The Fear of Being Ignored

Fifth of 11 articles on high conflict people in church. Previous article: Driven by Fear

Some high conflict people are driven by a deep, profound fear of being ignored. They fear not being seen. The are afraid they will simply disappear. Their motto in life would seem to be, “All the world is a stage.”

To compensate and protect themselves these high conflict people will do all they can to be the center of attention. They will tell dramatic stories with dramatic speech. They will be theatrical, seductive and draw attention to themselves. They are the life of the party.

Their motto in life would seem to be, “All the world is a stage.”

These people have generally superficial relationships, but often believe they are much deeper and more intimate than they really are. They rely on flirtatiousness and seduction to create bonds. They can be amazingly open and charming.

Their stories are persuasive on an emotional level, but lack detail, focus. They are often untrue. They willingly fabricate and lie for attention. They can be falsely persuasive as the victim of horrible abuse. They are very high intensity people with shifting emotions, few facts and little focus.

They can be excessively emotional given to fits of crying and rage.

They will present themselves as helpless and needy. They have difficulties focusing on tasks and making decisions. They long to be rescued.

All of this is used in hope that they will finally get the approval they long for. Ultimately they are self focused and self absorbed.

Pastors run the risk of being seduced by these high conflict people since they can be inappropriately sexual in the workplace and socially. They can also become the subject of a false accusation of a sexual encounter or relationship.

Pastors also run the risk of being seen as a savior by these people. They can be placed high on a pedestal of admiration and respect only later become a person of scorn since their needs of affirmation and validation are not met over time.

Pastors run the rusk of bending the rules for these people making themselves vulnerable to further demands of special treatment and exploitation. Unless handled with care, these people do not go away quietly when they are triggered. The make a scene and foster scandal.

Next Steps: Does this description fit the traits of someone in your life or church?

Are you vulnerable to their ploys? To their seduction, their neediness or their admiration?

Do you find them to be so charismatic, charming, delightful or attractive that you are bending your personal code for them?

Do you find yourself believing their stories hook, line and sinker?

Next Article: The Fear of Being Abandoned

Disclaimer: This website is for informational purposes only.  It is not a substitute for qualified professional help such as accountants, lawyers, therapists or others. Please seek out appropriate professionals as needed. All choices you make, actions you take and their outcomes are yours alone and not the responsibility of the authors or publishers of this website.

Driven By Fear

Fourth of 11 articles on high conflict people in church. Previous article: A Crisis in Bonding

High conflict people are driven by deeply profound, all consuming fears that the rest of us do not experience in the same ways. It is difficult to overstate how important these fears are in the lives of the high conflict person. It is difficult to understand how much these fears drive the thoughts and actions of high conflict people.

When these fears are triggered the high conflict person will feel like their whole life is at stake.

When these fears are triggered the high conflict person will feel like their whole life is at stake. They will feel like they will surely die. They will feel like they are being annihilated. This description isn’t intended to be dramatic for effect. As I understand high conflict people, this is actually how they feel.

When someone is short or rude to me for whatever reason, most of the time I will let it pass as insignificant. I might forget about it entirely. A high conflict person will certainly remember such a slight. More importantly, they will feel like their very existence is at risk.

Most of the time they are watching and waiting and preparing for the moment when they are threatened, for when their deepest fears are becoming reality. They live in constant dread of the inevitable moment when it happens to them again.

When I was a kid and climbed up the high dive at the public pool for the first time I was nearly paralyzed with fear, afraid of jumping and the long fall to the water. High conflict people are constantly dreading their long fall. Afraid and absolutely sure that something, at any moment, will push them off and into their destruction. It must be a terribly difficult way to live.

High conflict people are constantly dreading their long fall. Afraid and absolutely sure that something, at any moment, will push them off and into their destruction.

There are four of these deep, profound fears. A person’s whole life will be organized around holding these fear at bay. They have only one or they may have a combination of more than one.

I will briefly describe each fear hear and then look at them more fully in following posts.

The fear of being ignored. If people don’t see them, acknowledge them, attend to them they will fear that they are disappearing. They compensate for this fear with loud clothes, broad gestures, dramatic stories. They seek to be the center of attention. Every time if they can. When they aren’t receiving the attention they crave they will generate it on their own, often through conflict.

The fear of being abandoned. They idealize you. They idealize you for being such a good person. They are sure you are going to leave them at any moment. They hate you because you are going to leave. They seek ways to manipulate you into staying for a little longer. They hate you for being manipulated. Conflict allows them to stay connected.

The fear of being belittled. They feel like they are special and every little slight challenges that feeling and that can’t be allowed. They will demand your respect, even your affection. Conflict is their way of defending their notion that they are special, better than others.

The fear of being dominated. Every request to follow the rules is seen as a personal challenge and an effort to control them. They resist and that creates conflict. They preemptively demonstrate that no one can control them and that creates conflict. They don’t mind. They enjoy it. Shows they are in control.

Next Steps: Do you recognize anyone in your life or an antagonist in your church that appear to have one of these deep seated fears?

What specific actions or qualities in them come to mind?

Are you able to have compassion for the fears and suffering of the high conflict person? Are you able to identify how their fears initiate their destructive behavior?

Next Article: The Fear of Being Ignored

Disclaimer: This website is for informational purposes only.  It is not a substitute for qualified professional help such as accountants, lawyers, therapists or others. Please seek out appropriate professionals as needed. All choices you make, actions you take and their outcomes are yours alone and not the responsibility of the authors or publishers of this website.

A Crisis in Bonding

Third of 11 articles on high conflict people in church. Previous article: Seeing the Patterns

Some of us, a few of us, were raised in families that provided for us and taught us how to bond with others successfully. We are able to have secure attachments to the significant people in our lives. Others of us, likely most of us, struggle in some ways with our bonding and attachments. Our relationships are not as secure as we want at times.

Some experience their difficulties bonding as their fault. They are sure the other person will ultimately not approve of them. Their bonding style is anxious.

Others experience their bonding difficulties as the other person’s fault and that the other person is causing the trouble. Their bonding style is dismissive.

A few people think that both parties are so flawed that bonding isn’t safe. Their bonding style is fearful.

Each of these basic bonding approaches can be found on a continuum of being more or less anxious or dismissive or fearful in our relationships. Every person who struggles to create secure relationships have ploys and strategies to make the relationships more secure snd stable. There are many healthy and effective ways people strengthen their relationships.

High conflict people can often be found on the far end of the continuum of different bonding styles. They don’t just have difficulty bonding and forming healthy attachments. They are in crisis. They respond to this crisis in a number of particularly unhealthy ways. We call these compensating behaviors.

When a high conflict person addresses you, attempts to bond with you with a compensating behavior, you may see right through it. You may find it annoys you or even repels you.

Occasionally their compensating behavior fits right into your own needs, deficits or compensating behavior. When that happens you are far more vulnerable to their destructive patterns.

Occasionally their compensating behavior fits right into your own needs, deficits or compensating behavior. When that happens you are far more vulnerable to their destructive patterns.

Here are some common approaches:

Manipulation: The high conflict person seeks to change your behavior through deceptive tactics. They conceal their intentions while exploiting your vulnerabilities. They are not concerned with the harm this may do to you.

Seduction: The high conflict person seeks to entice you to make a choice you would otherwise not make. Often this enticement is sexual in nature and the increased sexual arousal is the leverage they have over you. This has been a notorious danger for pastors.

Lying: There are some high conflict people who lie as a tool, a tactic and way of operating in this world. They have no remorse for their deception. They may have convinced themselves what they say is true in fact or “emotionally” true. They tell you what you need to hear to pick up their cause, to attach to them.

Dramatic Stories: Some high conflict people are capable of telling the most amazingly horrific stories that never happened. They are such compelling stories and you will be moved to compassion. It doesn’t matter if they are factual or accurate because their stories will still move you. You will be tempted to judge other people harshly. You will bond with them. You will join their team. Their stories will hook you if your aren’t careful.

Mirroring: Mirroring is a normal occurrence between people as they build rapport. High conflict people will intentionally mirror your body language to create the sensation in you that there is a stronger social connection than really exists. This is a method of false bonding. It is an artificial foundation for trusting. But that is what they want from you.

Litigation: High conflict people will use litigation to remain in contact and relationship with you, even if it is the most painful, expensive and negative bond of all.

Neediness: Compassionate people can quickly become hooked by needy, high conflict people. They build bonds by making you their savior. Only you can help. Only you understand. Only you. This is a set up and can expose you to all kinds of trouble.

Gift giving: Gift giving creates bonds and obligations. High conflict people exploit this to create bonds with you. Sometimes their gifts are too extravagant or somewhat inappropriate. Maybe just a little. But you have this obligation to them now. You owe them.

This isn’t an exhaustive list. Just enough to get your feet wet.

Next Step: Have you been connecting these behaviors with someone in your life or church? Can you also see how they use these ploys to bond with you even if it is a negative bond?

Do you find you are especially agitated by one of these ploys? Are you more resentful? Fearful of being hooked by one? Can you identify where you are vulnerable?

Next Article: Driven By Fear

Disclaimer: This website is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for qualified professional help such as accountants, lawyers, therapists or others. Please seek out appropriate professionals as needed. All choices you make, actions you take and their outcomes are yours alone and not the responsibility of the authors or publishers of this website.