If you’ve ever been in a toxic relationship with a narcissist, you might already know how adept they can be at making you feel completely worthless. If that rings true for you, you’re definitely not alone. In fact, one of the most underrated ways a narcissist can devastate you is by making you feel inferior, or like you’re just not good enough.
How does this kind of long-term narcissistic abuse affect you?
The impact of this kind of ongoing psychological abuse is so significant that most victims of long-term narcissistic abuse find themselves struggling with symptoms of C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder). We become so damaged that we end up becoming codependent. This ongoing invalidation of a person’s self leads to a lack of self-esteem and self worth, and it can lead us to becoming ideal prey for other narcissists.
Does psychological abuse at the hands of a narcissist change you permanently?
You lose yourself, in so many ways, when you become enmeshed with a narcissist in any kind of relationship, and the closer the relationship, the more damage it can cause for you, psychologically, emotionally, and physically. The good news is that it does not have to be that way, as victims of narcissistic abuse can recover through intentional healing and learning how to avoid getting entangled with other toxic people in future relationships. Making yourself aware of the red flags to look for in new potential relationships can help as well.
Why do narcissists make you feel like you’re not enough?
Narcissists Lack Self-Esteem, And It Makes Them Feel Better To Put You Down
It is a known fact that many narcissists, despite appearing to be the opposite, have a major lack of self-esteem. This leads them to bolster their fragile egos with a façade of false confidence, and at the same time, they do anything they can to make you feel terrible about yourself. Covert narcissists are less likely to pretend to be confident, so they’ll act more self-hating, but they will also do anything possible to make you feel inferior. So, when a covert a narcissist begins to show their true colors; you immediately think how out of character it is for them since they initially showed you a vulnerable side.
Worse, narcissists will put you down in unimaginable ways – they dig deep to hurt you. They put you down regarding your appearance, intelligence, habits, and anything else that comes to their minds.
Narcissists Use Gaslighting to Make You Doubt Yourself
Narcissists need to find ways to bolster their fragile egos, and if their abuse towards you is making you doubt yourself, they are getting exactly what they want. Gaslighting is the ideal manipulation tactic for this outcome, and narcissists use it to push you further into submission. They find your weak points and exploit them. For instance, they will make you believe that you are losing your memory by telling you things that you did that you never did or vise versa. When they see you doubt yourself further because of their manipulation and gaslighting tactics, they feel good about themselves.
Narcissists Get a Thrill From Invalidating You
Narcissists are known to invalidate your feelings by saying things such as “you’re way too sensitive” when you react to their abusive behaviors, for example. They invalidate your feelings to make you doubt yourself so they can get you in control. When you believe you’re worthless or not enough, the narcissist figures you’re not going to go find out you can do better than them. The way they see it, their feelings are very important – but their marked lack of emotional and compassionate empathy means they literally do not care how you feel at all. This is a dangerous combination for anyone involved with a malignant narcissist.
Narcissists Feel Entitled
Narcissists live in a constant fear of missing out (FOMO!). This is often developed early in childhood, at the same time as the development of their trademark entitlement complex. Their sense of entitlement also means they feel compelled to do anything they want, and they will do it at your expense without concern for the impact it has on you, your feelings, or your life. They lie and cheat on you, too, because they feel entitled to do so. They feel that they need to have access to other sources of narcissistic supply as “backup” because they cannot stand the idea of ending up alone.
Remember that healthy, secure people will never tear you down to hurt you on purpose. This is a toxic, malignant behavior and it’s one you don’t deserve. Need help recovering from narcissistic abuse?
Is toxic narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder always caused by bad parenting? Is it possible that a person raised by healthy, loving parents in a good, decent home could become a narcissist? Could someone turn into a narcissist as an adult? I’ll answer all of your questions in this video.
If you are in any way related to or otherwise involved with a narcissist, you’ve probably asked yourself at one time or another how they got that way, right? What made them a narcissist? How did they GET LIKE THIS?
And, if you’re like me, you needed to know in order to heal. So, you did your research and you found out that in most cases, it is related to their parents – and sadly, most often, to their mothers or primary caregivers and their attachment styles. That’s why, when you think of any narcissist, the first thing that likely goes through your mind is how badly their parents messed them up.
Because of the fact that most narcissists seem to stop developing emotionally when they are toddlers or middle schoolers at best, and because most research points to the fact that their parents did not give them the love and attention they needed in order to evolve, which led to their emotional immaturity, it’s easy to blame their mothers or parents in general.
But if you’re the parent or sibling of someone who might be a narcissist, and you know for sure that these issues don’t apply to them, you might doubt this theory and find yourself digging for an alternative possibility. And what about those families that have more than one child, and only one turned out to be a toxic narcissist? Or what about people who had good families and didn’t suffer any trauma in childhood?
You want to know if it’s ALWAYS the fault of the parents, right? Well, let’s talk about it.
Are parents always at fault when someone develops narcissistic traits?
Published research studies tell us that the area of the brain that controls emotional empathy and compassion is thinner in those who have NPD than in those who don’t. So, neurology as well as genetic predisposition will have an effect on how a person’s personality turns out.
And then you have situations where their parents who really did their absolute best to raise their children right, but due to their jobs or other responsibilities, might inadvertently neglect their emotional needs, which leads to their child developing a narcissistic personality. They may be clothed and fed well and taken care of when they are sick, and they may have all of the material things in the world – but the parents may not have given them the love and attention they felt they needed.
In these cases, the parents were clearly not in any way abusive. It may have been due to the fact that they had other kids, or they had a sick parent to take care of, or they had a demanding job that was necessary to support the family.
Of course, there are also times when narcissists end up becoming that way because of parents who were, believe it or not, overly validating (such as praising a child when the child may not have deserved it) and overly permissive. These parents may have not provided enough limits or discipline for their kids. And while some kids will sort of naturally self-limit, others won’t, and in some cases, they may become narcissists themselves as a result.
Research on How People Who Weren’t Abused or Neglected by Parents Can Become Narcissists
A 2015 study points to the fact that some parents might have overly praised their kids when they might not deserve it, or have always focused on how much “better” their kids were than other kids. And in some cases, they might have simply given too much attention and indulgence and not enough discipline.
“Loving your child is healthy and good,” as one of the study authors, Brad Bushman, a psychology professor at Ohio State University points out, “but thinking your child is better than other children can lead to narcissism, and there is nothing healthy about narcissism.”
In these situations, kids will often develop an overblown sense of entitlement, which they carry into adulthood. In many cases, they were also not required to show any empathy, nor were they asked to check their egos at the door.
This can happen in a number of situations, for example, being overly permissive with and over-praising children are often reported with only children. Please note that this isn’t always the case and that in fact, it is relatively rare. In some cases, though definitely not all, it can be a bigger issue when parents have struggled to get pregnant or when they’re adopted after a long struggle with infertility, or when they are born prematurely or with other issues that caused their parents to fear for their lives .among others.
And of course, in both the case of the adopted child who is older than newborn at the time of adoption and in the case of the premature or otherwise sick child who spends weeks or months in the hospital after birth, their attachment styles can be affected. That’s because parents aren’t able to connect on the same level as they would normally, so they develop a less healthy attachment style, which goes back to the original theory of the attachment style predicting narcissism.
Sometimes, people become narcissistic that has nothing to do with the parents at all. For example, if a child was ruthlessly bullied at school, or if someone else in their lives caused trauma in any way for them. In these cases, while their parents could have been loving and caring, the trauma they experienced at the hands of bullies or other outsiders could certainly have also been a risk factor for them becoming narcissistic.
And then there are those who end up with something we call acquired situational narcissism.
What Is Acquired Situational Narcissism?
So, we know that it might be possible that someone who was raised in a relatively healthy home by decent parents, but who had other traumas and issues, to become a narcissist. But what other situations could lead to toxic narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder?
And if so, what other types of situations and factors can play into it? Let’s talk about it.
Research on Acquired Situational Narcissism
Research published back in 1996 points to a condition that is referred to as transient, temporary, or short-term narcissism. And even before 1996, psychologists often recognized something they called “reactive narcissistic regression,” which meant that when someone was dealing with a big life crisis, they might end up going through a sort of temporary narcissistic phase where they’d behave like a toxic narcissist until the crisis was over.
And, according to what I’ve found in this and other published research papers, these types of temporary narcissism can also be triggered by medical conditions and even injuries. For example, traumatic brain injury (TBI) has often been linked to narcissistic behaviors and antisocial traits in people who had not previously displayed them.
How to Identify Acquired Situational Narcissism
So what does acquired situational narcissism (ASN) look like in real life? Well, do you know someone who is normally quite humble, but who ended up getting a high-end job and makes a lot of money, or who suddenly ranks high socially, or who ends up gaining celebrity status out of the blue? In these situations, many people are able to keep their heads on straight, but others will seem to sort of lose their humility.
In fact, according to Robert B. Millman, a professor of psychiatry at Cornell Medical School, this is what acquired situational narcissism looks like. He points to known narcissists who are among the billionaires, people who become suddenly famous or who manage to rise to aspirational levels in their careers who develop narcissism in adulthood.
Millman adds that celebrities and other suddenly wealthy people will often have lives that are outside of what we’d consider typical. Plus, they might be surrounded by “yes men,” who will ensure that they are given filtered feedback, excessive admiration and are never told “no” for any reason. Plus, anytime someone is a celebrity or a CEO or otherwise wealthy, they might be sought after in ways that will cause them to feel more important or better than others. All of this is like narcissistic supply on steroids if you think about it.
And, let’s not forget celebrities and other public figures might feel a certain amount of pressure from the public – fans and haters alike – to present a certain image and to live a certain lifestyle.
An Example of Acquired Situational Narcissism
A good example of this is the guy you grew up with who was considered a nerd and who was often picked on, but who grew up and invented some big app, or he created a YouTube channel that somehow got a bazillion subscribers and brought him fame, or he became an actor or singer – or who otherwise found himself a celebrity. In any case, this formerly geeky guy managed to attain success to the point he began to be recognized in public, or he suddenly became a member of the social elite for whatever reason.
As soon as he found himself outgrowing that geeky, quiet image, he suddenly felt like a whole new person. Maybe he went a little overboard and started to focus too much on his self-image, and on his own needs and wants. This, along with the fact that his life is very different from the average person’s (as the lives of all public figures will be), might cause him to lose any sense of compassion and emotional empathy he once had. That might lead to him being unconcerned with the “little people” to the point that he would end up inadvertently or directly abusing the people closest to him without remorse. So, while his transition wouldn’t happen as a child, he still would essentially have developed his narcissism the same way that any other narcissist did – just not in childhood.
But why does this happen to some people and not others?
Well, according to Millman, while it is possible to develop narcissism in adulthood for these reasons, among others, acquired situational narcissism is most likely to happen when there were already some pre-existing factors that would have led to narcissism under the right circumstances. All of this means that, at least in some cases, narcissism can be developed by people who had good, healthy upbringings – and that it isn’t, in fact, always the fault of the parents.
Some times survivors are confused by the abuse they faced because some of the things experienced do not line up with other stories they hear about narcissistic behaviors. Maybe things seem a bit “less bad” compared to what you hear others say or perhaps you really can’t tell because the abuse is so well hidden and subtle. Are you finding it hard to know if you are really dealing with abuse because you can’t even explain what it is that feels so abusive? Do you never know what you are even arguing about yet are made to feel somehow it is all your fault? Do you find ways to justify what the narcissist did because the blame has been shifted or they cleverly play the victim? Has the narcissist in your life never used words that sound abusive but the intent and delivery of those words felt like clear attacks?
In the following video I talk about 20 signs of covert narcissism and give descriptions to help shine some light on covert and deceptive behaviors as well as give you a bit of validation that what you are or did experience is indeed what happened. Many people experience the abuse of a covert narcissist for years without understanding what it is they are facing. The hidden manipulations can be twisted up and so subtle that even to explain it can sound to some people like “no big deal”. If you have ever had the misfortune to be in a relationship of any kind with a covert narcissist you know it is indeed a very big deal that can really play games with your mind and self-worth.
Narcissistic Abuse Recovery by QueenBeeing.com offers free video coaching each week on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays along with videos and help on recovery from toxic relationships. Featuring certified life coach Lise Colucci and supported by QueenBeeing founder and certified life coach Angie Atkinson.
“I am determined to offer an apology with my death.” ~Hideki Tojo.
Have you ever noticed that people who survived narcissistic abuse tend to apologize often?
If you’ve been feeling guilty because you said or did something that made another person upset, then you might need to rethink your approach. It’s natural to feel bad when you make mistakes, especially when they affect others.
But apologizing for things you haven’t done isn’t going to help anyone.
A heartfelt apology can be healing, but even asking for forgiveness can be taken too far – and for survivors of narcissistic abuse, it can become a really bad habit. You may need to cut back if you apologize when you ask to see a menu or bump into a chair.
You’re sorry. It’s become a habit. You can tell because you’ve been apologizing even if they didn’t ask you to. Or, maybe you apologized even if you believed the other party was wrong – and they heaped on more guilt.
And if you’re like me, you struggle to find the perfect balance between “too much” and “not enough.” But no worries. You can stop apologizing so much.
Finding a balance can be tricky.
After all, taking responsibility for your actions and making amends shows you have solid character and strengthens your relationships. However, when saying you’re sorry becomes excessive, you could undermine your confidence and annoy your friends.
Learn where to draw the line so you can express remorse without feeling guilty for insignificant things or beyond your control.
Use these ideas to become more aware of your behavior and find alternatives to apologizing.
How to Stop Excessively Apologizing
Has saying you’re sorry become so automatic that you don’t even realize you’re doing it? You’ll need to recognize your patterns so that you can change them.
Try these ideas:
Take a deep breath before you blurt out an apology. Give yourself time to think about what you want to do instead of operating on autopilot.
Check your motives.
You might be trying to gain security or appear agreeable. You might even be pretending to be sorry, so you won’t have to listen to the other person’s point of view. In any case, check to see if you’re really remorseful.
Learn how to say NO!
Saying “no” is an essential part of life. Sometimes we have to turn down opportunities that aren’t right for us. This is especially true when you’re trying to recover from narcissistic abuse.
Hold on to your boundaries. Don’t let others pressure you to say yes because they think you should.
Change your habits.
Maybe there’s something about your lifestyle that you need to confront. Are you often contrite after shopping binges or losing your temper?
Keep a journal.
Writing about your day can help you to notice your triggers and explore your emotions. Jot down what’s happening and how you feel when you apologize needlessly.
Anxiety can make you prone to apologizing. Find relaxation practices that work for you, such as meditation or physical exercise.
Reach out for help.
If you’re not sure if you’re going overboard, ask your friends and family for feedback. They can also support you while you’re trying to change.
If you find yourself constantly apologizing, ask yourself why.
Watch this video if you find yourself feeling sorry for the narcissist.
What to Do Instead of Apologizing
Now that you’re ready to apologize for less, you can experiment with different approaches. You may even find yourself picking up new communication skills.
Try out some of these alternative strategies:
Saying thank you is often a more logical alternative to saying you’re sorry. Plus, it will probably make the other person feel better too. For example, thank a salesperson for suggesting an item that’s on sale instead of apologizing for not noticing it yourself.
Saying you’re sorry about the misfortunes of others can just be a form of expression. However, if it makes you feel guilty for things that are beyond your control, you may want to phrase it differently.
Ask a question without apologizing first. It’s reasonable for you to clarify the details of an assignment at work or check the directions to a party. You’ll get the answers in less time and may be treated with more respect.
Try unconditionally accepting yourself!
This may seem like a no-brainer, but I want you to think about this – are you inadvertently “rejecting yourself” and your reality?
Maybe you don’t even think about the lies that the narcissist and other toxic people have been trying to tell you about yourself, but there’s something you can’t quite put your finger on that makes you just feel lonely and rejected if you spend too much time alone.
Or, maybe you hate your thighs, your ears, or even how tall you are (or aren’t). But whatever the case, learn to unconditionally accept yourself ASAP, and you’re one step closer to recovery.
The good news is that if you can learn to laugh at your more unusual qualities or just feel comfortable with them, you’ll feel less need to make excuses for them.
And, as Henry Kissinger said, “Accept everything about yourself – I mean everything, You are you, and that is the beginning and the end – no apologies, no regrets.”
Assert your needs.
The biggest downside to excessive apologizing is that it may reinforce the idea that you’re unworthy of love and respect.
Save your apologies for the times when you’re sincerely remorseful and have done something that you need to make amends for. You’ll feel more confident about yourself, and your words will be more meaningful.
Whether apologizing for interrupting by saying “Sorry” or asking for something by saying “I’m sorry to ask, but…” we’ve all been there.
Our society encourages people to say sorry for practically anything. Apologizing is commonly accepted, but I think it can make us too sensitive. I always used to apologize, and you might be doing the same.
This can lead to the need to apologize again and again or even feel like you’re not allowed to ask for things because they’ll cause a negative impact. If that sounds like you, give the tips that I shared with you here another look, take the ones that resonate and incorporate them into your life.
Use these powerful tips on how to stop apologizing so much to take back your power and start being the light-filled, amazing person you truly are – I promise you will never regret it!
Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today
What is Narcissistic Abuse? Why Should You Care? With #WNAAD Founder Bree Bonchay – Talking World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day with Founder Bree Bonchay – As one of the featured speakers this year, I am so excited about WNAAD! Meet Bree Bonchay, the founder, and find out why this day matters so much.
World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day (WNAAD) occurs on June 1st every year. Established in 2016, WNAAD is a growing global movement dedicated to raising the profile of narcissistic abuse, providing public pathology education, resources for survivors, and effect policy change. WNAAD is an international event that is recognized worldwide.
According to Bree Bonchay, the founder, Many of the people who suffer from narcissistic abuse (a form of psychological and emotional abuse) aren’t even aware that what they are experiencing is a legitimate form of abuse, and when they become aware they are being abused, they have a difficult time describing it because it’s so hard to put the finger on.
We came up with the hashtag, #IfMyWoundsWereVisible, because unlike physical abuse where a single strike or blow, often leaves marks or bruises and qualifies an act of domestic violence, narcissistic abuse is invisible. Narcissistic abuse is the sum of many unseen injuries.