What a Narcissist Wants from You

What is a narcissist trying to get from you when they denigrate, insult, manipulate and provoke you?

The technical term is "narcissistic supply".  Narcissistic supply is basically attention.  Adoration, flattery, envy, jealousy and admiration are preferred.  However, if you catch on to them and start to withdraw narcissistic supply they may lash out in surreal and even bizarre ways.  Emotional manipulation is their typical response.  They may insult or guilt you.  They may play the victim and turn other family members or friends against you, getting them to implore you to "please talk to your mother" or "remember he is your father".   If emotional manipulation fails to work they may graduate to more primitive methods.  They may hold your belongings hostage or stalk you.  They may text you incessantly or utilize Facebook to publicly attack you.

You may be puzzled as to why they think this aggressive behavior will win you back.  But you fail to understand what they are after.  They don't want love, they want attention.  If they can't get positive attention, they will take negative attention.  If they can't have your admiration, they will accept your rage.  But they must provoke some response from you.  That is their goal - to provoke a response, any response.  It solidifies, in their minds, their power over you, that they are calling the shots, that you are weak, or gullible, or easily manipulated, or vulnerable or whatever they have labeled you in their mind that means you are "less", less than them.

 


Narcissists are not Bothered

One of things about narcissists which I find baffling is the things which do not bother them.  This goes back to their complete lack of empathy, but still, it is astonishing to watch.  

If I'm dealing with a narcissist who has no trouble falling asleep anytime or anywhere, then I could understand why they would have little regard for other people's sleep.  If they have a partner who struggles with insomnia, they might thoughtlessly be noisy or wake someone up for no good reason, but you might understand why they wouldn't "get" that this is a problem if it's not a problem for them.  

What flabbergasts me is the narcissist who is oblivious to someone struggling with the same problem they have.  For example, you have a narcissist with insomnia.  They struggle to get to sleep.  They struggle to stay asleep.  They will tear someone's head off for waking them up or making noise when they are trying to get to sleep. 

I would expect them to be as considerate of other people trying to sleep as they expect others to be of them, right?  Not on your life.  Not a narcissist.  I know a narcissist who has this problem sleeping.  But what does she do?  She vacuums, loudly, outside the bedroom door.  She wakes them up for trivial things.  She bangs and clangs when they're trying to sleep.  It's mind boggling to me that she can be so oblivious to someone else trying to sleep when she; 1) has such a hard time herself and 2) demands that other people tiptoe around her sleep.

I know another narcissist who cannot be still and cannot be closed in.  What does she do with her animals?  Keeps them in little, closed in pens.  Again, if she preferred to be in little, confined spaces I might understand her oblivion to its effect on others.  But she cannot tolerate it.  Yet this is what she does to others.  

Their complete oblivion to the feelings of others is stunning.  It stems from their complete lack of empathy.  And this is one of the ways you will know them.

 


Things Narcissists Do

You may understand what is going on inside the head of a narcissist, but how does that manifest itself in their behavior?  What should you look for to help you identify a narcissist?  

The behaviors listed here may not be manifested by every narcissist in every situation.  This is a general guide of things narcissists do.


 They are controlling, blaming and self-absorbed.

They are intolerant of others' views and unaware of others' needs.

They feel rejected humiliated and threatened when criticized.  To protect themselves from these dangers they often react with disdain, rage or defiance to any slight criticism - real or imagined.  Even constructive criticsm, kindly done and coming from someone who cares about them can provoke a violent response.  

They insist on being the center of attention.

They seek favorable treatment since they believe they are special and intellectually superior.

They are convinced that others are envious and jealous of them.  They often use this excuse for their lack of real, intimate friendships or as an explanation why they are having trouble interacting with someone.

When their friends enjoy successes of their own, the narcissist will find ways to punish them by downplaying their achievements, negating the validity of the achievement, denying that the achievement happened or mocking the person for being happy about it.

They lack empathy and put others down.

They feel no compassion when you are distressed, upset, sad or in pain.

They do not hesitate to exploit others.

They blame others for problems.  They don't believe they make mistakes - ever, even the simplest, most common ones which other people make.

They lack the ability to process shame and they get impatient, arrogant and condescending.  

They will often excuse their own shortcomings by claiming that others are pressuring them or are expecting too much of them.

They engage in risky behaviors when denied their narcissistic supply and they are prone to aggressive behavior when rejected.

They are unpredictable in their moods and actions and you will have trouble figuring out what they want and where you stand.

They may be capable of short term regret and may apologize profusely, shallowly and insincerely if backed into a corner.  (Personally, I suspect this is more the antisocial than the narcissist.)

If they apologize, they will quickly rationalize their behavior and return to narcissistic patterns.

They always think about themselves before others an act as if the world revolves around them.

They lack empathy and haven't the ability to relate to others.

They have a sense of grandiosity and are arrogant.

They are self-centered and have a hard time understanding why they can't maintain long-term relationships with partners.

They blame relationship problems on others instead of taking any responsibility .

In a crowd of people, they need all eyes on them and will do almost anything to make sure the attention is on them.

They have the tendency to interrupt people in the middle of a conversation to turn the subject to themselves and they might make their overdramatize their story to accomplish this, i.e. be a drama queen.

As long as they are getting undivided attention they are happy.

They do not respond well to criticism even if the criticism is thoughtful and constructive but they are quick to criticize others.

They continuously manipulate their environment in order to exhibit grandiosity, self-importance and superiority yet despite their grandiosity they crave attention and admiration.

While they pretend to care, the reality is they don't care.

Their world starts and stops with "me, myself and I".

They believe they are exceptionally beautiful/handsome and charming - regardless of the facts.  

They have absolutely no concern for others apart from those who are in a position to provide them with narcissistic supply.

They are skilled at immediately assessing the pulse of people's vulnerability to capitulate to their power and desirability.

They have very low self esteem  The common misconception about narcissists is they are in love with themselves and they have an unshakable self-belief.  This couldn't be further from the truth.  While they seem self sufficient and appear to have an elevated sense of self , in actuality, their self-esteem is dismal and their grandiosity and arrogance is an attempt to cover this.

They are extremely insecure people who need others to boost their ego.  They others to boost their crumbling sense of worth and they ride high on the collective energy.  So much so that it is easy for them to believe they don't need anyone.

If you injure their ego it can make them anxious, irritable or downright aggressive.  They can become revengeful and engage in retaliatory behaviors. 

It's all about them and they are NOT interested in making you feel good about your achievements.  They only concentrate on their own achievements.

They use all their powers of persuasion, which includes lying about my achievements, to make you insecure or jealous.

They will plant evil seeds of doubt in your mind so that you are sure to hang around.

They work hard to make you feel vulnerable.  In the meantime, they refrain from revealing their own vulnerability.

In a relationship with a narcissist you will feel uncared for and emotionally neglected, because you are.  They have no empathy.  You are there to support them, not the other way around.  If they are sick it's your job to express concern and offer to help them.  However, when you are sick, expect no such kindness or concern from them.  

They look down on sensitive, vulnerable people and despise people who are empathic and loving.  

They mock expressions of compassion and passion.  

They are devoid of empathy.

They are so afraid of their true self they would rather disparage it then admit to my own faults and soft spots.

No matter how much goodness you show to them, no matter how much of your time, effort, love, empathy, understanding, communication you show it is never enough.

Life is all about them.

Them, them, them.

 


Is it me? No?!

My father, who is a narcissist/antisocial mix, and I have not talked for many years.  Because we are both aging and I know that any unresolved issues you have with your parents when they die plague you for the rest of your life, I've decided to allow him to re-enter my life.  Navigating these treacherous waters will either destroy me, or give me a hell of an education on how to identify, deal with and avoid narcissists.  It may also help me understand how I got to be the way I am.  I also hope to see things more clearly having aged 20 years since last interacting with him.

So this came up.  My first interpretation of what was happening was:  "He wants to be really close to me and I just don't know how to do that.  I can't give him what he wants."  I inferred from this that there was something wrong or lacking in me.

But today I had an epiphany.  He doesn't want to be close to me.  He wants to be enmeshed with me.  He's intrusive, pushes boundaries and is invasive.  One of the things narcissists/antisocials do is move in very close very fast.  They get you to reveal a lot about yourself so they can use it to manipulate you.  They create a feeling of intensity of feelings because they idealize you when they first meet you and they are "in love" with you because they hope you are going to be their new source of narcissistic supply.  He is hoping I will make him happy, fill him up, meet all his needs.  He is not hoping that he will make me happy, fill me up, or meet all my needs.  An important difference.   He is hoping to feed off of me.  

In response, my instincts are screaming, "He is going too fast!", "He is asking too much!",  "He is pushing too far!",  "He is overstepping our boundaries!".  

But I dismissed this and wrote it off as something being wrong with me.  This is something startling I noticed about my narcissistic friend.  She attributes any problem between herself and someone else as something being wrong with the other person;  they misunderstood, they are purposefully getting it wrong, they are trying to manipulate her, they are ignoring her, etc.  I attribute any problem myself and someone else as something being wrong with me.  And I usually attribute it to the same things my parents convinced me were my "problems";  I'm in a mood, I'm an angry person, my perceptions are flawed, my opinions are "off", I'm too sensitive, I don't know how to act, etc.  

I was trained by my narcissistic parents to beleive that they were never wrong (because narcissistics are never wrong) and that if anything is wrong is must be me.   Because of this I discount my emotions, my perceptions, my opinions and my instincts.

Sigh.  Cleaning up this mess is going to be a lot of work.

 


The Narcissist's False Self

I don't see this mentioned a lot when reading about narcissism.  It's not in the diagnostic manual and a lot of writings overlook or omit this.  This concept has been crucial to my understanding of how to deal with a narcissist. 

Many people assume that a narcissist has an overly inflated self esteem.  In fact, that is the origin of the name, narcissism, from the Greek myth of Narcissus who was so in love with himself that, when he caught a glimpse of his reflection in a pond, he was unable to turn away and died from admiring himself.

I do not think this is true.  I think narcissists have a very, very low opinion of themselves.  I think their true self is profoundly damaged.  Sam Vaknin, a self proclaimed narcissist says his true self is completely missing, destroyed.   Whether it is damaged beyond repair or missing altogether, I think the narcissist is aware of this "hole in their soul" on some level.  It is probably and subconscious awareness as their self awareness seems to be minimal at best.  Because this awareness exists only on a subconscious level; 1) you shouldn't try to discuss it with them because they aren't consciously aware of it and 2) anything which threatens to make this a conscious awareness is extremely threatening to them.  I think this is why you get the profound rage and insane behavior when you contradict or criticize them.  They perceive that you see the crack in their facade and rush to defend it, wildly and sometimes dangerously, but without any self awareness.  I think this is why they are so intolerant of being wrong. 

Why is this important to know?  Because this false self, this facade is what you are actually interacting with.  The true self may have had empathy, compassion, and fully functioning emotions.  The false self has little or no feelings.  Someone has said that narcissists only experience anger and fear.  I think this may be true, they definitely display those emotions.  By contrast, they demonstrate no empathy and no remorse.

So how does this affect how you interact with them? First, you have to realize:  they have no empathy and no remorse.  None.  Zilch.  Zero.   So what do you appeal to?  You don't.  I wasted huge periods of my life trying to appeal to narcissists.  Trying to get them to see or care that they were hurting me, someone they claimed to love.  They couldn't.  They wouldn't.  They didn't.  I tried to get them to feel remorse for their bad behavior or their mistreatment.  They never, ever did.  They simply don't have it to give.  And it's absolutely crucial for your sanity that you get this.  There is nothing there to appeal to.  You are wasting your time and your energy.  Your hopes, your expectations, your wishes that they will change or realize what they are doing or care are futile.  They are not based on reality.  So wake up, realizing who you are talking to and what you are talking to and change your expectations.  You're only setting yourself up to be hurt and frustrated.

So what does interacting with a false self look like?  And how should you change your tactics? When you are interacting with a narcissist, you have to remember that you are interacting with a facade of a human being, not an actual, fully actualized, authentic, feeling person.  The false self of the narcissist reads you and fakes a reaction or a response to what you are doing.  They have learned to fake it.  They have learned to emulate what other people say or do.  They spend a lot of energy reading you in order to fake the correct response to you.  And they have varying degrees of success.  

If you want to see this demonstrated, try to discuss something with them which requires empathy.  

Example 1:

I had just had surgery and was in a great deal of pain.  When I expressed my distress to the narcissist in my life the reaction I got was - nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Not a word, not a facial expression - nothing.  They just looked at me with a completely blank look and walked off.  They felt nothing and this was reflected in their behavior.  I saw the crack in their facade.

Example 2: 

When I told my narcissistic coworker that a young, 17 year old girl we worked with had died, the response I got was canned and artificial.  Something like, "huh, that is too bad" and she went back to what she was doing.  We knew and worked with this young girl.  And this narcissist was a mother of two.  I, on the other hand, had no children.  Despite the fact that I had never had children I could not imagine what the mother of that young girl was going through to lose a child, and lose them so young.  Yet my friend, the mother of two, felt nothing.   Nor did she come back later with any indication that she had any sympathy.  Our company had a lot of donations from the family which had to be processed, the family came out to visit the site, there was a funeral, lots of other employees were talking about it.  It wasn't that the narcissist was initially overwhelmed or stunned.  She never changed her behavior.  She felt nothing, and it showed.

I think the false self is also why they lash out in rage or get completely delusional in their arguments.  When you do something which exposes this false self, like criticizing them, calling them on their bad behavior or pointing out the truth of a situation - they feel threatened because you are seeing that very damaged "hole in their soul" - and they lash out blindly and forcefully.  

 


Codependency

I've decided that the reason narcissists are drawn to me is that I'm codependent.  This is really hard to face.  I've always thought of myself as a strong minded, stubborn, independent person who didn't take crap from anyone.  But I'm starting to realize that I take a LOT of crap from EVERYONE.  This is a big hit to my ego.  But OK.  I won't get better unless I face this dragon and slay it.  This is what makes me attractive to narcissists and so vulnerable to their manipulations.  So...   let's face this bad boy, and get rid of it.  

First, I have to get a bead on what codependency is.  It's typically used to describe people who live with and enable alcoholics and drug addicts.  But it is much bigger than that and is very applicable to personality disorders too.  Here are the primary characteristics of codependency.  This is not to diagnose other people.  If you are reading this for yourself, you don't have to have them all to qualify as a codependent.  This is solely for my education and the benefit of anyone else trying to free themselves from the emotional manipulations of the personality disordered.  Take what fits, leave what doesn't.  

Low self esteem

This is a mandatory requirement for a codependent or for someone you can emotionally manipulate.  Low self esteem is basically feeling like you are less than others, feeling like there is something inherently wrong with you that everyone can see, feeling like you are crazy and everyone else is sane.  

I think the gaslighting my parents did when I was kid and the fact that I was the scapegoat in the family greatly contributed to this feeling that I'm not "OK".  I see this in a lot of children of narcissists;  golden children or scapegoats alike.  The gaslighting makes you distrust your own perceptions, thoughts, beliefs and feelings.  You feel inferior, seriously flawed and uncertain of yourself.  

This is one of the ways a narcissist "gets" me.  I've come to see that one, shallow, superficial compliment will cause me to overlook a thousand slights.  That's because I feel so badly about myself.  I will endure a lot of mistreatment for just a few kind words.  

People pleasing

Codependents typically absorb other people's emotions and feel responsible for them.  This is learned from the narcissistic parent who demands all the attention and requires their children to live for them.  Codependents also find it very hard to say "No".   They will sacrifice themselves to avoid displeasing people, saying "No" or causing a "fuss" (because they don't think they are worth the fuss).  Codependents put everyone else's needs ahead of their own.  

I find myself enduring slights, physical discomfort, and a lot of things I don't like just to avoid saying "No".  I also have the strange belief that I have to have a very good reason for saying "No" which I can justify.  Just not wanting something is not good enough.  I have to be able to justify it sufficiently to the other person's satisfaction.

So I end up stuffing down things I don't like, things that hurt me, things that make me uncomfortable, etc. until I can't take it any more and then I blow up.  Then I am dismissed by the narcissist for "being in a mood".  And they are somewhat justified.  I went along with this 100 times and didn't have a problem, why is it suddenly a problem today?  People with good boundaries and healthy self esteems say "No" the first time, and mean it.  

Poor Boundaries

"Boundaries" are those imaginary lines where you end and the next person begins.  Or more appropriately in the case of codependents, where the other person should end and where you begin.  On your side of this boundary you should have the right to have your own feelings, have your body be respected, be able to have your own thoughts and make your own decisions, handle your own money, wear clothing which you personally like and act in the way which you think is right - without interference.  

Codependents are very bad at knowing where their boundaries are, standing up for them and maintaining them.  They absorb other people's feelings, are swayed by other people's opinions, put other people's needs ahead of their own, allow their belongings to be taken or used without their permission and don't defend their person or space. 

Codependents can also develop very high and rigid boundaries as a reaction to having very poor boundaries.  And this is my case.  I always knew I had very high boundaries until I realized the reason my boundaries were so high and rigid was because they were alternatively weak and/or non-existent.  I would absorb so much I couldn't take any more and would alternatively just cut everyone and everything out of my life in self defense.  I went through life vacillating between these two extremes.  

Highly Reactive

Because codependents absorb everyone else's feelings, and stuff down our own until they are at the blowing point, we can be highly reactive.  Because we alternately have no boundaries, then vacillate wildly with really high, rigid boundaries, we are one moment absorbing everything someone else feels and says, then we reach the breaking point, throw up our walls and nothing anyone says will get through.  We either take it all in or become blindly defensive.   Because we have such poor boundaries we can't realize that an opposing opinion by someone else is just that, an opinion which has nothing to do with us personally.  Instead, we take it as a judgement, take it personally and feel threatened.  

Caretaking

After absorbing everyone else's emotions, we then take responsibity for fixing what's wrong.  If a friend tells me they lost their job and they're worried about money, I will take it upon myself to help them find a job or loan them some money.   I seem to think that people don't just tell me their problems for empathy.  I feel like I am expected to fix the problem.

I think this results with children of narcissists because many of us were put in the role of having to parent our narcissistic parents.  We then become the parents of the world.  Narcissists are also famous for blaming everyone else for their bad behavior.  If they came home and beat the sense out of us, they then blamed us for "making them mad".  So we were trained that we were responsible for other people; their behaviors, thoughts and emotions.

It's natural for normal people to feel empathy for others, but codependents do this to our own detriment.  And, since narcissistic parents feel no empathy, they tend to view people who do have empathy as weaklings to be emotionally manipiulated.  They use their child's empathy to guilt them into doing what they want or to taking responsibility for things not under their control.  As adults, this turns into caretaking.

Control

Because of the trauma inflicted by narcissistic parents, a lot of codependents have control issues.  People who are "control freaks" are usually trying to make themselves feel safe.  If you lived in a world that was out of control, full of uncertainty and chaos, and, as a result, very dangerous, being in control is what makes you feel safe.  Codependents may feel the need to be in control of themselves, their environment, their children, their employees, their spouses, their friends, their family members, etc.  

However, needing to always be in control limits one's ability to take risks, experience new things, enjoy freedoms and open up and share ourselves.  Some of us may drink to loosen ourselves up.  Others may be workalcoholics or obsessive compulsives in an attempt to have more control.   They may also use people pleasing and caretaking as methods to manipulate people or to feel like they have control in their lives.  Many codependents will have relationships with people who are impaired or are lower functioning than themselves in order to feel more control in their lives or to feel more needed.  Codependents may be very bossy, always telling people what to do and ordering other's lives.  This is why we often seek out people who are less functional than themselves.  We can order that person's life and feel needed.  This is where the low self esteem comes in as well.  We are drawn to people who need them because this too makes them feel safe and secure and "good enough".  

Poor Communication

It only makes sense, someone who is poor at speaking up for themselves and has very little confidence in themselves will likely be very bad at communicating their thoughts, opinions, wants, needs or feelings.  Since codependents spend an inordinate amount of time absorbing other people's thoughts and emotions and worrying about other people's wants and needs we are often completely out of touch with our own.  It can be especially hard to communicate your thoughts, emotions, wants and/or needs if you don't even know what they are!  

Even when we are in touch with our own desires, we don't feel confident enough to stand up for them or are too afraid of offending someone else to speak up.  Living with narcissists, who feel no empathy and take no responsiblity for their behaviors, speaking up for yourself will either be totally ignored or hotly attacked.  Children of narcissists are taught early to deny their own needs in favor of the narcissist's.  So they may stuff down or suck up their own feelings, but then resent doing it.  Instead of saying, "I don't like that" we may say nothing then play the martyr card later, or appeal to a higher authority by saying "God doesn't like it when you do that" or "It's not right to do that" or we may endure something that displeases us but then passively aggressively "get" the other person behind their back at a later date.   We may also play the "damsel in distress" card or the "I am sick" card or some other dishonest, one-down manipulation to get what we want instead of expressing it in a straight forward manner.

My personal style is to understate what is bothering me, which is easily ignored by the narcissist I'm interacting with.  I then endure the thing that is bothering me repeatedly, stuffing down my feelings until I can't stuff them down any more.  At that point I explode in anger and I'm dismissed by the narcissist for being in "one of your moods".  

Obsessions

Codependents often spend an ordinate amount of time ruminating on the people in our lives and their relationships.  This is because we've left no room in our lives for ourselves, our interests, our friendships , our comforts, or our entertainments.  Since we are co-dependent we are heavily reliant on the other person in our relationship.  We experience a great deal of separation anxiety and panic if that person should ever decide to leave because we have built our entire life, and ourselves, around that person.  This can even happen if we decide to leave the relationship.  When we finally face reality and realize we are living with a cheater, an alcoholic or a sociopath we may have to face the fact that our entire life has been about this person and we are now left alone and without anything, including themselves.  This can inspire panic.  

Because of our need to people please, codependents can also spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about keeping the people in their life happy.  We may obsess about making mistakes, failing to please our partner or not being good enough.  We may fixate on our partner leaving us or cheating on us because of their inadequacies.  

Dependency

As I mentioned before, codependents are co-dependent.  This means we need other people to make us feel OK about ourselves.  If we are "good" enough, we will please them and they will like us.  This is because we don't feel OK about ourselves, within ourselves.  We require external validation because we have no internal validation.   Our greatest fear is being rejected or abandoned.  The irony of this is that the codependent is usually the functioning member of the relationship.  We are often married to alcoholics, drug addicts, people with anger issues , people with personality disorders, or other people who are not fully functional so that we can caretake them.  We are usually the ones with the state jobs, the health insurance, the house and the car which is paid for.  We are the uber responsible older sister , older brother, mother or father figure who bosses everyone around, but also cleans up everyone else's mistakes.  

Codependents are typically in a relationship, and may feel depressed, lonely or even panicked when alone.   This fear of being alone and our low self esteem which tells us they can't make it on our own makes it hard for a codependent to leave an abusive relationship.  

Other codependents may be isolated and withdrawn seeking to avoid attachment all together because we realize it totally engulfs us.  We may end up living like hermits, avoiding people and social situations completely because we intuitively know how entrenched we will become.  

Denial

I always referred to my narcissist/borderline mother as Cleopatra, the Queen of Denial.  It is a hard pill to swallow, but I too have this trait.  My ability to deny toxic behaviors in future lovers and friends is mind boggling.  One major flaw of the codependent mind is denying the toxicity or the severity of the dysfunction of the person to whom we are attracted.  I can minimize, trivialize, justify, explain away and flat out ignore HUGE behavior problems in someone I want for a friend or a partner. 

Another issue in codependency is denying the codependency itself.  When you're in a relationship with an alcoholic, a drug addict or a narcissist it's easy to fix your attention on their behavior and fail to ask the all important question:  "Why did I pick this person out?"   If they are so horrible, why was I attracted to them???

Codependents also ignore our own needs in lieu of everyone else's.  We deny our needs, our feelings, our discomforts, our thoughts, our beliefs, our opinions and our instincts.  We deny that we have needs and therefore fail to reach out for help.  We deny our need for help, love, affection, appreciation, sex, intimacy, freedom, respect, safety, autonomy and inviduality.  We deny our vulnerability and our inability to accept praise or thanks.  We have trouble reaching out for help and trouble receiving it.

Problems with Intimacy

Because of our low self esteem and deep suspicion that we are not "OK" we are often guarded and do not allow people to get truly close to us.  We hide our true vulnerabilities or perceived flaws or inadequacies.  We fear that we'll be judged, abandoned or rejected.  Because of these fears we often adopt one of two ways of relating; immersion or withdrawal.

Some codependants totally immerse themselves in a relationship and become what our partner needs or wants us to be in an effort to please them.  We adopt the  opinions, beliefs, ideas and ideals of our partner and subjugate our own.  We dress in the way our partner desires, we join their church, adopt their political viewpoint and embrace their culture norms as our own.  

Other codependents, aware of this weakness in ourselves, refuse to attach to anyone.  We let no one get close to us.  We deny our need for intimacy and resent anyone who takes up too much of our time.  

Painful emotions

Because codependents repress so much of ourselves in order to please others, a lot of resentment and anger is created.  We experience shame about being inadequate, anxiety about pleasing the other person in order to avoid abuse or abandonment, fear of being judged, fear of being rejected or abandoned, fear of making mistakes, fear of failure and fear of being trapped.  All of these stressors can lead to depression, hopelessness and despair.  When we become completely overwhelmed with all the emotions we are absorbing and all the emotions we are suprressing we can eventually become totally numb.  

 


Getting the Narcissists Out of My Life

I'm realizing that:

1) because I was raised by narcissists, I pick out narcissists for my adult relationships, i.e. friends and lovers, because that is what feels familiar, what feels like "love", and

2) because I was raised by narcissists, I have codependent traits which makes me attractive to narcissists.

In order to break the pattern of having relationships with narcissists I need to:

1) more quickly identify narcissistic traits in people I'm interacting with in order to avoid picking them for friends or lovers, and

2) identify my own codependent traits and work on them in order to make myself less attractive to narcissists.

I'll be working on those two goals in following posts.  Stay tuned!


My narcissistic friend is faking empathy

Back when I thought she was actually my friend, and I hadn't realized she was a narcissist who wouldn't hear anything I said, I tried to tell her that I saw a huge lack of empathy in her. Now, when we do converse she tries to fake empathy by making these superficially poignant statements. But her words are hollow and just a bit "off", you know?  So it comes off sounding kind of comical and truly bizarre.  Like she ate a sympathy card factory and is just spitting out the messages randomly.

It would be really sad if I weren't laughing so hard.  But it also illuminates the void which I suspected was inside her.  She really doesn't feel.  Her entire presence is just a facade erected to portray a human being, a false self.  There's nothing behind it.


How to Protect Yourself from a Narcissist's Manipulation

Two techniques for dealing with narcissists which people have shared with me and I have found helpful are "Medium Chill" and "Robot Mode".   There is a lot of overlap in the two concepts.  I present them both because most people identify more easily with one than the other.  Take what you like.

Medium Chill

I cannot find a good description of Medium Chill on the web which is openly accessible.  Basically, Medium Chill is a technique for dealing with narcissists.  Some people advocate it for life in general.  That is not my recommendation.  I only recommend this as a strategy for dealing with narcissistic abuse.

Basically, Medium Chill is  something you utilize to allow the narcissist's attempts to get inside your head to flow over you without effect.  You want to wall off your emotional responses and protect them from manipulation.  Maintain a flat expression, or perhaps even a vaguely pleasant expression and block off your emotions so they have no way of telling that they're having an effect - and chill.

The theory behind Medium Chill is that a narcissist's goal is to provoke an emotional response from you.   They crave having power over you and seeing the disruption to your mind that they're able to exercise.  They emotionally manipulate you to get an emotional response from you.  And it doesn't matter what the emotional response is.  A fight is as good as a cheer of encouragement, a screaming curse as good as a flowery compliment.   They just want a reaction.  They just want attention.  And they do not care how much it upsets you or affects you because they have no empathy.  It's all about them.  

Provoking an outburst from you also allows them to write you off - to themselves and others - as the crazy one.  You are the one behaving badly.  All they said was...    and you just went off!

However, give them no outward sign that you're affected by their manipulations and they move on to someone more easily manipulated.

Robot Mode

Robot Mode works much the same.  I do not advocate the use of either method as a way of manipulating narcissists or as an offensive move, only as a defense.   The best thing is to get away from them.  If you can't, Robot Mode may be helpful to protect yourself.

It consists primarily of locking away your emotions and intellectualizing about what is happening between you and the narcissist - instead of feeling it.  You must realize that the narcissist is reading your emotions and calculating responses based upon what they read.  If you stop thinking about what your feeling and block off your emotions from the predatory narcissist, then you are free to analyze what is happening with a cool and detached mind and make better decisions about how to respond - or not to respond. 

Remember, the narcissist is an emotional manipulator whose goal is to provoke you to react, or even better, overreact.  Then they can derail you from the point you were trying to make, or the bad behavior which you were confronting them about, or the boundary you were trying to set.  If they can provoke you to behave badly enough, they can cast you as the crazy one.  

Also remember that a narcissist's emotions are very limited and very shallow.  They feel no empathy and no remorse.  (I have been told they only experience fear and anger.  I have not seen this disproven yet.)  Given that they experience no empathy and no remorse, trying to "connect" with them is futile.  If someone feels no remorse and no empathy, what is there to connect with???   Because their emotions are extremely limited, or non-existent, they view people who have emotions as being "weak" and easily manipulated.  They resent the fact that you feel and realize there is something missing in them because they do not.  But they will never own this, nor are most of them even conscious of it themselves.  This is what is happening on the subconscious level. Consciously, they just sneer at you for being so "weak" and get off on exerting their power over you by manipulating your emotions.

Also, because they experience no remorse, they are not bound by conscience, morality, ideals, principles or "doing the right thing".  They are not loyal friends, lovers or parents.  They are not fair bosses.  The right thing for a narcissist is whatever suits them at the moment.  What effect that will have on others is absolutely unimportant to the narcissist.  It's all about them and what they want.  How do you interact with someone like that?  Robot Mode.

By putting your emotions out of reach and blocking them off you take away their ammunition against you.  They are unable to "read" you.  By cutting off your emotions, you are now on the same playing field with them.  You can coldly calculate your next move,  just as they do.  You are now talking to a Robot as a Robot.  Robots don't emote.  They don't react.  Robots don't care.  Robots can't be guilted, or shamed, or bullied.  

It's important to point out that Robot Mode is not about dissociation, spacing out, tuning out or "leaving the room" mentally.  It's about being more present, more aware, more in the moment.  You have to stay with your body and in your mind in order to protect yourself.  It's about walling off your emotions so they are protected, not disconnected.  It's about staying on guard.  It's about putting up your defenses and protecting the sensitive, caring, empathic part of yourself the narcissist seeks to manipulate.