Everyone knows the guy who cannot handle rebuke — it’s like walking on egg shells over thin ice over a minefield — and if you dare bring up a hint of contradiction, they will either melt down or throw things or suck you into a terrible black hole.
Don’t mess with them.
What I mean is: you don’t have to bother trying to peel apart the layers and negotiate their craziness. It’s okay to step back or walk away. They are too sensitive even for the most delicate of hands, and nothing you do can satisfy their fragile ego. If you try one way, they will have expected another, and if you do the other, they will have extra clauses tacked on.
I would normally never say something like that. I’m a huge advocate of getting into the broken mess of people and loving on them unconditionally. I hate to demonize or generalize anyone. I don’t like to make an ominous dichotomy of “them” versus “us.” It’s not the cool thing to give up on anyone.
But — there are some people who will only learn by the natural deflation of uncontrollable circumstances. Life has to kill them first. In other words, you yourself cannot change them. Something has to happen for them to see their own pride, their volatility, their entitlement, their impossible shell. It is a horrible waiting game and no one enjoys it: but there are no words for a touchy, over-sensitive, energy-consuming victimizer. You can only wait until their bubble-kingdom crumbles.
I have tried countless times to offer suggestions to wonderful leaders — but they are suddenly not so wonderful when I go against their grain. They just cannot hear anything that runs counter to their own opinion, because 1) they’ve spent their whole lives in positions of authority, 2) they live in a bizarre Disney Land fantasy world where everyone bows down to them, 3) they are surrounded by Yes Men, 4) they are too insecure to confront their own ugliness, or 5) they completely disrespect you and your opinion, even if you are speaking the truth.
As a fortune cookie once said, If you haven’t said you’re wrong in a long time, you’re not living right.
In the mean time: Of course we love them. Every one of us is hard to put up with too, and there are instances where we all overreact to the truth. But you do NOT need to waste more energy trying to hold up a mirror for your friend if they will only kick it out of your hands. You don’t need to keep warning them if they continually explode into a fiery nuclear mess.
When life finally hits them and they get their rude awakening: you roll up your sleeves and move in. I’m sure that when each of us had our wake-up call moment, we wished for a gracious friend to embrace us. Go be that person. Be the one who steps in on time. Until then: pray, hope, and do not retaliate. God was just as patient with you, too.
7 thoughts on “Don’t Mess With A Fragile Ego”
What you say is the truth. I really didn’t rebuke a family member some months ago as I could have…just pushed his bad attitude off of me; our relation has suffered ever since. “Rebuke a scorner” and heap abuse to yourself: he will hate you (cf. Prov. 9:7-9). It’s kinda sad that, like you say, they will have to walk into a brick wall to get a better picture of their excessive pride, control issues, and need for other’s input in their lives. And you’re right also that these people must still be loved. I’ve had to learn that I cannot get bitter because he is bitter (although I’ve had some moments!) Great, encouraging read for me.
@ithabise – Thanks for Prov. 9:7-9. It’s an answer to prayer.
And thank-you J.S. for your insight. This is my life. The best advice, besides this blog I’ve received is “Ignore him.” I’m also learning to just not get caught up in his stuff. To make light of the issues in my own mind, cuz it’s all petty and immature anyway. Last week when I really needed it the Lord brought these verses: Eph. 4:1-2 “…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, w/ all humility and gentleness, w/ patience, bearing w/ one another in love.” Pray, love, hope.
@Lena Rae — Agreed, it often is the best advice. I remember my gym coach in sixth grade watched as another student picked on me (some casual racist comments about my Asian eyes). I didn’t say anything. Suddenly the coach says, “You’re doing the right thing, Park. Ignoring him.”
Negative feedback is feedback. It’s taken a long time to learn these lessons. It’s been a painful, but fruitful 40 years! I can only say this, lately I have had a few faithful people praying for us. God in His mercy, opened my eyes and ears, and closed my mouth! 🙂
@ithabise — Thanks my friend. It’s always a tough call. I have to reiterate that it’s always a last resort for pushing someone away, but it’s been more necessary as I get older and deal with people who are more “set in their ways.”
I wish I would have read this a long time ago. Love this. Thanks. As always, you’re totally awesome! =D
Thanks Lori! 🙂