I have a JW acquaintance whom I do odd jobs for because we supposedly became friends a few years ago. We became acquainted before I knew about her worldview. When I do odd jobs for her, sometimes in passing she will make not-overtly-religious-but-still-JW-type comments that make my skin crawl, but I don't respond. I have interacted with her enough over email and in person to know that if I attempt to respond in disagreement (which confirms Black Sheep's advice that it doesn't do any good to disagree with a JW), she will say I am not being "upbuilding" and will leave a subtle threat that she will not have discussions with people who are not "upbuilding." I have a sick feeling throughout my being from how she does this. It's like she has her cake and eats it too. She makes her comments and doesn't have to bear the responsibility of the hearer's response. Or, if I do respond, she changes what I said into what she imagines I said and proceeds to make me sound ridiculous. Then she offers her oh-so-wise "counsel" about something I never even said. If I try to say that's not what I said, then I'm being "negative." It is a maddening form of interaction. I am in a mental state right now where it's like there's an itch that I can't scratch. Some of her comments are floating around in my head, and I know I can't respond to them. I'm at a point where I want nothing more to do with her, and what's crazy is that I am hesitating to let her know I want out of her life because it will validate her sense that the world persecutes and rejects Witnesses. Also, we have an ongoing understanding that I do various jobs for her, but I am at a point where I have a hard time even making eye contact with her. We also have several mutual friends. I'm really kind of screwed up in the head with this. I know I should just let it drop, but for some reason she has managed to get into my head, and I can't shake it because she has provided me no outlet to respond. Do you know what I'm talking about, and if so, how have you dealt with it? This may not even be specifically a JW thing. Maybe it's a type of person who interacts with others that way - making comments and not allowing the hearer a safe place to respond, so the hearer is left all twisted up inside.
Do you find JW's have a way of getting in your head & you can't shake it?
I know the feeling well. Learning to be appropriately assertive yet not bossy will take me a lifetime, I think!
Your friend knows she is right (has "The Truth" ) and therefore whatever she tells you is beneficial and all you're allowed to do is agree. So she is on a win-win (either you agreed and her belief is validated, or she "gave a fine witness" but you couldn't accept it because Satan asserted his power).
So, see, you are not conversing or exchanging ideas. She'll put her biassed spin on whatever you say or do.
That leaves it up to you. Some possibilities:
1. Raise a question that the jw belief cannot answer (How can we know that Christ chose the org in 1916 or whenever is a good one) . Until she gives a definitive answer to whatever question you pose, just smile and remind "you know you haven't answered my question and that's why I think differently".
2. Counter a subject switch or "wise counsel" with a hurt, bewildered look and ask "Did I say that? How did you understand that from this?" "Could we get back to the point, please?"
She may still end the "friendship" or limit contact, and may still deduce that she was persecuted for her religion. Just remember - it wasn't a friendship; if she could say anything and you could not, you were being used. And that in jw-mode, there is no logic to anything she says or believes. None of this prevents you from enjoying life in your own way.
All the best, Retro
Yeah, it's a JW thing. When faced with any kind of criticism that is difficult to counter, a JW will use the "upbuilding" card. I've had someone in my family use this term to me several times. It's a common defense mechanism, a bit of canned programming, and it usually means you're making a valid point or really bugging them in some way.
In some cases I responded with "Well, being upbuilding is not always a good thing. Some things should be questioned and even criticized." or point out how they go door to door trying to change peoples' religion, which is not really upbuilding. Then the Witness has to do further mental gymnastics.
Yes, it can be frustrating to get into discussions with witnesses. The lack of logic can be bewildering at times, and it has left me frustrated like you're describing! So I tend to avoid it when possible, though I get in the occasional debate. When I do it's usually a waste of time. If it's just the odd comment directed my way, I'll usually just ignore it. And I always show how happy I am with my intellectual & spiritual freedom.
Thanks Retro and mindseye. I needed to vent & appreciate your comments.