Useful & Clever RESPONSES

when someone’s mean or stupid

PREVIOUS: Dealing with Toxic People

REVIEW: “Effective Responses” Heal & Grow website

SITE:” How to Craft the Perfect Comeback, According to Experts”

BOOK: “Viva la Repartee: Clever Comebacks

FRUSTRATED: ACoAs are often stumped when others say something unkind, controlling or ridiculous. No matter how smart, educated or competent, we’re often rendered mute by what we hear. First we’re shocked by the comments, not expecting such outrageous or boorish remarks. Then we can’t figure out what to say.

• So, here are some ideas that may be useful – some straightforward, some tongue-in-cheek. You may be uncomfortable with them if you think they’re rude, confrontational or hostile.  Actually, they are not – because: a. they are statements of fact
b. when said with humor, from our Adult ego state, & NOT in anger – they are very effective

TOXIC RULE: “Only other peoples’ feelings count”, which really amounts to:
• not holding others accountable for stepping all over us. Why do we let them get away with it, but condemn ourselves for being direct?
• being willing to abandon our Inner Child in favor of others, inslike ideastead of protecting it using a Loving Parent ego state?

SUGGESTION: Use these lines as is, or modify them to your personal taste. They represent setting boundary & teaching others how we want to be treated.
Pick 2-3 phrases that suit you & memorize them. Say them to yourself all day long, to get them set in your brain. Then, when you really need one – it’ll fall out of your mouth without having to think about it!
🏈 —

THEM: That was a long time ago / just get over it, let it go / stop dwelling on the past / why are dredging up old ……
YOU: 🔹That works for you, but it’s not where I’m at right now. I’d appreciate your support, but I understand if you can’t
🔹That’s exactly what I’m working on, it’s just going to take time, & I want to do it right
🔹I understand you don’t want to talk about this, so we don’t have to
🔹Getting well is the beat revenge – that’s what I’m aiming for

THEM: “That’s just a lot of psycho-babble”
YOU: “If you think that’s psycho-babble, you must not understand it.”

: You’re too sensitive // YOU: And you’re too insensitiveclever

THEM: You’re crazy! // YOU: Maybe, but I’m never boring!

THEM: You laugh a lot at everything I say
YOU: I’m easily amused!

THEM: You’re too emotional, over-reacting
YOU: You mean I’m too happy?  // Well, at least I can feel! // Maybe you could be more sensitive // You could use Compassion Lessons

THEM: Why don’t you …. / you’re just…. / if you…. //
YOU: That’s not helpful

THEM: You shouldn’t feel that way
YOU: Do you mean what I’m thinking or my emotions?

THEM: You should……
YOU: I try never to ‘should’ on myself. So please don’t ‘should’ on me either

THEM: You have to do (XXX) for me! (or else you’re bad / I’ll die…)
YOU: I’m sorry, but I can only take care of myself right now

THEM: That’s a stupid way to….. You …….
YOU: I don’t talk to myself that way

THEM: Why don’t you get (another cat) / why don’t you do…..?
YOU: Thanks, but I was talking about how I’m feeling. I wasn’t looking for advice or suggestions

THEM:  Don’t bother with that / do it this way / why can’t you…..?
YOU:  I don’t respond well to threats / being bullied / treated like a kidstop it!

THEM: —- (fill in the blank)
  //  YOU: Don’t talk to me that way

THEM: You really like that…..? / do you actually believe in that….?
YOU: Why did you ask // why say it that way?

THEM: If I were you, I’d….  //
YOU: Thank you for sharing your way of doing things!

THEM: If you don’t —– You’ll never see me again / I’ll kill myself / I’ll end up…. (& it’ll be your fault)
YOU:  I’m sorry to hear that. But do whatever makes you comfortable

THEM: I ne-e-e-ed you…. you’re the only one who can do…. who understands me….
YOU:  Well, actually, I have my hands full taking care of my own life. And there are lots of other people, groups, books… that can help you

THEM: If your mother says something provocative (or dad)
YOU: “Oh, mother!” – accent on ‘mother’, with at smile, then zip-the-lip

THEM: I’m just trying to be helpful
YOU: I’ve already tried that / I didn’t ask for help / That doesn’t work for me / Your suggestion doesn’t aideaspply to my situation / That’s not who I am / I was just expressing emotions

 // YOU:
—> Add your own

PS: Yes, there’s a time & a place to know when to respond to insensitive comments & when not to. That takes practice, information & self-esteem based on knowing our rights.

GREY ROCKINGgrey rocking
And for those of us who are still dealing with the severe form of dysfunction – the malignant narcissists in our midst – the ONLY way to cope appropriately is to be a GRAY ROCK around them!
from “Psychopathfree” Forum)

NEXT: ACoAs – Dealing with Criticism (Part 1)

8 thoughts on “Useful & Clever RESPONSES

  1. Our words do indeed have tremendous power, including how we respond. I find my responses are a reflection of what is going on inside and who I am at the core. “From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks”, it has been put in an ancient text.

    Yet, agreed, we sometimes seize up. I am a talker and still words or replies escape me.

    Having some close at hand is a good idea. Pre-decide what we are going to say some common circumstances. I did this a lot in early recovery… even the AA slogans make good responses. I have responded, “Easy does it”, many times to various things. It has been a good blanket response for me. So has “Just for today”.


  2. Those are all unkind/manipulative/sarcastic/defensive and are not the sign of a spir mature person.
    Some of them also imply that WE must have tried to control others in the first place.
    When we have a REAL spir awakening we have an automatic vocabulary and our responses are effortless anyway. And the little things don’t bother us. We don’t even notice them.
    There IS work available that created this…most people just don’t want it.


  3. I can’t thank you enough for these. They are fantastic. I will be memorizing a bunch. Holding people accountable is actually a gift to them, but more importantly, I’m standing up for my inner child. Also, using these will help me learn to set important boundaries. 😎


  4. It’s so hard in the heat of the moment to realize that you do have an advantage over someone making these kinds of unkind comments or “advice”: they care more than you do. When I was a first-year law school we were all terrified of the professors who would use threat of shaming us in order to enforce people doing the homework (“the Socratic method” but not really).

    I’ll never forget one student who was called on, who did not know the summary of a particular case. This is where he used the professor’s “caring more than he did” against him:
    Professor: “Mr. Jones, give us a summary of Red vs. Blue”
    Jones: “The case ‘Red vs. Blue”?
    Professor: “Yes”
    Jones: “The one on page 367?”
    Professor: “Yes, please explain this case to the class.”
    Jones: “So you are talking about the one that was decided in Federal District court in Maryland?”
    Professor: “YES, that’s the one”
    Jones: “No I can’t”

    Maybe this is passive-aggressive or something but it was very brave. That guy later left law school and moved on, probably to something better.


    • Roy,
      Thanks for the example, but I didn’t understand the phrase “they care more than you do”. Can you elaborate? I’d appreciate it.


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