It would be okay if they were a child

Many times the behavior of a high conflict person would be acceptable if they were children. For young children it is perfectly appropriate that they selfishly focus on getting their needs met and are unable to understand the needs of others. For teens it is perfectly appropriate for them to be self-centered as they struggle for independence, autonomy and are becoming individuals. But when adults share these characteristics they leave a wake of damaged relationships.

This self-focused view of the world is appropriate in childhood, but are seen as stages of life to be grown through. But when healthy development stops the person will bring these self-focused traits forward with them inti the adult world.

We understand when an infant demands to be fed and expects the whole world to stop and make it happen.

We understand when a teen falls into a “you’re not the boss of me” stance as they learning to become independent and responsible adults.

When we have someone in our church or as a leader in a ministry who has not developed past childhood self-focus we have a problem on our hands. Their lack of empathy, , their grandiose views if themselves, their arrogance, their exaggerations, their need for reassurance, their willingness yo exploit and manipulate others are all tell-tale signs that their development has been arrested.

Sometimes, when working with someone we will have an overwhelming sense that their behaviors are childish. Or worse, that our 5 year old has grown past such behavior. When this happens, take note. Your observation may be telling you that they have unfinished business in their growth from child to adult. This unfinished business will be an issue that will nit go away.

It is difficult to over emphasize that high conflict people do not see the problem in themselves. They have little notion that their developmental arrest is the driving force behind the many conflicts they experience. Almost certainly, they will not see the truth if thus any time soon. As sad as it is, we must come to terms with this reality.

Next Step: Can you identify people in your church that have arrested childhood development by their actions? Do you have a plan for how you will work with them? Minister to them when they are in need? Correct them when they are out of line, without setting them off?

Are they people in positions of leadership? Are they open to coaching? Will they need to be removed?

Resources: Loving the Self-Absorbed Nina Brown

Psychology Today Childhood Roots Of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

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