We’re having a little trouble at my workplace. There is a mean spirited person dragging my co-workers down to her level. She’s an expert at the bait-and-switch move. I smile, refuse her bait, and stay undistracted, but several members of our crew have fallen victim. What is the psychological bait-and-switch move? I’ll tell you. It’s the oldest trick in the book. It is often done without the perpetrator’s conscious awareness. That’s right! More often than not, the people who do this aren’t in touch with themselves enough to realize that they are doing it. Occasionally, it can be more intentional and malicious.
Let’s say that you are Party B. Your boss, a co-worker who wants to climb the ladder of success over your dead body, a new acquaintance, or whoever is Party A. If you are already saying, “Hey I’m the A. Let that other pain-in-the-ass be Party B,” then your chances of avoiding the pitfalls of the psychological bait-and-switch are very good! You are a nice, friendly, kind, and cooperative person.
Party A types are nasty, sarcastic, wired-up people who love to annoy and manipulate others. They love to pull your chain and wouldn’t climb off your back if you gave them a diamond-studded rope ladder to do the climbing with. These people often have big and truly heart-rending problems in life, but they usually behave badly enough to earn more rejection than compassion. Many chronically dissatisfied folks seem to believe that since they are so miserable, everyone else should also be unhappy.
As usual, you try to be nice to everyone. You speak to Party A as you would to anyone else, intent on a happy and harmonious relationship. But Party A doesn’t know how to handle this. The painful rip in the fabric of this person’s reality tells him or her that it’s a dog-eat-dog, either-me-or-you, take-advantage-before-being-taken-advantage-of world where being as aggressively defensive as possible is of paramount importance. This attitude usually results in behavior that is nastier than a pickled egg fart collection in an airtight room.
You step up your efforts to make peace. Day after day you try to be extra nice to this person in the hope that your good attitude will prove contagious. Mr./Ms. A stays deaf to your most cordial approaches and continues to dump bucket loads of emotional garbage and irritating drama into your life. Sooner or later it happens. You lose it. After what seems like countless eons of dealing with this situation in a civilized manner, you just can’t take it anymore. You give Party A a rebate on the ration of bullshit that he or she has been shoveling in your direction for so long. After five or ten minutes of yelling at each other, you stomp away with your blood pressure raised and your day ruined. You are now as stressed, aggravated, soured, angry, and miserable as Party A has always been.
This is you now! The attack on your peace of mind is no longer singularly directed from an external, defensible source. It now has an internal base that is a lot more dangerous to you. The nastiness of A, formerly a minor influence outside of your psyche, has eaten away slowly but steadily at your patience and compassion until it has succeeded in boring a hole right through your previously harmonious state of mind. Your weakened mental structural integrity is now being eaten by your newly acquired psychologically triggered chemical imbalances. Physical problems arise from the chemical problems. Your stomach may hurt, your head may ache, and your happiness is in pain.
As this happens to folks like us, Party A people will likely be laughing their asses off! As mentioned before, they may have had a conscious plan to do some damage. But it is more likely that they are just blindly lashing out and unaware of the real result of their actions. They are happy anyway! As the old proverb says, “Misery loves company.” Misery now has the company it loves.
A subconscious mind can be a dangerous thing. That’s why so many of Earth’s most famous wise folk have spent so much of their time moving their subconscious depths to the conscious surface.
So now, anyone walking into the place where both A and B are present would be fooled. It would appear that Party A was a B, and that Party B was an A, and in fact, until B regains basic composure and simple sanity, that has become the sad truth of the situation. B has now effectively taken over the job that A was doing and is now busting his or her own chops and getting on his or her own nerves. Party A doesn’t even have to be around! B will still have a nervous concern about what A might do or say next. B will suffer from self-engendered attitude attacks as well as any external attacks that Party A might still be generating. Party B is also burdened with the self-loathing caused by embracing an inferior mindset and the embarrassment of losing composure in public. The bait-and-switch is complete.
I refuse to get involved in any of this. It seems best to stay happy and realize that what I want me to be is more important than what any negative external influence wants me to be. I don’t rent out space in my head to bullshit. Disengagement, non-cooperation with the game, seems to work well. I find that these assholes go away quickly when they see that you are someone who is not going to take the bait. The only way to win this game is to not play.
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