Narcissists are the worst kind of abusers because so often, even the very people they’re abusing aren’t aware of it – in fact, that’s the very nature of their favorite manipulation tactic, gaslighting.
So many people are in these situations and because they are being so heavily manipulated, they really believe that they are the ones with the “issues” – when in reality, they’ve just been horribly gaslighted by one of these people.
In general, when we talk about a narcissist, we’re talking about someone with a high opinion of him/herself. But when it comes to toxic relationships and narcissistic abuse situations, the term refers to a toxic, verbally (and sometimes physically) abusive person who may have narcissistic personality disorder. The malignant narcissist is officially defined as someone who has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) along with various antisocial features, paranoid traits, and ego-driven aggression. They may also exhibit an absence of conscience, a psychological need for power, and an inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement. However, very often people who should be or might be diagnosed won’t be labeled as such. This is due to the fact that they’re unlikely to see a psychologist unless they’re forced to legally, or in some cases, as an attempt to maintain control over or connection to someone in their lives who threatens to leave due to narcissistic abuse.
What Qualities Are Shared by All Malignant Narcissists?
Travel deep inside yourself without the baggage of conditioning. Be an explorer, have patience and eventually your true nature will surface. You will return from your journey with fresh skin and you will approach each day with a wonderful sense of wonder and bliss. ~~Marco R. Capristo
Whether we recognize it or not, most everyone’s habits and behavior are a result of some form of conditioning – and for those who have experienced the painful and all-encompassing abuse that a narcissist is known for, the conditioning hasn’t always been in our best interest.
It begins when we’re small children–our parents’ opinions of us begin to help us form our own perceptions of ourselves. If we’re cursed with narcissistic parents, our perceptions are skewed, twisted…often, plain wrong.
That’s because children are sponges – they absorb everything in their environment, including and especially the opinions of their parents and other prominent people in their lives.
If they tell us we’re beautiful, we believe that we are–but if they tell us we’re horrible and sick, we’ll believe that too.
And it doesn’t end there–add in the opinions of your teachers, siblings and friends…and later those of your spouse, your bosses and coworkers, neighbors and don’t forget that lady at the dry cleaner’s last week.
All of this “conditioning,” left unchecked, can sometimes add up to a very negative self image–especially if you don’t know that you don’t have to accept it.
And, we become what we perceive–we are what we believe we are.
Here’s the thing, friend. I’ve been saying this for years, and I don’t mean to nag. But please, take just a second and really focus on this next sentence.
You don’t have to accept someone else’s judgment, perception or opinion of you.
You get to write your own story.
You feel me? But seriously, go back and read it one more time if you need to – it’s that important. And, while you’re at it – tweet it out to your friends.
Fact is, you can be whomever and whatever you choose. All you have to do is believe that you can–really believe it. I mean, feel it down to your bones. And then, believe that you’re receiving it, that you’ve already received it. Own it–because it’s yours if you want it.
Bliss Mission: Choose Your Own Story
Today, I challenge you to take a look at the people around you–those you love, those you like and even those who present certain struggles. Remember your childhood, and the people you spent time with during that time.
Now, think of all the perceptions they had about you. Your parents? Your friends? Others?
Then, think about you. Have you adopted someone else’s opinion of who you are? Or have you constantly struggled against it? Do you feel guilty for being who you are, because you haven’t become what someone else wanted you to become?
Today, every time you have a negative thought about yourself, take notice and change your mind.
Cancel the thought, and intentionally replace it with an affirmation of your true desires. So, if you think to yourself, “I am always late,” notice it. Then, mentally cancel the thought and affirm, “I am always on time.”
Perception is everything, people. And you can change yours at will. 🙂 Good stuff, yes? I think so. I’ll leave you with a final thought to get your wheels turning as you begin to release any negative perceptions you’ve held about yourself.
“The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”~ Carlos Castaneda
Do not allow the simplicity of this tip make you doubt its power – this is one of those things that WORKS – changing your perception intentionally, and with a little practice, not only will you see results fast, but you’ll soon realize how much control you really DO have over your own life.
Are you ready to rewrite your story? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section, below! Let’s talk about this.
“Narcissism falls along the axis of what psychologists call personality disorders, one of a group that includes antisocial, dependent, histrionic, avoidant and borderline personalities. But by most measures, narcissism is one of the worst, if only because the narcissists themselves are so clueless.” ~Jeffrey Kluger
What is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is an ongoing form of manipulation that causes you to doubt what you see, hear and experience; in fact, to doubt your own perception of the world around you. Often used by toxic narcissists, it’s a type of brainwashing that can cause you to lose your entire sense of self. Repeatedly experiencing gaslighting will destroy your self-worth and cause you to question reality.
Where does the word Gaslighting come from?
The word gaslighting comes from Gaslight, a 1944 American film, adapted from Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 play Gas Light, where a husband tries to persuade his wife to believe that she’s insane by causing her to question herself and her reality.
What Does Gaslighting Look Like?
It can be hard to detect gaslighting from outside the relationship. It is insidious, oddly subtle and emotionally/psychologically debilitating to the victim. During gaslighting, the toxic person makes declarations and allegations which are typically based on deliberate untruths and intentional efforts.
“Those who engage in gaslighting create a reaction — whether it’s anger, frustration, sadness — in the person they are dealing with,” writes Yashar Ali in a Huffington Post article. “Then, when that person reacts, the gaslighter makes them feel uncomfortable and insecure by behaving as if their feelings aren’t rational or normal.”
While the signs you’re being gaslighted may seem “obvious” to some people, the fact is that when you’re being manipulated by a narcissist, you can’t always see the proverbial forest for the trees.
So if you find yourself feeling like you might be a little crazy (part of the whole gaslighting technique)—or even if you’re aware that it’s happening and want to recognize it as it happens—understanding the signs can be the first step to making your life a little better.
When you’re aware of the behaviors that cause your narcissist to engage in gaslighting, you can react differently and change the course of the outcome. So what are the signs you’re being gaslighted?
Top 10 Warning Signs You’re Being Gaslighted
1. Your Fears Are Used Against You
Many narcissists are very charming, at least when they want to be. Often, they will listen to every word you have to say and file away any vulnerabilities you reveal for later use. For example, if you told a narcissist you felt insecure about your weight, they might later make discreet pokes at it, or in a romantic relationship, make comments about others who are thinner than you are – in any case, they’re out to feel “better” than you, and to tear down your self-esteem so you don’t think you can do better than them.
Some narcissists will claim to know what you (or others) are thinking—and if you deny that your mind’s working the way they believe it is, they might just secretly think you’re lying. They might make a face or a gesture to indicate it—or in the most extreme cases of NPD, they might actually tell you that you’re lying—and even accuse you of lying to YOURSELF. Because of course, as narcissists, they can’t be wrong.
3. You Don’t Know What’s Normal
If you are regularly being told that things are normal when, deep down, you know for sure they are not, you’re likely the victim of gaslighting. For example, say your toxic boss asks you to blatantly lie to a client about the safety of an item. When you refuse, you might be told that ALL employees lie on behalf of their employers and that if you don’t want to be a team player, maybe you should find another position.
4. You’re “Diagnosed” With Major Issues
When a narcissist is lying or manipulating a friend, coworker, or loved one, and isn’t getting their way, they may turn up the intensity by questioning your sanity. You might be called paranoid, stressed out, too sensitive, or even hormonal. They might even tell you that you need therapy or meds to get through it. Again, it’s all about being in control.
You’re told that what you know to be true is not real. For example, if your narcissist mother tells you that your significant other is a loser and that you need to dump him, after a while, you could start to believe it and might even end up sabotaging the relationship because you begin to question your own judgment, thanks to regular conditioning during visits, phone calls and emails with her.
6. You Can’t Remember Anything Anymore
The narcissist is infamous for selective memory; that is, they will deny that he said something that upset you if you confront him on it, or they will promise to do something and later tell you that it never happened. They might also use creative language to downplay their own behavior and act as though your reaction is totally out of line.
7. You Lie to Keep the Peace
You aren’t a liar by nature and you don’t lie to other people in your life. But due to the extreme stress caused by upsetting or angering the narcissist, you might find yourself at least bending the truth a little in order to avoid the verbal/physical abuse that is sure to follow any discussion or situation that is against the narcissist’s “rules.”
8. You Stop Trying to Be Heard
As humans, we are programmed to share our experiences and thoughts with the people in our lives. But when you’re dealing with a narcissist and there are signs you’re being gaslighted, you eventually might just give up. You stop talking about yourself around the narcissist, and depending on the depth of your relationship with him or her; you might even stop talking about yourself altogether. Then one day, when someone asks you a question about yourself, you’re stumped. You might even forget HOW to talk about yourself.
9. You Start Thinking Maybe You Really Are the Crazy One
The intensity of a narcissist’s manipulation tactics can really get to a person. And when you are looking for a solution (AKA a way to just END the disagreement or argument), you might just convince yourself that the narcissist is right – that there are things you could be doing better. And maybe you start to think that maybe their behavior WAS a logical reaction to your mistakes. Maybe you are the one who owes them an apology. And when you apologize, they eventually (probably) accept your apology, only to later throw your “bad behavior” back in your face when it serves them to do so.
10. You Are Depressed
As a narcissist wears you down with repeated and consistent manipulation and controlling behaviors, you may become depressed and anxious. You will constantly question yourself and feel generally hopeless. If you’re in this situation, you might feel exhausted from the roller-coaster ride the narcissist has been taking you on – and you might even think you’re just a little oversensitive (thanks to the NPD manipulation tactics to which you’re being subjected.) You get confused and start to feel disoriented. And thanks to all those references to your paranoia and memory issues, you’re likely to seek help for depression rather than the actual problem – the gaslighting narcissist in your life who is subjecting you to narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship.
Even the so-called normal relationships in our lives can suffer from misunderstandings and miscommunications, but when someone starts using the manipulation tactics involved in gaslighting, chances are they might also be a narcissist – and if you’re going to maintain a sense of self, you’ve got to start making some changes in your life.
Gaslighting is common tactic used by most narcissists. It is a pervasive and highly-effetive tactic meant to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity. Try this gaslighting test to find out.
Are you dealing with gaslighting in relationships?
How do you know if you’re married to a narcissist? How can you tell if your spouse is a narcissist, or if they’re just unwittingly submitting to their own trauma? Can they heal, or is your marriage doomed to be toxic forever? Married or not, if you’ve ever been in a sexual or romantic relationship with a narcissist, you might already understand that they often seem to be more interested in sex and pleasure than actual emotional intimacy.
It isn’t quite that simple, though, because some narcissists – specifically those of a more covert and/or cerebral nature, actually tend to reject sexual experiences, and are less likely to cheat on a partner – but more likely to slide under the radar of even their own victims.
Narcissists, Intimacy and Sex in Marriage
In fact, narcissists and those diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) “are more likely to philander and dump their partners than people who view important parts of a relationship,” according to psychologist Ilan Shrira.
“Narcissists have a heightened sense of sexuality, but they tend to view sex very differently than other people do,” said Shrira, whose 2006 study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. “They see sexuality more in terms of power, influence and as something daring, in contrast to people with low narcissistic qualities who associated sex more with caring and love.”
That’s why some narcissists tend to bounce from one relationship to the next—and most often, the relationships don’t last long and they don’t involve much emotional intimacy.
Lack of Emotional Intimacy and Connection in Toxic Relationships
“Even when they’re in a relationship, they always seem to be on the lookout for other partners and searching for a better deal,” Shrira said after the study. “Whether that’s because of their heightened sexuality or because they think multiple partners enhance their self-image isn’t entirely clear.”