Lori Hoeck of Think Like a Black Belt, and I discovered during a series of blog comment conversations that we had similarly been attracted to and involved with a certain type of charismatic individual. Our relationships with these individuals had gone on to transform into macabre dances of co-dependent need.
You might think this all might be some kind of exotic, bizarre, coincidental circumstance uncovered on the Internet. Rest assured, the bizarre aspect to these toxic relationships is why the vast majority of individuals allow themselves to be subject to them. Just like so many others, Lori and I each had been involved with a narcissist.
Most of us can point to the origins of mistakes we’ve made with relationships upon reflection. While hindsight is always 20/20, we may have become involved with people whose expectations and behavior ultimately hindered our growth. Perhaps we chose to ignore the warning signs that might have steered us differently. More often though, like Lori and I, we might have found ourselves wondering in bewildered fashion just what was going on with all the drama and emotional pain we experienced with these people. And even more alarmingly, we might even have concluded, as I did temporarily, that there might be no escape back into relative sanity.
How could things have been different? Were there red flags that Lori and I ignored? Did we willingly suspend our intuition and self-protective reactions to accept harmful behaviors in others? Were we somehow contributing to the toxicity or signaling availability to emotional opportunists? Was everything really our fault, as we were repeatedly told? Or might there be another integer lurking in the equation?
Lori and I battled our way out of those destructive relationships. We both acknowledge the heavy price we have paid in achieving our self-extraction. What we’re doing now is passing along not only what we learned, but what others know, and more importantly, what you can do to keep yourself in healthy relationships with a confident, assertive outlook. We’ve written The Narcissist: A User’s Guide and are making it available here.
A narcissist is an individual with a wounded psyche who engages in protective behaviors with others. The relationship, to a narcissist, is a source of emotional nourishment. But the narcissist’s appetites are different. They feed their self-esteem by sucking yours out of you. They are having all the esteem they can possibly access and have no qualms about leaving very little of it around for anyone else.
Narcissists are found in all walks of life. They use a comparative method to determine their place in the world. Because deep down they view themselves as “less than,” they are constantly searching for someone – possibly, you – who by comparison is inferior. The tactics a narcissist uses can take many forms, but they are all rooted in ego fulfillment. They can masterfully seek out unresolved fear or pain you might have, push those buttons in you, and create an interplay that will certainly deplete and may ultimately destroy your emotional well-being.
The Narcissist: A User’s Guide turns that dynamic on its ear. Lori and I have gathered information, but more importantly, specific tips and scripts for you to use to start setting the terms of a healthy relationship. Neutralizing and negating a narcissist isn’t for the faint-hearted, but it can be done. You might decide your interests are better served by leaving the situation. Whatever its form, your decision to stand up for yourself will take guts and determination.
Lori and I meant our Guide to provide a basis from which you can draw your own conclusions. We’re betting that you may have had similar experiences, or you might know someone who has. Perhaps you’re currently involved in a narcissistic relationship.
You may want to educate yourself and your children to beware of these individuals, and thus move confidently and purposefully through life. In order to do that you’ve got to know who you’re dealing with, and the strategies and mechanisms you’ll need.
Lori and I wrote The Narcissist: A User’s Guide to help identify the harm that arises from interacting with a narcissist, and to validate an assertive, confident way through life’s journeys. We hope you’ll enjoy our e-book.
The Narcissist: A User’s Guide has a Facebook page with a discussion area and a Squidoo lens.
If you have a story to share about your experiences with a narcissist, we’d love to hear it. Drop me an email at betsywuebker AT passingthru DOT com. If we stand up to narcissists, they’ll stand down.