When we think of the violent, mean, or aggressive people who cross our path, we often see them as individuals made of a dough that is completely different from ours. Different personalities, guided by a kind of dark star, with a character so different from ours that we believe we can immediately notice it, thus changing our path. It is a fairly common predisposition: since I am good and could never harm anyone, if I know a person in whom I can identify the same trait of common goodness, I don’t think it’s possible that that person could harm me or anyone else.
It seems logical reasoning, and instead, it is the most common risk we run in not recognizing the aggressive and bad personalities next to us. The fact that we have seen a good spark in them automatically makes us exclude the possibility that they may harm us. In the beginning they made us believe that they love us, they cannot live without us and would never cause us any pain, and with that belief we move forward, and try to explain in some way all those behaviours that are rationally incompatible in this context: like those verbal aggressions that they dedicate to us from time to time, like those large or small deprivations of personal freedom that indicate disrespect, not to mention more serious incidents of domestic or criminal violence.
Why do we fall into their trap? Why do we realize so late that we are in a relationship with a narcissistic person or, in general, with a violent person, who is capable of acts of psychological manipulation or physical aggression? To answer these questions, it is worth asking how the psychology of aggressive personalities works.
There is an element of fundamental importance that must be understood immediately: a bad person does not believe he is bad. Quite the opposite, they see themselves as good human beings like everyone else, and just like everyone else they can have positive and pure feelings. And in some ways it is just like that: at certain moments they can have acts of care and love as no one has ever given it to us, because at that moment they see us as the salvation from their sorrows, from the pain that life has inflicted on them. But the moment they see in us the slightest threat to their ego, to their self-confidence or self-esteem, we become an entity that has to be confronted, to be “put back in place” as soon as possible. Even harshly, if the situation requires a strong reaction.
The difference between us and them is not in the fact that this change of perspective can happen, but in the way we relate to it. When they feel insecure or threatened, bad people are characterized by a lack of empathy with others: they no longer see the human dimension in the people they feel threatened by, they are no longer aware of how their reactions can affect us. They simply see us as out of place. And since life, in general, has already inflicted a lot of pain on them, they feel they need to react quickly. They only see their point of view: our presence questions their safety/self-esteem/trust and nothing else matters. They have to fight us as an enemy in every way. Those screams, those fists banged on the table, they are necessary means of reacting to the things that are out of place in their life. The fact that there is a person on the other side, whom they may have loved in recent times, becomes invisible to their eyes.
In this, we must also consider the reason why psychologically we give in to anger or aggression. Very frequently people become aggressive after they have suffered aggression or violence themselves. And like every human being, they learn to give life what they receive from it. If they feel pain inside them, the instinctive reaction is to take revenge for that pain by causing it in turn. It is pure sharing of what you have inside, in a diabolically similar way to what happens to those of us who love and feel pushed to express the love we feel through acts of goodness towards others. With one additional element: in causing pain, aggressors also have a pleasant sense of revenge that can be like that of those who are addicted to drugs. The mind finds a pleasant relief because it feels that justice has been temporarily restored to the suffering they have received, and an instinct is triggered within them, an instinct that will lead them to react that way again as soon as they feel the same sensations.
What can we do? Basically, be careful. Do not illude yourself that we can change them with our love, do not convince yourself that you “deserve them” in any way, and keep your eyes open for the first manifestations of violence or immortality. Because the fact that they showed us love in the past is not necessarily incompatible with the fact that they are violent today. By being clear, by looking at actions and facts objectively, it is possible to recognize the violence around us. And recognizing it is the first step in removing it from our lives.
If you have any doubts about the true goodness of the people around you, if you realize that you are unable to see the facts clearly, talking to an external and uninvolved person such as a psychologist or a life coach can help you gain a better understanding of your situation and define a way out.
This article was translated from here by Zulfee Akhter