People often stay in relationships with narcissistic or emotionally immature partners in hopes that it will be better in the long run for the kids. Unfortunately, staying can often send the exact opposite message. Tony reads another poem from his private women's Facebook group and a letter from the son of a narcissistic father. He then shares Karyl McBride's article "How Narcissistic Parenting Can Affect Children" Karyl is the author of the book "Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers"

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Narcissistic Mothers Transcript

Hey everybody. Welcome to episode 68 of Waking Up to Narcissism. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, host of the Virtual Couch podcast and one that I would be just so grateful that you, if you will go check that out, is the Waking Up to Narcissism premium question and answer podcast. So the links for all of the above will be in the show notes. Just look for a, it's a link tree slash Virtual Couch. And then that has links to everything, including marriage course, marriage workshop, Instagram accounts and TikTok and all those sorts of things. But let's get to today's topic. I want to start with another poem that comes from my women's private Facebook group. 

I wish I was a poet. I wish I was creative and thought in the ways that the people that are sharing their talents around this difficult topic of narcissism and emotional immaturity. So I'm going to start with a poem and then, boy, today, we're going to talk about the effects of narcissism and extreme emotional immaturity on children and someone in the group, they had a teenage son write a letter to their dad and they said that they were okay if we just kept the name out of it, anonymous, and shared that on the podcast and it's powerful. And then I found a really good article by someone that has done some amazing work with narcissism and emotional immaturity. Carol McBride. She's a licensed marriage and family therapist and she's the author of a book called “Will I ever be good enough? Healing the daughters of narcissistic mothers”. And I'll have the link to that in the show notes as well. If you just read the reviews alone, it just speaks to people that weren't even aware of the effect of having a narcissistic parent and specifically in our system, mother had on their life. So let's get to the show. Let me start with this poem from one of the women in the group and she titled it, “Let me go”.

“Let me go, release me. Let me be on my way. And no, there's not one bit of me that would willingly stay. You revealed to me a part of you I've not seen before, and I'll never forget. It was cold contemptuous, a looming shadow of terrifying threat. You acted fast at the start, setting me up for this gradual fall. Conditioning my mind. So I couldn't think clearly at all. Confusion and self doubt became the biggest parts of me. You took my freedom, stripped away my self esteem. It was inevitable. Impossible to see. You know, I'd never hit you is what you would always say is that reassuring. I wondered in a hazy fog of dismay. Silently. I thought if you did, at least I would understand this underlying feeling that somehow I was under your command. You worked relentlessly. I was questioning myself every single day. Pieces of me were being chipped at gradually floating away. I started not to recognize the person I saw in the mirror. The truth is I was too trusting, too naive even to consider. Why would a person want to do this to another human? Dismantled their brain. Keep them prisoner in a state of delusion. Surely only a person who's hurting to the very depth of their core. As you like to remind me often to fix me, the body keeps the score. But the pieces of me, I thought had gone, were waiting for me somewhere else. 

I was forming another version of me with a stronger sense of self. I could see glimmers of her and momentary flashes. It took some time, but she started to emerge rising from the ashes. I'm not asking you to let me go. I'm telling you I'm on my way. And whilst I'm edit, you'll never have another opportunity to make me obey. I'm sorry, you have so much pain that you chose to act as you do. But for me, I'll no longer take part in your play.”

The taming of the Shrew. I think we can just let that one sit there on its own, but it just speaks so beautifully to just the awakening of, that it's okay to have your own thoughts and opinions and to recognize how unhealthy that control and manipulation is in a relationship. And, I will beat this drum every chance I get that that is not part of a healthy human relationship. You're allowed to have your own thoughts and opinions. And if you are continually trying to figure out how to negotiate the complicated nature of trying to communicate with someone else at the risk of who you are and your own self-development, then, welcome, welcome to the podcast. And in this, getting your, in essence, your PhD and personality disorders and extreme emotional immaturity. And it can be difficult and the process can be lengthy. But there is hope there, there is absolute hope. Let me jump right to this letter. I'm going to read this letter from a son, a teenage son that again, was given full permission to share on the podcast and share with my women's group in emotionally immature relationships or narcissistic relationships. And then we're going to talk about narcissism and the effect on kids. The person in the group said that her son who is 18 sent this to her to get her thoughts on it. And she said she bawled. She went downstairs. She bawled some more while hugging him and telling him how sorry she was, that he had to deal with this. 

She said that she was racked with guilt, that she didn't know how bad it was. And then she said, I asked if I could share this with a group. And he agreed as long as it was anonymous. And then I had asked permission to share on the podcast as well. But I believe the comment that I made to her even in the group was I'm so sorry that she feels the way that she did. But she truly did not know what she did not know. And I believe was 100% trying her best because this whole process of awakening to this, it can be really difficult because none of us want to think that we ever put our kids in a position where they weren't allowed to grow and thrive and emotionally mature because the people that are waking up to this and themselves have to come to this realization of what that's been like for them to even start to understand what that's been like for their kids. And this is where I just, I implore you to give yourself grace beyond anything else, because if you are listening to this, if you're starting to do your homework, if you're starting to recognize and learn the things you didn't know that you didn't know, then you are changing the dynamic and the pattern in your family, there's no doubt about that. And your kids will appreciate that. And it may take a while and some will be like this letter that I'm going to read. And they're gonna, they're gonna really understand that boy you weren't aware of what you weren't aware of just as they weren't as well. And so the fact that you are starting to open up to this will give them a voice because you're going to be a safer place for them to be able to share and express their feelings and emotions. 

So here's the letter. And the son said for dad, been working on this, let me know what you think. And then it had the crying face emojis. I mean, you can tell that, that he's saying, okay. You know, here we go. We'll see how this, how this goes. So the letter that he wrote, the teenage son said, “I hate you. I think you should know that. I've thought about you a lot recently, actually, and I realized something. I have no happy memories with you. Everyone I have, there's a sense of fear or guilt or anger or something along those lines that pops up. I avoid you now, because anytime I speak to you, there's an inescapable feeling of rage that boils up.” So if I just pause, I wasn't going to commentate on the letter itself, but even this teenage boy and boys that, that most teenage boys, like to watch cartoons, eat cereal, play video games and compartmentalize. So the fact that his own body keeps the score is pretty phenomenal. That even when he's in the same room, he has that inescapable feeling of rage that boils up. So back to the letter. Like I said, “there's no happy memories. You know what I do remember? I remember you telling me not to wear my favorite color to school because it was a girly color.” And he said, “literally it was red. I remember you commanding me from the couch to refill your whiskey glass. I remember you driving 80 to 90 miles an hour on gravel roads at night drunk with me and others in the car as you swerved all over, not being scared for myself and the others safety. I remember you blocking the doors out of the house, stealing my keys. So I couldn't get away from you. I remember walking miles down a driveway in boots with no socks to get away from you so [the mom] could drive over an hour to come and get me. I remember you threw me around into the walls of the house. I remember you throwing me into the bathtub when I was younger because I accidentally woke others up before school. I remember the sound of you screaming in my face and I could smell your nasty breath from it. I remember the emotional manipulation that you put me through. You made me feel guilty for seeing who you are. And as I got older and I learned more, you got angrier. I remember you playing with my emotions to make me compete in sports year after year, when it was clear that I didn't enjoy those particular sports and the list goes on and on. Some thinking about all these things. And I realized that you never saw me as a human being and you still don't. You have no sense of respect or love for me, I'm nothing more than an extension of yourself and your eyes. You made me do the things that you wanted me to do my whole life with no regard for what I wanted. I realized that what you wanted so badly for me to be with something that you were. I realized that you wanted so badly for me to be something because you're nothing, you're a liar, a manipulator and an abuser, nothing more. You wanted to parade me and my siblings around like prize possessions to make up for the fact that you've done nothing inherently good your whole life. You want to throw it in mom's face, you've got more money than her, and you can afford to buy all these things, but you still don't manage to pay your child support on time because you don't give a crap about us. Which sucks because your money is the only thing you're good for. I've also realized through all of this that you don't love me. And that the only reason you say it so much is to make up for the fact that you don't and to try to convince yourself that you do. You're a pathetic father, a sad man, any decent man is supposed to protect his children and loved ones, not be the person that endangers and hurts them. I'm done talking to you even after all these years, you're still putting on an act for everybody else. You still want to portray yourself as the almighty loving father and take credit for everything you didn't do. And then deny the blame for everything you did. Do I see your whole act of getting quotes, changing? Out in public, but you're still the same miserable, horrible person when it really comes down to it. And when you're behind closed doors, don't respond to this. Don't try talking to me. I'm done with it. Just sit this, read it and sit in it.” 

So you can feel that emotion. And I'm trusting that if you are already here and listening to this podcast, that there isn't judgment at all on that letter, that there's empathy, compassion. You can feel the strength and the, just the anger and the power and the just trying to see someone take control of their life. And at 18 to have to have this kind of awareness over some human being, you know, you hear that concept of an old soul and sometimes it sounds like it's pretty cool. Like this 16 year old is going to fire up a bass guitar and play jazz, like that's your old soul, but really an old soul is somebody that has not been able to really find their sense of self as a kid. And they've been having to figure out how to survive and how to cope and how to not get in trouble and how to protect siblings sometimes. And how to just say, man, there's nothing I can do right now. I gotta get out. Instead of just being a kid and being a teenager and just caring about school and relationships and movies and all the things that a teenager is missing out on because they have to grow up and they have to protect and they have to learn to read the room and manage others expectations. So I'm just, I'm grateful that he took the time to write this, that he shared it with his mom, that his mom shared it with the group. And so I often find myself getting asked questions about children and co-parenting with a narcissist and staying in the relationship. So that at least they have a mom or a dad, whoever is the more emotionally immature. 

And I try to, I feel like, tiptoe around this because I don't know what divorce is like. Because I am, I'm still married. My parents didn't divorce. And but I work in this world of divorce and it's easy for me to say that in these emotionally immature relationships, that when somebody gets out of that emotionally immature relationship and finds themselves, that they also become a completely different person and the way that they show up with their kids. And when a kid gets their own sense of self through external validation. That then when they, that you can really reverse the tide of who that kid is or what it feels like to be them. If you become this, not just a safe place where they can then dump and share emotions about the more emotionally immature parent. But where you can actually start to build that secure attachment with them so they can go out and explore and be, and do and know that they have a safe place to come back to. And that your interaction with them isn't constantly talking about, hey, watch out or things, you, you know, make sure you don't do this, or I understand, I understand how frustrated he is, but if it's more about, hey, how was your day? And what was that like? And how's your job going? And what do you want to be when you grow up? And what's that relationship like? And what do you like about this boy or this girl? And I mean, that's the way you build a real relationship. Not trying to continually figure out, okay, how do we all manage this? How do we see how we approach mom or how we approach dad, whoever the more emotionally immature person is. 

So on that note, I want to get into an article that I really do appreciate. And the article is from Psychology Today and it's titled “How Narcissistic Parenting Can Affect Children.” And this is from Carol McBride. She's got a PhD in clinical psychology. And then she again is the author of this book that is highly recommended. The book is called, “Will I ever be good enough? Healing the daughters of narcissistic mothers.” She's also a licensed marriage and family therapist. And she has 30 traits of how narcissistic parenting affects children. So I'm going to read just a couple of paragraphs that she has as part of this article. And then I'm going to go through that list. And I'm sure that I'll comment on some of those, if not all of those how. How narcissistic parenting affects the children. She says, why does it matter if a parent is a narcissist, how does that hurt a child? She said, you might be asking this question. If you're a person that is currently co-parenting with a narcissistic ex, someone raised by a narcissistic parent or one who is in a relationship currently with a narcissist, or if you're a divorce professional working on a case that involves a narcissistic parent. 

And I'll put that out there right now. I now understand a lot of therapists listen to Waking Up to Narcissism. I'm grateful for that. I am so grateful for the ones that reach out and want to be a part of the women's group or one that would love to talk about this. A group of therapists so that we can start to really address this population. But I also have a thread in the group this talking about experiences in therapy that have been detrimental because if someone, if you are going to a professional who is not familiar with emotional immaturity or narcissistic personality disorder or traits or tendencies, then it can actually be, I feel pretty detrimental because you're often being told that you're just buying into the hype of narcissism and the, what will, what are you doing and what can you do? And just stand up to him or her, just tell them. And all of those things are things that can actually end up making things worse because you're engaging. You're letting the person see, you're letting the narcissist see your buttons to push and they will do so. Carol says, given my research and clinical experience, I want to provide some education and awareness about how this disorder hurts children. She said first, let me explain it. Narcissistic personality disorder is misunderstood when applied to someone who is just boastful, arrogant and all about themselves. 

So all these traits are annoying and not fun to be around. Narcissism is a deeper, more destructive disorder that has devastating effects on the people in relationships with the individual. It's a difficult disorder to treat. And some do believe it's untreatable. And she said the cornerstones of the disorder or lack of empathy. And the inability to tune into the emotional world of others. And I am hearing, I don't want to be dramatic, but on a fairly regular basis, that from those who don't understand what narcissism really is or emotional immaturity, is that just the fact of the, that the word is being used, causes a visceral reaction and people tune out. And I've also been told pretty regularly that the shifting I have been intentional on shifting the word narcissism to emotional immaturity and that, yeah, that's a lot more palatable. And then we can all take a look at the areas where we are emotionally immature. And then the key difference is the, are the people that are willing to then sit with the discomfort of the things that they are facing. And that, that is uncomfortable for them as a human being or as an adult. And then are they willing to self confront and do something? So then when somebody will inevitably, maybe even right now, the kind person is saying, okay, I got it. Tony finally gets it. He's telling me I'm the narcissist. You are not. If you are listening to this because you are trying to do something, you are trying, you’re obviously uncomfortable and you're out there seeking help, even though you're just, you're uncomfortable. 

So that is, this on this road of empathy. And so you are literally tuning into the emotional world of others because you're worried about how you're responding to your maybe narcissistic spouse in this. What we now know is a reactive issue, a reactive abuse issue, or you're worried about, am I doing damage to my kids? So you've already broken the rules of being a narcissist. That you are not lacking empathy. You're maybe overly empathetic because you are just, what is wrong with me? I gotta figure this out. And then you absolutely are able to tune into the emotional world of others, maybe even your tuning fork is on high alert that if you've ever used a tuning fork, which I haven't, that might've made no sense. If we go back to Carol's list, she has a list of how narcissistic parenting affects children. The child won't feel heard or seen. The child's feelings and reality will not be acknowledged. And I just did an episode a week or so ago talking about the emotional abandonment that is there in our childhood, that then we bring into our adulthood that we don't even recognize is not normal. And that is if you are trying to manage your relationship with your parent as a child, then there is a high, I mean, I'm going to say it's pretty much a given. That you, your emotions are not being acknowledged and you are not being asked to be taken on your train of thought about how you're feeling or what you're thinking about a situation. It's, if you are trying to express emotion, you're probably getting a lot of either just indifference, a flat affect or a, not right now, or will you need to get over it, or how do you think that makes me feel, or you got the version of emotional immaturity or narcissism where a parent then says, no, I get it. 

Let me tell you stories of my high school days and how I overcame it. And so the fact that if you look at how great I am, and then if you aren't doing the same, then it shows that you are not as good as I am. And then if you don't listen to me, then I can say, well, I told you. And then if you try to do what I'm asking you to, because it won't feel authentic to you, then I get to say, you're not even doing it. So it's a no, it's a no win situation. When you're trying to even express yourself as a kid, to an emotionally immature/narcissistic parent, the child will be treated like an accessory to the parent rather than a person. The chat will be more valued for what they do, usually for the parent then for who they are as a person. And I think that the letter that this teenager wrote that I read earlier. It starts to feel like that quite a bit. You're valued for what you do. You're only as good as what you do for others. I mean, that is a way you truly lose your sense of self. And that's where the pathologically kind people that find themselves in again, what Rosenberg so well says, the human magnet syndrome is that you are in this place of self-love deficit. So you feel like you are only as good as what you do. And so what do you do you continue to try to do for others to try to, to get them to love you? And that, that is working absolutely counter to the fact that you are of worth and lovable as a human being. 

And so if you are trying to get people to recognize or acknowledge you or love you, then that is you're not in a healthy relationship. The child will not learn to identify or trust their own feelings and will grow up with crippling self doubt. Here's what, this is what I tried to identify last week is that if you're not allowed to explore your feelings and emotions, if you're continually told that they're wrong or not now, or just get over it or don't worry about it. Then you are continually given this message that your feelings, you don't even understand them. They're wrong. And look at how that makes me feel. So now all of a sudden, I can't trust my own gut. I can't think on my own. And what am I doing now? I'm now actually going to start going to this person to ask for their advice or their opinion or what they think I should do. And they don't have my best, they don't have what's good for me in mind. It's oh, well, what can I do? How can I manipulate this at the moment? 

And that's that form of, of really, it's a form of betrayal trauma, where you're starting to go to this person. If you're a kid to your parent, or if you're a husband or wife to your more emotionally narcissistic spouse, and you're saying, hey, here's my heart. And, I need some help in managing emotions because we are inherently designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human being. It's part of our attachment. But then that other human being is taking advantage of that opportunity and manipulating it for their own gain. The child will be taught that how they look is more important than how they feel, because when there is a real lack of knowing or understanding your kid, and if they are only as good as the things they do or how they make you feel as an emotionally immature parent, then they need to look the part they need to look the part of, if you look a certain way, then that makes me look better as a parent. The child will be fearful of being real and will instead be taught. That image is more important than authenticity. And this is part of that, when I talk about abandonment and attachment issues that we bring into our relationships is that I'm so afraid that if I am being real. That then I may lose this other person. Now if a kid grows up with a secure attachment to their parent, and if they know that it is absolutely okay to be them, whatever that looks like, whatever they like to do. And again, I feel like this is where the emotionally immature person's listening to this, which I'm sure they haven't, they wouldn't have made it 24 minutes in at this point. 

But it's like, oh, okay. So if they just want to go shoot heroin between their toes all day, then I got to support that. If you're at that point right now, you've already been looking to pick apart this entire podcast. So there's not much that I can do to convince you. But if they want to go be a, I don't know if they want to go be an explorer and then a pirate and then an astronaut, and then they want to become a surgeon and then they want to raise bunnies and then they want to, I want to go on that journey with them the whole way because if any of that becomes a, I don't think that would be good for you, champ. Why am I saying that? Because I have no idea what it feels like to be them. So don't be the person that gets in the way of the hopes and dreams of your spouse or your kid. Because the reality is that doesn't mean that they're going to all of a sudden, want to be a pirate, astronaut who raises bunnies. The thing is that, if they feel like, oh, it's okay for me to say that I want to do that. Actually, I don't know if I really even want to. But if I'm continually told no, there aren't even pirates anymore, whatever that looks like. Well then what, what do I feel like? Okay. I feel kind of dumb. And I don't know if I'm going to keep bringing my hopes and dreams to you as my parents. Because you're shooting those down. And what is, I had someone in my office recently and all the person said was they wanted to look at going to a particular grad school and the parent immediately said, that's too difficult. And I just thought, wow, that was within seconds of this person sharing something that no doubt they've been thinking about for quite some time. And then they were met with their parent who doesn't even really know. Hey take me on your train of thought. Tell me more about that. And I just said, no, you wouldn't be able to do that. 

And in essence, implying that, hey, that's really difficult. I don't think you can do difficult things and you're not very smart. So then this person just said, okay, I guess I will not open up about anything again. The child will be taught to keep secrets, to protect the parent and the family boy triangulation. Hey, don't tell your mom, don't tell your dad. That is not a healthy way to live because then the child is now again, you know, feeling like anything they say, boy, am I split? Am I going to get anybody in trouble? Is this, wait, is dad gonna get mad at me because I said something to mom or vice versa. And the child will not be encouraged to develop their own sense of self. It goes right back to that secure attachment. They're trying to figure out what they can do to then, please me. I was going to say I'm going to be dramatic and throw out a very controversial thing and it's not that, but I was with one of my adults, two of my daughters over the weekend and we'd gone to help paint my daughter Mackie’s new salon. So as a matter of fact, plug two, if you are, if you live in the Provo/Orem area of Utah, then look up at beauty by Mackie on Instagram. And she's an amazing cosmetologist. But I had some of my nieces and nephews there while we were doing this and it was late at night and it's just so fun to talk to the kids these days and listen to how old I sound. But when we were talking, they were saying, you know, a couple of them are graduating college and they're not 100% sure what they want to do. And they were almost expressing that, like I know, I should know. And I said, oh, you know, if I can just speak from some experience as a human being and throw the therapist card in there as well. 

I feel like it's very rare that somebody at the age of 22 says, I think I know what I want to do for the next 50 years of my life. I've made this choice over the last two or three as an emotionally immature individual. But in reality if you are just on the path of just trying to learn and do and be that then you're going to develop your sense of self. Now, the controversial point I made was that I just threw out that I've worked with enough people that are people like lawyers and doctors and some of those professions that you've had to spend a tremendous amount of schooling on. And just, I'm just talking about anecdotal evidence that I have as a therapist for the first 15, 16, 17 years. And talking with some of those professionals and then I'm getting them in their mid thirties to early forties and their midlife crisis phase. And that's because when we sometimes dig back and go deep, they want it to be the let's just take a doctor for example. As long as they can remember, but when you go back and look at why. That it was because whenever they said, I want to be a doctor, you watched the parents beam because boy, talk about external validation. And then whenever you talk to your friends and if your friends saying, I don't even know what I want to do. And if you say I want to be a doctor, then all of a sudden, everybody kind of lights up and like, oh, that's cool. And then if you're a kid. Oh, you're gonna be so rich and you're gonna get to do all these cool things. So then the person got the validation and then that might've carried them all the way, even through medical school for some, it hasn't for some, they get two or three years in and then at that point, they're in a crippling amount of debt and they feel stuck. They really do. 

Or others, I remember talking to a podiatrist a long time ago. And he was talking about we're looking at scheduling and he said, I can't come in on, it was like Tuesdays or Thursdays because those were surgery days. And I said, oh my gosh, what is that like? I mean, that's just gotta be crazy. And then he just said you know, he's like after about the 2000 at the time that I released the plantar fascia, he just said, yeah, not so crazy. They all kind of look the same. And I just thought, oh, to that person that was thinking, this'll be amazing. They just have foot lined up after foot lined up and slice cut into that release of a plaintiff. Release the fascist to get rid of the plantar fasciitis. And so he said, I don't mind surgery. It's still a little bit cooler than just the office days, but the only point that I'm making is that boy, when you know, or you think, you know, that young, a lot of times that's because of that, I believe that external validation from parents. So the child won't be encouraged to develop their own sense of self. They may want to then say the things that will get them, if they are just truly being an extension of their emotionally immature/narcissistic parent. 

Then, if they say I'm going to be whatever and the parent goes, yeah, that's, that's my boy. Then they're going to be driven more to do that. Even if that isn't something they feel passionate about. The child will feel emotionally empty and not nurtured. The child will learn not to trust others because boy, if you've grown up in an emotionally immature household, there are going to be times where you have said something and you felt like that was in confidence, but then your narcissistic parent has then told somebody else that is that when it happens so often. And it's because that narcissistic parent in that moment is getting the validation off of you giving them a secret, promise you won't say anything, mom. And it's like, hey, you bet champ. And then as soon as I, mom's talking to her sister, well, no, I just told her because she lives in a different state. Or then telling a neighbor like, no, I told them, but they don't, I mean, they don't run in the same circles as you do. So it's like, oh, I'll absolutely keep your promise. I mean, until I don't, that's basically the creed of the narcissist in a sense. The child will learn. And that's not trusting. The child will feel used and manipulated. And I feel like that's where you start. Getting the vibes of highly sensitive people or the body keeps the score. The child will be there for the parent rather than the other way around as it should be. And that's what starts to create that anxious attachment vibe is that when the child needs the parent from an emotional standpoint, and the parent is, it's not a good time, which I, and I know we're all human, but I want to say which should not be the answer because if you're the parent, then I would love for you to model the fact that, hey for you, now is a good time because this now isn't about me. It's about the tiny human being that I've helped create. 

In that scenario then you're going to be there for your kid because if it's the other way around, that's where you start seeing this anxious attachment show up in adult relationships where you've said all I ever wanted to do was feel heard and understood. And then when the spouse finally says, okay, I hear you. And I want to understand you. It can feel emotionally overwhelming and engulfing, and it really can. The child's emotional development will be stunted. The child will feel criticized and judged rather than accepted and loved. And that's again where we have this vibe where we say, hey, champ, you can come and talk to me about anything. And then you come and say, I think I want to quit school. Or I think I want to join the army or I think I want to, and if the parent is saying, okay. That's just ridiculous. Why do you know how much time and effort I put into your schooling or if I really didn't teach you well enough to want to continue to be an attorney like me. And so when you're putting that vibe out again, it is all about you, not your kid. And so in that scenario, then the kid's going to feel criticized and judged. The child will grow frustrated, trying to seek love approval and intention and attention to no avail. Which will often then lead them to looking for external sources to provide them with the love approval and attention. 

And I'll just talk about, I was speaking at a conference not long ago. And somebody asks a question about, all the kids, everybody's smoking pot these days was the way that the question was put. And I just said, here's the challenge. And, and I'm with them, I'm with them on that. I feel like I still grew up in a time where, you know, that was the stoner. And I don't know what it's like to be a kid that is in their early twenties that has in essence grown up within most of the states, it's legal. So that's a whole different ball game. But I mentioned that I often talk with kids when they were feeling judged by their peers and especially if you're, I work in an area where there are a lot of people that are part of a religious community. And so then if that religious community says, hey, we're all together, we're all a community. But now within that community, let me do some judging. You drink energy drinks or your shorts are too short. Are you swear yeah, we're all the same. Except for now. I'm going to judge you about those things. And I said but pot, that world has no respect for the people that they're, we don't care what you're wearing or what you're saying or what you're doing because we all have this, this shared sense of purpose, which is, it's sad in that regard. But so in that scenario, though, if they're going to find love, approval and attention and not, if that is not provided in the home. Then they will seek that elsewhere. The child will grow up, not feeling good enough. The child won't have a healthy role model for emotional connection which then starts leading into the, when I say we don't have the tools from the factory to be able to communicate in a healthy way or to hold boundaries. Because, I feel like, I want to say, just remember that if you have grown up with a secure attachment as a child, and now you're a teenager and you know that you're okay because your parent has never continued to, I mean, they haven't hammered you with, I can't believe you said that, right? 

I don't, you know what, that, how that impacts me, if you just be able to say and feel and be, and now you go on a date and somebody says, oh, I don't think you should do that in college. Then your radar is going to be off the charts. You're gonna think, okay. I wasn't asking you for your opinion on what I should do with my career. But if you've been judged and manipulated and not heard or seen. And so you've tried to recognize, man, how do I show up? So I don't get this person mad. And then you say, you know, I want to be a, I don't know, computer programmer. And then that person, the person that you're sitting across the table from who you don't even really know. And they say, oh boy I've heard that those computer programmers now work long hours or are they sleeping all the time? Or, you know, you have to drink four liters of Mountain Dew every day. And they rot their teeth. I don't know, whatever it would be. But then if you as a person, then go, yeah, maybe I don't want to be one. And maybe I don't want to be a computer programmer. That's insane. I want the person who wants to be the computer program or showing up on a date. And if they've grown up and their parent has said, what do you want to do? And they've already explored pirates, they've already looked at astronauts, but they kind of found a sense of purpose with computer programming. 

So then the parent may not know anything about computer programming, but that doesn't mean that then, oh, you think you're better than me or smarter than me, but it's a holy cow. This is incredible that they're already finding and enjoying something. Let me get them all the computer stuff they need. And let me now ask them questions like, hey, what are you working on? And what does that like in, How hard is that and what do you love about it? Imagine being that parent. Now that computer programmer goes out into the dating world. And if anybody says, I don't think you should do that. They're saying, I don't understand why you're telling me what you think I should do. I mean, we're just here trying to order appetizers at this point and get to know each other, not tell each other what to do. Which I think that's the big key there. Which then leads into, she says the child will not learn appropriate boundaries for relationships. The child won't learn healthy self care, but instead will be at risk of becoming codependent. Taking care of others to the exclusion of taking care of self, not wanting to rock the boat. But not wanting to then question my sense of self, because that's what it's been like to be me growing up in a home where the parent was even letting you know that they did things better than you. When they were your age, the child will have difficulty with the necessary individuation from the parent when he or she grows older.

I was talking with somebody recently and we were talking about the enmeshment that they felt as they, after they got married, where their parents still felt, they wanted to say, I don't know, you don't seem like yourself. And this person was saying, I actually feel better than I've felt before with this connection, with my new spouse. But the narcissistic parent, they were not in essence saying, okay, we have done all we can do. And we have created a secure attachment with our, with this person. And now we hand them into the world of marital relationships. This individuated person and they are now going to go now, go, go and couple and thrive and start to form a secure attachment with your spouse. And then you guys will live happily forever and we're over here. And if you need us, let's go on vacation together. No, it's hey, let's talk every, you know, a couple of times a week and let me just make it all about myself. And let me start to tell you that you don't seem like yourself. When in reality, that means that you don't understand who I am. The child will get a mix of mixed and crazy making messages of do well. Make me proud as an extension of the parent, but don't do too well and don't outshine me because then you're going to think that you're better than me. 

I hope my kids turn out better than me, please. That would be a wonderful thing. Because, you know, we want to, I hope we want to advance those generations and every generation gets better. That would be a wonderful thing. I don't need to say, I always have felt like I was better than all of my kids. That's crazy. If the child out shines the parent, then they may experience jealousy from the parent. The child is not taught to give credit to self when deserved. Yeah, one of the things that drives me crazy is this concept around it's so bad to be proud of yourself, pride is bad. No, there's a healthy ego and healthy ego changes the world. Healthy ego is based on real life experience. If you can help somebody find the real sense of self and security, and then they start to go and do and achieve and explore, they change the world. But if that person is always worried about, I don't want to make anybody mad. And yeah, maybe I don't want to do that then, they're taught to burn all these emotional calories. Just trying to figure out how to manage emotion, relationships around them and trying to figure out is it okay to be me? I waited, I don't even know who I am versus the person that has been given the secure attachment. And again, they are going out and doing, and being, and finding and discovering and loving and connecting. 

Because that will, without that the child, again, if they haven't been taught to give credit where their own credit is due or self deserved, ultimately they'll start to suffer from a level of post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, in adulthood. The child will grow up believing that he or she is unworthy and unlovable, because if my parent can't love me, then who will be that one that resonates. If you create that secure attachment and that love with your kid. And they know that they are worthy of love, then they don't, are they going to be less likely to find themselves in relationships where they're trying to prove their worth or their love, they just get to be and do. The child will often become either a high achiever or a self sabotage or are both high achievers, because I'll be darned if I'm going to, that's the only way I got my validation. So I got to go above and beyond and I got to go overboard. And then I have to even puff myself up because I want to make sure that everybody knows that I'm good. Look you'll love me now, if I'm really special, right. And this one's hard that the last one that she talks about as a child will need trauma, recovery and want to reparent themselves in adulthood. Carol then concludes her article by saying, being raised by a narcissistic parent is emotionally and psychologically abusive. And it causes debilitating long lasting effects on children. It's often missed by professionals because the narcissist or emotionally immature person can be charming in their presentation. Displaying an image of how they wish to be seen. 

Now behind closed doors, the children feel the suffocation of self and struggle with loneliness and pain. The narcissist is not accountable for their own mistakes or behaviors. So the child believes that they are to blame. That they've flunked childhood. Sad, but I appreciate the way she says that, she said having worked as a mental health provider with thousands of children, as well as the adult children of narcissistic parents. She said, I see the above symptoms over and over again. And, boy, amen to that. I agree. And this is what I love that she said, because it's, I think this says this so well, the lifestyles differ and the stories differ, but they all have the same emotional banners and it's quite a list and it takes serious recovery work to get better and feel better. So she said, if you are the other parent or part of the extended family and are trying to ward off the effects of a narcissistic parent, then you'll have to double do it. You'll have to do double duty as the responsible one. And the best approach is to parent with empathy, the antithesis of narcissism. If you are a divorced professional working with a case that involves, help the kids. By first really understanding the dynamics of the disorder, don't minimize it. Make sure the children are in therapy and learning assertiveness skills to use with the parent who does not emotionally tune into them. Put the kids first. 

And I feel like in the work that I do, it really is approached by the pathologically kind person with empathy. The, and to the system narcissism. And help that person realize that they need to understand the dynamics of the disorder. Even if it's just along the lines of emotional immaturity, don't minimize it. And, and then if I'm talking to them, hopefully they are in therapy. And they're learning these skills. Now, the place where I feel a little bit different is that learning those assertiveness skills can be okay. But sometimes that's going to be just from a place of, I need to practice being heard and seen, even if I recognize that it's not going to be the case, but it's going to start to help define what it feels like to be you. 

So this one resonated. If you, if you feel like this would help anyone in their situation, feel free to forward it. If you have additional questions for me, reach out at or get ahold of me through Instagram at, I think Tony Overbay underscore LMFT or TikToK, if that continues to be a thing, the therapy account just cracks me up because it's, so it's so funny to watch, uh, just little random, uh, uh, videos that can be a minute, two minutes, go from just a few thousand views to all of a sudden you just watch one, just kind of take off for no reason. And then you refresh every hour and it's another. I don't know, 20, 30,000 views. And it's just interesting to see what people connect with, most of the stuff does have to do with traits and tendencies around narcissism or emotional immaturity. So it's just fascinating. Okay. Have an amazing week. And I will see you next time on Waking Up to Narcissism. 

Tony Overbay LMFT shares an example of gaslighting that led to setting a healthy boundary. Tony then tackles the topic of boundaries. What are healthy boundaries, and why are they so difficult to enforce? Tony refers to Kier Brady LMFT's article "5 Type of Boundaries For Your Relationship," as well as Dr. Robert Glover's information on boundaries from his book "No More Mr. Nice Guy."

Please find out more about Tony's Magnetic Marriage program by contacting him through or by visiting

With the continuing "sheltering" rules spreading across the country, PLEASE do not think you can't continue or begin therapy now. can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link, you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your mental health a priority, offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting And visit 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

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----------------------------- TRANSCRIPT ----------------------------------

[00:00:12] Hey, everybody, welcome to

[00:00:13] Waking up to narcissism episode eight. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and a certified mindful habit coach and a writer and a speaker and a husband and a father of four. And that is the you can tell I was doing that a little bit choppy. That's the way I start my virtual couch podcast. Just it's deeply rooted neural pathways that are going to that when I'm in front of this microphone. But welcome aboard. If you're new, I'm so grateful you're here. This podcast is just continuing to grow at an astronomical rate, and I'm not saying that to say How cool am I or is that? But it just shows the need. And so I see you, I hear you. I'm getting the emails on a daily basis, and I just want you to know I'm reading them all. It's it's hard to get back to people, but I am reading them and I have a sincere desire to just respond to everybody because people are sharing so many amazing things of feeling hurt or feeling understood for the first time. And there are so many questions coming in that working with some of the folks behind the scenes to see what the best way is to try to maybe put a second episode out and hopefully be a bonus episode, a Patreon episode or something to do some more of the questions and answers. Get more guests on because I don't know if I shared this early on, but I've started a nonprofit and that's attached to this women's group for that that I am a part of, or that I started this private women's group for women who have been through or in currently in relationships or even have narcissistic family members, bosses, that sort of thing and are just trying to learn how to maneuver and raise their emotional baseline, stay more present and the connection that these women have have. They've grown close, they share experiences and continually, and this is done in such a loving way. Let me know as a therapist, as someone that can help with the knowledge I have that nothing is the

[00:01:57] Substitute for

[00:01:58] People that are talking about this, that have gone through the experience themselves. So the nonprofit set aside there, when I say maybe a patron,

[00:02:05] I want you to know it's not so that I can almost 50 to. It's not so I can start my midlife crisis and get some gold chains and hair plugs in a sports car.

[00:02:13] But it would be more to hopefully help with this nonprofit, and the goal of the nonprofit is to possibly help people that need the legal fees that need relocation, costs that just need mental health support. And so I have rambled on far enough. Let's get to the episode today. I have a gaslighting example that is just it's incredible, and I think it touches on so many different things. And I want to talk today a little bit about boundaries because one of the things in the five things that I talk about to be able to maneuver, interact or start to gain some traction in your relationship, whoever the narcissist

[00:02:46] Or narcissistic

[00:02:47] Tendency person is in your life. And you know, I talk about five things. Number one is raise your emotional baseline, which is self-care. Self-care is absolutely not selfish, and putting your needs first is something that is really difficult for people who are the pathologically kind who often find themselves in the relationship with the pathological narcissist or the person

[00:03:06] Who is going

[00:03:07] To continually take advantage of someone. And so raising that emotional baseline is so important. Second, I say, get your PhD in gaslighting because I'm still I don't want to say amazed or because this is the work that I do. But people that haven't heard of the term gaslighting, you don't really know what gaslighting is about, which just is all the more reason why it's so important to to spread the podcast out or other podcasts that talk about things like gaslighting. Because when your words are turned against you and you walk away from a conversation feeling even worse, that is not a healthy relationship. Because if you get into my own narcissistic traits or tendencies here, but if you've listened to some of the virtual couch podcast episodes I do about my my marriage, my marriage course, my four pillars of a connected conversation that we really should be able to talk with our spouses or partners or colleagues or our kids about anything. Because you are your own autonomous individual, you're the only version of you that's ever walked the face of the Earth. So your opinions and your thoughts and your emotions, everything, they are valid. So when you are expressing those to someone and they are being turned around on you, that is not a healthy relationship. And whether, again, whether it's with a spouse or a sibling or a parent or a

[00:04:20] Church leader or a

[00:04:22] Boss or any of those things. So that second one is get your PhD and gaslighting. Then I talk about getting out of unproductive conversations. You're removing yourself from those situations. The fourth one is setting boundaries. And so we're going to talk today about boundaries because there's a lot of confusion on what a boundary is and what it even looks like to hold the boundary. And then the fifth thing I talk about is recognizing there isn't anything you're going to say or do that's going to cause that aha moment or that epiphany where the person that has been emotionally manipulative or

[00:04:48] Abusive or that they are

[00:04:49] Going to all of a sudden say, Oh my gosh, I did not understand what I was doing. I will never do it again. Because even if they say that, then often it's to get themselves out of that situation. Help you to feel better. And then until

[00:05:00] The pattern repeats itself at some point and I call that a

[00:05:02] Shelf life, let's get to the episode we are in the episode. Let's get to the example on gaslighting, because again, this one is I'm going to read it. I asked the person for permission. And I am changing some of the details, because because that's what we want to do to protect the confidentiality of the person, but it's so good. The person said nice things about the podcast and they said that they're the episodes of narcissism. A few years ago on Virtual Couch was what really did wake them up to their narcissism and their spouse and help them realize that they were not the problem that he was the one with the dysfunctional thinking. She said that at

[00:05:32] That time, the

[00:05:33] Virtual couch, they helped give her language to be able to describe something that for so long, she wasn't able to pinpoint. She gained also some knowledge from Christine Hammond, who I had on my podcast. She has a phenomenal podcast about understanding today's narcissist. And she said it truly was a hinge point in her marriage, not because it fixed the issue. And again, that's why I love about this. This email is so real. She said it didn't, but it allowed me to learn how not to engage in a way that would feed his narcissistic supply. She said she met with a therapist who also helped her implement some boundaries and learn to walk away during unproductive arguments and to avoid the trap of getting lured in. This is an ongoing practice that she's still not perfect at, and again, this is an ongoing practice, and we're going to talk more about that, especially when setting boundaries. We want to think that we set a boundary and then there we go where it's done, but unfortunately it doesn't work that way. So it's an ongoing practice of doing this. She said she still finds herself taking the bait in an effort to defend her position on something, and before she knows it, she's on the roller coaster ride. But it always ends with her feeling frustrated and completely drained of energy by the time the conversation is over.

[00:06:32] She said My energy continues to be expended during the hours after the argument, when I ruminate and replay the conversation on loop in my brain and I stew over all of his attempts at gaslighting manipulation, she said. When will I learn just not to engage and to walk away, which she's on her way? The awareness is one of the biggest factors and again, ongoing practice. And I feel like what happens is, and this is part of us being human is that we do let our guard down the things that have worked for us and give us some hope. We then feel a sense of relief. And so sometimes we do let our foot off the gas. So we kind of our brains go right back to the path of least resistance. And so we fall back into some of the similar patterns and behaviors. And I want to talk about this too. I like to again, if you're new to the podcast that I really do enjoy humor, I am joking at times when I when I say I was about to say, I'm an expert in this field, I know what I'm talking about. I've got this podcast. I've been doing this forever. I've testified in court cases and yet then I can find myself in some of the narcissist in my own life of getting all of a sudden caught up.

[00:07:29] And then all of a sudden I am defending myself and I've got that psychological reactants, that instant negative reaction of being told what to do, even to the point where someone might say something that I somewhat agree with. But then I find myself just saying, I don't agree with that at all. As a matter of fact, I've never agreed with that in my entire life, and I'm sitting there thinking, OK, I'm almost a fifty two year old guy who's a theoretical expert in this field, and I just got lured in. I just got caught. And so it's just a process. And when you recognize that you have been caught up in that narcissistic hamster wheel just when you can, when you bring awareness to it, just gently step off. Don't beat yourself up. Don't tell yourself you don't do that. What's wrong with me? Story? Just I notice I'm noticing, and I need to remove myself from the situation and just regroup. Review the game film. See, maybe what we're what led to falling back into the pattern with the narcissist? Oftentimes, I use this acronym. It's called Halt Hungry, angry, lonely, tired. And oftentimes that acronym can describe a lot of what leads up to when we go back and we engage in something that we know isn't healthy for us. On my

[00:08:30] I've got a pornography recovery program called the Path

[00:08:32] Back and on there, I talk so often about the difference between compulsion and impulse. Compulsion is something that's premeditated, and somebody is fixated on getting their next fix, whether it's something like pornography or food or gaming or gambling or shopping or anything like that, that you can do some really good work and then address the compulsive nature. So we could even fit it into this situation of you can address this constant need or desire to prove yourself to the narcissist fix the narcissist buffer for the narcissist, explain to the narcissist. And so you can have that compulsive piece down where now you are more present in your day to day, but then you can hit with an impulse because you're human because you maybe are hungry or angry or lonely or tired. And so that will oftentimes lead to impulsive reactions, impulsive behaviors. I give an example. Oftentimes when I'm talking about compulsion versus impulse of I can really be working on trying to not eat junk food. As matter of fact, the timing of this is perfect. I'm recording this on Thursday, October 28th, and I think last year I gave an example of Reese's Pumpkins the the mixture of chocolate. The peanut butter is amazing. It really is. It's just the right amount if you get that thing just slightly chilled to. Holy cow, that's OK. I need to bring myself back to center. But last year I told myself I am going to try and not devour an insane amount of Reese's pumpkins leading up to the holidays.

[00:09:49] And even right now, I haven't done any. I forgot about them and now I'm going to be thinking about them. But it compulsively. I have been very aware this time last year that I was not going to continually think of. I need to get Reese's Pumpkins. Those would be nice to have. I'll put some in the refrigerator, I'll have some of my office. And so I had that dialed in and we were heading to my son's best. Well, tournament, he was playing a tournament, it was a Saturday. I had a really good workout that morning, but I had also seen a bunch of clients leading up to that week. I probably didn't get as much sleep as I would have liked, so I wake up on a Saturday. I get up early. I work out hard because I want to have my workout done before we go and watch my son play basketball. And I didn't. I didn't probably eat a good, healthy breakfast because I just didn't do it. So then I what am? I'm hungry, I'm tired. And so I walk into like a 7-Eleven and I'm going to get him some Gatorade and they're there on the counter. Reese's Pumpkins, what do I do? I impulsively grabbed two of them and I walk out with them, and then I brought them to my office

[00:10:47] At that time, and I think I ate one as soon as

[00:10:50] I could fit it into my mouth. I put the other one in my fridge at work, and then a couple of days later, I did the same thing within seconds. Now do I beat myself up about it? No, that that was. I fell into an impulse because of one of these triggers hungry, angry, lonely, tired. So if you find yourself falling to an impulse and then engaging with the narcissist in your life, then give yourself some grace. It's a process. It is an ongoing practice, as this is, this person said. So that is a really long lead up to say to the next part, she said. This leads me to my gaslighting example. A couple of years ago, when my therapist taught me the walk away strategy, I began to implement it during arguments where my husband was yelling or cussing or belittling me when I would tell him, Hey, that's not OK with me. We'll revisit this conversation when you can be calm and she would walk away. He started blocking exits with his body, and I have heard of this often. So often, she said. This happened several times. He would stand in front of the doorway, and when I would try to leave, he would say no and blockade the exit. She said she would try to squeeze through, but she's one hundred and twenty pounds and he's well over two hundred. So there wasn't really a way that he could.

[00:11:52] He would tell her that the conversation was not over and he would attempt to pull her back in. And she said she just learned to turn her back to him remain silent, no matter what. And he would continue to say things to try to get her to engage. He would tell me, Quit acting like a child or you're so immature. Why are you giving me the silent treatment? And eventually he would give up and leave enraged and oftentimes punching a hole in the wall or walking out and slamming the door. And she said he's had to replace doors because he slammed them so hard. I've talked with so many people that have holes in their walls where people have punched through in this narcissistic rage or anger. She said. Eventually, she got tired of him blocking her in and refused to engage in that argument. One day he was standing in front of the door with his arm across it so she couldn't leave, and she told him that if he didn't let her go, she would call the police because she was being held against her will. And he called her bluff and said, Go ahead, and he's in the medical field. So if he happened to lose his license to practice medicine, he said, that's all on you. And she said, Oh my gosh, you know,

[00:12:48] That's he's he's

[00:12:49] In this medical profession. She's a stay at home mom without a college degree. She can't support her family. So in her mind, she thought, Doug, Honey, he's right. She can't risk him losing his license because they have kids to feed. They have a family to support. And he'd also convinced her that it was her fault for not being willing to finish the conversation. But she backed down. She said she didn't call the police, and by doing that, he was able to continue to gaslight and manipulate her once again. So she said, fast forward a couple of years, she found herself in a similar situation and this was pretty recent, and he was not letting her leave during an argument. And this time she managed to make it past him. She quickly grabbed her keys, ran to the car which was parked in the garage, and she hit the button to open the garage door, ran to the car, turned on the engine. As soon as she threw it in reverse, there was her husband standing there. I can almost picture this like a scary movie where there he is right behind, she said. He'd already hit the button and the garage door was beginning to close before she could back out. So then he ran over and he pulled the little rope on the garage door to keep it from opening. She said she was trapped and she had no way to leave her car.

[00:13:47] He walked next to the door and tried to get in, but she had locked the doors, and she said she told him to hurry and open the garage door because the car was running, and she was worried that they might even be in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning or, you know, enclosed garage with the engine running, and that she hoped that would help them come to a senses and open the garage door and allow her to leave. But at that point, and she was so true in the way she put this, she said. At that point, it was a battle of control and he was not about to back down because to the narcissist, it is all about control. He told her, Oh yeah, that's pretty stupid. You might want to turn your engine off. But she said the message was clear that he wasn't going to let her leave, so she did turn her car off and she decided to use what little control that she did have. She said I told him he had three seconds to open the garage door or she was going to call the police. And he said, go ahead thinking that there was no way I would follow through with my threat like I have not done in times past. But she said this time she knew better. She said she knew that whatever the result was from the police being called was not on her, that it was on him due to his actions.

[00:14:50] She proceeded to count to three and then she dialed nine one one, and as soon as the dispatcher, she had him on the phone. Then he opened the garage door and let her leave, and he called her crazy. He told her he was being ridiculous, that she was being ridiculous because he didn't even touch her. And so then she told the dispatcher what had happened and that she no longer needed the police to come. But she was told they still needed to come and assess to make sure that she was safe. When the police came, they spoke to her and her husband separately, and they told her that when he blocks her exit and doesn't allow her to leave, it's considered a form of abuse and that he could go to jail for that. And she told the officer that she wasn't interested in pressing charges, but asked him to please tell her husband what they told her and that that it was considered abuse. So the next day, her husband and her had a conversation about it. And of course, there was little to no acknowledgment on his part of anything, any wrongdoing, and she had told him that the officer had told her that was abusive. And he said, Oh, that's absolutely not what the officer told me. In fact, they said nothing like that, which, oh man, I see that one in my sessions, often where people will use me against the couple.

[00:15:51] And there's a quick remedy to that. But I know that this isn't necessarily something that she could have enacted. I don't know. Maybe she could have. But I will have. Let's say the wife will text me and say, Hey, when you met one on one with my husband, he said that you were pretty clear that I am the problem. And man, that is the air that the narcissist breeze is to then triangulate, put to put that person, put the spouse in the hot seat and say, No, everybody thinks that you're the crazy one. Everybody's telling me this, and oh my gosh, they hand me a gift at that point because when I say, All right, hey, let me group text you and your husband and just make sure we're on the same page, because I absolutely would not say that and did not say that. And you do that one time and then and then that does help or correct the behavior and which I think and I actually learned this from Christine Hammond, where that's in my fifth rule of working or trying to work with a narcissist. You're not trying to give them that aha moment where they go, Oh my gosh, I am so sorry. I can't believe I did that. But unfortunately, at some point that is setting a boundary because in that trains the narcissist to say, OK, when you do this, when you try and triangulate against me, then I will reach out to the person that you are pinning against me.

[00:16:54] And that takes some guts. But I start seeing that often when I get a new client. And let's say again, it's let's say it's the wife and the husband is the narcissist. I've had so many of these where the husband will then say in the room, even because he's trying to convince me I was talking to your to your cousin and your cousin was even wondering why you're not on medication or why you're not nicer. And you can just watch the air go out of the wind out of the sails of the woman in that situation who says, Whoa, my really. My cousin thinks that too. I thought I had a great relationship with my cousin, but in reality then I love when somebody can say, I had no idea. Let me reach out and ask my cousin more, because the Narcissus is going to say, Well, no, no, I don't want you to do that. I don't mean to involve them. That's on you. But no, that's the gaslighting. So at that point, let's text the cousin and the husband, and I don't care even the therapist and say, Hey, I understand that you think that I should be on antidepressants or that you think that? I mean, I would love to talk about that.

[00:17:46] And what do you think happens? The cousin says, I have no idea what you're talking about. She said what? I appreciated this and she said I was so proud of myself that day for sending the message to my husband that he can't continue to manipulate, control and gaslight me. And since that time, he has not tried to keep me from leaving when we get into an argument. And she said, I'm slowly learning I won't be able to reason with them. So why bother getting into the argument in the first place? Bless her heart. Holy cow. That is it right there? Is it fair? No, absolutely not fair. But is it productive? Yes. As you are waking up to the narcissist in your life, this is a great example of the slow process. But then the empowering feeling that that process can it isn't always satisfying because you aren't. You aren't going to feel heard or be able to resolve that in a mature way like you deserve. But once you can accept that fact, then no longer are you trying to seek out that mature connection or conversation if it is not possible. And that's where you do get to work on yourself, raise your emotional baseline, become the person that you want to be. And boy, we're going to talk about that. I've got another group call

[00:18:48] Coming up tonight, and

[00:18:50] We're going to talk about that there, where it is one of the one of the hardest things to see are the women or men or in relationships with narcissistic women when they do break free that they often have realize that they have just been whoever they have needed to be to appease him, to buffer between him and the kids. And so trying to find that identity is a real difficulty. So I'm not going to give more on that because I've got somebody that is just has such a wonderful way to put that. But that's going to lead us to talk about boundaries. Let's move into that part of today's episode. So one of the

[00:19:20] Articles that I found that I really enjoyed that goes over different types of boundaries is by marriage and family therapist out of Georgia, and her name is Kim Brady. So I have not reached out to cure, so I hope that she is OK with me sharing her. This article she wrote about five types of boundaries

[00:19:38] For your relationship,

[00:19:39] And I'll have a link to it in the show. But she

[00:19:41] She laid out very well

[00:19:43] The five different types of boundaries. One is physical boundaries, and she says those refer to your body privacy, your personal space. She gives the example of someone might they might enjoy public displays of affection, or they might be uncomfortable with it. If your partner kisses you in public and you're uncomfortable with it, that you need to let them know and you can see right here where things start to get interesting. If you have someone in your life who doesn't respect a boundary or tells you, OK, you're you're crazy, or will I like to be? Physical in public, and so you need to be OK with it, then you can see where people start to back the line up on their boundaries, and the more they do that, the more the person, especially someone with narcissistic tendencies, traits or a full-blown narcissistic personality disorder is going to continue to push those boundaries again. I think I said in an earlier episode that the boundary at some point to the narcissist or person with narcissistic tendencies is becomes somewhat of a challenge. So she says sharing your preferences and expectations might feel difficult, but not sharing them. Excuse me, can make you feel disrespected, and it might be easy to establish a boundary around your partner not slapping you, for example. Perhaps the boundary in consequence is quick to define in this case, if you slap me, I will leave. However, in other areas, it can be tricky, and she talks about how sharing your personal boundaries can improve your relationship, know what you are and what you are not comfortable with, and share this with your partner. And the key here is that in a healthy relationship, that one should be able to and I always say in the virtual couch, no one likes to be should on. You should do this,

[00:21:11] You should do that.

[00:21:12] But here's the healthy version of that that you should. You should be able to share your, your truths, your hopes, your dreams, your boundaries and have your partner view that with curiosity. Not well. You need to understand that I have my needs to that kind of that kind of a vibe. The second one she talks about is emotional boundaries. And she says in order to establish emotional boundaries, you need to be in touch with your feelings. And again, you can see where the difficulty can lie. When someone who is in a relationship with someone with narcissistic tendencies and again, I'll stop laying out that whole, I think you know where I'm going with that. When I just say narcissist, someone that is on that entire spectrum of narcissistic traits and tendencies to full blown narcissistic personality disorder. She says healthy emotional boundaries require you to know where you end and where your partner begins. And if that phrase sounds familiar, that's I love talking about the concept of differentiation. That's our ultimate goal is to be differentiated. Differentiation is a healthy relationship with one with a partner and yourself. Differentiation is where one person ends and the other begins. And so instead of being enmeshed and codependent in a relationship, you want to get to interdependent and differentiated.

[00:22:19] Differentiated is how it's too autonomous individuals that can maintain a relationship without trying to break down the other person's view of the world or reality. And, quite frankly, not having to defend your own in a healthy way. You get to differentiation, and there is a lot of curiosity involved with differentiation, but I often say that when a couple gets different becomes differentiated. At first, there's going to be the strong desire to go right back to codependency or right back to enmeshment. So if somebody starts to say, Hey, here's my opinion that I have this different opinion. That's the person starting to grow. If that's you. If you've been in this relationship where you felt like you weren't allowed to have a different opinion, then you are not differentiated. So the more that you are standing up for yourself, not acquiescing, saying, Hey, no, actually, I like this, or actually, I would prefer you not do this. And we talked to one of the earlier episodes that that is where the narcissist will often say, Oh, well, you, you're being pretty mean right now are rude. Or Boy, look at your anger or you don't let things go.

[00:23:16] All those kind of things

[00:23:17] That a lot of that, that is when someone starts to differentiate. And again, differentiation is healthy. Differentiation starts to happen when people aren't afraid of the tension in a relationship. We're often so afraid that things will be contentious or that they will go to contentious, that we avoid tension altogether. She's saying if your partner is upset and you notice yourself sharing, this feeling boundary might be needed. Notice that when you feel guilty or ashamed or upset and undervalued, she said, boundaries might be needed when you notice these feelings coming up around certain issues or situations here says If you are upset and your partner tries to fix it, you could feel as if your partner isn't hearing you. Your partner might be trying to help you, but it just leaves you feeling more upset. And she said this is a place where a boundary might be helpful. You could say when I'm upset, I would like you to listen to me without trying. Or sometimes I just need to vent. Excuse me when you try to fix things, I don't feel heard. If I want your advice, I'll let you know. And you can see where that sounds like I'm being rude. If I want your advice, I'll let you know. But it's not said with that intention. It's the I just want to be heard and I love when my wife can say to me, I just need to. I just need to vent. And man, now I'm starting to creep over into so many of the virtual couch episodes. I do healthy relationships, my whole marriage course, my magnetic marriage course is about learning how to communicate more effectively, and I have these four pillars of a connected conversation that in a healthy relationship, these four pillars are gold.

[00:24:37] They are that to assume the good intentions that no one wakes up in the morning and thinks, How can I hurt my spouse? Or a deeper level of ad is that there's a reason why someone presents the way they do. The second pillar is that you can't put off the vibe or the energy that you that your partner is wrong or you don't believe them, even if you're pretty confident that they're wrong or you don't believe them. My third pillar is you ask questions before making comments in the fourth pillar. As you stay present, you don't retreat into your bunker or go into victim mode. A quick example of this is, let's say that you and we'll say. The woman in the relationship finally says in this vein of starting to be differentiated or wanting to set their boundaries says, I feel like you don't, you don't appreciate me, I feel like you don't even know me. And if the husband, then in that scenario, you know, responds with, Well, you don't even know who I am or I can't believe you even say that. Do you even have any idea who I am? And do you know all the things I do for you to know the things I buy for you? Do you know the do you know how good you have it? Then that is breaking multiple pillars.

[00:25:41] So what I mean by

[00:25:42] That is if I'm working with that couple in my office and if the wife excuse me, says, I don't think you even know me, I feel like you're, you're not there for me, then I do everything I can to stick to this for pillared framework. So the husband in that scenario has to assume good intentions that she did not wake up one day and say, I know what I'm going to do and I'll wait till about five 30. He walks in and I'm going to spring the old. I don't think you know me lying so that I can hurt him. No no one wakes up and thinks, How can I hurt someone in a healthy relationship so that pillar one, I have him listening and assuming those good intentions. The second pillar is then in that scenario, he cannot say, I don't believe you or you are wrong, because if so, then that's going to shut the conversation down immediately. The third pillar has questions before comments, and that scenario would have him then say, Tell me more. Help me find my blind spots. And none of that involves, let me fix it and or let me judge what you're saying.

[00:26:35] And then the fourth pillar that people spend, I do get a little gender stereotyped here that guys are pretty bad at four. I mean, we all find ourselves falling into patterns of violating one of these pillars if you really look at when conversations go south. But that fourth pillar is not to retreat into one's bunker or go into victim mode and victim. I'm not a big fan of that word, but I think you know where I'm going with that. But if somebody let's say that he says, OK, he's going to assume good intentions. She's not trying to hurt him. She can't say or he can't say, you're wrong. That's ridiculous. I don't believe you because that will shut the conversation down. He asked questions before making comments. So tell me more. Help me see my blind spots instead of just saying, OK, let me just tell you what's going on in my life. You don't think it's you don't think I'm stressed with trying to provide financially or

[00:27:18] Those sort of things, or

[00:27:20] If he makes it through all three of those pillars in a positive way. Breaking that fourth pillar could be saying, OK, I guess my opinion doesn't matter, and I'm just a paycheck because that he's wanting the wife then to say, No, I shouldn't have said anything. You're right. I'm sure I'm just overthinking things or that sort of thing. So then when she feels heard, not fixed or judged, but heard in a healthy relationship when someone is given that tool, my four pillars of a connected conversation, then he gets to say, OK, maybe in that third pillar when he asks questions, he she says, When you come home, you just you just don't say much. You just give me a little bit of a nod and you head right into right into the family room. And so then once he says, Man, I appreciate you sharing that I when I walk in, I felt like you were stressed with the kids, and I felt like I was just going to add to that stress. So I just retreat to another room and then try to come back when I think you must be ready. So in a healthy relationship. And that's one where that is, not just him being him gaslighting you, then that's one word now. Once you feel heard and then you become the listener, he becomes the speaker, then you will assume those good intentions as well, that he wasn't trying to hurt you with that behavior.

[00:28:28] And when he says that he really felt the stress in the home and he thought that he would just add to that, so he went to another room, then it's OK. I can. I appreciate that. I can understand that if that's where you are coming from. And again, I can't tell you you're wrong or I don't believe you. And then that would make a little more sense. And then so when the couple feels heard and understood the goal of my four pillars, it's a whole paradigm shift is not to resolve, but it's to be heard because again, in a healthy relationship, the more you can communicate in that way in that fashion, the more you can get toward differentiation and realize you're both having two different experiences and we just don't have the tools to communicate. But the difficult part about my four pillars is when, when that isn't an unhealthy relationship, it just becomes another tool to be weaponized. That was in two emotional boundaries. Three. She talks about sexual boundaries. These are important sexual boundaries. Refer to your expectations around physical intimacy. What is and isn't OK with your sexuality boundaries around frequency, sexual comments, unwanted sexual touch expectations around others, involvement in your sex life and what sexual acts are performed and are off limits should be discussed. Healthy sexual boundaries include mutual agreement, mutual consent and understanding of each other's sexual limits and desires. And I appreciate that.

[00:29:38] Kerr says that if you were sexually abused in the past and you were triggered during certain positions, the sexual boundaries needed and you might want to avoid sexual contact with your partner if you're reminded of a traumatizing experience. And this is where again, I say that in healthy relationships, one has these conversations and it doesn't go to all or nothing. It doesn't. My pillar for it doesn't mean that if the wife in the scenario says that when we have sex this way or the frequency or when I just feel like you just want, I'm just object. If I'm objectified, then my four pillars can. Lead to oh my gosh, I didn't know you felt that way. Tell me more Instead of, OK, what am I supposed to do? I have needs as well, no for intellectual boundaries. And this is why I liked this article that she wrote. We don't often talk about intellectual boundaries and electoral boundaries encompass ideas and beliefs. Boundaries around showing respect for different views and ideas can keep your feelings from being hurt. Talking down to someone or treating them as though they're not smart enough to understand what you're trying to say can damage your emotional intimacy. And if you feel as though you can't discuss certain topics with your partner because you believe they don't respect your opinion or put you down a boundary is needed because, she says. When you're afraid to share your views or opinions, because your partner's responses, you're going to leave feeling hurt or upset.

[00:30:45] If your partner calls you names when you have a different opinion or a political view, you could feel as though they don't value your thoughts or beliefs. And man, it's so wild to see such a vast difference of this in my office, and I know the people that are in these relationships with narcissistic people often feel like, no, this is normal. And that's where I just say my heart goes out to you because I have the pleasure, the fortune, the benefit of talk about with couples. I've worked with well over a thousand couples doing these four pillars of a connected conversation, and I often say for a good seventy five percent of the ones in my office, they get this new tool of a way to communicate. And then it was just they didn't know what they didn't know. And but with people with these narcissistic traits and tendencies, they get this new tool and then it just becomes another another tool in their arsenal to manipulate or to gain control. And that's where I then oftentimes will work hard to help the person that is that is being manipulated, gaslit or emotionally abused or intellectually abused to or financially abused or spiritually abused or sexually abused to to understand that OK by becoming differentiated and setting boundaries, it's OK that that's that's a healthy version of a relationship and with the intellectual boundaries.

[00:31:54] And this one just hit me. I do a tremendous amount of work with people with strong faith communities, and I do a lot with navigating faith journeys and faith crises. And because that is a big part where people start to have two completely different opinions and that's OK, even if they grow up with the same belief system. And and there's a whole bunch of work I do around this concept of Fowler stages of faith, I speak literally a worldwide to that. And so being able to approach even a faith journey with curiosity with a couple is a chance to grow where in controlling relationships, it's where one person starts to put the other person down because they're starting to have different opinions or beliefs. She also covers financial boundaries, and those are said they're all about money. And some of the narcissist money is such a fascinating thing because when they have not been modeled or tapped into emotions throughout their lives, I'm saying they don't know what they don't know. The financial thing is so big that finances become the only way to express, in their opinion, express love, maintain control, and so many things are about finances. Look at all the things I've done for you. Look at all the things I bought for you. Where do you think you'll be without me financially and where the oftentimes the opposite the partner in the relationship with the narcissist is saying, at this point, I don't care about finances.

[00:33:09] I just want to be heard. I just want a connection. I want to be valued emotionally. So she says financial boundaries are all about money boundaries around joint versus separate accounts, how much goes into savings, what purchases you want to make and how much discretionary funds you'll have. Each can keep you both on the same page where your finances are concerned. Having different rules and agendas related to where you spend and how you spend your money can cause a great deal of strain on your relationship. So if you feel that you are often fighting about money, boundaries are probably needed, and discussions about your financial goals up front can keep finances from becoming a point of contention. But I will tell you, even in healthy relationships, the financial conversations can be difficult because there is so much that goes into finances as far as even comparisons to other people. And boy, I'm going back to my. This really isn't a plug, although I can't lie. I'm about to start my next round of my magnetic marriage course. And so my partner who helped me create it, Preston Pug Maya and I were actually doing a webinar about this. I think it's next Wednesday, which is something November 3rd or 4th. I don't know the date at the top of my head, but if you're interested, you can just shoot me a note through the contact form at Tony Overbay dot com.

[00:34:16] I can give you a little more information, but where was it going with that? Oh, that this four pillars. Even I say that we often try to go immediately to these high charged topics, which is a sex, politics, religion, finances and parenting, and we don't even have the tools to be able to communicate effectively about lower charge topics. From where do you want to go to eat or what does retirement look like? Or What's your favorite movie or song? And I just want you to know when you're hearing this. I hope that this concept of boundaries resonates and that you it can even give you some excitement as much as it's probably going to have some fear about the importance of setting a boundary. But I do understand that oftentimes we don't even have the tools to have the conversations to set a boundary. And so I realize now I really sound like I'm plugging my magnetic marriage course. But even if you just go over to the virtual couch and just look for virtual couch and four pillars, if you google that or my name and four pillars, I've done a lot of episodes on these four pillars of a connected. Conversation, and that might be the thing that you need to be able to start to communicate about boundaries, let me and thank you to hear Brady and again, what a great article and I'll put a link there. And she says her mission is to help people transform their personal relationship challenges into life enhancing opportunities for growth.

[00:35:25] So I appreciate that. Article And last but not least, this is ironic is the there's a book called No More Mr. Nice Guy, which I really do enjoy by the title alone. It can sound like teaching the the person who is nice to not be. It's not that it's really helping people take a little bit more ownership and accountability. A lot of the concept of the nice guy is is in play as well in these relationships, where there are people with narcissistic traits and tendencies who get into relationships with people that are maybe more highly sensitive and helping someone get out of what they call this nice guy syndrome is not saying be a jerk, but sometimes it's just saying, Hey, take ownership of your own emotions and feelings and don't project those onto the other person. The reason why I say that is I'm going to read a little bit from the book by. It's by Robert Glover, and it is. It's called no more Mr. Nice Guy, but he just has a really nice section on boundaries. And so let me just read that. And instead of where he says, Nice guy, I'm going to say, I'm going to say person. He says we find this real quick. Ok, he says setting boundaries helps. And again, he says, Nice guys, I'm going to say people setting a nice setting, nice

[00:36:31] Guys setting boundaries helps people reclaim

[00:36:33] Their personal power. So he says the boundaries are essential for survival and running. Learning to set boundaries allows people to stop feeling like helpless victims and reclaim their personal power boundary. Setting is one of the most fundamental skills that he says that he teaches people. He says recovering nice guys. But I will say people that are trying to become more emotionally healthy. And he says he demonstrates the concept of boundaries. This is what I really was drawn to by this chapter that he has in his book. He said I demonstrate the concept of boundaries by laying a shoestring on the ground. And he says, I tell the person that I'm going to cross his boundary and push them backwards. Instead, I instruct the person to stop me when they begin to feel uncomfortable, and it's not unusual for the person to stand well back from the line, allowing me to violate that space several steps before they even begin to respond. And once, he says, once I start pushing, it's not uncommon for the person to let me push them back several steps before they do anything to stop me. And sometimes the person will let me push them all the way back to the wall. And he said, I use this exercise as a graphic demonstration of the need for boundaries in all areas of life that people are usually more comfortable backpedaling, giving in and keeping the peace. What does that one? Sound familiar? He says they believe that if they take one more step backward, the other person will quit pushing and everything will be smooth. And I just felt I felt like that example is so powerful, he says, that this is a great line. I like as well that in time, they also learned that boundary setting isn't about getting other people to be different. It's about getting themselves to be different if somebody is crossing their boundary.

[00:37:57] It isn't that.

[00:37:58] And he says it isn't the other person's problem. It's theirs. Now, I don't want that to sound like you are doing something wrong. I want you to say, Oh my gosh, that makes more sense, that I need to learn to set these healthier boundaries. And if my spouse will not respect boundaries, period, then is that a viable relationship? And he says, because of memory, fear that people often unconsciously reinforce the very behaviors that they find intolerable due to their childhood conditioning. And this is so deep. We'll end with this today, he said. Due to their childhood conditioning, they teach the people around them that they will accept having their boundaries violated. And as people start to take responsibility for how they let people treat them, their own behavior begins to change. And that's where you are waking up to narcissism, whether you are the narcissist to the person in the relationship with someone with narcissistic tendencies or traits. So then as you stop reinforcing the things that you aren't willing to tolerate, the people around you are given an opportunity to behave differently. It gives the relationship a chance to survive and grow. But I will be very clear in saying it gives that relationship a chance to survive and grow. It doesn't mean that now that you start setting your boundaries, that then everything will be better, but it will start to feel empowering and that is my goal for you. And again, if you heard the last episode and you are the person saying, Wait a minute, can I be the narcissist?

[00:39:09] Then thank you for listening to this. And if you recognize, Wow, I do cross these boundaries that people said, especially my spouse, because I just I just feel like I be honest. Do you feel like but I know better, but they don't understand, then that's an absolute time to stop and

[00:39:24] Say, Wait a minute, I need

[00:39:26] To stop and respect that boundary. And when I do that, then that can help me get to curiosity.

[00:39:31] And then there are tools like my four pillars of a connected conversation that will allow people to try and at least have the conversations. And the conversation is about being heard. I say so often you can only have

[00:39:43] Love

[00:39:43] Or control in an adult relationship, not both. And love comes with a heavy dose of curiosity. All right.

[00:39:49] Hey, we cover a lot of ground today.

[00:39:51] I am literally wrapping up right now because it is four point forty nine a.m. and

[00:39:54] I happen to have a five a.m. client today. Thank you for

[00:39:56] All the work you're doing. Thank you for the feedback. Please keep sending me the questions, the comments. I read them, I read them all. I read actually almost running late with this podcast because I got some amazing emails last night and if you're interested in joining that group. For women who are in relationships with narcissistic people, it doesn't just have to be a spouse, it can be a

[00:40:14] Parent, a sibling, a coworker, a church leader or whatever it is, there is power in numbers.

[00:40:20] Shoot me an email through the contact form on Tony over bakam. And if you are interested in hearing a little bit more about the magnetic marriage course that my buddy Preston and I do, the timing is pretty good and you can shoot me an email through there too, and I can let you know more about what's coming up with that.

[00:40:34] So have an amazing day.

[00:40:35] I see you. I really do. I appreciate everything that you're doing and your change in the world when you're sending me your emails and quotes and comments and I read them, I'm telling you, I get to see the stats. And this podcast has found its way already to one hundred and something country, tens of thousands of downloads. And so I just I appreciate everything you're doing. All right. Have an amazing, wonderful day weekend, and we'll talk to you next week on waking up the narcissism.

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