Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Do You Walk on Eggshells? in the Latest in His Series on Striking Images Our Columnist Looks at Personality Traits Which Make Us All Feel Uncomfortable

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Do You Walk on Eggshells? in the Latest in His Series on Striking Images Our Columnist Looks at Personality Traits Which Make Us All Feel Uncomfortable

Article excerpt

the naked eye ARE you in an eggshell relationship, either at home or at work? Treading lightly around someone whose irrational personality traits you find difficult to navigate? Psychology Today identified the words respondents most frequently used to describe daunting people who inhabit their lives: bitter, clingy, controlling, critical, deceptive, demanding, demeaning, destructive, draining, envious, erratic, exasperating, explosive, frustrating, irritable, malevolent, mercurial, resentful, suffocating, unforgiving, unreasonable, unreliable, untrusting, vindictive, volatile.

Nobody would care to possess any of those flaws, let alone a full house of them. To be clear, it doesn't count if someone acts unpleasantly on an occasional bad day, when they are feeling overstressed or overwrought. All of us are capable of a moody strop, and not just as teenagers.

But clusters of these behaviour patterns can appear on a routine basis in certain people. They appear fine one minute then, with the slightest provocation, you are subjected to an acrimonious verbal assault. It leaves most of us too flustered to cope, hoping that things will get better.

One respondent pointed out that "they claim to forgive but never do: wrongs, grievances or injustices are remembered specifically for use in future arguments". No amount of effort or contriteness on your part will ever get them to change. It is you that is forced to change, until you become so risk-averse that you can never speak your mind.

One respondent described it as "tiptoeing carefully around a potential volcanic eruption". Another explained: "You feel trapped in some way. They use the criticism that you have failed them as a form of punishment, or to demean you in order to elevate their selfesteem."

Often, people whose unpredictable mood swings become corrosive describe themselves as "sensitive". In these cases, "sensitive" can be better defined as vain and touchy. In truth, they are often merely narcissistic, and their tantrums are little different to those of a child. …

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