The Narcissist Uses Honesty and Loopholes to Control You – This is How

The Narcissist Uses Honesty and Loopholes to Control You – This is How

(Prefer to watch/listen? See video on YouTube.)
Is there such a thing as an honest narcissist? Or do all narcissists lie? Well, I got a pretty interesting comment on the video I produced last week on identifying covert narcissism in relationships.

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.

Is the Honest Narcissist a Myth?

Is there really such a thing as a narcissist who doesn’t lie? Could there be an honest narcissist? First, it’s important to note that narcissists come in all shapes and sizes. As I explained to the viewer, not every narcissist has every symptom or sign listed in the criteria for the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder.

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.

Question of the Day: Have you ever met an “honest” narcissist? Could you relate to the discussion today? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments section below this video and let’s talk about it!

Narcissists and Psychological Projection In Toxic Relationships

Narcissists and Psychological Projection In Toxic Relationships

One of my clients told me a story that is all too familiar for anyone who has been in a toxic relationship with a narcissist. During her relationship, her ex would consistently accuse her of cheating and wanting to cheat on him. He had become so obsessed that he was secretly tracking her car with a hidden low-jack device he bought on the recommendation of a private eye friend of his, and he’d even put apps on her phone and computer that allowed him to watch her every move.

Later, she would learn that he was a self-proclaimed “love addict” who had been actively cheating on her for years, sneaking around and hiding everything. Turns out, while she’d been doing everything in her power to be transparent and to soothe his insecurities in the relationship, he’d been the one cheating and hiding the whole time. He was clearly projecting his own bad behavior on to her – a common way narcissists manipulate us in relationships. But was he doing it to distract her from his bad behavior, which it thoroughly did, or was something more at play here?

Here’s the thing. There’s a difference between the kind of psychological projection that happens for the average person and the kind that happens when someone is a toxic narcissist. And that’s exactly what we’re talking about today – psychological projection, what it is, how it works and how narcissists tend to use it to manipulate us. (See video on YouTube)

What is Psychological Projection?

Psychological projection is a defense mechanism in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. It is part blame-shifting and part misdirection of a person’s inner insecurities, behaviors and issues.

Do Only Narcissists Use Projection?

Anyone can find themselves projecting – it isn’t just a narcissistic quality. The fact is that we all have insecurities. And even the most emotionally balanced among us can find ourselves subconsciously projecting our worries and insecurities on to the people in our lives. In most cases, we aren’t really even aware of it. But when we’re dealing with toxic narcissists in our relationships, whether they’re our partner, family member or friend, we are often actively being psychologically abused, and our self-esteem – if we ever had any – takes a nosedive.

So, when we project, it’s our subconscious sort of seeing qualities or issues within ourselves that we consciously deny. And then, without realizing it, we sort of attribute the feelings (or the issues) on to someone else. A lot of times, this is because the way we feel makes us uncomfortable and we don’t really know how to deal with it or can’t bring ourselves to do so.

For example, if we are stressing out and worried that our boss dislikes us, we might think, “Wow, she really hates me!”

But if we don’t have any actual evidence other than a general sense of negativity around her, we might ask ourselves how we really feel about the boss. The fact is that it’s possible that we’re just projecting our own stuff on to the boss. It’s possible that we don’t like her or feel somehow threatened by her.

In general, if you find yourself projecting, you can trace the trigger back to something that happened to you that made you feel insecure – and the situation you were in reminded you of that time. For example, during my pregnancy with my oldest child, my ex-husband made me feel like my changing body was grotesque. He was literally disgusted by me.

Eventually, I’d leave him and six years later, I’d find myself in a new relationship, pregnant with kid number two. And even though I would go on to have that baby and another four years later with my second husband, I struggled a lot during my second pregnancy with projection issues. I was triggered by my condition, and even though I logically knew that my husband loved my body during pregnancy, my thoughts raced and I struggled with doubting this and thinking he must be secretly disgusted as my ex had been.

I managed it, knowing logically what I was doing. But, boy, was it difficult!

Projection is a Primal, Reactive Behavior

Here’s where it gets interesting. Projection and our ability to resolve it within ourselves is all about emotional maturity. In fact, projection is considered a primitive defense because it preserves the ego by ignoring and/or distorting reality on some level.

In other words, projection is a primal, reactive behavior that is used by children and that eventually, most of us grow out of on our own,  or at least we become aware of it and actively work to overcome it as I did with my pregnancies.

(For the record, my third pregnancy, though it was physically harder than the others since I was 32 years old by then, was far more emotionally satisfying as I had recognized that I was projecting old feelings onto my second husband, who didn’t, in fact, have the same issues as my ex, in the moment with my second and worked to get through it. That was because I had by that point developed enough emotional maturity to recognize the issue and deal with it.)

But narcissists tend to be emotional toddlers (or at best, emotional pre-teens) no matter how old they happen to be at any given moment. What I mean is that while they may appear to be a regular adult when you first meet them, narcissists are notoriously emotionally immature. In fact, on so many levels, their emotional maturity (or lack thereof) and manipulative behaviors can be compared to those of a toddler. But at least a toddler is cute. Narcissists can be downright ugly (on the inside at least) and while most of us begin to develop empathy as early as two years old, narcissists aren’t so lucky. They either never develop empathy or lose it during their own traumatic experiences in childhood. (In fact, if you have a minute later, take a look at the video I’ll leave right there and in the pinned comment for you – this is a literal comparison, not a figurative one. )

Narcissistic Projection vs. ‘Regular’ Projection

So, as you might imagine, narcissists are different when they use projection. While they may also be projecting due to their own insecurities, most of the time, projection acts as yet another manipulation tactic. This can become a serious issue, especially since it is often directed at people like us – people who are sensitive, empathic and who care too much about how they feel – at least until we recognize what they are.

And since many of us were also raised by narcissists or other toxic people, our own emotional struggles and lack of confidence can then be compounded by any narcissist we are in a relationship with,  thanks to their extreme manipulation and gaslighting during our relationships. On the narcissist’s part, the goal is to divert your attention from what is really going on. By distracting you, not only do they get you to focus on yourself as the problem, but they also get you to take responsibility for the problem.

The Effects of Narcissistic Projection

When narcissists project their own issues on to us, we tend to actually personalize it and in some cases, we even accept the projections as true, or we worry that it could become true. Then, we might actively work to change something about ourselves that doesn’t need changing – or that isn’t even a quality or issue we have, but rather one of the narcissist’s projections of their own issues or qualities. Alternatively, we will spend our lives attempting to soothe their projected insecurities and ignore our own wellbeing in the process. In either case, it spells disaster for our core selves.

But on the plus side, if we can learn to recognize when the narcissist is doing this and identify it as projection, then we can label it and choose to see it for what it is and not internalize it.

So, how do you know if a narcissist is projecting on to you?

Since narcissists are well-known to lack self-awareness, it makes sense that they wouldn’t necessarily be consciously aware of their projecting thoughts and behaviors. And, since the narcissist’s ability to feel any self-esteem or self-worth is entirely dependent on how other people see and perceive them, they have a tendency to deny that they are in fact flawed humans who, like everyone else, have their own shortcomings or limitations. But rather than accept and recognize them, the way I did with my pregnancy issues, they will blame the people around them for anything about themselves they deem less than perfect.

So, in a way, you could almost say that narcissists tell on themselves through their projections. Using the example of the cheater who accuses his partner of cheating, we can see that projection is one way they reveal their own bad behaviors and ideologies on to us. It’s how they show us who they are and tell us what they’re doing.

When the narcissist projects on to you, they are essentially calling you by their own name, in a way. They’ll accuse you of doing whatever it is they are actually doing, or what they’re considering or planning to do. And since narcissists aren’t prone to feeling guilty for their behaviors, even when they should, they end up assigning that guilt to you through projection. Does that make sense? They unconsciously deny the existence of a feeling or action of their own and attribute it to you or someone else, thereby externalizing it.

Some people would call this intentional manipulation. Others would say it’s a subconscious way for them to avoid taking personal responsibility for their behavior. I say it’s a combination of those two things.

Examples of Narcissistic Projection in Toxic Relationships

Let me make this a little easier to understand by sharing a few examples of psychological projection in relationships.

1. The Narcissist Says You’re Something They Are.

This is where the narcissist has some insecurity about their personal selves and then they either call you that thing or they put a lot of pressure on you to change it. For example, if the narcissist is lazy around the house, they will accuse you of the same. Or they might constantly complain about the extra 10 pounds you’re carrying around, while they’re carrying an extra 50. They might even say something like, “You never put my needs first. You only care about yourself.” Sound familiar?

They do this because in fact THEY never put your needs first (or even second), and they care only about themselves. And think of the example I explained with my client in which she was constantly on-guard to stay transparent with her partner after being constantly accused of cheating or wanting to cheat, and later learned it was actually her ex who cheated.

And in some cases, they are projecting on to someone else in a similar way. Maybe they over-focus on the fact that a neighbor doesn’t keep their yard tidy enough, while their own yard leaves a lot to be desired.

2. The Narcissist Plays the Victim.

This is one of the most infuriating types of projection: when the narcissist plays the victim – also known as narcissistic injury. When the narcissistic person abuses or victimizes you in some way, they will act like you’re the one who did it to them, and they’ll twist everything you say and do to fit the narrative. For example, if you finally get fed up with the way they treat you and go no contact, they will tell everyone (including anyone they’re currently grooming to be their new source of supply) that you did everything they did. They play the victim, play up the sob story and get plenty of narcissistic supply out of the deal.

3. The Narcissist Flips Accusations Around.

When you call the narcissist out on something they’re doing or have done that upsets you, they will turn it all around on you and before you know it, you’re the one apologizing. So, for example, if you notice that your partner is paying too much attention to a particular person of the opposite sex (or same, or whatever y’all are into) and you call them out on it, rather than explaining and or acknowledging their behavior and trying to change it, they instead find something to poke at you about. In the case of this example, they might say you are overly jealous and have nothing to worry about – but that if you continue to bother them with your nonsense, they may as well go ahead and cheat on you anyway. I mean, after all, you’re accusing them of it. What is really going on here is that they’re once again deflecting their bad behavior on to you and getting you to focus on what they’re accusing you of instead – so you end up trying to stop being jealous and end up allowing them to do things that make you really uncomfortable in order to prove that you’re not. It’s crazymaking, to say the very least.

How do you deal with narcissistic projection?

It helps to first recognize the issue, and then to see it for what it is – just one more way the narcissist is manipulating you – consciously or otherwise. You should also realize that as someone who might be an empath and who is sensitive, kind and compassionate, you might have the unfortunate habit of projecting your GOOD qualities on to the narcissist, so be careful with that. Be sure you take off your rose-colored glasses and see the narcissist for what they really are.

Once you’ve done that, identify and focus on your boundaries. Be sure to stand firmly behind them and to be aware of what is true and what is a manipulated falsehood designed to push you down and boost the narcissist into the position of power. Take the power back by refusing to be convinced of something that isn’t true. If you need to, keep a journal of what actually happens so that you don’t doubt yourself. It can be a really helpful way to deal with both projection and gaslighting – which, of course, can be dealt with using the gray rock rule. If you aren’t familiar with the gray rock rule, take a look at the video I’m sharing with you right here, where you can learn everything you need to know about how to use and benefit from the gray rock method of dealing with manipulative narcissists.

Question of the day: Have you experienced narcissistic projection? Have you, yourself, ever found yourself projecting? Share your thoughts, share your experiences and share your ideas in the comments section below this video and let’s talk about it.

You might also like:

Identifying Toxic Narcissist Friends, Plus How to Deal

Identifying Toxic Narcissist Friends, Plus How to Deal

Have you ever been friends with someone who made you feel terrible after spending time with them? Have you found yourself wondering if they were toxic, or whether they might be a narcissist? Well, that’s exactly what we’re talking about today: narcissistic and toxic friends – how to identify them and what to do if you have one. (See video on YouTube)

A few months after I left my ex-husband and became a single mom, I got a job working in healthcare billing. The hours were good for a single mom, I got health insurance for my son and me, and the pay was better than I could do elsewhere at that time. After a couple of weeks on the job, I met a fellow single mom working in my department. Let’s call her Brenda.

I was so happy to meet Brenda because I really didn’t know anyone in the area (because my narcissist ex had isolated me quite thoroughly, and because I’d moved to be closer to my family when I left him). Plus, our kids were similar ages and we could hang out and have playdates outside of work. It seemed perfect.

At work, we started having lunch together every day. I was thrilled to have someone to hang out with and fully embraced the friendship. But after a few months, I noticed that every time I spent time with Brenda, I felt super-stressed and like I needed to calm down. I couldn’t figure out why at first, which I know sounds odd, but I wasn’t as self-aware back then as I am now.

I wrote about it in my journal a few times, and I realized that I must be missing something. There didn’t seem to be a logical reason that I’d feel the way I did – Brenda was a good friend, right?

Well, after that, I started to watch our conversations a little closer, and pretty soon, I realized that Brenda was a very negative person. If I had an idea or talked about trying something new, she’d instantly go into all the reasons I shouldn’t bother doing it, or why it wouldn’t work. If I bought my lunch, she’d make subtle jabs at me for not being more frugal – and if I brought my lunch, she’d pick it apart for any given reason. If I talked about a guy I was interested in, she’d do everything in her power to tear him down and divert my attention. And she NEVER liked it if I tried to bring another friend along to hang out – she’d tear that person apart verbally and refuse to participate in whatever we were doing.

She was SO negative! In fact, I struggled to find a time where she said anything positive. But when we’d first met, I had taken her negativity as sort of commiseration between two single moms – you know how it is.

Once I realized what was going on, I wondered if I should end the friendship. I mean, it wasn’t like I had a million friends at that point in my life, but should I really maintain a relationship with someone who was bringing me down so much?

After a few days, I realized that I wanted to still be her friend, and so I started trying to subtly turn our conversations toward the positive. I’d counter all of her negativity with phrases like “but on the plus side” and “now here’s the silver lining…”

But Brenda didn’t respond much to those things – except to occasionally roll her eyes and continue with her negativity.

Then, one day, I got moved to a new team within the department, and they all invited me to lunch. Brenda was annoyed when I invited her to go along. She refused and told me she’d rather eat lunch in her car than to put up with those people, and that we’d just resume our lunches the following day.

After spending my lunch break with this group, I felt a bit of an uplift in my spirits. And the next day, they invited me to join them again. Once again, I invited Brenda, and this time, she begrudgingly accepted. With all of these more positive people around, I felt better. Brenda’s negativity couldn’t quite infect me the way it usually did, and it was harder for her to dominate the conversation with so many of us at the table, But after a few days, she told me she was done with them. It was too much for her. And she gave me an ultimatum: her or the group.

Whether it was right or wrong, I chose the group. And while I told Brenda that it didn’t need to be this way, that we could all be friends – or at least that I could be friends with them and her as well, she disagreed and she gave me the silent treatment for the remainder of the time we worked together. I felt really bad about it, but I knew I’d made the right choice. Negativity is so difficult to deal with – and Brenda’s especially toxic version of it was infecting me like a disease. I knew that if I wanted to feel better, I had to move on.

Now, I can’t say for sure if Brenda was a narcissist or just a very broken woman. But either way, she had become toxic for me. So let me ask you – does any of this sound familiar to you?

Have you ever had an experience like that?

Have you had a toxic friend?

Before we dig into our discussion on narcissists and toxic people as friends, let’s talk about true friends. What is a true friend, in your opinion?

Everyone has a slightly different definition–but bottom line, a true friend is someone who is there for you when you need him or her, someone you trust, someone who makes you feel good.

Probably you have great conversations, share interests, and support one another in your every day lives. You help each other out. You have each other’s backs. You know.

But what happens when a friend turns out to be “not so good” for you – if the friendship becomes toxic? Worse, what if your friend is a toxic narcissist?

What is a toxic narcissist?

In case you’re new around here, let me quickly define the term “toxic narcissist.” Officially, this refers to a toxic, verbally abusive person who may have narcissistic personality disorder.

To avoid the whole “pop psychology” thing, let’s just put it this way. If we’re talking about a toxic narcissist, on the most basic level, we’re talking about someone who lacks empathy and who acts from that perspective. It’s someone who demonstrates toxic narcissism – as opposed to healthy narcissism, this is excessive self-focus that involves a marked lack of empathy for others.

So what does a toxic or narcissist friend look like?

In layman’s terms, that means someone who, after spending time with them, makes you feel bad about yourself instead of good. This person might have a tendency to be critical of you — sometimes subtly, and other times, not so subtly. They may also make you feel drained – emotionally, financially, and/or mentally. Ultimately, this is someone who you might recognize as not very good for you.

How do you truly identify a toxic friendship?

It can be difficult, especially if you have been close to a friend for a long time. If you suspect that a friend is (or has become) toxic, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do you feel after spending time with or speaking to this person? Do you feel good and positive (for the most part) or do you find yourself worrying, stressing or obsessing about some aspect of the visit or call?
  • Are you afraid to tell your friend about some aspect of your life for fear of how they’ll react or fear of being judged harshly?
  • Do you sometimes find yourself avoiding contact with the person or ignoring their calls?
  • Does your friend consistently “forget” about your plans or cancel at the last minute?
  • Does your friend actively insult or offend you on a consistent basis?
  • Do you find yourself feeling uncomfortable or bothered by your friend’s life choices, behavior or moral conduct?
  • Do you feel comfortable bringing up concerns about your friendship with this friend?
  • Does this friendship benefit you?
  • Do you trust this friend, really trust him or her?

These are just a few questions to get you started. In general, your friends should be an asset to your life, not a detriment.

How do you deal with a toxic friendship?

Does someone in your life seem to be more of a hindrance than a help in your life? If so, it may be time to reevaluate your choices. So, once we’ve figured out that a friend IS toxic, what can we do about it? How do we deal with a toxic friendship?

1. Recognize the Problem

When we start feeling bad about spending time with or talking to our friends, it’s time to take a look at the relationship. Identifying the friendship as a toxic one is the first step to dealing with the problem.

2. Own Up to It, People Pleaser

Friends of toxic types often have something in common. According to Charles Figley, a spokesman for the American Psychological Association, “It’s a pleaser personality — you want people to like you, you want to get along, and it’s hard to say no. But you can pay the price in one way by having toxic friends.”

The fact is that, whether you can see it or not, you’ve got some responsibility in this relationship too. Maybe you’ve allowed your friend to treat you negatively or to make you feel bad about yourself because you want them to like you, or because you don’t like confrontation.

3. Develop Strong Boundaries

Often, people pleasers aren’t good at setting boundaries. When your friendships become toxic, it’s time to stand up for yourself and let friends know what isn’t acceptable.

For example, I used to have a close friend in college who always did the “one-up” thing when I’d tell her about my problems or my accomplishments.

For example, when I told her about a promotion I had received at work, and she was like ‘oh yeah, I heard I might be getting a promotion at my job, too.’ Then she went on to tell me how much better her promotion would be than mine, and how much more money she’d be making than me. Another time, I told her about a problem I was having with a guy I was dating, and wouldn’t you know it? She launched into a big monologue about her problem with her boyfriend, which was, of course, far more serious and difficult than mine.

So, in that case, I could’ve set boundaries by explaining my concerns to my friend and asking her to avoid the “one-up-manship.” I never did, unfortunately. But hindsight is always 2020, right? Anyhoo…

4. Talk It Out

Talk to a trusted (non-toxic) friend or family member about your concerns if you can. Many times, it’s easier to figure out the problem when you’re “outside looking in”–that is, when you’re not the one with the problem, the solution to it can seem crystal clear.

If you can’t find an “objective” third party, it’s a good idea to seek outside counseling. By employing the skills of a trained coach or therapist, not only do you get the objectivity you need, but you may also get answers or learn coping techniques you wouldn’t on your own. If not, talk to a support group like my SPANily group on Facebook.

You could also journal or blog about the problem. Personally, I have worked through almost literally every problem in my life this way – including toxic friendships. Sometimes, just putting our thoughts into words and getting them out of our heads can be enough to help us figure out our issues.

5. If All Else Fails, Walk Away and Go No Contact

If you’ve tried setting boundaries and discussing the problem with your toxic friend and have not been able to resolve the issues, it may be time to consider limiting contact or ending the friendship. It’s not an easy choice and certainly shouldn’t be taken lightly, but when it comes down to it, your sanity and mental health are more important than any toxic friendship. Take care of yourself first, and then you can take care of others. People pleasers often forget this little piece of wisdom.

  • There are many ways you can do this: email, phone call – you can just stop talking to the person. But in an ideal world, you’d do it in person. Maybe you’d invite the person to coffee or lunch. Before meeting them think about why it is you don’t want them in your life anymore and figure out how to phrase it in non-judgmental ways.
  • Try using “I Statements” – meaning, make an assertive statement without putting your friend on the defensive.
  • Explain clearly (but kindly) how their behavior makes you feel. Say something like ‘Brenda, I feel upset when you ask me for advice and then tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about.’ Or “Brenda, I feel stressed out after having lunch with you each day because it feels like you rarely have anything positive to say.”
  • Be clear and assertive. Let your friend know that you do care about them; but that you don’t feel like you can be involved in a friendship with them any longer. Give the person a chance to respond, they may not even be aware of their behavior and the idea of losing a friend might give them a good reason to think about their own behavior. If the conversation turns towards the negative, you can just end it there and walk away.

Of course, this is always much easier said than done. But I promise you, when you have the weight of a toxic friend lifted off your shoulders, you’ll feel so much better and be able to heal that much faster.

Question of the Day

Have you ever had a toxic friend, and if so, how’d you deal with it? Share your thoughts, ideas and experiences in the comments section, below this video.

Signs of Codependency

Signs of Codependency

Are you wondering if you might have codependent tendencies? Are you constantly doing for others and have no time or energy for yourself? Are you the only one that makes sacrifices in your relationships? 

 One thing to remember is C-PTSD and narcissistic abuse syndrome can look like what people call codependency.

What is Codependency?

Codependency is enabling behavior of one person towards another person’s addiction, abusive/poor mental health, lack of accountability and immaturity. The traits of codependency show extreme reliance on other people for approval and sense of self-worth. Codependent people rely on others for emotional needs in excess as well. Usually the person with codependent tendencies spends so much of their life doing for others and trying to meet the needs of others they can not see that they are not meeting their own emotional needs for themselves. 

Some signs of codependency:

  • Low self-esteem. This seems to be the main trait that both creates codependent traits as well as solidifies the need for those traits within a relationship.  Having a lack of trust in yourself can also be a part of low self-esteem.
  • Poor or no boundaries. The invisible line between yourself and others. This can be physical, financial, emotional, spiritual or any other way in which you interact with others. Even taking the emotional responsibility for others as can happen in a relationship with a narcissist is lacking boundaries. 
  • People-pleasing as well as feeling used and under-appreciated. Likely if you are constantly people pleasing it is true that you are not being appreciated for all you are doing. This can look like ‘keeping the peace” or making sure no one is upset in a situation. It usually creates a feeling of fear of others not liking you or being displeased if you do not do the people-pleasing behaviors. 
  • Caretaking, feeling compelled to caretake others. This can look like anything from physically caretaking to time managing others’ lives or offering unasked for advice to situations often.
  • Dependency and the need for others to like you in order to feel okay about yourself. Feeling like you can’t function on your own and fearing abandonment and rejection because of that fear.
  • Denial. Denying the abuses of others or downplaying abuse can be one form of denial. Another codependent denial is the denial of any of the traits listed being an issue. Because the focus of codependent people is on the needs of others they can deny their own needs as well as deny the problem of not knowing their own needs, 
  • Difficulty saying no. This is a form of lack of boundaries but difficulty saying “no” deserves its own mention. With the difficulty, there is also a feeling of fear of rejection. Fearing the reaction of others if “no ” is said fills codependent people with anxiety. 
  • Fixating on mistakes (perfectionism). Feeling like if you make a mistake you are bad, wrong, unlovable. 
  • Trouble honestly communicating needs. Difficulty identifying feelings and needs and fear of rejection or devaluing if any needs are expressed. 
  • Feeling the need to be liked by everyone/fear of displeasing others
  • The constant need for being in a  relationship. It can feel very uncomfortable for people with codependent traits to be alone. Because of the lack of knowing their own needs and lack of self-care skills anxiety can become overwhelming when not in a relationship. This is one reason most people suggest waiting a year after narcissistic abuse, take the time to get to know your needs as well as how to meet and nurture them.
  • Intimacy issues. Feeling judged, rejected, abandoned, as well as difficulty knowing one’s own needs can leave it difficult for people with codependent traits to struggle with vulnerability and emotional intimacy. 
  • Fear of abandonment. The thought of being left creates extreme anxiety. 
  • Emotional reactivity, taking things personally. Because of the constant caregiving and need meeting through people-pleasing of others, codependent thinking can make you hyper-reactive to everyone else’s thoughts or feelings and how they are expressed. 
  • Need to control, expecting others to do what you suggest or say. Control feels safe. It is the main way a person with codependent traits feels like safety in a relationship.  Even things like people-pleasing and caregiving can be forms of control. 

Get personal support in your narcissistic abuse recovery.

 

Healing the Inner Child After Narcissistic Abuse

Healing the Inner Child After Narcissistic Abuse

I’m not enough.

I don’t fit in.

I can’t seem to be heard, no one listens.

No one really knows me or wants to.

Nothing I do is right.

No one will love me, I’m unlovable.  

Who taught you these were truths? Why can’t you think differently even if you know they are not true? Why do you believe these limiting statements? How can you move past these beliefs? I’m sure you can see how gaining perspective and changing these beliefs could improve your life. Let’s talk about a few ways to understand and begin making that change. 

Your inner child is crying out to be loved and heard

Many survivors of emotional abuse experienced things in childhood that set belief patterns for their adult life that sound similar to the ones above. Your inner child, a part of your personality that still reacts and feels like the child you were, may be calling out to be validated and loved and when you do this for yourself you can begin to heal. If you were taught you are unlovable by people who can not love, logically you can see it is their shortcoming but a part of you still holds the feelings of being unlovable as your own truth. If you were taught you can only get acceptance for being perfect, even though now you know that’s impossible for anyone to do, you may still feel the “flaws” you have as reasons you don’t deserve love. These feelings may be locked into a part of yourself that relates to your inner child. Getting what you needed and still need is now a journey of self-care

How to find your inner child

There are a lot of ways to seek and experience your inner child. Many tips are unrelated to narcissistic abuse survival so I’ll give you one example of what survivors have told me over and over which helped them find their inner child. Tracing back the beliefs you have about yourself to childhood “programming” by adults in your life and then seeing how the child you were must have experienced that. Being raised by toxic parents, in particular, can lead to many beliefs about yourself that are limiting and even toxic to your healing. The child you were experiencing those beliefs as a reality. 

Ways to heal your inner child

Once you are able to identify what your inner child is, what can you do to help? Most survivors of toxic upbringings have something in common, they never felt validated or heard. Your inner child may really need to be heard and held. We often explain away to old hurts and never really take the time to quietly listen to the needs we had as a child.

Questions to Ask Your Inner Child

Asking yourself questions can give you ideas for how to help yourself.

  • What does this child need?
  • What is this child feeling?
  • What would the child like to have happen right now?
  • What is a source of comfort and safety for this child?

Once an answer to any of these questions arises, simply start giving your inner child what they need. Visualize yourself as a child and listen to all that child needs to tell you. Spend some time asking and giving to yourself in this way then affirm to the child within that you are there, always have been and always will be. Offer a safe adult to turn to when things hurt or get scary. Be that for yourself with intention and love. 

Write to Your Inner Child

Writing a letter or journaling to your inner child is another technique suggested and used by many people. This can give you a safe way to not only express what you need to say but to also receive words of kindness and nurturing directly from the person that knows what you need best – you. In being there for yourself in this way include words and phrases that you would tell a child who is experiencing the things you experienced. 

Treat your inner child with THIS kind of love

Consider what you would tell your own child or a child you know personally. What would you tell your own son or daughter who was in the kind of pain you once experienced? Tell that to yourself. Every time you hear negative self talk use the words you would give to your own child towards yourself. 

Check in with your inner child

Check-ins with your inner child when situations in life cause you pain or grief may also help you to honor and nurture your inner child. You may also find benefit by checking in with your inner child when you have successes as well. Talking to, writing to, or just thinking about the child within during times in your life where you feel a lot of emotion can help by adding validation both to your current situation as well as your past. 

Get therapy or coaching to heal your inner child

Seeking the help of a therapist can be another approach to doing inner child work. Having the therapist there to guide and help you with the issues that come up for many people is invaluable to their healing. Coaching with a narcissistic abuse recovery coach can offer ways to begin to question the beliefs set up in your childhood and to shift perspective on those beliefs. Some people combine both to really begin a self-discovery journey while healing from abuse. Finding a trauma-focused and knowledgeable person to help is highly recommended.

Get more information on inner child healing in this playlist.

Get personal support in your narcissistic abuse recovery.

 

50 Red Flags That Should Make You Run the Other Direction: Narcissists and Toxic People

50 Red Flags That Should Make You Run the Other Direction: Narcissists and Toxic People

How can you avoid letting a narcissist (or other toxic person) get close to you? What are some things you can watch for when you meet someone new? And what if you’re already dealing with someone who makes you wonder? You start by learning the red flags and watching for them.

First: Trust Your Gut

Before we get to the list of some of the red flags to look for, one thing to learn about yourself is how to trust your gut. Your gut, your instinct, intuition, ability to discern will often guide you away from toxic situations if you learn to listen to it, even when what you may want is presenting itself to you. For example, the charm of a narcissist, in the beginning, may show you all the things you feel you want like attention, focus, even what feels like connection but under it all you may have a sense something is really not right. You may feel anxiety or drained around this person. When you are not with the person you may feel uneasy about them or like their energy is “stuck”  to you and it just feels wrong, depleting, or as some describe it “icky”. Learning to listen to your gut over being swept away by any person can help you not only to see the red flags but to listen to their warning and take action to stay away from the potentially toxic person. 

50 Red Flags That Mean You’re Dealing with a Narcissist

There are many lists of red flags to watch out for. This list includes a few less talked about things that may be useful to help keep you from toxic relationships. Red flags are only a part of the picture and many of them can exist without a person being entirely toxic in a relationship. It is the combination of many red flags as well as your gut feeling that can help you determine if a relationship is healthy and right for your life. What can be learned from watching for red flags might be areas in your life to learn to have less tolerance for so that you are not engaging in relationships that do not create a happy, healthy life.  After narcissistic abuse, learning to trust yourself and your own judgment of others is ultimately what keeps you safe, red flags are one piece of that awareness. 

  1. You just feel “off” or on edge around someone.
  2. Seduction and charm. A narcissist will often have an allure that also feels empty and without true vulnerability on their part.
  3. Idealization. The creation of a role you are to play being set up by the narcissist that idealizes you or themselves instead of seeing you as a whole and authentic person. 
  4. The feeling of this person is familiar as if you know how to “understand” it. If you are a survivor of narcissistic abuse and especially if you grew up with toxic parents there may be a familiarity you feel that gets you to overlook the uneasy feelings your gut may be trying to warn you of.
  5. Self-centered talk. The narcissist may listen to you in order to gain information but the conversation feels like it revolves around them. They may even make it seem like they are relating to you so they can mirror and groom you.
  6. You may feel anxious around them like you are seeking approval or walking on eggshells. Try setting a boundary not only to see how they respond, but to test how you feel as well. 
  7. Boundaries are pushed and disregarded.
  8. You may feel manipulated
  9. Arrogance 
  10. Love bombing and over the top attention is a big red flag. 
  11. What empathy you may see seems lacking or not genuine.
  12. The situation seems too good to be true. You are unable to see the flaws in a person or they are only allowing you to see their “good” side.
  13. They want to know everything about you.
  14. They are not long out of a relationship and/or no time between relationships. Someone that moves on very fast, if they are even really single, generally is not a safe choice for a potential partner. 
  15. Makes friends easily but has no real long term friends. The friends they do have are activity-based only and their personality changes around each different group of friends
  16. They show you off, you may feel like a trophy.
  17. Sexually forceful
  18. Job stability issues
  19. Makes excuses, everyone else is to blame.
  20. All of their exes are crazy.
  21. They claim to be the ones who have to hold everything together.
  22. Far fetched stories of glory.
  23. You can’t imagine the “bad” side or their shortcomings.
  24. May appear helpless or to  need you.
  25. Things feel out of balance such as you like them more than they do you.
  26. Overtly meeting all of your vulnerability “needs” rapidly and early on in a relationship.
  27. Future Faking
  28. They do  things to secure a position in your life. They may buy you things, fix things or otherwise set up a sort of dependency on them. 
  29. When the truth is revealed early on, the little warning words of truth are quickly glossed over or made to look like a joke.
  30. You find yourself doing more for them than seems or feels right to you.
  31. They make you feel uniquely special to the point of idealization.
  32. They set up situations or use words which make you feel insecure.
  33. Lies are explained away.
  34. Pet names when you first meet them.
  35.  You overlook a lot because you see their “potential” and feel like you could help them meet that potential.
  36. They want every second of your time.
  37. Constant texting.
  38. They make you feel bad about being with others.
  39. They take everything personally.
  40. They are jealous of your kids or family. 
  41. They lack accountability.
  42. They are judgemental and punitive.
  43. They treat others like possessions
  44. The relationship feels like a roller coaster.
  45.  They have sex addictions. Be cautious of fetishes and how they are with control.
  46. They ruin special occasions.
  47.  You are kept in limbo over events, time and other things that require commitment.
  48. You are isolated from friends and family.
  49. They need extreme amounts of praise.
  50. Your accomplishments and achievements are undermined.

This video playlist offers more red flags you can watch for in various situations.

Get personal support in your narcissistic abuse recovery.

Pin It on Pinterest