“Being a practiced liar doesn’t mean you have a powerful imagination. Many good liars have no imagination at all; it’s that which gives their lies such wide-eyed conviction.” — Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass
Hypocrites groom you to become hyper-aware of your own minor (or non-existent) wrongdoings, while actively dismissing anything that they themselves are doing wrong. First they relocate blame—then, your conscience does the rest of the work for them. Hypocrites are experts at blaming others, while empathetic people are experts at blaming themselves. The more of their poison you absorb, the more you start to doubt yourself, thereby making you more vulnerable to more poison.
These dynamics leave you feeling self-conscious, inferior, insecure, and like nothing you do will ever be good enough—like someone is always judging you. You become a perfectionist, terrified that you might have actually become all of these things you’ve been accused of. (No, you’re not a psychopath)
But it was all projection.
Hypocrites spend their lives cheating, betraying, conning, and deceiving. But despite this disgusting pattern of behavior, they still feel entitled to point out (or invent) the most minor mistakes in others—and they’ll point them out repeatedly, to negate & excuse all of their own horrible actions.
As a result, you spend more and more time trying to prove your ethics to the most unethical person on the planet. You end up feeling guilty for being five minutes late to a date (months ago), while they gleefully cheat on you with another man or woman.
If the moral scales in your life seem to be skewed beyond all recognition, you likely encountered a pathological hypocrite—or a psychopath.
Here are some warning signs:
1) Do as I say, not as I do. Their actions never seem to match up with their charming words. They have extremely high expectations in you, but don’t seem to follow those standards themselves. They are allowed to have dinner with their “crazy” ex who’s “still in love” with them, but they’ll give you the silent treatment for going out with your friends.
2) The rules apply to others, but they do not apply to me. They believe they are above the law—both legally and ethically. They feel entitled to behave however they choose, but others must be kept in line at all times. We see this in politics every single day, when our elected officials stomp across the morals they enforce upon everyone else.
3) It is always someone else’s fault. It’s not their fault for lying. It’s your fault for being so petty and pointing out their lie. They might also bring up your past mistakes, to prove that their lie isn’t actually so bad by comparison. Someone is always out to get them, and that’s the reason behind all of their problems.
4) Anyone who points out my wrongdoings should be punished. When all else fails, you must be punished, so you learn not to point out their lies anymore. This can be done through triangulation, cheating, and most commonly—the silent treatment.
5) The perpetual victim. Their bad behavior always has sob-story roots. They learned to lie because of their abusive ex, or their abusive parent. They hate drama; all they’ve ever wanted is some peace & quiet, and yet they provoke more drama than anyone you’ve ever known. They declare their hatred of negativity, all the while calling you “hysterical” to anyone who will listen, even when you are completely ignoring them.
6) Condescending, patronizing, and superior. You feel like a child being reprimanded by an adult. They speak down to you as if you are intellectually deficient and emotionally unstable. They laugh when you try to express yourself, dismissing any concerns you might have as hyper-sensitive and crazy.
7) Lies & excuses. Hypocrites have excuses for everything. You will find that they spend a lot more time excusing their behavior than ever actually improving it. Instead of apologizing or admitting fault, they simply ignore reality & argue with solid evidence when confronted with it. Survivors also often notice that psychopaths seem to enjoy the thrill of lying. Sometimes it seems they’ve planted evidence that actually allows you to catch them. They lie even when the truth would suffice. Why? Because duping others is what they do. It is the only highlight of their otherwise insufferably boring lives. (Pathological lying)
On the other end of the spectrum, here is their ideal target in relationships, the workplace, and government:
1) Actions over words. Healthy, humble individuals do not constantly talk about the good things they have done, because it would be arrogant and uncomfortable. Instead, they prove it with their actions, which are intentionally ignored by hypocrites who can simply invent fake virtues with fake words.
2) The rules apply to me, but I feel bad for judging others. Ideal targets have always paid strong attention to rules and ethics. They are terrified of getting in trouble at school, or breaking the law, or hurting a romantic partner. They have been trained well, and they want to see the same good in others.
3) It is always my fault. Instead of blaming others for their problems, they tend to blame themselves for everything. Even the slightest suggestion that they’ve done something wrong will lead to long periods of introspection and self-doubt. They will rewrite reality in order to absorb the flaws of others.
4) Anyone who points out my wrongdoings might be right, even if I don’t remember doing that. Always willing to talk about concerns that others might have about them, and will work extremely hard to ensure they do not upset anyone else that way in the future. Willing to accept fault for something they didn’t actually do, if it means keeping the harmony.
5) I never want to be the victim, even when I have been harmed.Survivors remain largely silent after abuse, anonymously seeking out help for the nightmare they experienced. Ironically, a hypocrite will scream that you’re a perpetual victim for trying to quietly recover from the hell they put you through. (Victim blaming)
6) Gentle, compassionate, and flexible. Ideal targets will always be willing to compromise and make things better. They are approachable, warm, and sensitive to the feelings of others. Because of these qualities, they often attract negative and self-centered people like magnets.
7) Apologies. Will always say sorry when they do something wrong, even if they haven’t done anything wrong at all. While hypocrites will only apologize if they can get something out of it, their targets apologize in order to restore peace & trust.
Combine these two personalities, and you have a recipe for self-destruction. The hypocrite walks away unscathed, while you’re left with crippling doubts about your entire sense of self. But these doubts will slowly star to subside, the longer you’re free from this toxic individual.
Worrying about your own good nature is actually the first sign that everything is going to be just fine. You see, worry is proof of a conscience—something pathological hypocrites don’t have.
From your own experience, do you have any examples of hypocrisy?
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