Power Imbalance in Abusive Relationships – Part 1

th-2Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

This is Part 1 in a two part series on power imbalance in abusive relationships, common misperceptions, causes and effects of power imbalance, and how to correct them.

Part 2 discusses further the differences between aggression, power, and control in abusive relationships and how healing allows us to access and rely comfortably on our own personal power in mutually respectful healthy relationships.

This article 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.

There is what I believe a huge misperception on the relationship between abusers and their victims. That is correct…their victims. You will read often that abuse is the need to control and take power over another. While this may be partly true, this does not accurately or completely describe the predatory aspects of abuse and the not so obvious causes of power imbalance in abusive relationships.

Dynamics of Work and Obligation in Healthy Relationships

starving soul hungerThe core to healthy relationship are healthy interactions between compassionate people who have healthy views on work and obligation. Simply put, emotionally healthy people work for what they need to benefit and sustain themselves and those they are in relationships with. We expect to periodically self-sacrifice and put in the extra effort to benefit someone else because we know if we do, we will reap the rewards as well. We also expect sometimes to not work so hard and let others put in the extra effort to care for us when we need it. We know that we are paid for the value of the service we provide to others no matter if they are loved ones, customers, bosses, or even strangers. We also work for what we need because we know and are confident we can do so and enjoy working towards our goals. It brings us joy. It sustains our life. It nourishes our souls. It makes us better people. We know that having “skin in the game” builds character. If we reap benefits that are equal to or exceed the efforts or costs to achieve them, then we are happy, content, fulfilled.

Dysfunctional Work and Commitment Dynamics in Abusive Relationships

This balance of give and take and work and obligation that fuels normal character development, relationships, and human existence becomes severely skewed in power imbalanced relationships. Why?

Because abusers simply detest putting out effort that might, even in part, benefit someone else. They can work very hard and can spend inordinate amounts time and energy working purely 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, 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! Abusers 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.

Abusers benefit from the self sacrifice and work or their victims whom they exploit for their personal gain. The victims are stuck in “hamster wheel relationships” that go nowhere and get nothing back in return for their extreme investments of pain and energy. Their efforts are unrequited. Chronic exploitation leads to chronic emotional pain and trauma, overtaxing of our pain-based emotional mechanisms. They become depleted and emotionally fatigued, depressed, and traumatized. The extreme and long-term imbalance of power and chronic invalidation are the core to the damage from abusive relationship fueled by legacy wounded thinking and skewed beliefs that originated in abusive childhoods. It is this wounded thinking and these skewed beliefs that also makes us vulnerable to these predators.

Read more here on how we inherit pain-based thinking and how it is passed from generation to generation.

Abuser Find Us and Prey on Our Vulnerabilities

Abusers find us. We do not find them. In reality, abusers aggressively and offensively target and prey on the vulnerable ones who will easily give up their power and energy to them. Abusers do this because they loathe working on self-improvement, cannot self-soothe, cannot generate their own power and get great enjoyment and emotional fulfillment from taking it from, where else? Others! As discussed above, they want all the benefits others can provide them without working for them.

The abusers shadow their pain on vulnerable victims and use them and play on their vulnerabilities so they defensively give up their power to them. Abusers learned these predatory practices from the same place their victims learned their maladaptive behaviors – in their own families. People who are emotionally fit do not readily give up their power to others. In short, they would simply not be bothered with abusers because they are confident in their self-truth and rely comfortably on their personal power and on their internal cues to define their worthiness. They reserve their self-power for themselves and others they voluntarily choose to share their power with and who treat them with respect. They monitor and protect their personal rights, authorities and divinity comfortably and confidently. They assertively would tell the abusers to go away or ignore them and the abusers would simply move on to the next victim.

Adult survivors of childhood abuse, on the other hand, suffer from low self-esteem and pain addiction because their pain-based emotions lose their protective functions, go haywire, and become toxic. In effect, when we are abused as adults, our exaggerated pain and trauma and accompanying feelings of unworthiness and defenselessness from our youth are triggered. So our shame is old unhealed legacy shame and the beliefs are false wounded beliefs our childhood abusers shadowed on us that we bring with us into adulthood.

How Do Victims Become Victors and Take Their Power Back

Abusers do not hold some magical hold on us. We are not the source of our shame that drives our self-loathing. We are, however, vulnerable to abusers who target us due to damage from overuse of our pain-based emotions. It is our toxic pain-based emotions and false beliefs of powerlessness that cause us to give up our power to abusers who trigger our pain. We also believe falsely that we must suffer to be lovable, another skewed belief we were conditioned to believe in childhood.

th-1So victims of abuse do not deserve the pain and are not powerless or defenseless to their abusers. We are not the cause of our pain and we are not responsible for it and we are not defenseless to it. We are, however, adults who are thinking like abused wounded children, maladaptive thinking we formulated  when our brains and characters were developing and when we were most vulnerable that resulted from abuse and neglect and pain inflicted on us by those we trusted and were dependent on and who were supposed to care for and love us unconditionally. It was not our pain to begin with. This is pain and distorted thinking we shadow on our own children. This is how intergenerational abuse is perpetuated.

705466_cover_mockup1-1It is time to fix our self-esteem, heal our traumas, and TAKE OUR POWER BACK! It is time to break the cycle of intergenerational abuse. And as we heal, our children will heal through us. I explore these issues in much more depth in Part 2 in this series and in my book, Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips, and Tools for Abuse Survivors. You can read a free sneak peek and review of the book and purchase a copy here.

Am I The Narcissist?

Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

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I hear frequently from readers who fear they are the narcissist and the one with the personality disorder.

My answer?

“Absolutely not!”

This distorted thinking is a consequence of prolonged abuse that started in childhood and its traumatic impacts on your beliefs, self-worth, self-assurance, gauges of reasoning, and your abilities to trust and regulate your emotions.

The fact that you would even be concerned about this, demonstrates that your emotional capabilities although skewed, are intact.

Prolonged narcissistic abuse is slick invalidation from emotional vampires – carefully planned and premeditated efforts to stealthily through covert aggressive combat maneuvers, take everything valuable that you have to offer (your love, trust, compassion, beauty, generosity, child-bearing abilities, finances, or whatever) that they can manipulate from you to provide an illusion of grandeur and greatness to the world without any of the work.

When we do, we give up our power and energy that per our divine design at conception, were intended to be used by and for us to nurture our souls and become the best versions of ourselves as we search for internal truth – truth that we choose to share with others in relationships of mutual respect.

So, “no” you are not a narcissist. You, however, are a wounded victim of one or more who steal energy from you they cannot generate on their own. And perhaps you picked up some of their bad behaviors that will pass once you are away from them.

The good news is that you can fix your skewed thinking and heal and as you do, so will your children and you will thrive. You will make memories and people will love you just for being you. You will release the pain that made you vulnerable to them in the first place and become a stronger more self-assured version of yourself.

th-14You will take your power back and thrive. I explore these topics in much more depth in my book, Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips, and Tools for Abuse Survivors.

Narcissists will be forever evil and when they are done and gone, the only person anyone will miss is the one they will never be.

Read more below on the topic from one of my favorite Facebook Pages of “Truth,” “Sanctuary for Awareness and Recovery:”

Sanctuary For Awareness And Recovery

Paradox with several Personality Disorders and mental illnesses: since the ego and perception are both affected, it is common for those with some PD’s and mental illnesses with Narcissistic traits to actually perceive those they are treating poorly as the ones who are Narcissistic, because of their reactions to their behavior, or because they have healthy confidence and boundaries.

The root cause is usually a lack of boundaries, and a lack of respect or awareness for other people’s boundaries.

So the person who insults your teeth might call you “narcissistic” if you don’t just LET them insult your teeth. Apparently you were supposed to agree with them or hang your head in shame, not stand up for yourself against a blatant insult. So therefore in their mind the insult was perfectly fine, it was your reaction to the insult that was “narcissistic.”

Another example of this may be when someone enters your home or room without knocking or without waiting for an answer when this has not been established as the “norm” for them in your home or room, in other words you have NOT told them to “don’t knock, just come in.” They’re already showing a lack of boundaries with this behavior, so one shouldn’t be surprised that they react very defensively and emotionally when asked not to do that.

Saying and doing things that display hostility, arrogance, coldness, aggression, superiority or hatred are blatant displays of poor or absent boundaries, so when such a person’s behavior is confronted, disagreed with, or disapproved of, (speaking in a respectful manner that is), they are most likely going to react defensively and perceive it as arrogance, control, or an attack, and if they have some level of narcissism they may rage.

How Emotionally Fit Are You?

Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

Our sustained happiness is a sign of th-2emotional fitness just like our blood panel, cholesterol, and blood pressure are signs of our physical fitness.

When we are happy, our emotional needs are met and motivate us to set and achieve goals. So our feelings are indicators of our emotional well being and what we need to work on. Conversely, not meeting our emotional needs and being unhappy or anxious for prolonged periods of time can lead to emotional fatigue and exhaustion and for some, depression and even trauma.

Our happiness is a product of and dependent on the state of our self-esteem. Self-esteem is an implicit judgment that every person has of his or her ability to face life’s challenges and solve problems and of their right to achieve happiness and be given respect. Self-esteem is a conscious decision we make and reflects confidence in our abilities to take risks, love and be loved, protect ourselves and achieve goals that bring us joy and that we know we deserve.

th-1Healthy self-esteem allows us to rely on ourselves for validation of our self-worth because we know what we are capable of doing, know we are worthy of joy, and set goals to bring us joy that we are confident we can achieve. When we do not achieve our goals, we do not hunker down in shame but rather we course correct or get advice or assistance to achieve our goals. The role of other people is not to validate us or rescue us. Their role is to complement us and to share our joy with. We do not routinely depend on others because we rely on ourselves and cues from our internal gauges to define who we are and our level of happiness.

People with low self-esteem, on the other hand, cannot look internally for validation of their self-worth and typically are pain addicted due to abuse or trauma or possibly more severe psychological issues. They also have high tendencies towards codependency. Other people become sources or solutions to their pain.

Here are some characteristics of those with high self-esteem. Which ones do you possess? Which ones do you feel you need to work on to achieve emotional “fitness?”

th-3People with a healthy level of self-esteem:

  • Are self-reliant on themselves to define their self-worth and for affirmation of their thoughts and ideas.
  • Can use their compassion responsibly without routinely self-sacrificing their personal needs, rights and authorities for others.
  • Set joy-seeking goals they know they deserve and are confident in their abilities to achieve them.
  • Understand well what their personal boundaries and authorities are and understand their right to have theirs honored and respected.
  • Practice self-care, kindness, and nurturance including self-compassion when they are in emotional pain or are distressed.
  • Can assertively defend their personal boundaries and respect others’ personal boundaries.
  • Firmly believe in certain values and principles, and are ready to defend them even when finding opposition, feeling secure enough to modify them in light of experience.
  • Are able to act according to what they think to be the best choice, trusting their own judgment, and not feeling guilty when others do not like their choice.
  • Do not lose time worrying excessively about what happened in the past, nor about what could happen in the future. They learn from the past and plan for the future, but live in the present intensely.
  • Fully trust in their capacity to solve problems, not hesitating after failures and difficulties. They ask others for help when they need it.
  • Consider themselves equal in dignity to others, rather than inferior or superior, while accepting differences in certain talents, personal prestige or financial standing.
  • Understand how they are an interesting and valuable person for others, at least for those with whom they have a friendship.
  • Routinely set and achieve goals to fulfill their spiritual, financial, career, community, relationship, and health needs.
  • Identify and resist manipulation, collaborate with others only if it seems appropriate and convenient.
  • Admit and accept different internal feelings and drives, either positive or negative, revealing those drives to others only when they choose.
  • Are able to enjoy a great variety of activities.
  • Are sensitive to feelings and needs of others; respect generally accepted social rules, and claim no right or desire to prosper at others’ expense.
  • Use their compassion responsibly to their and others’ benefit.
  • Can work toward finding solutions and voice discontent without belittling themselves or others when challenges arise.
  • Are tolerant of other people’s differences including differences of opinion.

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 10.26.25 PMAnswering these questions can help you gauge your level of emotional fitness and where you need to focus and set some milestones and goals.

Register here for a free 14-page report of self-esteem building tips and exercises that can help you build your self-esteem, become emotionally fit, and improve your overall wellness and happiness.

8 Effective Ways to Outsmart a Narcissist

Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

If you are or have been in a relationship th-16with 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.

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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.

Small mosquitoAnd 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.

th-17Oh, 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.

  1. Be strategic, not revengeful.th-14

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.

images-3Narcissists 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. th-15Give 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.”

  1. 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.

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I hope you find these tips useful.

Remember:

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.

Why are Narcissists Self-Righteous and Manipulative?

Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

th-12Have you noticed that the most toxic people have the biggest and the most fragile egos?

Ever wondered why?

They are part of the facade, the illusion of smoke and mirrors masking a core of deep-seated shame and self-loathing and powerlessness. They are crude covertly aggressive parasitic attempts at taking others’ power for selfish self-serving purposes by those who cannot and do not want to generate their own. Oh, they may try to pass it off as power, however aggressiveness and the needs to control and charm and be self-righteousness and manipulate are not power.

Truly powerful and influentially people do not manipulate others and are not self-righteous because, simply, they do not have to be. However, generating our own power takes hard work including putting our egos aside for not only our own good but for others’ as well. And what key character qualities does this require? You got it – selflessness, conscientiousness, commitment, compassion and empathy: qualities these broken personality disordered people lack and have replaced with self-righteousness and manipulation and a sick desire to make others lose.

Read more here on narcissists, character, work and obligation.

th-10Now they cannot show their true colors to the world. Can they? How would they survive? How would they get others to give up the energy they starve for and need for emotional sustenance, for glue to mend their cracked psyches?

Of course! Why not portray a false image (e.g. ego) of charm and aggression (covert or overt) they need the world to see and prey on the vulnerable? Why not defend and perpetuate the false spineless weak persons they really are by judging others to prove their own power to themselves and to others and use whatever or whomever they can including religion to do so? Why not recruit personal assistants, “flying monkeys,” to help them th-11create the magical illusion of power and grandeur and create their own “Land of Oz?” Why not commit the worst of “sins” in the name of God, America, or Buddha or Muhammed or for whatever reason or lie they can muster to justify what is really pure depravity and evil? Why not worship false idols – their own selves!

They want all the benefits we the virtuous folks work for and that the narcissists feel entitled to such as love and marriage and children and recognition without any of the work! In fact, they hate self-improvement! This is why they flock to and frequent churches and religious communities and politics and even companies and “do good” fund raising organizations that are driven by unethical “group think” cultures.

Read more here on narcissists, character, work and obligation.

th-13Now, evil lies on a long spectrum, however evil is evil. It is like being pregnant. You are or you aren’t and being a little bit is irrelevant to the greater purpose. So rather than work to become virtuous people of integrity and character and develop grace, tolerance, kindness, and generosity (which they loathe doing, by the way), these depraved people mask their weaknesses and prey on the vulnerabilities of others who truly are people of virtue.

Read more here on why people are evil.

This is why they target the most vulnerable people like empaths and trauma wounded victims of childhood abuse who they can play like a fiddle. Folks, it is no coincidence that all the adult victims of narcissistic abuse were also victims of childhood abuse and have low self-worth. In fact, they target and bank on the kindness and compassion of the conscientious ones to provide the energy they need to keep their depravity going because they have no desire to change. They like themselves just the way they are.

Read more here to understand who narcissists target.

Read more here on what causes malignant narcissism.

They con us to believe their lies, shadow their pain on us, and parasitically feed off of our energy and our compassion and empathy. And yes, they leave us trauma ridden, emotionally starved, emotionally fatigued and depressed and believing we are defenseless and powerless to them and that we are the source of our pain and they are the source of our joy. They try to turn us into them and them into us!!

This is the core to victimhood from narcissistic abuse. The same principles apply to bullies! However, we can heal and recover. We can repent our “sins” and self-correct and course correct, break the pain addictions, and take our power back.

They cannot.

We can learn to release our repressed pain and trauma and resolve our false feelings of defenselessness to them and build our self-esteem and learn to hang tough in our truth and modulate our triggered pain and regulate our fear based emotions.

They cannot.

We can come into truth.

They cannot.

They will then no longer target us and we will no longer fear them and give up our power to them or rely on them to validate our self-worth. This is how we take our power back. This is how we thrive. This is how good wins over evil! You can learn and read more in my book Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips, and Tools for Abuse Survivors.

How Do We Heal and Mourn After the Loss of a Narcissist?

Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

“We, in essence, have to heal and grieve from multiple doses of betrayal and the accompanying toxic shame and self-loathing and exaggerated feelings of powerlessness.”

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Narcissistic abuse survivors are frequently told to “get over it and move on.” This is not only ridiculous and inappropriate, it is also impossible. Abuse victims have suffered from extreme trauma. Understanding that the people we loved never existed and will never be the people we want and need them to be present huge challenges to victims of narcissistic abuse.

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Narcissist abuse survivors are left with significant inner conflicts because they are faced with mourning someone they loved who will never relieve or take responsibility for the trauma they inflicted on us and who will not ever return the love our hearts long for. Our attackers have, in effect, gotten away with “murder” they were not held accountable for. Emotionally, these can pose serious healing challenges to the surviving victims.

How, then, do we deal with the loss and heal from the trauma narcissists inflicted on us when they are gone? How do we mourn and grieve the loss of a narcissist when they are still alive, when they are dying or have passed away and we are left with unresolved trauma and unrequited love?

WHY IS HEALING AFTER THE LOSS OF A NARCISSISTIC SO DIFFICULT

One of the main reasons that healing from narcissistic abuse as adults is so difficult is because at that point in our lives, we have been betrayed twice and sometimes even more times. To be betrayed by those we intimately trusted is compounded in adulthood as the repressed pain from childhood and the accompanying sense of defenselessness are repeatedly triggered. So after the loss of a narcissist, we are left to heal from the childhood wounds and grieve our childhood and grieve the loss of love that will be forever unrequited. We, in essence, have to heal and grieve from multiple doses of betrayal and the accompanying toxic shame and self-loathing and exaggerated feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness. So, effectively grieving after narcissistic abuse provides daunting challenges. It requires a reconciliation and a recalibration of our conflicting beliefs as they relate to loss, forgiveness, unrequited love, our lovability, and our pain and suffering.

“Effectively grieving after narcissistic abuse…requires a reconciliation and a recalibration of our conflicting beliefs as they relate to loss, forgiveness, unrequited love, our lovability, and our pain and suffering.”

th-8We can also mistake trauma bonding (e.g. pain- and peptide-addictions) for love. Narcissistic abuse recovery expert Melanie Tonia Evans explains in “Trauma Bonding: Is It Love or Something Else?” that “we were all conditioned to believe that powerful and all consuming feelings, and the ‘not being able to stop thinking about someone’ and ‘feeling an intense attachment’ must mean love…we were taught very little about real love – as a safe, supportive, calm, regenerating and trustworthy entity. And we didn’t realise that true and real love necessitates a deep knowing that you are the other half of a safe, supportive and genuine ‘team.'”

HEALING IS ABOUT US, NOT THEM

Healing, folks, is not about our attackers. Healing is about us. Mourning and paying respects are not about our attackers, they are all about us. We must heal first in order to effectively mourn and grieve. We must go on a journey to figure out why we loved someone who inflicted unrelenting pain on us. To completely heal we must dig deep to release the inner pain and forgive ourselves for the role we played in our own abuse. Self-forgiveness is a critical part of healing.

Healing Henry Cloud

Read more on the importance of self-forgiveness in healing here.

In healing, rescuing ourselves from our own despair allows us to become emotionally stronger and trusting of our own abilities and self-worth and learn self-compassion that will help us release the shame and the powerlessness and defenselessness we once felt to the unresolved trauma our attackers left us with. Healing will facilitate mourning our childhoods that have passed and the loss or pending loss of the person(s) we once loved and who we once needed to love us by accepting they never existed and will never become who we thought they were. It is a point we reach when we understand and accept the truth about what happened to us from a neutral position of emotional peace without the pain, blame and shame that our abusers shadowed on us.

Read more on the importance of self-forgiveness in healing here.

knowbetter do betterHealing provides us a divine opportunity to become the authentic persons we were put on this earth to be and thrive. It is at this point that our painful pasts will no longer matter because we have broken our pain addictions and learned to provide our own selves the love and self-respect and self-assurance and self-care that we need to sustain us and thrive and the new found belief that we are worth the effort. We have learned to use our compassion responsibly and we can reliably decide what serves our hearts and souls even in our choices of paying respects when our attackers who we love or once loved have are dying or have died. Even if they are dying, their toxicity is not diminished, just their capacity to act on it. So their “death” or pending death sadly or fortunately (depends on how you choose to view it) essentially forces us into “No Contact” that supports our emotional healing and removes us from the harm from their toxicity.

NARCISSISTS ARE EASY TO FORGET

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Memories of narcissists fade quickly. They leave us very few memories to sustain our love so they are quickly forgotten. And once we are healed, memories of them no longer trigger our repressed pain. So they leave us with little of value or meaning to “miss.” Do we miss someone who is not capable of love and parasitically feeds off of their own children? Do we miss someone who leaves us no loving or pleasant memories to sustain our loss?  Like Maya Angelou said, “we don’t forget how people made us feel.” She was talking about pleasant feelings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Understanding the Differences Between Harm, Fear, and Real Danger is Fundamental to Your Healing and Well-Being

Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

images-2I write frequently about the differences between aggression and power.  I’d like to expand on this topic as it relates to harm, fear and danger a bit more because understanding this is critical to your healing

We Believe Falsely that We are Defenseless

After we are repeatedly harmed, our fear and other pain-based responses can malfunction and go into overdrive because we have been traumatized and our perception of our personal power falsely and temporarily squelched by years of abuse. Consequently, our coping and defense mechanisms that define and nourish our personal power never develop and the trauma and pain becomes chemically programmed into our brain cells. We become trauma addicted. We become heavily dependent on others rather than ourselves to define our self-worth and power. This is not adaptive and does not support our emotional health or healthy relationships! Rather, we stay subconsciously trapped to irrational pain and fears (our neuroses) which keep us vulnerable to narcissists and other covert aggressors who hunt for and feed off of our vulnerabilities.

Emotional vampires are experts on identifying targets with these neuroses-based vulnerabilities. In addition, once we are in relationships with narcissistic abusers, we can end up grossly overestimating danger based on past harm and grossly underestimating our ability to deal with it. What we perceive as “dangers” can really be “triggers” that are pushing our childhood trauma buttons and our childhood feelings of pain and powerlessness! Read this again. Our fears can be false! In reality, our desire for our abuser is an addiction to the trauma they create. Now this does not mean that a narcissist cannot ever pose a real threat to you or your children and can never harm you. If you ever feel you are in real danger, leave and call 911 or your local authorities immediately. However, what it does mean, on the other hand, is that:

  1. You can falsely fear them because you think they are dangerous when in reality they are not and
  2. You can falsely think you are defenseless when in reality you are not.

Small mosquitoSo that big bad wolf narcissist, that vampire whom you think will suck your life’s blood dry is in actually just a weak manipulative annoyance, an aggressive mosquito that has learned to push the right buttons just like the weak coward behind the curtain pretending to be the all powerful Oz by creating an illusion of smoke and mirrors. Aggression is not synonymous with power, strength or danger, folks! The result?

We can think we are in danger and defenseless and panic ourselves unnecessarily when in reality, we are safe and just need to take our power back. We are fearing a powerless being who cannot generate their own energy and who learned to go after other’s power aggressively. We can remain trauma addicted and mistake it for love for our abusers! Our neuroses and low self-esteem allow us to become complicit in our own abuse and in the abuse of our children! We remain victims of abuse because we were conditioned to think like victims in our childhood. We end up with skewed perceptions of what harm, fear, and danger really are and falsely think we are unable to deal with them. We can even go so far as to choose staying with an abuser that we fear less than, for example, being single because we relate that to abandonment that we fear more!

Our Irrational Fears Can Perpetuate Abuse

if-you-dont-heal-your-painIt is this irrational thinking that allows us unknowingly to let abusers who cannot generate their own energy target and exploit us and is the origin of how abuse is perpetuated from generation to generation as we teach our children to think the same way. Understanding this is necessary for your healing so read this carefully and process this and bring it into the forefront of your thinking. Until we are able to deal with these false beliefs, we can stay emotionally connected to the abusers even if we have no contact and this is why.

Energy vampires feed on our responses not only fueled by ego-driven need for revenge and justice but also our personal fears. We end up keeping the narcissistic supply going and keeping ourselves connected to them and they continue being our and our children’s emotional puppet masters. When we fear someone or something, we give them the power to control us!

“When you can shift the pain and fear out of your cells of what the narcissist is doing, or may do, you stop feeding his or her energy.” ~Melanie Tonia Evans

We Need to Take Our Power Back

imgresRemember that the ex-girlfriend, boyfriend, sister, father, mother, co-worker are nothing more than weak bullies, nothing but simple predictable energy vampires. Without you and your attention and energy, they shrivel up and die like the Wicked Witch of the West on the Wizard of Oz. A bucket of water destroyed her. The “Great and Powerful Oz” was a weak coward presenting an illusion of greatness and power. Dorothy and her entourage had the brains, heart, courage, and answers all the time. And so do you!

But in order to take your power back, you need to acknowledge and release the pain, shame, and fear first – those deep seated pains from repressed childhood wounds that raise their ugly heads when our trauma buttons are pushed. In addition, our own egos can keep us trapped in this pain. Is your personal pride and fear of shame keeping you from admitting the truth? Those of you who are reading this (who do not have personality disorders), and you know who you are, who claim that they were not abused in childhood are lying to yourselves. Abuse and aggression can be covert or overt. Passive and covert aggressors do just as much psychological damage as overt abusers. Neglect is abuse. Invalidation is abuse. So stop fooling yourselves so you can move forward to uncover your past to recover your future. The point is this, folks.

Narcissistic abusers have aggressive manipulative personalities. They are born wired that way. They search for and find victims who they are able to manipulate to get what they need because that is just what they do. They are human predators, human parasites. Abusers are everywhere! They find us. We do not find them. In addition, aggression is not synonymous with strength or danger. Remember, however, they do not prey on emotionally fit people because emotionally fit people do not have the vulnerabilities abusers know their victims need in order for their manipulation efforts to be successful. But we have the power and option not to let them. That is once we embrace and release our pain and take ourselves and our power back. Once we learn narcissists are aggressive but weak and we are not powerless or defenseless to them, once we stop thinking like victims, once we learn to regulate our own pain, we no longer become victims not only to narcissists but also to our own thinking. The narcissists, I promise you, disappear like the wind. So stop feeding the beasts and take your power backYour children will heal through you! This is how we break the cycle of intergenerational abuse. This is how we heal. This is how we thrive.

Understanding Why Narcissists Targeted You is Fundamental to Healing

Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

1098228_1187695837924727_3159249499669189930_nAre you compassionate? Empathetic?

Well, if you are, you are one of 40% of the population who are a prime target for scapegoaters, bullies, narcissists, con-artists, and sociopaths who comprise a subset of the remaining 60% of the population. So being a “nice” person is your double-edged sword and most likely why you are reading this.

According to Dr. Jane McGregor, empaths are ordinary people who are highly perceptiveimgres-6 and insightful and belong to the 40% of human beings who sense when something’s not right, who respond to their gut instinct, and who take action and speak up. They frequently like the child in the The Emperor’s New Clothes, will tell the truth and expose lies and wrong doing and are targets of scapegoaters, bullies, narcissists, and sociopaths who are driven by exaggerated envy and fear of shame, lack of compassion, and the inability to self sooth.

LISTEN TO THIS PROVOCATIVE DISCUSSION ON “THE TOXIC TANGO OF EMPATHS AND NARCISSISTS.”

In the 1990s, researchers suggested that there was a positive relationship between empathy and emotional intelligence. Since then, that term has been used interchangeably with emotional literacy. What this means in practice is that empaths have the ability to understand their own emotions, to listen to other people and empathize with their emotions, to express emotions productively and to handle their emotions in such a way as to improve their personal power.

Dr. McGregor describes that people are often attracted to empaths because of their compassionate nature. A particular attribute is that they are sensitive to the emotional distress of others. Conversely, they have trouble comprehending a closed mind and lack of compassion in others. This is a limitation that empathetic “nice” people have and that you need to bring into your level of awareness and glue into your memory banks.

imgres-2This inability to see the “bad” in others also significantly enhances their vulnerability to attacks from emotional vampires throughout their lives. As a result, empaths can be targeted easily by energy vampires such as scapegoaters, bullies, narcissists, and sociopaths who enlist other uncompassionate and apathetic people in their wrong-doing. So in actuality, abused children and adults in the world are some of the “nicest” people in the world. This is crazy making, folks, and is the heart of scapegoating and abuse in families and in my opinion, one of the main causes of evil in society today. The number one reason people seek counseling is because they were scapegoated as a child and suffer post traumatic distress. This is psychological trauma! Read on.

Empaths use their ability to boost their and others’ well being and safety. Dr. McGregor found it interesting how often people see empaths in problematical terms. Dr. McGregor in her research found that most people, the 60% majority, prefer the easy life. She explains that some of us admire people who make a bold stand, while others feel uneasy about them.

Listen to and learn more on this compelling and provocative topic discussed with Evelyn Ryan on Mental Health News Radio here.

images-3Problems escalate for empaths, however, when apaths are in the vicinity. Empaths can be brought down, distressed and forced into the position of the lone fighter by the inaction of more apathetic types round them. This is also how school and work group bullying and scapegoating works. The bullies enlist the apathetic, fearful, and defenseless ones who are the ones most likely to go with the flow, to agree that the emperor/empress is wearing new clothes. Apaths behave defenselessly because they want to avoid unpleasant or harmful circumstances [including the bully turning on them]. Apathy is an avoidance strategy that contributes to abuse…by proxy!

Listen and learn more on “The Toxic Tango of Empaths and Narcissists.

images-2Kim Saeed, a narcissistic abuse recovery expert, says that narcissists prey on empaths and highly sensitive people. Empaths operate predominately from love, humility, and giving. They have a natural capacity for healing and teaching others. However, until they learn how to responsibly use those gifts, they are often taken advantage of…not only by romantic partners, but people in general. Further, empaths have a track record of developing codependent behaviors in childhood to deal with the overwhelming unfairness in the world and to please others, which they usually carry into their adult relationships. It is easy to see, then, how empaths who were abused as children can develop exaggerated codependency issues and dependence on others to define their worth.

Kim further explains that when the empath and narcissist enter into a relationship together, it becomes hyper toxic. It creates a magnetic, yet vibrationally dysfunctional union. The empath’s sole purpose is to facilitate healing in others. Narcissists are insatiable and incurable. The empath gives to the point of complete and utter exhaustion. Because of these natural tendencies, the unaware empath often finds themselves not only being targeted by a narcissist but staying in a relationship with a toxic personality for too long and the damage to them is compounded.

So, all you empathetic and empathic people who suffered and are recovering from abuse as a child, childhood bullying, adult bullying and went on to marry a narcissist or more than one narcissist, bring this into your level of awareness during your healing. Educate yourself, your children and others on their inability to see the “bad” in others, the wolves in sheep’s clothing. This significantly increases your vulnerability to 60% of people, who not only comprise narcissists, bullies, and psychopaths but also the weak ones who join these abusers or harm you further by doing nothing (inaction) because they lack the heart or courage (that you have) to just do the right thing.

I hope you find this useful in your recovery and search for truth!