A wise-cracking Med-Psych Resident once told me that paranoid schizophrenics could never be cured, because they always blamed their behavior on everyone else. Behind the sarcasm, there’s truth in that comment. It’s really hard to reconcile with anyone who can’t or won’t accept responsibility for their own thoughts, attitudes, actions, or reactions.
Accepting responsibility takes real courage. We can’t repent and reconcile with anyone if we deny, or refuse to accept the fact, that we did something stupid or hurtful in the first place! OK–sometimes, in the heat of a conflict, we don’t see clearly, but afterward, when reason and common sense kick in, most of us know we’ve made a mistake.
I say ‘most of us’ because some folks live in states of ‘arrested development.’ Whatever ‘relationally aggressive‘ behavior they’re acting out has become so ingrained into the weave of their identity that they see any challenge to their aggressive behavior as a threat. They perceive they’re being ‘attacked’, then mount an all-out assault on their ‘offender’s’ reputation and character.
So how do we address the aggression in ourselves and in each other, so that we can all repent, heal, and restore relationships? Here are some links and scriptures for advice.
In the words of Dan Olweus, “It is a basic democratic right to feel safe and to be spared the oppression and repeated, intentional humiliation implied in bullying.”
What can you do to stop relational aggression? You can begin by not making or listening to comments about another person’s character.
You can improve the quality of your family life, workplace, and world by discussing the behavior you want to see changed with the person who can change it.
You and I can set an example for others. Yes, old habits die hard and it will take a lot of physical and moral courage to bring about the end of relational aggression, but a worthy goal calls for a worthy effort. (Relational Aggressor:The New Bully On The Block, by Ken Cox, http://www.hevanet.com/kort/AGRESS1.HTM, accessed 6/12/2010.)
The Bible offers some life-affirming counsel too!
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32)
Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good. Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself. Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord. Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying.
Don’t mistreat someone who has mistreated you. But try to earn the respect of others, and do your best to live at peace with everyone. Don’t let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good. (Romans 12:9-12, 17-18 ,21)