Crazymaking: giving mixed messages, opposing messages, double binds, saying one thing and doing its opposite, behaving opposite to one's words.
1. Identify crazymaking messages/ behaviors for what they are. Whenever you have that gut feeling that what you've just heard doesn't stack up, stop and identify for yourself: what is the mismatch, the contradictory information, the non-sense to it? The first requirement is that you are clear about what has just happened, that you don't internalize a crazymaking message as a valid message.
2. Decide what your best response is. You may choose to simply respond internally by saying to yourself, "That's a contradictory message." Or, "The words don't match the non-verbals or actions."
You may decide to respond to the one making the statement or exhibiting the behavior with, "That doesn't add up." Or, "That doesn't make sense to me," without asking or even desiring to discuss it further. This is best done in a level tone without any accusation or complaint, just simply stating that it isn't a sentence or claim that makes sense, or doesn't match up with what you are seeing.
3. Notice whether the double message is a warning of action that may come. With some abusers a crazymaking statement or double message is an indication that more abuse is to follow. That someone is vulnerable and the abuser is going to strike further into vulnerable territory. If that is the observed abuser's style, then get away from them, protect the vulnerable people. Avoid the abuser and get you and the children away into other activities where they are less vulnerable.
4. Strengthen your own personal boundaries and beef up your self-care. Double messages are intended to make people feel confused and vulnerable, insecure and doubtful. Use this opportunity to make yourself and those you love see things clearly, and be more fully protected. Use it as fuel for moving in the direction of enriching yourself and your children rather than retreating in vulnerable fear or sadness.
5. When you get double messages or crazymaking it may be an invitation from the abuser for you to engage in an argument or fight. Do something else instead. Create distance from them. Don't reward the double message with what they are going for, let them learn through experience that it doesn't work and gets them even less of what they want.
6. Remember that action works better to get what you want than talk does, especially with an abuser.