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Poisonous Playmates Part 2: The Snipers

Poisonous Playmates: The Snipers

Do you have that special someone who tells it like it is? Are you the kind of person who likes to hear what other people think whether it is criticism or praise? Do you value an honest opinion? Most of us would say yes to these questions and that would be normal.

In healthy relationships, open and honest communication can be a wonderful boon. We can feel a sense of freedom and confidence that someone won’t let us walk around with spinach in our teeth or will send up a red flag if the person we are dating doesn’t seem quite right.

However, there is a certain type of person whose main goal in life is to build us up so that they get the pleasure of knocking us down.

A good sniper locates the target, lines up the shot, checks the environment and pulls the trigger with cold precision. The goal is the kill and anything else is collateral damage.

In our lives, The Snipers are just as lethal.

This is the person who smiles at us, agrees with us, seems to be our staunchest ally, but, at a critical moment knocks us flat on our ass with an insult, a question, a criticism or a desire to just “tell it like it is”. These are the people who play devil’s advocate as though it was high-stakes poker: always poking holes in us until we are riddled with self-doubt and unsure of our decisions or ourselves.

Do any of these sound familiar?

· Snipers help us all the time! They help us pick out the perfect outfit, apply for that new job, buy that new car and then systematically question our decision every time they see us. Planting seeds of doubt and belittling our decision-making abilities are just them sincere desire to see us make the right choices (always implying that we are making the wrong ones).

· Snipers always “tell it like it is”. This usually happens when we are on the verge of making a big decision they have previously supported. They begin nit-picking at the decision and wondering (always out loud) what someone smarter, prettier, handsomer, wealthier, etc. would do if they were us. There is always a nugget of wisdom they cannot wait impart to us that usually is against what they have been saying before. 

· Snipers wait patiently for the kill. All ready for that big first date? The Sniper says your ass looks really fat in those pants. All set for the business pitch to the prospective client in the morning? The Sniper has been thinking about it and questions your choice of presentation materials, outfit, sales pitch, etc. You should probably cancel. Ready to accept that promotion? The Sniper thinks that you might be biting off more than you can chew and is afraid people will see you for what you are: an impostor.

What Do They Want?

The Snipers in our lives thrive on power, particularly, power imbalances.

The more you try to even the playing field or move up in your life, the more Snipers are invested in keeping the status quo. The Snipers are masters at pinpointing and exploiting our perceived weakest link (confidence, intelligence, looks, finances, social class, etc.) and firing away it until we can’t be certain of anything.

Ultimately, we want to believe the Snipers are true friends who keep us from looking foolish but the reality is they are only interested in keeping us in our place: right behind them.

What Do We Do?

When dealing with The Sniper, our default state is insecurity (there is a theme emerging here). This is due to how we perceive ourselves and our self-worth. We may have an area where we feel like we don’t measure up and it leaves us vulnerable to criticism and The Snipers take advantage of this to knock us down when we get to far out of where they want us.

This can be devastating to our sense of identity and keep us trapped in dead end jobs, bad relationships, living in unhealthy bodies and, in general, living a life of lesser quality.

So, we endure because we believe The Snipers version of our reality instead of trusting our own.

There are many reason we deal with Snipers but the most salient seems to be that, for some of us, we are afraid of looking like a fool and believe that even a hyper-critical friend, lover, or peer is better than ridicule from everyone.

Now what?

The only way to derail Snipers is to change OUR story about our Self.

Ask yourself

  • Do I need external validation to know my decisions are right?
  • Is there always someone who seems to make me doubt those decisions?
  • Do I let someone else control how I know I have done the right thing?

If the answers are yes, a Sniper is present in your life. 

Only by breaking through our story about our self-worth can we become whole. Until we change how we view our weaknesses, we will always look for someone to validate us as strong giving Snipers the entry they need to tear us down. 

Leave a comment, question or message if something here resonates with you and thank you for reading!

In hope,

Dr. Sacheen