And it’s not going to stop anytime soon. Because the crazy person is your boss, your parent, your teacher, your spouse, someone with power that you don’t have. Yet.
So how do you fight the insanity when the other person is in a more powerful position? Some of you have considered this question and decided to give up, wait for later, or keep fighting battles you don’t win. It’s wearing you down to a hopeless, embittered mess that doesn’t resemble the person you really want to be. You go along to get along, hoping something will change. But it doesn’t. Power may not corrupt, but is sure attracts the corruptible. Don’t expect a rescue from the person who’s making your life miserable. You’re gonna have to do that for yourself.
So here’s your short introductory course on guerrilla warfare. Power to the People!
- Do not attempt to take on the fr-enemy head on. You don’t have the power to do that. You are not John Wayne and you are under no obligation to show up for a fight that will get you killed. Before you start talking about how cowardly that sounds, remember that the American Revolution was one of the first uses of guerrilla warfare. Smaller American forces took down the most powerful country of it’s time. If we had showed up in pretty uniforms and lined up on a nice field across from the British? We’d still be British. Crazy people with power always set up the fight they want. You know, the one you’ll loose. It is OK to let them take this battle so that you will win the whole war.
- Do not accept their rules. You may have to act like you do in public, but remember that crazy people with power make the rules that favor their continued power. That won’t be helping you get out from under them. Think about what their rules are and write them out some place safe. Are their feelings always getting hurt? Do they refuse to acknowledge that you even have any? Are they always right? Do they react to your opinion with anger, disgust, or accusations? Do they use information against you then ask why you don’t trust them in a hurt tone? These behaviors all point to rules that the crazy person is living by. My emotions are more important. I’m always the victim so I’m always justified. I’m smarter and better so everyone else needs to shut up. My power makes me right. Knowing the rules allows you to avoid falling into any belief of them. As long as you remember none of these are true, you keep your escape possible.
- Don’t get trained. Crazy people with power want you to shut up except for the times that you prove them right by being rude, yelling at them in a public, or telling everyone how awesome they are. Remember this. They set you up. Keep your manners intact and your mouth under constant control. Refuse to scream, use profanity, make threats, or act like the victim. Crazy people love to act victimized by your big, bad, self. If you maintain a calm demeanor and make direct statements, other people will be able to see you are NOT the crazy one. If you start screaming, the crazy person will be using you as camouflage.
- Don’t give permission for your mistreatment. You may be tempted to say things are, “No big deal” , or “I can take this.” That whole tougher-than-nails-act is exactly what your crazy spouse/boss/parent is counting on. You won’t look for help, escape, or validation from others, as long as you are maintaining everything is rosy. Crazy behavior that mistreats you has no place in your life. It’s like cancer and you need to treat it as a temporary, unwelcome intrusion. You may think it doesn’t help to state how hurtful or wrong a behavior is. It doesn’t change the situation, so why bother. Bother because you are important and if you’re the only one that hears the message, that’s the person that needed to hear. In business situations this has to be more restrained and usually consists of statements like, “I can’t agree with this.” “I agree to disagree with this and I will be totally supportive of the team’s direction after this meeting.”
- Don’t give up your own beliefs, idea of self, or goals. Working for crazy people does not have to be permanent. But the crazy can become a permanent fixture of your life if you let it overtake you. There is a future where you are free of this. Continue to be the person that you see living in that future. You’ll get there. Crazy people want you to believe lies about yourself so you’re easier to manipulate. No matter how many times someone tells a lie about you, that’s how many times you do NOT have to believe them.
Any good manifesto of freedom has a section of wrongs done to you, the freedom fighter, followed by a listing of the rights you’re fighting for. Here’s a listing of your rights. Feel free to add more.
- I have the right to keep my cool at all times. No one can make me feel bad, crazy, helpless, etc, without my permission. I do not give permission. I will remain calm if only to annoy the people that want me to go off. I know that calm allows me to think more clearly and keep my eventual escape plan firmly in mind. I will not have judgement that is clouded by anger and easily manipulated ever again.
- I have the right to ask for help, opinions, and accountability from outside this relationship/ business. No matter how many times I am told not to air my dirty laundry or betray your trust, I know that I have the right to speak. I will pick people that are trustworthy, confidential, and supportive. I will talk to a therapist, my friends, and mentors. I will keep business secrets that need to be kept, but all personal issues are on the table for discussion. I refuse to betray myself with silence any longer.
- I have the right to a plan of escape including; an emergency fund of money no one else knows about, a credit card in my name only, business contacts that I maintain ties with, mentors in other fields, a future that does not include contact with you if you continue your negative behaviors, taking classes to expand my skill set, and I will leave when it is the best time for me irregardless of your needs.
- I have the right to ignore what you say about your motives and judge you on the behaviors you have actually displayed to me. God knows your motives, all I’ve got is your behavior. Your apologies become meaningless when they are repeated right along with your bad behavior. I will never again give up my right to self-esteem based on what you say about my character. I am a good person. Good people demand good behavior and walk away when they don’t get it. I’m walking.
- I have the right to use your power against you since you have repeatedly undermined mine. I will watch you, know you, and wait for the moment when your decisions can be used against you. There are so many things you have taken from me. You will never take my mind or my right to use it towards my freedom. I will take any route I have to. If you’ve made my escape route the path that mows you down, that was your decision. I do not have to feel guilty for how you set up this situation.
Photo by IDF on the IDF photo stream, Flickr. (no political alliances are suggested or implied by the use of this picture. Some dismay at how long it took to find a picture of a woman with a gun that wasn’t overtly sexualized is outright stated.)