Knowledge is power. But to be fully empowered you have to understand what’s really going on with someone and how to appropriately interpret and label their behavior. That’s why it’s so important to understand certain psychological terms and concepts correctly.
True “acting out” is the expression through actions of an emotional conflict a person can’t consciously own. Unfortunately, these days, even professionals erroneously use the term to describe all sorts of misbehavior. But most of the time, “acting-up” is NOT acting-out.
Far too many folks these days are significantly arrested in their character development, and lack sufficient empathy, social awareness, moral compass, regard for life, respect for property, and self-discipline (i.e. lack sufficient maturity of conscience) to function responsibly in society and to profit from past mistakes.
Legitimate, genuine, potentially lasting change – always manifests itself in the here-and-now moment.
Traditional frameworks can be not only ineffective but also frighteningly enabling sometimes when it comes to understanding and dealing with character dysfunction.
Changing the way someone thinks about things will necessarily affect the way they act.
When it comes to understanding and dealing effectively with disturbed characters, it’s hard for helping professionals who still embrace traditional models of viewing human behavior to get things right. And those who’ve been in relationships with disturbed characters and sought help through counseling often ended up feeling frustrated, misunderstood, and not validated. Even worse, sometimes, the “monster” they dragged into therapy is so good at impression-management that the therapist appeared swayed. Seeing the disturbed character’s behaviors and tactics for what they really are is a prerequisite for facilitating real change.
Shrewd manipulators not only combine tactics sometimes but also have an arsenal of techniques that is virtually endless.
There are literally hundreds of reasons why someone would disguise their real personality or intentions besides feeling ashamed of themselves. And the fact that people who actually have the capacity for shame and guilt have a hard time imagining what those hundreds of other possibilities might be is a testament to their own good character.
A good rule of thumb for dealing with the problem character in your life: trust your gut before you trust their words.