Dragging Others Down

At one time or another, probably we all have interacted with people who try to demotivate you, extinguish your enthusiasm, scare you, and drag you down. For the sake of simplicity, let's call them Down-Draggers.

A Down-Dragger is a person who constantly tells you that you better not do this or that because you will fail, something bad will happen, you will harm yourself, it's not in your best interest, it's too much of a risk, you will regret it afterwards, your accomplishments don't matter, you are not ready, you are not strong enough, you're not good enough, and so on, and so on, and so on. By the way, I'm not talking about constructive feedback and genuine care for another person. I'm talking about fear mongering, lack of curiosity, manipulation, acting out your own unpleasant, unprocessed feelings and insecurities, and trying to meet your own narcissistic needs by attempting to control another person.  

The psychological mechanism of dragging others down is often used by toxic parents, abusive partners, and manipulators. A Down-Dragger doesn't really care about your well-being. They may appear as caring and concerned, but they are actually trying to control you. They often are very narcissistic and insecure. Sometimes they may even honestly believe in their delusion that they care and want to help. Some of them are really good at manipulating others to get what they need; they can be stunningly charming, charismatic, and likeable. Some of them use passive aggression (manipulation, guilt-tripping, shaming, saying what others want to hear), others don't even mind using direct force or threats (physical or sexual abuse, intimidation).

Your strive for happiness, your enthusiasm, your accomplishments, your drive to grow—all of it triggers two main things in them. The first is feelings of smallness, dependency, or inferiority. And the second is anxiety or even anger that their control over you is in jeopardy. Sometimes it is both. 

However, they don't see it like that. They perceive it as if you are threatening them or hurting them. After all, they need you to take care of their emotional or even physical and financial needs, and they feel entitled to it. So, in their blurry eyes, you are the one who is acting unjustly and selfishly by genuinely taking care of your needs. Meanwhile, it's vice versa: they are the one who is acting in a narcissistic, insecure, immature, threatening, and hurtful manner.  

If you have been raised by controlling parents, you may be prone to getting involved in relationships where people drag you down and control you in numerous different ways, or you may have developed a tendency to treat others this way. Or both.

As always, the first step is awareness. It can take quite a while to become fully aware of these dynamics in your relationships, to understand why they are there, and what to do about it. 

Have an uplifting day,

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  1. Hi Darius
    Nice post. It's crazy how so many survivors of dysfunctional families are actually "comfortable" with people who drag the down. This was something that I became profoundly aware of in the beginning of my own healing process. Looking back I see that it was part of the brainwashing I suffered myself in my own family ~ my mother especially taught me by her actions that if I was going to survive I better see things and do things her way. By the time I was an adult, this was the way I survived; by making sure that even my thoughts were aligned with others whom I falsely perceived as "more powerful" than I was therefore I believed it was safer to listen to those people. So grateful for my freedom from that dysfunction today!
    hugs, Darlene

  2. Why whole bloody family is like this!

  3. Hi Darius, do you know about the Pete Walker work?. Is quite interesting; he writes about how we get traumatized by our parents and how, in our adult life, external events trigger the emotional state of the fearful and abandoned child. He call them emotional flashbacks. I think he make a good job describing how these dynamics of being traumatized occurs in the daily life (i.e. someone shouts at you, you get trigger by that and then get lost in the emotional flashback where the inner critic starts "talking",...) and how to deal with them.

    I started reading his articles in his website and now I have bought his recent book "Complex PTSD". Very interesting, I think it mirrors very good the daily experiences of being traumatized,

  4. Hi Darlene, yes, sadly many people grow up in this kind of environment and learn to put up with this kind of treatment....

    Anonymous, I know what you mean -- plenty of parents raise their children in a very unhealthy an controlling atmosphere.

    Hi paseosinperro, I haven't read any of P. Walker's work, but based on what you wrote here, I strongly believe this to be the case too.


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