Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter Continue reading
Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
I remember many years ago, early in my career, a colleague I babysat for and who was very happily married referred to his and his brother’s chronic infidelity as “the family curse.” I found out about his betrayal when he approached me for medical advice about symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases. I was flabbergasted especially when he told me his wife and family were “the best” and most important thing in the world to him. I have been fascinated ever since by those who readily cheat and betray others and those who do not. So I started to explore during my own healing journey those qualities in people that would motivate them to betray a.k.a cheat and those that would prevent them from cheating a.k.a. be loyal. This is what I discovered about why cheaters cheat.
Betrayal is Dependent on the Ability to Be Loyal
Betrayal and loyalty are dependent on the level of character and personal power that impact the ability to obligate and commit to another. Anyone can cheat and very easily. Betrayal takes no effort at all except to plot and scheme perhaps. Now, this applies to all forms of betrayal of relational trust including abuse, abandonment, cheating, fraud, lying, conning, manipulating, addictions, exploiting and benefitting at the expense of someone else. It even includes betraying and abandoning our own selves after the betrayers betray us such as in codependent relationships. To not cheat, to be loyal and faithful takes personal power, integrity of character, healthy self-worth. Why? What is the big deal? Why should we care? Well, you should care a lot because your life, relationships, happiness, self-worth, and those of your children depend on it.
Are you a loyal, committed, honest, obligated, trustworthy person? Well, I hope so because being one takes personal resilience, wisdom, and strength of character to not have to succumb to what is easy and may be gratifying in the short term, to know it will not sustain us in the long run, and to have the compassion and conscience it takes not to break the trust of someone we vowed not to or who trusts us. And it takes hard work to learn the difference and which one we and the ones who trust us are more worthy of. So being loyal requires not only the ability to commit in word or thought (e.g. invalidated promise) but the ability to act on and demonstrate the commitment promised (e.g. validate the promise). A promise is hollow and valueless until we deliver on that promise.
We, assuming we are emotionally healthy, believe we are agreeing to something we know we can deliver and are able to deliver and understand we are worthy of the same in return. This is why we have codes of ethics and oaths and vows where we commit in good times and bad, in sickness and health when our ability to act on that commitment of loyalty are challenged the most. We trust the other’s word based on what they say and faith that it aligns with their thoughts and actions and abilities. Hopefully, that is based on them earning that trust. Ah? Or so we thought.
Why Do Loyal People Trust the Untrustworthy
The strength of character that enables us to be loyal doesn’t come for free or have anything to do with how much money you have, or your looks, formal education, title, prestige, level of privilege. It is worked for and earned. The problem is that usually the most faithful people and the most loyal are also the ones with the higher level of compassion and lower levels of self-worth that make them vulnerable to emotional predators and pathological liars who are not able to source their power internally. So we think others have the same good intentions as we do and they have worked as hard as we have to develop the character strength to be loyal friends, lovers, spouses, family members and co-workers when in reality they have not! We expect enemies to betray, to intentionally want to inflict pain, not those we love and trust. What happens, then, when we are betrayed by someone who we not only trust but are driven by our love and loyalty to believe and protect and stand by when things get rough? This is typically how our reaction plays out.
After the shock, disbelief, confusion as to why someone would do to me what “I would not do to them in a million years,” we typically blame ourselves. Sadly, the self-blame can turn into toxic shame. While we did nothing wrong except perhaps to rely on someone who is unreliable, we blame ourselves for the perpetrator’s lie(s), inability to commit, lack of compassion, unfaithfulness, treason, crimes, addictions.
Repetitive betrayals can cause trauma bonding and exaggerated fear of abandonment. We can stay too long in exploitive relationships and sabotage our own healing to avoid “betraying” even toxic people who are harming us. We can mistake trauma bonding caused by peptide addiction for love. We can even sabotage healthy relationships to avoid abandonment or betrayal that we fear more than the breakup. And for empaths whose lives have been filled with multiple losses and betrayals, healing challenges including learning the dynamics of healthy relationships can appear insurmountable when in reality they are not. Read more on the challenges of loss for empaths.
Learn more why and how people with too much compassion can be targeted by those with too little in Am I a Narcissist? – Being Narcissistic Versus Being a Narcissist
Why Do People Cheat When They Promise Not to
Cheating is an easy way to feel powerful, feed the ego of people who have nothing reliable in their tool kit of character traits, values, wisdom and coping and life skills to prevent them from cheating. 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 are the character traits that motivate a person to need more power, more immediate gratification and to seek out easy ways to achieve them at the expense of trust, family, vows, oaths to defend nations, society, lives, human rights, children, minorities, or whatever suits them. So weakness of character motivates a person to betray and facilitates the betrayal because they have no internal “brakes” to prevent them from cheating or exploiting. In essence, betrayers are wired for betraying.
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 the capacity to love because they 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.
Dr. Simon’s research confirms that narcissists can work very hard and can spend inordinate amounts time and energy working purely to get something they want such as another love interest that would benefit them. As many of us very well know, they can put in extraordinary efforts to groom and love bomb a potential mate or spouse or as we have seen in recent news, commit fraud to enter college or government. But putting the same amount of energy into a personal relationship, taking care of a sick family member, demonstrating the loyalty and consistency they promise are completely different matters and very unattractive enterprises to them. They want all the benefits of marriage, for example, without having to work for them or earn them! Dr. Simon emphasizes that narcissists resist working to become better human beings more than any other kind of work. So even when it comes to respect and love and admiration or even college admittance and educating themselves, they want to come by them in the same manner as everything else – without having to earn them. And guess what folks? How do we build integrity of character? Competence? Problem solving? You got it! By earning it through hard work to set goals, make a plan to achieve them, critically thinking, being successful, and learning lessons through mistakes we make along the way. If we don’t, we do not develop those human qualities that allow us to love, grow, and to integrate normally into society. We essentially remain stunted in our growth, rely parasitically on others, exploit resources, and spend our energy manipulating power and resources from others without returning the value.
Learn more why and how people with too much compassion can be targeted by those with too little in Am I a Narcissist? – Being Narcissistic Versus Being a Narcissist
Can the Betrayers and Those They Betray Heal
Can those who have been betrayed learn to heal, release the shame, grieve the loss, and improve the health of their relationships to benefit themselves? Of course. Remember? They are the ones with resilience and authentic power, the ones with the inner strength to be loyal and faithful, true to their commitment of trust, and have no need to cheat.
Can the betrayers heal? Not my call. No one knows. However, this I do know. Once a serial betrayer, forever a serial betrayer. And there is no cure for pathological narcissism. The more severe the betrayal and the more serious the level of weakness in character of the perpetrator, the more likely any promises and bit of perceived improvement will be faked, temporary, and unsustainable. Remember, the parts of their brains that plot and scheme and lie work perfectly fine. It is the parts that would prevent them from cheating, have remorse, and learn from their mistakes that don’t.
Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
No doubt that narcissism is a hot topic with we all being such a self-centered lot on top of the pandemic of pathological narcissists wreaking havoc in government and even those posing as healers on social media to support their parasitic need for adulation even from the victims they victimized. So we not only have lots of them we deal with daily but experience the damage they cause as well.
This inundation of life across the globe by both has led to much confusion that I see in the 1000’s of blogs and threads I read weekly! One of the most frequent and popular questions I see and receive is from victims of narcissistic abuse asking if they are the narcissist! I have tons of articles in the Blog and 1000’s of posts at Yourlifelifter that break this subject down. I will summarize them here for those needing clarity and for newbies searching for answers on the differences between being narcissistic and being a Pathological Narcissist.
Being Narcissistic is a Human Trait
Narcissism like compassion is a normal human characteristic that falls on a spectrum however, like most things, too much or too little of either can cause issues. We see the consequences of both more so in our vested relationships with ourselves and others and in our own degree and comfort with self-worth and self-care. Since our relationships are core to our self-worth and our happiness, the degree of our narcissism and compassion can seriously impact both. Too much or too little compassion can imbalance power in relationships, hinder management of personal boundaries, and put healthy mutually respectful interactions at risk.
What Impacts Does Too Much Compassion Have
Caring too much can motivate us to rescue others we believe need help even those who don’t need or want rescuing. It can cause us to give too much, become a people pleaser and to neglect our needs over the needs of others where we put greater value than our own worth. We become vulnerable to anyone or anything that triggers that overabundance of compassion and need for validation of our worth. We are vulnerable to codependency we learn from being exploited as children. Having too much compassion (that we commonly see in empaths) can make us vulnerable to those who will intentionally exploit our compassion with no intention of returning the benefit. Giving too much and not being validated for that effort can lead to emotional fatigue and depression and even trauma.
People, with too much compassion, however, as Dr. Kristin Neff demonstrates in her studies, can learn self-care and how to use their compassion responsibly and to treat themselves mindfully with more kindness especially when they are in pain. They can heal the wounds that caused these faulty beliefs and unhealthy behaviors. They can learn internal boundaries that allow them to monitor and show compassion in ways that will promote their emotional health and self-worth.
Too little compassion, on the other hand, that we see in highly narcissistic people, and worse, in many personality disorders, makes us dependent on others as well but for totally different and more nefarious reasons. Healing for some is not possible.
What Impacts Does Too Little Compassion Have
Like in those with too much compassion, we see the biggest impacts from low levels of compassion on the health of relationships. The narcissistically disordered with very low to non-existent compassion have no internal brakes that would motivate them to respect other’s needs or wishes or boundaries and that would prevent them from mooching and using others to service their needs at their expense. They also have little to no motivation to return the favor. Other people become essentially their “prey.” They become masters at identifying emotions in others and how to trigger them to direct other’s power for their personal benefit but are not able with compassion to recognize those same emotions in themselves. They, in fact, as the McGregor studies show, target empaths with too much compassion who they have learned are the most vulnerable to their manipulation tactics. Interestingly enough, narcissists themselves are very easily manipulated and can target other narcissists.
They also use others with lower levels of compassion (but not pathologically low) who Dr. Jane McGregor refers as “apaths” to help them in their attacks. We in the narcissistic abuse recovery community refer to them as “flying monkeys.” These apaths have enough compassion to prevent them from an all out premeditated stealthy attack on another, but not enough to put another’s safety or needs ahead of their own especially when doing so would disturb them or upset them, cost them, or make them appear less acceptable to the audience, group, family, job, etc. Apaths have brakes, just faulty selective ones.
What Causes Us to Have Too Little or Too Much Compassion
As discussed earlier, empaths with too much compassion learn to give it away freely in exploitive childhoods where their emotional needs were not met in healthy ways. While the brains of those with too much compassion and moderate levels can rewire and they can learn to fix their skewed beliefs and use their compassion more responsibly to improve their emotional and relational health, those with pathologically low levels cannot.
Experts believe the roots of pathological narcissism, the clinically disordered are genetic and triggered by events in early childhood that permanently arrest development and cannot be reversed. In short, pathological narcissists, essentially remain dependent on other people to survive and cannot ever fend for themselves. They know what they do and simply do not care, because they are not able to. There is no cure. Some refer to it as “living hell.” Read more in the articles below:
Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
“Narcissists 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 target the primary beliefs that trigger our fears and shame related to our self-esteem, personal power, and safety. In short, these are the primary beliefs that support our personal joy, health, power, and happiness.”
Disparities in character and emotional fitness can cause power imbalance in any abusive family, organization, government, political party, employer, relationship where the members use their authority to exploit the rights of the vulnerable to benefit themselves. These abusers, then, stealthily interfere with our rights to life, liberty, and happiness by intentionally exploiting resources and opportunities that allow us to act on those rights. Governments, for example, use political authority to get our support or votes; in employment, job status and authority to keep us sub-servant; and in families, love and acceptance to abuse us. All test and demonstrate the value added from integrity of character and the level of emotional fitness of all participating members, givers and takers alike. We all have the same human needs and no one, not ever, is entitled to have their needs met over ours. It is this fundamental belief at the core of our worthiness that people and especially, narcissists, abusers, psychopaths, and demagogues use to manipulate and over power us.
What is Power and What It’s Not
Would you let the hospital janitor perform your heart surgery? Would you let a nurse perform your heart surgery? I hope not. Well, the same principles apply to anyone in a position of authority whose decisions and competence level can have life or death impacts on others.
This is also why education, qualifications, emotional fitness, credibility, reliability, loyalty, criminal history, communications, experience, and character traits like compassion and conscientiousness and loyalty are so important to effectively completing any high risk/ high consequence job. Those of us who have dedicated our lives to maintain this high level of competency in support of our service to the public are very well aware of this. We are clear on personal power, competence and worth and have worked our back ends off to achieve a level of excellence our work and the public deserve. We do not abuse our positions of authority to benefit from others at their expense. We have no need to and our consciences and compassion prevent us from abusing our authority and betraying those we are committed to in trust.
Let’s be clear here.
- Authority is not power.
- Aggression is not power.
- Triggering pain and fear is not power.
- Exploitation is not power.
- Money is not power.
- Being born into privilege does not make us powerful.
- Entitlement is not power.
Then why do so many of us believe this?
Most of us have been conditioned to believe personal power is associated with external image exemplified in title, stature, privilege, personal strength, size, sex, beauty, brains, status quo, prestige, instant gratification, the level of attention we command and with those we fear either on a conscious or unconscious level. Nothing could be farther from reality. While all these things may look good on the outside and be appealing and even scary, anything that appears too good to be true usually is. Beware of glitter folks. This is all B.S. we have been brainwashed to believe in our youth and that is reinforced in all aspects of our adult lives that have a profound affect on our core beliefs impacting our survival.
“We can perceive those with authentic power (who have no need to demonstrate it or glitter it up) who can actually help us as threats because they challenge our pain-based ego-driven beliefs that while faulty we are comfortable with and settled for. We unknowingly become vulnerable to emotional vampires and do not live to our true potential.”
We then live and create in life what we believe to be true or valuable based on lies and false fears. As a result, we routinely give up our power or witness others giving up their power to good actors who use aggression, manipulation, money or privilege overtly or covertly to trigger our fears and powerlessness. We then believe falsely that anything that relieves our pain or triggers our envy is value-adding. And more significantly, we can perceive those with authentic power (who have no need to demonstrate it or glitter it up) who can actually help us as threats because they challenge our pain-based ego-driven beliefs that while faulty we are comfortable with and settled for. We unknowingly become vulnerable to emotional vampires and do not live to our true potential.
So, is acting powerful? Are lies powerful? Is manipulation powerful? Are nice things powerful? They may gratify you temporarily if you pay to be entertained by them or they feed your ego. They may even be impactful in the short run if they trigger fears you believe you are powerless and defenseless to and only the manipulator can alleviate. That, folks, is not power. It is abusive exploitation of power from the vulnerable, the wounded. Is a thief even, if a good one, worthy of what they steal? Does the theft entitle them to unearned benefits and provide them with some hidden magical power? I think not.
“Anyone truly powerful does not have to act, lie, manipulate, steal, or exploit. Why? It has no need to.”
What Is Authentic Personal Power
Anyone truly powerful does not have to act, lie, manipulate, steal, or exploit. Why? They have no need to. They have integrity of character, authenticity, and competence they can rely on to benefit not only themselves but also others.
We all have to work to be able to create value in spite of adversity to not only live but also to become who we uniquely are. No one based on their level of privilege, label, title, authority, sex, or role is exempt from this basic rule of humanity. There is no other way. The level of our integrity of character including our empathy and moral compass help us create authentic value and resilience that earns us the right to reap the benefits from the value we create not steal value others work for to benefit ourselves. It simply doesn’t work that way. It is irrational to think otherwise.
We, nevertheless, are social beings and cannot accomplish this in a vacuum. So normal functioning people work to use their experiences to develop the lessons, knowledge, skills, resilience, competence they use to create value in their lives, relationships, work, community, and in the world. This is real personal power that we project out to others to benefit them so they, too, build personal power and find meaning in their lives. This is how we all become humans of excellence and accomplish goals we are worthy of. We earn them! And we openly share that value at will with others we choose to share it with and they with us.
Compassionate and loyal people, use their personal power to protect the vulnerable, the sick, and anyone in need, not exploit them for their personal gain. They would use their authority and their earned skills, knowledge, abilities and unbiased judgment to ensure all benefitted equally and fairly with due regard for the law. They can readily source their own power internally to think critically and make risk-informed decisions and thought and course corrections and improvements that result in value-adding and sustainable results. They possess emotional maturity that allows them to identify when they need assistance to make reliable decisions and to get the help they need from reliable competent sources. This is the basis for a chaos free society where we all are free to act on our free will to pursue life, liberty, and happiness unhindered.
If you are not aware of this, then immediately please bring this into your level of consciousness and belief system. Because if you do not, you will remain vulnerable to pathological narcissists, con artists, psychopaths, bullies, and abusers who prey on those with the lack of knowledge of their real worth and power and personal authority.
How Narcissists Imbalance Power to Con You
We must not forget that all humans have basic needs for survival regardless of our level of privilege, status, and title. These include, food, love, shelter and safety, self-esteem, and self-actualization (achieving your potential, happiness, finding meaning). To meet these needs, sometimes we give and sometimes we take because our living conditions change. Bad things happen to good people, right? Nothing is ever static. So “mooching” clearly is part of the human condition and part of all relationships and our existence as individuals and as a society since we exist as a nation (and no longer live in tribes and a feudal system).
No one is immune, poor or rich, privileged or not from “mooching.” Some of us because of disabilities or hardships may have to legitimately mooch more than others because we are not able to create, generate or return the resources we need to support our basic needs. Others may mooch, however, simply because they believe they are entitled to.
Narcissists do not mooch legitimately. They are intentional moochers who want us to forget that those in a civil ordered ethically-based compassionate society take care of each other and that we have laws that protect our rights and the rights of the vulnerable to help us maintain order from chaos. We also have our own personal standards, ethics and morals we live by they want us to forget. They, instead, deliberately divide us and create chaos to imbalance power so they can more easily steal our power from us.
Narcissists covertly or overtly yet aggressively con others to ignore their basic instincts, core beliefs, and sense of reason and decency. They routinely engage in “crazy making” to distract you from the facts and invalidate your “authentic emotions” so you will forget that in a democratic republic, we all, regardless of our differences, have a right to achieve life, liberty, happiness and to our own opinions regardless of our beliefs, state of our emotional health or level of comfort in the state of affairs. Of course, no one likes rules or laws or regulations but we know they exist to provide limits that, in the short or long term, protect us from harm and prevent chaos and keep us all on the up and up.
Narcissists who permanently lack normal functioning abilities that motivate humans to work and earn these benefits literally con and steal these from anyone vulnerable to their manipulation tactics. This is why they despise laws, courts, accountability, scrutiny, regulations, oversight and literally anything or anyone that will prevent them from exploiting the vulnerable which is just part of their disordered character or that expose them for who they really are, the weakest humans with lowest of integrity of character. They are disordered individuals who have become human parasites who prey on the benefits others work for and have earned. They are forever unable to fend for themselves or sustain their own happiness.
Narcissists Have Infiltrated Government
Kathy Krajco, a formidable pioneer in educating the world on narcissism and narcissistic abuse, warns us in What Makes Narcissists Tick 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.”
Weakness of character motivates a person to betray and facilitates the betrayal because they have no internal “brakes” to prevent them from cheating or exploiting. In essence, betrayers are wired for betraying. 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.
“We cannot ever take for granted what it takes to support order or forget the importance of the balance of power and integrity of character in ensuring not only our personal health and happiness but also peace and harmony in our families, communities, states, and society. And we must never forget that acquiring these takes plain hard work.”
There is immense accuracy to the old adage that “the devil comes cloaked as everything you ever wanted.” The truly evil members of the human race know what makes people of character work. They learn to read their emotional responses and manipulate their conscientiousness, compassion, and fears to direct their time, energy, and money to them. Now, criminals, parasites, and predators cannot announce to their targeted hosts and prey their true intent can they? What do they, like all predatory and parasitic animals, do? They use camouflage and manipulation to fool their prey. Narcissists in government are no different. They use two primary tactics to manipulate those they target.
- They play on and trigger their fears and
- They diminish the value of other humans.
Narcissistic politicians try to stealthily convince you that people including yourself in legitimate need are “moochers.” They want us to forget the vulnerable among us like the sick, those prejudiced against, abuse victims, minorities, and the elderly need our help and by law, earn and merit that help. These are conditions, remember, that all humans face that can prevent us from acting on our basic rights and meeting our basic needs. Narcissists, in fact, loathe anyone in need who cannot directly benefit them.
“Why,” you may think, “would anyone do these horrible things?” The answer is simple. They want to direct our time, energy, money, and power to them. To do this effectively, they must get us to feel shame for our needs and not care for other folks and to fear or hate them instead. You may now think, “how can someone get another person to not care for themselves and others and to fear and hate them?”
Well, sadly, lots easier than you may think if they get you to believe that the person you care about is an undeserving moocher, a threat to you, and convince you through lies, false threats, and character assassination that all of you are not worthy of compassion. More so, they get you to believe only they can save you from these fake threats and alleviate your fears and only they are worthy of your attention and adulation. How do they do this? Again the answer is pretty simple. They lie.
Narcissists, bullies, psychopaths and demagogues are pathological liars. (As a side note, I would love to see their pants actually catch fire). Why? The answer again is simple! They have to be and want to be. It is just part of their parasitic nature.
“Narcissists, bullies, psychopaths and demagogues are pathological liars. (As a side note, I do wish their pants would catch fire). Why? The answer again is simple! They have to be and want to be. It is just a part of their natural and parasitic nature.”
Narcissists 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 target the primary beliefs that trigger our fears and shame related to our self-esteem, personal power, and safety. In short, these are the primary beliefs that support our personal joy, health, power, and happiness. So they lie pathologically to create doubt, confusion, uncertainty, and chaos so they can manipulate us more effectively. They are emotional moochers. This tactic like the old bait and switch is as old as the hills, but nevertheless, is very effective.
Convincing you that you or others in need are weak, of less value, or are a danger, a threat, makes you seem less believable, weak, and unworthy and therefore less human. And ultimately by getting you to believe the lies, 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 worthy of your basic rights to life, liberty, and happiness because you are “moochers” who are stealing from those more worthy 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, it is based in reality.
“Narcissists bomb us with lies and irrational beliefs to skew our perceptions of our own (male or female) and others’ personal power and worth. The frequently surround themselves with a posse of low-character “flying monkeys” who support them in the “lie bombing.” They target the primary beliefs that trigger our fears and shame related to our our self-esteem, personal power, and safety. In short, these are the primary beliefs that support our personal joy, health, power, and happiness.”
There is a vital lesson for us to all learn here!
We cannot ever take for granted what it takes to support order or forget the importance of the balance of power and integrity of character needed in key decision makers in government to ensure not only our personal health and happiness but also peace and harmony in our families, communities, states, and society. And we must never forget that acquiring these takes plain hard work and authentic personal power that is earned not stolen.
What Can We Do as a Person, a People, a Nation
Well, there is lots we can do and lots we shouldn’t do. At the top of the “do not” list is to hunker down in shame or fear. At the top of the “do” list is to take actions and resist so we can take our power back and maximize the positive impact of the truly good and emotionally healthy people with integrity of character, intellect, and compassion and to stop promoting the evil component of society. So now more than ever it is critical to be intelligent in our choices and to not not let our fears and lack of information and state of our emotional health drive them. We must be 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. As we heal, our children will heal through us. The onus is on the United States government and on us as citizens to ensure we can confidently answer this question as it applies to all personnel running for key elected decision-making roles in government and especially those at the highest levels of government:
“Are these candidates competent and emotionally fit for duty and running an honest campaign from the heart, with authentic loyalty, integrity and duty to the greater good or are they knowingly and intentionally lying and making false promises to their constituents and exploiting their fears to win in order to abuse the authority of the position to benefit themselves?”
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.
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
I as a victim of abuse for a large part of my life searched for decades for truth my soul was starving for. And now I share that truth with others. One of the hardest lessons I learned is that truly evil and toxic people do exist and that they prey on the truly good people and in fact, they target them in all aspects of life.
I also learned that exploitation and power imbalanced situations can come in many forms because “toxic humans” can come in many forms camouflaged as many things. So even after we recover from abuse, like with any addiction (and abuse victims do suffer from “pain addiction”), we can be targeted and triggered when we least expect it. We can have a single abusive or toxic mate, lover, co-worker, spouse or we can be exposed to toxicity and power imbalance in toxic “groups” that also come in all forms – families, work groups, religious groups, political groups, or what I experienced recently, a branch of a world-wide fundraising organization that is over 100 years old.
So to effectively heal after narcissistic abuse and not be vulnerable to narcissists, I’d like to remind you, “All that glitters is not gold.” This is why.
Pathological Narcissism is a Pandemic
Narcissism is now a world-wide pandemic. It has infiltrated all aspects or our lives and is 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, providing illusions of generosity and “goodness” and feeding off the unlimited supply of power and energy of innocent members of the community while hiding true intentions of superiority and self-righteousness. Gary Bell, a valued community member at Yourlifelifter describes it perfectly, “Service organizations frequently come to be fraternal organizations with a bit of charity work to make it seem legit – fraternity and sorority houses for ‘grownups.'”
Narcissists are even posing as healers on Facebook. 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.
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.”
What Can We Do to Protect Ourselves
We can educate ourselves on narcissism and how to protect ourselves from toxic people and learn to rely more confidently on our emotional intelligence. So, if your gut instinct tells you there is something fishy going on, then trust it, don’t ignore your inner voice or second guess yourself, be cautious, and if the not so good feelings in your gut start to outnumber the truly rewarding ones, then run for the hills.
Do “do good” organizations do good for the community? Possibly but beware the true intent of their members! Is it to simply give back to and benefit the community which was my sole personal objective or are there “hidden” underlying objectives? Look closely at their actions and do not assume their intentions, like yours, are good ones. Fact check! The more important question to answer is to determine why the members are really there? Does their objective for being there and donating their time align with yours? Look how they routinely treat all members. Do they play favorites? Are there cliques that seem to manipulate all the decisions in the organization to favor themselves and those in the clique at the expense of others? Do they portray in their home lives the ethics and moral codes of the organization? Do their actions contradict their thoughts and words and vice versa?
The point is this. Anyone can provide an illusion of doing good by hiding in a “do good” organization or even places of worship that are really filled with manipulative covert aggressive self-righteous people who are exploiting others and are languishing in their superiority over the “needy” they profess to help and are providing a very toxic and emotionally unhealthy environment for its innocent and truly compassionate members who simply are there just to “do good.” Wolves can be cloaked in many versions of sheep’s clothing and snakes can be cloaked in many colors of suits. So it doesn’t matter how appealing it “looks” or “sounds” even if there is a handsome “shiny as a new penny” person at the helm or is a rich Presidential candidate in a $2000 suit…..if it looks like, if it smells like, it is. And if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
So even after we heal, we must remain vigilant and confident in our personal power. And never forget that truth is truth and never again let anyone manipulate you into compromising yours even if they appear as glittered “do gooders.”
You cannot polish a turd, folks, but you can roll it in glitter and nevertheless it will remain a turd and the smell lingers. Don’t be fooled by the glitter. It is all an unsustainable illusion. Truth, on the other hand IS like gold. It can tarnish but will never lose its brilliance or value.
Abusers, narcissists, manipulators, and bullies find us. We do not find them. Why? Because they are powerless and weak and so they prey on people who are vulnerable to their covert aggressive tactics and who will give up their power to them.
Abusers and exploiters and bullies and especially narcissists are masters at pushing pain buttons, making people feel powerless, and getting people to let down their boundaries and getting them to give up their power to them. In fact, they enjoy doing it. They use charm and love as their camouflage. We become unknowingly complicit in our own abuse and exploitation. We innocently expose ourselves to some of the worst abuse and harm imaginable.
Part of healing for those who were victims and continue to be susceptible to their attacks, then, is learning effectively how not to be vulnerable to emotional predators.
Unfortunately, there is no electronic monitor like a home protection system you can purchase to warn you of impending “emotional” predators and attacks. However, you can strengthen your own internal monitors and learn new self-care and self-compassion skills including honing your narcissist radar otherwise known as “NADAR” and honoring and “feeling” for and caring for your own wants and needs with compassion and defending your personal rights and authorities. These include assertively expressing what your rights, authorities, needs, and feelings are and recognizing and regulating your own emotions especially your pain-based ones and learning when they are triggered and who routinely triggers them. Just as important, then, is knowing WHAT makes you happy.
These are normal adaptive habits supporting our emotional health and self-worth and self-assuredness we should have learned in our youth. However, we are not encouraged to and are even ignored and punished for merely taking care of our basic needs in abusive and exploitive childhoods, relationships, and environments. If this is true and continues in your life, then you are in one of the most toxic environments rather than a mutually healthy and respectful one that supports your emotional health. If this is the case, take protective actions immediately. The good news?
Healing and taking your power back will allow you to embrace the new authentic you with love, compassion, caring and a whole new set of “life” and “self-loving” skills. These include assertively expressing your wants, needs, disappointments, viewpoints, and simply saying no. Saying no is a complete sentence and requires no additional explanation. Remember, too, that boundaries control flow in both directions. So be careful not only to protect your boundaries from others but also maintain them steady and not readily share too much information with others that can leave you vulnerable to emotional attackers as well. Read more here.
When in doubt, simply trust your gut instinct, don’t second guess it, recognize your discomfort with the situation, recognize this person as a potential threat, and walk away. Say nothing or if you feel compelled, say something neutral like “I never heard that put that way before,” or “I will have to think about that,” and then remove yourself from the toxic situation as soon as you can.
Remember the TDS rule!
- Minimize your TIME with them;
- Maximize the DISTANCE between you and them; and
- Put SHIELDING or a barrier between you and them.
Assertively saying no and walking away to a safe place allow you to do all three, easily and effectively.
For more information on how to deal with toxic people read this article.
Another, very important and not so obvious lesson relates to the challenges of managing boundaries faced by those with codependent tendencies, heavily reliant on others for self-worth.
Case in point. An abuse survivor with admitted over dependence on others for validation, goes to her sister to let her know how her non-traditional therapy went and was bashed by her sister for the decision she made.
Case in point. An abuse survivor who is far into her healing journey is called daily by a life-long friend who is a serious codependent and people pleaser who uses her friend’s power to sustain herself but does not work on building her own self-assuredness to help her through her personal issues.
What can we learn from these interrelationships on managing personal boundaries?
Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
“Self-Love Deficit Disorder” (SLDD) has been officially trademarked by Ross Rosenberg!
Hallelujah! We can all stop being labelled “codependents.”
The last thing abuse survivors need is to be labelled. Becoming dependent on others to define our self-worth and soothe our repressed pain is a consequence of abuse not a cause of it.
Self-Love Deficit (SLD) much more accurately describes what happened to us and the consequences of the abuse we suffered. It points to the causes of the damage, not to us personally as having a flawed condition that causes the abuse that is promoted by addressing people as defective “codependents.”
Personally I refer to abuse consequences as “pain addictions.” Others refer to it as “Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome” and “Narcissistic Victim Syndrome.” The point is not what we call it but that we correct and take down obstacles that prevent our healing.
Labeling abuse victims as “codependents” creates an obstacle to healing. It implies that we are the cause of abuse and that we are flawed which adds to and compounds our already existing toxic shame. The term as Dr. Rosenberg points out has been misused. Dr. Rosenberg’s new trademark will level the healing playing field and enable folks to understand that we were and are victims of emotional predators and to be aware of our vulnerabilities and protect ourselves from these emotional criminals.
Abuse survivors have been starving for truth and were conditioned to live lies. Being labelled “codependents” perpetuated the lies.
Thank you, Ross Rosenberg for helping to share the truth with abuse survivors from around the world.
Hear more from Ross Rosenberg and Self-Love Deficit Disorder here.
Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
Here’s the simple answer: “No!”
Therapy can help narcissists put on the brakes if they go to therapy and the therapists are skilled in their covert aggressive personalities and know how to deal with their perverted thinking including their manipulation, lack of compassion, aggression, combativeness and need to win. However, based on my decades of research and the collective opinions of real experts on character disturbances who have treated thousands of narcs and their victims, I believe there is no cure. Read more at http://drgeorgesimon.com.
Can they have redeeming character traits? Intelligence?
Of course they can.
But they permanently lack the qualities we as humans need to build and sustain integrity of character and building meaningful healthy relationships.
Let’s explore this.
Our characters are built through life experiences and mistakes and successes and are chiseled permanently like sculpture. Our characters, whether they be characters of integrity just like disturbed…
View original post 770 more words
Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” ~ Albert Einstein
Let’s look at traditional medicine and ask the same question that Doctor Phil frequently asks:
“Is it working for you.”
Well, it is very obviously not working for the patients who continue to suffer but a lot of people are benefitting from treating symptoms of disease, autoimmune illnesses (hugely on the rise), emotional fatigue and trauma, or whatever.
The functional approach is a long overdue new direction in medicine that focuses on root causes to disease and ailments and promotes our bodies’ natural defense mechanisms to prevent and heal illness and disease related to our physical and emotional health.
However, functional medicine is not based on a new concept – not in the least. I have used this for over 35 years and it is pretty basic. It goes like this:
“It is impossible to heal and prevent a problem if you do not address what causes it…pure and simple.”
It is impossible to effectively heal a problem and sustain healing if you label it with something after going through a checklist of SYMPTOMS and do not investigate to identify and then address the root causes. Addressing what happened does not address why it happened or the events or series of events leading up to the mishap.
Albert Einstein said it eloquently in his statement (and my favorite quote):
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
The same applies to illness or sadness or whatever we know “needs fixing.”
We also need to acknowledge it needs fixing because if we don’t, our human nature as creatures of habit takes over and we revert back to what we are comfortable doing even if is doing us harm or brings us angst. Why? Because, if we were abused, neglected, invalidated as children, we can have so many fears we are accustomed to living with that we choose the one or ones we are most comfortable with and deny the others.
Let’s see…should I stay with the abuser because my fear of abandonment overrides my fear of emotional pain or should I select abandonment over shame? Sound silly? Maybe. But this is exactly how the human mind reacts, how it copes after it has been overly taxed, traumatized. The brain is capable of so much but it is not capable of spontaneous healing.
Now these beliefs and immature coping mechanisms may have served us in the short term when we were defenseless to our heartless uncompassionate caregivers and caretakers, but they do not and will not serve us in the long term because they are just bandaiding symptoms. They will sustain your happiness because pain and the sources of pain DO NOT EVER GO AWAY. Just because you cannot access them does not mean they do not exist. Believe me. They are there ready to raise their heads when you least expect it and most likely when you are emotionally challenged such as during an illness, death, divorce, or after some major loss.
This example demonstrates the damage that is done to our belief systems and to our mechanisms for self-regulating our pain-based emotions. So abuse survivors’ emotions become toxic to themselves.
This is why traditional therapies frequently do not work for narcissistic abuse survivors and this is why millions of people worldwide are on Facebook and the Internet looking for answers. They are in emotional pain. They are emotionally fatigued. Their souls need emotional nourishment. They need truth.
You cannot treat trauma from abuse by prescribing a pill and treating symptoms and not accessing the trauma back to its source – childhood. It is as simple as that.
Gregg Zaffuto told me that reach at his groundbreaking healing page on Facebook, “After Narcissistic Abuse” reached over one million people worldwide last week and that is just one of many legitimate and credible healing pages.
Yes, folks there are millions of us looking for answers, millions of us whose souls are unnourished and starving for truth.
What? You say you were never physically abused? Well, emotional abuse, covert aggression, invalidation, coddling are all forms of abuse so no one is immune.
Healing is all about truth! This is why I focus on the truth and your healing. This is what I am committed to share with you at Yourlifelifter and what I documented in Take Your Power Back along with a step-by-step program and the tools to help you in your healing journeys.
Take Your Power Back is the product of my decades long search for truth into the root causes of pain addictions in abuse victims.
I wrote it to help you find yours, stop believing lies, break your pain addictions, become the joy-based people you were all put on this earth to be and THRIVE!
May your spiritual source guide and protect you in your search for truth!
Together we heal! Together we thrive!
Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
Excerpted from Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips and Tools for Abuse Survivors. Purchase a copy here.
As discussed in detail in Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips and Tools for Abuse Survivors, victims of abuse have been conditioned to think like victims. It is this thinking that hinders recovery. Victims can get so accustomed to living cyclical patterns of seeking and avoiding pain that they do not understand the real extent of their unhappiness and level of dependence on harmful power imbalanced relationships.
You may live and work in environments where these dysfunctions continue, the boundaries of personal respect are habitually violated, and personal rights are not honored. Your self-esteem suffers, and you live to avoid pain rather than pursue and seek joy. Perhaps you do not even know what brings you joy. The distorted thinking and skewed beliefs that create invisible barriers to your happiness can also create barriers to your healing.
So, here are five fundamental truths to help you challenge what I believe are the biggest falsehoods in your thinking that have hindered and will continue to create obstacles in your healing journey.
Believing lies does not make them true and not believing the truth does not make it a lie. Truth IS truth. Lies are lies. This is indisputable!
We manifest in life what we believe to be true!
We live to provide the evidence that our beliefs are true – even if in reality they are not!
Read this again!
We manifest in life what we believe to be true (even if our beliefs are really lies).
The human brain cannot process two opposing thoughts.
Let’s break this down a bit more.
If we believe we are the source of our pain, must suffer to be lovable, deserve pain rather than joy and we are powerless to the pain (all lies we were taught to believe in childhood), then when we become adults, we create the lies we believe and become attracted to relationships and people that continue to bring us pain.
This is how and why abuse spreads from our caretakers to us and from us to our children and is perpetuated from generation to generation. Yes, the broken ones before us taught us to believe their lies; we became pain-based inauthentic versions of ourselves who teach the same lies to our children. We attract those who prey on vulnerabilities we developed because we did not and do not live authentic lives based on our personal truth and divinely provided human design.
Read “What You Don’t Know About Dysfunctional Families and Intergenerational Abuse” here to learn more.
In addition, emotional vampires like narcissists and psychopaths who cannot generate their own power, bank on our vulnerabilities and the false beliefs that we are deserving of pain and are powerless to those who trigger it.
Abusers find us. We do not find them!!
Sorry to disappoint you, but abusers do not have some magical power over us and no, we are not the source of our pain and we do not deserve to be in relationships with weak, spineless, aggressive, uncompassionate, lazy people who steal our energy from us and who want all the benefits we can provide without any of the work.
Listen and learn more on the “Toxic Tango of Empaths and Narcissists” here.
They are aggressive but the truly weak ones who cannot generate their own power so they steal ours from us. Aggression is not power, folks. Abusers hunt for and prey for those with our vulnerabilities, the false beliefs and fears we were taught in childhood. In fact, they bank on our vulnerabilities so they can feed off of our compassion and benefit from us, like a parasite feeds off of its host, for a very long time. Read more here on the differences between harm, fear and real danger.
We can heal. Our abusers cannot.
The good, and really not so surprising news, is that with hard work, self-compassion, and self-care, our brains can rewire. Absolutely they can. We have the divine ability to release the pain and replace these false beliefs (the lies we were taught to believe) with truth, build our self-worth back up to their true levels, take our power back, and then find others whose truth aligns with ours in power balanced mutually respectful relationships we truly are deserving of.
This is how we heal! This is how we thrive! This is how we become the deserving joy-based authentic versions of ourselves we were put on this earth to be!
I explore these truths and share many more lessons, tips, and tools that will facilitate your healing in Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips, and Tools for Abuse Survivors. You can read more about the book and purchase a copy here.
May your spiritual source guide and protect you in your healing and in your search for truth!
You can read an excerpt and purchase a copy of this groundbreaking book here!
Thanks to Dr. Patrick Gannon, PhD, Co-Founder of the ASCA (Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse) Self-Help Recovery Program for this great review!!
Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips and Tools for Abuse Survivors is a practical and inspirational guide that focuses on key issues faced by adult survivors. Evelyn Ryan’s words of support and encouragement will be a source of emotional nourishment for adult survivors as they go through recovery. The book gets inside the emotional consequences of abuse. In particular, it shows how abuse impacts self-esteem and how survivors are inclined to unconsciously seek power-imbalanced relationships with narcissistic partners. The 7 Healing Lessons are cogently described dynamics tied to one’s past and the corrective thinking that is necessary for recovery. The focus on the ASCA Self-Help Program (Adult Survivors of Child Abuse) in the chapter on the Healing and Recovery Journey dovetails perfectly with the central message of this inspirational book: you can recover your authentic self by committing to make specific changes that are essential to life success but it will take hard work, persistence and most importantly, a COMMITMENT TO YOURSELF. I can see that survivors will want to read and re-read sections of this book for on-going support and inspiration – THE WORDS ARE THAT POWERFUL! Full of helpful lists, psychological insights and practical suggestions on how to take charge of one’s inner life to facilitate recovery, this book is an undiscovered gem!
Patrick Gannon, PhD
ASCA Self-Help Recovery Program
Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
Here’s the simple answer:
Can narcissists have redeeming character traits? Intelligence? Of course they can. But they permanently lack the qualities we as humans need to build and sustain integrity of character and meaningful healthy relationships.
Therapy can help narcissists put on the brakes if they go to therapy and the therapists are skilled in their covert aggressive personalities and know how to deal with their perverted thinking including their manipulation, lack of compassion, aggression, combativeness and need to win. However, as summarized below, based on research and the collective opinions of the “real experts” on character disturbances who have studied and treated thousands of narcs and their victims, there is no cure.
How Do Our Characters Develop?
Our characters incrementally build through our life experiences, hard work, mistakes and successes and are chiseled permanently like sculpture into our being. Our characters that develop as we age, whether ones of integrity or disturbed manipulative ones, cannot be undone.
We all have to work to build self-worth, self-esteem, self-assuredness, and self-reliance, the qualities, skills and abilities that motivate and sustain us through life. However, this process goes haywire in narcissists (and some other disordered individuals) who lose these abilities as well as the ability to self-soothe. Instead, they learn to manipulate power or whatever they want or need to sustain themselves from others. They remain like small children, always dependent on others for survival. Their characters do not develop and predictably remain “childlike.” They forever remain human “parasites.”
Their thinking, as they grow into adults, distorts and they believe they are entitled (like any small child) to all the benefits of humanity and of life without working for them. They permanently view their adult hosts as a small child views its mother. A child cannot care for itself, right? And does not know it is dependent on its mother and does not care if the mother is generous or self-sacrificing or not. A small child does not even understand it is a separate being from its mother and has no empathy for its mother. It just gets and takes from its mother what it wants as well as needs and, as a child, is validly entitled to. And if it does not, well, it then rages, cries, and has tantrums.
Sound familiar? It should because arrested development causes the characters of narcissists to remain forever in a helpless child like state and not develop the elements needed as they age to adapt, improve, self-soothe, regulate their own emotions, love unconditionally and to work for what they need to sustain their own happiness. They permanently lose the ability to become a normal functioning human being similar to a feral child raised in the wild who loses many of the human cognitive and emotional abilities if not developed by a certain age.
Narcissists permanently lack the human capabilities to ensure our normal emotional development and that allow us to integrate and interact in emotionally healthy ways with other humans. They have lost those functions because their brains have lost the functions that allow them to do so. Their thinking and beliefs are skewed. They are sort of like mutants who look normal on the outside but in reality are not. I refer to them as “The Lacks” because they are permanently missing the key elements we need to function “normally.” They are forever stuck in a “less than as adult humans were designed” state. And, so, their characters and thinking become disturbed, disordered, broken. They are forever unable to act on their “free will.” They have learned instead to maladapt by filling these gaps with energy parasitically sourced from and manipulated from others.
Let’s explore these “gaps” further.
The Roles of Compassion and Empathy in Human Existence
Having compassion and learning to use it responsibly are critical to our individual and collective existence. It allows us to function in relationships with others and as a society. Compassion is critical to our emotional health and our character development and personal relationships.
We need compassion to care about and for ourselves and others and they for us. It enables us as we mature to learn emotional empathy, the ability to actually put ourselves in other’s shoes and feel what others are feeling. Empathy is a potential ability those with compassion can learn and matures as the brain develops and as our characters develop. That ability to “mirror” ourselves emotionally in others allows us to love and to be loved reciprocally. Compassion allows us to value ourselves and others and motivates us to care for ourselves and others and strive to end our own and other’s suffering and pain. Compassion allows us to tolerate and adapt to change and other’s differences and to coexist in peace and harmony. It prevents a total chaotic society.
The levels of compassion and empathy vary from person to person. Unfortunately, some of us can be born with too much (e.g. empaths) and some of us are not born with enough (e.g. narcissists and psychopaths).
What are a Narcissist’s Major “Character” Gaps?
Well, at the top of the list is the lack of compassion. They lack empathy and the ability to love. They have exaggerated fear of shame. These are the most significant gaps in their disturbed characters that prevent their self-worth and self-reliance from developing and that cause them to become emotional parasites and prey on others and not have effective healthy relationships with others of their own kind. So, doesn’t it make sense that empaths who have too much compassion would be targets of narcissists who lack compassion?
Preeminent neuroscientist, Dr. James Fallon reports in “Crime Talk” that narcissists and psychopaths are genetically predisposed to aggression, violence and lacking compassion and emotional empathy and for psychopaths, lacking conscience. They do, however, possess cognitive empathy, the ability to recognize emotions in others. The pleasure centers of their brains are also affected so narcissists and psychopaths do not get pleasure like normal folks would get such as from reading a book.
What I find most interesting is Dr. Fallon’s description of how their “evil genes” are “turned on” by abuse (including coddling) in childhood. Psychopaths and narcissists, however, use the functioning parts of their brains and those that support reasoning and planning to con you and manipulate you. Their brains, according to Dr. Fallon, create a work around in order for them to survive and abuse and con from you what they want and need and they do not care what impact that has on you.
“Why would I work for anything to achieve a goal that I do not know I am worthy of achieving and I am not confident I can achieve when I am entitled to do minimal work and use others’ successes to make me look good and provide an illusion that I am successful?”
As depraved as this sounds, this is a realistic example of the skewed thinking of what 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 Syndrom refers to as the “covert aggressive personalities” that include the pathological narcissists and psychopaths. Dr. Simon confirms that narcissistic personalities lack the capacity to love because they lack empathy and the warning signs of such empathy deficits are always in the attitudes they display toward accepting work and obligation. Narcissists simply detest putting out effort that might, even in part, benefit someone else.
Dr. Simon also verifies that narcissists can work very hard and can spend inordinate amounts of time and energy to get something they want. As most of us very well know, they can put in extraordinary efforts to groom and love bomb a potential mate or spouse. But putting the same amount of energy into finding or keeping a legitimate job or a personal relationship, taking care of a sick family member, demonstrating the loyalty and consistency necessary to be considered for advancement, or making the investment in personal self-development to merit consideration for more advanced positions are completely different matters and very unattractive enterprises to them. They want all the benefits of marriage, for example, without having to work for them or earn them!
Dr. Simon emphasizes that narcissists resist working to become better human beings more than any other kind of work. So even when it comes to respect and love and admiration, they want to come by them in the same manner as everything else – without having to earn them. And guess what folks? How do we build integrity of character? You got it …by working hard to set goals, make a plan to achieve them, being successful, and learning lessons through mistakes we make along the way. The normal human desire to work for those things to improve themselves are lacking in the disordered. And as a result, the characters of the narcissists do not mature or develop. They remain “deficient” humans with questionable to poor characters and even criminal ones who manipulate from the truly good people what they need to sustain themselves. So in essence, they are and remain human parasites, man and woman “babies” who are dependent on others for emotional sustenance.
Malignant Narcissism, Cures, and Change
Narcissists rarely, if ever, seek professional care or ever want to change because they like themselves just the way they are and loathe working on self-improvement. Very few psychology professionals are even trained or equipped to deal with them. So, if they choose to change (which the probability for is close to zero), very few professionals will be able to treat them competently anyway. And even if they are treated by a competent therapist who teaches them to become aware of their depravity and how to temper it, they will still lack compassion and empathy, and they will continue to fake the new “behaviors” to con you and others to serve none other than themselves. They will remain unable to love and sustain the behaviors that support reciprocal emotionally healthy relationships. They will still think like and be narcissists.
So, you cannot “love” a narcissist to change or teach them to be compassionate. Narcissists have a conscience and know exactly what they are doing. They simply do not care and no one can make them care. It would be like telling you to stop caring about others or to stop having compassion or to tell a leopard to change its spots. These are the skewed and permanent parts of a pathological narcissist’s thinking and emotional development that cause the irreparable damage to their “lacking” characters.
Can Narcissists Learn to Change Bad Behaviors?
Of course, they can. They are master manipulators and while they lack emotional empathy, they do not lack cognitive empathy. So they readily can identify emotions in others and learn and plan to manipulate them. They conned you into “liking” them or loving them and they learned to charm you. Didn’t they? They also turned on you on a dime when their pathological envy and sick needs to destroy you and manipulate from you what they believe in their evil minds they are entitled to take without any of the work kicked in. This is because the disorder, like Dr. Fallon reports above, does not impact parts of the brain where they plan and scheme and strategize.
Can Narcissists Be Cured?
Can you cure a vampire? A parasite?
Our characters, as discussed above, are permanently chiseled into our being. Disorders by definition are permanent character flaws. Disorders are not bad habits that we can break and replace with newer and healthier ones. Can the disordered “behaviors” be diagnosed and perhaps treated? Of course. But changing a behavior (which is close to impossible in narcissists who love themselves just the way they are) will not “cure” the “permanent” gaps in their characters or distorted thinking and the ability to change a behavior does not make a disordered person now “normal” or “healed.” And, in fact, for a narcissist, changing a harmful behavior by learning to “put on the brakes” masks the disorder and actually, in my opinion, makes them more dangerous since it adds to their portfolio of combat tactics and better enables them to change their outward demeanor like a chameleon changes its colors to match the “environment.” Most importantly, remember, they can never regain compassion and emotional empathy, the key emotion and character trait, respectively, that humans need to sustain not only themselves but also normal emotionally healthy relationships and that are needed to build integrity of character.
Accepting this along with learning how not to be vulnerable to them and in some cases, protecting your children are huge in healing for narcissistic abuse survivors. Dr. Fallon, who is a self-diagnosed narcissist himself, believes that if we as parents see the signs of pathological narcissism in our children early enough (assuming we are knowledgeable in the signs and are healed ourselves), we can try to get them competent care which may increase the likelihood that they do not turn out that bad, however there are no guarantees. In the best case, they will still be narcissists, however, they will fall at the lower end of the severity spectrum of harm they can inflict. Read more here on what parents can do.
However, there is one fundamental difference between narcissists and the people they target. The brains of the abused can rewire and heal the skewed beliefs that cause their susceptibility to power imbalanced relationships. The damage can be addressed and reversed. The brains of narcissists whose skewed thinking is caused by arrested development lose their ability to rewire and, therefore, narcissists, as Dr. Fallon confirms, cannot heal and cannot be cured. The damage is permanent.
Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
Bringing clarity to the root causes and sources of the family dysfunction will significantly help alleviate the self-blame and shame that abuse survivors experience and clear a path to healing and recovery.
Dysfunctional abusive families are fueled by unhealed pain-based maladaptive thinking that has been passed on from generation to generation to generation. Most recently, epigenetic studies are exploring the factors that embed trauma in our cellular genetic memories and the resilience to deal with it effectively.
So the abuse that you and I and everyone are experiencing today, at this very moment, along with our emotional pain, was never ours to begin with. They, however, can be traced to unhealed emotional wounds, faulty thinking, and pain from your great great great great great grandfathers and grandmothers.
The Roots of Pain and Abuse in Families
My 89 year old father still shares stories told to him by the elders in the village and in 400 year old songs of attacks from the Turks who took 20,000 men from his island to sell as slaves in Constantinople and Egypt. They ran into the hills to protect themselves! So what did those who survived and who witnessed these vicious attacks along with experiencing the starvation and extreme poverty caused 200 years later by the Greek civil war and Nazis who rampaged the villages do to alleviate the legacy of emotional pain, repressed trauma, and feelings of powerlessness? What about the ones who survived their slavery and torture? On a recent trip to Greece, my guide and esteemed historian Maria, described how her family were refugees from Smyrna after it was burned to the ground by the Turks during the Greek-Armenian genocide in the early 1900’s.
Oh, how they must have suffered and oh, how traumatized they must have been! Could they go to the local clinic for counseling? Or on Facebook for self-help or read a book on healing? I think not! So the trauma became embedded in their cellular memories and repressed in their physical ones. So to survive, they had to become innovative in their methods to alleviate their pain and trauma.
Pain-Filled Families Learn to Prey on Their Own
Monetary or material privilege does not provide genetic entitlement or immunity from abuse, emotional pain, or disease for that matter or guarantee strength or integrity of one’s personal character. Noone is immune to pain, folks, or the damage it causes no matter how far families have come or how “privileged” they are. Psychology did not exist back then in the villages and tribes where all our ancestral roots lie. And repressed pain does not stay repressed forever. What did they do? What could they do? This is how, I profess, it more accurately played out.
The ones with character and kind hearts, compassion, emotional intelligence, and consciences and who were born empaths (and most likely inherited the pain coded in their genetics) went on to become the abused and scapegoats and the ones with the evil cold hearts became the abusers, bullies, golden children and narcissists. Now, abuse did not always manifest in physical or sexual violence, because the abusers creatively figured out that could play favorites and neglect, ignore, criticize, diminish, denigrate and invalidate their other children and even learn to live vicariously through their successes that they could brag about in the villages. Of course! They figured out a way they could benefit without doing any of the work of actually being a good parent and sacrificing for their children’s benefit! But they could provide an illusion of power and goodness to their small world with the small vision and faulty belief system that they did.
So these dysfunctional pain-addicted families starved not only for nutritional but also emotional sustenance and preyed off of each other’s energy like blood thirsty vampires, recruited other flying monkeys in their dirty dealings and used their own helpless children and siblings as hosts, free fodder for the taking. The abusers could not generate their own energy and needed some way to alleviate their deep-seated and now genetically programmed emotional pain. The pain and trauma that were locked in the family’s genetic code and repressed memories were now free to “express themselves” in abuse and exploitation of their own flesh and blood. Essentially they became “brood parasites,” if you will.
What better or more convenient way to self-soothe than to shadow their repressed emotional pain on their own defenseless children and especially the female ones who were less able to defend themselves and the “village idiots” who they could bully and make fun of unhindered with no accountability! The emotionally starved “brood parasites” emotionally cannibalized their own to serve none other than themselves. God forbid that the abused should tell the truth or rebel! Those who did were threatened with abandonment or banishment from the village and even death! This became a key component of the dysfunctional unhealthy unwritten and unchallenged cultural “belief code” of the village reflected in the abusive and exploitive dynamics in what we now call “dysfunctional families.”
Leaving the Village “Takes a Village”
Epigenetic studies related to inheriting pain are providing credence to the adage, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Our genetics, thankfully, do not only make us vulnerable to pain, they also predispose us to psychological resilience that was most certainly needed by those who chose to move and live elsewhere or perhaps to merely act on their right to pursue happiness.
People who chose to leave the village had daunting emotional challenges that required much more than packing up and moving. Not only did they have to heal from inherited pain as well as the pain inflicted from the abuse and scapegoating, they also had to deal with the unwritten tribal belief systems and the accompanying rejection and aggression and even fear of death. Can you imagine the reaction when someone actually acted upon and used their free will and chose to leave the tribe simply because they were unfulfilled and their souls were starving or they were pursuing their heart’s desire? How dare they! How could they? We all can see the extreme impact of culture in the honor killings of children and siblings whose lives are believed to be of lesser importance than the “shame” brought about by their merely acting on their free will. It is very easy to see the impact of those who lack compassion has on their inability to self-sacrifice for their children’s welfare.
Using free will including self-care and self-compassion were frowned upon and severely punished because not only did they threaten the livelihood of the “family” and challenge the village’s and family’s cultural belief system and power balance but they also made the person less available to others to shadow their pain on and threatened their emotional food supply. If those folks became successful? Well, then the abusers could, on a whim and based on how the ego-driven winds were blowing that day, either brag about their accomplishments back in the village or pretend they never happened or simply just lie about them and continue to scapegoat them. So the truly brave and emotionally resilient ones simply left voluntarily knowing that it was all a bunch of glittered crap and nothing but a huge carefully planned illusion created by extremely weak, powerless, uncompassionate, conforming, and evil-hearted people. What about the ones who stayed?
The Vulnerable Ones Stay
Well, the ones, for whatever reasons, who stayed continued to suffer and pass the pain-based wounded thinking, distorted beliefs, and trauma coded genetics to their unknowingly vulnerable children. Perhaps, overcome by fatigue and depression, they committed suicide (like two of my relatives did) and were never spoken of again. The truly evil “broken” ones passed their evil genes and character weaknesses including the inability to self-soothe and create their own energy to the golden children they conceived and coddled who reminded them of their own selves. As adults, they wanted all the benefits of humanity without doing any of the work and learned to create an illusion of normalcy to groom other kind yet wounded people, pretend to love them, marry them, continue to abuse them, and suck their power and energy and souls from them. Or if the marriages were arranged, then matching an abuser to a scapegoat they could overpower was likely.
This is how the cycle of abuse is perpetuated by the legacy of unhealed wounded thinking that is at the root of dysfunctional and abusive families today and the millions of suffering people seeking alleviation of their chronic emotional pain and nourishment for their starving souls! This is the same legacy of unhealed wounded thinking that has contributed significantly to the pandemic of disturbed characters comprising terrorists, bullies, dictators, narcissists, Presidents, and criminals across the world today – the scourge of humanity!
Abuse Survivors Can Heal and Break the Cycle
What I find very very interesting and what is most important to understand and grasp is that abuse survivors do have the propensity and the strength of character needed to heal from the damage this crazy making causes! In addition, as we heal, our children heal through us. This is how we break the cycle of abuse.
Let’s explore this.
First, we are all born with the inalienable human rights to pursue life, liberty and happiness. No one was born with the right or entitlement to prevent us from using our free will to act on these rights and become our authentic selves just as our founding fathers agreed to in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution and its amendments. And so while abusers can try to sabotage our lives and manipulate our power from us, they can never take away our right to freely pursue life, liberty and happiness. There is also now a collective movement in world-wide healing that supports this vehemently. Read more on Facebook and the power of healing.
However, other more “interpersonal” rights we earn as we mature and grow. For example, respect is earned through our experiences and the knowledge and abilities we acquire and our successes and mistakes that cause us to think about, change, and develop our internal beliefs, turn pain into wisdom, and strengthen our character. Credibility and trust are also earned. We are not born credible or trustworthy. The rights to be believed and trusted we work for by demonstrating our trustworthiness to others and they to us.
This is how we develop integrity of character. Abusers can temporarily try to interfere with our lives but they cannot prevent us from creating our own unique personal truth and character or make us become someone we are not “designed” to be. They cannot take away our emotional resilience and our drive which are key components to developing integrity of character. Notably, after abuse and trauma, the brain can rewire and heal. Abuse survivors, can unlearn faulty pain-based thinking and replace it with joy-based thinking they come to learn they are worthy of and have the complete right and authority to pursue.
In regards to families, we all create and become part of “families” separate from our birth family all the time. The rules of emotional health apply to all families and all relationships. A family of birth is not exempt from these rules because they are genetically related. Invisible genetics do not entitle people to abuse, ignore, neglect, degrade, denigrate, betray, abandon, and crap on others. A position in a loving family is a role of honor that is earned by showing the members love, honor and respect in the same way we do them. That is what emotionally healthy mutually beneficial relationships are. That is what love is. And we ALL deserve that – every darn single one of us! That is a universal right as a human being that we are all born with.
Narcissistic Abusers Cannot Heal
The abusers, interestingly enough, can heal no sooner than they can change the color of their skin. You cannot teach someone with a disturbed or disordered character how to have compassion, a conscience, and a heart. That is impossible. You either have them or you don’t. So while we are all born with the potential to develop a good character, those with disturbed characters lack the ability to develop one and feel entitled to take what they want rather than earn it through hard work like the rest of us. We can see the biggest differences between narcissists and authentically “good” people when it comes to work, commitment, and obligation. Read more on these differences here.
In addition, developing a virtuous character and maintaining healthy relationships require having compassion and a conscience, traits that are lacking and that do not develop in disturbed characters.
Narcissists will, simply, always be disturbed, covert aggressive emotional frauds and thieves, “human parasites.” They may want all the benefits of what conscientious and virtuous people work for and earn, but they will always lack the integrity, strength, power, and authenticity to truly become good people.
And as the truly good people with integrity of character heal their emotional wounds and come to understand their true self-worth, their children will heal through them. And when they do, not only will they and their children live authentic joy-filled lives, they will thrive. This is how we break the cycles of intergenerational abuse rooted in our genetics and our ancestors’ unhealed emotional pain. This is how we heal ourselves and our children. This is how we take our power and free will back and become the authentic versions of ourselves we were put on this earth to be. I cover these issues including a “how to” healing and recovery plan in much more detail in my book, Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips and Tools for Abuse Survivors. You can purchase and read a sneak peek and review of the book here.
Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
“If we live in fear of anything, we give it the power to overcome us.”
~ Michele O’Donnell, Healer, Minister, Author, and Counselor
I have been researching personal power and how it relates to personal success and happiness for decades. Sadly, this is what I discovered. That we have been misinformed about the relationship between abuse and an abuser’s need to control. This does not accurately describe the causes of power imbalance in abusive relationships and actually can hinder an abuse victim’s healing. Let’s break this down.
WHAT IS REAL PERSONAL POWER?
People with real power do not covertly or overtly aggressively go after others’ power because, simply, they do not have to. People with real power work for it. They use their free will to set goals and do the work including getting the education and building the relationships and the integrity of character to achieve them. When they hit a wall, they take further action to course correct or thought correct. They become proficient at creating value for themselves and others. They have what my cousin Alexandra calls “skin in the game.” They tap into themselves to generate the energy and use it freely and willingly to create value that benefits themselves and others that they know they deserve and are worthy of. They use their own energy to nourish their souls and fuel their spirit and self-esteem. They share their power with others, who voluntarily of their own free will, share theirs back.
Life and relationships, in particular, require a balance of work, commitment, and obligation. It is when this balance of give and take becomes “tipped” that things can become unhealthy fast. The more tipped the balance, the more unhealthy the situation can become. Think about this. Isn’t it always when someone is giving too much and putting in the extraordinary effort or someone is taking too much and not putting in the work (and especially over a long period of time) that things get crazy, stressful, exploitive, abusive, unpleasant, or just plain suck?
Because, we are not benefitting from the investment of our time, energy, pain, love, effort, education we are expending commensurate with the level of effort we are putting in. Our efforts and our value are never validated. What we believe to be true about ourselves is not validated and what we aspire to never happens so our personal truth and personal worth are never “proved.” We are stuck in a give and give and give (and “no take”) dooloop of unfulfillment and emotional exhaustion.
Read more here on the The Five Pillars of Personal Worth, Power, and Authenticity.
WHERE DO NARCISSISTS AND OTHER EMOTIONAL VAMPIRES FIT IN?
There are huge differences between real authentically powerful people who have integrity of character and people who are inherently weak and pretend to have power and integrity of character. The latter are what preeminent psychologist Dr. George K. Simon refers to in his best seller, Character Disturbance: The Phenomenon of Our Age as the character disturbed with covert aggressive personalities. These are the ones who want all the benefits of life without earning them because they believe they are entitled, because they believe in their disordered brains that the rules of life, law, love and personal honor and respect do not apply to them.
These are the energy thieves, the narcissists, psychopaths, abusers, con artists, criminals, and manipulators who aggressively and offensively go after others’ power because they cannot generate their own and because they do not want to work for it. These human parasites want all the benefits of life, marriage, friendship, a successful career without any of the hard work. Now, mind you, I am not claiming that they these folks do not have potential power or perhaps even redeeming personal traits or talents, skills and abilities. Of course they do. But they will use those talents, skills and abilities to serve themselves and to manipulate you and your children and not to better themselves. They abuse their power and use it to manipulate others’ power. In fact, their greatest aversion is working to better themselves. They will have no interaction with you unless they in some way benefit and you in some way are giving up your power to them. They have to win always. They are in constant combat. This is just how these predictable and annoying characters tick.
We cannot survive without emotional sustenance, folks, so these energy vampires, like the blood-sucking vampires, will shrivel and die if they do not steal attention, adulation, love, winning, coming out ahead, or whatever they need by creating illusions of normalcy by grooming you, telling you they love you, conning you, putting you on the defensive, and preying on your vulnerabilities. So they have no problem working for what they want and what will serve them and aggressively and covertly go after the power they want and need and target the most vulnerable and easy to manipulate and who do you think the best to feed off are. Other narcissists? Other character disturbed people? Others of their own kind are very very unpalatable but no one is immune to their attacks not even other narcissists. But the most tasty and yummy to feed their emotional gaps are none other than the survivors of abuse and, in particular, empaths, people with high emotional intelligence and compassion.
Yes, the evil of society, the emotional and energy vampires prey on the wounded, the ones who unknowingly give up their power to those who trigger their repressed legacy pain. These are the ones discussed in the Bible that “call evil good and good evil and put darkness for light and light for darkness.” They will cease at nothing in order to get not only what they need but what they want and believe they are entitled to take.
The wolves, by the way, are continuing to pose as sheep and are becoming more creative in their combat tactics. Narcissists are now even posing at healers and are starting healing Facebook Pages and websites in the guise of having compassion and wanting to help the exact people they victimized and traumatized and people are falling for it. So they have figured out a way to continue even to feed off the healing energy of their suffering victims that should be reserved for themselves and their survival.
BELIEVING ABUSERS NEED TO “CONTROL” US IS MISLEADING
Be wary folks. Reading that abusers “need to control others” is very very misleading. This, in my opinion, can significantly prevent healing and actually keep people in abusive
relationships by causing us to focus too much on the abusers and falsely leading us to think they can be healed and feeding our toxic shame by communicating the untruth that somehow we are the weak faulty ones and the abusers are the strong ones with some magical power over us. In fact, it is totally the opposite. Abusers are covertly or overtly aggressive but they are very very weak individuals with extremely low self-worth who cannot freely generate their own personal power.
Let’s examine this further.
We (not others) are the only ones who are able to use our free will to nurture our souls and our self-esteem and self-assurance that serve our personal needs and sustain our emotional health. This is the human design. This is authentic legitimate personal power. Abusers, on the other hand, are character disturbed and believe in their distorted minds that aggression and manipulation and taking from others (what they have worked for) is power. The last time I looked, that was called theft, exploitation, weakness, character disturbance, covert aggression, bribery, burglary, abuse, and evil.
So contrary to what we are taught, abusers don’t need to “control” you. More accurately, they use aggression to create an illusion of power that intimidates you and triggers your fears and makes you feel powerless so they can manipulate your power from you because they lack real ability and desire to generate the power needed to sustain themselves. This is why they move from victim to victim to victim. The level of aggression and their combat tools vary but abuse in any form is abuse be it physical, violent, emotional, invalidation, or neglect and criminal activity is criminal activity. This is why we have laws to protect us, right? Whatever the case, it is all aggressive offensive combat and they use love and grooming and other tactics to play on our vulnerabilities including our overly developed consciences and compassion and insecurities to trap us. They want all the benefits of what we can provide them without the work. They are weak powerless predictable parasites in human form. They are, simply, depraved and broken.
THE DIFFERENCES IN AGGRESSION, POWER, HARM AND CONTROL
Now, let’s look a bit more at abusers’ aggressive combat tactics and how they impact personal power and control. There is a huge difference between aggression, power, harm and control. Abusers use aggression to create an illusion of power. They use their covert aggressive skills to manipulate you to believe you have no power and they are the “All Powerful Oz” who, remember, was actually a great creator of smoke and mirrors that was discovered by Toto a very small scruffy dog. In between the abuse, abusers groom you. So the cycles of abuse and makeup sessions create peptide addictions in the brain. We end up mistaking the chemical trauma bonding for love. We were conditioned to believe we must suffer to be lovable and that we are defenseless and powerless to emotional pain. We are conditioned to believe that only the abusers can relieve the pain. As healer, minister, author, and counselor Michele O’Donnell states, “If we live in fear of anything, we give it the power to overcome us.”
This is not love, this is not power, and this is not the basis of emotionally healthy relationships. This is, however, the basis of power imbalanced abusive relationships and what causes us to unknowingly give up our power to abusers, become complicit in our own abuse, and perpetuate the cycle of intergenerational abuse.
Abuse, folks, is not about control. Abuse just like healing and recovery is not about the abusers. Abuse and healing are all about us, fixing our skewed beliefs and taking OUR power back. I explore these issues in much more detail in Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips, and Tools for Abuse Survivors. You can read a sneak peek and review of the book and purchase a copy here.
Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
“We all have inalienable rights to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Absolutely we do. However, if we are prevented from pursuing them because we have damaged the only vessel that we have to travel in that journey, we are sabotaging not only our own health and happiness but also our children’s by teaching them the same maladaptive unhealthy thinking patterns and beliefs. And, frankly, we and our children all deserve so much better.”
The article, “The Damaging Effects of Living An Inauthentic Life and How to Change It,” by Tracey Crossley provides probably the most important lesson to adult survivors of childhood abuse on the damaging effects of childhood abuse.
This is why.
Because abuse survivors were punished in youth whenever their authentic selves emerged to protect and care for themselves and they were rewarded for being who their abusers wanted them to be to serve none other than the abusers.
We learned, as a result, at that moment in time when we were defenseless dependent children and our brains were in critical stages of development, to become inauthentic versions of ourselves in order to cope and respond to pain. We disconnected rather than integrated with ourselves emotionally, did not learn self-care and self-compassion, and learned to maladapt and rely on others who cause the pain (we think we deserve) to soothe the pain. As we took in too much pain and trauma, our bodies defensively repressed it, temporarily stored it away in our memory banks until we were more mature and better equipped to handle it.
As is described so eloquently in Tracy Crossley’s article, as we go out into the world and live our lives and develop relationships, go to school, and pursue our passions, we make decisions based on false perceptions and beliefs about the world and ourselves along with our unhealed trauma wounds. In the process, we never learn what the real things are that nurture OUR souls and OUR self-worth and that make US happy and how to pursue them. We end up neglecting our own needs and become overly dependent on other people to tell us what we are doing is worthy and we use, by default, their happiness to bring us happiness rather than sourcing that from within our own selves.
Let’s explore this not so obvious point a bit more.
Living Lies Cannot Sustain Us
Living lies just like physically abusing or neglecting our bodies cannot sustain us because our bodies were not designed to work that way. We are fighting nature by fooling ourselves and what will nature do? It will rebel and when it does, the consequences can be severe and for some irreversible. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. So when you do not supply the body what it needs to function properly, it will attempt to take from somewhere else.
So if you do not provide the body the proper nourishment it needs to survive and sustain itself or you take in too many toxic substances or stress your body above what it was designed to do, the body cannot develop normally and visually, you look bad and physically and emotionally, you feel bad. You become physically and emotionally unfit.
Now for a while, the liver or body systems that are being taxed will filter out the crap and your natural defenses will take over until..wham! You have overtaxed them and they no longer are able to filter out the garbage faster than it is coming in or you have strained that vertebrae or ligament or muscle as far as it can be stretched. You experience emotional and physical pain. These are the cues that what you have been putting in the body is not sufficient to nourish and sustain it and you need to stop doing what you are doing and course correct.
So you could take an aspirin or an antacid or put on makeup or get false teeth or take high blood pressure medicine or cholesterol medicine that will mask the damage and temporarily relieve and sustain yourself, nevertheless until you provide your body the proper nutrition to care for it and ensure its works as it was designed, something will continue to give and you will continue to risk being at some level of pain and suffering.
How Overtaxing the Mind Starves Us of Emotional Nourishment
Equally, when you do not provide the mind what it needs to flourish or you overtax it and take in too much emotional toxicity or pain, the spirit will starve for nourishment and you will exceed the pain threshold your brain was designed to handle. Read more on nourishing our souls. The brain has remarkable plasticity but it is not good at spontaneous healing. The mind and spirit will become traumatized and malnourished and you will become emotionally fatigued, exhausted, stressed, or depressed. Sustained emotional stress also results in more physical damage to the body because the human body is comprised of integrated systems. Stress hormone levels rise for longer periods than the body is designed for leading to inflammation. The body responds with recognizing the inflammation as disease that the body’s immune system attacks. The neurological system is connected and interrelated to all the body’s systems, hence, healthy body, healthy mind and vice versa.
In essence, when you mess with nature, you mess with your own divine AUTHENTIC and integrated design. To be happy we have to learn and embrace a healthy life style that includes not only our emotional fitness but also our fitness related to our achievements and relationships and our physical health. Read more here.
Masking Pain Will Not Address It
And like an aspirin that provides temporary relief from physical pain, we can bandaid our emotional pain. Absolutely, we can. Doctors can label us with this condition or that and prescribe antidepressants or mood elevators or we can self-medicate with alcohol or illegal drugs or food or people and find many other creative ways to mask the pain and continue to be someone we are not and look to others, even abusers and manipulators, or things to define our worth and for instant relief and gratification. We can even deny it. The body when the trauma is too much for the mind to bear, even represses it. However, wounds that cannot be accessed cannot be healed. Some of us may even believe this works for us. That is until we get older and our liver or kidneys or heart or soul become stressed to capacity or until we face some major emotional catastrophe that tests our self-reliance, self-assurance, and coping skills. Then and for some, only then, do they experience the perfect storm and are faced with reality and like Dr. Phil says learn in the hardest and worst way that what they have done has not worked for them and has resulted in immeasurable and, for some, irreparable damage.
We all have inalienable rights to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Absolutely we do. However, if we are prevented from pursuing them because we have damaged the only vessel that we have to travel in that journey, we are sabotaging not only our own health and happiness but also our children’s by teaching them the same maladaptive unhealthy thinking patterns and beliefs. And, frankly, we and our children all deserve so much better.
How Abuse Makes Our Emotions Toxic
Let’s now look at abuse and how it impacts our abilities to regulate our emotions and engage in healthy relationships. Everyone who is abused is most likely not able to recognize the “good” in a healthy relationship because they never learned to relate good treatment to love and to defining their worthiness. The belief filters in abuse survivors become skewed. The magnitude of the damage depends on what “fears” are driving you as well. Read more in “Why Did I Get Involved with a Jerk and What Can I Do About It.”
Part of healing and building self-worth is learning what self-love is and what healthy loving relationships of reciprocity are. We are all born lovable however loving relationships are not an entitlement. They are worked for and earned based on honoring each other’s wants and needs in sickness and health and in good times and bad in a respectful manner beneficial to both parties. Emotionally intelligent and healthy individuals know this and live it. They are clear on their personal worth and lovability and the rules of healthy respectful human interactions.
When we are abused, our pain-based emotions become faulty and lose their intended design functions of being reliable protective safety measures and providing depth and color to our lives. They go haywire and rather than protect us, do us and our children more harm as we teach the same distorted thinking patterns to them as well. We and our children become vulnerable targets of energy and power vampires. Read more in How Emotions Go Haywire in Abuse Survivors.
Abuse victims can develop an exaggerated anger response due to suppressed emotions from routine invalidation and learned emotional helplessness. This can trigger a knee jerk aggressive anger response that can do us and others immense harm and cause us to sabotage our own recovery as we blame others for the discomfort we experience from our uncontrolled emotions. The response can be covertly or overtly aggressive rather than constructive. this does not mean we suppress our anger or our feelings. To the contrary, it means we can learn to recognize the emotional root causes that trigger the discomfort and the steps proactively and effectively communicate our discomfort, problem solve a solution to address it, and benefit from the experience rather than repetitively continue to harm ourselves and others and sabotage our recovery.
Don’t forget that in life, we move in the direction of, create in reality, and do what we believe to be true even if it is a lie and even if it does not serve us and harms us. That is what makes us get involved with abusers and not leave them on the spot. Our filters for screening out narcissistic jerks were damaged in childhood and most likely many other abusive power imbalanced relationships we have had in our lives.
The problem is that if we meet someone who is authentically a good person and who is NOT inflicting emotional pain on us and NOT pushing our fear and pain buttons, we are at risk of feeling unloved, unfulfilled and unworthy and then proceed to sabotage the “good” relationship to keep ourselves in our comfortable and familiar state of shame that, of course, while painful, we nevertheless “believe” we can handle better, say, than our fear of being betrayed and abandoned and do not believe we are worthy of anything better.
This is an excellent example of how abusive childhoods cause pain addictions and skewed beliefs in personal power that rule our lives that become “pain-seeking” and “pain-avoiding” rather than “joy-seeking” and “joy-filled” (e.g. joyful). While we do this unconsciously and not deliberately, these vulnerabilities make us susceptible to attacks from emotional predators and for a life of chronic unhappiness, unfulfilment, and emotional pain and fatigue.
“The problem is that if we meet someone who is authentically a good person and who is NOT inflicting emotional pain on us and NOT pushing our fear and pain buttons, we are at risk of feeling unloved, unfulfilled and unworthy and then proceed to sabotage the ‘good’ relationship to keep ourselves in our comfortable state of shame that, of course, while painful, we nevertheless ‘believe’ we can handle better than, say, our fear of being betrayed and abandoned and do not believe we are worthy of anything better.”
Let’s break this down a bit further as it applies to relationships. Do relationships with jerks bring you pain? Absolutely, however, it is pain that you associate with being lovable and a good person and believe you are powerless to and you do not believe you deserve better. You also in your childhood most likely developed codependency tendencies and learned to self-sacrifice for other people. Perhaps you are an empath with too much compassion and believe you must fix other’s problems before you take care of your own needs? Perhaps you never learned you are worthy of being happy and were rewarded only for taking care of other’s needs?
This maladaptive thinking is what keeps us vulnerable to abusers and how abuse makes our emotions become toxic to our own selves. We learn to maladapt and confuse self-worth with avoidance of pain rather than pursuing goals and relationships that bring us real joy. Our decisions become heavily based on our learned pain tolerances and perceived weaknesses rather than our personal value and power and worthiness of joy. We become attracted to power imbalanced relationships because we believe we should suffer to be lovable and can “handle” the shame and emotional pain from abuse better than our fear of abandonment from being alone. So a relationship with a “good” person would not be appealing to abuse survivors who would not relate being treating well to being lovable or worthy and would not be able to “see” the good in it and therefore, would perceive no value in it.
Here’s the good news!
We are only born with two fears: fear of falling and fear of loud noises. All others fears, pains, apprehensions, anxieties, phobia, bad habits? Well, those we learned. And just like we learned them, we can UNLEARN them.
I am committed here at Yourlifelifter and wrote Take Your Power Back to help you do exactly that and show you where to look to discover the real truth, facilitate your healing, and live as the joy-based authentic person you were put on this earth to be.
Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
If you do not provide the body the proper nourishment it needs to survive and sustain itself or you take in too many toxic substances or stress your body above what it was designed to do, the body cannot develop normally and visually, you look bad and physically and emotionally, you feel bad. You become physically and emotionally “unfit.” Read more here.
Nourishment, we must remember, includes emotional nourishment. We cannot sustain ourselves emotionally if we are not allowed or are prevented from acting on our inalienable rights to pursue happiness, to find meaning in our lives, to become who we individually are. So we need to use our personal power to act on our free will to survive and to support our emotional health and overall well-being. In fact, our human bodies were divinely designed to use our free will to search for and pursue “truth” and build the resilience needed to sustain our happiness. Let’s examine this further.
No one has the right to prevent us from becoming our authentic selves including manipulating our power from us to redirect it to serve themselves. In fact, this is just plain dangerous and in many cases, illegal. No one was born with that right or is entitled to that right just as our founding fathers agreed to in our Bill of Rights and the Constitution and its amendments. Our authority is limited to solely, if we choose, inform others we don’t agree and why or this is what we believe and why. That is about it! You can’t debate the “correctness” of beliefs or conclude that mine are wrong and yours are right. What we believe is what we believe even if we believe lies and think those of others are skewed and way off base. We cannot turn personal beliefs into laws and expect them to hold steadfast and true. Self-righteousness is not righteous.
We do have laws founded in morality and righteousness that mandate the boundaries of our actions to ensure a peaceful society, prevent abuse of authority, and support the principle that we are all different and have a common right to act on our free will, choose our paths in life, and develop the abilities to do so. These laws have evolved and proved their effectiveness over time. However, laws cannot tell us how to think or what to pursue or what not to pursue or motivate us to do so. That we must figure out on our own. That is the beauty of law. To strive for a chaos free society, knowing that perfection will never be achieved because we are all different and fallible, even law. When the laws become self-righteous or exploitive, however, and prevent folks from acting on their free will (assuming people are capable of making decisions that do not do them harm), people start making their own rules and rebelling. Why? Because directing, manipulating, or restricting that what innately makes us human and what we as humans are uniquely designed for and what drives our passions and our unalienable rights to pursue happiness and use our own free will to pursue it, in short, create chaos. They go against the laws of nature, conflict with our life’s purpose, and prevent us from being who we were put on this earth to be and to live harmoniously with others.
We can’t tell people how to think or manipulate their thinking and what to do even if we do not believe or agree with what they think or what they do. We can try, however, this is self-serving, exploitive, fraudulent, immoral, disrespectful, dishonorable, and abusive. This is also invalidating and is attempting to take away a person’s divine right to free will as well as equal access to resources and opportunities to sustain their health and well-being and to act on their inalienable rights. As stated earlier, when we attempt to do so, chaos ensues.
How does free will relate to our personal rights and relationships? As discussed, we are all born with the inalienable rights to pursue life, liberty and happiness and find meaning in our lives. We are also innately born lovable. However, other more interpersonal “rights” such as the rights to be believed or to be trusted or respected are earned and learned. We work for these rights by gaining the skills, knowledge, and abilities and, more so, demonstrate our worthiness through our actions and words that stem from beliefs we validate through our life experiences and our personal interactions. This is how our characters develop and become chiseled permanently into our being. This is how we develop personal power and relational health. Read more here.
Let’s look at my business and Facebook ownership, for example. This ownership provides me authority but gives me no special entitlement. Being an abuse survivor or having the ability to manage a Facebook page and business provide me no special rights or divine authority to be believed or the exploit those who are seeking healing solutions. It simply doesn’t work that way. And to think otherwise is irrational and ludicrous.
I could, like any unethical, weak, exploitive, or self-serving person just tell you all a bunch of lies or what you “need” to hear to manipulate your power from you and continue to exploit you. I assure you that is not the case. To the contrary, I, like other legitimate healers, earned this position and the respect that comes with it through my hard work, education, authenticity, professional certifications, actions, validation from others including experts, other credible Facebook owners, and my community members and customers who through reliability of my service, have learned to trust me. I work everyday to become better to better serve those who rely on my credibility to do so because I and they deserve that level of quality.
So no one has the right to judge others, dictate how others behave or how or what they choose because, simply, they have not earned that right and it is not their “divine” purpose to do so. Those who think they do, are the ones who have maladapted and instead of becoming of working to become self-reliant, resilient, and self-sustaining people, learned to parasitically source their emotional nourishment from someone or something else. They have become dangerous to society, the punks, thugs, con artist, fakes, and frauds. They are the ones who as described in the Bible, turn darkness into light and light into darkness.
In reality, if we want to legitimately change the behaviors of others, we can only influence them to use their free will to change through our words and actions proven credible, effective, and trustworthy over time. Bringing value to others is the only power we have in relationships. That is about it. The rest is left to others to decide. Accepting this and others without judgment is the key to tolerance and compassion that are what drive mankind’s survivability and sustainability and our own ability to adapt to that we know we have no power to change and using our free will to change that which we do.
And when we find others who reflect our truth back to us?
Well, that is when the magic starts and that is what life is all about.
Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
Excerpted from Evelyn Ryan’s book, Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips and Tools for Abuse Survivors. Read a review of the book here.
The only person you are here to serve is your authentic self. When you serve your authentic self, your decisions and actions fulfill your legitimate emotional needs. All of life’s pieces fall into place, since the core of your being is truth-based and authentically you. You know you can rely on yourself for your safety. You feel safe in your own body.
What happens to us when we are abused, betrayed by those we intimately trust? Betrayal is one of the most painful human experiences. The victim’s response is shame, internal pain, self-loathing, trauma, and fear. We translate that into the false belief that something is wrong with us. But there is nothing wrong with us! There never was. We did not do anything wrong. Being who we are is not wrong. Our love was real. Our trust was real. Theirs was not. We were innocent defenseless victims.
Our attackers are character-flawed, disordered. We were betrayed because we trusted and depended on unhealed abusers, manipulators, and untrustworthy broken people. They betrayed us. We were betrayed because that is what betrayers do. It was not personal in that sense. Our attackers targeted us because they are experts on homing in on people with our vulnerabilities.
They need people with our vulnerabilities so that their manipulation tactics will be
successful, so that they will win the challenge and the ultimate prize: our energy, attention, and adulation. Before you and me, there were many, and after us, there will be many more. We were betrayed because we were vulnerable. We did not ask to be victimized, but we played a role in the abuse that we need to understand and accept.
Many of us are empaths—highly sensitive natural healers, compassionate people with
high emotional intelligence. We did not learn to use our compassion and trust responsibly; we depended on untrustworthy people to define our self-worth. Our emotional vulnerabilities make us complicit in our own abuse by keeping us susceptible to abusers who preyed on us and kept us addicted to pain. This truth can be very painful, and yet it’s life-changing. It will change your life forever and for the better. When we know better and that we are worthy of the knowledge, we do better.
Anger, resentment, and revenge will not heal us. Self-avoidance will not heal us. Focusing on our abusers will not heal us. Taking responsibility and accepting without judgment will. In healing, we learn to become our authentic selves—and to stop seeking approval of our worth from others. Healing is a learning process. Through asking the right questions and seeking and finding truthful answers in a safe and trusting environment, we learn to turn our compassion and courage inward to support shifts in our thinking that lead to long-term emotional health and happiness.
We learn to befriend ourselves (who we long ago abandoned) by accepting our powerlessness, committing to our healing, challenging our thoughts, releasing our fear and shame, and incrementally taking our power back as we lift up our thinking and discover and honor our real selves and our personal divinity.
Do we need to understand our abusers to heal? Yes. But minimally and only in order to understand what they are missing and what they exploited in us and what faulty beliefs make us vulnerable to them. In fact, focusing too much on them will prevent you from healing.
Narcissistic abuse recovery expert, Melanie Tonia Evans, cautions us frequently that focusing too much on our abusers and our fear of them rather than on our healing and the role we play in our abuse can keep us trapped and prevent our recovery. I can relate.
One of the most difficult lessons I learned was that I was vulnerable to attacks by manipulators and bullies. I felt threatened by them and believed I was not safe. I became fearful and resentful. My fear drove me to overestimate the harm from them and underestimate my ability to deal with them. I felt defenseless. I became hyper-vigilant in my attempts to avoid shame and pain as I waited for their attacks. I became hyper-reactive to attacks that I was sure would come and did come. I became intolerant, which did not serve me.
In the process, I gave up my power to emotional vampires who continued to target me. Trying to avoid perceived threats kept me emotionally trapped to the people and events that triggered my fears and caused me continued pain. So, I remained a victim of the emotional vampires because I thought like a victim. I was held captive by my own fears. I became emotionally fatigued. Focusing on them rather than myself kept me from healing. I learned and accepted that my fear was giving my abusers the power to overcome me.
So I put on my big-girl britches and, little by little, took on and challenged my fears and
my false sense of powerlessness, replacing them with courage and self-assurance. I took my power back as I came into my own truth and accepted what I could change as well as what I could not. I accepted what happened to me, took responsibility for the role I played, and shifted my thinking from that of a victim to one who wanted to take her power back, detach from and defuse the abusers, and thrive. I took action!
I adapted by turning the irrational fear and hypervigilance into compassion and tolerance. I turned that wasted fear-driven energy to the source of that fear within myself and not only challenged and released it but replaced it with self-compassion, self-knowledge, self-power, self-respect, and self-love. I honed my ability to identify and cope with evil people. Instead of focusing my energy on them, I shifted my attention to me and my self-worth and abilities. I protected my personal boundaries because I know and believe I am worth it.
In the process of healing and witnessing my own healing, my fear of aggressors became pity for the powerless annoyances they are. In the process, my self-esteem and self-respect and self-assuredness soared, and I took my power back. I chose not to give my power to powerless emotional vampires and to protect my personal boundaries and honor my personal rights and authority because I know I deserve respect. I taught my daughter the same. In the process, my daughter healed through me and thrived. It is never about the other person, folks. My dear friend Jim Upshaw told me that years ago, and I never forgot the message. Now I know the true meaning. Now I never forget the lesson: When you serve your authentic self, your decisions and actions fulfill your legitimate emotional needs. You know you can rely on yourself for your safety. All of life’s pieces fall into place, since the core of your being is truth-based and authentically you.
In the healing process, we regain our self-trust, self-power, self-respect, and self-esteem. We learn what our true value is to ourselves. We learn to rely on and trust internal emotional cues that have been recalibrated with our personal truth and core beliefs. Oh, of course, we must get cues from our environment and from others who have our best interests at heart. We also become better able to recognize those who do not. But we now can readily use those cues to gauge where we are and to tweak our internal truth-seeking filters based on our choices and their outcomes.
In healing, we learn who we really are and to love ourselves. We become fully integrated people of integrity whose thoughts, actions, and beliefs align. Our healing allows us to be the best version of ourselves. It is the best demonstration of self-love we could give ourselves. And in that newfound truth, we thrive.
Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
Part 1 discusses misperceptions on the relationship between abusers and their victims and describes the predatory aspects of abuse and the not so obvious causes of power imbalance in abusive relationships.
Part 2 discusses further the differences between aggression, power, and control in abusive relationships and how healing allows us to access and rely on our own personal power.
No matter what you think or what you read about the abusers’ need to control, people who abuse or exploit others have no superhuman magical powers to inflict pain and also alleviate it. To the contrary, they are much more simple and “weak” than that. Abusers are, in reality, aggressive fearful parasitic spineless cruel individuals who lack compassion and the ability to generate their own power and energy.
People who abuse “simply” are aggressive character deficient hunters who easily betray trust and do not and cannot follow the rules of respect, honor and decency. Aggression and control, however, are not synonymous with power or danger.
Abusers may be overtly or covertly aggressive but they abuse because they lack power no different than the creeps we see on world-wide news who lure and track a defenseless creature, kill it, skin it, behead it, and put its head over the mantel to ogle at and think in their depraved minds that now he or she is more powerful than the truly powerful and majestic creature whose life they selfishly took because they “simply” “wanted to” because it made them “feel” better. What is the difference between these “big game” hunters and narcissistic emotional vampires. Well, not much.
They target us, because our pain addictions and false beliefs of powerlessness we brought with us from wounded childhoods make us vulnerable to their attacks and they WANT AND NEED our power to feel better. They target you, like the hunters “simply,” because they can and YOU are beneficial to THEM and they are character or personality disordered and aggressively go after and take anything they want! They believe they are entitled and that the rules of normal respectful human engagement or honoring life do not apply to them. They make their own rules that serve them. They have distorted views on work and obligation. They “simply” are depraved and have become human predators.
However, because we were powerless to our abusers in childhood, we believe falsely based on our unhealed wounded thinking that we are defenseless to these limited individuals who inflict pain on us and they are the only ones who have the power to take away the pain they inflict. Folks, we do not have to suffer or self-sacrifice to be lovable! And we are not powerless to these creeps. THEY are the powerless ones! And frankly, you DESERVE SO MUCH BETTER.
Read this again!
Healing requires major shifts in our thinking so they are based on truthful and adaptive beliefs that serve our authentic needs NOT the needs of parasitic energy vampires who like the big game hunters need the power of trophy wives or husbands to feed off of and hang over their “ego” mantels. Healing requires us to take our power back, regulate our emotions and not rely on soul suckers and weak spineless people who would sell their own mothers and children for a nickel if it serves them.
Do you have neuroses, compulsions, fears, anxieties, phobias? Most of us do and this is why. In childhood, our abusive or neglectful or invalidating caretakers caused our pain emotions to become toxic and did not, as they should have, validate our emotions and teach us how to functionally and effectively control our emotions and self-soothe. We all have those capacities. They just never developed because we were neglected and were never taught how to use and mature them to benefit our own selves.
Pain-based emotions are here to protect us and not do us harm. We are born with only two fears: fear of falling and fear of loud noises. Every other pain, phobia, and maladaptive emotion-based neurosis we have, we learned. We become reactive to our emotions that control us rather than using them as cues to willfully course or thought correct. Read more here. When we are emotionally starved and fatigued, guess what? We get depressed. And guess what? When we are emotionally fatigued and depressed, we cannot set and achieve goals to support our self-esteem and self-worth that sustain our happiness and emotional health.
Read this again and again. This is no secret.
Real power is willfully and confidently choosing to do what we want to do and when, taking actions sourced from our own power, our own free will to authentically serve our own selves! This is how the human body was designed to function. And as we live our lives, through our experiences and interactions with others and our successes and our mistakes, we incrementally build wisdom and our characters.
This functional capability goes haywire from the trauma from abuse including neglect and emotional invalidation. Rather than developing and maturing these abilities, we, maladapt, and learn to rely on other unreliable people, things, and substances to cope and for emotional sustenance and to define our self-worth. So instead of willfully controlling our lives and making independent decisions that serve our goals and nurture our souls, we become pain addicted and dependent on weak abusive exploitive people who do not have our best interests at heart and who trigger our fears and feed off of our power and use “love” to manipulate it from us. They become our conscious source of the pain and the unconscious source of relief to the pain no different than addictive substances, drugs, alcohol.
Folks, the source of our joy is none other than us and the only ones who can rescue and relieve our pain are our own selves. Fortunately, we can heal! However, we cannot heal at the same level of thinking that creates our pain. Healing requires fully understanding why we love people who inflict pain on us and why we tolerate it.
Healing requires us to take our power back and learning to protect and honor our own divinity, reach our highest potential, be our authentic joy-seeking selves, and thrive.
I cover these topics and more in much more detail in my book, Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips, and Tools for Abuse Survivors. You can read an exclusive sneak peek and review of the book and purchase a copy here.
Our children will be exposed to narcissists, nasty teachers, bulies, selfish room mates as well as kind generous authentic people every day. Healthy boundaries go in both directions and we can only teach our children how to protect and love and honor themselves and to make wise choices. Why, then, should it be any worse or more dramatic because they have a narcissistic parent? Why do we, the parents, feel we are responsible for putting our children through this? Why are we so hugely emotionally vested and fearful?
Healing Takes Deliberate Planned Action
As a parent and a survivor of narcissistic abuse, I was beside myself with worry every day that not only would narcissists harm my child but that I was powerless to stop it. I learned through my healing that this was faulty learned thinking that I risked transferring to my child if I left it uncorrected. Along with it, I carried profound guilt, shame and trauma and believed falsely that I was an ineffective parent. This was my inner critic’s guilt and shame I carried with me from childhood that was projected onto me by my abusers! I came to learn that the pain I was carrying was not even mine and was unhealed pain that had been transferred to me generationally.
I realized soon that focusing on my guilt, shame, pain, angst, and fear and protecting my daughter from harm was just keeping me from healing and preventing my daughter from acquiring the full benefit of my genuine love for her because I was not emotionally healthy and functioning authentically at one hundred per cent. Why should your children and my daughter and our relationships with them suffer because we did? Let’s explore this.
In order for my daughter to thrive (and she is), I and no one else had to own my pain and understand that I was worthy of healing and being pain-free and to honestly express that ownership and my responsibility for healing with my daughter. She and I both deserved better as do you and your children, right? So I focused on my health and wellness, made a plan, and took action. I put on my big girl britches and apologized to her for my poor choices and told her the root causes and what I was doing to course and thought correct. It was not her problem to correct or take on as her own. It was mine! I can only be her mother and she had the right to an emotionally healthy and honest one and to be raised in an emotionally healthy home. Not only did I heal, I thrived and when I thrived, guess what? So did my daughter.
Did I make mistakes when I felt helpless and overwhelmed and lost? Of course. Did that make me a bad mother? Of course not. To the contrary, it made me an awesome one, a powerful one. Did my daughter drive me crazy through her teenage years? Of course. Did that make her a bad child? Of course not. But once again, I took on the guilt of “ruining her.” In times of stress, we go back to what we are comfortable with though it may not be effective. Thank goodness for the National Geographic edition on the teenage brain that explained the teenage years are a sort of “retarded” stage humans have to go through for normal development. What relief I had when the burden of shame was replaced with truth and empowerment.
Do Not Normalize the Abuse
Abuse victims are frequently unnecessarily conflicted about alienating the child against the other parent. Don’t ever think your children are too young to learn the truth about being victimized or exploited or that you are “saying something bad about the other parent.” This is a lie that results in nothing more than normalizing the abuse, teaching falsehoods on healthy relationships and love, shaming the victim and adding to their pain. There is a big difference between speaking crap about a person and speaking truth about a crappy person. Always speak truth because it does set us free.
Healing is your right to act on your free will and to live as you were designed. Healing is all about you, not your husband or wife or partner and a child is never too young to learn about good and evil and what healthy relationships, love, and boundaries are. Love that is unrequited is not love, right? The challenge is teach our children how to relate to all people including relatives without sacrificing self-respect and honor for themselves.
Empowering Life Skills – Critical Thinking, Healthy Reciprocity, and Emotional Intelligence
We, to be effective parents or mentors, must teach our children or proteges life skills that support their emotional and relational health. Brian D. Johnson, Ph.D. and Laurie Berdahl, M.D. report in “Childhood Roots of Narcissistic Personality Disorder” that critical thinking skills help us tell lies from truths and determine when someone is manipulating to take advantage of or scam us. Critical thinking also allows us to reliably distinguish emotionally healthy from emotionally unhealthy behaviors, identify narcissists and anyone toxic, hang tough in our own truth and manage the boundaries with all toxic people even the ones we are related to who we are “supposed to love.”
We can easily teach these empowering life skills by being mindful of unhealthy and healthy interactions and behaviors we observe and pointing these out to our children. Of course, we must walk the talk and fess up to and apologize for our own less than optimal behaviors and reinforce positive behaviors and mirror healthy behaviors and personal accountability as well.
Part of healing and building self-worth is learning what self-love is and what healthy loving relationships of reciprocity are. We are all born lovable however loving relationships are not an entitlement. They are worked for and earned based on honoring each other’s wants and needs in sickness and health and in good times and bad in a respectful manner beneficial to both parties. Emotionally intelligent and healthy individuals know this and live it. They are clear on their personal worth and lovability and the rules of healthy respectful human interactions.
Dr. Travis Bradberry, a renowned expert on emotional intelligence in ourselves and others notes that while all people experience emotions, only 36% of people can do this, which is problematic because unlabeled emotions often go misunderstood, which leads to irrational choices and counterproductive actions for ourselves and in our relationships. People with high emotional intelligence master their emotions because they understand them, and they use an extensive vocabulary of feelings to do so. While many people might describe themselves as simply feeling ‘bad,’ emotionally intelligent people can pinpoint whether they feel ‘irritable,’ ‘frustrated,’ ‘downtrodden,’ or ‘anxious.’ The more specific our word choice, the better equipped we will be on not only what we are feeling and what caused it but also what we can and should do about it.
Teaching emotional intelligence to our children can be as simple as repeating to them in words what they are feeling especially if pain- or discomfort-based. Then we can help them learn to reliably embrace and sooth their emotions to build sustainable self-reliance rather than fear them and believe falsely they are deserving of the painful feelings and are powerless to them. Again, the best way to teach our children is to support these behaviors consistently in our words, thoughts, and actions and in validating our children’s and other’s emotions and being honest about our own.
Use Stories to Teach
If we are in abusive relationships and have young children, we can easily use stories to teach these lessons in a healthy constructive manner that will hold the abuser responsible for their actions and us accountable to our healing goals.
Take this as as example.
Why not present the situation as a child would understand such as in a fairy tale about good and evil and put yourself in the story. Be creative. The brain is growing and processing and your child is mirroring, seeing herself in you. You are your child’s reflection and you are teaching her how to become as she is divinely intended and to respect herself and to understand her personal worth. You are teaching her to become the best version of herself, to become self-reliant, resilient. You are teaching her to have compassion for her mother, the person who gave her life and for herself and others. You are facilitating your child to become a participant and compassionate witness in your healing and rebirth in the same way you participated and witnessed hers. Your actions validate the lessons you teach and she is witnessing and benefitting from your love that she projects back to you. This is how we live authentically and learn healthy lessons on our lovability, compassion, self-reliance, and personal worth. All support our personal and relational health
Fortunately, tons of children’s books written by competent abuse and trauma therapists like Dr. Lynne Namka now exist to help us reinforce these lessons.
What if My Child is a Narcissist
If we have children with narcissists, sadly we run the risk of having narcissistic children. You did nothing wrong. Nature did and you cannot fix it. Compassion including too much and too little are both inherited and hopefully if our narcissist children are at the lower end of the spectrum we can have some semblance of a relationship with them.
That, nevertheless, may not be possible if their toxicity level, combat tactics, and manipulation tactics are severe. Accepting that our children can not love us in healthy ways is extremely painful, but acceptance is empowering. Your safety and that of your other children always come first. If you let them, narcissists will, without a doubt, consume every single bit of narcissistic supply you give them at the expense of your other children, joy, happiness, energy, life, bank account, reputation and whatever else they can exploit from you. We also, remember, run the risk of having empathetic children who are vulnerable to their attacks as well. So we also need to protect our children and teach them to recognize narcissists, manage boundaries, and protect their vulnerabilities. Frequently, empathetic children can have too much compassion so we must focus on teaching them the same lessons and how to use their compassion responsibly and not become overly reliant on others for validation of their worth that makes them vulnerable to narcissistic predators.
The best any parent can do for narcissistic children is guide them with love, compassion, moral-based teaching, and consistency and perhaps they will end up falling at the lower end of the spectrum of less harmful character traits but there are no guarantees. Managing them takes very finely honed skills that very few therapists are even equipped with and are capable of handling. If you notice lack of compassion and serious self-centeredness in them and the failure to thrive, have healthy relationships or self-soothe, and engaging in bullying, get them into competent counseling right away.
In adulthood, the best option may be to follow the TDS (Time – Distance -Shielding) Rule and minimize your time, maximize the distance with them and put shielding between you and learn how to maintain your self-preservation when around them. The rest is in divine hands.
Your Children Will Heal Through You
Years ago, in the midst of an unhappy period in my life, my dear friend, Jim, told me, “Evelyn, It is never about the other person.” I, at the time, did not know what he meant but I never forgot that advice. Now I never forget the lesson. Here it is:
Until you own your own pain and shame and get rid of it and stop blaming others for it, you will not heal and you will continue to think like a victim and transfer this angst to your children. Your children will then needlessly suffer collateral damage and abuse will be perpetuated. This was not your pain to begin with.
Heed more Melanie Tonia Evans’ healing words of wisdom.
“The true remedy for getting out of this emotional charge is know who you are and have no need to defend it to anyone – especially your children. The truth of the matter is, however, that the more we get emotionally charged, the more we fight back, and the more we try to defend ourself against the narcissist, the atrocities escalate even more, and the more the atrocities work in the narcissist’s favor…There is nothing that an individual’s soul does not co-create that isn’t right for the purpose of the opportunity to create evolution and healing….heal your children through yourself.”
Read more on healing your children from Melanie Tonia Evans here.
The damage from narcissistic abuse is insipid and insidious and the emotional harm from it can be traumatizing. However, do not think for one second that you are defenseless or powerless to narcissists.
Narcissists are energy vampires. They cannot generate their own power or energy. In fact, they in themselves are powerless.
We fear them because we believe we are powerless and defenseless to them. However, what we fear in reality is not really dangerous. Our perception of danger has been skewed in large part from past harmful or traumatic experiences. We fear narcissists because of what abusers did to us as children when we were vulnerable to them and felt powerless to them. We learned to readily give up our personal power and energy to narcissists and other abusers who trigger our pain and the accompanying false belief of powerlessness.
Narcissists, in reality, however, while aggressive and revengeful, are weak and predictable. This works to your favor since this makes them vulnerable. In fact, they are very easy to manipulate.
“Really,” you may be thinking, “how can that be?”
Because in reality, narcissists push the same pain buttons our abusers did when we were children when we were powerless to them. We bring these same fears and beliefs into adulthood. As adults, we overestimate the danger and underestimate our ability to deal with it when, if we were able to look at it rationally, we would see very clearly that we are no longer powerless to these annoying creeps. Read more here.
So our fear of them is really false? The answer is an unequivocal, “Yes!”
We can learn, with practice, to deal with narcissists easily and effectively and not be vulnerable to them or fear them. Once you are able to see them and understand them for who they really are and break through the dysfunctional illusion and heal, you will see they are really more like annoying buzzing insects or whining man and woman babies – bothersome, boring, and predictable.
Here are 3 tips to maintain your self-preservation when dealing with them:
Become a “Gray Rock.” Do not give them any attention, positive or negative. Like this meme states, gray rocks do not attract attention and blend in with the scenery and you can do the same to make yourself less appealing to a narcissist.
If you do not give them your energy, they will go away. They need narcissistic supply to survive. Without it, they cannot live. Practice not reacting to anything they say or do or even thinking about them.
Say to yourself over and over and practice:
- I am authentic and powerful in my silence.
- I am indestructable.
- I show no emotion.
- I cannot be triggered.
- I offer no supply.
- I am invincible.
- I am not powerless to anything that triggers me.
- I am not defenseless to anything that triggers me.
- I am silent.
- I am not angry.
- I am boring.
- I give no clue as to what is going on with me.
Turn the fear triggers into annoyance triggers.
Watch them and map out what you expect them to do and when. You may find it useful to write down each action and how they make you feel. Plan what you will do when the narcissist responds as you predicted. This will help to remove the severity and seriousness from the situation by showing how weak and predictable, yet annoying, they really are, like mosquitoes. It will also make you more mindful and aware of your real power. Taking action (including saying “no”) will help you reset your internal fear threshold and provide you the self power (e.g. narc repellent) to regulate your emotions before they escalate and the confidence in your ability to protect your personal boundaries. Your confidence, self-esteem, and self-confidence will soar!
For reasons of self-preservation (not revenge), learning to manipulate them may be your best option.
Now, I DO NOT recommend this at all to anyone who is in early stages of healing. In addition, it takes time and energy and practice, and frankly, good acting skills to learn how to do this.
So when you are ready and have a legitimate need to benefit, you can learn pretty easily to manipulate them by giving the appearance you are giving up your energy. You can make them think they are manipulating you. Again, I am not promoting deceit for revenge. Rather, I am promoting self-preservation.
I, very far along in my healing, deal with narcissists and other boundary violators like manipulators and covert aggressors and passive aggressive people all the time. I do not fear them because I know how they tick and I no longer believe I am defenseless to them. I no longer fear them because I took my power back and healed and I know how to manage them. For example, I choose to voluntarily interact with them only if I benefit. I always make sure I benefit in some way because I know that they always are using me for something. It is just who they are and it is just what they do. I view it neutrally and not with any fear or emotional investment. If I do not benefit, I do not interact with them or I give up no energy. I just shut down and say nothing. I bank on the fact that they will come back again to “win” just like they bank on others’ vulnerabilities. If and when they come back, I just follow the same rule. If I do not benefit, I do not interact and give up no energy to the interaction.
Narcissists are aggressive and potentially dangerous and can only harm you if you fear them and allow them to do harm to you. In reality, they cannot generate their own power and need yours to survive. This is why they aggressively pursue you. This is behavior they learned in their dysfunctional families. They bank on our weaknesses and only target the emotionally vulnerable, kind, empathetic, generous, conscientious, and trusting people. You can use this information to your benefit and work the interaction with them to your favor.
But make no mistake and do not let your guard down. A narcissist always uses another person for something they need. They are aggressive parasites. Every interaction with them is parasitic. Accept that. It is not because they like you or love you or even hate you. They need you for narcissistic supply and actively go after it. They are predictable and weak and can be managed. They, however, cannot be cured.
Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
If you are or have been in a relationship with a narcissist or were raised by or among one or more, you have been traumatized by and suffered what I believe is the worst psychological and emotional abuse imaginable. The harm is immeasurable and can go on for years.
You will read over and over and over again how “no contact” is critical to your healing from the trauma and for you rebuild your destroyed self-esteem and self-worth and, for some, your broken bank accounts.
And I agree…totally. Fortunately, some of mine (yes, a herd) live far away and make it a bit easier for me.
But what about the one or ones who are not far away? What about those you have to see on a periodic or more frequent basis? What about those we must be around or those we work with and see or speak with daily or every other day or even weekly? What about those we may be in court with, at graduation, a school ceremony, or maybe even a wedding?
How do we manage those interactions? How do we make them tolerable? Should we?
I remembered at the beginning of my healing even after years of study wondering (I analyze all the time), “Can you have a workable relationship with a narcissist?”
The answer is an unequivocal, YES.
Sam Vaknin, a pathological narcissist amongst other things, and a renowned expert on narcissism, stated that you could if you learned how to manipulate him or her or them. If Sam, a self proclaimed narcissist and expert whom I respect very much said so then it must be so. After all, I have a professional relationship with Sam. Since Sam is brilliant, extremely analytical and detailed, and based on my reading thousands of pages he (and others) have written on pathological narcissism, I can only surmise he does not know exactly how. Sam does provide excellent pointers (with a narcissist’s bias) on how to deal with them but did not provide specific “how” to tips. After all, how often would a narcissist manipulate another narcissist, right? It is possible but not probable.
So I embarked on my own mission to figure out “how do I outsmart a narcissist” and here is what I discovered:
“Use them to your advantage as they use you.”
Let’s break this down a bit further.
If narcissists need adulation and attention and feed off of our energy and we know what makes them tick, why not give them what they need in selective and effective doses if and only if it benefits you or your children.
Give them a dose of their own medicine with a spoonful of sugar!
The key here is only if it benefits you and only if you are comfortable and secure in your sense of personal power.
And if you are, then, use your compassion and emotional intelligence that made you a target of a narcissist now to manipulate them as they did us and to balance out the power, to level the playing field, per se. Use your regained personal power to tip the scales in your favor and to turn the parasite host relationship into a mutually beneficial one and one that will minimize and prevent further harm to you and your children.
Oh, the narcissist will make all attempts to take something from you, no doubt. They need to in order to survive. It is their given purpose like it is a mosquito’s purpose to buzz around and annoy you. So the goal here is to minimize the harm to you and your children using psychological narc repellant.
One thing for sure, you cannot accomplish this goal by seeking revenge on them or trying to ruin him or her or his or her reputation.
I would like to caution everyone that doing this is not advisable and probably not going to be very effective in your early stages of healing when your self-power and self-esteem are diminished and no contact is absolutely necessary to ensure your well-being. This also takes strong self-resolve, focus, and discipline and good “acting” skills. While these are honed over time, you can, nevertheless, start learning and practicing them immediately. At this point strong advocacy by someone experienced in narcissism and
narcissistic abuse recovery may be warranted and can be very useful to take some of the burden off of you, minimize your contact with the narcissist, and allow you to focus on
your healing. Remember, we should never participate in an interaction that will put us or our children in harm’s way. Seek police or legal or professional action for protection immediately.
So here are eight quick and effective strategies you can use to manipulate a narcissist and help minimize the harm they inflict on you. Note, however, that the narcissists benefit as well. These suggestions are mutually beneficially and are designed to balance power and minimize and prevent further harm to you and your children. That is the key objective here.
- Be strategic, not revengeful.
Establish clear goals with the strongest emphasis on your long term vision of emotional freedom and health rather than short term material gains, revenge, and ego satisfaction. Money and material possessions are not an indicator of success or healthy self-esteem and can be regained and earned quicker that your emotional health can heal. Money can be a powerful motivator in the interim but may do more harm longer term if it keeps you trapped and emotionally unhealthy and suffering. Be clear that your motives during “required” interactions be based solely on what benefits you and your children and supports your emotional healing into the future.
Narcissists are aggressive but very predictable and you can use this to develop offensive strategies to achieve your goals and minimize harm from them. Your choice of divorce or to stop providing narcissistic supply will instill his or her wrath and they will fight to the death to win and defend their fear of shame from you exposing the truth about who they really are to those who know them and even those who do not in the courtroom. So he or she will not hesitate to destroy you and your reputation and lie about you and recruit his flying monkeys to lie about you in court. Expect this and be prepared. Stay calm and focused on long-term emotional freedom and your children’s well-being, not short term self-satisfaction and retaliation.
Retaliation and benefit are not synonymous. Do not seek revenge or ever “go after” a narcissist, or anyone for that matter. Narcissists are energy vampires and feed off of your negative energies which keeps them on the offensive and in combat mode to defeat you. Going after them can keep you stuck, as well, in reactive victimhood mentality mode that feeds your ego-based need for revenge and retaliation rather than your long-term emotional freedom and health. Revenge, in effect, directs your feeling of powerlessness to your abuser and transfers your power to him or her, power they continue to use against you and your children. The best type of revenge is your and your children’s personal and emotional healing. As you heal, your children will heal through you.
- Use your compassion and emotional intelligence to your advantage.
Play off a narcissist’s predictable and (yawn), yes, boring, reactions and moods. Use this knowledge to fuel your strength and develop offensive strategies. You know them better than they know themselves. Gauge their moods and meter your actions accordingly. Be careful not to overdo it. Act commensurate with what you want to achieve. Be creative. Think out of the box.
Rather than trigger their fears and aggressive offensive actions, focus on creating an illusion that the narcissist is winning. If he aggressively goes after you, do not react aggressively. Remain calm and be soothing instead. Choose your battles carefully and be willing to lose a battle to win the war. If he or she wants the furniture, for example, keep a few pieces for yourself and not only give them the rest, tell them they deserve it. No harm done, you have fed their depraved need to win, and increased the chances they will back off and moved closer to the finish line. In the mean time, make a plan to redecorate and buy that awesome furniture you want and deserve.
- Only interact with them on days that things are going their way.
This is when they are the most malleable. Otherwise have no contact with them. Remember that you will always be their narcissistic supply and on their off days, they will shadow their wrath on you like they did in the past. The objective is to take actions that benefit you, not cause you further harm and that keep you on the healing track with your eye on the finish line, your emotional freedom.
- Avoid a battle including court at all costs.
Don’t do just what your attorney or friend tells you to do to maximize your partner’s losses for your or their personal gain and to get even. Never take punitive actions or actions that “appear” punitive. Narcissists are predictable but complex and hate to lose and to be challenged, ashamed, exposed, or criticized and will fight to the death to avoid any. Never ever ever let them see you sweat or show emotions that they can construe to the court as your emotional imbalance and inability to be an effective parent. Play nice in the sand box to tip the scales in your favor. Remember your goal and keep your eye on the prize. Be creative.
A gutsy friend told her ex that legally having joint custody would be a burden on him that he did not deserve and that he could see his son whenever he wanted. This was true and she ended up with full legal custody which was in her son’s best interest. She never prevented him from seeing him which turned out to be a few visits anyway and he backed off since he perceived he had already won the battle.
- Give something up periodically to provide an illusion that the narcissist won rather
than challenge them to provide a strategic upper hand.
Narcissists have aggressive personalities and have to win at all costs. If they lose, you must lose. If they win, you must lose.
But you can make the situation appear as if only he won when in reality it is a “win-win” by using strategic tactics. I know people who waived hundreds of thousands of dollars of child support since money was the narcissist’s sore spot and would keep them connected to something they needed to move away from. This leveled the playing field and minimized the conflict to them and their children. The narcissists backed off. They took action that supported their goal for emotional freedom rather than revenge or personal gain. Remember to be able to see the forest through the trees you have to keep looking for and seeking the forest. Remember to keep your eye on the finish line.
- Pay them compliments or give them a present.
This will feed their need for attention and adulation. Even if you are in divorce or custody proceedings, they will never pass up on a compliment that they were the best at this or that. Tell them they look great, are an expert, are the smartest or whatever pushes their egotistic buttons. Be creative. Perhaps, even cook them their favorite meal or cookies. Remember that while you may believe some of this, you are insincerely paying compliments. Do this sporadically and intermittently only if you need to. Remember the elemental word here is your self-benefit not your self-sacrifice.
- Agree with them even if you don’t.
This “appearance” will feed their need to be right and to win. You will know the truth but he or she won’t and it won’t matter. If your conscience makes it hard for you to actively agree, then respond neutrally such as “Geeze, that is interesting. I never heard it put that way before.” Or just nod and say “ohhhh” or “I get it.”
- Apologize if you feel you have to in order to get what you want even if you don’t have any remorse.
Even better, tell them you made a mistake and should have listened to them. Again, this “appearance” will play up on their need to diminish and denigrate and their need for adulation and to win.
I hope you find these tips useful.
You are not powerless to these creeps and can use your compassion and emotional intelligence that made you a target of a narcissist to turn a harmful power imbalanced relationship into a more power-balanced one that minimizes and prevents further harm to you and your children.
Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
Most victims of childhood abuse (includes neglect and emotional invalidation) suffer into adulthood and become adult victims of adult abuse. Our self-esteem and personal identity and understanding of our self-worth suffer. We may have been punished for even attempting to care for ourselves. Consequently, we can feel shame for even taking care of our basic human needs. This vulnerability can be exaggerated in empaths who are predisposed to caring for and feeling responsible for others’ happiness.
We do not learn how to use our compassion responsibly and overcompensate by giving of ourselves too much and letting others who do not have our best interests at heart violate our personal boundaries and dishonor us. We allow them to control our emotions rather than we regulating our own. We bring this skewed thinking learned in childhood into adulthood and learn to neglect our own needs.
Self-care and self-compassion are needed for healing because they “neutralize” the toxic emotions and empower ourselves to learn how to regulate our emotions again. These are good “habits” that relieve the pain and help us assimilate and reconnect with ourselves again. So, in effect self-care and self-compassion allow us an opportunity to witness our healing. They allow us to actively participate in our own healing and regain trust in ourselves and feel safe and secure in our own bodies. Self-care and self-compassion allow us to nourish our souls and are also critical to building self-worth, self-assurance and self-reliance and feel like “ourselves” again, not the pain addicted wounded versions who rely on abusers and manipulators who do not have our best interests at heart to alleviate our discomfort.
We CAN learn how to replace these old “harmful” habits with those that are self-serving to our emotional health and personal joy. We can learn to use our compassion responsibly and learn to focus our compassion and self-care more on ourselves.
“What?” You may ask. “How am I supposed to learn how to do that? I have trouble even saying no.”
Well…like anything, by learning how to and by practicing.
Here are some helpful tips that can help to get you on the right track. And remember PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. Use the tips that work for YOU!!!
- Pay attention to your own needs and wants. Get out of your head and learn to listen to and heed your bodily cues and emotions that exist to protect you.
Listen to what your body, your mind, and your heart are telling you. For instance, if your body is telling you that you have been sitting down too long, stand up and stretch. If your heart is longing to spend more time with a special friend, do it. If your mind is telling you to clean up your basement, listen to your favorite music, or stop thinking bad thoughts about yourself, take those thoughts seriously.
- Take very good care of yourself…..ALWAYS!!!!
As you were growing up you may not have learned how to take good care of yourself. In fact, much of your attention may have been on taking care of others, on just getting by, or on “behaving well.” Perhaps you were even punished for thinking about and caring for yourself.
Begin today to take good care of yourself. Treat yourself as a wonderful parent would treat a small child or as a very best friend might treat another. If you work at taking good care of yourself, you will find that you feel better about yourself and you will learn you are deserving of your own self-care and learn self-reliance that will feed your self-esteem and self-worth.
Here are some suggestions:
- Eat healthy foods and avoid junk foods (foods containing a lot of sugar, salt, or fat). A healthy daily diet is usually: five or six servings of vegetables and fruit, six servings of whole grain foods like bread, pasta, cereal, and rice, two servings of protein foods like beef, chicken, fish, cheese, cottage cheese, or yogurt.
- Exercise. Moving your body helps you to feel better and improves your self-esteem. Arrange a time every day or as often as possible when you can get some exercise, preferably outdoors. You can do many different things. Taking a walk is the most common. You could run, ride a bicycle, play a sport, climb up and down stairs several times, put on a tape, or play the radio and dance to the music–anything that feels good to you. If you have a health problem that may restrict your ability to exercise, check with your doctor before beginning or changing your exercise habits.
- Do special personal hygiene tasks to pamper and make you feel better about yourself such as a bubble bath, special hair conditioning or styling, manicures and pedicures, and teeth whitening.
- Have a physical examination every year to make sure you are in good health.
- Plan fun activities for yourself. Learn new things every day.
- Take time to do things you enjoy. You may be so busy, or feel so badly about yourself, that you spend little or no time doing things you enjoy such as playing a musical instrument, doing a craft project, flying a kite, or going fishing. Make a list of things you enjoy doing. Then do something from that list every day. Add to the list anything new that you discover you enjoy doing.
- Get something done that you have been putting off. Clean out that drawer. Wash that window. Write that letter. Pay that bill.
- Do things that make use of your own special talents and abilities. For instance, if you are good with your hands, then make things for yourself, family, and friends. If you like animals, consider having a pet or at least playing with friends’ pets.
- Dress in clothes that make you feel good about yourself. If you have little money to spend on new clothes, check out thrift stores in your area.
- Give yourself rewards for being a great person such as listening to your favorite music or reading your favorite books or taking a trip to a museum.
- Spend time with people who treat you well and make you feel good about yourself. Avoid people who treat you badly.
- Make your living space a place that honors the person you are. Whether you live in a single room, a small apartment, or a large home, make that space comfortable and attractive for you. If you share your living space with others, have some space that is just for you, your own personal “slice of heaven” where you can keep your things and know that they will not be disturbed and that you can decorate any way you choose.
- Display items that you find attractive or that remind you of your achievements or of special times or people in your life. If cost is a factor, use your creativity to think of inexpensive or free ways that you can add to the comfort and enjoyment of your space.
- Make your meals a special time. Turn off the television, radio, and stereo. Set the table, even if you are eating alone. Light a candle or put some flowers or an attractive object in the center of the table. Arrange your food in an attractive way on your plate. If you eat with others, encourage discussion of pleasant topics. Avoid discussing difficult issues at meals.
- Take advantage of opportunities to learn something new or improve your skills. Take a class or go to a seminar. Many adult education programs are free or very inexpensive. For those that are more costly, ask about a possible scholarship or fee reduction.
- Begin doing those things that you know will make you feel better about yourself like going on a diet, beginning an exercise program or keeping your living space clean.
- Do something nice for another person. Smile at someone who looks sad. Say a few kind words to the checkout cashier. Help your spouse with an unpleasant chore. Take a meal to a friend who is sick. Send a card to an acquaintance. Volunteer for a worthy organization.
- Make it a point to treat your self well every day. Before you go to bed each night, write about how you treated yourself well during the day and how you will treat your self tomorrow.
- Learn how to manage boundaries.
Abusers and exploiters and bullies and especially narcissists are masters at pushing pain buttons, making people feel powerless, and getting people to let down their boundaries and getting them to give up their power to them. In fact, they enjoy doing it. They use charm and love as their camouflage. We become unknowingly complicit in our own abuse and exploitation. We innocently expose ourselves to some of the worst abuse and harm imaginable.
Part of healing for those who were victims and continue to be susceptible to their attacks, then, is learning to maintain and protect your personal boundaries so you are not vulnerable to emotional predators.
Unfortunately, there is no electronic monitor like a home protection system you can purchase to warn you of impending “emotional” predators and attacks. However, you can strengthen your own internal monitors and learn new skills including honing your narcissist radar otherwise known as “NADAR” and honoring and “feeling” for and caring for your own wants and needs with compassion and defending your personal rights and authorities. These include assertively expressing what your rights, authorities, needs, and feelings are and recognizing and regulating your own emotions especially your pain-based ones and learning when they are triggered and who routinely triggers them. Just as important, then, is knowing WHAT makes you happy.
Abuse survivors can also become notorious boundary violators themselves. We in healing must learn not only to manage our boundaries but also to respect other’s as well. People who are heavily dependent on others for self-worth particularly may have a hard time sourcing their own power and learning self-reliance. Codependents have learned to routinely not only let others violate their boundaries but also to violate other’s boundaries to source from them what they need to define their worth.
Learning boundary management by re-learning what personal rights are and where healthy authorities and boundaries start and finish will help you replace maladaptive thoughts, beliefs, and actions with healthy ones and help you make great strides in your healing.
- Learn assertiveness skills including how to say “no.”
Learning assertiveness skills will not only protect your personal rights that support your self-esteem and self-care but will also help you keep your cool and prevent you from being manipulated and abused by those who push your pain and shame buttons. These skills can help immensely in boundary management that support and sustain your emotional health and mutually respectful and loving relationships.
- Learn how to set and achieve goals.
Once you do be sure to develop your personal action and accountability plan, your life’s road map to achieving your goals and getting where you want to go and getting back on course when you “get lost.” Remember that your character, people skills, personal limitations, emotional makeup, and motivation level will impact achievement of goals. Mentors and coaches can help you generate your action plan, monitor your progress, hold you accountable, and develop alternate courses of actions when you hit roadblocks.
Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
“People who sincerely care about you will actively listen and follow. Those who don’t will not. Healing is a time of self-evaluation that provides a great opportunity to clean your closet of legacy unhealthy relationships that are supporting the narcissist’s dirty dealings and preventing your healing and hindering your happiness.”
I read frequently from viewers here and at many other sites who maintained no
contact but watching their children and friends be targeted continued to cause them great fear and pain.
They also experience great pain from those they believe care about them who do not believe them or “do not want to get involved.”
Narcissistic harm by proxy perhaps?
No contact with abusers and especially narcissists is critical to healing. Narcissists, however, frequently target their own children and others you love and use them as pawns to get to you, their primary narcissistic supply. After all, if they cannot have our love and attention, why not settle for our angst, contempt and negative attention by using those we love and care about the most and turning them against us? Negative attention is attention after all, right?
What can we do to support the no contact rule for ourselves and protect ourselves AND our children and others we care about under these circumstances? Personally, this was my greatest fear for my child and my greatest challenge.
But no longer.
Here are some tips and recommendations that I use that I hope you find useful to keep you, your children, and loved ones on a path of emotional health and safety and your relationships intact.
- We have options and choices ALWAYS. You are no longer a victim or a target of what the narcissist COULD do in your personal relationships. You can only remain a victim or target if you continue to live in fear. There is a huge difference between REAL danger and fear of what COULD harm you. Remember always to call the police immediately if you are in any real physical danger or threat of physical harm. Use the legal system to acquire restraining orders if needed.
- You can also only remain a victim or target if your self-worth is not strong and is dependent on validation from others. This is no longer the case. We learn to use our compassion and empathy, what attracts narcissists to us, to benefit and protect us. Your innate emotional intelligence and new knowledge on emotional health and boundary management provide you with renewed personal power founded on new truth.
- The new family dynamic provides you opportunities to use your renewed personal power in your children’s and your favor. You most likely were raised in families where there were no boundaries and healthy rules of engagement or regard for your personal rights or authorities. I call this the “family amoeba,” the family glob. The glob no longer exists and has been replaced with new relationships and dynamics. Your spouse is no longer your spouse, rather the Ex. Your children are still your children. You are still the parent. Those, now, remember, are three or more DISTINCT relationships you are engaged in and that you have the right and authority to manage as you choose with newly established boundaries and the rules of engagement that support emotional health.
- Remember your personal power includes the ability to parent and educate your children and influence and educate your loved ones. Teach your children, friends, relatives EVERYTHING you can about narcissism and how to protect themselves from harm. This is an insipid and insidious disorder that needs to be brought into everyone’s levels of consciousness. Share with your children, no matter what their age, EVERYTHING you have learned, signs of narcissists, and especially how to manage and protect personal boundaries with everyone including you and the other parent. TELL THEM THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARM OF ABUSE AND YOUR CHILDHOOD AND UPBRINGING. Teach them self-respect by demanding it in all your personal interactions and paying honor to your own personal rights and authorities. People who sincerely care about you will actively listen and follow. Those who don’t will not.
Healing is a time of self-evaluation that provides a great opportunity to clean your closet of legacy unhealthy relationships that are supporting the narcissist’s dirty dealings and preventing your healing and hindering your happiness.
Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
The primary pain that we experience from abuse is shame. Abuse is betrayal of intimate trust. Abuse is abandonment. Unlike guilt, which is the result of feeling bad about what you do in the external world, shame reflects feelings of failure inside, as a person.
Shame is experienced as self-blame. You perceive yourself as flawed, inferior, contemptible, no good. Shame is a normal unconscious human emotion that helps us “put on the brakes” by taking cues from our external environment.
The problem is that you may have too much of it which is the case for victims of abuse.
Shame can become a normal feeling for victims of abuse. We also give up most of our personal power and abandon our own selves.
Shame is the part of you that you can’t face because it is so intolerable. In the words of John Bradshaw, “toxic shame” is an “emotion that gets internalized as a state of being.”
Toxic shame becomes part of a what I refer to as the “Shame Triad” of self-blame, self-loathing, and self-sabotaging behaviors.
Too much shame can make us targets of toxic manipulators and keep us powerless to them and trigger anger at inappropriate times.
Shame can keep us trauma addicted to our abusers.
Tips for Dealing with Shame
- Turn your compassion and tolerance towards yourself to accept yourself, warts and all, as a valuable person.
- Forgive yourself first. Acknowledge your fallibility as a person and that you were a victim. This will help you release the self-blame and empower yourself to stop thinking falsely that you are weak, powerless, and defenseless.
- Be consistent and fair with sharing your compassion and tolerance with yourself as well as with others.
- Go first with your compassion! Learn to be tolerant of yourself first. Know when to quit, rest, say you’ve had enough, and to put yourself first. This is not selfish. This is self preservation and what emotionally healthy people do.
- Respect your OWN personal boundaries and protect your vulnerabilities. Demonstrate kindness and acceptance to yourself. Do not violate your own personal wishes, body, trust, time, privacy, feelings, and property.
- Do not let other people violate your personal boundaries. This includes learning how to not say yes when you mean no. It also includes not letting your boundaries down by sharing too much of your personal information with others too soon.
- Do not violate other people’s boundaries.
- Stop defending your feelings, preferences, trust, time and choices to abusers. Abusers use this as an opportunity to abuse and exploit you more and expose you to more trauma and shame. If you must respond to their sneaky insults or criticisms, just say, “That’s interesting. Let me think about it.” Then ignore them and turn them into a non-issue.
- Focus on gratitude for what you have. My mother told me if you have food, a roof over your head, your health and people who love you, you have everything. She was right.
- Avoid black and white thinking that focuses only on “good” or “bad” outcomes for yourself. Look at your track record.
- Refrain from complaining about what you disagree with or do not like in yourself. If you have nothing nice to say or think about yourself, don’t say or think it.
- Welcome and view disagreements from trusted individuals or differences not as criticism but as motivations for you to learn more, for you to become a person of integrity.
- Give yourself a break. Be careful to understand the difference between rejecting the “sin” and rejecting the “sinner.” Learn to say “who cares?” more.
- Do not judge a book by its cover. Do not rush to judgment. Refrain from developing an opinion, before you get all the facts. If in doubt, ask a wise trusted friend.
- Refrain from making yourself the brunt of jokes or laughter.
- Do not always stand in the back of the line. Allow yourself to go first sometimes.
- Educate yourself on shame and its debilitating effects.
- Learn to identify the feeling of shame as it occurs in your daily life and write in a journal about situations and relationships that trigger shame.
- Challenge your emotions. Ask yourself which ones result from lack of compassion and tolerance for yourself. Check the list above.
- Work on these areas as trigger points of shame and do what you can to avoid them or minimize their harmful effects.
- Get rid of toxic friends who habitually violate your trust.
- Take anger management classes. Shame triggers anger.
- Look at your track record from youth. Recall the people in your childhood who had something good to say about you…those who were kind to you. Teachers, clergy, neighbors, a surrogate parent or relative perhaps. What words did they use to describe your best qualities? How did you feel when you were around them? Revive these important people from your past by writing about them in a journal and exploring what their support meant to you, then and now.
- If you are religious or spiritual, turn to your Higher Power or Source to cleanse yourself of the shame and unworthiness that you feel so deeply. Religion and spiritual practice can be tremendous sources of inner sustenance and can provide an ideal vision to replace the negative role models and scenarios of the past.
- Get honest constructive unbiased feedback. Share your struggles with working this step on support blogs, meetings, a trusted wise friend, and Websites and Facebook pages like Yourlifelifter.
- Seek professional therapy if you are not progressing in your healing and recovery. You most likely are trauma addicted. Trauma bonding occurs when you rely on your abuser for your safety, happiness, or security. Here are a few examples:
- You long for and miss your abusers.
- You make excuses for them.
- You replay painful interactions with your abusers over and over again trying to figure out what you did wrong.
- Turn your compassion and tolerance towards yourself to accept yourself, warts and all, as a valuable person.
In addition, in order to resolve shame addictions, an ongoing reparative relationship with a qualified therapist can help you challenge your internal voice of shame and replace it with a healthier dialogue. A skilled therapist can be an important ally in helping you to transform the shame into self-acceptance.
Talk about your shame with him/her and share how you experienced shame in your childhood and in your life including in your therapy sessions. With your therapist’s help, identify the ways in which you keep yourself from feeling your shame by adopting a role or “false self” that you portray to others based on what you think is acceptable to them rather than yourself. Share this “false self” with your therapist and try to understand what the role gives you that you feel you lack inside. This can help home in on the shame triggers that you can work to acknowledge, challenge, and release and replace with new rational beliefs and emotions that support your emotional health and well being.