Don’t you just hate it when someone twists your words, gets all heated up, and attacks you – using your own words – to put you on the defensive or make you upset. What’s happening? What can you do when someone’s twisting your words to make you look bad.
First of all, this is a common practice in the media because it creates the best soundbites, which causes people to tune in to your news show, radio program, media event, or a potentially viral meme on social media. In this arena, it’s called “spin,” and it’s an acceptable practice covered by free speech and parody, especially in public venues. Nonetheless, your words can be a very powerful weapon to hurt, harm, or disable any potential for good someone might have had in the world.
Far more common is the way someone in your social circle might twist your words to make you look bad. This is a tool used by many individuals who are not self-confident, have been severely victimized in the past, or live under high degrees of oppression, stress, or fear.
Twisting your words to make you look bad is an effective defense mechanism utilized by someone to project ideas hidden deep within their heart or psyches onto you, which releases the emotional pressure from unresolved emotional wounds left to fester and grow.
Such a person is not likely to be open to your suggestion of this fact. If wounded people are looking for demons, they will find them everywhere they look, until they awake to the idea that they might have some negative repression that is happening inside, and are willing to not only look at it but do the work of dealing with these issues to resolve them.
In the meantime, they will twist your words to make you look bad, which can have a huge negative impact on you, making you actually feel bad. When used effectively, the damaged individual twisting your words will make you feel bad, and this causes the sufferer to feel better, as they have transferred their pent-up emotional pain to you. This offers them relief. That’s why they do it.
He or she will continue to project these ideas onto you because his or her reward is feeling better about his-or-her-self by twisting your words to make you look bad. So, they are highly motivated to engage in this assaultive and potentially abusive activity.
In normal circumstances, you would be motivated to defend yourself against this attack or false accusation. It is a normal reaction to defend yourself if you’ve been falsely accused. The only problem with reacting defensively is that it creates more momentum for the breeding ground of this unfortunate circumstance which you’ve found yourself in.
Understanding this might offer you enough emotional space to not react defensively. Instead of adding more energy to the confrontation, which causes an increasing cycle of adding energy to an impossible situation, because no amount of your defensiveness or rationale will slay the emotionally injured person’s demons.
Plus, you can have some compassion or empathy for the person who is twisting your words in an accusatory fashion, because you know they are wounded and suffering inside, being careful not to feel sorry for them, because that would insinuate your superiority. Instead, you realize that if you were him or her, having lived the life he or she has lived up to this point, you would have reacted in exactly the same way.
A simple and calm response, such as, “That’s not what I meant, but you’re entitled to your own opinion,” might be enough to side-step a potentially volatile situation. If you don’t want to make things worse, it’s best to just avoid any conflict in this situation.
No one can make you look or feel bad unless you empower them by adding fuel to their fire and being defensive. There is no need for you to respond to anyone’s ridiculous false accusations or attempts to make you look bad.
Simply do not respond to anyone’s attempts to attack or discredit you, whether they are twisting your words, or concocting their own, unless you choose to offer clarification, for any part that may be true. But if you do offer clarification, try to find the space to think through the ramifications for doing so, because you may be offering up even more ammunition for them to fire back at you with even more word twisting.
If you are masterfully self-aware and tolerant, you might offer yourself up as a shock absorber for this person to release as much of their pent-up frustrations as possible. To do so effectively, you must have the ability or skill of letting someone verbally attack or abuse you without being emotionally engaged. A martyr might do so in lieu of having the ability or skill to avoid suffering the emotional consequences. Unless this is your calling or part of your life’s purpose, this will likely not apply to you.
So, we’ve discussed why people in public venues and media might twist your words, and why those who are emotionally wounded, or low self-esteem might do so, but we haven’t talked about why a psychopath or someone on the predatory end of the anti-social personality spectrum might twist your words to make you feel bad.
Their motivation is to undermine or destroy you and/or your credibility altogether. This is an entirely different subject, yet your response should be the same. Do not add fuel to the fire by defending yourself, walk away, and find someplace safe to be, where you can avoid the psychopath or sociopath.