Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
Now don’t let the title of this article mislead you. Do not think for one second that somehow I am singling narcissists out as the bad guys and think that I and all others are saintly truth sayers. To the contrary, we all lie.
People lie to achieve a goal: “We lie if honesty won’t work,” says researcher Tim Levine. Well, lying is a very effective defense mechanism we humans use to, in a nutshell, get others to believe what we want and need them to believe to benefit ourselves. We all have different needs and compete for resources and must be creative on how we acquire what we need and want and, for some, what they believe they are entitled to.
Some lies are pretty harmless but dishonesty in the wrong hands can quickly get out of hand. Anyone whose identity has been stolen or has been a target of fraud including scammers, a lying job applicant, an incompetent boss, a narcissist posing as a healer, or an unfaithful boyfriend or girlfriend well knows the extent of the harm that pathological liars can inflict.
Why Should We Care More than We Do
Lying is normal. So is wanting to trust someone. However, the ability to distinguish a lie from truth is not. These abilities need to be learned to be able to distinguish a fib from a lie, a lie from a bigger lie, a fake from a fraud, a potential loving mate from an emotional predator.
Studies show that about 45% of all lies are for self-promotion. And guess what? The numbers of self-promoters and those vulnerable to their lies are rising daily. Now more than ever our need to be able to separate truth from lies is being tested. While we have a natural desire to trust others, researchers are learning that social media is mucking with this ability as we are lie bombed and memed to death every day with fake information from frauds all for false self-promotion and to exploit others. We are becoming increasingly gullible and vulnerable and are increasingly believing lies even when we are presented with clear contradictory evidence.
People who have low self-worth and who have not been taught to think critically are especially prone to believing lies or “alternative facts” without questioning their veracity. Refuting them with data does not diminish their believability because these people assess the evidence presented to them through a framework of preexisting tribal knowledge of beliefs and prejudices and fears they have been taught and rewarded not to question and perhaps punished for questioning. They live comfortably believing what they think is true with little tolerance and adaptability to challenges to those beliefs. They choose instead to live their lives pain- and fear-based, reactive, and vulnerable to anything that triggers or alleviates their discomfort. So if presented with proven documented information that doesn’t fit comfortably within their inflexible limits of tolerance, they will continue to accept and defend their belief and even aggressively attack the facts presented or their messenger if the facts are threatening enough. In essence, their fear overrides the motivation to use the new information to improve their beliefs and thinking that can help them override the fear and reliably make their lives better.
These are prime times for pathological liars to thrive. Toxic moochers are on the rise because narcissism is now a world-wide pandemic. They have infiltrated society for one primary reason. Their emotional food supply is abundant. And like any predatory animal, when the food supply is plentiful, the population of predators rise. And the world, I am sad to report, has accepted that it is perfectly fine for members of our species to prey on our own children and on our own kind to serve the depraved. Impersonal relationships facilitated by social media appear, at least in small part, to have fueled the fire.
Being a parent, a politician, a psychologist, a President, a boss, a doctor, a surgeon or whatever does not exempt a person from being evil or having malintent. In fact, narcissists are rampant in religion, medicine and politics and the ones we see daily who rise and have risen to power and instill mass genocides, bombings, and drive airplanes into 1000 foot towers even in spite of the warning of “never again” and “never forget” after Hitler and Nazism and the rise of other tyrannical dictators.
Narcissism is now rampant in “good deed” communities like politics, the medical community, churches, and even fundraising organizations where many emotional manipulators can exist for years going unnoticed, while they abuse their authority and provide illusions of generosity and “goodness” and feed off the unlimited supply of power and energy of innocent members of the community while hiding true intentions of superiority, entitlement, domination, and self-righteousness.
Kathy Krajco, a formidable pioneer in educating the world on narcissism and narcissistic abuse, describes in What Makes Narcissists Tick how the “helping professions” that supply an abundance of vulnerable prey attract pathological narcissists. Kathy cautions us to “think not only of vulnerable children in the case of teachers but also vulnerable children or grieving and hurt adults in the case of priests and ministers. Think of the vulnerable patients supplied to psychiatrists.” She also warns us about the serious problem narcissism poses in the public sector and private nonprofit institutions that use the do-gooder and moral elitist facade to cloak their true self-righteous intentions to not do good but to be “seen as doing good” and “show how good they are by pointing at someone else and telling them how bad they are.” Politics, she points out, “is an ideal arena for narcissists…the list of them who have conned whole nations to become dictators is breathtaking.”
Narcissists are even posing as healers on social media. What better people to target than the vulnerable wounded ones they harmed who admittedly need help and whom they continue to abuse and exploit “by proxy” by posing as a healers? What a novel idea, right? Well, it is not so novel. It may be pretty new to Facebook but narcissists infiltrated the medical and psychological professions a long long time ago like pedophiles infiltrated the priesthood.
To Lie is Normal, To Pathologically Lie is Not
As pointed out in the National Geographic article “Why We Lie: The Science Behind Our Deceptive Ways,” honesty may be the best policy, but scheming and dishonesty are part of what makes us human.
We learn to lie in childhood and refine our deceptive ways of plotting and scheming (the brain is wired for) with practice and with age. “The truth comes naturally,” says psychologist Bruno Verschuere, “but lying takes effort and a sharp, flexible mind. Lying is a part of the developmental process, like walking and talking. Children learn to lie between ages two and five, and lie the most when they are testing their independence.” We lie throughout our lives but lie the most in our teens. After age 45, we lie less.
Lying is learned but so is our ability not to lie just like our ability not to cheat. Our personalities and characters along with our empathy and sense of reason are also developing at the same time. So, if we are developing and adapting normally, we are learning in parallel how and when to limit our deception by experiencing the personal pain and observing the pain of others we care about when we go too far with our lies. This is when we learn to identify when our deception will harm us and others more than it will benefit us. This is how we learn to turn compassion we are born with to empathy and how to use that ability wisely to support our emotional and relational health to benefit ourselves and others. This is how we learn to put on the brakes to behaviors that will benefit us at others’ expense and vice versa. This adaptive thinking supports our human needs for love, belonging, learning from our experiences, and finding meaning that support our personal growth, self-reliance, and resilience.
It is the lack of these brakes that is at the core of several of the most serious of personality disorders including pathological narcissism. Instead of learning to control their deception and become self-reliant and resilient, pathological narcissists become pathological liars.
Why Do Narcissists Pathologically Lie
Narcissists pathologically lie for the same reasons serial cheaters cheat. Lying and cheating become as normal for them as telling the truth and being loyal are for those with compassion and character. In essence, narcissists are wired for pathological lying like they are for serial cheating. Their development is arrested. Rather than put in the work to earn the character traits and competence and individuation that support and sustain emotional health, self-worth, self-reliance, and a fulfilled life, they develop manipulation tactics and lie pathologically to compensate for their inadequacies. Their weakness of character and distorted thinking drive them to habitually lie and facilitate lying because they have no internal “brakes” to prevent them from doing so.
Dr. George K. Simon, a preeminent expert on manipulative aggressive personalities and author of the best sellers In Sheep’s Clothing, Character Disturbance, and The Judas Syndrome confirms that those with covert aggressive personalities like pathological narcissists lack empathy and the warning signs of such empathy deficits are in part in the attitudes they display toward obligation. Narcissists simply detest putting out effort that might, even in part, benefit someone else or improve themselves.
Lying is an easy and effective way for narcissists to believe they are powerful, feed their egoic needs to compensate for their lack of character traits, values, wisdom and coping and life skills that would prevent them from lying. Their weakness in character, lack of moral compass, low self-worth, lower consciousness, lower resilience, lower levels of compassion, higher levels of narcissism and entitlement, and lower level of ability to delay gratification motivate them to need more power, adulation, more immediate gratification and to seek out easy ways to achieve them at the expense of trust, family, vows, oath, society, lives, human rights, children, minorities, or whatever else suits them.
How Do Narcissists Use Lies to Deceive
Narcissists are slick, creative liars. They naturally and intentionally bomb us with lies and irrational beliefs to skew our perceptions of our own (male or female) and others’ personal power and worth. They frequently surround themselves with a posse of low-character “flying monkeys” who support them in the “lie bombing.”
They lie pathologically to imbalance power and create doubt, confusion, uncertainty, and chaos so they can manipulate us more effectively. They are emotional moochers. So they lie bomb (a.k.a engage in crazy making) to play on and trigger our fears and to get us to believe we are not worthy of better. While no one even other narcissists is immune to being targeted, their preferred targets are those most vulnerable to manipulation including empaths, those in emotional pain, and even entire groups whose thinking is fear- and pain-based.
These tactics like the old bait and switch are as old as the hills, but nevertheless, are very effective. Convincing you that you or others in need are weak, of less value, crazy, or are a danger, a threat, makes you seem less believable, weak, unlovable, undesirable, and unworthy and even less human. And ultimately by getting you to believe the lies and question your beliefs, they can more easily get you to abandon your natural desire to care for, empathize and help yourself and others. They manipulate you to believe that you and the vulnerable are not lovable and not worthy of your basic rights to life, liberty, and happiness because you are “moochers” who are stealing from those more worthy (e.g. them) when they, in reality, are the “moochers.” Remember The Wizard of Oz, nothing but smoke and mirrors controlled by a wizard you were instructed not to pay attention to? Well, while anecdotal and filmed in the 1930s, it is based in reality about pathologically lying narcissists and the importance of being able to separate lies from truth.
How can We Learn to Protect Ourselves
In a world of increased narcissism and decreased empathy, how can we discern genuine, authentic people from manipulators and truth from their perfected lies they present in our newsfeeds? How can we distinguish one from the other, the truly good people from the “glittered turds, facts from manipulative emotive lies that trigger our fear- and ego-based emotions?”
We can easily learn to be mindful in our interactions to distinguish those in legitimate need from the “toxic moochers” who merely want to exploit us and benefit at our expense.
Here are some tips to help you learn how:
Traits of Authentic People
The following is a list of 12 characteristics of authentic people derived from the research and personal experiences of psychotherapist, Kristi Tackett-Newburg. With practice you can hone your “compassion radar” to readily identify persons authentically in need become less vulnerable to the attacks and less attractive as a target to toxic moochers. If in doubt, go with your gut and the old adage, “if it’s too be true is probably is.”
Authentic: “Not false or copied; genuine; real; representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified.
- Their Words and Actions Align.
- They Are Transparent, Honest, and Assertive.
- They Demonstrate Reciprocity in Relationships.
- They Are Open-Minded.
- They Make You Feel at Ease.
- They Are Not Superficial.
- They Are Not Swayed by Material Objects.
- They Take Personal Responsibility.
- They Cultivate Meaningful Relationships.
- They Are Not Driven by Ego.
- They Have Strong Character.
- They Live in the Moment and Create Their Own Paths.
You can read more details on these traits in “Don’t Be Fooled by Smoke and Mirrors: 12 Traits of Truly Authentic People.”
How to Identify and Deal with Toxic People
We must be mindful, vigilant and informed in all our choices and especially in whom we choose to love, associate with, trust, and choose as our lawmakers, senators, the head of state! We can work on improving our own emotional health.
How do we achieve this? First, we must heal and educate ourselves on narcissism. As we heal, our children will heal through us. They will develop the empathy, self-worth, self-reliance, and emotional intelligence required to succeed in life, work, and relationships and maximize their power to themselves and to the world. I provide tons of healing information, tools and resources in this Blog, the Yourlifelifter website and Facebook page, and in my book Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips and Tools for Abuse Survivors.
Learning to recognize these toxic individuals and distinguishing them from authentic people, managing boundaries, and learning to say no can be instrumental in helping us all take our power back, learn to use our compassion responsibly, prevent our exploitation from emotional moochers, making better choices based on facts rather than emotional triggers, and living the joy-filled lives we were put on this earth to live.
In “Useful Tips to Identify Toxic People in Your Life,” I provide 15 simple and very effective tips to help you identify manipulation tactics of toxic people and distinguish authentically virtuous and competent people from the emotional vampires who exploit power, value, credit, attention, or whatever they need from you.
Second, we must learn what authentic power really is and how it applies to all humans regardless of their sex, privilege, or appearance, the tactics emotional manipulators use to con our power from us to benefit them, and what makes us vulnerable to them.
Third, we can stand up to and also stop voting diagnosed pathological narcissists into key political offices. We can be mindful and wise in our choices of those with the integrity of character and other qualities, skills, knowledge and abilities they have worked for and earned that support them being an effective world leader who are competent to make informed decisions based on what is best for others, the country, the world and not just themselves, profoundly weak people who cannot generate their own power and steal that of others.
Educating ourselves about narcissism will allow us easier to recognize them and assess the state of our own emotional health that makes us vulnerable to their manipulation. In this way, we can expose and defuse them. The U. S. government can also start screening the mental and emotional health, along with the financial and character integrity of anyone who is hired into a critical political position no different than what all high risk industries are, by law or ethics, required to do.
This is how we collectively heal and take our power back as people and as a nation and get us back on track to allow us equally and unhindered to act freely on our divine rights we collectively work for, deserve, and pay for to pursue life, liberty, and happiness