“Why would someone who cheated me treat me as though I had wronged him?”

"Percussion" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Percussion” by Mimi Stuart ©

When a person who has cheated someone is ashamed, the wronged person becomes a perpetual and painful reminder of that shameful behavior. Consequently, perpetrators often become annoyed and angry with their victims.

To reconcile their bad behavior with their self-image, perpetrators will distort facts about the victim in order to rationalize and excuse their own actions. As Rudyard Kipling wrote, “Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.” Thus, the fear of self-loathing that would result from honest self-assessment may drive a wrongdoer to fabrication.

If you are being blamed for something you didn’t do, defend yourself without sounding defensive. Avoid viewing yourself as a victim, but also consider how your own demeanor and actions may have contributed in allowing someone to cheat you.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Read “Dealing with conflict and volatility: ‘You’re being irrational!’”

Read “Lying: ‘I am a coward and I am dishonest.’”

Read “What is the best way to deal with a dishonest, condescending, Machiavellian narcissist at work, whom I need to partner with to obtain my objectives?”

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2 thoughts on ““Why would someone who cheated me treat me as though I had wronged him?”

  1. Sandy Scott

    What great insight Dr. Poulsen! I am truly enjoying following your blog.
    I was wondering if you might give some classic examples of how people might contribute to this, perhaps as they pertain to familial relationships where parent children are involved. Thank you.

    1. Alison Post author

      Thank you! I appreciate your comment.

      I just want to clarify what I think you are asking. Do you mean: how do people unknowingly teach their children to blame themselves or others too much, and how could they instead role model and teach them to use blame in a more constructive way?

      If that is what you mean, then I think role modeling neutrality and objectivity is best. When a family member causes a problem, talk to that person without lecturing, yelling, or humiliating him or her. Treat the person with respect and ask how he or she thinks things could improve. If the negative pattern or problem continues, think of a natural consequence that is reasonable and not too excessive. For example, if your partner is always late and you really don’t want to be late, take two cars. If your child whines or yells at you demanding something, don’t give him or her what he or she wants unless there is a sincere apology and a respectful request. If the child breaks something, ask him or her to clean it up. Mistakes happen. There is no need to humiliate someone.

      Individuals do have natural tendencies to blame themselves or to blame others. I think you teach your children to be somewhat reasonable by being reasonable yourself in relation to them, in relation to yourself, and in relation to others. So for example, if you lose your temper with someone or make a mistake, apologize sincerely but don’t act as though you are the worst person ever. If someone loses their temper with you or makes a mistake, call them on it, but don’t hold a grudge for a long time. Be reasonable, as you and everyone else are only human. In essence, we want to hold ourselves and others accountable, but without over-reacting. Similarly, we want to praise our children when they behave well, but without overdoing it.

      If you meant something else, let me know.


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