Have you ever thought how closely the fear of making mistakes relates to the whole experience of emotional abuse?
Narcissists teach you that you have to attain their impossible standards of perfection in order to be good enough to be loved by them – and therefore, by extension, loved by anyone else in the entire world.
In that respect, also, the dynamic of a narcissistic relationship is quite skewed, even crazy. The narcissist is always beyond approach, whereas you are always destined to make mistakes and not be good enough.
Even the covert narcissist who is happy to parade their frailties and faults – to garner love and leverage – will not take kindly to you talking about them, without all due respect and deference.
At every turn in an abusive relationship, you learn that there is a high price to make for making mistakes.
The Narcissist’s gamut of punishments
Whenever you do, the narcissist will run through their usual gamut of punishments , including:
- Adding the latest offence to your already long list of crimes and misdemeanors
- Telling you that the world will judge you at least as harshly as they do.
- Telling you that your mistake precludes you from ever having a half-decent future.
- Brandishing that mistake as proof of your worthlessness as a human being.
- Withdrawing whatever “love” and “affection” they had previously shown you.
- Indulging in The Silent Treatment.
- Playing out some kind of abandonment scenario (either leaving or threatening to leave).
You soon learn, in an abusive relationship that there is a very high cost to pay for making any kind of mistake.
As a result, you end up being frightened, quite possibly terrified , of making mistakes.
Cause and effect
It is a simple case of cause and effect.
I don’t know about you, but when I was in that scenario, I was so caught up in the fear of messing up, that I was too busy trying to get everything right ever to notice the connection between cause and effect.
I thought it was just me.
That is what my clients tend to think, too.
They tend to think that they are just some kind of emotional klutz who constantly messes up.
Isn’t it wonderful how an emotional abuser teaches you to focus on the thing that you get wrong rather than all the things that you put massive effort into and do really well.
Notice that I didn’t say, “the things that you do perfectly” because perfection is such a difficult, moving target to hit at the best of times. Not that anybody half-way sane could ever describe an emotionally abusive relationship as being “the best of times”.
All abusive relationships leave you with a number of unfortunate – but necessary – coping skills, like being very defensive and striving to get things absolutely right.
What the fear of messing up leads to
The fear of getting things wrong can have a very long life, a life that drags on long after the abuser who actually caused that fear has disappeared.
It leads to:
- Need for reassurance
It leads you to believe that the world is a far more hostile place than it necessarily is.
Abusers project their hostility onto the world around them – and you – and, at least to some degree, brainwash you into believing it.
The problem is, of course, that the fear of making mistakes is incredibly constraining.
If you can’t risk making a mistake, then how can you move forward?
The best way NOT to make a mistake, you learn in an abusive relationship, is to do nothing. (Although, in reality, a narcissistic abuser is just as inclined to abuse you for doing nothing as they are to abuse you for doing something.)
The two ways of getting past the fear
So, how do you get past that life-limiting fear of making mistakes?
Ultimately, there are only two ways.
Either you have to break out of the cycle, by going through the Susan Jeffers route of “Feeling the Fear and Doing It Anyway”. –which can feel just too frightening.
Or else you have to break the cycle out of you. You have to find the belief and resources in yourself to dismantle those old beliefs and fears.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what works best when a person needs to rebuild belief in their own competence in the wake of an abusive relationship.
Ultimately, what gets in the way is that old acrostic FEAR.
F – alse
E – vidence
A – ppears
R – eal.
Whether or not the abuser is still in your life, the old “evidence” that they planted all over your psyche is still there and still appears real.
How to break out of the old patterns
The best way to root it out is to break the old patterns of thinking and response that you have.
I’m happy to tell you that I have created a new toolkit that will enable you to do just that.
My Breaking Old Patterns Toolkit is literally that: a Toolkit to help you to get beyond the blocks that are stopping you from showing up as your best self. It will teach you how to trust in yourself, see your strengths and overcome your fear, uncertainty and procrastination, so that you can live your best life and enjoy peace of mind and healthy relationships.
The Toolkit contains so many resources that have transformed the way that my private clients see myself and relate to others. I believe they will do the same for you, too.
The Toolkit launches on January 21st at which point the price goes up. So, if you even think The Breaking Old Patterns Toolkit could be relevant to you, grab it now and benefit from the ultra-low price while it is still available.
Don’t let the fear of making mistakes get in the way of your peace of mind any longer.
Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.
The 5 Simple Steps to Healing from Narcissistic Abuse
Over the next 5 days, I'll send you some lessons and tips that I've found have really helped women to heal from narcissistic abuse. Starting with the basics.