Why knowing the worst about someone doesn’t stop you believing the best
Today, I want to talk with you about what goes on in a Narcissist’s head. In my experience, that represents a huge stumbling block for all victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse. It is as if they feel they cannot move beyond the narcissist until they can make sense of what is going on in that narcissistic head – and why it is going on.
In fact, what makes narcissistic abuse so hard to recover from is precisely that: the need to know and understand what you cannot know and understand because it is so alien to you. Even though you may have experienced it in depth but you still struggle to make sense of it.
But, in order to take that important step forward, you also have to a have a far deeper understanding of what is going on in your own head: how it is that, knowing the worst about someone – someone really quite toxic – doesn’t stop you believing the best.
Despite the shedloads of proof you can fall back on about the profound awfulness of the Narcissist, there is that part of you that carefully keeps reweaving a deep-held belief about that person’s goodness.
Why does that happen?
The empaths slight design flaw
It happens because we empaths have a slight design fault – we tend to see other people as we are. We project onto them the good qualities that we set store by and mostly practise in our own lives.
Even as we see all the awfulness of the Narcissist , we don’t get it emotionally.
Emotionally we just can’t make sense of it. Not to mention the fact that we yearn for the reality to be otherwise.
So, what happens is that we keep rewriting the reality in our own heads. Even when we know who and how they are, we keep rebuilding the fantasy that, behind that toxic mask, there is a really nice person just longing to get out.
The Beauty and the Beast program
We run our own little Beauty and the Beast program – or at least something along those lines.
Or, to put it another way, because we can’t get our heads around that level of toxicity, we revert to our own comfort zone: and tell ourselves that that is not who they truly are.
Now, that would be okay-ish, if we just applied that flawed thinking to the toxic person that we have loved and lost.
But we don’t.
Rather, it impacts the way that we see the whole world and our place in it.
Over the past week, I have spoken with at least four smart, savvy women who nevertheless were running the “Everyone Is A Good Person Really” program.
All of them were running that program at significant personal cost.
They kept rewriting their marriage inside their own head. So, they spent a great deal of time emotionally chasing their own tail.
How can you leave a person that you know that you should leave when you still love them because you are still invested in making it work with them?
How can you even think of moving on when you still love – and want love – from this person who, behind the mask of hostility and indifference, you think can still love and need you?
But equally, how can you keep yourself safe going forward when you can project that same innocence and trustworthiness onto all sorts of disreputable people – as a couple of my clients did?
That kind of reflex empathic open-heartedness nearly led my clients to invest large sums of money into business deals that were guaranteed to go badly wrong. As one of them put it to me, “Even though I saw the red flags, I still wanted to trust this person.”
She was still running that very old, VERY damaging “Yes, But They’re Good People Really” program.
How does that happen?
For me, that happens because we have been so programmed to believe the best of people and see the best in people – whether or not we have any evidence to support our belief in that best – that we can struggle with our own belief system when we try to do the right, judgmental thing.
Sometimes, we have to exert our judgment and be quite… judgmental. Whether we like it or not.
But, as with every aspect of healing from narcissistic abuse, there is always a hard way and an easy way.
Most commonly, the easy way requires that you install a mind-shift.
They don’t operate like we do
In this case, the mind-shift is not so much understanding how you operate as really making sense of how a Narcissist operates.
Having spoken now, with so many well-informed survivors of a narcissistic relationship, I have become very conscious of the gulf that separates mental knowledge of how a narcissist operates from emotional acceptance of how they operate.
Survivors can keep adding more and more intellectual knowledge. Yet, emotionally, the dial has barely shifted, if at all.
They still don’t get how the Narcissist works.
They still keep trying to translate it into intelligible, empath language.
And they keep failing.
Brain and emotions speak different languages
Ultimately, the brain and the emotions speak two different languages.
In my client work and in my writing, I am always doing my best to bridge that gulf. Because I know that when the awareness finally lands – emotionally – with a person, they can be truly free.
It is almost as if, to stick with the vocabulary of fairy tales and enchantment, they can finally break the spell,
In reality, there is nothing enchanting about Narcissists. Yet they do snare you through the deliberate use of enchantment.
They actually use your own wound, your own wounds and your own nature against you.
Last week, I did something quite ground-breaking. I interviewed a Narcissist about the way that he operates. For his own reasons, he allowed me to get inside his head.
Not that I think that that was he was expecting it to go quite like that.
The more I think about that interview, the more I think that he had another agenda, that he was operating the stereotypical narcissistic technique of displaying his alleged Good Guy credentials. He was the Narcissist who cared enough about victims to want to make amends etc etc. He was the Narcissist who has chosen another path and just hopes that he will be strong enough to walk it.
What came out of the interview was fascinating, chilling and incredibly powerful.
For me, the more I thought about it, the more it dotted I’s crossed T’s and helped me take my own understanding of how Narcissists operate from a two-dimensional to a three-dimensional model.
There was a LOT to deconstruct.
The deep dive
I am still pottering through my days adding more, powerful insights to my existing body of knowledge.
What I learned was way too extensive for a newsletter – although it will surely percolate through to future newsletters for a long, long time to come.
However, if you, too, think that a deep exploration of how a Narcissist thinks and relates – to both people and the truth – could benefit you and help stop you falling into your old “Yes, but they can still be good people, really” thinking, then I would love you to join me for a workshop this Saturday, where I share a ton of insider information about how Narcissists operate and how they cover their tracks.
I believe that this could help you, too, get the information to migrate from your brain to your heart, where it needs to be for maximum effectiveness.
Because I know that, even in a pandemic, people have busy lives, I shall be recording the whole workshop so that you can listen at your own leisure. And I guarantee that what you learn will ensure that you will NOT let a Narcissist disable your own Nar-dar ever again.
Nobody who is not a Narcissist wants to believe the worst of people. That is not how we operate. However, if you are going to keep yourself safe, happy and on track going forward, you do have to be willing to fully accept the unvarnished truth about toxic people.
You owe that to yourself.
Plus, you probably have to remember that those who taught you always to believe the best of others and expose yourself to their wiles – despite the evidence – were either more than a little toxic themselves or else wounded idealists.
Healing from narcissistic abuse requires you to take control of your own narrative instead of being controlled by it.
If you still find yourself willing to believe the best of people who you know, or sense, do not deserve your trust, this workshop could be very valuable for you.
Your healing requires that you value yourself and your wellbeing enough to feel good about keeping yourself safe from toxic people.
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.
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