Codependent-Toxic: Portrait of a Narcissist’s Significant Other

Codependent-Toxic: Portrait of a Narcissist’s Significant Other

“Understanding how a narcissist works is the key to living or working with one. If you can understand his or her behavior, you may be able to accept it as you realize their behavior is NOT a result of anything you did or said despite them emphatically blaming you. If you can accept their behavior and not take the abuse and other actions personally, you can then emotionally distance yourself from the narcissist. If you can emotionally distance yourself, you can either cope with the narcissist or garner the strength to leave.” ~ Alexander Burgemeester, The Narcissistic Life

devastating emotional scars narcissism quoteThe beginning of a relationship with a narcissist can be very deceptive; in most cases, a narcissistic relationship begins just like any other—with the standard phases of initial attraction, infatuation and eventually falling in love.

What is a toxic narcissist?

The most commonly understood definition of a narcissist is a person who has a very inflated opinion of him/herself. In fact, most every conscious human has some level of narcissism, which at its most basic level is simple self-interest. But that’s different than the kind of narcissism we’re talking about when we are talking about toxic narcissists.

It is a toxic narcissist we find ourselves dealing with in narcissistic abuse situations. Also known as a malignant narcissist, this term refers to a toxic, verbally (and sometimes physically) abusive person who may or may not have been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.

What type of person does a narcissist go for?

What kind of person is ideal for a narcissist? There is no single “type” that a narcissist typically goes for, technically—there are no parallels to be drawn among the partners of narcissists as far as height, weight, eye color, race, or any other physical or cultural characteristic.

While there seems to be no “ideal” or “standard” mate/friend/spouse for a narcissist, there are certain similarities between the relationships. For example, the narcissist typically begins a new relationship with a “honeymoon” period, during which everything seems perfect, almost too good to be true.

Living in a relationship with a narcissist can be anything from exciting and exhilarating to soul-sucking and traumatic. And it usually is one or the other—depending on what day it happens to be. You might compare it to a type of emotional rollercoaster.

And a narcissist cannot exist without someone to adore, submit to his will, be available at his whim, and willing to disparage herself to his benefit. His whole identity really depends on it—it’s called narcissistic supply.

So what draws a person into this type of relationship and keeps her there?

Common Qualities Among the Partners of Narcissists

“The inherently dysfunctional ‘codependency dance’ requires two opposite but distinctly balanced partners: the pleaser/fixer (codependent) and the taker/controller (narcissist/addict,” writes Ross Rosenberg. “Codependents — who are giving, sacrificing, and consumed with the needs and desires of others — do not know how to emotionally disconnect or avoid romantic relationships with individuals who are narcissistic — individuals who are selfish, self-centered, controlling, and harmful to them. Codependents habitually find themselves on a “dance floor” attracted to partners who are a perfect counter-match to their uniquely passive, submissive and acquiescent dance style.”

While physically, culturally, and otherwise, the victims of narcissism aren’t the same, there are certain qualities that typically unite them. I’m going to use the “she” pronoun here, but note that there is no single sex that is a typical victim (although, to be fair, men reportedly make up the majority of narcissists).

First, she must be insecure or at least have a distorted sense of reality, if you expect her to stick around. Otherwise, she’ll be out on the first or second exhibit of narcissism, early on in the relationship.

She will likely often belittle and demean herself while glorifying the narcissist and putting him on an untouchable pedestal.

As a result, the partner becomes the victim, which works fine for her—she has a tendency to punish herself. Maybe she even feels like she “deserves” this life of torment.

She’s his eternal scapegoat, always put-upon and putting her own needs last.

“It is through self-denial that the partner survives,” says Sam Vaknin, a self-proclaimed narcissist. “She denies her wishes, hopes, dreams, aspirations, sexual, psychological, and material needs, choices, preferences, values, and much else besides. She perceives her needs as threatening because they might engender the wrath of the narcissist’s God-like supreme figure.”

Victims of narcissism often call themselves “people-pleasers” or “diplomats,” but the truth is, they are often so downtrodden in relationships that they just become changed, reactive versions of their former selves.

“When you are the partner of a narcissist, you are there to project the image he wants for you—that he wants his partner to project,” writes Diane England, Ph.D. “Of course, your house and lifestyle probably fall into this category, too. They are all about making statements to others he wishes to impress, not about providing you with the type of environment you might find comfortable or restful–an environment that feeds your soul.”

Can a narcissist also be codependent?

Contrary to popular belief, narcissists are not necessarily the opposite of codependents. In fact, while they appear to be completely different than their victims – polar opposites almost – they actually have often experienced very similar traumas to the very people they victimize. Often the victims of childhood abuse and/or neglect, the majority of narcissists could really identify with their victims and their own issues – if only they had the empathy to do so.

For example, both narcissists and their victims experience certain symptoms of codependency, such as the overwhelming feelings of shame, living in denial of their childhood abuse and neglect (or of their own current issues), control issues, dependency on others for their self-worth, issues with setting and overstepping boundaries and communication problems. Ultimately, while it seems counterintuitive, narcissists are definitely codependent – they just manifest it differently than their victims. The difference is that narcissists seem to turn inward, while victims seem to turn outward, with the love that they’d normally have given their parents and other family members, had they been allowed.

Do you know someone who is in a relationship with a narcissist? Perhaps you recognize yourself or someone you love in this post.

Get help with narcissistic abuse recovery, right now.

More Helpful Resources for Overcoming a Narcissist’s Emotional and Psychological Manipulation

 

Mother’s Day Blues? Read this.

Mother’s Day Blues? Read this.

images-15When I woke up this morning, I was feeling a little bit sorry for myself. After all, it’s Mother’s Day, and while I am very blessed to have three beautiful children, this year, it felt a little bittersweet.

See, my oldest son (going on 17 in July) has made a poor choice in his young life; one that caused our family to have to change drastically. And thanks to choices others have made, our lives won’t ever be the same.

But as a family, we are working through it and we are confident that he will be just fine when he’s through with his treatment. He even wrote me a beautiful Mother’s Day poem that brought tears to my eyes (I shared that today on our Facebook page, if you’d like to read it–of course I’d highly recommend it!)

And my beloved mother-in-law passed away in December. Today, I’m really feeling her.

And maybe it was her influence that caused me to wake up and change my attitude.

But though I allowed myself a moment to wallow (and another  second when I saw someone post a Facebook status about unconditional love), I quickly got over it.

In fact, when I heard my husband and son making coffee as they prepared to surprise me with breakfast in bed, I almost felt guilty for feeling anything other than joy.

10151770694475411The fact is that I have three beautiful, healthy kids and a husband who loves me to the moon and back. And we are about to move into our dream home and begin the next amazing leg on this journey of life. How can I be anything less than grateful?

(The photo here was taken a few years ago after my daughter’s first dance recital.)

 

My point is this: no matter where you are today and how you’re feeling, try taking a moment to focus not on what’s bothering you or what makes you sad about your life, but on what makes you feel happy, thrilled, grateful, loved, fulfilled.

All those things that make you smile even when no one’s looking–those are the things that you need to stay focused on today. Because the truth is that you bring about what you think about–so focus on what you want and not what you don’t.

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who has ever had the privilege to be called Mommy. And to everyone who is or was a Mom even when she didn’t have to be.

Bliss Mission: Stop Feeling Rejected

Bliss Mission: Stop Feeling Rejected

Fear terror eye

We all have times when we don’t feel particularly comfortable with ourselves. Sometimes, you might wonder whether others actually like you.

It doesn’t make you a weirdo or a loser–we’ve all been there. It’s a normal part of being human. But good news–you can rid yourself of these worries, and it’s probably a lot easier than you think.

So what does fear of rejection look like, anyway?

You might feel scared about meeting new people or getting together with old friends. You think that people might reject you for one of a number of reasons. Maybe you think you’re having a bad hair day or those extra pounds you’ve put on have dampened your self-confidence. All these things can be part of fear of rejection.

Tips to Stop Feeling Rejected by Others

Figure out what really scares you.

Do you fear the opposite sex will be turned off by your looks or the clothes you wear?

Maybe you think that others believe you have a big nose or that you have nothing interesting to say. Are you afraid that you’ll say something silly and embarrass yourself?

The point is that you must know exactly what it is that you fear before you try to tackle it.

Dispute your fear with facts.

Let’s say your fear is that you aren’t as smart as others. When was the last time you were graded on something?

Chances are probably pretty good that you didn’t fail every time.

Acknowledge that there are times when you performed well. Write them down. Stick with reality when it comes to disputing your fears.

Stop worrying so much about what other people think.

If someone doesn’t accept you, that’s their choice. Really, it’s okay if someone doesn’t think you’re smart. You know the truth.

No one gets 100% acceptance 100% of the time. Admit that you can function just fine, live well, and excel, even if someone rejects you.
Even if 5 people reject you today, your life is still going to go on however you’ve planned from this point.

Before going to a party, acknowledge you might encounter someone whom you believe doesn’t like you. You’ll also meet some people who do like you. Also, recognize that you probably won’t know for sure one way or the other whether someone you just met likes you or not.

Exude the qualities you love in others

What makes you attracted to other people? Maybe you like people who show humor or smile a lot. Perhaps you gravitate toward those who are helpful to the host of the party.

Why not try displaying some of those pleasant characteristics that draw you to others? If you demonstrate the qualities that attract you to others, others will most likely be drawn to you as well.

Feel the fear and do it anyway. The best way to get rid of a fear is to repeat the behavior that brings on the fear until you become comfortable and are no longer paralyzed by that fear.

Follow through with attending parties, making the acquaintance of people, and facing your concerns. This is the single best way to learn that your fear is just a human emotion that you can overcome.

It’s time to stop feeling rejected. Banishing your fears of rejection is within your reach. Use what you know about what makes you like other people and let go of how others respond to you. Since fears are just emotions, you can face your worries and apprehensions. Doing so will bring you lasting confidence and satisfaction. Give it a shot!

What do you think? Can you get over the fear of rejection? Share your thoughts in the comments section, below!

Bliss Mission: Stop Feeling Rejected

Love Your Job: It’s Good for You

Have you ever found yourself unfocused, distracted…essentially spinning your wheels at work?

Even if you are passionate about your chosen career path, are there days during which you accomplish next to nothing?

You know the kind I mean–you start the day with high expectations and a solid plan to accomplish your goals, but come day’s end, you’ve got very little to show for your efforts. And worse, you feel like you’ve been working hard all day.

Many of us experience these days (or weeks.) Here’s the thing: even if you absolutely love what you do for a living, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed or stressed at work.

And, especially if you’re passionate about your work, you may not even realize it’s happening until you’re deep in the throes of the apathy and “brain fog” that comes along with workplace stress.

Left unchecked, workplace stress can have significant effects on your health, both mental and physical. And, when you don’t feel good, your perception on life can become corroded with that negative energy–effectively drawing more negativity into your life.

Is workplace stress a problem for you? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you consistently anxious, irritable or depressed?
  • Have you experienced a loss of interest in your work?
  • Are you having problems with sleeping? Fatigue?
  • Do you have trouble concentrating?
  • Do you have physical symptoms like muscle tension, headaches or stomach problems?
  • Do you find yourself withdrawing socially from friends and family?
  • Have you experienced a lower sex drive than usual?
  • Are you using alcohol or drugs to cope?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to make some proactive changes to promote positivity in your workplace and in your life. Doing so can reduce stress levels and ultimately eliminate many of these issues.

So what can you do?

Take Care of Your Body

An imbalanced diet can significantly contribute to “burn out.” And, ironically, in an effort to make their lives easier, busy people tend to make the unhealthiest choices. Many “convenience” foods are laden with fat, sodium and sugar, the effects of which will only make you feel more stressed. Eat healthy, whole foods as often as possible. Reduce or eliminate intake of alcohol and nicotine. Get at least a half hour of exercise, most days of the week, and get enough sleep. It won’t kill you to pull an all-nighter on occasion, but in general, keep to a regular sleep schedule.

Take Care of Your Soul

When you love your work, it’s easy to over-commit and over-schedule yourself. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed, and eventually to apathy and loss of interest. Be sure to schedule down-time, especially if you’re a perfectionist who can’t stop until the job’s done. Sometimes, you just have to step back and regenerate. Otherwise, you may end up getting nothing done.

Put yourself back on your priority list. Try one of these simple meditation techniques from Mind Tools to help you start gaining the focus you need.

Clean Your House

Sometimes, taking a couple of hours to do a little deep cleaning at your house can help you to release your stress. If you’ve got an office or cubicle at work, clean that too (or have it cleaned.) Many people believe that the condition of your home represents the condition of your mind. So, if it’s dusty and cluttered, you might be feeling a little blocked yourself. Do yourself a favor and spend a little time cleaning up around the house, and you may just find that your focus snaps back into place. You’d be surprised at how therapeutic a little cleaning can be.

Priorities and Planning

Sometimes, feeling overwhelmed is just the result of not having a plan. Especially when we love our work, many of us take on too many projects and before we know it–we’re spinning our wheels, getting nothing done. The best way to create a daily plan is to have a basic daily routine, but one that’s flexible enough to allow you to focus on the most pressing issues of the day.

So, for example, let’s say you’re a customer service rep who lives in a cubicle 40 hours a week. You arrive at work to find three voice mails–one from an angry client, one from someone who needs information (a potential client) and one from your boss inviting you to lunch to discuss what you suspect is a promotion. And, on top of that, you’ve got two co-workers waiting to ask you questions about their own customers.

Stressed yet? 

When you develop a basic schedule, you can prioritize these types of things in advance–so, in the case of our customer service rep, she might have a morning routine like this:

1. Deal with any co-workers waiting for me.
2. Return phone calls in order of urgency.
3. Check email.
4. Start taking calls from customers.

The point is that whatever your job, simply putting an outline of your day together can help you to reduce your stress levels at work by helping you to prioritize your tasks. Of course, there will be times when an urgent situation throws all of it out the window–and this is where you need to allow for flexibility.

Change Your Mind

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–it’s all in your head. Life is what you make it. So, if you’re feeling stressed at work, change your mind–change your perception of the situation. Instead of feeling angry and frustrated that you have to deal with so much, feel grateful that you have a job (and that you love what you do–if that’s the case.) It’s easy to forget why we chose our career paths when we feel overwhelmed by our day-to-day lives.

Don’t hate your job. Love it, even if it’s not ideal. Be grateful for it, and do it to the best of your ability. If the job you’re currently in isn’t right for you, start imagining yourself in one that is. Feel what it feels like, and then focus on having it. Always focus on the positives and the things for which you are grateful–and you’ll attract more of it into your life. Spend time hating your job and wishing away your time–and you can be sure to expect more things to hate in your life. Remember that like attracts like–so feel positive and happy and more good things and situations will be attracted into your life.

What do you think? Have you experienced workplace stress? How did you handle it?

Bliss Mission: Stop Feeling Rejected

Bliss Mission: Refocus with Walking Meditation

By Sasha K

walking meditation-smallWalking meditation is something that’s quite new to me. I’ve tried to meditate many times, but my mind always wanders or I fall asleep.

I didn’t realize meditating was possible while walking until now.

So you ask, what is walking meditation?

Walking meditation is about being mindful of your movements and the world around you.  By being mindful you’re aware of what’s going on around you.

I walk around my neighborhood almost daily.  It allows me to refocus my thoughts on something besides life with lupus and fibromyalgia.

Walking meditation is a creative way to redirect my brain. Since I’m an over analyzer it works for me. It allows my mind to escape from life’s anxieties too.

Walking meditation isn’t learned overnight. In the beginning, practice one mindful exercise at a time.

For a few days, focus on lifting one foot at a time and touching the ground as you walk slowly. Being mindful means you feeling every step.

As you walk focus on feeling the ground below you. Is it rough? Smooth? Have hills and valleys? Muddy? Sandy? Wet?  How does the grass feel on your feet?

After mastering your steps, you should focus on another part of your body. Focus on swinging your arms while you walk. How do the movements make you feel?

Work on controlling the speed of your arms. As you continue your walking meditation, add more mindful actions

Some Mindful Actions:

  • Focus on your hip movement
  • Be mindful of your breathing
  • Watching clouds build before a storm
  • The heat or wind hitting your face or back

During my walks, I’ve noticed a lot more things doing walking meditation then I have in the several years I’ve lived here. I didn’t know we had several cherry trees, the earth smell near the woods, the silly things people do, and more, I look forward to walking every day.

Everyone’s meditation is different, but what’s most important is being able to let go. Being mindful of the world around you allows you to relax more and feel whole.

How do you meditate? Tell us in the comments!

 

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