Baiters are people who have the troubling compulsion to control others’ lives. Those who criticize you directly or indirectly concerning your healthy goals — specifically, losing weight, becoming strong and fit, and/or becoming more physically active — are a special kind of baiter: the saboteurs. They sabotage others because they can, because as their prey you allow them to remain in your life. As impressionable children many of us have had questionable beliefs drilled into our heads by parents, teachers and religious figures that we have never adequately questioned, and thus need to be reexamined or even completely excised. One of these is the old chestnut that we “should” give other people the benefit of the doubt even when they have made it clear they are working against us.
What “giving the benefit of the doubt” to others really entails is ignoring or refusing to trust your own primary instincts. And the people who are advising you to give others the benefit of the doubt should be considered your primary suspects.
We all have had the experience of knowing someone who gives us an uneasy feeling that we can’t quite put our finger on. Our gut is telling us to tread lightly, or to avoid this person altogether, yet that instinct often gets overruled by the bizarre mantra that we should ignore our own hard-won feelings that are warning us about those individuals. We are branded, or we brand ourselves as “judgmental” when in fact it’s our lifetime of experience accumulated from having dealt with bad people that is the source of this warning signal. When someone in your life brands you as judgmental because you interpret others’ actions as being unfriendly or hostile, you need to reexamine the relationship to your accuser as well.
The most diabolical saboteur is the one who poses as a loved one; a toxic parent, significant other, relative, or “best friend.”
Recognizing these people and the damage they do, yet allowing them to remain an influence in your life, makes you a volunteer victim. Sometimes we cannot so easily leave these people behind, but we can limit our contact with them.
Saying “My life is none of your business” and then walking away makes for a good start.