing pattern probably means there's trouble brewing. Church bullying, especially in the beginning, will likely be very subtle.

If you'd like to read more about how female narcissists operate, please visit my other blog on female bullies.

Flickr photo by Dougtone

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Biblical Perspective on Narcissistic Abuse

Reading the Bible helped me gain perspective on the narcissistic abuse I had experienced at church. Although some may wonder why I stayed so long in a voluntary setting, it wasn't easy to leave. For one, I was home schooling my children and this was their social network. They were very plugged in to this place of worship, and I worried that pulling them away from this would harm their faith. Also, this setting had a lot of Catholic devotions and I knew I wouldn't find anything comparable elsewhere. So I stuck it out, hoping and praying that things would miraculously turn around.

What happened is that God called me elsewhere. I did have to give up the ultra-Catholic trappings I had valued so much. But there really were trappings. What really matters is your relationship with God. Bells and incense mean little if your heart isn't in the right place.

In the midst of all of this, before leaving, I would spend time every Sunday reading my Bible, which contained so much advice applicable to my situation. There was a lot of talk about fools, which is why I chose the picture on top, and not walking with fools. People who abuse others, especially at church, are very foolish.

The Book of Proverbs was especially rich in wisdom. It helped me to feel pity, instead of anger, for the chief bully and her companions. It made me realize just how much prayer they so desperately need.

Flickr photo by erix!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Problem of Narcissists and Flying Monkeys

Just because you walk into a church does not mean everyone you encounter will behave in a Christian manner. The devil likes to sow discord and to stir up rivalries, and the walls of a parish building won't stop him from coming inside. Narcissistic bullies are found in the pews, just as they are found in everywhere else.

Yet, in a group setting, they never work alone. They like to tag team their target by recruiting others who may not have a strong character, or may not be deeply grounded in their faith. Many people familiar with personality disorders refer to these co-bullies as flying monkeys. I also covered this topic on my Female Bullies blog, which discusses the apparent epidemic of female malignant narcissists.

Flickr photo by Mr Moss