A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Thursday Thought — Judge Actions, Not Intentions

Never try to “mind-read” or second-guess why somebody is doing something, especially when they’re doing something hurtful.  There’s no way for you to really know, and in the end, it’s irrelevant.  Getting caught up in what might be going on in an aggressor’s mind is a good way to get sidetracked from the really pertinent issue.  Judge the behavior itself.  If what a person does is harmful in some way, pay attention to and deal with that issue.

The importance of this principle can’t be overstated.  Remember, the tactics covert-aggressives use are effective tools of impression-management.  They keep you second-guessing yourself about the true nature of the person you’re dealing with.  So, if you base your opinions on your assumptions about intentions or are swayed by the various tactics, you’re going to be deceived about the character of the person with whom you’re dealing.  Behavior patterns alone provide the information you need to make sound judgments about character.  And past behavior is the single most reliable predictor of future behavior.

(Excerpt from Dr. George’s Simon’s book, In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People*, p146)

*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.

8 Comments

  1. Suzanne

    Isn’t this what Jesus taught us in Matthew 7:16 and 7: 20? I quote these verses often when discussing abuse with other followers of Jesus because so many of them have been deceived by their pastors and pop psychology into thinking that the thoughts and motivations of abusers matter more than the damage they do. One of the worst things I hear is the adage that “hurting people hurt people”, usually accompanied by exhortations to accept and excuse abuse because, after all, the abusers are only doing what was done to them. Taken to its logical conclusion we all have a license to hurt others because we have all been hurt by someone. And that, of course, is in direct contradiction to what God has said about how we are to treat others. Nowhere in the Bible has Jesus said that we are to excuse sin because we were sinned against.

    • We have a post titled ‘Hurting People Hurt People’ where we unpack that silly phrase and say why it is so flawed.

      • Suzanne

        Thanks! I wasn’t aware of that post. It sounds interesting and I’ll read it.

  2. Honestly

    If they think hurting you so that you are constantly on guard is a game, and a game that you never played, there’s nothing to figure out. That’s who they choose to be.

  3. marriedwithouthusband

    So true! Thank you for this reminder.

  4. marriedwithouthusband

    So true! Thank you for the reminder. My ex-husband, who abandoned me financially, emotionally, and eventually physically, periodically says to me, “You were the best thing that ever happened to me.” But still, he abandoned me….

  5. BreatheAgain

    What a great, succinct post. I needed this, thank you. I have driven myself to distraction so many times by trying to understand or figure out the ‘whys’ of hurtful behaviors. It is especially confusing when I was always told I was wrong to be upset by his actions….ugh!!! Thanks for this post.

    • Honestly

      True the covert aggressive behavior speaks for itself and the underlying issues are simply not acceptable -ever. Sadly long before you find your way to this site, there were others who saw the abuse who could have told you but chose not to. That simple.

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