Tag Archives: ignorance

Willful Ignorance

Many people realize the truth will set you free.  They know that even the ugly, painful truth is always better than a pretty lie, & no matter how much it may hurt, always aim for truth in their lives.

Then there are other people who are nothing like that.  They prefer pretty lies any day.  They excuse the bad behavior of others readily & deny those people have done anything wrong.  These people are practicing something called willful ignorance.

Willful ignorance is a legal term which basically means a person has made a poor decision to circumvent information as a way for people to avoid making uncomfortable decisions.  On a more personal note, it is the avoidance of information or evidence that would force a person to face something unpleasant.

One of the best examples of this came from my personal life.  As I’ve written about before, at the time my father was dying, I had been no contact with him for several months.  My family attacked me via any means possible daily, trying to force me to go say goodbye to him.  Every time I would block one means, they’d find another.  I finally asked God why.  One of the things He said was that me staying away meant I was proving that not everything was ok.  If I would have gone, that would have shown them that my father was the great guy they wanted to believe he was.  I was threatening their willful ignorance. 

This also happens in cases where a person is abused by their parent, spouse, in-laws, etc. & other people refuse to believe it rather than get involved & try to protect the victim.

While it is certainly understandable to avoid painful things, willful ignorance is incredibly dysfunctional.  It sets people up for disappointment & unnecessary suffering because they refuse to acknowledge the warning signs most people see.  It hurts those closest to those who engage in this behavior because they are helpless to help the person they love.  These people are so devoted to their dysfunction that they will ignore what the person who loves them says, & will fight with them to protect their denial.

It is so hard being in this situation, whether you are the one practicing willful ignorance or the one who loves someone who practices it.

If you are the one practicing it, please stop!  I know the truth can be scary & painful, but by avoiding facing that, you’re hurting yourself, not helping yourself.  You need to know that God loves you & will help you to face whatever needs facing.  If you have trouble with that due to having an abusive parent figure in your life, He understand that too!  Be honest & tell Him just how you feel.  It’s ok!  I can promise you, He won’t cast you into hell or strike you down with a lightening bolt.  He will gently help you to see you can trust Him which will help you to start facing the painful things you must face.

And, if you are someone who loves a person who is willfully ignorant, I want you to know that God understands your pain & frustration.  Ask Him to show you how to support our loved one in a healthy way.  He will!  Don’t get sucked into the dysfunction either.  Stick to the truth & don’t let this person convince you of their false beliefs.  Keep your boundaries in place & protect yourself from the dysfunction of this situation.  This person has the right to engage in their dysfunction to their heart’s content, but you also have the right to engage in healthier ways.  Part of that means protecting yourself & not getting involved in their dysfunction.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health

About Ignorance vs Malice

“You can’t get mad. He just doesn’t know any better.” I think all of us who have been victimized by a narcissist have heard this statement at some point. It’s said by those who either have absolutely no understanding of Narcissistic Personality Disorder or those flying monkeys who enthusiastically enable narcissists to abuse.

This statement can be very unsettling. You can feel so angry by the abuse but then you stop in your tracks. Maybe the person who said this is right, & the narcissist truly doesn’t know any better.  You feel badly for being angry with someone for doing something they don’t know is wrong.

Long before I learned about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I was in this situation.  I had problems with my now deceased mother in-law from about the moment we met.  Obviously I didn’t know what to do since I knew nothing of narcissism.  I decided to talk to my husband in the hopes he would have ideas on how to help me get along with his mother.  When I first told my husband about the problems I had with his mother, he said that she didn’t know any better.  He truly believed it, & I thought maybe he was right.  His mother gave the impression of being very naïve, after all.  I also knew her mother in-law never liked her.  Maybe the problem was that she had no other experience beyond the negativity between her & her mother in-law, & being naïve, she didn’t know how to act better towards me.  Logically, it made sense, & I felt terrible for being so upset with my mother in-law for quite some time & silently tolerated her abuse.  Yet, “she doesn’t know any better” didn’t sit right with me.

Eventually I realized why the ignorance plea felt wrong.  I realized she wasn’t ignorant, she was malicious.  I thought I’d share those realizations with you today so if someone tells you that the narcissist in your life doesn’t know any better, you won’t suffer needlessly as I did.

If someone is truly ignorant of their actions, they won’t hide their behavior.  Why would they?  If they aren’t aware that what they’re doing is wrong, there’s no need to hide it.  Someone who is knowingly doing something wrong is going to hide their actions.  My husband never once saw his mother say or do anything inappropriate to me.  Not once in the eight years she was in my life before I walked away.  We saw her often, too, but she never slipped up.  If she truly didn’t know that she was treating me badly, why would she have hidden her behavior towards me?  She would have treated me the same no matter who was around.

A malicious person doesn’t listen.  A person who is told that their actions are hurting someone yet repeats the actions over & over is malicious.  By continuing to hurt someone, they are proving by their actions that they either don’t care that their actions cause someone else pain or that they enjoy deliberately causing pain.  However, if you confront someone who is truly unaware of the pain their actions cause, they will change their behavior, apologize & even try to make it up to the person they hurt if at all possible.  They also won’t repeat the hurtful behavior again.

An ignorant person doesn’t change their actions just because another person enters the room, but a malicious person does.  A malicious person will change their behavior if someone whose opinion they value comes along so that person continues to think well of them.  Ignorant people won’t think that way because they don’t think their behavior is something that can be construed as bad or wrong.

When in a situation where you are told the person mistreating you simply doesn’t know any better, please consider these three scenarios.  They should help you to realize quickly if the person in question truly is ignorant of the pain their actions cause or if they are deliberately mistreating you.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism