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If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a narcissist or a toxic person of any sort, you might have some experience with seeing the narcissist’s false self – and with being aware that there is a difference between the person the narcissist shows to the world at large and the one that lives at home behind closed doors.
But if you stick around long enough for them to become comfortable with you, a shocking and upsetting thing happens: their mask comes off and you see the true face of the narcissist. And believe me – it’s not pretty!
Today, let’s discuss the narcissist’s false self, how it develops and exactly what you are supposed to do with this information.
The Narcissist’s False Self Begins in Childhood
When you are born, you express yourself through instinct. On so many levels, that is your true self. Your instinct is to live which means you need to be fed, changed, and cuddled every few hours. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, but if your parents did the best they could and cared for you properly, then you would be showing your true self or authentic self.
But narcissists never show their true selves. In fact, they are living through what I’d call their false self.
Now don’t get me wrong here – just like you, the narcissist was born expressing themselves through instinct as well. But if they were not nurtured properly and were denied the things they needed, then they’d develop their false self and that is how they show themselves.
That happens because when an infant is not given what they need and are not nurtured the way they need to be nurtured, they are on their way to not being authentic in any way at all.
It is possible that one of their parents was a narcissist and in that case, their needs would not be met. They would be given responses of disapproval over and over again. If the child attempted to show their authenticity, it would be shot down.
On the flip side, maybe they were too indulged and never had proper discipline and balance. That can be damaging as well. Either way, along the way, their authentic self was replaced by an artificial persona. As they grow up, they begin to build a false set of relationships that are all based on a facade they show.
The false self is a protective mechanism that protects narcissists as children from feeling their dependency needs that were unmet. So, the false self blocks feelings of shame that the narcissist had from only having conditional love from their parents. It is also a way to prevent them from remembering any trauma or shock that is associated with being abandoned, neglected, or abused.
What Are The False Self Characteristics?
Those who are living through their false self can appear charming, well-mannered, and polite. Some part of you may see through this as their facade does not reveal who they really are – but it is easy to fall for this facade, even for the most intelligent people. Their false self had stopped them from feeling any type of empathy at all as all they cared about was having their own needs met, which never happened during childhood. And you can see how narcissists show their false self. That is because their authentic self is dead, empty, and there is nothing to offer.
Now you have an understanding of why narcissists have an inflated ego and can be abusive if they don’t get what they want and need – as in if they don’t get narcissistic supply. Now you also can see how the narcissist goes into fits of narcissistic rage when they are threatened with having their supply taken away or are rubbed the wrong way. And now you understand why they are insecure and how they would never allow their true selves to come out because it puts them to shame otherwise.
Why There’s So Much Confusion in Toxic Relationships
Because the narcissist nearly always hides behind this sort of “armor” that is the “false self,” they manage to fool you from very early on.
Your first impression of the narcissist was likely a very good one; that’s because he or she showed you only the best parts of themselves when you met – they constructed a series of qualities and traits that are those they present to the outside world.
This, along with their grandiosity and need for attention, can make it very difficult to see who they truly are – you’re stuck deciding whether you’ve really got the sweet and charming love you signed up for, or whether the wool was pulled over your eyes and the real him or her is actually the toxic, abusive, insulting and manipulative narcissist you’re dealing with in real life.
Of course, this leads you to a serious kind of mental torture that causes you to literally be at odds with yourself – we call that cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive Dissonance in Narcissistic Abuse
Cognitive dissonance is form of psychological stress or discomfort that happens when you simultaneously hold two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. Often affects narcissists as well as their victims at different times and for very different reasons. So basically, when you’re dealing with cognitive dissonance, you are, for all intents and purposes, actively trying to reconcile the illusion you were initially presented with the person you have now got to deal with.
How Cognitive Dissonance Works Against You in a Toxic Relationship
In a lot of cases, in order to cope with this mess, you start trying to improve your SELF. Instead of recognizing that you’re dealing with a toxic person, you find yourself desperately trying to change yourself into something the narcissist seems to want and need. You blame yourself for their bad behavior – and that’s partly because they tell you it’s your fault. On the other side of the coin is the simple fact that some part of you KNOWS you can’t change the narcissist, but you care about them and you want to make it work. You DO know that you can change yourself, and so you go about the business of doing that.
Here’s the thing. In reality, some part of you must also recognize that you’re not the problem here. In fact, you’ve done nothing wrong and if you did, it was probably simply a reaction to the narcissist’s abuse. All you’re doing is trying to keep your relationship together, and on some level, you’re just subconsciously trying to uphold that initial impression you had of the narcissist – the image of his or her false self that is challenged during the inevitable devaluation phase.
Narcissistic Abuse and the Discard Phase
By the time you get to the discard phase (which, sadly is also inevitable with a narcissistic person – the cycle, like the beat, goes on), you’ll be treated to glimpses of the truly ugly face of the narcissist – the one that spews out the cruel and painful poison that causes you to lose all faith in yourself faster than you can say boo.
You become painfully aware of the coldness, the callous indifference that leads to what feels like absolute torture to you.
While your first reaction is that everyone has a bad moment and this can’t be who they really are, the truth is that this is probably the closest you’ll come to actually seeing the narcissist’s REAL self.
This is about the time you recognize that the amazingly charming or engaging or otherwise awesome person you got involved with in the first place is gone – and suddenly you see this horrible contempt that they seem to have developed for you. And when you realize they felt that way all along, your heart breaks a little more, if that’s possible.
But what you have to realize here is that none of this is your fault. In reality, narcissists are not capable of feeling genuine love or empathy for anyone else – they just use people to meet their own selfish needs. Once they exhaust one source of supply, it’s on to the next.
Don’t let yourself believe in the magical connection you once thought you had – it was just a part of the whole narcissistic abuse cycle – an illusion, just like the narcissist’s identity.
How to Deal with the Narcissist’s False Self
So now that you know all of this, what do you do with it? Well, you start picking up the pieces of yourself, and you begin the healing process.
In this video, you’ll also find a portion of a previous video attached to help you do exactly that. Remember this: You aren’t to blame – you were simply used as a pawn in the narcissist’s game. You are going to go forward, and when or if you can, you might want to go no contact (or low contact, if you’re forced to deal with them – say at work or as a co-parent).
Additional Resources for Understanding the Narcissist and the False Self
Question of the Day: What have your experiences been when it comes to the narcissist in your life and his or her identity? Share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments section below this video. Let’s discuss it.
One of the most difficult parts of dealing with a narcissist for me was the constant invalidation of my feelings, my thoughts, and my emotions. Since my first narcissist was a parent, I would develop some serious personal issues as a result of it. I remember feeling like anything I said or thought or felt was somehow less relevant or less real than what other people said, thought or felt. I literally felt like I was not even a “real person” – or at least not as real as everyone around me.
In fact, if I’m being honest, it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I really, fully recognized myself as a whole person rather than a watered-down extension of someone else. Yes, it sounds silly, but it’s true. I really think that the hardest, most painful part of growing up that way (and later, marrying another narcissist) was that constant invalidation.
Just to be clear, when I say invalidation, I mean emotional invalidation, which is when someone rejects, ignores or judges everything you say, think or feel. For example, when I was in second grade, I noticed that I could draw better than some people. I told my mother that I wanted to grow up and become an artist, and she told me in no uncertain terms that I could not do that because artists don’t make any money. Of course, this is just one of many examples I could share, and it probably sounds pretty harmless.
But here’s the thing – when we’re talking about narcissistic parents, this is an ongoing issue that starts pretty much the minute you can talk. And even when you’re involved in a romantic relationship with a narcissist for years, it can deeply affect you. See, despite what a lot of people think, invalidation is actually one of the most damaging forms of emotional abuse, and this is especially true when it is happens repeatedly over the course of time. Not only can it make you feel like you’re not a real person or like you’re a little crazy, but it’ll leave you feeling constantly confused and full of self-doubt.
On the other end of the spectrum here is validation, or accepting and recognizing that someone’s thoughts and ideas are worth hearing, understandable, and legitimate. It doesn’t mean unconditional acceptance of ideas or thoughts – it means that you don’t automatically assume that someone has nothing of value to say. It means accepting someone as a real person who is not less worthy or valuable than yourself.
And, even though someone who isn’t a narcissist (a “normal” person) may disagree or have a difference in opinion, they can still recognize the value in the thoughts and opinions of other people. Plus, a “normal” person is likely to make an attempt to understand people. They will try to look at even “abnormal” behaviors from a place of empathy – it’s basic human nature to try to see the other person’s side of things.
However, when there’s a narcissist involved, we’re not exactly dealing with “normal,” are we? Instead, we’re stuck with a walking, talking human-like being who seems to have a giant hole in their soul. A narcissist isn’t capable of true empathy, so it only makes sense that you can’t expect them to validate you.
Invalidation is a Hallmark of Narcissistic Abuse in Toxic Relationships
In fact, as it turns out, invalidation is one of the hallmarks of this kind of emotional abuse.
Sadly, there’s a simple reason, in my opinion: the narcissist sees you as a possession, an object – a thing. You are simply an extension of the narcissist, according to them. If they saw you as equal to themselves, it would shatter their grand illusion (the way they deceive themselves into thinking they’re better or more important than everyone else in the world).
Well – that, and because it’s yet another way the narcissist gaslights you and keeps you tightly in place in the narcissistic supply chain. Between the gaslighting, the narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury, and the flying monkeys of it all, you can become overwhelmed to the point that you completely lose yourself. And the truth is that all of the name-calling, verbal cut-downs, and narcissistic control that you deal with could all be placed under the umbrella of invalidation.
How do you recognize invalidation from a narcissist?
If you haven’t ever taken the time to watch for it, you might not even recognize that you’re being invalidated by a narcissist. If you’re anything like I was, you’re likely to assume that YOU are the problem, rather than your abuser. But it’s so important to recognize when it’s happening because it is essentially the #1 way that narcissists actively tear down your core self in order to keep you feeling off-balance, confused, and plain old not good enough – all of which, sadly, makes you easier to control. It is my goal to help you to take back your life, though, so I want you to see it when it’s happening, or at least to be able to recognize it in hindsight because essentially, it is one more way the narcissist lies to you and gives you the wrong idea about who you are – one of the most difficult parts about going through narcissistic abuse. If you want to recover, you first have to recognize it, right?
Signs a Narcissist is Invalidating You
So, in order to help you recognize it in your own life, here are some examples of what invalidation looks like.
1. During a Conversation
If you’re having a conversation with a narcissist, you might notice that when it’s your turn to talk, you get only grunts or a couple of words in response. Nothing that actually indicates the narcissist has heard you or understood you. Maybe even just a pause and a breath. You might even notice that they are just waiting until it’s their turn to talk again. They could care less what’s happening inside your head – they only want you to hear what they have to say. It doesn’t matter what you think or feel, as far as they’re concerned, because they see you only as an extension of themselves with nothing of value to share.
2. How the Narcissist Feels About You
Have you ever asked a narcissist how they felt about you? More specifically, have you ever asked what they like or love about you? Or did they ever volunteer that information to you? If you think back, you might remember that they always said things like:
I love the way you make me feel.
I love how you always listen.
I love that you’re always there when I need you.
I love how you take care of me.
See how there wasn’t really anything about YOU PERSONALLY there? Rather, the focus is all about what you DO for them, not who you are. That is because the narcissist only cares about what they can get from you – what you do for them – not who you are as a person. As always, it’s all about the narcissistic supply.
Here’s the hard part – and it seems counterintuitive – but you have to figure out a way to not take it personally. Don’t get me wrong – I know it hurts, and it certainly IS a personal attack. But it’s not ever really about you. It’s really about the narcissist’s own shortcomings.
I want to tell you that you shouldn’t really care or even feel offended – I mean, it’s just the narcissist’s “way.” That is how they treat everyone, right?
Well, that would be the case if you didn’t seem to catch the narcissist appearing to genuinely connect with other people when they’re more of a brick wall when it comes to understanding YOU. That brings me to my next point, number 3.
3. Connections to Other People
I can’t tell you how many times, in tears, I literally asked my ex-husband, “Can you please just be nice to me?” Being with a narcissist can feel very lonely at times. And it is so frustrating to watch your abuser be nice to other people when they can’t even be polite to you, much less kind. Worse, they will seem to have empathy for them, while being completely heartless to you. And if you dare to even bat an eyelash the wrong way in regard to those people? He will tell you HOW THEY FEEL! And still, when it comes to you, the narcissist seems to hold tightly to this apparent blind spot, as far as you can tell.
But then you start to wonder. What’s so bad about me? Am I really as (insert insulting lie here – crazy/lazy/ugly/bitchy/stupid, etc.) the narcissist says I am? Do I really deserve to be treated this way? No one else in my life seems to think I’m that bad. Why this person? If you’re there, you’re on the right track.
Why the Narcissist Invalidates You
See, by devaluing and disregarding you with those subtle little behaviors, the narcissist gets something out of it: you, emotionally devastated and behaving like the good little narcissistic supply they need.
But if you think this is going to improve how you’re treated, you are sadly mistaken. See, once you’ve been properly molded into the ideal person the narcissist wants, you’ll hope that they will finally be happy with you. And while you might not notice that you’re more concerned about their happiness than your own (which is a problem in itself), you figure if you don’t make any “mistakes” and you do what they want, it’ll all be okay. But sadly, the happiness you hope for will never quite arrive – and if it does, it’ll be fleeting. That’s because the more you try to become perfect for a narcissist, the more they lose respect for you.
Narcissists Want to Devalue and Destroy You
Over time, they will have you believing that you’re not even an actual human who even deserves to be treated with even the most basic dignity. And you will find yourself acting in kind as you desperately seek to justify it to yourself with thoughts of personal change and self-sacrifice.
You rack your brain on ways YOU can change in order to elicit change from them. But here’s the thing – none of that will matter unless both people are willing to give.
You can only change so much without any reciprocation at all. Compromise means two parties come to a mutually agreeable resolution in which both parties get what they want. Otherwise, it’s just you giving and giving and them taking and taking until they completely drain you.
And my friend, you deserve better. You are just as important as anyone else in the world. Your thoughts, your ideas, your experiences – they are valid, they matter and they are worth hearing. Please, don’t forget.
A male narcissist I used to know once admitted something to me that left me a little shocked: he said that whenever he felt like he was being shown up in a conversation, he would quickly change the subject. He would start talking about something he knew he could use against them – something that could hurt that person. It was his way to sort of take back the attention or “win” the conversation. I found this admission shockingly insightful and sadly stereotypical of narcissists in general.
Karpman Drama Triangle and Narcissistic Manipulation
Let’s talk about the Karpman drama triangle, what it is, how narcissists use it against you, and what you can do to cope.
We all know that narcissists love to create trouble and drama in the lives of the people around them. They enjoy watching you squirm in the wake of their emotional destruction because it makes them feel like they’re able to control and manipulate you. They twist things to their own advantage, and this is true whether we are talking about someone you work with or someone with whom you’re in a romantic relationship. It’s even true for your parents if they’re narcissistic.
Narcissists are odd in that they crave your attention, even though as far as you can tell, they don’t seem to like you very much. While the level of attention they require might vary from person to person, and depending on what type of narcissist they are, in most cases, they are happy when they have the spotlight. Ths is true whether they’re getting attention for positive or negative reasons, unfortunately.
At times, the narcissist will intentionally create drama in order to get you to react to them. Your reaction offers them narcissistic supply. Of course, there are times that they’ll be kind to you one minute and cruel the next. They suddenly become someone you don’t recognize – that whole Jekyll & Hyde thing.
What is the Drama Triangle?
The drama triangle is a concept first documented by Dr. Stephen Karpman back in the 1960s. At its most basic level, the drama triangle outlines three different roles, including the victim, the persecutor, and the rescuer.
Here’s another area where narcissists are especially interesting – at any given moment, they can and will play any of these three roles interchangeably as it serves them to do so. That means that you’ll never know exactly which role they’re going to play in any given moment. It means you don’t know what to expect from them. And, since you’re so used to walking on eggshells, you might not even really know how to respond at all.
All three roles will exhaust you, but the narcissist will find them strangely exhilarating. The entire dynamic of this kind of drama is incredibly toxic. Whether you’re healthy, you’re codependent or you’re a narcissist, it can be difficult to get out of the cycle once you’re in it. Certainly, you will feel the need to escape, but you won’t always feel like you can do that – and this is especially true when there is a narcissist involved.
Most narcissists have a tendency to hold onto drama and negativity like a dog with a bone. This is demonstrated in the Karpman drama triangle.
Karpman Drama Triangle: Definition of Roles
The victim will see the situation at hand as though everything is happening to them. They will feel helpless and like they have no power. They think they have no ability to change their own circumstances. They need someone to rescue them. They desperately want validation of the fact that their problem is unsolvable, and they are not looking for actual solutions. They just want you to feel sorry for them.
The Rescuer seems like they really do want to help the victim feel better, do better, and solve the problem at hand. But what you’re really dealing with here is someone who is acting as if they want to help, but who is really more concerned about everyone being aware of the fact that they are rescuing the victim. The narcissist plays this role because it gives them plenty of attention and narcissistic supply. Unfortunately, they’re not always actually helping – rather, they’re putting on the mask of a helper in order to get attention.
So within Karpman’s drama triangle, the rescuer position is always held by someone who is letting people know they’re trying to help, but they’re really there for that attention. By being the rescuer, the narcissist also holds a certain amount of power over you. Anytime they do (or promise to) solve a problem for you, it will be done with strings attached. This way, the narcissist gets even more benefit from the situation.
The role of the rescuer seems to focus on the anxiety of the victim. It is problem-focused, rather than solution-focused. It is specifically geared at keeping you powerless and preventing you from getting your needs met. It keeps you from actually getting the solution to your problem, so while you might initially feel relief when the offer of help comes through, it’ll be short-lived.
The Persecutor could be a person or even a situation that is actually causing the problem to the victim in the triangle.
How to Deal with the Karpman Drama Triangle When a Narcissist is Involved
Your primary goal is to get out of the triangle, so that begins with awareness – being aware that it’s happening and that you’ve become involved. Then, you have to recognize your own role in the triangle, which in most cases, you chose or were assigned without realizing it.
Often, as codependents and narcissistic abuse survivors we all into one of these roles unintentionally. Most likely, we do this because we have experienced this ongoing cycle throughout our lives, often beginning in childhood. It’s like an old habit, almost.
The drama triangle will leave you feeling confused and lost.
Once you’ve gone through the idealization or love-bombing phase of a relationship with a toxic narcissist and you’re in the devalue phase, you’ll find yourself spinning into one of these situations. You’ll have no idea what you did to deserve this or what you’ve done wrong, so you’re always trying to get back to what you thought the relationship was in the beginning. When you can’t, you blame yourself – because as far as you know, you might be the problem. You don’t know that you’re dealing with a narcissist (until you do), so you just think you’ve done something to upset or anger them.
Karpman Drama Triangle and Narcissist Manipulation Tactics
The narcissist uses certain tactics around the drama triangle, such as guilt-tripping and even pretending they’re going to save you, but then persecuting you for actually asking for help. They might also act like they’re your victim and that somehow you’ve negatively affected them by needing help.
All of this is then combined with the intermittent reinforcement that keeps us hooked on the narcissist – alternating verbal abuse and praise, comfort alternating with tearing down and devaluing you. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself making excuses for the narcissist’s behavior.
The viewer who wanted to know what if the person they were dealing with was very religious and raised to not lie. They noted that everyone says covert narcissists lie a lot. I can only assume they had found that the person they’re dealing with otherwise fit the bill for a covert narcissist.
What happens when a toxic person doesn’t fit every symptom of a narcissist? Does it mean they’re not one, or does it mean something else?
This is what is so perplexing about narcissists in relationships of any kind. Their manipulation and control tactics can be so pervasive and confusing. They are subtle and sort of hard to detect, especially if you have not been taught to watch for this stuff.
If you’re anything like I was when I first recognized that I was dealing with a narcissist in a relationship, it will be kind of a slap in the face. You probably thought you were the problem, thanks to months or years of conditioning from the narcissist telling you that you were always wrong, directly or indirectly.
You may have had a sort of sneaking sensation that something was going on, that something wasn’t right. But you were taught to believe the worst about yourself and taught to see the narcissist as nearly infallible. This is especially true if you’ve been raised by a toxic parent or otherwise closely influenced by a narcissist in childhood.
Since narcissistic abuse can be so hard to detect from the inside, and since gaslighting (the narcissist’s most-often employed manipulation tactic) involves causing you to question your reality and even your own thoughts and perceptions, it makes sense that you might miss it – and that you’d question yourself and the validity of your assessment once you do figure it out.
So this leaves us with the question the viewer asked: Are they still a narcissist if they don’t lie? Well, that’s exactly what we’re talking about today – can someone be a narcissist if they don’t lie, and if they can, how’s that possible and what does that look like? Let’s get started.
Covert narcissists, for example, defy the typical narcissistic profile by appearing to be shy and introverted. And some narcissists don’t cheat. Some narcissists are wealthy, controlling workaholics while others are lazy parasites who seem to do nothing but drain you dry. Some are obsessively clean while others don’t shower for weeks. Some are neat-freaks and others are hoarders.
And despite what most people think, there are some narcissists who don’t seem to be pathological liars.
It doesn’t even seem possible, but very often when you’re dealing with an altruistic narcissist or a communal narcissist, they’ll seem to be very ethical and morally bound. This is especially true when they’re using their religion as part of their plan to control you, but it doesn’t always involve religion.
Still, while these so-called upstanding citizens may seem to be above reproach, they still control, devalue, manipulate, and demoralize the people closest to them. They still seem to suck all the energy and air out of every room, and they could still be called narcissists and abusers.
And it’s true that they may never outright lie to you. However, they do pull a little trick that might be considered dishonest or at least manipulative, sort of like finding their own little “lie loopholes.”
Lie Loopholes: How the narcissist uses honesty to control you
Some narcissists will tell you they’re the most honest person they know and really seem to live up to that claim. You literally can’t think of a single time they lied to you. You trust their word, despite the way they otherwise treat you, and most likely, you blame yourself for anything that goes wrong in the relationship.
But, while that may be technically true, there’s something else going on here. They’re still abusing you on so many levels. Rather than lying, they use a tactic I like to call a “manipulated shift in perception,” meaning that they heavily influence your thoughts and feelings using manipulation and gaslighting.
How Narcissists Can Manipulate Your Perception Without Lying
1. The Brutal Truth Statement
At some point in your relationship, this kind of narcissist makes it clear they don’t lie. They will say it has to do with religious or moral reasons, or they’ll say they were hurt in a previous relationship and they need to be themselves. Or you may have told them in the beginning of your relationship that you were hurt by lying in the past, so they’ll take this as an opportunity to be completely uncensored with you. You may appreciate the honesty at first, or feel like you should, anyway. Or, in some cases, they’ll just straight up tell you they’re brutally honest and if you don’t like it you know where the door is. Now, they feel like they never need to concern themselves with your feelings, and like you’ve given them permission to do so.
2. Implied Permission to Insult and Belittle You
They use this whole brutal honesty thing as an excuse to insult and belittle you. They might tell you that you’re unattractive or that an outfit looks bad on you. They might openly criticize everything from your cooking and housekeeping skills to how you are in bed or how you raise your kids – anything that crosses their mind will come out of their mouths without consideration for how it makes you feel. Not only is their lack of empathy painfully clear, but so is their apparent disdain for everything you are. Then, they wait for your reaction.
3. Your Reaction is Rejected
This kind of disrespect and constant unfair criticism upsets and confuses you, as it would anyone. You confront the narcissist or at least question them about what they’ve said to you, about the way they treat you. You’re angry or you’re sad or you’re feeling otherwise negatively, and you ask the narcissist to be nicer to you. You ask them how they’d feel if you spoke to them the way they speak to you. But rather than offer you any validation or reassurance of their love for you, they laugh or scream in your face. They absolutely reject your reaction to their abuse. They say you don’t have the right to be angry. They say you can’t be sad. They say you asked for this honesty or that you knew they were like this from day one.
4. You’re Put in Your Place
The narcissist continues to minimize your feelings and treat you like you’re unimportant. They remind you that your feelings aren’t valid and that you don’t have the right to feel anything about this situation. And, whether directly or indirectly, they communicate that you really shouldn’t feel anything because only the narcissist has feelings that matter. They imply that you’re stupid for not being already aware of this unwritten rule by now.
5. They Justify Their Behavior
“Well,” they’ll say. “You always say you don’t want me to lie to you. You claim you want the truth. But obviously, you are the liar here because you can’t handle the truth.” No matter how horribly they’ve treated you, they will never admit any wrongdoing or take any responsibility for hurting your feelings. Everything they’ve done up to this point, they’ll swear, has been in the name of being honest with you and everyone.
6. They Play on Your Fears to Keep You in Control
This is where it gets really sneaky. See, when you don’t just agree that you’re the total piece of poo that the narcissist wants you to believe that you are, they’ll really dig deep and begin to play on all of your biggest fears. And if you keep feeling upset or angry at them for being so rude and disrespectful to you, or if you refuse to agree with their assessment of you, they’ll start the threats. They’ll say things like,” Well, if you’re going to be mad at me every time I tell you the truth, I might as well just start lying to you.”
7. You Are Triggered Into Submission
This is where the narcissist will exploit your fears and push your buttons to trigger you and get you deeply enmeshed with them and under their control. So, basically, they are manipulating and controlling you by presenting themselves as upfront and brutally honest. If this is a non-parent relationship, you’d have initially found this quite refreshing, since other people in your life have hurt you by lying and playing games.
Your history of trauma in relationships is exactly what makes you vulnerable to being triggered when they threaten to lie. And since your behavior during a trigger moment is less rational and more self-protective, the narcissist accomplishes 3 things that help them get you to submit to them.
You’re feeling scattered and confused. This means that you are easier to control and manipulate because of the stress and the sort of primal mode you are in when you feel triggered by one of your biggest fears. You feel crazy and begin to doubt your perception once the full effect of the gaslighting kicks in. You might even feel dependent on the narcissist to tell you what you see and think in some cases, and now not only are they controlling your actions but also your thoughts and feelings.
Your fears are used to keep you in place. The narcissist has established that you can and will be moved by your fear of losing them or of being alone. If you’re anything like I was, one of your biggest fears is being the last one to know your relationship is over. You are afraid of being humiliated in a situation where you’re the only one who doesn’t know what’s happening in your own relationship. And another biggest fear is that some toxic person in your life was right and you’re actually doomed to being not good enough (or otherwise deficient) forever. And then there’s the most common human fear that we are all a little embarrassed to talk about out loud – that fear of having no one. The fear of abandonment.
You get deeper and deeper into the trauma bond. You’re enmeshed with the narcissist. They control you through the active infliction of their own perception. They teach you and make sure you don’t forget, that their needs are always more important than your own. They make you feel like you’re not a real person and that your feelings and thoughts and ideas aren’t relevant or worth expressing – not to mention worth actually hearing or implementing. That prevents you from ever reaching your true potential as you lose yourself a little more each day.it changes you and could limit you forever if you allow it.
If you’d like to learn more about how trauma bonding works, as well as how you can start to heal, be sure to take a look at these videos.
So, does any of this sound familiar to you? If so, you should definitely take a look at the playlist I’m going to leave for you in the pinned comment and description as it will help you learn how to stand up for yourself and begin the healing process.