“Some people aren’t loyal to you, they are loyal to their need of you. Once their need changes, so does their loyalty.” ~Unknown
Ever have a “frenemy” – you know, the “friend slash enemy” combo, all neatly wrapped up into one friend, relative, co-worker or acquaintance? Not sure? Well, let me ask you another question.
Have you been just SHOCKED at the level of betrayal to which someone subjects you on a regular basis? Whether it’s a friend, a family member or even a co-worker, a “frenemy” is also often a narcissist, which is officially defined as “apersonwhoisoverlyself-involved,andoftenvainandselfish.”
Do you know and/or love a narcissist? If so, have you ever had one tell you that he or she “knows you better than you know yourself?” How about being told that your feelings and thoughts aren’t real or legitimate? And depending on the point in your life in which you met the narc and the intensity of his manipulation, you might even believe him.
The Two-Faced Narcissist
I know, everyone’s got a touch of narcissism – it helps us stay alive. Still, some have what might be considered “toxic” levels of narcissism – and one of the most telling signs is when someone from whom you expect (and deserve) loyalty goes the other way and betrays you.
For example, the boss who doesn’t back you up on a project – or the one who steals your idea and takes credit for it. Or the wife who just can’t seem to get it through her head that you are a person with feelings and emotions, too. Maybe it’s your child or your father who is “touched” by narcissism – it could be almost literally anyone you are in any type of ongoing relationship with.
Why do narcissists feel the need to create such difficulties for the people in their lives? It has a lot to do with their need to be in control of every person, situation and thing they come into contact with – at least on some level.
For a narcissist, this is just par for the course – it’s how they manage relationships and how they keep themselves artificially elevated within their own fragile egos- they start by messing with your head.
This might be due to your desire to keep your narcissist happy and avoid another raging episode, or it might just be because you’re so mentally exhausted from dealing with him that you literally can’t deal with anyone else’s issues.
Loyalty isn’t a two-way street when you’re in a relationship with a narcissist.
At some point, you begin to realize that the narcissist’s loyalty isn’t with you or with any one person, but rather with whomever or whatever is offering the attention and validation that he craves, needs, must have to survive.
KNOW THIS: You won’t ever be his first priority unless he needs or wants something from you, or unless someone is watching and he needs to prove how devoted he is. And it’s really not you – it’s him.
You will begin to notice that the narcissist isn’t really a whole person. There’s a very detailed and finely tuned shell there, alright, but the narcissist left alone will begin to wither like a plant without water.
He will grow bored and depressed because he has nothing of his own to hold on to – or if he does have his own “thing,” then he wants you to love that thing too. And if you don’t or won’t? You’re the one with the problem. And he will tell you exactly what’s wrong with you and everything that you are.
How to Deal with a Two-Faced Narcissist
Dear Narcissist: You can’t handle the truth!
Even though you and other people in his or her life can see through the narcissist, there are plenty of “flying monkeys” who can’t. And let’s not forget that the narc can’t ever believe that something isn’t right about him or her self.
So unless you want an exercise in futility, I don’t suggest that you try to enlighten him to the error of his ways. So what can you do?
Stand up and say what needs to be said. While it may cause a narcissistic rage or narcissistic injury situation, sometimes you just have to tell the narcissist the truth and hope they get it – for your own sake. In some cases, you can get through to them temporarily at least – but most often, you’ll find that any concessions the narc makes are just part of his latest manipulation tactic.
Today, we are going to dig into the emotions and specific kinds of behavior that happen inside of the last and most painful part of the cycle: devaluation and discarding.
What is Devaluation in Narcissistic Abuse?
Devaluation is what is happening when a narcissist tears you down emotionally, insults you (outright or covertly), and makes you doubt yourself and your self-worth. This is done as part of the cycle of abuse and when effective, it can cause you to believe you don’t have a chance of finding someone better, or that you’re not worthy of love or consideration.
The malignant narcissist will often use devaluation (as part of the “devalue” phase) to keep you from leaving by implanting negative and false beliefs and ideas about yourself in your head. Some narcissists (those on the “higher” end of the cluster B spectrum of personality disorders who may also be sociopathic or psychopathic) do this on purpose and with full intent and knowledge of their plan to manipulate you. Those on the “lower-end” of the cluster B spectrum often don’t even recognize they’re doing it since it’s part of the standard cycle of abuse. They’re just behaving in a way that feels natural to them. And sadly, devaluation can happen to a “thing” just as easily as a person when a narcissist is involved.
Devalue and Discard: The Painful Part of the Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse
You’ve been walking on eggshells for a while now, but it doesn’t seem to matter to the narcissist. They are no longer even polite to you, much less kind. You often find yourself wondering what happened to the amazing person you first met.
These days, you feel like you can’t do anything right. In fact, literally, nothing you say, do, think, or feel is acceptable to them. And as always, the narcissist makes sure you know it. Everything you do elicits the same kinds of responses: anger, irritation, “justified” rage. At some point, you will have learned the hard way that you need to keep your mouth shut, or that you need to react a certain way to minimize this narcissistic rage.
If you call out the narcissist on this behavior – or, God forbid, you somehow prove them wrong, watch out. That’s when they will go ballistic, pulling no punches, digging deep to find a way to hurt you.
During the devalue and discard phases, the narcissist will painfully insult you, picking at your most profound psychological wounds. They will do everything in the power to make sure you know that not only is it your fault but that you are in fact SO flawed and defective that you obviously DESERVE the treatment they’ve been dishing out.
(For the record, that is completely false.) But either way, the narcissist might even tell you, in no uncertain terms and right to your face, that you are so bad/lazy/fat/whore-like that you deserve the way they’re treating you.
They will make it clear that, as far as they’re concerned, you’re not important, and you’re certainly not worth their time. They will imply and even outright say that they don’t respect you. And in every single case, they will minimize anything that really matters to you.
Can your love help the narcissist change?
Meanwhile, you teeter on a precipice somewhere between emotional numbness, deep-down (actually) righteous anger, and hope. You have by now recognized that this phase might end, at least for a while. You know that there’s a cycle in an abusive relationship, and you know that there are bits and pieces of “good” that come with this person. The unfortunate thing is that you also know that there is far more of the painful stuff than the good stuff (at least sometimes). But maybe the good stuff is SO good that you decide to keep trying. Maybe you think that one day you will help them change – or that “when” something happens (“when” the mortgage is paid off, “when” the kids move out, “when” you finally figure out how to be perfect, etc.), THEN they’ll change.
Maybe you think that if you love them hard enough, they will just choose to change. I wish I could tell you that was true. But unfortunately, the truth is that this is probably not going to happen – because narcissists typically do not change. But either way, this ongoing pattern of intermittent reinforcement keeps you hoping – and it keeps you from moving on, which is exactly what the narcissist wants. You hope that this soul-crushing phase will end soon. But every time you get your hopes up for more than a minute, you’re quickly brought back to reality when he next spits his venom at you.
You Start to Go Numb…
Your mind stops thinking as clearly. You find yourself zoning out when they start winding up to another “episode” of abuse. You’re doing this because, in order to survive without going completely insane (which the narcissist seems to be pushing you toward with all of the gaslighting you’re dealing with), you’re learning to stop being as directly affected by this narcissistic abuse by finding a place to go, in your head at least. You literally zone out and just go numb when they start raging on you. You can’t stand to do anything else.
If the threats and fear tactics don’t work the way they hope, the narcissist may shift to behaving like a victim. That’s when he will stop being actively aggressive and switch to a more passive way to manipulate. This is the narcissistic injury tactic.
At this point, life is going to be very difficult for you. You’re likely on your way to being subjected to even more gaslighting and a bunch of other sneaky forms of manipulation.
This often leads to the silent treatment – one of a narcissist’s go-to tools. They will ignore you, withhold affection and call you crazy for desperately trying to fix whatever it is that they’re saying or implying is wrong – even if you have no idea what you’ve done this time.
In the end, the narcissist may leave you, temporarily or permanently. Or, the cycle may begin again – many narcissists go back to the courtship phase following the discard phase.
If you’re one of the “lucky” ones, the narcissist comes back, or they never actually leave. Even if they do leave you, they might not stop abusing you. In either case, once the devalue and discard phases end, you are left reeling. The first several times you experience this part of the cycle, you’ll come out feeling like you were the one who was wrong. Maybe you WERE expecting too much/overreacting/otherwise wrong. Maybe he DID have a point. Maybe you DO need to become a completely different person.
But over time, as the cycle repeats, again and again, you find yourself doubting everything. You begin to notice that nothing ever changes, you just continue the toxic cycle. The cycle is destroying you, one abuse episode at a time. You feel completely lost and you don’t understand why the narcissist has to hurt you.
When You Realize You’re Dealing With a Malignant Narcissist, You Can’t Unsee It.
Now that you know what you’re dealing with, you’ve got things to consider. And you’ve got a choice to make. Do you stick it out, or not? While a lot of people will instantly tell you that you’ve got to leave, there are things you need to consider first. Maybe leaving isn’t an immediate option for you, or maybe you’re just not ready to consider the idea yet.
When You Recognize You’re Dealing with Narcissistic Abuse
As you go forward, you need to take time to decide if you want to continue the relationship. If you are relatively sure the person you’re dealing with is a toxic, malignant narcissist, then you know they are unlikely to change. So, again, you have to decide for sure if this is something you can live with forever – because this abuse cycle is going to go on for as long as the narcissist remains capable of it.
But please understand this: you are not obligated to keep this person in your life! You have the right to have a life that doesn’t make you miserable. Truly, the most important thing to remember is that you’ve got every right to be happy. I don’t mean just “okay” or “not being hit” – I mean you have the right to feel SAFE and HAPPY in your home and in your day-to-day life. You deserve to have peace in your home, and you deserve to be able to feel entirely comfortable in the place you spend your time.
In other words, if the narcissist cannot allow you to do that, or if they otherwise negatively affect your ability to find your bliss, you need to decide if their happiness is more important than your own. And then comes the hard part. You’ve got to take action.
I have always felt a little annoyed when strangers call me things like “babe” or “hon.” It doesn’t much matter if the stranger is male or female, or whether they’re older or younger than me.
One day a few years ago, after once again being called “hon,” by a virtual stranger, I took note of my reaction–I instantly bristled at the word. Not so much that I had any sort of external reaction–just a brief, negative bit of energy that buzzed through me. It launched a bit of an existential crisis, but in a good way.
An Existential Crisis After Going No Contact With a Narcissist
I began to wonder, “Why Do I Feel This Way, Anyway?” It made no sense. I mean, it’s not like I sat around stressing about it. But later, during a rare quiet moment in the day, I thought about why I reacted that way.
I remembered that growing up, a female narcissist in my life had once told me that she felt insulted when almost anyone except her husband used terms of endearment such as “hon” or “babe” with her. She said it made her feel like they thought she was somehow less than them, or like they were being “fake” nice.
Accepting a Narcissist’s Opinion As Fact
Since I was probably ten years old when I heard this, I took it as a fact, rather than an opinion. It stuck with me, this woman’s perception, and I carried it with me through my own life. Subconsciously, I accepted and lived someone else’s perception rather than forming my own about this little tiny thing. In fact, this tiny little issue has clouded other areas of my life too.
I have often believed that people around me had ulterior motives or weren’t genuine, and suddenly when I took just a moment to question my long-held beliefs, I realized that they existed primarily because of perceptions that were taught to me by other people.
Do You Believe What You Think You Believe?
I don’t know about you, but I can think of a LOT of different perceptions that I’ve carried through my life without even realizing it.
And when we’ve been in relationships with narcissists, our perceptions are more likely to be twisted than not. So ask yourself: Do I really believe what I think I believe?
How do we decide what we believe?
As kids, we form our opinions of the world almost subliminally. We gather up the information that’s fed to us from our parents, our teachers, our friends–the television–and we decide what we believe about ourselves, the world around us, the people in it…life in general.
Have you ever really thought about it? Can you honestly say that you know why you believe what you think you believe? Or are you carrying around other people’s baggage without even realizing it?
Why do we need to let go of old, limiting perceptions to heal after narcissistic abuse?
As it turns out, I don’t mind if strangers use terms of endearment with me. It’s not that I love it, but I don’t think it’s anything to get upset about–that’s just some people’s way of being friendly, I think. It doesn’t mean that they think less of me. And if it does, do I really care? Not so much.
So, for probably 25 years, I have held this unnecessary bit of negativity just because I accepted someone else’s perception without question.
And that, for me, was a big shocker.
How Going No Contact with a Narcissist Opened My Eyes
After my childhood narcissist took the tiny betrayals too far and I was snapped into reality with an almost literal slap in the face, I finally had enough and cut off all contact with her.
While I went through the standard stages of grief during the initial separation period, I found myself growing as a person and my whole world sort of opened up – suddenly, everything I believed to be true (especially about myself) could be reconsidered.
And I realized that I was in control; that I could decide how it was going to go from here on out – and most of all, that I got to choose my own story – I was the one who got to define me. And guess what, pal?
YOU are the only one who gets to decide who YOU are. Do you feel me? ONLY you. Not some abusive narcissist. Okay, moving on.
Letting Go Of Limiting Beliefs Opens the Door to Unlimited Potential.
I think that every single one of us is carrying around some limiting beliefs that we’ve picked up from others along the way.
I say it’s time to shake things up. Imagine the freedom you could feel if you could eliminate all of the negative perceptions you’ve picked up over the years. Think about how positive your days could be–and as we all know, we bring about what we think about!
Bliss Mission: Change Your Negative and Limiting Self-Perceptions
My challenge to you today is to identify and challenge at least one belief or perception that you have always had, whether it’s about yourself or something or someone outside of yourself.
You can start small. Maybe you believe that your paperboy intentionally throws your paper in the mud puddle every time it rains.
Or you can start bigger. Maybe you believe that you don’t really deserve to be happy. In either case, ask yourself WHY you feel that way, and whether it’s logical. You might be surprised at what you discover.
Are you ready to challenge your negative perceptions and beliefs?
Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Resources
The QueenBeeing SPANily, Official – We consider this to be the best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web. Offers several subgroups and features a vigilant, compassionate admin team full of trained coaches and survivors, supporting more than 12k members. SPAN is an acronym created by Angie Atkinson that stands for Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.
Other Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups– We also have separate groups for each stage in your narcissistic abuse recovery, as well as some for those who have moved past recovery and are evolving into the next stage of their own life. Survivors have unique and individual needs, even when they’ve moved on – so we’re still here for you.
One-on-One Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching – If you prefer to get more personalized support in your recovery, you might like to schedule a session with one of our coaches to plan and execute your own narcissistic abuse recovery plan.
Find a Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist – If you’re looking for a therapist for narcissistic abuse recovery, either because you cannot afford coaching and want to use your health insurance or because you have additional issues you need to address that do not fall within the realm of coaching, you will want to find the right therapist for you – and as far as we’re concerned, that therapist must understand what you’ve been through. This page offers assistance to help you do exactly that.
If you feel angry more often than you’d like, you’re probably looking for a good way to manage it. As with most everything, your ability to manage your anger has to begin with understanding it. So let’s start with this one.
Anger doesn’t make you bad.
The first thing you need to know is that you’re not weird or horrible – anger is a normal human reaction to things like injustice, poor treatment of yourself and others, and a whole host of other issues and situations.
“The emotion of anger is neither good nor bad,” according to HelpGuide.org. “It’s perfectly healthy and normal to feel angry when you’ve been mistreated or wronged. The feeling isn’t the problem—it’s what you do with it that makes a difference. Anger becomes a problem when it harms you or others.”
Oftentimes, and especially when we’re in a difficult relationship with someone, we hold our tongues when we have anger. Sometimes we do this because we realize we aren’t being logical, but other times we do it because we are trying to avoid confrontation or upset in a relationship.
But when it comes to anger, it can almost literally eat you alive if you push it down for too long – eventually, you need a way to express it. If you don’t have a trusted friend or family member you can turn to, there are plenty of “safe” ways you can release your anger – such as joining a support group, finding a therapist or even journaling or blogging about your issues.
One thing to avoid: don’t post your drama publicly on your social media accounts. This will only lead to trouble and additional drama in your life.
Look outside your own head and gain a new perspective.
While expressing your anger is important, it’s equally important to do so in a healthy and productive way. If you scream at your child for an hour, does it really do anything to benefit the relationship?
If arguing with your spouse brings out your inner “mean girl,” causing you to say the most hurtful things you can think of, maybe you need to come up with a better way to cope with your anger. See, even when you “get over it,” your spouse won’t be able to forget the things you said. This is another way to damage your relationships.
Need-to-Know Anger Facts from HelpGuide.org.
Out-of-control anger hurts your physical health. Constantly operating at high levels of stress and tension is bad for your health. Chronic anger makes you more susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, a weakened immune system, insomnia, and high blood pressure.
Out-of-control anger hurts your mental health. Chronic anger consumes huge amounts of mental energy and clouds your thinking, making it harder to concentrate, see the bigger picture, and enjoy life. It can also lead to stress, depression, and other mental health problems.
Out-of-control anger hurts your career. Constructive criticism, creative differences, and heated debate can be healthy. But lashing out only alienates your colleagues, supervisors, or clients and erodes their respect. What’s more, a bad reputation can follow you wherever you go, making it harder and harder to get ahead.
Anger and irritability can be a serious challenge, but understanding its causes can help you find a solution that brings you relief. You’ve got to love yourself enough to want to feel better and to improve your relationships.
Some dynamics of anger
We become more angry when we are stressed and body resources are down.
We are rarely ever angry for the reasons we think.
We are often angry when we didn’t get what we needed as a child.
We often become angry when we see a trait in others we can’t stand in ourselves.
Underneath many current angers are old disappointments, traumas, and triggers.
Sometimes we get angry because we were hurt as a child.
We get angry when a current event brings up an old unresolved situation from the past.
We often feel strong emotion when a situation has a similar content, words or energy that we have felt before.
Source: Get Your Angries Out
Here are some of the most common causes of anger.
1. Low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar, can make adults and children irritable. Low blood sugar levels can be caused by diabetes, medications,or stress. In addition, forgetting to eat or not eating enough food can trigger the issue.
Tip: You can raise your blood sugar level back up by eating carbohydrates or taking medications.
2. Dehydration.Dehydration can change your mood quickly and make you frustrated.Not drinking enough water can affect your body and your mind. Even cases of mild dehydration can lead to mood swings and irritability.This issue can be solved by staying hydrated throughout the day.
3. Stress. Stress can make you feel angry, frustrated, and upset. Practice regular stress-relieving activities like yoga or meditation to help keep stress from building up inside you.
4. Anxiety disorders.Irritability can be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Talk to your doctor if you suspect this is the cause and seek treatment. Anxiety disorders have multiple symptoms, but feelings of frustration and anger are common.
6. Alzheimer’s disease.Patients who have Alzheimer’s disease often feel irritated and angry. Personality changes are a large component of the disorder, so patients frequently have mood swings. Irritability is a common issue that presents itself throughout the disease. It’s important to discuss your concerns about Alzheimer’s diseasewith a doctor.
7. Hormonal changes. As bodies age, hormones can shift and change. Both men and women can experience hormonal changes. However, this issue is more frequently seen in women. In women, menopause and premenopause can create mood swings and feelings of frustration.Premenstrual syndrome is another culprit that can cause irritability.
Tip: Don’t just accept your fate – find out what options are available to you for hormone management. You might be surprised when you consult with your doctor about various treatments for hormonal changes, which might include natural remedies, supplements, medications, and lifestyle changes.
8. Hyperthyroidism. Thyroid issues can create feelings of irritability among other symptoms. A thyroid that is not working properly can make you feel angry, frustrated, nervous, and anxious. Thyroid disease has a large impact on mood and can affect your mind.
9. Caffeine withdrawal.If you decide to stop drinking coffee or eliminate other sources of caffeine, then be prepared for the symptoms of withdrawal. One of the most common symptoms is irritability.
Tip: Caffeine addiction is real – trust me! To avoid feelings of irritation and frustration, you may want to gradually reduce your caffeine intake over time. Instead of going cold turkey, eliminate it slowly.
10. Depression. Although it’s not a symptom that is often associated with this disorder, irritability and unexpected anger can be a sign of depression. Other symptoms such as sadness and withdrawal are more common, but irritability shouldn’t be ignored.
Did you know?
Irritability is more frequently seen as a symptom of depression in teenagers and young children. They may have trouble expressing themselves, so frustration is high.
Researchers have documented cases in children and teenagers that reveal they may not have sadness as a symptom. Instead, they try to express their depression through anger and irritability. It’s important to discuss all of these symptoms with your doctor and seek help.
Knowledge is power, and you deserve to be powerful.
Anger and irritability are optional, I promise, and they certainly do not have to control your life.
You get to make the choices in your life. You can’t change others, but you can change your perspective. And that, my friend, means you can change you whole life.
Now that you’ve got a clearer understanding of anger, the causes of anger and how you can manage it, you can make the choices you want to make to improve your health and your life.
Next time you feel anger, I want you to ask yourself: is this anger justified? And if so, is it helping me to improve my life or anyone else’s?
My litmus test is simple – either it’s helping to improve the situation, or it’s not. Even if it’s justified, it’s not always productive – so why bring any additional negative energy to yourself?
Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today
If you’ve ever been involved with a narcissist, whether it was your husband or your mother or your co-worker, there’s one thing that they all have in common: the gaslighting attacks.
Gaslighting, of course, is the pervasive manipulation technique that toxic narcissists use to control the people around them and make them do as the narcissist wishes. It’s often about control, but it’s always about meeting some need or desire the narcissist has, not the well-being of anyone else.
What happens inside of a narcissistic gaslighting attack
The attacks start when you least expect them, and no matter how long you’re together, they’ll always surprise you just a little. They’re triggered by the smallest things.
You ask the wrong question, or you answer the phone with a brisk tone that he interprets as anger or annoyance toward him.
Maybe you just look at him the wrong way at the right time. Or maybe you prove him wrong. Or you see through his lies and have the nerve to call him out.
He tells you and everyone who will listen how he tries and tries and you’re just unreasonable. He says he’s the one being abused, even. He has no limits to the levels to which he will stoop to get what he wants.
And that is exactly why he then he uses your own words against you – the ones you expressed the last time you tried to defend yourself when he attacked you.
For example, if you told him that you feel like he doesn’t care about you because of the way he speaks to you during your last confrontation, he may use the same words to claim narcissistic injury during this one.
He repeats those words, almost verbatim, spitting them at you, projecting his own qualities on you – and making you wonder: is he right? Am I really the one at fault?
You are initially shocked to see how blatantly he twists the truth – and this shocked feeling may well continue each time these incidents occur, despite repeated similar incidents over the years.
And even when you’re an old hand at detecting the bullshit, you’ll still fall for it every now and then, if you’re not careful.
If you’re new to this kind of manipulation, or if you haven’t yet identified it as gaslighting, the fight will start to end here, because the narcissist will realize that the manipulation has worked and that you are falling hook, line and sinker for it.
But if you know what and who you’re dealing with, and you stand your ground, he may pull out all the stops.
He will dig through his mental inventory about this time, looking for the hot – button issues. You know, the ones that make you feel really raw and hurt on the inside? That sometimes cause you to lose the ability to stay focused on anything else?
Yep. Those – he will bring them out whenever it suits him, and he won’t be nice about it.
If you had a bad relationship with your mother, he’ll say you’re acting just like her. If you recently lost your job, he will point to your failure and compare it to this situation some how. And it’ll get worse if he’s aware of any kind of mental, physical or sexual abuse you’ve experienced in the past.
It doesn’t matter what the real issue is – he won’t ever address it.
Instead, he will find little things to focus on, picks on tiny little made up issues that make you the bad guy and him the innocent victim. Gaslighting begins and the fight never ends – until you end it. Here are some of my best tips for overcoming this kind of manipulation.