Tony answers a listener's question about the difference between "throwing the narcissist under the bus" and listening, validating, and empathizing with a frustrated child of a narcissistic parent. He also answers questions about why narcissists often employ the silent treatment, as well as can a narcissist get along well with another narcissist?
Tony mentioned his presentation in Monica Tanner's "Secrets of Happily Ever After," summit which brings 32 marriage therapists and life/relationship coaches together to provide a wealth of tips to strengthen your marriage. You can sign up for the summit for free using the following link: https://tonyoverbay--onthebrighterside.thrivecart.com/shea-summit-accelerator/
If you are interested in being coached in Tony's upcoming "Magnetic Marriage Podcast," please email him for more information. You will receive free marriage coaching and remain anonymous when the episode airs.
Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony's "Magnetize Your Marriage" virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you'll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage.
You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.
Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ
[00:00:07] Hey everybody. Welcome to Waking Up to Narcissism Episode 45 I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, host of the Virtual Couch podcast. And the quickest amount of business you can still go to Tony over Macomb Workshop, $19 workshop that talks all about the way a couples relationship could be. I was going to say should, but no one likes to be shut on and then you can still go to if you go to my Instagram account at Virtual Couch and then look in the bio, there's a link to Monica Tanner's Happily Ever After Summit. And I really am hearing from people now that have started to get the courses, take the workshops, the courses that are there, and it's over 30 marriage therapist coaches, professionals talking about the secrets to the happily ever after in marriage or their advice. So even if you're not in a marriage where you feel like there is potential for happily [00:01:00] ever after, I've had a couple of people respond and say that there's so much content there that it does really help them now that they've popped their head up from this world of emotional immaturity or narcissism and starting to understand. It's almost that thing where confirmation bias. So when you are just aware of how maybe not healthy your relationship is, then you either see other people talk about their relationship and you think, okay, that that can't be true, or look how bad mine is.
[00:01:28] And when I talk about we don't know what we don't know about what a relationship can look like, I'm starting to hear more feedback that when people start to feel like, Oh, I'm okay and I deserve to be heard and understood and it's okay for me to find my own sense of self and purpose, that now you go through and you listen to somebody give a marriage summit or seminar or talk, and instead of thinking, man, look at all the things I don't have. You think, man, look at all the things I deserve. And that is possible in a relationship, and I deserve that. So you can go there. There's [00:02:00] a lot of free content. And then if I think you can get access to a bunch of bonus content for I think it's $80 or something like that to bonus content on all 30 people. And the reason I mentioned that is I think it's going away soon. So you can go check that out. And let's just get to today's topic because I'm going to answer a question and I know this one is probably going to go in a lot of different directions, but I was looking at my assistant, Naomi, who does such a wonderful job, has just categorized all the questions, all the examples. And so I can pull up this database and it has just all the data is right there. So I say that because please keep sending in your questions and your examples, because just the more of those that that I can share, I think the more validated that people feel.
[00:02:42] And I really want to start getting to more of the question and answer episodes because I'm getting a lot of the same questions. So here's the question. This question, it's a little bit lengthy, but I think it's really necessary for context. I've removed a couple of things that would make it really specific, but you really get to the question part of this [00:03:00] toward the end. But I think it's one of those where a lot of people are going to feel understood as I just read the scenario. So the person says, I've been binge listening to all of your podcasts, waking up to narcissism. I truly feel like you've been describing my life. I was married for over 20 years to what I believe is a full ego centered narcissist. I finally decided enough was enough when I was noticing behaviors that were negatively impacting our five children and how the children were changing. In response to that, I realized I had buffered for them 100% of the time and become the parent who tried to keep everybody happy, including him, as he was the thermostat for the house. I had to go back and reread that because I It's funny the way the brain works. I thought, Oh, she's giving one of those examples where he controls the thermostat. But I love that example of that.
[00:03:43] He was the thermostat that she had to try to read the temperature of where he was at. How do I buffer for the kids? And there's a lot of kids. So she said, we continually walked on eggshells. If he was in a bad mood, we scattered to not make it worse because he would just impulsively name [00:04:00] call. He would tell the children and myself that they were lazy or that I was lazy. And he would do that in front of the kids when he would talk to me, when they tried to spend time with him, it was it would always devolve into the, you know, I have to work, I have to pay for all of these things. If he did want to spend time, it was doing the things that he wanted to do. And she said she even watched as he would make sure that he won board games or make sure that if one of the kids was doing something that seemed like they were doing it better than him, that it was because of how tired he was, because he had to work and nobody appreciated him. So he would really just take the energy out of any situation. But then he would also get angry that nobody wanted to spend time with him. And he would say things like, If you want this kind of a life, then you will have to wait, wait for me to continue to provide.
[00:04:42] And he would really take on this victim mentality, she said. I always maintained a positive role with their father, even after I left the relationship, even supporting him through a couple of traumatic events that had happened in his life, the the father, now the ex in his life. But she said, I wanted our children to see that in times of trouble we can [00:05:00] still be a family unit who supports one another. And man I. This is the part where I feel like I'm sure people listening to this. Say, but that's the right thing to do. And that's what this person's been trying to do. Their entire marriage when they had kids, was trying to show that we can still get along. But I think those that are starting to wake up to the narcissism, the narcissistic traits, tendencies in their relationships, whether it's in their marital relationship or their parental relationship or their sibling relationship or work relationship, start to recognize that I may have that value of, hey, all for one and one for all. But if I am now dealing with an emotionally immature person there, it's almost as if the more that you put in that we can make this work or we can work together. You're just sitting right in front of him handing them buttons to push to allow them to take that one up position of superiority and make you feel bad. So the all for one and one for all is just continuing to perpetuate the problem, which is what tends to drive the pathologically kind person even more crazy.
[00:05:58] So she said that [00:06:00] it took her years of disengaging for him to finally back off on the control. She said. That being said a couple of words. She said her sons don't seem to be as impacted because they tended to be the golden children to him. But she said a couple of the daughters stopped seeing their father and would only go on holidays and then the occasional dinner every now and again. And she said they've chosen to stay with me. And now she's remarried my and she said with my new husband. And she said her oldest is now dealing with a trauma response and anxiety in general around men. She said they both they're still in their teens. The other person in their teens has told them that they can't go to dad with a problem because he spends it around on them and makes them feel like it's all their fault and that he doesn't have time for any of it. Because what is he doing for What are they doing for him? Why are they bringing this to him now? Don't they understand how hard he's working? Don't they understand how devastated he is because of the decisions that his mom made or their mom made for the divorce? She said that when we divorced, what he would use the [00:07:00] girls was for housekeeping, saying that, hey, I'm alone and what am I supposed to do? He said, Your mom obviously left me, so now I have to keep the house clean and I have to work for a living.
[00:07:11] So I needed the I need you girls. But then they said that it's never done right, and that would just give him more of an opportunity to yell and scream and take on this victim mentality. So she said he's absolutely not a hands on parent and now she doesn't even ask for help for anything. And her question, she says, So my question, she said, I've never put their father down or spoken terribly about him in front of the children who are now all young adults. I've always tried to make excuses for him and give him the benefit of the doubt and encourage the girls to have a relationship with him, she said. I've even said to them that it must be frustrating not to have the relationship you imagine with your dad, but you have to accept that the relationship is what it is and accept that where it is, however that looks like for them, she said. I want to validate their feelings and encourage their own growth and boundary [00:08:00] setting, but be mindful not to throw their bio dad under the bus. At what point do I validate their feelings and let them know that they have been dealing with the narcissist their entire life? She said.
[00:08:09] I don't want them in that same space as me making the same mistakes. So what a great question and I hope you can understand why I laid out that set up that scenario first, because you can see that here's this nice woman who was finally able to get out of a really bad situation and has found herself now in a better situation, a better relationship. But she still feels like I owe it to buffer for the kids. I still owe the relationship the respect that we don't talk ill or negative. And so how do I validate them? But then and I know and I'm telling the woman who wrote this, if you're listening, thank you so much. And because now I feel like, oh, I'm going to sound like I'm about to pick you apart and I'm really not, that's not the goal. But I love when in the question itself, you said, I want to validate and encourage the growth, but be mindful not to throw them under the bus, but [00:09:00] then saying that it must be frustrating. So that's the right thing to do. Man, that must be frustrating. Tell me more about that. To not have that relationship then. The key word here is then. But but you have to accept and accept it where it is. And so that but this is where I talk so much about the concept of psychological reactance or the instant negative reaction of literally being told what to do so we can hear and understand and validate and listen to somebody.
[00:09:24] And then I feel like we have to stay in that curious mindset instead of saying, But what are you going to do? Or but what you don't understand is because what we just did was we heard them and understood them. And then we we just went right back and then went into fixing or judgment mode. So let me throw a few more thoughts out here. My opinion and I have thought about this a lot over the last few years is this question continues to get brought up in therapy and now with the podcast several times a week, and this is where I started saying to myself, and now more out loud that, okay, don't throw biodata under the bus. Sounds like great advice. And I honestly don't feel like it's ever going to be [00:10:00] helpful to what I was going to say to literally throw him under the bus. That's literally probably not a good idea at any point because that's a crime. And I would rather have you out of jail to be able to help your kids. But I really don't think it's a healthy place to be. The buffer between your kids feelings and in this scenario, the bio dad, you know, I feel like your job, more like your opportunity, is to be the sounding board, almost like this validation machine or the sympathizer.
[00:10:25] And that doesn't have to look like you throwing your dad under it. And so I couldn't help myself. Webster's dictionary says the phrase is origin of throwing one under the bus is uncertain, but it likely got to start in British politics, where the phrase under a bus was already in use as a metaphor for misfortune or a conveniently timed accident. And then Wikipedia says the earliest known usage of the phrase Throw someone under the bus was the 21st of June 1982, when Julian Critchley of the Times London wrote President Galtieri had pushed her under the bus, which the gossips had said was the only means of her removal. I always wondered where that one came from because it seems to have [00:11:00] popped up even more over the last few years. So I also want to introduce a concept of just asterisks, personality disorder or asterisks, narcissism. So this isn't even something that you have to worry about or question in a healthy. And I know this might sound like an oxymoron, but a healthy, emotionally mature divorce, which when I started doing therapy, I thought that would be how most of them were. When people say the right thing, we need to do what's best for the kids. That I think, okay, great, they get it. But that's a nice thing to say and do until the person doesn't do it. And there's so many ways that you start to see this creep in. And that's the point where if let's just use the scenario that is very common or let's just say that dads, the more emotionally immature, the narcissist and so mom has broken out of what in essence feels like this trauma bond or a trauma response.
[00:11:50] And last week I talked about the amygdala hijack. So she gets out of this relationship and she starts to feel like she can be more of herself. So when the kids come over, she's able to be present and she's able to help with homework [00:12:00] and she laughs a little bit more, and maybe she's starting to feel like more of herself because she's not worried about her husband. Feeling like that, that he's going to judge her or tell her, Oh, you seem like in a good mood is if that's a bad thing or why aren't you that excited to see me like you are the kids and that kind of vibe. But then the kids go over to Dad's house, and then if Dad's just like this scenario, sitting around watching TV and the house is a mess and then dad is subconsciously or probably not thinking this at all, but wanting to show, look how bad this is. Look what your mother did to me because that's a victim mentality where then they want even their little kids to come and comfort them and to say, It's okay, Daddy, it's okay. I love you. Okay, Thanks. Thanks, pal. And instead of showing up and saying, I need to be here for my kids, doing what's best for the kids is to just their kids.
[00:12:48] That's scenario. As all they know, they're not sitting there thinking, thinking about the complex process of divorce and the emotions around it. They're saying, okay, mom now starts to seem happy. So I think I like that. Makes me feel good about [00:13:00] myself and dad. Oh, man, he seems so sad and angry. And then I try to help, but then he seems to get even worse and more angry. So you're going to form quite an anxious attachment style to that parent where you don't know which version of that parent you're going to get. So the emotionally mature thing to do for your kids is to be able to show your best self, do your own work, and show up in a way that's confident but then not invalidate their feelings. So let's look at I just throw out a couple of things there. You want. You have this opportunity to be a sounding board, a validation machine, and empathize. And let's look at what each one of those words that I shared earlier. Maybe we'll say, here's what they don't look like. Validation is not making an excuse for or trying to fix or dismissing what somebody shares with you. And I jotted down some notes of an example in an adult situation and an adult child. But I think if you take this concept as a framework and then I'll try to give maybe an example with a younger kid, I think you'll see where I'm going with this.
[00:13:59] So in [00:14:00] this scenario, I'm working and this was a long time ago, so I'm saying it as if it's in the present tense. But and I've changed a couple of the details, of course, but this one is very real. So I'm working with a woman who divorced the narcissist after a really long marriage, and I'd had a chance to meet with him. And it was really odd. It was just really bizarre because he had never been to counseling, he had never been to therapy. He let me know that that it wasn't something that he believed in. So that's always a great way to start. Talk about not being open to to listen or to hear. And and then he clearly said a lot of things where they just aren't the right things to say when you go in and and try to talk about a relationship or talk to a therapist. And I know that sounds judgmental, but I'm going to sit in my healthy ego on this one. And this is where when he just comes in to let me know all the things that I don't know about his wife and that if she would just And then he gave me a whole laundry list of things that he had been telling her to do for a long period of time, that she hadn't done.
[00:14:52] So instead of looking at himself and saying, Wait, is it possible that I'm asking for too much? Or if I really don't understand who she is? But that's a whole [00:15:00] topic for another episode. But so the woman comes into my office and asks this very type of question about how do I answer my adult daughter in the following scenario? So the dad or my client's ex husband told the daughter that he has no money, he has absolutely no money after the divorce that he said, you know, that your mom took that off from me. And so now he cannot afford to help with a down payment for a house. And I am going to have a difficult time not going off on tangents on this one, because even as I jotted down notes for this example, I completely forgot that in further context, the dad had recently returned from a I believe it was a deep sea fishing expedition where he had talked to the daughter about how expensive it was and how he had finally allowed himself to stay in one of the finest hotels in the area that he was at because he deserved it. After all that, the daughter's mother, his ex wife, had put him through with the divorce and saying that as if the daughter would say, Man, dad, yeah, you deserved it. You deserve to stay in the finest [00:16:00] places. And I don't know how you did it.
[00:16:02] Literally talking about her, her mom. But he said, I can't help with the down payment of the house. And then he came back a couple of days later and he said, you know, I was thinking more about it and I think I probably could pull it off if you were interested in maybe buying or building a house that had one of those mother in law quarters. But we could you know, it could be a father's quarters. And that way then I would have a place as well. I could help you watch the kids. It would absolutely be a win win. Again, this one is real. And the narcissist dad to this day now does not understand why the daughter didn't take up take him up on it. And he had no awareness that he had literally just said, I have all this money that I took on a deep sea fishing expedition and then said, But I am so broke and I wish I could help you, but I absolutely can't. And then comes back later and says, Actually I could as long as there was something in it for me. So to this day, he doesn't understand why the daughter didn't take him up on it and he now uses it against her whenever. Now [00:17:00] he doesn't show up for a significant event in the grandkids lives. One of the scenarios I remember. We talked through with my client was he said that her daughter had told her, Well, I knew you really didn't want me around when you refused.
[00:17:13] And this is where the story has come fabricated over time. When you refused my offer to help you guys get into a home. And I know this is taking this answer off topic a bit, but this one just shows the incredible depth of narcissism and the gaslighting and how difficult it can be to even try to keep up with a story that makes no sense. Somebody on one of the group calls a couple of weeks ago in the narcissistic women's Facebook group said, trying to make sense out of nonsense. And I loved it because that's exactly this, because this story has it absolutely can fabricated. So now, according to the daughter that it was now, the dad had actually initially came to the daughter saying, hey, I've been thinking about it and I'd like to help you with the down payment of your first home. And now, according to him, she's the one that said, I don't feel good about it, Dad. So he's the one that now suggested that they could get a home with an in-law's quarters and he could [00:18:00] stop by every now and again whenever she needed him, but that he really didn't need to. He just wanted to help. So again, the story was actually that the father's mother had passed and came into an inheritance. But the dad, who also had a well-paying job at the time after his divorce from the daughter's mother and the narcissist wife.
[00:18:15] And I know this is getting confusing, but the more I think about the story, the more you see how the narcissistic patterns continue. So the daughter had started talking about buying a house, and then that's when the dad started claiming poor. But I digress. So the story was now that he was the hero, that he was the hero that came to his daughter and said, I would love to help out. I have a plan. But then she shut him down. That's the story as it now is. And now he had the proof that she didn't care about him. So when he forgot about a grandkids birthday one time, she found out later that he didn't want to come to a grandson's birthday party because there was a football game on that afternoon that he had wanted to see. There's a part of me that feels great satisfaction when you finally do get to understand the real reason why the narcissist doesn't do what the narcissist doesn't want to do. She had ran into a friend who said, you know, it was [00:19:00] really good hanging out with your dad the other day at a football game. I didn't know he was such a I know what a Niners fan. And that was the afternoon that he missed the birthday party. But back to that exact day of the birthday party when her dad, the narcissist, had missed the birthday party of his grandson, she texted him and said, Hey, can you at least let your grandson know that if you that you might be stopping by later with the present because your grandson had asked aloud, Is Grandpa coming to my birthday party as it was starting to wrap up? So he then texted her back and said, Well, I assumed I wasn't invited because of the whole house ordeal, as he called it.
[00:19:36] It can just be maddening. So the woman in my office asked about throwing her ex under the bus. In that situation, she said, What do I say to my adult daughter? So then here's where I talk about validation. Validation is then asking your daughter how she feels. Hold off on the fix it or judgment. And in the world of my four pillars of a connected conversation, these same rules apply. And this is what I think helps this framework. Pillar one and it's easy here, is to assume [00:20:00] good intentions that the daughter, this adult daughter absolutely is not trying to make her mother, my client, the the person who divorced the narcissist feel bad about this conversation. The reason she brought it up was not to try to make the mom feel guilty for getting the divorce from the narcissistic father. So check. But my pillar to here, I think is the big one and pillar to the mother. My client, the former wife of the narcissist, she can't put off the energy when she's talking to her daughter, be it an adult daughter, be it a teen, an adolescent.
[00:20:30] But the mother can't put off the energy or literally say or show with her body language that her daughter is wrong with the way she feels or that the mother doesn't believe her or thinks that what the daughter is bringing up is ridiculous, because any of those type of responses, verbal or nonverbal, come across as fixing or judgment statements. So this will ease the this will ease the mother into pillar three, my pillar three of asking questions before making comments. So now if she's, of course, assume good intentions [00:21:00] that that her adult daughter is bringing this up not to hurt her, but because she feels safe and then if she's in that pillar two is where then the kind person tends to jump in and say, put off this message that, hey, it's what you're saying is wrong, or I don't believe you, or let me just fix or judge that. Here's what you need to do. Here's what you need to understand about your dad. This is that part where I feel like the fear of throwing the dad and the scenario under the bus comes in. So instead, pillar three questions before comments. Tell me more about that. How do you feel? What do you want to do? And here comes the validation. Man Thank you so much for sharing.
[00:21:36] That sounds really hard. I can understand why you're frustrated. And then pillar four is now that mom staying present, leaning in and not going into any kind of a victim energy or mentality, because after validating and there was empathy there and that. Tell me more about that then. Don't say, Look, I was just doing my best. Or at least you still have a dad. Mine was never around because that's the mother in the scenario then looking for rescue, [00:22:00] because then the daughter would say, No, mom, I know. I should just be grateful that he comes around every now. Again. And I know you had it harder because if there is no validation or no empathy, you will not be a safe place for them to come to and ask questions and to share their emotions. And this is where the pathologically kind mom in the scenario or it can be the dad. If the mother is the more emotionally immature, narcissistic, they think they're doing the right thing. And it makes sense in a normal, healthy relationship to then to protect or to not throw the person under the bus. But in a situation with an emotionally immature narcissist that is invalidating to the person bringing those frustrations. So it is your time to listen, empathize, ask questions and stay present. And then and I think this is the fine line is that depending on the emotional maturity of the child, then I feel like there can now start to be a sharing of.
[00:22:54] Well, here, here. Yeah, I can understand that. Here's what my experience was. But tell me what that brings up for you or tell me more. [00:23:00] Does this bring up more experiences for you? So again, if there's no validation or no empathy, you're not going to be you're not going to continue to be a safe place to talk. So buffering in this scenario then starts to sound like a lot of you know, I'm sure he doesn't know what he's doing or, Well, what did you expect? He's done this a million times. Or just give him time. Maybe he's going through it and maybe he'll show up better because those statements and I know they're pretty tame in this example. Because I understand. True. Throwing someone under the bus to say and things like. Yeah, welcome to my world. What a what a piece of crap. Or far worse than that, I'm sure. Or you expected something different. I mean, he's never done a decent thing in his life, you know? So that's really more of the thrown under the bus. So again, validation is saying, I hear you. Thank you for sharing your feelings, your thoughts, your emotions are real and valid. And I am so grateful you're sharing them. So now is when I believe that you are are safe to start to share your own. I feel statements and in this one the mom eventually did.
[00:23:56] After validating and empathizing and listening, she said, Thank you so much for sharing that [00:24:00] and I appreciate the trust you have on me. I feel like I've had similar experiences where he wasn't aware of or maybe even capable of seeing the hypocrisy in one minute, spending a lot of money and then the next claiming that we were poppin. So then the mom reported me that then she asked the daughter, Now, at this point, hey, do you remember other examples or similar situations? And the daughter just opened up and unloaded dozens of other examples throughout her childhood. And my client said that that she was able to validate and empathize. And they they shared stories. And yes, they were talking about him, but they weren't saying that dirty piece of crap that no good. What did you expect? But it was a man. Tell me how you felt about that. And I remember a situation where I felt the hypocrisy or I felt like I wasn't able to share my own feelings. And that was really difficult, you know? Have you ever had an experience like that? And now somebody who hasn't been in a situation like this is welcome to say it sounds like you still threw him under the bus. That's not cool. And to that, I say, I appreciate you for sharing that. And I'm doing a dramatic pause for effect because that's all [00:25:00] I need to say, because this is your experience and you don't have to defend it or you don't have to tell the other person that they don't understand.
[00:25:06] Because over time, people that are writing in and letting me know that now they truly are learning not to engage with somebody who doesn't understand because they won't understand and that it does get to be easier and you start to seek out and find support groups or people that have maybe been through similar situations. And those are people that it's safe to share this kind of dialog. So this is an example with an adult child, and I'm running into more and more where people are asking their kids when they come back from maybe the narcissistic parents house just, hey, hey, how was your weekend? And if the kid knows that the parent is going to tell them, hey, let's not talk about mom like that, you know, then the kid's starting to learn the rules of, well, I thought I could tell dad anything. But in this scenario, if the mom is a narcissist, I can tell dad anything except for the things that he doesn't want to talk about or the things that he'll tell me when it's okay to talk about, and then how I talk about them, which I did an episode in the virtual couch this week about an anxious attachment style, and I highly recommend that you go check it out. But I just had an [00:26:00] aha moment while I'm recording this episode of Waking Up.
[00:26:03] The narcissism about a portion of the article that I am going to pull up and it talks about anxious attachment, and I think this is exactly what we're talking about. This might make more sense to the pathologically kind person and how they are showing up for their kids. So this was an article in Psychology Today by Lisa Firestone. She's a PhD, and it's how anxious attachment style affects the relationships. And so this is the reason, anxious attachment. This has a lot to do with our early attachment pattern. And Lisa says, I often say that getting to know our attachment patterns can be the gift that keeps on giving in terms of understanding how we think, feel and act in our relationships. So when she's talking about anxious attachment, and I'm going to read directly from this article, she said, When a child feels safe, seen and soothed by their parent in a consistent way, then they're able to form a secure attachment to that parent. So there's our goal right there. The child feels safe, seen and soothed, and that's going to look different than trying to protect [00:27:00] or buffer the the narcissist. So she said, when a parent is available and attuned at times and insensitive or intrusive at others, the child is more likely to experience an anxious attachment pattern. And an anxiously attached child can feel like they have to cling to their parent to get their needs met.
[00:27:17] And they may feel upset by separation, so they have trouble feeling soothed by the parent when they're reunited. So all that they want is to feel seen and soothed and understood by the parent. But then when the parent finally tries to provide that, they don't know how to accept it. So she said, this attachment pattern can form when a child experiences emotional hunger directed at them by the parent instead of nurturing love. So when a parent is emotionally hungry, they may focus on or look to the child to meet their own needs. So take that example then, where the emotionally starved, emotionally immature dad in that scenario is having a full blown pity party. And then the daughter's come over and then he is so down that now [00:28:00] he's emotionally hungry. And fortunately the emotions that he consumes and that he eats on a regular basis is power and control. And he needs that. He is hungry for that control. So now he's going to focus on the child to meet that need. Now he needs to make her feel bad. He needs to control her. He needs to take the victim role one minute and then he needs to take the role of superiority the next. So that child is. Is playing right into the parent, that narcissistic parent in that situation, having their needs met by the child. So then Lisa says, for instance, they may hug the child when they need a hug or seek reassurance from the child when they wish to be comforted.
[00:28:36] And I feel like Lisa's obviously not talking about personality disorders or they can control the child when they need to control someone. But however, then when the child needs affection or love from the parent, the parent may be distracted or preoccupied with their own needs. Boy, I think I'm having a bunch of aha moments. Talk about the and welcome to the world of learning how an unhealthy attachment bond works, which then may lead to a [00:29:00] trauma bond in adult relationships. So she said parents who form an anxious attachment between themselves and their children are often mis attuned to the child's needs. Again, think of that the nurse is not in tune with the child's needs. And what we're talking about today is, hey, let's get in tune with the child's needs to be heard and understood and soothed. So when they give let me put this back in context. Parents who form an anxious attachment between themselves and the child are often mis attuned to the child's needs. When they give to the child, they do so in a manner that's intrusive or more about themselves. So they may care more about the parents of being a good parent than the act of tuning into their children. That is, seeing the kid for who that they are and giving to them in a way that sensitive to what they need in that moment.
[00:29:41] That is incredibly difficult for the emotionally immature parent, she said. For example, one mother described creating elaborate birthday parties for her daughter. She'd decorate lavishly and dress up herself, hoping to gain attention for being the perfect mom. However, a daughter would be left feeling anxious and comfortable and pressured to perform as the perfect little girl to make her mother look good. And the daughter ended up feeling drained [00:30:00] and empty from the party, which really wasn't about her. And this was actually the paragraph that really wanted to get to. But I'm glad that we went down the path of how the anxious attachment bond forms. But she said these parents can become distracted by their own insecurity and without realizing it, act in ways that are either overbearing and disregarding of their kids. However, because they sometimes get it right and respond to their child in a tuned ways, the child may be left feeling desperate and needy toward the parent, feeling like they have to fuss or make their emotional needs known in order to get what they need. So then a child who experiences an anxious attachment often feels drained rather than nurtured by their parents attention. Because that attention feels empty and disabling, they tend to worry about their parent and cling to them out of a feeling of need and sometimes guilt like they have to take care of their parent. What a fascinating concept of being there to be able to be in alignment with a tune to soothe, hear, validate and understood child or an adult child or an adolescent.
[00:30:56] So that's what you're doing. You're not throwing your the narcissist [00:31:00] under the bus. What you're doing is you are validating and being in alignment and attuned to your child's needs so you can help form more of a secure attachment. I really have no idea how long I've been recording and I was going to do a couple more answers. So let me there was one that just it's a real simple question, but the person that's a short question, not a simple answer. Can you please give me info on when narcissists give the silent treatment? And I just want to say welcome to the world of button pushing. And I've had a lot of situations or a lot of sessions lately talking about how to get to the popcorn moments and what happens is the silent treatment. Then if you eventually cave in and say, okay, fine, hey, how are you today? How's your day? What's going on? Then that that they learned that button works. If the nurses pushes the silent treatment button, then eventually they gain control again, because you are going to be the one that's going to reengage. And it sounds emotionally immature, but a boundary could be, Hey, when you do the silent treatment, then I'm just going to do my own [00:32:00] thing. I really am. And so when you're ready to show back up in the relationship, I would love to to have you show back up.
[00:32:06] But I'm not going to be the one that's going to reach out because I don't like that anxiety or tension now saying that is not going to make the nurses say, Oh my gosh, you're right. I didn't even think about that. But this is maybe even more of at first an internal mindset. So just be aware of the button pushing, which is what leads to the whole concept of the popcorn moments. And I had a client this week that I started working with, and I was so grateful because they were explaining a lot of things and wanting some answers to questions. And I just said, okay, any time that you try to express yourself or you withdraw or you cry or you get angry or frustrated, you're showing a reaction and you're handing them your buttons to push whenever they don't want to talk about something, whenever they are in danger of having to take ownership or accountability of something that they've done wrong, they're going to start, okay, what button can I push to get me out of this jam? And if I just withdraw and pull the silent treatment, well, guess what? We don't have to talk about all the crummy things that I did. This is me talking [00:33:00] as the narcissist. And so for this person I was talking with, then I said, if you just step back and then just eat your popcorn and watch the show, then you're going to see the whole range of emotions.
[00:33:10] And they talked about a situation where their spouse then they did, they disengaged and they said it was the craziest thing. They watched their spouse go all through all the emotions, anger, sadness. Rage, laughter, seduction, all of them, all of those emotions. And they said, oh, my gosh. What that showed me was it really doesn't matter what I say or what I do, because they're going to do whatever they need to do to try to get me engaged into the discussion so they can then get angry or withdraw whatever that button is, because then we no longer have to talk about what I'm trying to bring up in the relationship. So the silent treatment is just another one of the buttons. And the more that you can start to pull away from the insanity of the gaslighting. Set the boundary of I'm not going to I'm not going to engage when you're acting like this, when you're calling me names, when you're saying things, [00:34:00] when we get away from the real question, then you're going to watch. You're going to watch more buttons get pushed, unfortunately. And I know that I like to say, See, you're doing it right, but it does mean that it's going to get a little bit worse before it gets better. Because if the narcissist needs you in that trauma bond, they need you as the supply.
[00:34:18] This example that we talked about today, I think is so fitting because when that guy retreats to his single person bachelor pad man cave that is disheveled and shows, just look how bad my life is. Then he's saying, Please come in here, let me I need my fix. It's certainly not going to be from validation me clean in my own house because then people are going to think I'm okay. And if I'm okay, then they may not. I might not know how to do that and I don't know how to just do okay. What I know how to do is victim and I know how to do control. I know how to do anger, I know how to button push. So I need people to engage with me because if they don't respond to the buttons, then all of a sudden I might have to be met with the fact that I am not handling [00:35:00] it. It's mind blowing. It really is A lot of questions. A lot more. Well, here's I'll do this one. Maybe I can have a little bit of fun with if there's anything to have fun with, the person said. I've always wondered, do narcissists get along with other narcissists? And I say, man, narcissist on narcissist crime. They said, the reason I ask, they said, is my mother, who is as snarky as they get now, turns out to be best friends with my ex, who is also a narcissist.
[00:35:23] And they do. And it's the most fascinating thing. And it's because it's just surface level relationship to surface level relationship. I'm not going to hear you. You're not hearing me. But we both sure seem to be engaged in this conversation. So you must really think I'm hilarious. And I don't know if you look at it from each person's, each one of the narcissist lens. So let's say that I'm the guy narcissist, and I'm talking to my mother in law and I'm just saying, man, I don't know how I, I don't know how you put up with her because she must have been a handful when you were when she was growing up. So now the mom's thinking, oh, my gosh, this guy gets it. Yeah, she was horrible. Yeah. I'll tell you how I put up with it. Me, me, me, I. That's how I did it. And all the guy is hearing [00:36:00] is, Oh, the mother in law. Boy, she's sure digging what I'm saying. So then I talk about. Yeah, that's what I always assumed. Me, me, me. I did. The mother in law then says, okay, well, he's we're staying engaged in this conversation. So I feel like it's the narcissism, narcissist, crime, the me, me, me, I show. And then they end that and they both think, you know what? Why? Why did she divorce him? Because I gets it. And it just it's hilarious to me.
[00:36:24] I think it's hilarious, though, down the road. I know that that's not something that can be very, very fun at the time. All right. Keep those messages coming in. Give me your examples. You can reach out to Contact@tonyoverbay.com or send them through the website, Tony, over Macomb. And I really I appreciate the support. It's it's it's mind boggling. It's mind boggling the how how many emails come in a week and I'm grateful for them that is not saying to the pathologically kind person they might say, well I don't want to bother him with an email. No send them. It feels therapeutic for you to write it out and then I will read the ones I can read and [00:37:00] I send them to Naomi and she's keeping a database of them and we'll get to them at some point. Whether it has to be a separate podcast of narcissist stories or whatever that looks like, because the more stories that are shared, the more questions that are answered. I feel like that actually maybe does more for people to feel understood and heard and validated. Then going over the definitions of things like gaslighting or trauma bonding, we'll do that stuff too. But but man, your stories and your questions and your emails and those that are in the Facebook group, which is now such an amazing group, those are the things that really are the lifeblood of this, this whole podcast. So have an amazing week. I'll see you next time on Waking Up to Narcissism.