How do narcissists change your personality?
Narcissists Make Effective Communication Impossible
For example, try telling a narcissist exactly how you feel about how they belittle and invalidate you – and watch how they twist the conversation around.
In some extreme cases, you will end up apologizing for not thinking they’re perfect and for having the nerve even to suggest otherwise. I like to call that the “narcissistic flip,” but you might know it as “deflection.”
Either way, when we go through years of this, not to mention that narcissists often isolate their victims from others who might offer some support, we forget HOW to communicate – in a way.
We stop feeling like we can (or should) talk about OURSELVES, and we stop trying to make valuable contributions to conversations, partly because we’ve been conditioned to believe that we have nothing of value to say and nothing to offer.
Narcissists Condition You to Believe You Have Nothing of Value to Contribute
You know how I mentioned that I don’t really feel comfortable telling people about myself, and how during my toxic relationship, it was nearly impossible for me?
That was the case because the narcissists in my life, starting in childhood, had made it very clear to me that no one wanted to hear about me.
In other words, I had been conditioned to think nothing about me was interesting or worth hearing about.
This situation is very common for survivors of narcissistic abuse. We believe we’re not good enough and that no one wants to hear what we have to say anyway.
When we do speak up, we tend to keep it short and to the point when it relates to ourselves or our own opinions or beliefs – if we say anything at all.
Narcissistic Abuse Leads to Mental Health Issues
We might also develop other issues – various compulsive behaviors, an eating disorder, or a substance abuse problem – because sometimes, we try to ” self-medicate” to deal with our issues.
We could have flashbacks or panic attacks, and we will most definitely deal with a certain amount of self-doubt. Some of us experience suicidal thoughts – and in the worst cases, some people find themselves seeking or even carrying out the abuse they experienced as a child.
On the flip side, you may go so far in the other direction that you are a different kind of unhealthy – for example, an abused child who grows up to be a doormat parent (as in, allowing your kids to become spoiled and run the show).
It’s a fine line, isn’t it?
Narcissists Actively Trigger Your Trauma Response
The narcissist’s goal is to be in control, and they have no limits to which they will not stoop to get what they want.
And since most people who get involved with narcissists report that they’ve had some form of trauma in childhood, whether that’s related to abusive parents or some other kind of trauma, it’s your history of trauma in relationships that opens you up to being triggered when they start playing their typical mind games.
You might notice heightened reactions to various common relationship issues when you’re actively dealing with the abuse. That means you might be triggered over something small, such as an innocently used phrase that used to mean something awful.
For example, as one of my clients explained: her narcissistic mother would always say, “Who are you trying to impress?”
So when she was later in a relatively healthy relationship, her partner uttered this phrase, triggered her, and caused her to revert for a moment to that little girl who never felt good enough.
We may also withdraw and become unresponsive when triggered by our old issues, which affects our ability to communicate, and we almost always feel a serious aversion to conflict.
This can lead to an inability to talk through our issues, especially if we feel judged or like the person we’re communicating with is somehow not on our side.
Narcissists Foster Your Self-Doubt
Narcissists have a way of digging deep to find the most painful issues you have, and then they poke at them. This is only part of the reason that most of us end up living with lingering doubt about how people in our lives feel about us.
It’s also part of why many of us end up doubting people’s authenticity, especially when the narcissists in our lives include romantic partners in the past.
And thanks to the fact that many of us have never felt loved unconditionally, we often find ourselves having difficulty accepting any love at all – we are suspicious of people who try to offer it to us.
We often need repeated reassurance of the fact that someone cares about us.
This can push people away from us and isolate us further, making it even harder to talk about yourself with any confidence.
The narcissist leaves you feeling constantly scattered and confused. This sort of fog you’re living in means that you are easier to control and manipulate.
See, due to the stress and the sort of primal mode you are in during the depths of the abuse, you start to 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 and your thoughts and feelings.
Narcissists Use Your Fears Against You
The narcissist knows what you’re afraid of, and they use your fears to maintain full control.
They established that you can and will be moved by your fear of losing them or being alone. Not only is that the most common human fear, but narcissists actively exploit this in most of their romantic relationships.
This works especially well on people who also experienced childhood trauma, as we tend to hold on to anyone who claims to love us for dear life.
And, if you’re anything like I was, one of your biggest fears might be that you’ll be 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.
What if the narcissist is right about you?
Many of us also worry that some toxic person in our life was right about us and that we’re the complete piece of trash we’ve done our best to avoid being for our whole lives.
We wonder if we are doomed to being not good enough (or otherwise deficient) forever.
This leads to something that, if you don’t recognize it, could pretty much keep you stuck forever:
You get deeper and deeper into the trauma bond. You become fully enmeshed with the narcissist.
They control you through the active infliction of their perception.
They teach you (and make sure you don’t forget) that their needs are always more important than yours.
They make you feel like you’re not a real person and that your feelings, thoughts, and ideas aren’t relevant or worth expressing – not to mention worth actually hearing or implementing.
That prevents you from 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.
So, how do you find yourself again? How do you remember who you are?
Question of the Day
Can you relate to losing yourself and your voice during a toxic relationship with a narcissist? Did you forget how to talk about yourself, too? Share your thoughts, ideas, and experience in the comments section.
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