Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

hand-1832921_1920Relationships can be difficult. Some people are difficult because they are constantly suspicious and mistrust others. Every little thing that is said or done is more evidence for why they need to be paranoid or suspicious.

Usually people with paranoia have difficulty being intimate in relationships and stay emotionally detached. They have enemies, mainly because they are paranoid. Their unfounded suspicions lead them to be unpleasant, blaming, hostile, defensive, stubborn. They may see an injustice and make it huge.

For example, someone with paranoia may walk into a restaurant, notice someone glances at her and be convinced that person is stalking her. People with paranoia test your loyalty and are afraid to confide, fearing the information will be used against them. These are the people who bear grudges and feel attacked in their character.

A problem is that people keep their distance from paranoid people which then confirms to that paranoid even more distrust.

These signs will alert you that someone may be overly paranoid:

  • Overly jealous
  • Tense and rigid
  • Unwilling to compromise
  • Blame others for interpersonal problems
  • Moralistic
  • Looking and finding ill intent
  • Litigious
  • Humorless
  • Haughty
  • Distant
  • Few friends and few intimate others
  • Distain weakness in others
  • More common in men than women

The paranoid person rarely asks for help.  So here are some strategies to deal with paranoid people.

  1. Win their trust. One of the main issues is that paranoid people have a long-standing and unwarranted suspicion of mistrust about others. You have to win their trust. Don’t ask them to trust you. Win it. Do what you say. Respond honestly. Be true to your word. This usually takes time and requires you to be respectful and business like versus warm and intimate (too invasive). You have to help these people see that trust isn’t all or nothing. It’s lived on a continuum.
  2.  Admit mistakes when you make them, apologize and then drop the issue.
  3.  Don’t’ try to get the person to self-disclose. Rather than challenge the paranoia (which will take you nowhere), challenge the person’s perception of his inadequacy. Usually they feel inadequate, imperfect and feel shame and humiliation and project (throw) that on others. As a Christian, you can use scripture to support that we all fall short, have weaknesses but it is in those places that God can really work.
  4. Understand and their core assumption: People are deceptive, attack you. Avoid them cause you’ll get hurt. This is what the paranoid person thinks and you will have to point out times when this does not seem to be true.

Be ready to be patient. If these seem strategies feel overwhelming, don’t be afraid to refer to a professional therapist.  This work usually takes a great deal of time and patience since you are dealing with long-standing patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving.

 

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