What Are The Pros And Cons Of Joining A Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Group?

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Joining A Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Group?

So, you just went no contact with a narcissistic ex or narcissistic parent, and you are struggling with the trauma associated with the abuse you endured during the time you were in their presence. Maybe you’ve found a therapist, or you’re getting weekly narcissistic abuse recovery coaching, but you feel like need something more when it comes to getting the support you need so you can heal. Or maybe you can’t afford to pay for a therapist or coach, but you find yourself feeling very alone in the world and you just want someone who understands.

Any of these issues can be solved with one single step: you can join a free, online, confidential narcissistic abuse recovery support group.  But, when you’re working on building your support system in your own narcissistic abuse recovery, there are things you need to consider.

Beware of Predatory Groups

There are so many groups out there that are amazing and supportive. But there are those which are more predatory and money-focused, and they can actually do more harm than good for your recovery. This is exactly why it’s so important to be really careful when choosing your recovery support team. Sadly, there are people who claim to be advocating for abuse victims, but who are actually only out to make money. These people sometimes offer support systems that are not only not reliable, but that are often over-priced and which don’t work effectively.

This is often due to the fact that these people aren’t actually survivors, but business people who see our recovery from abuse as a potential cash-cow. Just remember: no matter how good the hype, not everyone who claims to want to help you is genuine. With that being said, the large majority of those who are sharing their experiences and creating support groups around narcissistic abuse recovery will often be very genuine in their efforts as they are survivors themselves.

Get Safe Online Support for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Here’s some good news. Here at QueenBeeing, we are survivors who do what we do to help our fellow survivors – and it’s why the majority of our services (including our online narcissistic abuse recovery support groups) are free. One of the best things about our ever-evolving technology is that you do not need to leave your home to attend any support group meeting. You can hop online to one from the comfort of your own home. This is especially helpful as our society is currently discouraging large in-person group meetings, but also for those who are still actively dealing with the abuse who may struggle to justify a meeting to an abuser. An online group offers you the ability to get support from the comfort of your home (or wherever you happen to be) on your own schedule.

And, sometimes, just being validated by a group can help you to see the truth about your life and can lead you to want to take action to change it – and that is what makes support not only appealing for survivors of narcissistic abuse but truly necessary.

Joining an Online Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Group: Pros and Cons to Consider

Should you join a support group for narcissistic abuse recovery? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of joining one right now.

The Pros Of Joining A Support Group For Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

The idea of joining a narcissistic abuse recovery support group can be appealing and daunting. However, there are several advantages of doing so, and let’s talk about the pros right now:

  • You can have access to the group 24/7. If you are too busy with work or other duties during the day and don’t have the time to get the most of the groups in the evening, there is no worry about that. The access for you is there at any time of the day and the night. If you need to go into the group at 3 am even, it is there!
  • You can express the pain from the abuse you endured with the narcissist to people who get it –  You are in a group where others like yourself face trauma from having to endure narcissistic abuse. Those who are in the group understand, and by knowing that, you know that you have a safe place to express your pain, sorrow and talk about your trauma. That is because others there understand.
  • You can keep your private experiences private from the people in your “real life.” At least until you’re ready to share with them, by joining a narcissistic abuse recovery support group, you won’t have to worry about talking to a friend about heavy stuff. This might be because you worry they won’t understand where you’re coming from as they haven’t had similar experiences, or it might be that you worry they won’t believe you. And in some cases, you won’t want to share your experiences yet because you don’t even really understand them yourself.
  • You will receive empathy and support, and validation. In a narcissistic abuse recovery support group, you will receive the validation you need and support and empathy because, once again, those in the group understand where you are coming from. You won’t deal with toxic positivity or those who cannot empathize with you, making a world of difference with your recovery.

However, like with anything else, there are both pros and cons. Let’s talk about the cons when it comes to joining a narcissistic abuse recovery support group.

The Cons Of Joining An Abuse Recovery Support Group

You just read about the advantages of joining an abuse recovery support group. Let’s now talk about some of the disadvantages to keep in mind:

  • Some members can troll you – You know that most of the members in groups are there to support you, but unfortunately, there can be trolls who can make your suffering worse. And even if there are members who are not technically trying to stir the pot, they can be rude if they disagree with you, which can upset you even more. The best thing to do in that situation is to notify the group’s admin and block them. In our QueenBeeing SPANily narcissistic abuse recovery support groups, our highly-skilled admin team (also survivors themselves) actively monitors our groups to prevent this as often as possible and actively removes people who violate our safety guidelines in order to keep you safe.
  • You are faced with too many reminders of the abuse you endured – At the beginning of your recovery, you might really need to read about the experiences of others as it can help to validate your own. But eventually, you might find that reading the experiences of others who endured narcissistic abuse and will become too much of a reminder for you. That can sometimes set you back in your recovery. The best thing to do in this situation is to limit the amount of time you spend in these groups. You can also check out the SPANily narcissistic abuse recovery support groups page, where you’ll find a variety of groups for each stage in recovery. This will help you to get the kind of support you need in whichever stage you’ve found yourself in – even if you’re past the abuse and ready to move forward with your new life.
  • You aren’t comfortable sharing your experiences with groups. There are some people who just prefer to avoid sharing their abuse story with a large group of people, and that’s totally okay. Everyone’s journey is different. If you are among those who would prefer to share and heal from your experiences with just one person, you might like to check out our narcissistic abuse recovery coaching page. If you’d prefer a smaller group, you should consider our small group-coaching program.

Before joining a narcissistic abuse recovery group, you will want to weigh the pros and cons and determine whether or not joining a support group is the best thing to do in your particular situation. In some cases, it may not be, which is why you want to think it through thoroughly before taking action.

Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support

Helpful Reading for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors

Male Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse Should Be Recognized, Not Minimized and Invalidated.

Male Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse Should Be Recognized, Not Minimized and Invalidated.

If you are a man who has been dealing with narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship, you are likely filled with self-doubt and you might not even know where to turn for help. Despite the popular assumption that only women are abused in relationships, the opposite is true.

Men experience toxic relationship abuse too – and they are not at fault.

You are not responsible for the toxic and hurtful behavior of another person no matter what your gender. I was talking with a friend about his feelings of self-blame after being in a toxic relationship. He was told that he was at fault by the abusive woman and because of his ability to be accountable to his own part in things became convinced that even though logically it could not be his fault he must still be to blame. This issue with men seems to go deeper because of the way they are taught by society as well as the lack of support surrounding emotional abuse toward men. Why is this? The issue is complicated. 

Female Abusers Fly Under the Radar.

Female abusers may be more prominent than you’d expect. This video goes into detail about toxic women and their impact on their victims. Any of that sound familiar to you?

Men Are Taught Their Feelings Don’t Matter.

Men seem to be taught that their feelings do not matter and when abuse happens to them in a relationship and it is somehow their own fault.  Women who are abused are also taught it is their fault, especially with narcissists, however, it seems men have a secret shame they also carry about what it means to be a man and experience their emotions around abuse. Male survivors tell me that even though men recognize the abuse,  they lack the support needed to truly personally acknowledge it and leave the situation. Friends may likely say you are weak and should just stand up to the abuser.

Good Men Take Care of Their Wives, Right? 

Or in the case of a man with a narcissistic woman, the message might be something like “ a happy wife is a happy life” leaving the man with the belief that he has to accept the behaviors, that this somehow is normal. Men have told me they use avoidance or shut down in order to cope, pushing their own feelings aside to “ keep the peace”. Having very few outlets for being heard leaves a lot of men totally invalidated.  As an example of what I am talking about, another male survivor of abuse told me, “Many men have this false thought that as a man they aren’t allowed to speak up about abuse. They fear they will be shunned and laughed at and told they “let it” happen. This is, unfortunately, a stigma that is very hard to remove.” 

Men Who Speak Up Might Be Invalidated.

Men who have survived narcissistic abuse face the problem of when speaking out about the abuse they have suffered, people often do not believe them. What can be frightening at times is that people instead believe they, the man, are the abuser.  It is a challenge for people to see at times that being screamed at and devalued by any gender is abuse including when it happens to men, and this can be incredibly invalidating and demoralizing for male victims of narcissistic abuse. Worse, invalidation is one of the most painful parts of this kind of abuse in general – so not being heard or believed can be especially traumatic for men who have been abused by females or any partner in relationships. 

You Are Not Alone

There are so many things that I can not write and even as I am writing this I struggle to say all that I feel needs to be said. In order to help men who have survived narcissistic abuse by any person in their life, know you are not alone and your feelings matter, your experience matters.  The delicate nature of feelings for both men and women makes it very difficult to talk openly about this. Some men find there is no support, not from family or friends when they mention the issues that are facing.  

Your Abuse Experience is Valid.

The message I would like to give to men is this. Your experience is valid. Your feelings around that experience are real and they matter. Most of all though, you did not deserve abuse. Think of the abuse in reverse ( man abusing woman) it would be blatantly unacceptable on all levels. We know with the complexity of narcissistic abuse that in almost all situations the abuse can be covert and very difficult to be recognized by anyone outside of the relationship, This is not to minimize the abuse women also face but instead to illustrate the challenges men face when speaking about the abuse they have lived with. 

Get personal support in your narcissistic abuse recovery.

Helpful Articles & Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors

 

Tips For Leaving An Abusive Relationship Safely

Tips For Leaving An Abusive Relationship Safely

If you’re in a relationship with someone who is abusing you, whether this is physically, psychologically, emotionally, or otherwise, and you’re ready to consider leaving them, you may not know where to begin.

If your partner is a narcissist and has been subjecting you to narcissistic abuse, gaslighting, and other forms of manipulation, you might have spent a lot of time doubting yourself, not sure whether you’re right and they’re toxic, or whether they are right and you’re crazy. If you do still happen to be doubting yourself, you might be interested in taking one of my free narcissistic abuse recovery self-assessments, right here.

In either case, you’re here because you have finally have had enough, and you are ready to leave. If all of this sounds like you, you’re in the right place. In addition to downloading your free copy of the PLAN (Preparing to Leave A Narcissist) Toolkit, be sure to take note of the following tips.

Tips to Prepare to Leave a Toxic Relationship with a Narcissist Safely

What can you do to prepare yourself to leave a toxic and abusive relationship? It is not as easy as picking up and going. Here are some of the most important things to consider before you leave a narcissist and an abusive relationship.

Know Where You Stand Financially

Financial abuse is real when it comes to narcissists, and the last thing you want to do is leave the abusive relationship and find out the hard way you are not financially fit to leave. That is a critical step to take when you are married to an abusive person – and there are some really specific things of which to be aware. Once you know the financial facts, you can present them to the court, and you will get your fair share of the money. That means you must know what you have in the bank and all of the debt that you carry. A bonus tip is to take screenshots of the accounts, so you know what you have available before you go. This video offers additional tips on dealing with financial abuse in toxic relationships.

Grab Essential Documents

The last thing you want to do is leave essential documents behind so you will want to collect them. Make sure you have access to your personal IDs such as your driver’s license and passport, your birth certificate, as well as the ones of your children, passports, marriage license, investment numbers, car documents, and social security number. Make sure you have your bank and mortgage/lease information as well. Take pictures of them if you are afraid that the abuser will destroy them. The PLAN covers a full list of documents you’ll want to gather before you go.

Begin Saving Money And Get A Job If You Must

As much as you want to make sure that you get your fair share of the money you’re due from the marriage, you will want to make sure that you begin saving your own. If you need to get a job, even a side hustle, you should do it That will only help you feel more secure about leaving your abuser. Many abused spouses stay in toxic marriages because of finances. If you can support yourself and your kids if you have any, even if you are just getting by, that is better than staying in a toxic relationship. These days, there are plenty of work-from-home jobs you could do, even without telling the narcissist, if you play it right. Just be careful with your earnings and keep them in a separate account from the narcissist’s money. You can look into services like PayPal or online banks like Chime to create a private account without the narcissist’s knowledge, for example. Bonus tip: you might also want to consider checking your credit through a free service like Credit Sesame, which also offers you tips on how to improve your credit score. This video offers additional tips on how to leave a narcissist with no money.

Make Changes To Passwords

If you are afraid that the abuser is monitoring your social media activity and emails, then you want to change your passwords, so your abuser does not have access to any of it. Change all of your passwords, whether for social media, online banking, or any other platform. Keep the passwords in a safe list that the abuser cannot access.

Tell Your Friends And Trusted Family Members The Truth

When you are about to leave your abuser, you must tell those you trust to support you through it and even offer you a place to stay temporarily until you can get on your feet. You will also feel more secure and safe while leaving, and you will also need them to encourage you to go on with your plan for leaving as it is a daunting thing to do, but a courageous thing you can do for yourself.

Reach Out To Experts And Shelters

If you don’t know where to begin when it comes to preparing yourself to leave the abusive relationship, contact a family lawyer, a therapist, a narcissistic abuse recovery coach, or another expert who can safely advise you. Many lawyers offer initial free consultations and advise you on collecting financial data and everything you need. Also, contact shelters or a therapist can give you some leads to shelters if you are unsure where to look. Be sure to check out our domestic violence resources page as well.

Leaving an abuser is a scary thing to do, but if you utilize these tips and get the support you need, you can do it. You deserve to be safe and healthy.

QueenBeeing Resources for Narcissistic Abuse & Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Helpful Reading for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

 

Codependency vs. Dependent Personality Disorder

Codependency vs. Dependent Personality Disorder

There has been a bit of confusion in the narcissistic abuse recovery community around codependency and dependent personality disorder. A question I received from one of our community members prompted me to clarify the differences and similarities between the two. The confusion seems to be that some people think that codependency and dependent personality disorder are the same or similar, sort of like how someone with toxic, abusive behaviors and narcissistic traits may or may not be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.

However, in the case of codependency and dependent personality disorder, there are only a few similarities, but many differences. If you have wondered this about yourself, here’s what you need to know.

What is Codependency?

Do you struggle with doing anything independently and feeling secure when you’re alone? Do you need to be with others, or do you find yourself feeling overly connected to a partner, friend, or family member (or any one person in particular) because the idea of being alone frightens you? Do you need to be in a relationship? Do you tolerate abuse and other behaviors in your relationship? Have you stuck it out, regardless of the toxicity of it? Do you go out of your way to please others? If so, then you might be struggling with codependency.

Codependency is a toxic emotional and behavioral condition that makes it nearly impossible to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form and stay in relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive, and/or abusive. In other words, codependency is an excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, most often a toxic one.

What is a Codependent? 

We call someone who struggles with codependency a codependent, which means a person in a toxic or dysfunctional “helping” relationship, in which one person supports and/or enables the person’s abuse, addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, and/or under-achievement.

  • Codependents are often people pleasers.
  • If you are codependent, you’ll find yourself making significant sacrifices to make your partner happy, no matter how much you suffer. You do this because on some level, you need your partner to need you, and you somehow base your self-worth on whether or not your partner needs you.
  • When someone is codependent, they have a tendency to stay in the relationship no matter how toxic, at least before they recognize this issue. Sadly, due to their nature, many codependents end up in toxic relationships with narcissists.
  • If you’re facing narcissistic abuse, your codependency could be the factor that is causing you not to leave. You might even feel guilty if you were to express your wants and needs, so you keep sacrificing them to please your partner.

But does being codependent mean you have DPD? No, there is a difference. Let’s talk about DPD right now.

What Is Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD)?

When you first learn about DPD, you might think it’s just a formal diagnosis of codependency. But according to the Cleveland Clinic, it’s an anxious personality disorder, and there’s a lot more to it than that. In short, someone with DPD feels generally helpless, like they can’t take care of themselves at all.

If you have DPD, you would be highly dependent on others, and you will rely on others to make decisions for you. You are afraid to be alone and you worry that you might not be okay if you do find yourself going solo. You also do whatever you can to make the people around you like you, including but not limited to not disagreeing with them, even if you’re not on the same page. As with codependency, you might also have a fear of abandonment.

With DPD, you aren’t likely to speak up for yourself and you might avoid arguments by agreeing with others even if you secretly don’t agree with what someone wants to do. As you would with codependency, you’d be likely to stick with an unhealthy relationship due to the fear of being alone.

What Are The Differences Between DPD And Codependency?

Now, let’s talk about the differences between DPD and codependency. First, DPD is a personality disorder, whereas codependency is a behavior.

If you are codependent, you want to take care of your partner, and you will do whatever you can to keep them around – even if they are going out of their way to hurt you. You’d feel more connected if your partner really needed you, and you would sacrifice your wants and needs to take care of them. While you might need people to need you, you’re also happy to do all of the work involved in whatever that entails. You’re a fixer, a helper. Growing up, your friends might have always come to you for advice and considered you the “mom” or “dad” of your group. You’re the one everyone counts on.

If you have DPD, you need others to take care of you. You wouldn’t know what to do if your partner needed you to do something for them. You wouldn’t be likely to tolerate excessive emotional, psychological, or physical abuse in order to maintain the relationship as someone who is codependent might. People with DPD sometimes act helpless and refuse to handle their adult responsibilities, preferring to have them taken care of by someone else.

How to Get Help with DPD and Codependency 

Is there any hope for you if you’re struggling with DPD or codependency? Can you get help for either one? Yes, you can get to the road of independence, but it will take plenty of time, effort, and utilizing the right therapeutic sources. Here are some resources to help you.

Dependent Personality Disorder Resources

Codependency Resources 

Related articles for People Struggling with Codependency

 

 

How To Make The Narcissist Respect You (The Only Way)

How To Make The Narcissist Respect You (The Only Way)


(Prefer to listen/watch? See video on YouTube)

There was probably a time when you believed that the narcissist in your life actually respected you, right?  I mean, why else would they have treated you so well? During the love-bombing (idealization) phase, the narcissist is head-over-heels, without a doubt absolutely infatuated with you! So, of course, they’re on their best behavior. They treat you like you’re really important and special – even put you on a pedestal. You don’t treat someone this way unless you respect them. Right?

But then, the devalue phase hit for the first time. And it all fell down around you. You were left spinning, wondering what the heck just happened. If you’re anything like me, you needed to figure it out. That probably led you to research the situation, which led you here, eventually.

Recognizing the Narcissist’s Cycle of Abuse

If that sounds familiar, then I would guess that, since then, you’ve learned the unfortunate truth about this toxic person in the most difficult way possible. If that’s the case, then the following should resonate with you, at least on some level.

As it turns out, the narcissist does not respect you, and that incredible connection you felt at the beginning of the relationship wasn’t genuine at all. In fact, the narcissist was love bombing you, and this was part of a definable, repeatable pattern of narcissists in toxic relationships.

In other words, if the narcissist was not a family member, when you met them,  they were in acquisition mode and you were the target. Once they were sure they had you in their clutches, they started treating you…well, a little different. And if the narcissist was a part of your family, they’d be running a similar cycle with you for your whole life.

But in either case, there was a time when you found yourself in the devalue phase, and this is where you first started to realize what was going on. You immediately became aware of the fact that the narcissist didn’t respect you even a little bit. In fact, with every word that came out of their mouth and with every passing moment, they became increasingly abusive, dragging your self-worth into the dirt, making you feel like you didn’t matter at all.

As devastating as this realization was, part of you felt some relief when you realized it wasn’t you – that you weren’t, in fact, the problem in the relationship, as you’d been led to believe.

As your relationship progressed, you may have even forgotten what it felt like to be respected at all. Speaking of respect, does the narcissist really respect anyone at all? Like, ever? Well, yes, and no. It’s complicated. See, we know that your average narcissist seems to think that they are the only ones in the world who are important and everyone else is beneath them. In other words, they feel special and entitled to special privileges and gifts that not everyone gets.

I have literally heard more than one narcissist say they believe that on some level, the world revolves around them. And since that is the case, how can the narcissist ever respect you? Let’s talk about it.

Can you make a narcissist respect you?

First, we should agree on what we mean by ‘respect,’ exactly.

Respect can be defined as someone feeling positively toward you as a person. It might also mean being considered important by someone else, and it means that the person respecting you clearly sees and admires your good qualities. It means that they hold you in high regard and are obviously aware of your individual value as a person and a unique, separate entity from themselves (as opposed to an extension of self). It means they treat you in a way that makes you feel good, or at least comfortable.

Is it possible for a narcissist to respect anyone, based on that definition of respect? Maybe. But they generally don’t. Instead, they’ll see you as an object or an extension of themselves. Or, if you’re an authority figure, they’ll be kinder to you and may even appear to respect you, but secretly, they’ll be calculating how they can benefit from knowing you – or worse, depending on the relationship you have, how quickly they can take your place. The truth is that your average narcissist really respects no one at all, with the exception of MAYBE themselves – but even then, their understanding of the concept of respect is skewed and twisted, thanks to their incredibly low EQ.

Some people will advise you that learning to respect yourself is the key to making a narcissist respect you. And listen – I want that to be true, too. But it just isn’t – at least not when you’re talking about functional respect. What I mean is that when you combine the narcissist’s lack of compassion and emotional empathy with their inability to see you as a whole person, you get someone who doesn’t care how you feel and who thinks you don’t matter. Those ingredients do not add up to respect in any form.

What if you leave the narcissist? Won’t they respect you then?

A lot of people think and will advise that leaving the narcissist will make them respect you. While it might be true on some level and in some cases, it won’t cause them to change and become better people. Sadly, leaving a narcissist will only make them angry, sad, desperate, and/or apathetic, depending on whether they have secured alternate narcissistic supply beforehand. In any case, though, they will still not respect you. They will instead start a smear campaign by first lying about you and often projecting their own sins onto you during their ongoing sob story which helps them to secure more narcissistic supply (because people feel sorry for them, as you might have early in your own relationship, and are compelled to support them).

How to Get the Respect You Deserve

You might not like what I’m about to say, but if you know me, then you know I tell it like it is. Here’s the deal. No one is going to respect you if you don’t respect yourself. Okay, maybe some people will. I will. Still, there’s something about a person who lacks self-respect that sometimes causes even the least toxic people to take advantage of them. And there’s just no reason to vibrate this way. When you learn to respect yourself, you teach others how to treat you almost without even trying, because your standards go up and you naturally enforce your personal boundaries.

But am I saying that the narcissist will be among those who respect you when you learn to respect yourself, after all? No, not exactly. Let’s talk about it,

See, while learning to love and respect yourself will help you to stop accepting the abuse the narcissist dishes out so often, it will certainly not cause them to respect you – at least not in any functional way. BUT…all is not lost!

The good news is that if you do manage to develop your self-image to the point that you are okay with – and maybe even love – who you are, you’ll show them that you will no longer tolerate their BS. Then, be sure to take good care of yourself, inside and out. And as you beam with genuine confidence and you move away from your codependency with the narcissist, something crazy might happen. You might find a way to leave.

And then, my friend, you might find a way to create a life that you love, for real.

Just…stop for a second, and breathe. Imagine with me for a moment that you no longer have to put up with the drama and misery that goes along with the narcissist and that you’ve created the life you really want. What does it look like? Who is involved? Where do you live?  What do you do? How does your ideal life look? Take a few minutes and journal on it!

The narcissist helped to create your codependency.

Your codependency was at least in part sort of co-created by the narcissist in your life. They taught you to be afraid of them, their moods, and their general presence. They taught you that you didn’t matter without them and that if you didn’t go along with what they wanted, that you were bad and/or invisible. In either case, you’d be punished in various ways and this along with all of the emotional and psychological abuse you deal with throughout your relationship with the narcissist will become the basis for your damage – your trauma. It will become the reason you’ll recognize you might be dealing with C-PTSD symptoms and the reason you literally doubt yourself, your reality, and your ability to function like a normal human in the world.

You have to remember something. Narcissists prey on you by leaning into the trauma they’ve created in you. They’ve caused you to lose your self-confidence, thanks to years of ongoing abuse, and this has caused you to give in to their manipulative ways. They prey on you because they think they can, and because, until now, you may have tolerated it. But, guess what? You don’t have to take it anymore. You deserve to be happy, to feel peaceful, and to feel SAFE in your home. The narcissist takes all of that away from you – and my friend, you deserve better.

How to Deal with the Lack of Respect

If you have struggled with narcissistic abuse, you will want to focus on what you can do to first heal, and then you’ll want to work on becoming the person you truly want to be. This will help you along the path of learning to first accept and then to love and respect yourself. It might feel like letting yourself feel empowered in the narcissist’s presence more difficult at least at first – and that is usually true. So, if you need to, practice with people who you trust and even strangers out in the world.

And remember: Going no contact is a form of self-care. If you were the sort of person who really wanted revenge on the narcissist, remember that the narcissist needs narcissistic supply like a vampire needs blood – and going no contact will remove you (and therefore their source of narcissistic supply, or at least one of them).

So, while the narcissist isn’t capable of functional respect (as in the kind of respect that causes them to treat you compassionately, civilly, and as an equal), leaving them in the dust while you go and have an intentionally created life that you actually love? Well, that’ll make them realize that not only did they lose the best thing that ever happened to them, but also that they’ve underestimated you and maybe even that you’re too good for them. But either way, you’ll be the one winning the relationship, much to their chagrin.

You Have to Respect Yourself First

This part is really important. When we are enmeshed in relationships with toxic people, we often put our own self-respect on the back burner – and that’s IF we’ve ever had any to begin with. See, when we are raised by toxic people or when we experience significant trauma in childhood, we learn that our own self-respect is a problem for other people. We learn that in order to get love and validation, we need to become what others want us to be. And when we can’t become something we’re not, we lose respect for ourselves – but even if we CAN become what others want us to be, we end up putting our own desires, strengths, passions, and talents aside in order to keep those people happy. This leads to a feeling of something being “just not right,” or we feel like something is “missing” from our lives. Even if we’re self-aware enough to know exactly what is missing, we don’t see a way to actually make it happen without upsetting someone – so we just…don’t.

All of that rolled up in a big ugly ball leads us to not respect ourselves. And when we don’t respect ourselves, we are inadvertently accepting unacceptable treatment from people who do not even deserve our time. So when we start respecting ourselves, we STOP accepting that behavior.

How do you learn to respect yourself?

It all starts with learning to first accept yourself, completely, without condition, as you are in any given moment. This is a tough one for someone who has been abused by a narcissist because it feels almost unnatural to say to yourself: “I am okay with myself right now, in this moment, flaws and all.” 

But push past that and give it a shot. Make sure you listen carefully to that little “inner voice” that is always taking in your head – your inner dialogue. And correct it when it is wrong. Correct it when it sounds less like you and more like the toxic people in your life.  Journal often, and honestly. Speak about yourself kindly or at least without negativity – to yourself and to others.

Don’t assume that someone else’s opinion of yourself is the truth. If you’re worried about what someone else says, look closely and be honest with yourself – is there something you want to change? If not, be okay with who you are and accept that no one is perfect. It is normal and human to have flaws.

Don’t do things to gain the approval of anyone else unless it benefits you to do so. For example, you wouldn’t want to go against your morals and ethics to make a narcissist happy, but let’s say you were given the opportunity to audition for a part in a movie, and that was something you wanted to do. In that case, you might make an effort to gain the approval of the casting director, and that is okay. See the difference?

Ultimately, self-respect begins with how you treat yourself and how you expect others to treat you. When you treat yourself lie you matter, others will begin to do the same. And those who won’t? They’ll see themselves out of your life post-haste. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing!

Question of the Day: Have you ever been able to make a narcissist actually respect you? Have you tried? Share your thoughts, share your experiences, share your ideas in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it!

 

 

 

Empath and Codependent Are Not Synonyms

Empath and Codependent Are Not Synonyms

I’ve got two questions for you. Are all empaths codependent? Are all codependents empaths? I think it’s time we clear up some confusion for our community. You often hear people in the narcissistic abuse community talking about empaths and codependents as though the terms were interchangeable. The thing is, they aren’t. What I mean is that while some codependents are empaths, not all empaths are codependents. In other words, they are two separate concepts that some people have mistaken for synonyms. Let me explain.

(Watch this video or keep reading) To understand the difference between empaths and codependents, first, we need to define empathy and codependency.

What is Empathy?

There are three types of empathy – cognitive, emotional, and compassionate. Emotional and compassionate empathy seems to be intrinsic for most people, and cognitive empathy can be learned. So, an adult empath would be able to logically understand what a person would feel, be emotionally affected by what they feel, and also be moved to take action to help them deal with what they feel. For example, an empath might, at the age of 3, notice when someone is hurting and try to comfort them, even if that person doesn’t say anything about it or indicate directly that something is wrong. The child might not understand logically or have the vocabulary to describe what they do understand, but when they instinctively comfort someone, there’s no question that they understand. At the same time, an adult narcissist, who would not be considered an empath, would be able to logically understand what you feel, but they wouldn’t be emotionally affected by it for the most part, at least not in a normal way, and they would not be moved to help you deal with it unless it benefited them to do so in some way.

What is Codependency?

Codependency is when you are dependent on another person in unhealthy ways. It seems to be, in most cases, affected by some form of trauma that often occurred in childhood. It is also considered a behavioral condition as it inhibits your ability to have a healthy and mutually satisfying relationship. A good synonym for codependency might be “relationship addiction” because codependents tend to be perpetually involved in relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive, and/or abusive.

The Differences Between Codependents and Empaths

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s discuss empaths and codependents. We understand that empathy and codependency are different. So, why do people in the narcissistic abuse recovery community so often confuse the term “empath” with the term “codependent,” if they’re two distinct terms that aren’t synonymous? The answer is as simple as it is complicated. It’s because there are many codependents who do happen to be empaths. But then, there are many who are not.

And, of course, just consider the definition of codependency. As it turns out, toxic narcissists can also be considered codependents, given their excessive need for attention, adoration, and narcissistic supply. They clearly need to be dependent on others for their emotional validation and all of that tasty, tasty supply. But even though they require so much of your emotional energy, they do not have emotional or compassionate energy, so they do often emotionally neglect and abuse their so-called loved ones. Therefore, by definition, they are codependent, but they can’t be considered empaths.

What is an empath?

If you are an empath, you’re highly sensitive to the emotions and energy of the people around you. Empaths tend to be very intuitive and may also be spiritually inclined. In other words, if you’re an empath, you’re someone who naturally “feels” the emotions of other people and acts in accordance. Empaths, however, seem to have a more natural inclination toward naturally understanding the psychology of both humans and animals.

Are Empaths Rare?

Most humans above the age of two or three have some ability to show empathy, which is, on its most basic level just the ability to perceive what other people feel on some level. And many animals seem to have some level of empathy, even for humans, as evidenced by pets who appear to show concern when their owners are feeling blue. But there are different levels of sensitivity when it comes to empathy, and those who are at the highest end of that spectrum might be rare. Still, even the most basic understanding of and concern for others’ feelings makes life easier for everyone.

Are Empaths Real?

Some people seem to think that empathy is a supernatural ability. But while on some level, there are things we don’t understand about empathy, there is a lot of scientific research that explains how it works. In fact, a study focused on a specific type of empathy called mirror-touch synaesthesia offers some very interesting insight that supports the idea that empaths exist. Mirror-touch synaesthesia is the ability to feel a sensation of touch when you see someone else being touched. Study authors Dr. Michael Banissy at the Goldsmiths University of London, along with researcher Dr. Natalie Bowling, the research found that up to 2 percent of the population could be considered empaths.

Why Do Some People Have More Empathy Than Others?

Clearly, there are some people who seem to be more personally affected by empathy than others. For example, someone who might be considered a natural empath would have a clearer and more comprehensive intrinsic understanding of how people feel. Using this natural ability, empaths can quickly interpret a person’s thoughts and feelings.

“The scientific studies that are often used to demonstrate that empaths exist, however, provide indirect evidence,” said Kristen Milstead in a 2018 PsychCentral article.”This includes research showing the existence of mirror neurons in the brain, which are said to enable us to read and understand each other’s emotions by filtering them through our own. Other studies used to explain empaths include the concept of emotional contagion, which is the idea that when people synchronize their attitudes, behaviors, and speech, they also synchronize their emotions both consciously and unconsciously.”

Milstead noted that while the studies explained the existence of empathy as a concept, they didn’t make it clear why some people seem to have a higher sensitivity to it than others. So for now, the idea that there is a supernatural element to being an empath isn’t completely disproven, but that doesn’t mean that scientists won’t decode it in the future. After all, there were once people who worshipped the Sun. Science has a way of explaining things we don’t understand.

Signs of Being Codependent

If you really want to understand the differences between codependents and empaths, it can help to see the signs of each. While you may be both, you may also just be one or the other. People who are codependent typically have the following behaviors.

  1. Codependents struggle to make decisions alone, especially where their decisions would affect their partner in any way.
  2. Codependents may find themselves having a hard time identifying their own feelings.
  3. Codependents might have a hard time communicating in their relationships – even if they’re really good at communicating in other ways and with other people.
  4. Codependents are more concerned with getting the approval of people outside of themselves.
  5. Codependents have low self-esteem.
  6. Codependents may not trust their own instincts and intuition.
  7. Codependents may have an unhealthy level of fear of abandonment.
  8. Codependents may need approval to the point that they’ll even go against their own ethics in order to get it.
  9. Codependents might feel overly responsible for the actions and behaviors of other people.
  10. Codependents are inevitably miserable if they’re not in a relationship, and they’ll stay in a relationship that is harmful to them because they might feel as if it’s better than being alone.

Any of that sound familiar to you? Now, let’s talk about the signs you’re an empath.

Signs You’re an Empath

How do you know if you are an empath? While there are no easily available scientific tests that would prove your empath abilities, there are empath self-assessments, such as the one here, that will help you to recognize yourself as someone who might be an empath. There are, of course, both positive and negative sides of being an empath – and some of them overlap.

1. Empaths Can Be Targeted by Toxic People

Empaths often deal with overwhelming feelings as it is, so when a relationship is toxic, they will feel like they are in agony. They often end up going numb because they feel like they might not survive otherwise. Narcissists and other toxic people seem to be drawn to empaths. Most likely, that’s because empaths are generally moved into action by the emotions of other people. So, when the empath knows you are sad or upset, they do what they can to comfort you. When someone screams and yells at an empath, they will do whatever they can to resolve whatever the person is screaming about.

It doesn’t occur to an empath to feel angry at someone who is so clearly distressed. THAT is what attracts toxic people – the fact that the empath is so focused on making sure they are comfortable and happy in any given moment. It makes for an ideal source of narcissistic supply. And, since an empath is completely focused on them, they won’t have to do much to keep them happy.

See, if an empath is feeling needy and reaches out for validation, they will quickly forget their feelings if the other person expresses strong feelings of their own in the moment. This nature leads empaths who aren’t aware of these types of manipulations to miss the fact that they’re actually not being nourished in the relationship.

They end up starving for validation – giving and giving until they sort of burn out (literally in some cases through adrenal fatigue associated with C-PTSD). The empath ends up drained of their so-called light: they have little energy – they literally are almost “not even there” in some ways. They have grown so emotionally broken that they have literally stopped experiencing these emotions.

2. Empaths Find Large Crowds Are Draining

You will not find a happy empath at a Black Friday sale. In general, empaths can only take crowds in small doses, if at all. That’s why a lot of them don’t like large parties or concerts. And when an empath does spend too much time in crowds, most of them really need to take some time alone before and afterward in order to recharge. If they don’t, they will feel exhausted and tired for days or weeks afterward. In some cases, they may even physical effects, which brings me to my next point.

3. Empaths Need Plenty Of Time Alone

Most empaths require time alone to recharge, especially when they’ve dealt with emotionally difficult situations such as crowds, but also through various interpersonal interactions with people in their lives. An empath who is also an introvert may prefer to be alone more often than not. But even empaths who appear to be more outgoing will still need that alone time – or become unbalanced without it. However, an introvert that is not an empath would need, in general, less alone time for winding down. And in the case of codependents, whether they’re empaths or not, they may feel that they don’t want time alone at all, for any reason. This is one way that an empath can manifest emotional and/or psychological damage caused by their toxic relationships.

4. Empaths Feel Their Way Around New Places

Empaths seem to feel the energy of any location in which they happen to be. In a calm, clean, and organized place that is lit with candles and has soft colors, for example, an empath might feel calm. They might sense relaxing and positive energy. On the flip side, if an empath walked into a room where a crime was committed (sometimes even if they were unaware that a crime was committed there), or if they walked into a room directly after a confrontation as small as a marital spat – they would FEEL the energy buzzing without question, They’d even ask something like, “you guys okay? or “should I come back later?” They might feel uncomfortable or be physically affected, but not be able to put their finger on WHY they know something is wrong. They just know. Ya know?

This video offers 10 more signs that you might be an empath.

Still not sure?

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