Dealing with Bitchiness and Nasty Sarcasm

Bitchiness and Nasty Sarcasm, like any lashing out or meanness, are signs of sorrow and pain, or frustration, or not wanting to face a reality that doesn’t fit with current personal paradigms.

The first key, for the person on the outside, dealing with them is to remain as emotionally detached as one can. This is not something I say lightly, it can be very unpleasant when someone you love or think a lot of lashes out verbally. If it is someone we admire and want to admire us, angry or mean words can be deeply disturbing. Not taking someone’s words personally, when we care or want to help, is hard. Really hard. However, maintaining some sense of emotional distance is essential. If we can’t manage immediately, perhaps over time – remembering that annoying adage, what they say and do is more indicative of their personal state than your own.

The second key is to find the underlying cause: Not to fix it or to try and rescue, the people being nasty, from it but simply in order to understand. To be able to listen to their words, not literally, but for the underlying message of pain.

1. Emotional Disconnection.
When someone is feeling emotionally disconnected they are in deep despair. They feel intense loneliness and fear that they will always feel this way. They often cannot see any way out of this.

2. Lack of Autonomy, Feeling Powerless or Lack of Playtime.
People who feel they have no control over too many aspects of their lives, or really important aspects of their lives, or who lack downtime, experience intense frustration with the world. They lash out as a way of expressing the intensity of sensation within their bodies. They may not even realise that the discomfort is in their bodies, not outside them being inflicted upon them.

3. Facing an Unwanted Reality.
When people are bitchy or nastily sarcastic, it is often triggered by an external ‘mirror.’ They see someone doing better than they are, in some area of their lives.
They see someone happier than they are, in some area of their lives.
They experience someone saying, No, or setting a reasonable boundary, when they thought that person was ‘perfect’ or always going to agree with them, or they are used to doing something, that is no longer appropriate or acceptable due to a change in age or development or situation.

The third key is to hold our ground. Not in a mean way or to teach a lesson, or to punish the other. The discomfort in the other is intense, and they do not need any further pain. This key is about not accepting the behaviour…all the while accepting the person.

An example could be children, in a classroom, who feel emotionally detached from their parents. Let’s say their whole sense of self is caught up in being ‘the best’ or ‘the richest’ or ‘the best looking’ or ‘the sweetest’ or whatever. And then another child out
‘bests,’ ‘riches,’ ‘beautifuls,’ ‘sweets’ them.

The reality shakes their core and they will try to hurt the other, to make the other lesser so as to restore their sense of well-being.


Once the initial situation is dealt with, then we need to look at how to support these people.

1. We emotionally connect through warm, non-intrusive touch and warm, non-intrusive eye-contact. We use stories and rituals and daily rhythms that tie these people to a group in a positive way.

2. We ensure they have time to choose during their day. We give them options. We allow downtime where they do not have to be conscious.

3. We always expect they are making gains towards ways of maintaining relationship and their own personal sense of self, even when they slip.

We could think of it as an elevator climbing a shaft very slowly. The roof does not move in order to accommodate it but all the while it is climbing the floors until it reaches the penthouse. Where the good stuff lives.


(When the elevator doesn’t want to move? We sometimes have to walk away.)

About Karyn @ kloppenmum

kloppenmum is me, Karyn Van Der Zwet, mother of three and ex-teacher. I'm part of a revolution in parenting, with the aim to raise mature (not sophisticated) and self-assured children. I also know some stuff about adults. I have also had articles printed in The Journal for The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (Children and Young People) and the US parenting magazine, Pathways to Family Wellness, as well I regularly write for World Moms Blog (named as one of the Forbes 100 most useful blogs for women 2012 &2013). You can follow me on facebook (kloppenmum) pinterest (Karyn at Kloppenmum) and twitter (@kloppenmum). I'm also vaguely on LinkedIn (Karyn Van Der Zwet). Thanks to Joe (Mr Hare) for taking the photo. Cheers, son: xxxx.
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4 Responses to Dealing with Bitchiness and Nasty Sarcasm

  1. Mamma_Simona says:

    Thank you, Karyn! This is a great reminder for me not to “own” everything nasty said to me or about me. Why is it that we accept negatives as “truth”, yet brush off compliments? Is it because we grow up feeling “unworthy” and the negatives “gel” with our idea of who we are more than compliments?

  2. Wise and true. Thank you.

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