Defeating Narcissists, Emotional Independence, Self-Care

6 Things That Happen When You Love a Toxic Person

A toxic person will maneuver themselves quickly to earn your trust and obtain your personal power. This is why you allow the abuse, compromise yourself, and forsake yourself – because to them that’s what love is.

 

Finding a partner in life can be a pretty daunting process.  With so many options out there the possibilities seem endless.  This is what makes dating so stinkin’ stressful.  And to boot, we all think we have a “type” and we look endlessly for it.  Undoubtedly, this can lead to choosing the wrong people to get involved with!

Whether you believe that you have the power to determine who you are attracted to or not you ultimately have the final say in who you date. The problem is not necessarily our “picker” but having the ability to spot toxic people. They don’t have signs or tags that label them as toxic. They walk among us in our neighborhood, at the grocery store, at work, and even within our own families. They are everywhere in our daily lives. So, by the time we spot one we are usually knee-deep in a seriously unhealthy relationship with them.

It is not as though we want to be involved with toxic people but it does happen. They may not come with signs but the impact they have on you does have raging red flags.

6 Ways a Relationship With a Toxic Pereson Can Impact You

1. You Forsake yourself

Toxic individuals are selfish and insecure so rather than taking accountability for who they are they will put the burden of their happiness on. They don’t see happiness as a choice they make for themselves with but the result of your actions.  For this reason, all of your attention is to be focused only on them. Any attention you give yourself or any recognition that you earn they are quick to accuse you of being selfish or (da da da daaaaa) a narcissistic. The expected irony? They’re not responsible for your happiness. This form of manipulation builds guilt within you. You quickly forget how to take care of yourself or feel guilty for doing so and that’s just how they like it.

 

2. You Compromise Yourself

The toxic person in your life will push you and bully you to get you to do things you don’t want to do. They will use persuasive traits to “help” you see things their way. They may even try to push you to do things that you really don’t want to do but by pulling the “if-me-love-me-you-would-do-this-for-me” card. But, again, that doesn’t work both ways as they don’t have to compromise themselves to show you love.  They continue to be who they are while they mold you into the vision they have for you.

3. You Become Alienated From Friends and Family

Toxic people know in order to control you they must eliminate their competition, which is your support system. In order for the toxic person to be effective, they need to be the one and only  influence in your life. Using their manipulation and charm, they’ll be able to create doubt in your mind specifically when it comes to your friends and family. They, cleverly and cunningly, will drive wedges in the healthy relationships of your life convincing you that only they have your best interests at heart.  Its a form of gaslighting where they force their truth onto you making you question yourself and everyone around you.   

4. You Become Conditioned to be Abused

Toxic people are mentally and emotionally (and often physically) abusive. They use their impressive power to manipulate you and get you to come back for more. The abuse is so stealth-like you really don’t recognize it as it happens. The abuse, also, doesn’t happen right away.  You get sucked in by compliments, sweet nothings whispered in your ear, fancy dates, or the thoughtful “little things”.  Before you know it, you’ve been taken as an emotional hostage while they re-condition you quickly and re-program you efficiently. Soon enough, you’re a willing participant and enabling their behavior.

5. You Relinquish Your Power

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” She was referencing the personal power that we all have. The worst thing about personal power is that we are we slow to embrace it but very quick to give it away – and usually to the wrong person. A toxic person will maneuver themselves quickly to earn your trust and obtain your personal power. This is why you allow the abuse, compromise yourself and forsake you – because to them that’s what love is.

6. Eventually, You’ll Become Toxic Too

It might be an unintentional coping mechanism or an unrealized defense but you’re likely to become toxic the more time you spend with a toxic person. This is the ultimate empowerment for the toxic one because now they have what they need to hold you accountable for anything that goes wrong. That fight that you use to react to them is what they use to continue to control you. The more fight, or toxic, you become, the more of the superior victim they get to play. 

Realizing that you’ve become toxic doesn’t mean you have become them.  Its a coping mechanism, a mode of defense necessary for personal preserverance.  As long as you are in the relationship you will likely continue to become more toxic. Once free of the toxicity, you can work to re-program yourself by re-building healthy relationships in your life starting with you.

No matter your mental strength or weakness breaking away from the toxic person takes desire, forgiveness and time. It may be uncomfortable and unfamiliar to take care of you once you pull away from the toxic person but it is worth it.

You can do it.

(This article was originally published on divorcedmoms.com.  The author, Tara Parker, has edited and updated the article for relatability purposes.)

Defeating Narcissists, Emotional Independence, Self-Care

6 Things A Narcissist Will NEVER Do

There are certain things that we are willing to tolerate from certain people. You know, those quirks or goofy mannerisms that develop over time with a personality. Some of those things are really rather cute and then there are some things that we could just do without. Sometimes, those personality quirks or mannerisms can be changed and shifted into something that is tolerable.

Then there are certain things that are just intolerable yet are difficult to identify when dealing with a difficult person – like a narcissist.

The term “narcissist” seems to have found its way into daily conversation on social media. It’s everywhere. The term has become so easy to say that even those who are not narcissists are being labeled as one. While there are definite jerks, mindless screwballs, and idiots out there not every thoughtless moron is a narcissist.  Actually, there are certain, very specific things a real narcissist will NOT do that reveals them everytime!

A few things a narcissist will NOT do:

1. Don’t choose to be happy: The happiness of a narcissist is based on you, your actions, and your words. It is your mission to make them the one and only in your life. There is no other way and there is no compromise. When you don’t live up to their expectations they are not happy and it is YOUR JOB to make them happy.  More times than not, they may even count (and recount) the things they “do” for you to get you on board in “making” them happy.

2. Don’t Collaborate: There is no working together but there is their way and then there is the highway (which is their highway). If you don’t choose their way, they will wear you out until you give in. After a while, you condition yourself to give in sooner because it is easier than dealing with them….psst, this is part of their strategy. 

3. They deny they play the victim: Despite their past emotional injuries, they will not admit that they suffer from a mental health issue.  They always “one-up” others by claiming they have had it worse than anyone else while claiming to have their crap together.  (We both know they don’t.)

4. Don’t see themselves as anything but SPECIAL: In spite of their low self-esteem, they cannot see themself as anything other than special. They view themselves as the best at anything they attempt from being a partner/spouse to employee to person or what have you. To do this effectively and, often covertly, they will devalue your accomplishments. This feeds into their feeling of superiority.  They own the spotlight and it is your “job” to shine that light on them.

5. Don’t take accountability: You know this trait as it exposes itself with the statement: “If you had not done ‘this’ I wouldn’t have had to do ‘that’.” So few things are their fault; however, every so often, they will take the blame. This is to balance out the number of times they blame you or others. Because they don’t take accountability often it can be a pretty impressive when they do!  This will give a false sense of security that they can change. Don’t fall for this!

6. Never gives you what you need: This is the most difficult thing to remember or realize about a narcissist because as their prey, you have seen that softer, gentler side when the relationship was new. You know they can be  good because you’ve been on the receiving end of it. That is what has made you the well-conditioned enabler. This makes for an unrealistic hope that drains you of your life force and individuality. It is what mentally anchors you down to them.

Not all narcissists are developed equally. They have their own cycles and balances.  It can be difficult to identify these things before they become a priority in your life. Knowing you can’t change the narcissist can be a challenge to embrace and it won’t come without a painful realization. Once you learn that the narcissist won’t change for you, you find the power you need to leave the relationship. In the end, you’ll recognize your needs and follow your instincts. They may not change, but you can.

You can do it.

(This article was original published on divorcedmoms.com and later divorcedmag.com.  The author, Tara Parker, updated the articled based on her experiences, expert knowledge, and for relatability purposes.)

Defeating Narcissists, Emotional Independence, Helping Friends

The Addictive Traits Of The Narcissist: 3 Tips For Breaking Free

There is something about them that keeps you around. No matter the difficult times there is still something that you hold on to. What is “it?” What is that force that keeps you going back for more and more? Why can’t you just leave? Why are narcissists so damned hard to get rid of?

It is kind of creepy to think that narcissists can be so addictive.

They are inconsiderate. They are often times ruthless. They are mean. They are thoughtless. They are insensitive. They are hardly the “knight in shining armor” we thought they were in the beginning. Take off all the hardware and what you really have is the tail end of the white horse versus that stud of a rider. They are narcissists.

And yet, here we are in our restless sleep waiting for that kiss that will wake us up to our happily ever after. Waiting and waiting, and more waiting. The problem is that we are waiting for the wrong guy to make the right choice. The real problem is that we will wait until we feel as though we are trapped. We put the right faith into the wrong guy.

It’s complete shenanigans to waste so much of our time, but, it is easy to become so deeply involved with a narcissistic person that getting free seems to be more of a dream than an achievable goal. A narcissist will either exploit your co-dependent side or create one within you making you dependent upon them. This is a form of conditioning and it is key to ensuring you don’t leave once you are locked in. It makes no sense because you know, at first, it is wrong, until they gaslight you enough that you believe everything they do is normal or your fault.

It can be really difficult to break free from the narcissist.

It can be even more difficult to explain to others why breaking away from them is so hard. There’s just no explaining it. For someone to understand they have to have been there and know it takes a lot of time to become so worn down to uncover that hidden strength to leave.

 

In the meantime, your support system gets frustrated with your inability to see the narcissist for what he is. They stop trying to talk sense into you, which makes the desire to leave, sometimes, that much more difficult. That is, of course, if you still have friends. Most narcissists will work hard to turn you against your support system. So, if they are still around listen to them. If they have since left, maybe these tips will help you.

How do you survive a relationship with a narcissist when you’ve worn out your support system? Here are 3 Tips.

1. Trust yourself. When you feel alone trusting your gut, even when it leads you to make the most uncomfortable decisions, is going to be more right than wrong. You know yourself better even if you are not aware of it and that is why you have instincts. When you have no one to talk to you are left with yourself and if you listen closely, you will hear those instincts telling you exactly what to do. This means being honest with yourself and forgiving yourself.

2. Be okay to be alone. Freeing yourself from the narcissist may look like a road to loneliness and quite honestly, it likely will – at least, for a while. The narcissist typically only wants you to have them to focus on, rely on, and depend on. If they have succeeded then your leaving them looks like a one-way ticket to lonely-town. Being alone is not going to hurt you, though. Actually, once your support system finds out you have left your narcissist they may re-enter your life if you welcome them. Remember, to isolate you takes your cooperation even if you don’t realize it. If your support system was made up of healthy people, welcome them back.

3. Expect the panic. This might be the most difficult of all. As the unknown emerges and change begins to take place it can be easy to psych yourself out, telling yourself that you are making the wrong choice or invite the narcissist back into your life. If you expect yourself to panic, to be scared, to be afraid, to feel all the negative things you can possible imagine (including unloved) you can prepare yourself for them. By preparing for all that panic has to offer, you can recognize it as it is happening and prevent you from sabotaging your freedom. Being healthy and alone is far better that being imprisoned by a narcissist.

There comes a time when you can feel it happening. Little by little, reality chips away at your patience revealing what you are truly worth. So, don’t give up. Even when others seem to have given up on you, they really haven’t – they just don’t know how to be there for you. So keep going. You’re worth more than you are getting and the only way to get what you are worth is to get it for yourself. You can do it.

Defeating Narcissists, Emotional Independence

5 Ways To Disarm a Narcissist And Save Your Sanity

The best way to disarm a narcissist is to be in complete control of your emotions – far easier said than done but it can be done. 

There is no doubt that each of us has a narcissist in our life; that person that just can’t seem to see past the end of their nose. While many of us are able to experience the world around us and find a way to deal with the ups and downs handed out, narcissists tend to keep their surroundings very well controlled. Whatever they can’t control they blame others for.

This is what makes narcissists so difficult to work with. Even if you have a good argument and viable solution the narcissist will use his repertoire of ammo to put you down and make you the person at fault. It might be easy to think that we can just drop kick that person and move on with life but sometimes it is far easier said than done.

Narcissists aren’t people we choose to be in our lives they are just there. Quite frankly, sometimes we are stuck with a narcissist and, therefore, we must learn how to deal with him.

In order to do that, you need to know how to disarm the narcissist to make them a bit more tolerable.

Here are a few ideas to help you do just that…

1. Don’t fall for the temptation to sink to their level. Narcissists love a good fight and not because they are any good at arguing but they know how to push your buttons. By pushing your buttons you are tempted to verbally protect yourself. The narcissist needs for you to fight back because then you are the one who lost control. You are the bad guy. When he throws the first verbal judo chop it is on you, right? How do you get around that? Be cool. Don’t react to the emotions in the room. If you are not familiar with emotional intelligence get familiar with it. That will be your first defense in disarming your narcissist. It is important that you remain in control of your emotions, as the narcissist will not!

2. Don’t feed the ego. Surely, you have been to the zoo and see the signs to not feel the “wild” animals? Well, narcissists are much like those encaged wild animals. They seem fine behind a fence and that fence gives you a false sense of security. Don’t be fooled. You don’t feed the zoo animals because they can be quite unpredictable just as much as the narcissist except his “wild” side in his ego. Remember, narcissists have an impressive sense of self and when you throw numerous verbal praises at that ego you empower that unstable weak mind. As you feed his ego, he doesn’t hear praise; he hears how much better he is over you. If you don’t feed the bear, he won’t have the energy to attack your confidence later.

3. Don’t take responsibility for his emotions. If he is pissed let him be pissed. He will try to make you the martyr for his negative emotions. After a while, it might be a hell of a lot easier to accept that blame because it encourages him to stop but it tears at you from the inside out. Before you know it, you are offering to take the blame for him his emotions by doing everything he wants. Let him get happy in the same pants he got mad in – he will always get over it.

4. Don’t use ultimatums. No relationship should ever include an ultimatum – it is a form of control, which is why he will use them over and over again. If you don’t like something he is doing or you feel the need to use this to gain control you might have become just as toxic as he is.   Remember, your actions and words provide him immediate permission to do the same to you – even if that coin doesn’t flip both ways.

5. Don’t give him negative attention. Like emotional teenagers, narcissists enjoy attention. Positive attention is great for the narcissist but negative attention is crucial to their ability to hold you accountable. It is the unhealthy part of their thinking. Once you give them that negative attention they will hold it over your head. They need you to give them that negative attention as a means of lashing out and targeting you. If you are the closest person to the narcissist you are the consistent, most reliable target for receiving negative attention. It is this reason the narcissist will work for to make sure you stick around. After all, who else would put up with such…nonsense?

Narcissists rarely take responsibility for their emotions and yet they expect you to be accountable for yours. Your narcissist has worked hard to know what makes you tick, how to push your buttons and then how to convince you to stay. The best way to deal with a narcissist is to be in complete control of your emotions – far easier said than done but it can be done.   Give your emotional intelligence a quick look over and figure out how to use that to control yourself. The most important trick to disarming the narcissist is to control your emotions. Once you do that, you remove much of his armor and he is left to his own devices – which he knows the least about.

Defeating Narcissists, Emotional Independence, Self-Care

Get Out and Stay Out

It is already a tough decision to think about, let alone execute.  Some respect the decision though they may not understand it while others can’t for the life of them “get it”.  These people, no matter their intent, don’t really make things any easier.  In fact, it is not really a particular person that give you the strength to follow through such a big decision.  It’s that “it” factor that you can feel but don’t really know what it is.  All you do know is that you have had enough and come hell or high water you are done – and this time done for good.

You are FINALLY leaving that unhealthy relationship!!!

For starters, when I use the word “unhealthy” I am talking about the kind of relationship where there is abuse.  This is the kind of abuse that is designed to control the actions of another.  The abuse could be physical, mental, emotional, verbal, sexual, or spiritual.  Abuse is a pattern of negative behavior from your partner that results in a pattern of submissive behavior from you.  This is not a clinical explanation but a quick and dirty definition that will make sense to those who have been in an unhealthy relationship. Additionally, abuse can happen in any relationship, but the intimate ones tend to be the longer lasting ones due to the intimacy factor.  (We can dive deeper into this in a later conversation.)

Leaving is the first tough step but the real challenge is how you stay out.  One of the toughest things to deal with after leaving an unhealthy relationship is re-igniting an old friendship, or in some cases a new one, with yourself.  Being out on your own is not like moving out of mom and dad’s, which had a sense of excitement and liberation.  Leaving an unhealthy relationship does come with a similar sense of freedom along with a sense of fear, anxiety, and “what the hell do I do now?”

Don’t worry; those are all normal feelings and questions.  What’s more? You should be feeling those things!  Those are great signs that you are on a path towards healing and getting you back.  What sucks about these feelings? They don’t feel good.  They can easily position you for another unhealthy relationship.

I know what you are thinking…”WTF? Why? Why do we have to go through these crummy feelings to move on?”

Well, my dear, because what you were involved in didn’t happen or evolve overnight. It took a lot of time, for some of you years, to get to where you were.  So, it is pretty unreasonable to think that a new normal occurs by simply moving out.  Moving out and spending some time alone is just the first few steps down the road of healing.  The real work starts at this point despite how tough all decisions were to get here. 

So, a few things to keep in mind as you venture down this new road:

  1. Do recognize you will question what you have done! This is normal and to expect it is what makes it easier.  It is totally fine to wonder if you are doing the right thing or if you made a mistake.  You literally took the puzzle of your life and removed some pieces of it giving you the space to feel as though you are not whole.  To counter this remember, you were whole and always will be.  (Let’s visit this idea later, too, it can get pretty deep.) J
  2. Expect to have free time on your hands and no idea how to spend it.  When living in an unhealthy relationship you were likely always worried about what things would be like if the abuser was gone or worrying about how to walk on egg shells for the day.  Maybe you spent your time presenting yourself, your home, your children, or anything in just the most perfect manner to avoid triggering your abuser.  Now that the abuser you don’t have all those expectations to live up to. This is time to learn about you and what you like…time to date you for a while! J
  3. Realize that you are not a bad person for leaving.  This is such a tough feeling to deal with particularly if there are children that miss the abuser or others who don’t understand.  First, it’s hard to remember your abuser doesn’t abuse everyone or doesn’t abuse them in the same way. This puts you is such a crazy position when others feel they should have justification for your decision.  This leaves you with opportunity to take blame based on reactions of others.  DON’T! Just as you need to feel through your emotions others need to do the same and all at your own pace!
  4. Realize you are easy to deceive in your own home!!!  Your abuser is no fool.  They know how to work you over and spent a good amount of time doing so in the home you two shared.  Being in the space that you now solely manage doesn’t make you the power in the home; just makes you the only provider.  You can expect your abuser to try to weasel their way in your territory using all their best tricks – some tricks you will recognize and some you won’t. The abuser doesn’t want to be alone any more than you do.  They don’t know what to do with themselves, either. Their object of control left and therefore will play that “vulnerable” card better than Luke Skywalker begging his father for help against Darth Sidious.  Know it could take a few times of falling for those tricks (old and new) to realize the abuser is working towards an Oscar nomination.  Don’t get down on yourself when it happens. Forgive yourself and try a new strategy.  Easier said than done but you will do it though it does take time and a lot of: “Oh shit, not again.”

These are just a few of the things you should expect.  Avoiding them only makes things harder on you.  If you learn to expect them or continue to expect them, they will be easier to work through when they happen. Half the battle of leaving the abuser is knowing that there is a rough road ahead and a lot of uncomfortable feelings that you are unfamiliar with. These are all good things that are indicative of better choices.  They don’t feel like it at the time but if you review on some of your others “firsts” you may find there are several of them that didn’t feel that great at first but wound up to be not that bad.  😉

You can do it.

Pro Tip: Go back through the list and when you see the word “abuser” or specific pronouns use the name of the person and their pronoun. Make this about you and hear what you are going through