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Showing posts with label narcissist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label narcissist. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The 3-Legged Stool: Difficulty in Shaking off Narcissists

I was discussing with my wife recently about why I believe abuse survivors can have a harder time shaking off encounters with a narcissists, specifically those who attempt to control or and/or use belligerence to dominate.  For her it, the solution was to simply ignore the person.  In other words, if the person gives you 'unwanted advice', tries to 'suggest' (aka TELL) you what to do or some attempt at shaming, you either a) humor them or b) just totally ignore them or blow them off.  In other words, don't let them have any 'real estate in your head'.

Now anyone who has ever has ever 'survived' dealing with narcissists, especially those in a position of power over them and/or present in their childhood, probably knows what I am talking about.

In many cases ignoring or humoring them is very sound advice. This is especially true IMHO where their interaction with you doesn't undermine your authority in an appreciable way.  In other words, some things just aren't worth getting riled up over risking a fight.  However, I believe to someone who is an abuse/attack survivor, might find it hard to 'let it go' so to speak.

Her argument was that her dad could be a dominant personality and she was able to stand up for myself.   I understand her point and was struggling to find a way to help her understand.  I tried to find a way to answer why I react more passionately and get more upset when I am completely disrespected or controlled.  I finally stumbled upon an idea.   A table or stool with three legs is harder to collapse or flip over than those with fewer.  That is to say the more destructive factors you've had in your life, the less likely it is that you'll be able to 'let it go'.

Consider it this way:
  • When we think of a stool, we think of a handy product which can be used to hold us up when are reaching to get something we need.   Imagine the stool instead of holding us up, is used to hold up our baggage up and 'in place'.   Is that really a stool we'd want or is that a stool we'd want to see collapsed?
  • We know a 3-legged stool or table is more sturdy or stable than those with fewer legs.  From what I can see, abuse survivors don't just have 'abuse' in play.  From personal experience, observations and talking with others, people who are ultimately abused are often vulnerable to abuse because of other factors--overbearing parents/adults in their formative years and bullying for example.


Anyway, here are three legs of the stool which holds up inability to shake off encounters with narcissists in adulthood:
* Overbearing parent or other authoritative adult figure during childhood.
* Bullying (verbal or menacing)
* Attack/abuse

Now, these three legs or factors aren't necessarily exclusive.  That is to say the same person or persons can supply more than one leg of the stool.  That is to say, a bully can also be an abuser/attacker and that the overbearing parent or adult can be the bully who abuses or attacks for example.

We hear all the time, back in the day if I talked back like that, my mom/dad would have beaten me.  Sometimes the speaker might say how his/her voice was overrode by his/her parent, but that he or she eventually found his or her voice.   As a parent myself, I have found that I sometimes have to be assertive and override voices of a child/children.  Now, taken to the extreme that can be damaging and compel a kid to shut down or fear authority.  I do believe in most cases kids do gain a measure of a voice (and sometimes 'too much'), but I digress.  Like a one-legged stool/table, they can learn to easily push aside disrespect/lack of control later in life.  That is to say, the baggage associated with 'not having a voice', if others negative factors aren't in play, can thrown off more easily in adulthood. As people of my generation understood, that's part of growing up.

Add the factor of being bullied in your formative years.  Not only are you trying to seek their voice among adults in your life, but you are also trying to fend off those who would challenge their well-being and/or peace of mind.  With authoritative adults in a child's life, we typically think that the adult figure has the child's interests in mind.  In the case of a bully, for whatever reason, the bully typically doesn't tend to factor in the child's interest.  For whatever reason, they bully feels that it is okay to pick on his or her target.  Sometimes they don't care, but sometimes they can attempt to justify their behavior.  They might claim that they are helping a kid learn how to deal.   They might also that their 'victim' deserved it.  Whatever their reasoning their behavior it can reinforce the inability of a child to shake off disrespectful (or controlling behavior) later in life.  If you are so used to dealing with this sort of behavior, even minor 'bullying' in your adulthood can seem like more of the same (and hence hard to shake off).  Like adding a second leg, it can strengthen the stool or table which holds up the anger, frustration and/or resentment which results from facing 'bullying' behavior later in life.  A stool with two legs has some degree of stability, but is still by its nature can be collapsed relatively easily.

As with a stool/table, once you add a third leg (or factor), the stool becomes very steady and very sturdy.  In other words, it will tend to stay upright and not collapsed unless you apply a great deal of force to it.  A person who has dealt with an overbearing adult may have had to 'justify' their voice.  A person who has dealt with a bully may have had to create or find a space for their voice.  But a youngster who has been abused or attacked, especially sexually, has had to recover from their voice being stolen outright from them.  It's bad enough having to justify your voice or find a place to exercise it safely, but like the third leg of the stool, having your voice stolen from you, reinforces the anger, frustration and/or resentment.  A response to narcissist behavior in later life isn't simply ignoring attempt it.  It is using whatever tools you have at your resource to make sure your voice isn't stolen again.  Anger, frustration, resentment and the like can be seen as tools to be deployed to ensure you he or she who could hold you down and crush or steal your voice is not given that opportunity.  It isn't simply being annoyed that you are being 'bullied'. Nor is it 'stepping away' and finding a place where your voice is safe.  To a survivor of abuse and/or an attack, there is a sense that the one who would control, disrespect you and/or otherwise bully you must be guarded against and in some cases be shut down.  In other words, sometimes you need to bare your teeth, build a wall or counterattack to make sure their threat to you is neutralized.

To someone who has just dealt with strict parents and maybe some bullying, but has never had to face the insecurity of abuse, a severe reaction to a narcissist can look like an overreaction.  That is to say intense anger, frustration, resentment, etc. can look like an overreaction to a when dealing with a narcissist.  I've dealt with the all three--CSA (childhood sexual abuse), bullying and an overbearing/controlling parent.  As an adult, I've come to understand situations better than I did as a kid.  However, I still am more inclined to, like a cat, arch my back, when I feel under threat or attack, 'hiss' and keep a wary eye open.  

Hopefully, this gives more perspective on why some people can let attempts at abusive/controlling/bullying behavior slide, where others cannot.  The more negative experiences you have had to deal with in life, the more likely you are to see are to see 'more of the same' when it comes to dealing with narcissists.   It isn't just dealing with a jerk, it is dealing with someone who is a threat to your serenity (or at least it can feel like it).

Anyway, I'm tired when writing this, so hopefully, it does make some sense.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Rich


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Mission Accomplished: Declaring victory too soon.

Few people ever want to admit defeat.  People generally want to think  well of themselves (unless they are what I call a negative narcissist), but I digress.  People generally want to think reasonably well about themselves.   Sometimes that means ignoring your flaws and seeing an inflated view of yourself, that is to say you are a narcissist.  History is littered with tyrants who justified their tyranny because they felt they were serving the greater good--Hitler is probably the most well known.  Sometimes that means measuring your flaws against your good points and concluding your good points exceed that of your flaws.  We see that in politics, where people who have used bad judgement in their life or made mistakes survive their negatives and go on to become successful and well thought of.  Sometimes, it means working on your flaws or failings and 'overcoming' them or achieving victory over them.  We see that in the friend who puts down the bottle for good, the parent who does a better job with their second or third kid or the felon that who finds peace in their faith and makes something of themselves once they are out of prison.

The focus of this post is those who know they have difficulties, flaws or failings and see themselves as overcoming or having overcome them.   Sometimes if we tie our worth too much to our 'issues', then we create an incentive to 'declare victory' prematurely.  I believe everyone has examples from their own life or from those close to them.   I will list examples or cases I've seen of been a part of.

Declaring victory too soon
  • In my post, #MeAsWell: For What It's Worth, I detail sexual abuse I faced as a child.  In my mind despite some hiccups, I had successfully made it into adulthood gainfully and successfully employed most of the time.  I had bought a decent house in a good part of town, had a nice car, was married and was well on my way to parenthood.  In other words, the American Dream.  I had convinced myself and the few others around me that knew about it that I had survived and escaped the damage of my childhood, despite the fact that I'd never sought counseling for it.  The signs of 'success' were there, so hey...    Meanwhile, I had a generalized anxiety disorder raging since age 17, I had a problem trusting people--even those close to me--and my behavior didn't always measure up to the standards that my faith would imply.  Anyone who knows me, realizes that eventually like any great fa├žade, eventually the truth has an ugly way of rearing its head.  The truth was that I had never really fully healed from the abuse during my childhood.  The distrust, the anxiety, the flaws eventually came to a head and by 2011, the signs of success had largely been swept away like a sign on the beach during a hurricane.  House, marriage, job, etc. were no more.
  • I had a friend who had a heroine addiction.  I stood by that friend as long as I could.  I saw her 'successfully' complete a stint at a drug treatment center.  I heard her hopefulness that she was done with it.   In short, she was seeking to declare victory.   Supposedly she was clean (at least for a short time)  when she tragically died in an auto accident.  Her life had spiraled out of control and at the very least I think she was very fragile by that point.  That is to say, even if drugs hadn't contributed directly to her accident, indirectly I think she was still reeling.  I'd seen another friend successfully through detox and sobriety for alcoholism, so I thought my friend with the heroine addiction could make it too.  I didn't realize at the time how addictive and deadly heroine is/was and was fooled into being optimistic.
  • I've seen someone I dated push aside anger, grief and other such feelings and claim she was fine and didn't need counseling.  Yet, every time things got rough or she faced adversity she could be seen running to grief and regret that she couldn't help her mom avoid dying young from pneumonia. 

I think for most of us, if we honestly look into our lives, we can find area or two in our lives in which were have 'declared victory' too soon.  That is to say, we are not in as good of a place as we would like to believe we are.  That's not to say that everyone is totally screwed up or has areas in their life which hold them back excessively.  However, I think it is safe to say that most people have misjudged their progress in an area in which they can improve.  I believe sometimes it is easier to 'declare victory' than to do the hard work of self-improvement.   

Just my 1/50th of a $1 for the day.  

Cheers from a snowy day in the Gateway to the West.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Please Don't Be a Pleaser: Diplomat, feeling uncertain or needing validation.


Recently I wrote a blog post called: Please Don't Be a Pleaser.  The upshot of it was that there are point(s) in your life which you realize you can't please everyone.   More specifically it went into the types of circumstances in which you can't please people and how to deal in those circumstances.  While I think this is a constructive angle to look at in the study of "people pleasing", essentially it is a sort of "I'm here" vs. a "How did I get here" perspective.  So, I will focus today's post on what's behind the tendency to people pleasing, that is to say what drives them.  As the title indicates, I believe there are (at least) three drivers for people pleasing.   They are in no particular order: the need for being a diplomat, feeling uncertain about self and needing validation.  People pleasers can have one or more of these personality types.

THE DIPLOMAT
  • This person values peace and strive to find common ground.
    • It maybe that they feel they are just good at making others feel good or bring peace.
    • It may be that they have had to deal with dysfunction and fighting at some point in their life.  This drives them to defuse confrontation wherever they see it.
    • This person can serve as a go-between multiple two parties.  They work to positively massage the egos of each of multiple warring parties, all while softening the hard edge between what each party wants to communicate with each other.  They serve as the "happy face" for each side.
  • This person may get some sort of sense of value from being a 'peacemaker'. 
    • If he or she can bring different factions to a peaceful outcome, they have saved everyone from the destructive effects of conflict.
    • If he or she can bring different factions to a just (or 'everyone wins') outcome, they have advanced progress for everyone.
  • This person is probably considered having the most "noble" reason for being a pleaser. 
    • As long as he or she is considered fair and just, who doesn't appreciate the peacemaker?
    • While this type of pleaser likes to consider themselves fair and impartial, they may be more political than advertised.
    • Provided this person doesn't just another run all over him or her, some degree of wanting to be the diplomat or to help bring happiness to another isn't a bad thing in relationships.

UNCERTAIN YOU
  • This person may not have a well-developed sense of self. 
    • If you don't know who you are, it is hard to be centered.
    • The cliche 'if you don't stand for anything, you'll fall for everything' is appropriate here.
  • This person's sense of self may be reasonably developed, but they may fall into the trap of second guessing.
    • This can be a result of being stuck in a pit of shame, especially if they've had significant prior failures.
    • They may allow their better judgement to be overrode by the seeming certainty of others.  Someone with strong and unflinching 'certainty' can be intimidating to others who don't have such certainty and may cause one to second guess. 
    • Certainty, even if misguided, projected by another can be intoxicating, especially if all you have to do is just "buy into the program".  There can be some attractiveness of trying to go along with or please the alpha.
  • This person would probably be considered the "weakest" type of person/pleaser.

VALIDATION VALUER
  • This person may be struggling with their sense of self and instead of looking within for approval may seek to be seek to be agreeable with others in an attempt to quench the hole in their soul that looks like it is the shape of approval.
  • This person may have a reasonably well-developed sense of self, but is still seeking approval for their own reasons.
    • They seek approval as a means to power.  By seeking the popular position or consensus they are looking to have the largest group of people support them.  In short, they find people that need to 'be heard' and agreed with and seek to 'please them' to gain their support.
    • They may be narcissists by nature, thinking highly of themselves for "understanding" the needs of others.  In other words, self-validation.  Hearing and 'schmoozing' (aka pleasing) others is really just means to an end.  That is to say they 'know' what is best for others and have at least pretend to listen. 
  • This person in some circumstances this person may be considered the most "cynical" type of pleaser. 
    • This type of pleaser may get into politics.  What better way to validate yourself than to convince others into selecting you.
    • This type of pleaser may get into other types of stages.
      • By choosing the theater in any form--movie, TV, Broadway, ect--they can validate themselves by capturing the minds, heart and the $$ of others, by playing a 'role' and bring happiness to their 'fans'.
      • By choosing other types of entertainment--such as sports and music--they also can validate themselves by capturing the minds, heart and the $$ of others, by bring happiness to their 'fans'.

I guess my takeaway on this post is this: If you are a people pleaser, what drives you?  Secondly, understanding what drives people to try to 'please' others may help you relate to them better.   Whatever drives us to please others, we won't truly be healthy emotionally and spiritually until we find a healthy way to 'please' ourselves.  That doesn't mean be selfish, but does mean to be at peace with ourselves and to peace with our Higher Power (God).


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Positive narcissist vs. negative narcissist vs. balanced view

A while bac, I was having a conversation with a person whose kid sees himself negatively.  While I don't necessarily think what I am writing below applies directly to the kid,  the conversation did remind me of a theory or view I had developed on narcissism.

We all have ran across someone who behaves as if their stuff doesn't stink.   Similarly, we all have run across someone who is like  Eeyore who is gloomy, negative and often rates his or herself no good.  I call the first type a 'positive narcissist' (or simply a 'narcissist') and the second type a 'negative narcissist'.  I will elaborate on why I see both types as narcissists.

I don't know when, but it occurred to me that both types actually have a lot in common:
  • Each type of person is being emotionally, intellectually, mentally and/or spiritually lazy.
    • It is easy to label and/or rationalize to yourself that you are either just good or bad.   If you decide that you are either 'perfect' or 'rotten' by nature then you don't have to continually evaluate yourself.
    • It takes much more work to actually dig and effectively evaluate yourself.  It takes much more work to separate the flaws from the virtues. 
  • Each type is disconnected from his or herself.  
    • Once again, labeling yourself as just a great person or horrible one or the other frees you from having to process or evaluate yourself.
    • You can easily stay at the surface level and find an example or two to support your contention.
  • Each type disconnected from others.
    • A narcissist by his or her very nature has hard time has accepting anything that could be seen as criticism.  By itself, this shuts down much of the conversation that is possible with others.  Furthermore, the self-focus drowns out the ability to see ability to see past oneself and really see others.
    • A negative narcissist by his or her nature has a hard time accepting anything that could be seen as a compliment.  Once again, this shuts down much of the conversation that is possible.  Once again, the self-focus gets in the way of being able to really others.
  • Each type has issues with humility.  
    • A narcissist lacks humility.  He or she may feign humility, but it's usually pretty easy to see through the false humility.
    • A negative narcissist in a way lacks true humility too.  He or she may come across as not wanting to be egotistical, but what I see it as is really a defense mechanism.  To accept praise or to self-praise requires one to step outside his or her predefined role as a 'no-good' or 'worthless' person.  In a way, in the deflecting praise is not being modest, but rather a way of avoiding the shattering the 'negative self-portrayal'.
  • Each type gives a way of freeing the individual with the given personality of culpability or responsibility.
    • A narcissist will tend to think of his or herself as being incapable of making a bad decision or failing.   When they actually do make a bad decision or fail, he or she will either:
      • Push fault on another (scapegoat).
      • Push fault on the cosmos (it was beyond me control, even if it wasn't)
      • Spin the poor decision as a good decision (or intentional) and the failure as insignificant or really actually a success.
    • A negative narcissist will portray themselves as fatally flawed and incapable of doing anything but making bad decisions or failing.
      • In their mind and heart this frees them.  After all, if I am destined to fail, in a way what does it matter how I got there?  In other words, since I am going to fail anyway, I can choose the 'selfish' option as it will end up bad either way.
      • If I blame myself for everything, then in a way I am blaming myself for nothing.  In other words, I am not really evaluating my role, but rather just sticking a label on myself and the situation.  Just like sticking a label on a batch of cookies that look good without actually sampling them to make sure it is good.
  •  Each type has esteem issues.
    • Narcissim is often a way overcompensating for insecurity.  A narcissist, in buying into their inflated sense of self, often is trying insulates his or herself from the effects of their insecurity.  After all, if I buy my own hype, then I can suppress and otherwise ignore my deeply buried insecurity.  Thus anyone who poses a threat to bring them down to earth, threatens their cushion against insecurity.
    • A negative narcissist in a sense has bought into his or her own insecurity or low esteem.  When assessing his or herself, a negative narcissist has effectively conceeded that their insecurity or esteem problems are legitimate.  In other words, they've decided that they are implicitly bad and/or a failure and therefore will tend to focus on that which 'supports' their contention.

I think most people have an element of each--positive and negative--narcissism in them.  It is healthy to think of oneself as inherently good.  But, it is also healthy to think of oneself as having the ability to make mistakes.  It is when a person doesn't attempt to balance out the ledger--see the good and the bad--that a person is not really mentally, emotionally, or spiritually healthy.



Friday, February 20, 2015

98% rule: someone has to take blame...

98% is an excellent percent on a math or spelling test.  It is an out of this world free throw percentage in basketball.  It is an excellent level of purity of gold.  However, in terms of how often one side in a relationship is right, it is a terrible percentage.

A few years ago, I came up with something I call it the 98% rule.  The point of it is that when you find yourself admitting you are wrong most all the time with an occasional concession by your partner, you are likely in an unhealthy relationship.

The way I see it, 98% blame either means one of two things:


  1. Most likely, you are in codependent relationship where someone has to take the shame or blame for the ills of the relationship.  In reality, the blame could/should be split more equally.  Generally speaking, 'blame' won't be shared 50/50.  It might be 60/40 or perhaps 30/70, but still each side has culpability.
  2. One person in the relationship is a real jerk or narcissist.  He or she is actually mean/controlling/abusive.  In this case, he or she is actually wrong most of the time.  If you can look at a relationship honestly and say, this is how I feel about the other person, it's probably time to move on from it. In other words, if the other person is actually a big enough narcissist to be wrong most of the time and let you take the fault instead, it is an unhealthy relationship

Never let another person use your flaws to control you with shame.  I don't mean to avoid talking about the tough subject matter or to shut down another when they speak frankly about you.  What I mean is do not allow yourself to be manipulated to where you seem to boxed into taking the blame or admitting fault where it isn't appropriate.  Guilt over mistakes is a healthy grieving process.  Shame over them is treating yourself as if you are the mistake.  Don't let anyone take a sore point and beat you over the head with it to control you.

The controlling person may win the battle, but they eventually will lose the war.  They will be seen for who they are.  Just don't let yourself be dragged down into their manipulation, their insecurities, their fear.

---

A friend once said to me that "healthy people don't tend to marry sick people".  I am not sure where he got it, it might have been from AA?  Anyway, he made an excellent point.  This supports my above point.  If, in a relationship, there is a degree of unhealthy in both parties, it is likely that each has the ability to make mistakes and therefore are wrong from time to time. If each person recognizes it and can own up to it, there is hope for the relationship.

Just some thoughts...