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What is the best way to support somebody beginning to “wake up” to the narcissism or the emotional immaturity in their relationship but still willing to wait for a miracle to occur? And what if that “somebody” is a parent in a relationship with a step-parent that you’ve never really liked? And what that miracle would entail isn’t entirely clear either. Is it to change their narcissistic spouse or part the seas and provide them a safe passage to emotionally dry (safe) land? Tony reads a listener's question about ways to support a parent in an emotionally abusive relationship who has opened up to their adult children. Safety needs to be addressed, but what follows can go a long way toward creating an environment where the parent will feel like they have options if and when they get out of the relationship. Tony tackles the topics of sitting with discomfort and managing our own emotions, as well as the way to approach someone in an emotionally manipulative relationship in a way that will allow them their best opportunity to not only leave but recognize their worth in the process. 

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WUTN 62 Transcript

Hey everybody. Welcome to episode 62 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 many podcasts to come. And I'm trying to make this really easy now. If you go to the show notes, wherever you listen to this podcast, there should be a link, a link tree that when you click on that, it will have all the information you need from the latest episodes of any of the podcasts that I am involved with as well as a way to sign up for my newsletter. And also a way to sign up for my marriage workshop. And then when my updated marriage course is out, that will all be there too. So please just sign up for the newsletter. That's probably the easiest thing to do. And I still want to hear all of your questions and your examples and your stories. And if you are a woman who is waking up to the narcissism or emotional immaturity in your relationships, whatever that may be, or if you're the man who is waking up to the narcissism in your relationships, I want to hear from you. 

We already have a thriving women's Facebook group and are putting together a men's group as well. And if you happen to be the person that's saying that, I think I am emotionally immature. That takes a lot of guts. And I want to hear from you too. And I want to help and put together a group that can address that population as well. So with that said, let's jump into today's, well, actually one more, one more thing. The release of the Waking up to Narcissism Question and Answer premium podcast, which is on apple podcasts, is going to happen this week. So just look for that. If you haven't already found it, you can find the Waking up to Narcissism Question and Answer premium edition trailer or zero episode, which is free. And then the paid subscription based episode will be out this week. And I've taken a couple of questions and answered those, and that will be a weekly subscription-based podcast where the proceeds will go to help people that need help that are in these emotionally immature narcissistic relationships. So let's get to today. It is a bit of a question actually, and then, but there's a lot of different things that we're going to add into this question. 

I was forwarded a question by somebody that I really admire, I trust. And so I was really grateful for their vulnerability. And they said that someone close to them had reached out to them and said, “Any advice for a son who is finally waking up to his mother's marriage to a narcissistic man who happens to be his stepdad?” So, this is not her first marriage. And this person, he says, has isolated and abused her for over 30 years, he says his mom finally opened up to her kids, but she is staying and admittedly waiting for, and this is in quotations, a “miracle”. So all the kids are adults and they have marriages of their own. And it has absolutely been breaking their hearts to watch her walk back into the lion's den over and over again. But it sounds like this is one of the first times that she's admitted that this is not a healthy relationship. But she has admitted that. And then willingly walked back into this lion's den. So the question was how do they support as she has asked when they want their mom back after all these years? They said they've watched her mask her life away. And now that they saw the mask come off, now they can't unsee it. And so let me first say, I drafted an outline of what I wanted to share. What I think could help this person. And then right before recording, I went back to the beginning. The outline. Ate half a sleeve of thin mint girl scout cookies. That's a random confession, but I'm just being honest. And then I jotted down a few additional notes about safety. So, let me start with a really quick, but I think it's a relevant story. 

A few years ago, I had a real brief window of opportunity to possibly look at hosting a call-in radio show, which yeah, I think those are still around and it would have been for mental health and I entertained the idea and eventually I honestly can't remember if the opportunity simply fizzled or if they never even got back to me. And what I think is kind of interesting, and I do want to bring this up, I think in my more emotionally immature days, when I was asked about this, I probably would have told you that, you know, I thought long and hard about it and I eventually turned it down and they came back begging and I still told them no. When in reality, I really think it just fizzled away. But the reason I mentioned this is that I spent a few months thinking through answers in my head if I had two to three minutes to answer a question that I really knew that I needed more information about. One of the funny things is when you first become a therapist and everybody knows that you are a therapist and they ask you for advice and questions and you, I want to say rather immaturely, provide that advice. And it comes in these little sound bites of two to three minutes. When in those situations, all people really want is validation. They want to know that what they're doing is the right thing to do. And so you often want to tell them what you think that they need to do based on what the latest thing you heard in classes or in your training. But then I feel like over time, you start to recognize, oh, that person just wants validation. They just want to be told that what they're doing is right. And if you even do say here's actually what my experience says, then you'll often hear, well yeah, but this is, you don't understand. So really people want validation. And that was one of the reasons why I felt like that would have been a challenge, even take this opportunity. 

But then I did start looking at even the situations that were coming into my office on a daily basis. And I would think, man, how would you handle this in two to three minutes? If you were trying to give somebody advice. And so this is where I feel like, you just need more information. And this is a perfect example of one where, when I first received this question, one where I would honestly, I would need to responsibly start by saying that you first need to tell your mom, if I'm talking to the guy, the seriousness of this situation or this relationship and tell them that they ideally, you would love it if they would contact the therapist as soon as possible. Somebody that specializes in personality disorders or high conflict couples communication. And then to make sure that they set up a safety plan because you and your mind, you're going to feel like you've watched enough datelines to know what can happen. And while I agree that that really would be the best angle and incredibly good angle to go, here's where I just started thinking to myself, but I also know that not everybody is a mental health professional. And most people are surprised when somebody finally does open up to them. And that is when there's typically a couple of responses. Unfortunately, so many people go immediately to Switzerland because they feel uncomfortable and they say, man, I hear you. But I'm sure you know what, he's probably going through a lot himself. So have you talked to him about it? Have you really just let him know that this is something that's frustrating to you? And so if that is something that the person finally opens up to somebody, and that's the response they get, then that's where a lot of times they'll feel like, oh yeah, no, I need to go talk to them about it because that took a lot of guts for her to open up to somebody. And so when met with the Switzerland friend, you can see now how difficult that is. But then the other side of that coin is that if you are opening up to somebody, if somebody opens up to you and all of a sudden you think, okay, finally, they finally said it. Okay. you gotta get out of that, then that can also feel overwhelming to this person. 

And so that's where I think when you look at it, the person receiving the information that they are going to feel a lot of emotions, they're going to feel anxiety, they're going to feel discomfort. And so if that is you hearing this confession from somebody that they are finally opening up to the fact that they are not happy in their relationship, or they feel like it might be in an emotionally abusive relationship. It's going to cause you a great deal of anxiety. And so make sure and check in with yourself. Okay, I got to sit with a little bit of this uncomfortable emotion and hear this person and listen to this person. So ideally you'd be prepared for this admission and you would express empathy, extreme empathy, and curiosity and compassion. Tell me more. What's that like, I am so proud of you. You're doing a really difficult thing, which gently, you know, while gently bringing awareness about the need for additional help and resources. So in that scenario, it's again, I'm so grateful and I am so proud of you and that takes a lot of guts. And man, let me just take you on my train of thought. It's hard because I really want to say, oh my gosh, go get your bags. Let's go. But I hear you and I'm just, hey, I want to be here for you. And I worry about your safety. I can't lie. I'm a human. And I care about you. And so, it's hard for me to hear this, but again, I know this is your journey, so I am so honored that you have opened up to me. 

And so then just because for the sake of what I think happens to most is evidence even by this very question. Because had the people whose mom finally opened up to them taken this route, they may have been writing, you know, later with a success story of, hey, I just thought your listeners might want to know kind of a message. So please keep in mind that professional resources and safety plans are real. They are helpful. And they are absolutely necessary, but I also want to recognize that I know that a lot of the times people get this information. And they have not heard a podcast like this, so they are a bit blindsided. So with that said, let's dig into what probably happens more often than not. So one of the things I see the most are the people that cut the mom off in this situation as a way to almost make a stand. I worked with an older woman who was involved in a romance scam. And that was bad enough in a story for another day, because honestly I can see a lot of similarities and what happened to her in her romance scam versus what happens to people in narcissistic relationships, from the extreme trauma bond of good. Oh, I just see the real him. And that's what I keep holding out for too. When he wants something he gets mean and nasty and he makes no sense. To which the woman in the scam or in the relationship says that they just need to calm him down so that she can see the version of him that she loves. And how does she calm him down when the romance scam, its money. It's literally buying gift cards, which is so crazy. And in the relationship with the narcissist it's compliance. Or it's the mom and the situation making herself small weathering the emotional storm to try to get back to peaceful waters. And then keep the peace as long as she can hoping that it will be the last time. The last outburst the last time where he'll be that hurt or mean or dismissive? But regarding this romance scam, what truly broke my heart was that her family essentially stopped talking to her until she stopped talking to the romance scammer. But that isolation, that shame that the lady felt from her family's treatment drove her even further into the virtual arms of the romance scammer. And I find that this is a similar situation that occurs in situations where a narcissist isolates or sequesters the mother in this situation. And then the entire reason that the narcissist slowly but surely cuts the wife's family out of the equation in this situation is twofold. One that is the air he breathes control. The narcissist is extremely emotionally immature. So the thought that his wife has her own opinions makes him uncomfortable, not curious. And the fact that she talks openly with family or friends makes him uncomfortable. What are they talking about? Hey, tell me. 

Or better yet, let me be there in the room, but don't tell him, let me be on the phone and let me be in the room and you put it on speaker phone and I'll be over here, mind my own business, but don't tell him, I mean, I'm just curious, I'm just curious what they're saying. Or let me see the texts that you send or even better yet, you know, I actually don't even like when you talk to them because you seem different, which translated means I begin to lose control over you. So if your adult children start talking about a vacation that they went on, then to the narcissist, he thinks, oh, okay. So now my wife thinks that I'm a bad husband because I don't take her to those places so that he may say out loud, I'm sure they can't even afford it. As a matter of fact, I know they can't afford it. Yeah, your son's in real estate, right? I mean, if you read about the horrible market's horrible. So if they are, honestly, if they're taking vacations with the market, like this. I guarantee you that they are leveraging everything for this. And as a matter of fact, he's probably going to ask you for money and I know how much you want to bail your kids out with money. The money that I worked so hard to make. And that drives me crazy. Like seriously. I'll bet if you had it your way, you would just give them my money. Here you go. Apparently my husband is just a bank. So, let me give away all this money. The wife in this situation would then find herself either apologizing or agreeing with him in order to calm down his anxiety. Now they did not share that dialogue in this question, but if you are someone in a narcissistic relationship, I would imagine that scenario just played out what seemed very real to you. 

And if you are fortunate enough to not have ever encountered a relationship like that, please know that I could pull these examples out for the next few hours right off the top of my head. Simply just thinking about the real example shared in my private women's Facebook group, or honestly, in sessions over the past few weeks. Or the letters that come in on a very regular basis. So back to the scenario. So I think we should step back too and take things from the angle of the mother. So let's take a second and talk about sitting with discomfort. The family members who are waking up to their mother's marriage are now mad. They're sad. They're frustrated. All types of feelings. I'm sure a lot of the feelings and some I'm sure that I could share if I wanted to check the explicit box before posting this episode. But I do believe that often we want to fix a situation immediately to ease our own feelings of discomfort and anxiety and anger and you name it. But helping somebody recognize and then change their relationship with a narcissist is, here comes a cliche, but it's a good one. It's not a sprint. It is not even a marathon. We are talking about an ultra marathon and as somebody who has completed a few dozen ultra marathons, including a handful of races over a hundred miles, let me tell you the long game is fascinating and it can wear you down. And you're going to feel like you hit a wall in your relationship, even with this person who is with the narcissist over and over, but you'll also find yourself getting your second and third and fourth wind. Because if you don't beat yourself up, and if you note that, okay, that happened, whatever the problem in the relationship is that happened, and you tried a certain way, maybe you tried to go big, maybe you tried to isolate your mom and get her to talk to you without him knowing. And then that didn't work well, but just know that that doesn't mean the race is over. So if you continue to show up whenever you can, even if it's just sending, hey, just thinking about you texts or intentionally just staying in contact as the narcissist will begin to isolate or sequester their spouse is a way to control the flow of information. 

So just know that you do not have to make every interaction, one to say, this way to the exit of the relationship, although you really will want to. An example that I like to share in this kind of situation is one of parenting a teenager. So in this scenario, your adult mother becomes a teenager. And I remember at one point, my wife and I came to a realization and thankfully being able to communicate with one of our teens in particular, what was that communication like with us? Because we felt like when we would say, hey champ. How was your day? That we would get back, we wouldn't really get back to the information. The answers are really short. So, let me kind of skip to the end of this example, we'll work backwards. We eventually learned that shortly after, how was your day champ? We would then pepper in a nice round of, did you do and fill in the blank? You know, did you finish your homework? Did you clean your room? Did you thank your grandma for the gift? Were you still gonna turn in those late assignments? So we learned again, thank goodness that the teenager has feelings and emotions as well. And that their own experience of us began to look like one where our initial curiosity, how was your day? It was just a warm up to what we really cared about. Did you do these things? So that was a way for us to ease our own anxiety by wanting our teen. To do things so that we felt better. So I believe that the mother in this situation is maybe experiencing a similar thing. If every time we talk to this, the mom, if we are trying to pepper in our own thoughts and feelings of what we want her to do to make us feel better. So I, you know, I believe that the mother in this situation is aware of the unhealthy nature of her relationship with this second husband or third husband. Just as she may be aware of your disapproval of the husband. Just as she is also aware that when you express frustration to her, that you would love for her to leave or when you pull away from her saying that you just can't support her relationship with him, because that only causes her to feel like she is a value if she does what you need her to do just as she is living in a marriage where she feels like she has to do what he wants her to do as well, that that's the only place that she has value as well. So this clearly won't be the case in every situation, but I have been fortunate enough to meet with the women or the men who are the mom and this story on occasion. And they so often want a safe place to talk. Or to laugh or to not feel controlled. And not have to manage other people's emotions. 

So when I say that it's a long game, I feel like so often, step one, after somebody even slightly mentions the distress in their relationship. Sure. You're a human being. You first want to rescue them. And thank them for finally reaching out admitting that, you know, we've all known this for years and thank you. And I assume you have a backpack, then you're ready to go now. Right? But oh no, then they feel like perhaps they shouldn't have said anything because that causes them a tremendous amount of anxiety for you wanting them to do more right now. No, it took a tremendous amount of courage for them to finally get to the point where they could even say that something might be bad in their marriage. So I would encourage you to maybe take a step back, look at it that way. You know, as a therapist, let's say I've been working with this woman and it has taken a long time for me to get to the point where I can, I can bend. I was gonna say convince or better, I guess, better stated, encourage this woman to finally identify safe people that she could open up to. And then what would that situation look like and what would she even say? How would she open up to this person? And then when they finally opened up, then she's already overthinking the response. That's going to happen to her adult children. So it takes a lot of work to encourage this woman to open up. And then even again, if it's ever so slightly to somebody in the family and they may be so anxious to do so. 

That they simply just need you to say thank you so much again, I can only imagine how hard that was and I'm proud of you. And I want you to know that I am a safe place for you. And while I want to go say, grab a bag and leave right now. And here's where I love a little humor, maybe asking her, I mean, if that is what you're saying, then we can do that. But I'm just grateful that you opened up and you shared that with me. You know, is there anything I can do to support you right now? How would you like for me to show up for you? I really believe that to be heard is to be healed. And when someone offers you this gift of vulnerability, know that it is perfectly normal for you to be hit with such a strong bout of the feelings that you will most likely want to rescue them immediately. But this is still their life, which they may not have felt in control of. So give them the gift of their own self-discovery, let them be the captains of their own ship, but be the very best, what are they called? It's not a first meet, is it assistant captain? That doesn't sound right. That you can be, and we're not talking about, I grew up with Gilligan from Gilligan's island, a horrible first assistant captain. No we're talking about I guess I should have thought that went through because I can't really pull a great first madder out of my back pocket. But now you have this amazing opportunity to stand beside them on this journey, help them interpret what they are seeing. What they want to do next, and then you get to be the one to help them. Work through the yeah, buts. Well, yeah, but I don't know where I could even go. Mom, we have an extra room. Yeah, but we'll take all of the money. Mom, we can go get a free consultation with an attorney. I'll go with you and they can put your mind at ease and we can come up with a safety plan so we can address as many of the variables as possible that could be addressed. 

It's interesting because I feel like if you see where we're going next, I remember when I was in grad school as a therapist and having one of my favorite professors, Darlene Davis, my sensei. I had her on my Virtual Couch podcast so long ago, she has an amazing story. Around dealing with chronic pain and making this incredible decision to in essence, just say, okay, this is my identity. Versus using that as a catalyst or a catapult to then do bigger things and better things for her. But Darlene did this exercise once where she basically rearranged the room with a lot of desks and chairs, all messed up in the middle. And then she stood at one end of the room and she had one of the budding young therapists on the other side and she said, okay go take a left and go over there and walk around that desk. And now step up over that desk and basically walk the person over to the other side of the room. And we didn't really know what was going on. She was amazing with these experiential exercises and she said, all right, how was it? What do you think? And remember the person just looked at her and said I was fine, I guess. And then she had another person get over on the other side of the room again. And she went over and stood beside them and said, where are we going? And the person said, I don't know. I guess the other side of the room, she said, okay, let's do it. And then he said, which way should I go? And then she said which way are you thinking, what do you think? And he said, I, well, I guess I could go this way. Okay. Well, what's that like for you? Well, I know I don't want to have to climb over this desk. What else do you want to do? And while I guess I could crawl under it. Okay. Well, you know what, what's that like for you? And it may sound. I don't know. I don't know how it may sound for you to hear that, but I felt like that exercise was pretty amazing because even when you start to become a therapist, I think you often feel like you are the person on the other side of the room. 

And you're saying, okay, go over there and do this and do that. And what happens is that person may make it across the room, but then they're there and you say, okay, you did it. Great job. And in essence, you feel validated that you are really good at guiding people across rooms, but that person now is across the room and they're thinking, I don't even know what to do now. And I don't even know how to get back across the room. So one of the most powerful things you can do is to be there by the side of that person that's opening up to you. And then saying, where do you want to go? And how can I support you? How can I show up for you? What can I do for you? So if somebody is saying that they are opening up to you for the first time, I think so often we want to say, okay, then here's what you do. You walk in the room, you reach up in the closet and you grab your suitcase and you put it down and you unzip it and you open it and you pack it. And if the person is even doing that, all of a sudden they're saying, okay, now what now? Okay. Oh, wait. No, he's going to freak out. I can't do this and now I feel bad. I even said anything to you. Because he's going to find out and I shouldn't have told you. And now I need to, I need to go back in and I need to isolate, and I need to make sure that he doesn't find out because if he does, then he's gonna get really mad. 

And so I think you can see that it really can be more beneficial to look at this as what an incredible opportunity to stand right beside somebody as they are going through this period in their life. And what an honor for you to be the person that they are opening up to. And so as you build that trust and as you express that empathy and you build that connection, then that person is going to feel safe enough where you can start to maybe offer your advice, or they're going to feel safe enough to start to say, what do you think I should do? 

And even then be careful because if you say, well, I think you should leave. Then sit back and get ready for the yeah, buts. Yeah, but I don't even know where to go. And just know that you as the person that is, that this person is coming to that if we can get to the habits, we're getting somewhere. We really are. But then if you can still stay in that, well tell me what you think. In that example of having somebody even talk to an attorney, is one that I think takes so long for somebody to go just talk to an attorney. And I'm talking about just going to do the free consultation and guess what? You can go to a lot of free consultations. It's not like they have a little database and everybody gets together in your area and says that this person already got the free consultation. No, I would recommend that you write down the questions and you get a free consultation. And then maybe after the first one you realized I had no idea what I was even asking or looking for. And then write down some questions and then go to another consultation. Because one of the narcissist or the emotionally immature person's greatest opportunities to control is controlling that flow of information. And I find it so fascinating when I have a couple in my office and things are starting to go the route of emotional immaturity. And we're looking at this might not be a viable marriage. That is the more we'll just go with the pathologically kind person, starts to find their voice and express it and have opinions, which again is the goal. That is what we are here to do in life is to discover who we are and what makes us tick. And if we are in relationships where that's encouraged, it's incredible because that person is also finding themselves. 

And we are two people that are now attacking the world. And we are just supporting each other and asking each other what your experience is like. And I'm sharing what my experience is like. And we're processing emotion in concert with another human being. But when that isn't happening, then what is happening is the control of this other person and so back to the scenario, if we're in my office and somebody is starting to say, okay, I don't know if this relationship is viable, then that's where I often hear them more emotionally immature person, whether it's the husband or the wife. I started to say, okay, well, good luck working on your own. Or I've always been the one that has the money. And nobody's going to want to marry somebody that has four kids or hey, you never finished school. So what's that going to look like? And so they will often express these sentiments, statements, put out these vibes are these emotions that are going to make this doom and gloom vibe just come right over into the office. And so knowledge, I think it's Schoolhouse Rock taught us this back in the eighties. Knowledge is power. And so there are opportunities to get answers for things. Whether it is the internet, whether it is a consultation with somebody, whether it is a support group. A therapist or whatever that looks like. 

I highly encourage you that if you are being told all of the answers by the person that you now are recognizing may not be the safest person, then that is one of those situations where the person is saying, oh no, no I know you can't trust me on a lot of other things. But you can trust me when I'm telling you about how scary things are going to be and what it's going to look like for you. If you leave. Oh, no, those don't go together. So finding out information is just an incredibly powerful thing for, I mean, information is there, it's available and you need to be the keeper of your own information. Not continually wanting someone else to tell you what you're supposed to think, feel or do. 

I guess in conclusion, wrapping this up today. How do you support that person? You be there. And you express how grateful you are that this person feels like they could even trust you with even a little bit of that story. That must be hard for them. If they got to this place where they felt like they could open up to you. And this is where if you do get an opportunity to ask the person or to be more curious with them, then I think one of the best things you can do is to start to explore, well, tell me what that miracle looks like. And then if you can just start having conversations around that, then I think that will be incredible. The therapy model. I love acceptance and commitment therapy. One of my favorite books by author, Russ Harris is called The Confidence Gap. And that sentiment alone is just so powerful. What The Confidence Gap book is saying is that we often feel like, well, when I am confident, then I will do the thing. So in this scenario, it's waiting for the miracle or it's, you know, when I finally have my confidence up, then I'll go. But ironically with The Confidence Gap, the acceptance and commitment therapy really teaches us that in order to get the confidence, we often have to do the thing. But then when we say I'm going to do the thing. So in this scenario, I'm going to start speaking my own voice. That might give us a little dopamine bump of that feels right. But then sit back and listen to the yeah buts you have. I don't even know what to say. Or you have, but what if he gets mad or, yeah, but yeah, but. And I think what is important to note here is that our brain desperately, especially in a time where we may feel like we are unsafe in our relationship. Our brain's going to feel like we have to have all those yeah, buts worked out. We have to have the answers and the solutions, and we need certainty because that is scary. 

And if we go back to the way the brain wants certainty is so adorable yet frustrating. Because we have this concept in our mind where we know what two plus two equals four feels like, ah, that feels, that feels certain. And now we want, we desperately want that same ah, feeling. With all the decisions that we make. So especially these complicated ones. And so those yeah, buts are there. And then our brain is saying, yeah, but I do, I need to have all these things addressed before I jump out into the great abyss. And that sounds really scary. And so it does become almost this balance between recognizing that I will yeah, but my brain. That don't get killed device in my brain. Until I want to say the proverbial cows come home, not even knowing what that really means, but I could yeah but all this uncertainty forever, but at some point, then I need to know that I have these people, these safe people that are there for me, that aren't going to continually tell me, this is what you need to do. And they're going to be there to hear my habits. And they're going to be some of those habits that they may be able to address the yeah, but financially, oh, we can work through that. And that's going to lead to a yeah, but what if that doesn't last? Or what if that isn't enough? So I just want to acknowledge the fact that that's going to be part of this process and the more that that person feels safe and being able to know that they were able to express that this relationship seems hard to somebody. And that person didn't then judge them, wanting them to immediately leave that very second while they may want them to, but they know that that isn't what that person has to do in order to still be cared about. That then that person, and I'm going back to the mom in the scenario that now what it feels like to be her. She has been on a journey, no doubt, a journey of awareness, a journey of starting to want more and starting to not acknowledge that she doesn't feel safe. So then she did open up very briefly and let her children know that this is really difficult but I'm gonna, I'm gonna hang in here and wait for the miracle. And if we can recognize that that's a miracle in itself that she was able to self confront, acknowledge, be vulnerable enough and turn to you even if you then have that feeling that you want to just send a SWAT team in there and rescue her right now. And if you had it all your way, you would in fact do that because you feel very confident that that would ultimately be what was best for her, but understanding that you don't know what it is like to be her. And there's a lot going on there of what that feels like to be her. So just revel in the fact that she opened up to you, and this is your opportunity to maintain that relationship. And it doesn't always have to be about here’s what you need to do. And here's a podcast that says you are really in danger. And here's an article.

Now, those are not going to be out of the question. I still want you to be, however you want to really feel like you show up authentically, but just know that being able to provide that safety for that person over time. It is going to allow them to then if, and when they are ready to say, I am done they are going to go to you and they know that you're not going to say. I told you so, or it's about time. That they know that you are going to say, what can I do to help? Tell me what this is like for you. How can I show up for you? Because that's how you've been showing up ever since they really opened up to you. So again, I'm just, I'm grateful for these questions and I feel like there's so many different principles that we can talk about when we just break down a question. I guess in essence, this would be then a plug for the Waking up to Narcissism Premium Question and Answer episode because on the free episodes, these, the ones that you're listening to now, we're going to, we're going to go in a lot of different directions and talk about a lot of the traits and characteristics of narcissism. And we're going to break down the definitions of, and we're going to do a lot of the stories of what people have been through. And over there, we're going to just specifically focus on the questions. Because I have more questions than I can answer in the next two or three years. So we'll get to those, but if you have questions and if you don't know where to turn and you don't feel like you can reach out to anybody and you are not in a position where you feel like you can embrace counseling or afford counseling, try to just find somebody safe that you can just start to talk to communicate with or shoot me an email contact@tonyoverbay.com. Let me know your questions and just know that again, you are on a journey and you're there. If you are listening to this, that means you've taken a lot of big steps along that path of self discovery or awakening. And the path is going to be bumpy at times. There's going to be some juts in the road, maybe some big boulders or rocks, but eventually it is going to lead to a place where you are going to feel like you get to be yourself. Because it is absolutely okay to have your own thoughts, feelings, emotions, opinions, and to not have them continually questioned or put down or not questioning your own reality because it turns out that the person who is designed to know the most about you, is you. So if you're in a relationship where somebody else is continually thinking that they know you better than you know yourself, then I worry that it's because they have created a version of you that they need to feel this control over. 

So then therefore they know that version of you that they've created better than you do, because that's not you. That's you showing up trying to manage somebody else's emotions and anxiety. Or buffer for other people and, and that is not you living your best, most authentic self. So let's get heading toward that direction and then we'll deal with all those habits around the way. So thanks for taking the time today and we will see you next week on Waking up to Narcissism

A growing body of research now shows how long-term narcissistic abuse affects the hippocampus and the amygdala of the brain, areas that regulate memory and control emotion. And while someone may not be your classic, malicious or malignant narcissist (there are several sub-types of narcissism), even someone with narcissistic tendencies, traits, or "dustings" can do emotional and physical damage to those they interact with. Tony also gives his five tips for surviving narcissistic abuse. Tony refers to the article "Neuroscience: The shocking impact narcissistic abuse has on the brain," by Lachlan Brown from https://hackspirit.com/3859-2/

With the continuing "sheltering" rules spreading across the country, PLEASE do not think you can't continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch 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 http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch, you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch 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 http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ

#therapy #virtualcouch #wakinguptonarcissism #tonyoverbay #tonyoverbayquote #quote #podcast #podcasting #acceptancecommitmenttherapy #motivation #coach #addictionrecovery #narcissism #happiness #behappy #mentalhealth #wellness #recovery #selfcare #anxiety #relax #mindfulness #happy #depression #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthmatters #psychology #MadeWithDescript #DescriptPro

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

[00:00:11] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode 10 of

[00:00:13] Waking Up the Narcissism, I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and host of the Virtual Couch podcast, where I will throw a plug in will know today, this week, this week. Earlier this week, I did an episode on Seeking External Validation, which referred to my Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde episode of Waking Up to Narcissism last week, and I really do feel like they they're starting to just vibe together at times. So if you haven't listened to the virtual couch, please go take a look at that.

[00:00:40] And here is where

[00:00:41] I will be is authentic and raw and vulnerable as I can. I am sitting here recording this intro, and I'm going to share an older episode of the virtual couch on complex post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD and the effect that narcissistic abuse can have on the short term memory and the amygdala. Now, why might you ask I again, in the vein of full authenticity I have over the last two or three days at different times, been recording an episode on narcissistic family systems and scapegoat children and the golden child and putting all these pieces together. And I have part of one of the files. It's about twenty five minutes long that has no audio. So I have spent a couple of hours this morning, nice and early trying to figure out my issues, and then I submitted the file to the company that my record with. And it looks like there just might have been a glitch and the audio didn't record.

[00:01:37] So I have sat here for

[00:01:39] About five minutes just staring at my computer screen, but the show must go on. I want this consistency, so we're going to do this bonus episode, but I will if I have to rerecord the stuff about narcissistic family systems and scapegoat child and golden child, then I will do that and I will get that episode out to you next year. Next year I am. Let me bring myself back to present. Next week we'll get one that that one out to you next week. But in the interim, I would. I'm going to read a couple of emails because I just continue to get the emails. And if you are interested in more information on the women's group, the private women's group for people that are in relationships with narcissistic men or and that can be whether it's a spouse, whether it's a sibling, whether it's a boss, whether it's a feeling that way in a church leader, it really is a it's just a support group and it's just phenomenal. And a lot of the things that were part of this recording, this lost episode, this lost recording where I had posed some questions to the group and they had amazing things to say, and now I do not have access to that. So I will rerecord that if we need to. But there's just a few emails. I'm getting a few every day, which is still just so I'm so grateful for. But here's here's some of the ones that I think are just really interesting.

[00:02:48] I'll change some of the details, but someone sent one recently that said they listen to the episode about narcissistic awareness grief and then just finished a session with their therapist. And I love that people are bringing this into therapy. And she said, I have been so excited to bring her up to date on my recent AHA moments, and the session just flew by. And as a therapist man, I love those sessions. And she said, I now am just feeling so incredibly proud of myself and I love that she is saying this. Everything that I had described in that narcissistic awareness grief episode was, she said, it's exactly her own recent awakenings and that that she had heard put into words exactly what she was describing to her about her most recent breakthroughs. And so it's like a shot in the arm. It's so validating to realize that I've got this and I'm on the right path, and she shares some more stuff. And it's just it's really nice to hear people feel like they are. I love the way she's saying that, that it's realizing the awakening, it's validating that I'm on the right path. That doesn't mean that it is going to be a real smooth path, but you are on the right path and just know that that path is going to have bumps and and ruts and those things along the way. But you're on your way to a more, more sense of purpose finding out who you really are.

[00:03:52] And ultimately, that is what builds that confidence. And it raises the waters around you when you let your light so shine that others will then feel that that power, then Marianne Williamson poem that I love. Who are you to play small so that others around you will not feel insecure because your job is to be the best version of you? You can be for yourself, for your family, your kids, that sort of thing. So I was grateful for that. And then I also get emails that are, they're hard. They're sad. The person shared that they're their husband, their spouse had stopped speaking to them over the weekend, this past weekend because they are about to start a new job. And she has been staying home with the kids, and she's aware, she's aware that she probably won't get the payment that she deserves because she's been out of work. But it's the first offer she's got and she is taking action. And I love that because we too often just feel stuck and we feel like I don't know what to do. And we think and we think and we ruminate, but we need to start taking action. And maybe this job isn't the ideal job, but it's it's getting her on a path of self-confidence. But of course, even though her narcissistic tendency traits husband has been saying that he feels like she waste time when she's not working now, of course, he's saying that he's going to be wasting his time with this job, even though he, she says.

[00:05:09] All you do is waste his money, which I hate that phrase, I don't usually the word the hate. But I the wasting my money. If you're in a marriage, you're working with a deliberate, Dyadic collaborative process. It's our money. It's the family's money, but wasting his money. So now she goes to try to make money, and now it is going to be a waste of time. So I get the point that it's going to feel like you can't do anything right regardless. So I just love this person's email because it is. It is her saying, you know, the old darned, if I do, darned if I don't. But if I'm going to start doing and I'm going to do things that are going to start to raise my emotional baseline and help me now learn, maybe I like this job. Maybe I meet people here. Maybe I start to connect with others. Maybe I start to feel better about bringing in some whatever it is it is doing, instead of just continually thinking and ruminating because of the gaslighting or the nurses can make you feel so crazy. So an example there. There's another one. This is talking about therapy. Someone also sent me one Hi Tony, my therapist recommended your podcast and I've really appreciated it. So many things have rung true and help me feel seen, and it is truly difficult to be in a relationship with someone with narcissistic tendencies.

[00:06:16] And then she goes on to share a lot of examples, and I just want her to know I. I've read them all, and there are so many here that are so, so good, but also break my heart where I wanted to read a little bit of one where she said that he will say often that he feels like he hasn't met. She doesn't meet his needs that are not being met physically and emotionally, and he doesn't feel like anything has changed that. He says he hasn't seen her making any progress. But I feel like that alone is coming from not a place of curiosity where he's saying, I haven't seen you make progress instead of saying, Tell me about you. You know, tell me what's going on. Tell me what you're working on. I'm looking at this with genuine curiosity because she shared that rewinding the week before, she had sent nice messages at work different, you know, saying that, Hey, I'm thinking about you messages that he did not respond to all day where I can imagine that he's saying, You don't think about me because I hear that one so often, not even to say that he's on his way home and she and her kind, probably pathological kindness as which I understand. But if I had a busy day, then it's not OK that my messages aren't over the top, or I'm sure that she's heard the if she's had a busy day, then he will most likely say, Well, you know, I still think of you when I'm having when you're having a busy day.

[00:07:24] So she said that she wrote notes, put them in his lunch, put them around different places so that letting him know that his work doesn't go unnoticed. And but he just keeps saying how he he thinks that that is whether it's too little, too late or not enough or. And so again, from that vein of just feeling like you, you're going crazy and that you're told you don't do enough of this, whatever this is, you don't you don't send me notes now the person sends notes, and now they're not acknowledged. And now if you say, Hey, what about those notes? Oh, well, now you know you only did it because I asked you to do it. So I get the crazy making. And so I just love when people are sending things and they're saying that they they are feeling more heard that they're feeling more understood. And so that is maybe the opening to say, continue to send those emails, those messages. But let's get now to this episode on complex post-traumatic stress disorder and a tiny bit of background on this as well. I held off on this one a long time because I worried that people would would feel like this is even more of the crazy making and the effect it can have.

[00:08:27] But then I realized after airing this episode and it's it was episode two hundred and something early to hundreds on the virtual couch. So it was well over a year ago. This one gets referred to a lot as one of the episodes where people started to say, I have to do something this. This is proof that this this emotional abuse or this the gaslighting, the not feeling understood or heard or feeling this crazy making can literally take a negative effect on the brain. And so there is nothing better than starting to take action so that you can put yourself in a better place because this complex post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can affect you in ways that then you are more in your reactionary brain. So then when I get the people that are so nice and kind that are trying to make the best of things and make things work, and they respond to me and say, But he is right, you know, I do get angry. I do say mean things. But this is where I often say, Do you just get angry and say, mean things out in the wild? Or are you getting angry and saying mean things in more of a reaction to feeling like you are not being understood or there is no curiosity in the relationship, or that you're continually being told that your view of things is wrong, because then that's your human.

[00:09:32] You are being reactionary. And so the more you're going to learn about this complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and the more you're going to learn about gaslighting and raising your emotional baseline and truly finding your sense of self and purpose, then the more confident you will be. And we've already identified that, unfortunately, the more confident you will be, the more that will now be viewed as most likely a threat to the person with the narcissistic tendencies because they view it in this black or white. If you have a different opinion, you are telling me mine's wrong, so then therefore I must I must defeat you. And that is not a mature adult relationship. So let's get to this episode on PTSD. Two seconds more of housekeeping if you are. And for therapy counseling, and you're not quite sure where to go and you don't really and I really feel like this is really applicable in that, yes, this is about to be a quick ad, but I think it's really applicable in this situation because I know a lot of people that are in these relationships with narcissistic traits or tendencies, people or full blown narcissistic personality disorder. I have women that won't participate in the group call because they, your husband will know and they can't have that happen. So if you go to Betterhelp.com Betterhelp.com virtual couch, then there is their therapy options there that are literally therapy, text therapy, messaging therapy, video chats.

[00:10:44] And so where early on in my own therapeutic career, I thought, Well, I don't know if that's very effective. Well, we got to meet people where they're at. So if you feel like you need help and you feel like you're not quite sure where to go or you don't want to go somewhere in person or out in public, then this might be a good option and go to Betterhelp.com virtual couch and you'll get 10 percent off your first months of counseling services, and they are licensed professional counselors and therapists. And during the assessment process, and it's all a form you fill out online, then I would be pretty open and honest in about worrying about emotional abuse or those sort of things so that they can put you with the right counselor. And the best part about this one is that if you do not have a fit with your counselor, it is very, very easy to lovingly break up with your counselor, your therapist on better help because you can just open up your online portal and say, I think I want another therapist, so go to Betterhelp.com slash virtual couch, get 10 percent off of your first month's services, and then let's get to this episode on complex post-traumatic stress disorder. Send me your messages. Go to Tony Orbcomm, send through the contact form, and next week we'll get back to that family systems and narcissistic family systems.

[00:11:49] Hey, coming up on today's episode of the virtual couch, we're going to get a little bit heavy. We're going to talk in the world of neuroscience and the shocking impact that narcissistic abuse can have on the brain, how it can actually impact your short term memory and also dig deep into your amygdala and cause your amygdala to flare up. That's that fight, flight or freeze response. And more importantly, we're going to talk about what you can do if you're in a situation where you may be experiencing narcissistic abuse that and so much more. Coming up on today's episode

[00:12:17] Of the virtual academy.

[00:12:28] Thank you for joining me on episode two hundred and twenty one of the virtual couch, I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified, mindful habit coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four ultra marathon runner and creator of the Path Back, an online pornography recovery program that is helping people like you reclaim their lives from the harmful effects of pornography. If you or anyone that you know is trying to put pornography behind you once and for all and trust me, it can be done and a strength based hold the shame, become the person you always wanted to be way. Then head over to Pathbackrecovery.com. And there you can download a short e-book that describes five common mistakes that people make when trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. Again, that's pathbackrecovery.com, and welcome to the podcast. I am again going on YouTube so you can find the virtual couch channel on YouTube, and you can find me at all the places that people can find people at the virtual couch on Instagram or at Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist on Facebook. And I'm just glad you're here, and I am going to get to the topic today. But speaking of pornography addiction, who was? I was in the intro. I just was going to share a little bit of a moment that I had over the weekend. I thought it was pretty fascinating. I was asked to go on a national radio show was the Walter Stirling show, and it's carried nationwide, even in my local market of Sacramento and KFBK, and I was prepared for this.

[00:13:48] I knew a little bit about Walter Stirling, so I came into my office and the topic was pornography and the pandemic. Was there a rise in use pornography use? And I had a very spirited conversation with Walter. He was very respectful and I really enjoy any time that I can talk about something because I'm just going to share what I know. I'm going to share my truths. And a lot of times I've been on those kind of program situations, and I think that people maybe think I'm going to get a little bit more defensive or that I might be a little bit kooky or nutty. And I don't know. Maybe that's all relative. Anyway, maybe I am. But it was a really fun experience, and here's why I wanted to talk about it because I experienced this situation and I did record it, and I think it might be fun to share the track at some point. But he was saying that he disagreed that he didn't think that pornography addiction was real, that there was anything wrong with turning to pornography for a stress relief. That sort of thing. And here was the thing. The first thing that I tried to establish was, if that's where he's coming from, then that's great.

[00:14:46] My job is not to try to convince somebody who is not interested in moving away from pornography or lessening pornography in their life. And at this point now I've got about 15 years, and when I was promoting my book, he's a porn addict. Now, what an expert and a former addict to answer your questions, which I played the role of the expert that is a best seller on Amazon. Yes, I am self-promoting, but I'm very proud of that book with coauthor Josh Shea. I had added up at the time about twelve or thirteen hundred people that I've been able to help individually. Not just that's not including the online pornography program, the path back. And those are people that came to me and said I would like to view pornography less. So when people are coming to me, then absolutely, I can work with that. Any string pulled the shame. Become the person you always wanted to be way as I talk about in the intro. But when somebody comes to me and says, I don't think it's a problem and I don't think I should quit, then all I can say is, OK, all right. And I even introduced on his radio show one of my favorite phrases psychological reactants, which is that instant negative reaction of being told what to do. And so I let them know that, Hey, Walter, I can't tell you to stop if that's not something that you want to stop.

[00:15:50] And so I don't know if he was interested in me being more combative, but I had a nice exchange. I talked to him about how when it's used as a coping mechanism, that people are choosing pixels over people and that when people are even if a couple is looking at pornography together, if that's something that they want to do, then great. I believe that there is more of an opportunity for connection between the two of them without having to turn to a third party of sorts in that scenario. And then I barely was able to touch on the fact that pornography, addiction or pornography and even pornography addiction is not something that is a diagnosable addiction. There is compulsive sexual behavior, impulse control disorder. So I 100 percent understand that what I'm trying to do is help people move away from that. If that is something that they would like to move away from because it's a time it sucks up. The time sucks. The life out of people, warps their sexuality can make them feel like if they aren't looking at an image of someone perfect who is always, you know, the image always wants them, that that's their version of reality when it comes to intimacy. And so if someone is coming to me saying I would like to do that less, please, then we we look at their areas of their life. Are they feeling satisfied in their parenting? Are they feeling satisfied in their marriage or in their health, or in their career or in their faith? And so as we shore up those areas using my favorite modality, acceptance and commitment therapy kind of dial in their values, get them working towards something that they really believe in and parenting through the nurtured heart approach and feeling like they really have a parenting model and dialing into their couple's relationship with emotionally focused therapy.

[00:17:22] When you get all those things working together, there is less of a siren song of pornography of. Food of online gambling of any of those coping mechanisms, so I just wanted to share that it was a really fun experience. It's funny. I walk home, not walk home, I drive home, I walk in through the garage and my wife was kind and she listened to it on the local radio station and had filmed it through it up to a family chat that we have. But I love the fact that one of my daughters comes in and she's like, Hey, what were you doing tonight? I was like, I was on a national radio show. I was like, Oh, OK, I hand over to my friend's house. But I just think, like every dad's doing on a Sunday evening, jumping on a national radio show and talking about pornography, compulsive sexual behavior with someone who was trying to, I think initially maybe attack them and then coming out of that and feeling like it was OK.

[00:18:06] So anyway, that made for a fun weekend. I did enjoy that and I will put up more about that. I think I've asked Walter if I can use that clip for a future episode or that sort of thing. There is a bunch of intro in the YouTube video. I'm going to say that you can now start the real topic of narcissistic abuse and its effects on the brain at whatever this minute mark is. So thank you for hanging in there. So today I'm going to turn to an article and I'm going to do a lot of riffing, as the kids say today, because I'm going to talk a lot about narcissistic abuse. And the reason why number one is that this is an area of my practice that I do a lot of work with. I think I've shared in previous episodes where I talk about narcissism or I talk about gaslighting, any of those things that I've actually had an opportunity to testify in some court cases on narcissistic abuse or narcissism in general personality disorders. And it wasn't something that I necessarily anticipated. And I think initially when I started working with more men, that the percentage of men that suffer with narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder or traits of narcissism is much higher than that with women. So I started working a lot with men who had narcissistic personality disorder are again traits of and then working with them in their marriages.

[00:19:22] And oftentimes that led to marriage therapy and then at some point often is the case. The narcissist is not a huge fan of counseling because they, for the most part, think they're doing everything pretty darn well. And you end up working with the spouse and helping them work through dealing in a relationship where there is narcissistic personality disorder, narcissistic traits. So the title of the article that I'm referring to today is one from it's called Hack Spirit, but it's called neuroscience the shocking impact that narcissistic abuse has on the brain. And it's by a writer named Lachlan Brown. And this is from a couple of years ago, and I've been sitting on this one for a while and and there's a couple of different reasons why maybe I'll get to them in a little while, but I want to give a little bit of a background. Someone says narcissistic abuse is one of the worst types of psychological abuse that one person can do to another. But unfortunately, many people are stuck in these types of relationships, and I have done a couple of episodes on a concept called trauma bonding, and we're going to circle back around to that in this episode as well, because that trauma bond is what keeps people stuck in relationships with narcissistic individuals. And man, there's so many things I want to say in this episode, so I hope that I can bring this all together.

[00:20:31] But one of those is if you are listening to this and someone has forwarded this to you and said, Hey, I think you're a narcissist, will you just do me a favor and just sit back, relax and just listen and just take this in and try to not be so responsive? Try to not be so reactive? Because here's what happens. Often I've done a couple of episodes on gaslighting, for example. Gaslighting is that that concept where when someone is saying, Hey, I think that you have not been very nice lately, let's say the wife says that to the husband and then the husband says, Seriously, you think that I haven't been nice? Have you looked in the mirror? I can't believe you're saying this matter of fact. The fact that you are saying this to me makes me realize how mean you are. And that's so by the end, the wife is thinking, Oh my gosh, am I am? I mean, am I the one? I can't? Wow. I shouldn't have even brought that up. I guess I really am mean, and it can just be this crazy making behavior. And please go look at some of the episodes I've done on gaslighting, if that's the case. But so what has happened often is I will work with the wife who will hear that episode one of these episodes on gaslighting or one of the episodes like I'm going to do today, and they'll send it to their spouse that they worry me suffer from some narcissistic tendencies.

[00:21:44] Or I like to call Dustin's of narcissism, and then the person will hear that. And then they'll say, Yeah, you know what? She does gaslight me. And honestly, it was one of the most interesting kind of profound experiences I had where when I did an episode on gaslighting and there was one of the women that I was working with, two of the women I was working with happened to on that same day, send the episode to their spouse. And within two hours, I got texts back in. Both of the spouses said the same thing that the wives sent the episodes about gaslighting to the narcissistic husbands, and they both responded with, Thank you for sending that to me. Now I know what you're doing to me. You are gaslighting me, and I used to try to come up with something clever of a way to ensure assure the wife that that is not the case. And here's one of. The things that came up with that, I feel, is one of the best descriptions, if you take the wife out of that narcissistic relationship and put her in a new relationship, she will then be viewed as simply kind if you take that narcissistic person and put them in a different relationship. They are going to continue to have their own sets of rules when it comes to finances.

[00:22:48] They're going to continue to gaslight, they're going to continue to not apologize. They're going to continue to not own up to their behaviors. So oftentimes I almost will. I do. I say, Hey, that's one of those signs that you are being reactionary. I can remember one of the first women that ever came into my office, and she said, No, I do. I do. I get so angry with my husband. I do yell at him and I often say, OK, were you a yeller to begin with? And she says, No, I wasn't. So you are yelling in reaction. You are yelling to not feeling heard. You're yelling to not being validated, you're yelling to being made to feel crazy. If you take you into and put you in a relationship with someone who says, Hey, tell me more about that. Oh my gosh, I can understand that. I didn't realize that's what I was doing. Would you just yell at them randomly? No, you wouldn't. But take your spouse and put them in a different relationship? And most likely, the person that they would be in that relationship with is going to eventually start yelling because they feel crazy, because that person, that narcissistic person is not owning up to their part of the relationship. And one of the key things here is remembering that narcissism is a personality disorder.

[00:23:52] There are certain things that are we call them personality disorders. And one of the key components of a personality disorder is that person is stuck in their ego. They cannot step outside of their ego and see things from another's point of view, so they don't believe that they're doing anything contrary to what is right, which is why things like gaslighting just flow. And again, as narcissism nature is it nurture? There is belief that it is a little bit of both, and it typically comes from childhood trauma or abandonment, where then a a kid, every kid is designed to go from self-centered kids or self-centered. That's what we do when we're kids. We don't know how to fend for ourselves, so it's just everything is about me. Give me that. That is mine. What about me? And then when there is not secure attachments with caregivers or when there is abuse or there is abandonment, or if the kid's parents are narcissists, so that's model behavior, then they never make that jump from self-centered to self-confident, so they move forward as a self-centered individual into adulthood. So that is why it can feel like you're arguing at times with a 10 to 12 year old boy when you're arguing with someone that suffers with narcissistic personality disorder or traits of narcissism. And again, narcissism is not just this always this grandiose, malicious look at me in the mirror. There are various subtypes of narcissism, and I've done an episode or two on that as well.

[00:25:15] So there's a little bit of just an overview or a background. And one of the things that I find interesting is that when I started working with more people that struggle with their in relationships with narcissists, and you'll see this as we read through this article today that a lot of people, when they find out that they are being gaslit or they realize, Oh my gosh, he has never owned up to anything or he completely lacks empathy and we can switch it around he or she. But I'm going to say he for the most part today at that point, if you Google, that you are going to see that the everything on the internet says Run immediately be done and go. And I completely understand that if somebody has worked with hundreds now of couples where there is a narcissist involved, it's really difficult. And so I made a decision long ago that I wanted to. And this is what a therapist is supposed to do. Meet the client where they're at. That client is going to read that article on the internet that says Run, and it's not like they're going to immediately say, Oh my gosh, I don't even think about that. I'm going to pack my bags. I'm going to get out of here. No, they're typically going to go through a process of, first of all, it's it's not that bad or he's he's a good guy or he's nice.

[00:26:22] So I think I can make this work. I think I'll tell him that that he's a narcissist. Maybe that'll work, which I always say one of the first rules of Narcissist Club is you don't tell the narcissist, Hey, think you're a narcissist? Because they're not? That's part of the problem. They're not going to say, Oh my gosh, tell me more about that. I didn't even realize that. So I'm going to get into more of that. In fact, let me just give an overview right now. Quick drink. I have five things that I do talk about when I'm working with someone that is in a relationship with someone who may be suffering from narcissistic personality disorder are traits of narcissism. The first thing I asked my client to do is raise their emotional baseline. And by that, I mean self-care. They need to put themselves in a position where they can make good decisions and when they are continually being beaten down emotionally. If they are physically drained, if they're not getting sleep that they need, if they don't feel like they have any emotional support they bear, they're being gaslit. A lot of times with narcissists, they sequester, which means that they make it not very exciting or difficult to reach out to family or friends, any of those things that lowers their emotional baseline. They don't feel good about themselves, and that does not put someone in a position to make the best decisions for their life or their family moving forward.

[00:27:31] Number one, I say, raise your emotional baseline. Number two, I say, get a PhD in gaslighting now, not literally a PhD, but learn all you can about gaslighting, because that is one of the key components to recognize when you are being gaslit, because that is when you can realize I'm not crazy. I really do understand and I have so many examples that I've worked with, and I think I gave one not too long ago. That was literally one where it was a guy that had spent a decade enjoying peanut M&Ms in front of his wife. And then at one point she gets some peanut M&Ms. And I don't know what the narcissistic trigger was that day. But he says, Why did you give me these? And she says, because you love them. And he said, I've never enjoyed these. I can't believe that you got me peanut M&Ms. And she's going back to basically literally conversations on how the peanut M&M is the finest of all the M&Ms and how anyone that doesn't enjoy these must be crazy. And how sometimes if you leave them out on the dash, they melt just a little bit and they're perfect and they're wonderful. And she has all of this data and he's saying, I never said that and I and really, you don't even know me.

[00:28:33] If you think that I enjoy peanut M&Ms, I mean gaslighting getting your PhD and gaslighting and understanding in that moment. I don't know why he's doing this, but I know he likes peanut Eminem. So that's the bottom line. So getting the PhD in gaslighting. Another one is learning how to disengage from unproductive conversations, which kind of follows that once I understand gaslighting. I'm not going to continue to participate because the narcissist is not going to own their own crap. They're not going to own their own part of the conversation. The fourth one is setting boundaries. A boundary might be, Hey, when you started swearing at me, I'm going to walk out the door and being able to commit to that because that's when the gas line, oh, fine, walk away. You never want to deal with things, but that's a boundary. But the fifth one, which is the most difficult one, and this goes back to an article that actually a client had sent me years ago from a blog. I think it's called Ask Men. It's by this, this researcher, PhD candidate. I'll have to put that a link to that somewhere in the show notes. But it talked about narcissistic, emotional trauma and abuse. But that fifth thing that I like to share is you have to realize that there is nothing that you will say or do that will cause the aha moment for the narcissist to go, Oh my gosh, I finally get it.

[00:29:42] And that one is hard. I've been doing this a long time, and when I share that with people, that one can feel a little bit hopeless. I understand, but I can also think of people I work with on a daily basis, who once they know that they'll identify these situations where they were saying, and then I found myself thinking, if I say it this way, if I'm really nice, if I withdraw, if I get angry, there's some way that I will be able to express myself. But then he will finally go, Oh my gosh, I get it. So those are those five things that I typically say to keep an eye out for. But again, I know that it's not just as easy as understanding, Oh my gosh, I think he might be a narcissist. I have been gaslit my entire life. And once you hear this more about the narcissistic, long term narcissistic effects on the brain that it's not so easy just to say, pack up the bags, kids, we're heading out. So I get that. So back to this, whether it's a child and an emotionally abusive parent or an adult with a narcissistic partner, the effect is the same narcissistic abuse can leave much more than emotional damage. So according to recent studies, and this is from around twenty seventeen, is when the first of these studies came out.

[00:30:45] Neuroscientists have discovered that long term narcissistic abuse can lead to actual physical brain damage. And so there's a pretty fascinating some picture, some functional MRIs that if you go look up an article on this that it will show the effects of long term narcissistic abuse. So we know now that constant emotional trauma over a long period of time can cause PTSD like symptoms. I did an episode on PTSD complex post-traumatic stress disorder, which is what long term emotional abuse can lead to. But we also know that in the world of betrayal, trauma, when someone finds out about a significant event or betrayal that also can have these similar effects of PTSD, where there can be triggers that can cause someone to go into fight or flight mode where their amygdala, which is what? What supplies the cortisol, the stress hormone, the adrenaline that will then overcome the prefrontal cortex or the part of the brain that makes logical sense the amygdala fires. It was in the fight or flight mode, the prefrontal cortex, the decision making part of the brain says we're not needed here. We're about to go into battle with the saber tooth tiger. We're going to shut down. So then the person becomes just pretty used to when they get triggered and it can be the gaslighting, it can be just not being heard. It can be emotional withdraw, but then their brain is triggered and they go into this fight or flight response and that prefrontal cortex shuts down.

[00:32:05] So this neural pathway is created where long term narcissistic abuse can cause that amygdala to fire, just to fire and go from zero to 60 and have someone just feel like just panic or anxiety or that fight or flight or freeze. Lachlan goes on to say, this is why anyone in a destructive relationship with a partner who cares little for the emotional well-being of their family should leave immediately, especially when children are involved. See, there's that component there that when someone reads that, I think it doesn't often feel for the person who is in that narcissistic relationship or trauma bond. They may read that, and it's OK. Maybe some of these things are true, but how easy is it to just leave immediately? And I understand that it's difficult. Seek help. Go meet with somebody who understands personality disorders, he says. However, some people don't take this warning too seriously because of it. It's emotional basis, which is very well said. What many people fail to realize is that emotional and psychological distress is only one side of the coin that victims of long term narcissistic abuse experience. There is also this physical aspect of brain. It's in essence brain damage. So when suffering consistent emotional abuse victims experiencing and here's where it really starts to make sense. A shrinking of the hippocampus and a swelling of the amygdala, and both of those can lead to long term effects.

[00:33:24] It's important to know what is the hippocampus. The hippocampus is crucial in learning and developing memory, especially the hippocampus is a big part of short term memory, and the amygdala is where, again, fight or flight response. It's where negative emotions reside, which cause the fight or flight response. So the amygdala is the home of shame and fear and envy and guilt, and all of those emotions that cause one to go into fight flight or freeze mode. So think about that. It affects the shrinking of the hippocampus, which is memory and the enlarging of the amygdala, which is where these negative emotions reside. I like that he goes into the hippocampus Greek for the word seahorse. It's part of the brain that's hidden inside of each temporal lobe, and it's shaped distinctly like two seahorses, the hippocampus. They look like the little highways I've heard them described as it looks like a kind of like a green bean shell or that sort of thing. But I can see I could see Seahorse a little bit of a boring seahorse. Maybe not the seahorse that was the most popular on campus, but a seahorse nonetheless. And so one of the most important functions in the hippocampus is for short term memory, which is the first step to learning. So information is first stored in short term memory before it can be converted into permanent memory. So without short term memory, it can be very difficult to learn.

[00:34:41] So damage to the hippocampus is a lot more disturbing than scientists initially thought. In a study from Stanford University and the University of New Orleans, they found that there was a strict correlation between high levels of cortisol. Again, that's the hormone caused by stress and a decreased volume in the hippocampus. So when the brain is so active in fight flight or freeze mode, when that amygdala is enlarged or enraged, then the hippocampus the part of the brain for memory is taken a backseat. So the more stress that people become, the smaller the hippocampus became, which is just another reason why learning how to be mindful meditative can be such a powerful thing. So now understanding the amygdala, let's talk about that. So the amygdala often people recall or refer to it as the reptilian brain. The Neanderthal brain. And that's because it controls our primal emotions functions, including fear and hate and lust, as well as your heart rate and breathing. So those are very important things, right in the amygdala. So when triggered, the amygdala is where the fight or flight response is made, and so narcissists keep their victims in a state where their amygdala is constantly on alert. So when they walk into the room and they constantly are, I don't know, is he in a good mood or is he in a bad mood? Or is he going to talk about, Hey, today, let's go on an expensive vacation? Or is it going to be tomorrow where he says, I don't know, we're going be able to make it this month.

[00:36:01] Checking accounts kind of low, that sort of thing. And then then the next day, he wants to go out and and make giant purchases. And then it just keeps you in this walking on eggshells mode. Then that is when you can be in this constant state of alert or just fear worry. So then over time, now what this data shows is that victims fall into this permanent state of anxiety or fear. And then the amygdala reacts to the very slightest signs of abuse. The narcissists can even just utter something that is pretty basic or but not, you know, banal. And then the person in is with this trigger response is going to all of a sudden have their fight or flight response kick in. And then they feel like, I don't know what to do. I don't know what to say. So long after the victim is escaped, the relationship, according to Lachlan in this article, they will continue to live with PTSD like symptoms, including increased phobias or panic attacks due to this enlarged amygdala that has become used to living in a state of fear. This is what causes part of that trauma bond, and so that is to protect themselves from their reality. They often use defense mechanisms that make it easier to cope, such as projection.

[00:37:08] So victims often convince themselves that they're narcissistic. Abuser has positive traits and intentions, such as compassion or understanding, when in reality that might not be the case and that is part of the trauma bond. Let me flip over to I've got a tab up here from talking about healing a broken heart a few episodes ago and the amazing Ted talk by Guy Winch. In that episode, I worked in some trauma bonding information as well. Here were some of those things in his book Betrayal Bonds, Patrick Carnes, who is just a well-known researcher, talked about things to consider if you are in a tree or in a trauma bond. If you have some of these things that there's a constant pattern of nonperformance, yet you continue to believe promises to the contrary that you continue to believe that narcissistic abuser is going to do the things that they say that they're going to do. And instead of when pushed, then, you know, blame you for something not happening or others seem disturbed by something that's happened to you or was said to you. But you're not, you know where others are saying, Man, how do you let him treat you that way? Or I wouldn't do that if you constantly run into that kind of data or you feel stuck because the other person keeps doing destructive things, but you believe there's really nothing you can do about it, you try to change the person into becoming less destructive, but trying to get them to stop an addiction or try to convince them to become a non abuser.

[00:38:23] But you may try to continually talk them into being nice to the kids that seems so basic, or you keep having these repetitive, damaging fights with the person that nobody wins because he's never going to own his part of the fight or part of the situation. Or you seem unable to detach from somebody, even though you can't trust them or at times you really don't even like them. Or when you try to leave this person and you find yourself missing them to the point of longing that's so awful that you believe it's going to destroy you. And Patrick Carnes talked about unusual, unusually trauma. Bonds occur in relationships involving inconsistent reinforcement, such as those with in addictions or alcoholics or domestic violence situations. Dysfunctional marriages can also cause trauma bonds because there's always a time when things seem to be, quote normal. Other types of relationships involving trauma bonds can be in religious organizations kidnapings hostage situations, all of those things. But the environment necessary to create a trauma bond involves intensity, complexity, inconsistency and a promise. So victims stay in these trauma bonded relationships because they're holding on to that elusive promise or hope. And that is, there's always manipulation involved. Victims are prey to manipulation because they are willing to tolerate anything for the payoff, which is that elusive promise and the ever present hope for fulfillment.

[00:39:37] Some deeply personal need within the victim. So oftentimes in a traumatic relationship, they're looking right at it, but they can't see it. And then only spending time away from the unhealthy attachment can the person often see the the destruction that it's caused? So that was a little bit more about trauma bonding. And so that came from the concept of projection where victims will convince themselves they're narcissistic. Abuser has these positive traits. Another one of the defense mechanisms that the people that are in relationships with narcissistic abusers will do is compartmentalize victims focus on the positive parts of the relationship separating from them, from the abusive parts and thus ignoring them. And I will talk about this for the rest of my career. But remembering literally the first time first person where they owned up to one thing in a couples therapy situation, and then the wife and I hung on to that one thing for quite some time. It was like he told the truth this one time and then all of these other times that was not the case. And I remember just having this aha moment of thinking, Wait a minute, the relationship is supposed to be, we're telling the truth all the time. And then once in a while, there might be this, well, I wasn't completely honest because I worried that might hurt you or those sort of things, someone that's actually owning that part of it, compartmentalization.

[00:40:52] So that's what that one was or denial victim and victims end up believing that their situation is not as bad as they feel and that it's easier to live with rather than to confront it. And this is a great big dose of what's called experiential avoidance kicking that can down the road. I'll deal with this and I'll deal with it later. I'll deal with it when summer arrives, I'll deal with it. When the kids are back in school, I'll deal with it. When the kids are out of the house, I'll deal with it later. And then a damaged hippocampus, which now we're learning that is crippling most everything that we know. So back to this article. The researcher or the writer Lachlan says the hippocampus is perhaps the most crucial part of the brain when it comes to knowledge and function. Everything that we do or understand, read and learn rests solely on the hippocampus functioning properly. And so this is because the hippocampus is involved in the formation of new memories, and it's also associated with learning and emotions. But the hippocampus, when it is, it's damaged when the. Body releases the cortisol hormone, the stress hormone during these times of stress and then cortisol effectively attacks neurons in the hippocampus, causing it to literally shrink. So the amygdala is then stimulated by the cortisol, which turns our thoughts and neural activity from increasing our mental acuity to worries and stress.

[00:42:01] And so when these distressing emotions are pushed to the extreme, then our brain activity is pushed beyond its zones of effectiveness. And so what I appreciate is that there's along with this as you can rebuild your hippocampus and calm your amygdala. So there is always a way back to a functioning normal brain through certain methods like EMDR. I've done an episode or two on that or mindfulness or a combination yoga, talk therapy, EMDR mindfulness. All of these things have shown promise in growing the hippocampus in just a few sessions. The data that he shares here is that it can regrow up the six percent of the hippocampus in just a few sessions. Emdr can also calm the amygdala at the same time, allowing your brain to react more rationally to situations. I've had some clients that have gone and done EMDR for everything from narcissistic abuse to PTSD, first responders, car crash victims where it has allowed them to have a little bit more indifference when engaging in these powerful memories that have really taken a toll in the past. But again, he wraps up this article by saying the first step is ultimately the most important one getting out of the destructive and abusive relationship before progress can be made. And I agree. I do understand that and I and if that is possible, if someone believes that they are being very much emotionally abused in a narcissistic, abusive relationship, then that is that that is the best thing you can do is to get out of that relationship so you can start to feel like yourself.

[00:43:27] You can start to feel whole. But again, I want to let you know that I understand how difficult that is because I have worked with hundreds of people that have tried to get out of relationships with narcissists. And it is. It can be a lengthy process. It can. And so the first thing you can do is seek help. And I know that is a process in and of itself because oftentimes the narcissistic abuser does not want you to go get help. And so if you need to hear it's going to sound like a total plug, but Betterhelp.com virtual couch, they even have text therapy, email therapy. If you don't feel like you can meet with somebody through Zoom or in person or anything like that is a great place to start and gather data. Get information. Oh, there was I was going to read there's a book called The Human Magnus Syndrome, and this is about the human magnet, why it can be so difficult to get out of relationships with narcissists. And there are two things that I thought were so fascinating. I'm going to wrap this up. The author, I think it's Ross Rosenberg. And but talking about this, this human magnet, this trauma bond, he uses the phrase codependency when he's talking about the victim of narcissistic abuse.

[00:44:34] And I know that can sometimes offend people. They want to say, I'm not codependent, so just bear with me here. But he says codependency is both a relationship and an individual condition that can be only resolved by the codependent. It's fascinating, right? Many co-dependence are attracted to and maintain long term breakup resistant relationships with pathological narcissists. Most co-dependence are selfless and deferential to the needs and desires of others over themselves. They are pathologically caring. Now, I've never heard pathological use with caring, but as I have read this with several clients that are in relationships with narcissistic men or vice versa, that speaks to them, they are pathologically kind and caring people. So if that was in a a healthy relationship, that would be a strength and a gift. But he goes on to say they are pathologically caring, responsible and sacrificing people whose altruism and good deeds are rarely reciprocated. Well, some co-dependence are resigned to their seemingly permanent relationship role. There is actively, albeit unsuccessfully, attempt to change it, and these people become preoccupied with opportunities to avoid change or control their narcissistic partners. Despite the inequities in their relationships and the constant suffering they do not in their partnerships and codependency is not just limited to romantic couplings as it manifests itself in varying degrees and most other significant relationships. Three more paragraphs out of this book, then, will be done.

[00:45:56] Pathological narcissism, he says although pathological narcissism is not a new term, I use it in this book to represent a person with one of four disorders. Pathological narcissists are people who fit the diagnostic criteria for either narcissistic, borderline or antisocial, which is sociopathic personality disorders and or active addicts. Despite the many differences between these four disorders, they all share core, narcissistic personality thinking in emotional and interpersonal characteristics. Here's the key to varying degrees all pathological narcissists are selfish, self consumed, demanding, entitled, and controlling. They are exploited people who rarely or selectively reciprocate any form of generosity. Pathological narcissists are only empathetic or sensitive to others. When doing so results in a tangible reward for themselves and. Or when it makes them feel valued or important or appreciated, and this is what I really appreciate about the author in this book, he says, because narcissists are deeply impacted by their personal shame and loneliness, but consciously unaware of it. They do not in their relationships. Positive treatment results are rare for narcissistic rare, although active addicts are included as one of the four pathological narcissism disorders. Their narcissism may only be addiction specific. In other words, when sober and in recovery, their true personality type will surface. This can be any possibility reflected on the continuum of pathological selflessness to pathologically selfish personality types, so I highly recommend that book the human magnet syndrome. But so that's that's all I have for you today.

[00:47:24] If you feel that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship that may be doing a number on your amygdala and growing, your are doing a number on your hippocampus and growing your amygdala. The first step is I'm just thankful that you're listening to the podcast. Share this one with someone that you feel like might need this type of help and reach out and get some help. Talk through this with somebody because I know that it is very difficult to just immediately hear something like this and say, Oh my gosh. Pack my bags. I'm done. I get it. I do. I've worked with so many people that this is a process and that is normal. So I want to meet you right there where you're at. Thanks for joining me today. If you have questions specific about narcissistic abuse or emotional abuse, if you have examples of gaslighting, whenever I do an episode like this, I almost feel like making this call out. Send them to me contact@tonyoverbay.com and and a lot of times I'll read those in a future episode and those help people understand that they're not crazy or they're not alone. All right. Hey, thanks for joining me today, and I wish you the best. I hope you will get lucky. Get lucky, get help if help is what you need. And I'll truly I'll see you next time on the. Stressed emotions flying. So heading out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind, it's wonderful.

[00:48:36] And plastic waste and rubber ghost are floating

[00:48:40] Past the midnight

[00:48:41] Hour. They push aside the things that matter most wonderful. He.

People in relationships with narcissists often find themselves in a constant state of “reading the room” or “walking on eggshells” in hopes of navigating the large number of hidden, emotional landmines. But one wrong step and a landmine explodes, leaving a trail of destruction to the self-esteem of the narcissist’s victims. Today Tony sheds light on the reasons behind the black or white, all or nothing thinking, a concept called “object constancy.” Tony refers to the article “The truth about narcissistic personality disorder” by Elinor Greenberg, Ph.D. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/understanding-narcissism/201708/the-truth-about-narcissistic-personality-disorder You can read more about the wonderful work that Elinor has done by visiting her website here www.elinorgreenberg.com

Please find out more about Tony's Magnetic Marriage program by contacting him throughhttp://tonyoverbay.com or by visiting http://tonyoverbay.com/magnetic.

With the continuing "sheltering" rules spreading across the country, PLEASE do not think you can't continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch 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 http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch, you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

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[00:00:12] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode nine of Waking Up to narcissism, I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, host of the Virtual Couch podcast, and welcome to people that are watching on YouTube. You can go find the virtual couch channel on YouTube if you would like, and I realize I'm wearing a loud shirt when it comes to the camera, so hopefully the focus won't go in and out too much. But I want to continue to just thank you. I cannot thank you enough for the feedback and I'm reading them. I apologize that I can't get back to everybody at this point, but they're there because of the feedback, because of the numbers of downloads and the support of the show. There's there's some cool changes that are coming and that'll be. We'll talk more about that in the next two or three weeks, but you can go to Tony over the contact form there and please continue to send me examples. Those are going to be used in different ways in the future. And also your questions. There are I have guests lined up. I've got so much, but the feedback has just been again overwhelming to the point where I just want to get some of this content out and we'll settle in. We'll find our stride. There's some amazing guests to have on people that are in it, in the trenches, and I think that'll be pretty powerful too, because a lot of the feedback that I'm receiving is from people that just feel heard.

[00:01:26] They feel heard, they feel seen, they feel understood for sometimes the first time. But I want to get to the content today because if you we're going to, we're going to build a little bit on my episode a couple of weeks ago talking about the waking up, the narcissism in general, that you are possibly the person who is waking up to the narcissism of a spouse or somebody in your life, or you're maybe starting to wake up to your own narcissistic traits or tendencies. And I hope that that was pretty clear in an episode where I talked about narcissistic personality disorder versus narcissistic traits and tendencies. And what I love about the comments that I've been receiving are from people that are saying, OK, hold up, maybe this is me, maybe I have some of these challenges and and so a little bit of that and then a lot of people that are saying, I finally don't feel crazy. I don't feel like I am the only one that's going through what I'm going through in my relationships. But today we're going to go deep, we're going to go really deep. There's an article, there's two articles that I hope to get time to. I might. This might end up being a two part episode, but there's an article by Eleanor Greenberg, PhD, and it's from Psychology Today, and I'll have the links to the articles that I refer to today in the show notes.

[00:02:36] But it's the article is simply called The Truth About Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and the subheading is what therapists know about narcissism that you need to know. And it's it's significant, too, because this was posted four years ago in August of twenty seventeen. And the reason I say that is it feels like narcissism. The phrase the term is in the zeitgeist. It's what people are talking about. A lot and a lot of people have asked, Is this something that is on the rise or are we just talking about it more? And I think there's a little bit of both, but I just this makes so much sense because it was around this time frame where I felt like all of a sudden I have this confirmation bias, and I think my wife would joke that, well, do you think everybody is a narcissist? And I said, Well, it feels that way at times. But then we go on to learn more about these narcissistic traits and tendencies, but it just has been talked about so much. So if you're new to this show on my Virtual Couch podcast, which is pushing three hundred episodes now and five years, I like to think that I don't just want to throw out pop psychology or just my thoughts or ideas. I've done a little bit of that here on waking up the narcissism, and I'll always let you know if this is.

[00:03:45] This is my unscientific, anecdotal data from 15 20 years of being a therapist or if there's some research, or if I'm referring to another article. And then a lot of times, I think the kids these days call it reaction videos, or I will be reacting somewhat or reading an article that hopefully I want you to be able to go. Read this yourself. And there's the articles are based off of good old, evidence based data, and then I'll try to throw my own spin or my own flair on this as well. So I'm going to read a lot from this article, and I'll throw some comments in here. But Eleanor starts by saying every once in a while, a new diagnostic label emerges into the mass consciousness and people start to use it. And very good point. Misuse it as a synonym for bad behavior. And she said this year's label so again, go back to twenty seventeen. She said this year's label seems to be nursing narcissist, and so she goes into what I went into an episode or two ago of actual narcissistic personality disorder, but she doesn't lay it out just from the definition from the diagnostic and statistical manual of diagnoses that therapists use. She said narcissistic personality disorder is the name for a series of coping strategies that began as an adaptation to a childhood family situation that left the person with unstable self-esteem, the inability to regulate their self-esteem without external validation.

[00:04:59] Boy, we're going to talk about that. This need for external validation and low empathy. And, she said, is with all of the major categories of personality disorders, which are borderline narcissistic and schizoid people with. Narcissistic personality disorder also lack whole object relations and object constancy, and that might sound a little bit like psychobabble, but I first wanted on this episode, I have another article where I talk about object constancy because it's it's pretty fascinating when you learn what this term means and then how it relates to narcissistic tendencies, traits or personality disorder. So she talks about a whole object relations that she said this is the capacity to see oneself and others in a stable and integrated way that acknowledges both the person's good and bad qualities. So that's whole object relations and an object constancy, which we could do an entire episode on that itself. This is the ability to maintain a positive emotional connection with somebody that you like while you're angry or hurt or frustrated or disappointed by his or her behavior. So you can maybe see where we're going to go a little bit today. If you have a narcissist in your midst or if you sometimes feel yourself like this, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde pull that that's that's what object constancy is. Can you be frustrated or angry with someone and then still maintain this connection or love for them? And so I so, so often hear this yo yo effect, this boy.

[00:06:28] One minute he's telling me, literally using the most foul language, and then five minutes later, he says, Hey, so what do you want for dinner? And when I'm talking with people in my office, I often talk about, that's what it feels like. You're arguing with the 10 year old boy and or I might be given too much credit in those moments. And then ten minutes later, I call it the Hey, do you want to go ride bikes theory where you're feeling like, Wait, you just eviscerated me emotionally, verbally told me all these things. But now you want to go ride bikes you metaphorically or you you want to go get dinner or what you want to watch on TV where you're sitting there thinking, I'm kind of crushed and devastated that the person I care about just called me these horrific names. And that's that's that struggle with object constancy. Eleanor says without a whole object relations and object constancy, people with narcissistic personality disorder can only see themselves in other people. So that alone is significant. They can only see themselves in other people. One of two ways either they are a special, unique, omnipotent, perfect and entitled high status, or they are defective, worthless, and she says, garbage, which is low status. So this means that that person is struggling with these narcissistic tendencies or traits can't hold on to his or her good opinion and good feelings about somebody.

[00:07:43] Once he or she notices, the other person has a flaw that the other person goes from being special and put on a pedestal to being devalued as nothing special. So when they lack this object constancy, there's this constant battle, this back and forth. Eleanor calls it the seesaw back and forth between these two of is someone special, unique, omnipotent, or are they this low status meaning? Are they defective and worthless? And then they are trying to see themselves in relation to that other person. So she said, while they're feeling good about you or more accurately, you are making them feel good about themselves. They see you as special because they are special. Everyone around them is special. This is the best. This is the the best person I've ever met. We had the connection like I've never had. This is the best restaurant I've ever been to. This is the best show I have ever seen. And there's someone was telling me about they know they just started to grate on them when somebody said this was the best burrito I have ever had in my entire life. Until we find the next best burrito we've ever had in my entire life. But it's not about the burrito, it's about how special they felt in that moment or how they felt that you had. You made them feel special or they were they had this elevated status, this high status.

[00:08:55] So then therefore everything it's this all or nothing, this black or white, this Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde, because there isn't this object constancy. So then you do something like, say, no, it's one of their requests. Suddenly, now you are all bad or worthless. And then later on, you might do something that makes them feel good again, and they're back to seeing you as special. So I feel like this is I hear this in my office often, and I've even experienced this when I've worked with couples where one of the partners was on the very high side of narcissistic tendencies, traits or full-blown narcissistic personality disorder. And I am all of a sudden the greatest therapist that has ever lived. No one has ever told them the things, and it's because they have felt heard or understood. They felt special. Kind of a unique example of this at one point. And this, I mean, I always want to be as authentic and open as I can be. I felt like I was well into my practice. This was just a few years ago. I can literally think of the person that that I had this aha moment with. But they were, we're talking narcissistic personality disorder. I was working with them as as a couple. They wanted an individual session and I bring them in and they are telling me all these things. Well, hey, only I can do this because she keeps doing this and this and this.

[00:10:07] And it's clearly I'm aware that this person will not take ownership. Accountability of anything, literally anything. And so I'm what I mean, if I say, well, yeah, but you need to understand this, then we're just in this psychological reactants battle again, psychological reactants the instant negative reaction of being told what to do. It is not like this person is going to say, Oh, wow, I hadn't thought of that. They're going to say, Oh no, I've done that or I've tried that, or you don't understand. So rather than do that, I'm empathizing with them. I'm validating them because I am hearing them and I'm understanding them. So if they are saying, Look, I've done all I can do, she she has changed and we know from earlier episodes that what that means is she is now having her own opinion. She is now standing up for herself and she is not acquiescing to my greatness. She is not telling me that I am right and giving in to everything that I need. So all of a sudden now she has become difficult and he doesn't know if he can do this anymore. So then I simply say, Well, that sounds. It sounds really hard. And if you feel like that's all you can do or you've done all you can, then yeah, I can understand why you are. You're pretty frustrated. So that person then goes on and relates to his spouse that Tony agrees with me.

[00:11:14] He he really thinks that we both think you're you're crazy. And we both think that there's nothing I can do. So they cannot sit in their own sense of self. They have to then say external validation. Even this therapist agrees. And this is where you can see the layers of narcissism and how difficult it can be. Because going back to the scenario I'm painting for you, I did not say any of that. But when the person actually feels validated, then they mistake validation for agreeing. So if someone because they're so used to people saying, Yeah, but or you don't understand or and then finally, people just giving in and just saying, OK, sure, yeah, whatever you think, which then elevates their status, they feel like they were right. That is why they feel right about so many things. And then if anybody finally does to say, Huh, OK, that's interesting, that would be hard. Then they say, and they agree with me as well. So it's such this difficult dance with the narcissism wanting to not try to change them. Give them this aha moment or epiphany, because we talked about in episode one. That's one of my five rules of interacting or trying to save your sanity with someone in a narcissistic relationship is you have to realize there is no aha moment or anything you can say that will cause them to have the epiphany. So when we finally drop the rope of the tug of war, of trying to say what you don't understand is or OK, but last time you said this or when you just realize this isn't helpful or productive, unfortunately, it then also causes them to feel like they are right.

[00:12:42] But the fascinating thing is they're going to feel right regardless, because gaslighting comes as this childhood defense mechanism, it's it's in the air they breathe. And so when they continually are going to flip things to make them right or flip things to make you feel less than then, does it truly matter whether or not you try to engage in battle and try to prove them wrong? Or if you just have acceptance and say, OK, I didn't realize that whatever they're saying and then knowing that they are going to then say, See you think I'm right again? My point being, if they are going to feel right regardless, now this becomes about you and your sanity of you getting out of unproductive conversations, getting your PhD and gaslighting, setting healthy boundaries. When you say this, I will leave the room. So Eleanor talks about normal versus pathological narcissism. So this goes also into a little bit of what we talked about a couple of weeks ago with the narcissistic traits, tendencies, and I really feel like she she has some concepts here that I haven't really covered before, so I like this, she says. Unfortunately, in the English language, the word narcissism has come to mean two entirely different things, depending on whether it's being used formally as a diagnosis, as a narcissistic personality disorder or informally as a synonym for positive self-regard.

[00:13:52] She says I'm often asked isn't a little bit of narcissism healthy and normal? And she said, I'd like to clarify that distinction before she goes on. And it is such a good question because I will often hear and this is again what I'm trying to convey in some of these recordings is that we we all have these narcissistic traits and tendencies. But even you can sense my hesitation and even saying that because I know the audience that I'm speaking to has such a strong, visceral, emotional negative reaction to even the word narcissism, which I absolutely understand and agree. And that's why I tried to lay out the narcissistic traits or tendencies. A couple of weeks ago, I talked about when we view things as criticism, then our own brain goes to this protective place where we feel like we are being criticized when someone is disagreeing or trying to point out what they think are our faults and again, how adorable that they feel like they know what is best for us. But our brain goes into protective mode because we are so afraid of going into this shame cycle. This shame spiral remembering that shame is very different from guilt. Guilt is I can feel bad about a situation, but then shame is I feel horrible and bad about who I am as a person.

[00:15:04] So guilt can say I feel bad that I forgot someone's birthday. Shame can say because I'm a horrible person. And. No one will ever love you. So we don't. Shame is good for nothing, absolutely nothing I often talk about with my recovery work. I've got an online pornography recovery program called The Path Back, and I say that in working with individuals, I think I'm over 16 hundred where shame is a component of recovery at all. The shame pieces is just not. There's nothing healthy about that guilt. Guilt can be a stop sign at times, man. I feel bad that I forgot somebody's birthday. I probably need to do a little better job of putting reminders in my phone or being a little more engaged and trying to follow up on people that I care about. That can come from guilt. But shame, that is that's that is not a positive thing at all. I think I get my point, but when we are trying to criticize, we do anything to defend our ego because of this fear of going into this shame cycle. So in defending our ego, then that's often where we use unhealthy or immature ways to defend that ego, such as withdrawal, such as anger, such as agreeance or in the case of some of the narcissistic traits and tendencies, the gaslighting of Oh no, no, no, that's not what I meant, or you don't even get it, or I can't believe you even said that.

[00:16:19] And so the as we grow into mature adults and we're trying to become differentiated, differentiated again as maintaining this autonomy and still having a relationship with somebody, meaning that we recognize that we literally are the only version of us that's ever walked the face of the Earth. So we have our thoughts, feelings and opinions because we're a human being. And then when you really start to stand in that confidence or understanding that this is who I am and as we grow and mature and we are aware that sometimes we are seeking this external validation. So we're handing the keys to our emotions over to another human being. And if that human being happens to be somebody that is is having this object permanence or if they are struggles with object permanence or object constancy and they don't feel good about themselves. And you just said, what do you think about me then? Now they want to take this one up position, so they will then take that opportunity to put you down. And so I've worked with a lot of clients that have talked about that feels literally like betrayal, where this is the person that I'm that I care about, that we're supposed to figure out problems together. We're supposed to grow old together. And when I hand them my emotions and say, What do you think about this? It's as if they take that those emotions and then crumple them up in their hands and throw them down on the ground and stomp on them.

[00:17:34] So how would one not feel less than? And then I started to get a little bit fired up because this is a how dare you someone that you are in a relationship, treat you that way and then leave you feeling like less than when. Now we know when we're talking about this object constancy that in that moment they just see this as a position to go one up to make themselves feel better, which then is coming from this place of low empathy or no empathy because of their own childhood wounding, of not seeing that model or having those things happen to them. And so I hope that made sense as I laid that out. So she said that she's the clarifying this distinction between normal and pathological narcissism. She says normal healthy narcissism, which again, sounds like an oxymoron. I know it does. But she said this is a realistic sense of positive self regard that is based on the person's actual accomplishments. It's a relatively stable thing because the person is assimilated into their self-image, the successes that came as a result of their actual hard work to overcome real life obstacles because it's based on real achievements. Normal healthy narcissism is relatively impervious to the minor slights and setbacks that we all experience as we go through life. Normal narcissism, she says, causes us to care about ourselves, do things that are in our self interest and associated with genuine self respect.

[00:18:49] But that does not mean that that is a so I must put someone else down. And I remember going to a training long ago, actually, I had a client talking about this yesterday, and it was I love this conversation, but we were talking about the concept of ego. And a lot of times we we are afraid of the sphere of pride or this fear of saying, no, I really do feel like I'm good at this, or I feel like this is maybe something that I have been put on the Earth to do. This is my passion. This is my mission. This is my calling because we fear this pride that other people are going to say, Well, you think you're pretty special, don't you? But there's a healthy version of Ego and this training I went to long ago, I remember I will never forget this, but the person talked about that if there are people throughout history that had they not had a healthy sense of self or ego that they would not have put themselves in positions to change the world. And they gave this list of Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Martin Luther King. I mean, there are so many people that had they not been confident and been able to embrace their sense of self, which then can come across to others as, Oh, you think that you are special or better than? But when it is based off of real, tangible things that that you feel are are part of who you are that you found your calling or your passion, then that is a healthy sense of self and.

[00:20:10] You are stepping into your ego to be able to benefit others, and this is where I just love any concept that has to do with letting your light so shine that you will lift others around you. As a matter of fact, I have thought about many times talking about my favorite poem in the world, which is the Marianne Williamson poem, and I am looking it up right now because I was not planning on saying this, but I absolutely love this poem and this is me stalling as I am. Here it is. But it's a it's our deepest fear. And if you haven't heard this poem, you've maybe heard it over and over. But listen to this because this is think about this from a term a standpoint of stepping into one's sense of self or owning one's sense of self or self confidence, but yet not to the desire to put others down. Marianne Williamson said Pop up on my computer. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fears that we are powerful beyond measure. She says it's our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented or fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God and you're playing small does not serve the world.

[00:21:17] There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that's within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our light shine, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. And as we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. I love everything about that poem because if you break it down from a I want my children to feel I can find their sense of self and sense of purpose, and that when we are saying, Oh, don't don't say that or don't be, you need to be humble and you need to, I don't know, not not feel prideful that I understand where that comes from, when it is this false sense of self or false pride, or doing it to the detriment of someone of putting someone else down. But when we can help lift somebody up and really find their passion, then they literally do let their light so shine that it lifts others around them. And this phrase here's the healthy sense of ego, as there's nothing enlightened about us shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

[00:22:20] And when she says again, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. When I am doing couples therapy, I want people so desperately to realize that the codependent and enmeshment that is what happens when we are all getting together with somebody else, just trying to put out our best self and not say anything that will ruffle the other person's feathers. And I understand that. But then we want the goal is to be with another human being and then edify each other. We are designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human being, but it is not from I can't believe you think that you shouldn't think that you don't get it. It's from a tell me more. What's that like for you? Because you're two independent people in the relationship. You are two people with your own experiences so that in a healthy way will breed curiosity. And when you recognize that you both have two different experiences and you can share those and not from a place of wanting to put the other person down, then that that is when you just let your light so shine that others around you are lifted up. And it isn't a situation where people are. They walk into the room and they have to read the room. Oh, it's bad man, or what's mom of two today? It's a man.

[00:23:25] I want to be around these people because they lift me up because of their positive energy, because they are finding out who they are and they are encouraging anyone around them to discover who they are as well. I'm on my soapbox. This is so that's that's what we're talking about normal, healthy narcissism that one can think of it as something that is inside of us pathological or defensive narcissism. She said this is a defense against feelings of inferiority and when we are young children, as I've laid out in previous episodes, I can understand when people feel less than because they are young children and they are egocentric and the world revolves around them, and they don't have an understanding of the plight of their caregiver. But that is this self-centered view of the child and then boy, bless their heart if they didn't have the modeling as a child to then go from self-centered to self-confident. See, this is where that self-confidence is. This is what that self-confidence looks like. It is not a self-confidence to put others down. It's a self-confidence to say, Oh my gosh, I'm finding my sense of self and my purpose in life. And if I can find another partner who is going to help me bring that out as I will help it bring them, bring it out with them, then we can we can change the world. And again, not in a change the world. Look at me how special I am, but as we are just stepping into our own sense of self, that it will lift the waters around us for everyone.

[00:24:40] Pathological defensive narcissism again, defense against feelings of inferiority. This person dons a mask of arrogant superiority and an attempt to convince the world that he or she is special. Inside the person feels very insecure about his or her actual self-worth, and the facade of superiority is so thin that it's like a helium balloon. One small pinprick will deflate it. So Eleanor said this makes the person hypersensitive to minor slights that someone with healthy narcissism would not even notice. It's kind of a fascinating trait, and I have found and this is where. You can start to see I still have such a fear of sounding like the narcissist that I have been or the ones that I work with that don't have the awareness, they aren't waking up to this narcissistic traits or tendencies. But when I hear that or when I read that phrase where it says minor slights that somebody with healthy narcissism would even notice as you become self-confident and as you become differentiated, meaning I'm going to maintain my autonomy. And then it really is a bless someone's heart who thinks that they can tell me how I'm supposed to think or feel or what I'm supposed to do. And it takes an intentional effort and work because when we laid our foot off the gas of this work that we're doing, our default is to go back to this wounded child who seeks validation from the world around them.

[00:25:52] So I find myself over the years when somebody is saying, I don't even know if I want to tell you this thing that I think about your podcast. And I understand that long ago, I probably would have felt like, Oh no, what are they going to say? They don't like it. Very true. Not a story. And I read one of these last week, actually, but at the beginning I would. I would say, Hey, here's who I am, and here's some stories from the week. And people would say there would be these reviews that would say, just skip the minute 12 and get to the point. Or he rambles too much or he goes on tangents, and I would still find this little this little pinprick of, oh, that's criticism. But then I would want to then respond with defense, saying, OK, well, when you have your podcast, you can skip right to the point. But this is my podcast. This is my my. This is the way I'm doing this, and that's OK. And so I still notice there's an IV. So oh my goodness, I appreciate the reviews. And if you have a second and you can go review wherever you listen to your podcasts rate and review because it is really fascinating. And it sounds like I'm see this list. It sounds like I'm begging for reviews, but it really is that people are saying it's a five or one because I feel like the ones are saying, Who does he think he is? He's the actual narcissist, blah blah blah.

[00:27:03] And the fives are saying, Man, I feel heard and understood, and you're relatable in those sort of things. But I got another one last week that said tangential rambles too much circles back on things. These are to get to the point. And then I thought, Oh, bless their heart, how do they know what my point was and how do they not know that I have been going off on tangents and circling back to things my entire life? That is who I am, and I feel confident that that is who I am. So that's OK. So that this pathological defense of narcissism, then major slights feel like criticism. And we've already talked about what criticism can do. Then we go to great lengths to defend our fragile egos. She also says the let's see narcissism instead. Someone with this type of defensive narcissism is easily wounded, frequently takes any form of disagreement as a serious criticism like we talked about and is likely to lash out and devalue anyone who they think is disagreeing with them. She says they are constantly on guard trying to protect their status. Pathological narcissism can be thought of as a protective armor that is on the outside of us. So Eleanor said, and I still agree with what I'm talking about narcissism in the article now.

[00:28:07] She says that she is thinking about pathological defensive, narcissistic strategies that people with narcissistic personality disorder developed to deal with the life that began as an adaptation to their childhood experience, not healthy internal self-regard. That's our goal healthy internal self-regard. So then, she says, why is why is defensive narcissism then unhealthy? She said having narcissistic personality disorder. So then I would add in there or traits or tendencies, or maybe high on this narcissistic spectrum. She said it is like going through life, always on the defensive. And man, I feel like you can probably sense that with the narcissist in your life. She said If you are narcissistic, your self-esteem is always on the line, and I hope you're seeing this abyss where we're going or how we're building this case here today, she said. You tend to feel insulted and criticized when no insult or criticism is intended. And in addition, you lack emotional empathy. Now please listen right here if you are the sensitive person, if you are the one that is listening to this because you finally feel heard and understood, but you keep circling back to wait a minute. Am I a narcissist? Because Tony just said that this is you feel insulted and criticized when no insult or criticism is intended. This is the thing where I say, if you just dropped you into a healthy relationship where you felt heard and understood and you were in this world of tell me more and oh my gosh, I want to know all about what your experience is, and there is no part of trying to put you down or tell you you're wrong consistently or there isn't this emotional dysregulation or weight.

[00:29:30] I thought you said this one minute and this another minute, then you would be a completely different person. Because when people have been in these cycles of emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, financial abuse, physical abuse, when they have been in these toxic, unhealthy narcissistic relationships, then yes, they may feel criticized. When then when their spouse says, I didn't mean to criticize you, you took it that way. I can't be in charge of how you feel. That sounds familiar. That that is not. I want you to. Not only tonight. I hope that as you hear things where I say that you feel insulted and criticized and no insult or criticism is intended that you recognize that now the more your understanding are waking up to the narcissism of the person in your life that now you're seeing no, there was an insult or a criticism because of their own lack of self regard of their own wounded childhood showing up here as an adult so they are criticizing or insulting because they don't have that object constancy. Because in this moment, because they feel bad, they need to put you down. You can even say how much you like doing something.

[00:30:33] And this is where that mimicking often comes in, where they're like, Oh yeah, I love doing that to me. I think I'm really good at it, because if you all of a sudden are this elevated status, then they don't have that consistency or that object constancy to be able to say, Oh man, you, you are so good at that you go and you do your thing because they now feel attacked. They feel on the defense, and you can quickly hear examples where people within all of a sudden will say, Man, well, I wish, I wish. I would have had that opportunity probably been really good at that, too. So now they just said, Oh no, I would have been better if I would have had more time or. Well, that's that's why I'm glad you can do that, and I hope you're grateful for the sacrifices that I have made so that you have been able to do that. And that is where instead of somebody just saying, Oh man, you are good at that, I love that you're doing that. Tell me about your journey of whatever that is. No, it can't be about that, because that is making it about the other person. That is the that would require the nurses to say, I'm curious and I want to know more about you. And they would have to check their ego at the door instead of defending their ego.

[00:31:33] Wait, if you're better than me, then I'm less than. And so that constant black or white up or down Dr. Jekyll or I so hope this is making sense. This is that stuff sometimes where I feel like, Oh my gosh, that makes so much sense, and I just want to share this with the world, but I worry that it maybe isn't coming across that way. She said that in when you're talking about this defense of narcissism and the unhealthiness of it says you don't feel any pain when you hurt other people or if you do, it is so much less than the average person feels. As a result, your sensitivity is all one way. She said you may attack someone else for the slightest misstep or even use the or for somebody using the wrong word while you know in your heart that the person could be dying in front of you. And all you want is you feel annoyed at that inconvenience of them dying in front of you. I have so many email examples of this concept of people that are literally broken legs on their deathbed, having babies, whatever it is and the narcissist in their life is annoyed because it is inconveniencing them. They. Who is going to, who's going to praise them, who's going to get their dinner, or they're not going to able to have sex with somebody for a while, whatever it is. What a what an inconvenience that you are having this baby.

[00:32:39] Oh, what an inconvenience that you now want to go. Or that I was going to go do something. And now you, you are going to affect my plans that I have so many examples of that, of the emails that have come in. So she said, all of this makes it hard for narcissist to sustain serious intimate relationships after the early stages of the relationship. Significance there because after that honeymoon period, after that love bombing, because she said they are continually trying to prove that they are superior because they are constantly defending their fragile egos. They are constantly in this world of everything is a criticism, and if someone else is is better than them, then that makes them worse. They can't have that object constancy in their lives. It's black or white. It's Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. And funny story about that. People bring up the doctor just like he's Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. And I just have to tell you one of the funniest things, and I know I'm not going to do this right now because because I think this is how funny it is. I don't know if anyone really ever knows which one is the good one, which one's the bad one, Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. And so I love when somebody brings it up in a session because it's usually a pretty, pretty powerful moment where they will say, no, it's this black or white or on or off or all or nothing.

[00:33:42] It's like they're Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. And I almost count down on my head three to one, and then they say, which one is the bad one? And I would say, I don't know, and I feel like I've looked it up a dozen times. So I think that one's kind of funny. So they're continually trying to prove that they're superior. They tend to misperceive and overreact to other people's behaviors. They are extremely self-centered. They lack empathy for other people's feelings, and they are willing to devalue and humiliate other people. I still remember one of the first women I ever worked with would continually talk about her soon to be nurse. Sadistic acts and just how he he would constantly talk about how I owned that person, meaning that I put them down, I put them in their place and showing trying to present to her now. Aren't you impressed because I have this one up position on everybody I put them down or people that are going to pick apart anything about somebody else because that puts them as superior, she says. Red flags for a narcissistic personality disorder. She said although diagnosis is best left to the mental health professionals, there are common signs of defensive pathological narcissism that the average person can learn to recognize. She said I think of these as red flags for narcissistic personality. These are really good.

[00:34:46] She says status consciousness narcissists make statements that show that they are extremely aware of status markers and frequently call attention to their own or other people's status. They may make comments such as Do you know how rich he is or every important person in the city will be at this charity party or this person is such an important person? And they say that I have to be there. Everybody will think I didn't get an invite. So this making statements to show extremely aware of status markers, I being completely honest again, I love everything about my job. I love being a therapist. A lot of times I will say that early on, as I started working more with this population of trying to, I want to help people. I want to work with the people that feel when they are starting to wake up to narcissism in their spouse or someone in their life. And again, as I've said in many of the episodes, they will read something that says, Don't finish this paragraph and leave the relationship whatever it is, and I understand it is not that easy. So as I started to say, OK, I want to be able to work with this population, these people, and then help them figure out what they can do to raise their emotional baselines and put them in a position where they can thrive, where they probably spent so many years of doing the opposite of thriving, of just being desperate to survive.

[00:35:53] And so then in order to get the people here on my couch or in my chair, I realized that my opening of my virtual couch podcast was a licensed marriage and family therapist certified my employment coach, a writer, a speaker, a husband of father of four ultra marathon runner. And so I would talk about often my accomplishments, which again, I feel like was saying, Hey, look at all the things I am doing, please validate me. But I feel like it also helps bring in people that if they have this status consciousness, that they don't want to just go see some guy that's going to sit back and with the patches on his elbows. And I think in olden days, the therapist is smoking a pipe or something, and he just continually says, Tell me how you feel about that, because it's fascinating to see that the status consciousness that narcissist often do want to say, Wait, I'm working with the best. This guy has a podcast. He isn't just a therapist, he runs or does all these sort of things. So. So it is. It is interesting because sometimes you do want to meet the person where they're at just so that you can start to have the conversation. She talks about hierarchical thinking. She said they place every person, every place and every object that catches their attention on a hierarchy from lowest to highest, according to some status markers that they value with regard to people.

[00:37:00] They tend to be deferential and super nice to the people that they consider above them, those that they consider below them, they look down on, or they mistreat or ignore or graciously condescend to treat well, depending on their mood. The examples they hear often are people and the way that they relate to, let's say, a waiter or waitress at a restaurant that I thought, this line is so good where she said those they consider below them, they look down on mistreat, ignore or graciously condescend to treat well, depending on their mood that oftentimes I've had people talk about in the love bombing stage how the person is a generous tipper, that they say so many nice things to the the waiter or waitress. And then when they continue to go on dates with the person or the married with the person, that over time they start to feel like the person is quite rude to waitstaff or that sort of thing. And often it's because, OK, this doesn't. They don't. Being nice to them doesn't serve my purpose any longer. Now we're back to this hierarchical thinking, and I want them to know that I am this elevated human being and that makes me feel better. She said they tend to get into dominance fights with people who are on approximately their own level and have trouble with the idea that anyone may be their love. That's probably a little bit dramatic, but when the narcissist then does want to battle me and try to say, What about this or you don't know this, or you're only saying that because you want money or you're only saying this and it does, it takes a lot of, I guess, that healthy version of the self-confidence or ego to stay present when somebody is on the attack and trying to devalue you because but it helps so much when you recognize they're trying to break me down or they're trying to devalue me to lift them up and then, oh, bless their heart that they feel like that's the way that you interact with human beings that you feel like.

[00:38:33] If you OK, you win, you win the argument. You get nothing. There's no trophy. You get the you may feel this temporary bump of superiority, but you have left just a path of decimation in your midst of then as you have felt better about yourself, how do your how does your spouse feel now? How do your kids feel now? They don't look at you and say, Oh my gosh, dad's amazing because he just eviscerated us with his words and he won. It doesn't work that way. So she said that back to this hierarchical thinking with regard to people, they tend to be differential super nice to those they consider above them. Ok, those they consider below them, they look down on mistreat, ignore, again, condescend, treat well, depending on their mood.

[00:39:08] These dominance fights happen, she says. They're hierarchical thinking and their emphasis on their status. Leave them to continually make comparisons about everything in these comparisons. One thing will be marked off is better, which is higher in the hierarchy. Again, I talked about earlier Best Burrito, Best Vacation, Best Show. Then the other. And she said they're likely to pepper their conversation with references to where people are with regard to their place on some hierarchy, such as I belong to a much exclusive club than they do or yeah, I mean, I've scored higher on my sats in that person. Did you know I found out that I went to a better college than they did? Or, yeah, you know, they drive a much older car than I do, and everything becomes this hierarchical, which is the opposite. They drive this car or in reality, are we even giving? Do we care about the car that they drive? She said to a narcissist. Nothing has inherent value aside from its status. Therefore, the value of anything and everything can and will change when its current status in the narcissist reference group changes. So something can be important. Somebody can. Let's take the car example. I remember at one point someone talking about their husband was obsessed with Teslas wanting to get a Tesla. They were going to get a Tesla, couldn't wait to get a Tesla, and then they realized that they couldn't afford a Tesla.

[00:40:16] So rather than say, Oh man, I thought I could afford one there, much more help. I want to say, how easy is that? How simple is that to say it's in essence taking accountability or ownership or saying, Oh my bad, I thought they weren't so expensive. But then instead, she said that Oh no. Now anyone that drove a Tesla was most likely one of the most the dumbest human beings on the planet because they could be using that money for this or this or this, where this person had literally been obsessed with it and telling everybody about it for over a year. But as soon as it wasn't, it didn't have value for them that they couldn't hold that status. Then they had to then make it the worst thing in the world. No object constancy, right? One mindedness true narcissist can only see things from their own perspective. This is similar to how very small children view the world. They can't understand how two people might have different yet equally valid points of view. And if they offer their view and you offer them a different one, they assume you were telling them they are wrong. Fascinating. And if they if you were telling them wrong, that is criticism. So they feel like a little kid that you are, then not only you're telling them wrong, but you are going to put them down and you are going to abandon them. And if you remember a couple of weeks ago, a couple of times throughout this podcast, I talked about what abandonment an attachment looks like, that abandonment is in our program and our DNA that if we are abandoned, abandonment equals death.

[00:41:34] That is why we come from the womb expressing ourselves to get our needs met and people meet our needs as a baby. But then as we grow into childhood, adolescence, young adult adulthood, we have to realize that when people don't meet our needs, it's not because we are broken. It's not because something's wrong with us. It's because people doing people, things imperfect people, imperfect world. And but when the narcissist is still stuck in this childhood adolescent state of mind, then if someone isn't meeting their needs, then they fear this abandonment to the point of they will do anything to get those needs met, even putting someone down or elevating themselves up. And again, it just starts to make more sense, which doesn't mean that it doesn't still hurt, or you don't still feel the emotions in those moments. So she said back in this, if they are offended, yeah, and you offer them a different view, they assume you're telling they're wrong. They're likely to react as if you are attacking them. Rather than you simply giving your opinion. They will project the source of the problem onto you. You are likely to hear statements like Why do you always have to disagree with everything that I say instead of saying, Tell me more about that.

[00:42:35] Tell me more about that is one of the most powerful phrases that one can say hypersensitivity to slights, he says. They're they're hypersensitive to feeling slighted or mistreated in any way. They assume that if they feel hurt, the other person is doing it on purpose and in their mind, they are always the innocent victim. And if the other person then must be the hostile perpetrator, she said, their refrain is, how could you do that to me? And she said, Fill in the blank with anything from restaurant hostess is giving them a less preferred table. So you saying something in public that they decided showed them in less than perfect light? If you make the joke about them with around your friends and all of a sudden you're going to hear about it, I can't believe you did that. But then if you say, OK, you are constantly making jokes about my hair or my teeth, my clothes, then they say, OK, well, that's different. You shouldn't be so sensitive, but I can't believe you just put me down. So that hypersensitivity to slights and in their mindset, they are always the innocent victim and the other person is the perpetrator. It is not me. It is you. It is always you. Just a disproportionate anger, she says. They get extremely mad at things that seem quite minor to most people, like waiting an extra 10 minutes for a table in a restaurant because again, it's a slight.

[00:43:34] It means that there is this hierarchy. It means they are less than in their mind. So then they feel like you are attacking them that you think that they are a horrible human being. She said their degree of fury and hurt will seem very disproportionate to the actual situation. For example, she said, Your new boyfriend wants to wear, wants you to wear a particularly sexy dress to the party where you will meet his friends. You forgot to get the dress from the cleaners plan to wear something else instead. Gets furious with you and start screaming and threatening you, I am not taking you to meet your friend, my friends, if you wear that she talks about extreme language and this is the part I think can be so hard because I see this in my office and this is again, I feel like this is the part that goes into that object constancy, that they can't maintain a relationship with someone when they feel slighted, when they feel less than. But then they go to these extreme sensitivity and then we'll just want to burn the village down behind them to put them in this elevated status. So she said, everything and everybody is either perfect, special the best or else they are the absolute worst. There's nothing in between and anyone that they are mad at automatically becomes the worst possible human being in the world, which then if you if they are mad at you at that moment, they are mad at you and you need to know how mad they are because they have to take that one up position.

[00:44:39] Because if they don't do that, then they feel like they they are not the special one. And if they're not the special one, then they may not exist. They may be abandoned and abandonment at their core equals death. She gave an example. She said Cheryl described her boyfriend, her last boyfriend, to her new boyfriend this way. He changed. I thought he was a good, decent person when I met him, but I was wrong. He was a disgusting, abusive, violent person. I should have had him arrested. She said that would be quite believable if it were not for the fact that Cheryl described her last three boyfriends and exactly the same way. So either Cheryl is the worst judge of character in the world, or she lacks whole object relations and switches from seeing the person as all good to all bad when she sees any flaws. And we're going to be doing a lot on this podcast in the not too distant future on co-parenting with narcissists or even just parenting in general, I posed a question in my group, my online group, private group for women in relationships with narcissistic men or people in their lives. And boy, the feedback has been pretty phenomenal about the co-parenting piece, and it really does feel like you often start.

[00:45:38] And as the marriage therapist, the best thing you can do. The best thing in the world you can do is if there is a divorce that you can still wish the best for your spouse. That's the mother or father of your children. And so you why would you not want to have a good relationship with them? But this object constancy, this when this thing hits, then does the personnel of a sudden have to view their ex as the worst human being? And I need to let everybody know, including the kids they need to understand because I am hurting. And that's one of those things where I feel like it. Just it doesn't. It's not helpful. It's not productive. It doesn't lead to the person ever feeling better about themselves, and it doesn't put the kids in a position where they thrive, because now they have this relationship where they are constantly feeling this stress in the home of the narcissistic parent and then they feel the exact opposite and the other. So now talk about the little kid. This is why kids that have been through trauma a lot when they're young, when they're older, you often hear refer to them as old souls y because they've had to interpret or navigate these complex situations young instead of this acceptance that this is where a relationship is. And we the relationship isn't going to work. So can we then pour into our kids the fact that they are OK, you know that we love each other.

[00:46:52] We just maybe weren't right for each other. And we want the we want mom and dad both want the other person to be happy. But the bottom line is you guys are awesome and we're going to make sure that and putting the other spouse down is the there is no part where that fits into the we want you guys to be awesome because that's going to make them feel less than the kids. Low empathy, they say, and do things to hurt other people without seeming to care about causing pain. Sometimes they're oblivious to other people's reactions because they're so focused on themselves. And if you point out that they said something that hurt you, they're likely either make light of it and it meaning that way you're too sensitive or they turn it around and attack you. Only somebody like you would think that was an insult. Or will you do this to me all the time? Now we're getting back into that, that gaslighting a couple more here. Cruel descriptions of people. Many narcissistic people use language. Other people will find cruel and inappropriate. They say things out loud that other people might think, but they keep themselves for fear of hurting someone. And this one, I have so many examples of these that just pop into my head. The one that Eleanor says is I can't believe somebody as fat as her is wearing that dress, or she thinks it makes her look good or that's the stupidest waiter I've ever had.

[00:47:55] You hear those things and people just go, Oh man, I can't believe they just said that. And but in that moment, hopefully, as you are seeing throughout this episode, that it becomes this Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, it becomes this lack of object constancy. It becomes this they must put themselves up and put somebody else down or else they are not special. They are not special. Then they fear this internal abandonment and abandonment equals death. Ok? This is my A.D.D. that just kicked in. I have been telling myself, I promise I will remember to talk about Betterhelp.com. I apologize. This is one hundred percent an ad, but there are costs involved with the podcast I keep thinking about. I've had a note here on my computer, but super quick if you are looking for counseling. If you are starting to hear things that even throughout this podcast, you realize, I need to get my sense of self. I need to discover who I am. I need to learn what healthy boundaries are. And you do not know a therapist in your area and therapists are hard to find right now because thank goodness the mental health stigma has been eroding over the years, and the worldwide pandemic has led to a lot of people now turning to needing help and even what I'm doing now with a lot.

[00:48:55] People is online therapy. Never thought I'd be doing that back in the day, but now it works. It really does. So if you go to Betterhelp.com virtual couch, you will get 10 percent off your first month's services with a real licensed therapist in your area, not even in your area, but licensed so typically licensed in your state. And the process is pretty easy online. The cool thing about doing something like online therapy, admittedly, is that if you don't have a vibe with your therapist, then you're not going to get very far. I was talking about this with my wife and my nephew, who is in grad school and starting to see clients. Just a fun story. But he was we were talking about just building that rapport and that there's some cool data that I've talked about on my virtual couch podcast where if you don't feel a connection with your therapist, then it doesn't matter what modality they use, you're not buying what they're selling. So you really need to feel that connection. Betterhelp.com If you don't feel a connection, really easy to just press a little button in your portal and say, next, it doesn't really say that, but it's that vibe. So Betterhelp.com virtual couch get 10 percent off your first month counseling, and let's get back to the show. So a couple of things left here. Cruel descriptions of people, she said. So we talked about that.

[00:50:01] Oh, that's what we talked about with the language that people use, but the inability to apologize or admit mistakes. Oh my goodness. Nurses construct a defensive facade in order to protect their shaky self-esteem, she says. They don't actually have stable enough self esteem to admit mistakes and apologize without feeling more shame than they can tolerate. That is so well, said Eleanor, as she put it that way. That and then the second part. So that's where they feel shame that awareness that they are so afraid of shame. And unfortunately, this isn't a thing where you can say, Hey, I learned today that you probably don't apologize because you are protecting your your ego from feeling shame, because shame is incredibly destructive. So I get it so you can say you're sorry. Even the person then hears that as criticism, and then they are protecting themselves from shame because you were telling them they were a horrible individual. So it is such a interesting problem or pattern, and this is why it is so hard, because what would somebody be doing in that scenario if they're violating my number five of the five rules of work with someone with narcissistic traits or tendencies? If you're doing that, you're trying to give them the AHA moment or the epiphany so that they will change. And you mean, well, I know you mean well, but unfortunately it doesn't work that way, and the person needs to come to this awareness that they need help.

[00:51:13] And a lot of times by you setting your boundaries, raising your emotional baseline, getting your PhD and gaslighting, getting out of unproductive conversations and realizing there isn't that thing you'll do or say that will cause that aha moment or the epiphany, then that is truly what will then put that distance and that distance. You will then be met with the phrases that we already know. Why are you pulling away from me? Why are you being so distant? You take everything too sensitive, all those things, and it's because you're starting to break the cycle or break the pattern. And then as you do that, I feel like you realize this is not a healthy relationship, not a viable relationship. And that is perhaps a time where they may then seek help. But even then, they may be going to help going to seek help for somebody to tell them how awesome they are and how bad you are for leaving. It is so difficult, and we're going to tackle this on a future episode, too. I feel like a couple of the main topics I get in questions are, again, the nurses change. How long do I wait? How long ago it last? And we'll start talking about that more in the coming weeks. So that inability to apologize for mistakes. So then she says that they also believe on a deep, sometimes unconscious level that if they admit that they are not as perfect as they pretend to be, the other person is going to take the admission as an opportunity to degrade them, humiliate them and I will add leave them.

[00:52:27] So instead of saying my bad and it can be that when you own up to your stuff, then the world continues to move on and it's not as scary as it feels. The problem is that if you are hearing this and you're the nice person, I'm sure that you are, you have been in a pattern of saying maybe it was my fault or my bad and hoping that then that will show them. See, I did it. But instead, oftentimes when you say my bad, I'll admit to that one. Then instead, they say, OK, what else? What else can you admit to? Now do you see how right I am and not a healthy relationship? And then she says, punch line. While narcissist are unique individuals, they usually have a number of things in common which boy? This podcast, I think, is bringing that out with the feedback I'm receiving because they share similar problems how to stabilize their shaky self esteem, how to get the admiration and validation that they crave, and how to deal with their extreme sensitivity to minor slights and criticisms. Excuse me, most of them use very similar coping strategies. She said. If you keep the above list in mind and the difference between normal and pathological narcissism, she says, you can become quite adept at recognizing the more commonly encountered narcissistic patterns.

[00:53:35] Amen. Eleanor Greenberg She's a gestalt therapy trainer who specializes in teaching the diagnosis and treatment of borderline narcissistic and schizoid adaptations. And you can find her at Eleanor Greenberg, but I think we'll wrap it up there. We're pushing an hour, and I think I initially wanted these to not be quite that long. But I hope you can see we had a lot to cover today, and I hope that you had some light bulbs go on. Some awareness and all that wonderful stuff. I would love to hear your questions if you are a woman who is in need of some additional support. Should we note, and I can put you, we can have you take a look at this private group for women in those relationships again, its relationships with the nurses in their life. We have people on there that it's their parent, it's their coworker, it's their kid, adult child, it's their spouse, it's their former spouse. It's there. There's a lot there, but boy people are starting to really speak the same language. So thank you so much for taking the time to listen. If you got a lot out of this episode, please feel free to forward it to somebody. If you or if you're a member in an online group yourself that deals with narcissism and it's not like I'm being so cheesy here, but it would literally be.

[00:54:38] It would be an honor if you posted about the podcast in those groups, because I'm not saying that from a I seek the admiration and validation of the world, but just reading the emails that come in every literally every day, people that finally feel heard or understood. And so that's the goal. I think I said this in earlier episodes, but there is no scarcity mindset by any, I hope any therapist that's working in this space because if you're working in the space, you know that people need to do a lot of research, they need to do their own digging. And it is such a process to wake up to their narcissism. And when people ask me, Well, how long is it, boy, I feel like I'm being dismissive when I say it takes as long as it takes. And what you're doing right now is what you need to be doing. And there is no what's wrong with me. Why didn't I get out faster? Why didn't I know sooner? Those aren't helpful thoughts. Bless your bless your heart for, you know, when we beat ourselves up, we have this belief that internally that someone will come and rescue us. But when we're beating ourselves up internally, it's ourselves that need to then come rescue us. And so that's what you're doing right now by finding out more information. So have an amazing week. Keep those questions coming, and I will see you next time on the Waking Up to the Narcissism podcast.

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," http://www.keirbradycounseling.com/relationship-boundaries/ 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 http://tonyoverbay.com or by visiting http://tonyoverbay.com/magnetic.

With the continuing "sheltering" rules spreading across the country, PLEASE do not think you can't continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch 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 http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch, you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch 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 http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ

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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.

Tony introduces his latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism." In this crossover episode, Tony shares that narcissistic tendencies or traits can come in many different forms and levels of severity. At the same time, as a mental health condition, there is currently only one diagnosis. Tony tackles the question of whether or not we use the label of narcissism too broadly, and if we spoke more about what narcissistic traits and tendencies looked like in our everyday lives, would more people be able to take ownership of their narcissistic tendencies, or behaviors?

Tony refers to the article "5 Types of Narcissism and How to Recognize Each," by Courtney Telloian (medically reviewed by Jeffrey Ditzell, DO) from PsychCentral https://psychcentral.com/health/types-of-narcissism.

If you have questions or comments, or suggestions for a topic of a future episode or if you want to share your story or examples of gaslighting in your relationships, please send through the contact form at http://tonyoverbay.com

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Visit http://tonyoverbay.com/magnetic to learn more about Tony's Magnetic Marriage program, or visit http://tonyoverbay.com to take Tony's free parenting course, or to learn more about his best-selling book; or only recovery program "The Path Back." And please subscribe to "Waking Up to Narcissism," Tony's brand new podcast, which is part of The Virtual Couch podcast network.

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

[00:00:01] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode seven of the Waking Up the Narcissist podcast, I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and host of another podcast called The Virtual Couch. And as a matter of fact, I think I am doing. I'm going to do a and this episode is going to be on the virtual couch almost as a come on over to the Waking Up the Narcissism podcast. Because when I cover narcissism on the virtual couch, the download numbers are they're big there. I talk about parenting, I talk about marriage, or if I talk about narcissism, it seems like the numbers are a few thousand downloads more than most. So if you are listening to this on the virtual couch and you've maybe heard me talk a little bit about this other podcast, it's called Waking Up the Narcissism and come on over. We're on episode seven and the numbers are already pretty phenomenal. So I know that there's a need here that people are emailing and emailing like crazy and saying that they feel heard. They feel understood. And so I welcome you over to this other podcast. I'm also using a new recording software. I'm going to give that a shot and it is. It's a program that will allow me to do some live streaming because the amount of questions and that I get on the waking up the Narcissism podcast is pretty phenomenal, and I thought I got a lot of questions on the Virtual Couch podcast, but I'm getting questions daily emailed about narcissism.

[00:01:16] So we're going to we're going to do more of the Q&A answers over here on the Waking Up the Narcissism podcast, and so I'd like to be able to do some live streaming. So if you are a YouTube person at all, you can go to the Virtual Couch YouTube channel and this episode will hopefully be up there by the time you go. But I want to get into a few things. I had a bunch of things, a bunch of emails that I was going to read, but I just want to jump right in today because I'm going to cover an article that is going to talk about narcissism on a spectrum now, narcissism in and of itself. The word carries so much weight, it carries so much emotion. So I do know that when let's just say that people are emailing me and they are saying, finally, I feel heard, I feel understood. The gaslighting makes so much sense when I lay out these five tips in interacting with the narcissist in your life. Whether it's your spouse, whether it's your employer, whether it's an adult child or anyone, somebody in your church, congregation or church leadership that it gives people a lot of they feel empowered when they know that, Oh, this is a thing and I am not crazy. But then if you then the rules always mean if you say, don't tell the person they're in our sister, they will lose their mind.

[00:02:27] How dare you call me that? And I will have people come into my office often and say, Hey, what even is this narcissist thing that I keep hearing about? Because it is in the zeitgeist, it's out there. You hear about it all over the place. And so the term itself, I think, is misused. And so here leads to a little bit of a story that will then get to an email that will get to an article. And I think we're going to make some sense of this. And I specifically had in mind that if you really do feel like you want someone to try and understand that you think that they may have some narcissistic traits or tendencies, I'm not going to lie. I have that in mind with this episode. So if somebody has gently nudge this episode over to you and said, Hey, this might be something that you could listen to, then I would love for you to just take a couple of deep breaths and I'm being serious and through the nose out through the mouth. Give me two or three of those because that's going to lower your heart rate a little bit. It's going to get that cortisol lowered in your brain. You're going to be able to tap into your prefrontal cortex and stay in your logical brain, because so many times when people say, I think you're a narcissist, well, then all of a sudden we feel like we are criticized.

[00:03:35] And if you're criticized, then you, you start worrying about diving down into this shame. So then we do everything we can to protect our ego. And that is what we're going to talk about here in a minute instead of just saying, OK, if somebody is going to offer this information to me, they're not just throwing it out randomly. There's a reason. So why wouldn't I want to listen with curiosity because I can still choose to agree or disagree? But curiosity is what then can lead to more of a connection between people. But I'm jumping ahead. So story time. About a week or two ago, I was interviewed on a show called The Middle, and it's by a friend of mine named Gwendolyn. Condy and Caitlin had asked me if I could cover mental health, faith and narcissism, which I feel is an interesting trio of subjects. And it was an hour long. It was an Instagram Live interview. Actually, I have it on my virtual couch Instagram account. So if you are an Instagram person, go find that and it's in the highlights. But we covered the mental health. We covered the some of the faith related things and we didn't have a lot of time. And then Gayle and said, Hey, before you go, I'd love for you to to cover narcissism.

[00:04:43] And honestly, I felt like we didn't have enough time. So I think I may have said something like, Oh, I don't know if we have enough time, or maybe we can cover it next time. And she said, Can you just give me a quick overview? And I done a little bit of preparation. I had a quote up in the background for me, and that quote was. From a podcast I had done quite a while ago where I was talking about these different subtypes of narcissism, and so I want to read this quote because in the context of the interview, I thought it was fascinating and what I'm admitting to here is I had a bit of an aha moment during the interview, so I shared with her that if you're talking about a clinical diagnosis of narcissism, this this information says individuals who meet the criteria for having narcissistic personality disorder generally can be generally described as having a belief of superiority over others that gives them entitlement to special treatment and an obsession with grandiose fantasies of success and power. And I feel like that part I think I shared with her that I don't feel like I do see a lot of people that are clinically diagnosed narcissistic personality disordered people. But this next line is what is pretty fascinating. The next line says. Deep down, however, they are very vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame and go to great lengths to protect their fragile egos.

[00:05:58] Now there's another line after that that says they're also self-absorbed and have lower levels of empathy for others, and this may lead them to take advantage of people in their quest for excessive attention and admiration. And right after that, the article says narcissism exists along a spectrum. However, however, and all of those are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder do not adhere neatly to this characterization. And so there are, in essence, three major types of narcissists. And so in that particular article or in that particular podcast that go into those subtypes. But let me hone in on the second line that I read out of this paragraph that deep down, however, they are very vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame and go to great lengths to protect their fragile egos. And again, if you are here and someone has suggested that you listen to this episode of the podcast, or if you're just one who is starting to wake up to narcissism and you have been finding a lot of information that you feel resonates with you and your relationships. One of the things I talk about often is that we are all at birth moving forward, technically little narcissist. And let me explain. So from birth, when a child is born, they enter the world. And if they are not, if their needs are not met, if they are not fed, if they are not watered, if their diapers are not changed, then they die.

[00:07:16] So we're programed with this abandonment equals death. So that's a pretty significant thing. As a matter of fact, I was listening to Hidden True Crime podcast, and there's a forensic psychologist on there that I'm just really enjoying listening to his take on so many things. And he was talking about attachment. And he said that when a baby is born, in essence, they don't even know that they exist. They don't even know that they are an entity until they do have some interaction or feedback with with another human or another individual. And so we are programed that we need to get our needs met or we die. And it's pretty easy as a baby because babies are cute, they sound awesome and they smell pretty good, except for the part where when they do go poop, but you go grab a baby and you take care of it because they they're they're just so darn cute. And so we're programed in our factory settings that if we emote, if we express ourselves, that people then meet our needs and now you start to get to ages two or three or four. And this is where the concept of abandonment kicks in. And I often lightheartedly say when kids start to get that age, it's welcome to the world of abandonment. Because if a kid then now expresses themselves and they say, I would really enjoy candy before dinner and the parent says no, think about it.

[00:08:26] Moving forward from an abandonment equals death standpoint from birth that if all of a sudden my parents aren't going to give me candy before dinner, we view that as, wait, I just expressed myself and someone did not meet my needs. And this doesn't make sense because in their, you know, in our programing, it's because if they aren't going to give me candy before dinner. What else are they not going to give me? And if they aren't going to meet my needs, then I may possibly die. I may go back to this abandonment equals death model that is programed into my very fabric of my being. So from an attachment standpoint, now the kid has to figure out, how do I get my needs met? Now what do most kids do? They cry, they scream. And then what do parents often do? Ok, fine. One piece of candy before dinner. But we're never doing this again. But does the kid hear any of that? No, they just got their needs met. They got their candy before dinner. And so kids then often adopt all sorts of different attachment styles so they may get very angry and moody until they get their needs met. They may withdraw until their parent goes up to them and says, Hey, champ, you look like you're feeling down. Or they may become the scholar. They may become the scholar at school, and they receive praise because they get good grades.

[00:09:38] Or they might be the star athlete. Everybody says, Oh my gosh, you're amazing. And so all of these are attachment patterns in order to get our needs met because if we don't get our needs met, then we die. So moving up through childhood from childhood and adolescence, we are the center of the universe. So now put that in context, and this is where I say bless their hearts. Every little kid is a narcissist because they are ego centered. The world revolves around them. They don't have a concept of what is going on to their caregivers, so if they want, they want new shoes or they want new pants because their friends have newer shoes or nicer pants and they say, I want these things and their parent who may be financially struggling, they may have just had a job loss. They may be going through a divorce, who knows. But to the little kid, they want their stuff. And if they don't get it, it goes back into this, this memory bank, this DNA bank, where if they don't get their needs met, then that means I may die. So I am going to pout. I am going to yell, I am going to scream, I'm going to coerce, I'm going to steal. I'm going to do whatever I have to do to lie because I need my needs met. And this is where you start looking at gaslighting as a childhood defense mechanism that if a child feels like if they take ownership of something, they're going to get in trouble or if they gaslight is a way to get their needs, that again starts to be plugged into their DNA.

[00:10:56] So the big difference is that we all then start as self-centered. But then the goal is with the proper modeling examples from parents and those around us that we gain this emotional maturity and we move from self-centered to self-confident. And this is why when you are arguing with someone that has narcissistic traits or tendencies as an adult, I often say you literally feel like you're arguing with a 10 year old boy. They can then respond or react and be very angry. And then a few minutes later, we're good, right? We're going to go hang out. You don't go ride bikes because they feel like that is there. We just had an argument. But now, one minute later, we're fine. We're to someone that is maybe more highly sensitive. Then they they are going to feel that argument and they're going to feel like something's wrong here and this isn't working, and we need to figure this out. So that abandonment attachment thing is so significant because now let's go back to abandonment. So as we move forward into life, people are now all having their own experiences. But we're still programed with this kid brain, this kid DNA.

[00:11:58] So if people then don't respond to us the way we want them to? Where do we go? We go to this, OK? It must be me if I can't get someone to meet my needs, they respond in a different way. We still have this belief that I must be broken. I must be unlovable. Something must be wrong with me when as a human being, now you know that you're going through all of your own stuff. So somebody says, Hey, can you babysit my kids? And if you have some event going on instead and you say, Man, I wish I could, but I'm not going to be able to. It's it's unfortunately pretty rare where the person just says, OK, no problem. A lot of times are like, Oh, OK, we must not like my kids or they must not really care for me, or I would have canceled the meeting to watch their kids. So it must be me. Something must be wrong with me. So with that said, let's go back to this part of this quote, and let's talk about narcissistic traits and tendencies. So we are bringing all of that into adulthood with us. So when deep down, we are very vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame, so then go we go to great lengths to protect our fragile egos. So after this interview with I'm going on a walk that night with my wife and we're talking about something and I just say, You know what, I'm going to, I'm going to say this to this particular person, and my wife is just weird walking a dog, and she just says, Oh, I wouldn't say that.

[00:13:15] And I, this is why I like to say I'm a marriage and family therapist. I'm a couples counselor. I have a I have I feel confident in my knowledge of these four pillars of a connected conversation that are the basis of my magnetic marriage course. And yet I really did think back earlier in that day to this quote of deep down, we are vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame and go to great lengths to protect their fragile egos. And so in that moment, I think I just said, Oh, OK, yeah, no, I'll do. I'll give that a thought. But I did a check in with myself and did I feel criticized? I did, and I know my wife wasn't criticizing me because as the marriage therapist that I am, I want every couple to realize that you are two unique individuals having your own experiences. That is what differentiation is instead of codependent and enmeshed. We want to be interdependent and differentiated, differentiated where one person ends and the other begins. So we are two different people coming into a marriage. We start it with this codependency and enmeshed because that's just what we do. We put up our best selves and we're worried that if we get too open or vulnerable, that our spouse will say, Whoa, I did not know that this is the person I'm marrying.

[00:14:24] I'm out of here. So then we play this weird attachment tango for most of our marriage, and we never quite feel like we are ourselves, or we never quite feel like we can express ourselves in the way that we truly believe. Because sometimes if we all of a sudden say a few years into our marriage, I really I really like this particular show. And if our spouse says, Well, really, you've never watched it before or you don't like other shows like that, what do we feel like? We feel criticized. And then that's where this quote is so good that we are vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame. And what a shame. I even talked about this on waking up the narcissism. I go so big on this on the virtual couch. Shame and guilt. Two different things. Guilt, I feel bad about something. Shame, I am a horrible person and no one will love me so deep down when we feel criticized, do we go to shame? So when I'm walking with my wife on this particular evening and she says, I wouldn't say that to this particular person that we're talking about, then I did feel, Oh, OK, that feels like a little bit of criticism. And if I had let myself go down into this place of shame, then I could have easily said, Wow, she thinks I'm a horrible person and a bad husband and probably a bad father too, and I go into this shame spiral.

[00:15:33] So then the next part of this line says so then very vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame. So then go to great lengths to protect our fragile egos. Now there are several ways that we go to protect their fragile ego. One of them gaslighting. I could have easily said, Oh, OK, well, I appreciate your opinion, but you know, research shows that the thing I'm about to say is really, really good. Would I be making that up? Probably having done that in the past, probably have or other ways that we go to great lengths to protect our fragile ego could be anger. Anger is about control when someone erupts with anger. They may have this pattern from the time they were a kid that that might be the way they got their needs met was being angry, so they may just reflexively say, Are you kidding me? That's really how you feel, you believe. And so then that's going to shut the conversation down. But it protects the person's fragile ego or withdraw if the person is just decided. I'm not going to say anything ever. I'm not going to share my opinion then that is a way to protect our ego because we don't want we're protecting our ego or ego.

[00:16:35] Is this inner sense of self. So. I really felt like this line made so much sense on the fact that if we're all accept this fact that we move from childhood into adulthood with some of these egocentric traits, I don't even like to say narcissistic traits because you say this to the wrong person. And then they're going to say, See, you are the narcissist. And no, I'm not talking about that because it hits much different my friends. The emails I am getting. There is a very vast difference of people that have had this gaslighting as a childhood defense mechanism, and that has been their pattern for their entire lives. So it is reflexive. It's the air that they breathe. And so it really doesn't matter what you say, this person is going to turn it around on you and they're not going to take ownership. And again, if you are one of those who have felt so heard in the first six episodes of this podcast, then you know what I'm talking about. If you're somebody listening to this right now and you're thinking, Yeah, my spouse does do that, I want you to take a look at yourself, which is the big part of why I was excited to talk about this today. The name waking up. The narcissism is deep. It is deep because I'm talking about people that are waking up to the narcissist in their life and and recognizing that they are not crazy.

[00:17:45] But I am also talking about waking up to one's own narcissism and because I talk often on my virtual couch podcast about my narcissistic traits and tendencies. And I have had people now emailing me saying, Are you just you're just joking right? Or you just you're just trying to make fun of that? Or you don't really have that, do you? And oh, I do. And that is the part that I feel so excited to share is that we have to then take ownership of our own actions, our own responses. So if you are a person who is waking up to the narcissism in yourself, then welcome aboard. Let's go on a journey. If you're the person that's waking up to the narcissist in your life, then please find validation and the things that we are talking about because it is phenomenal to feel heard and to feel understood, and I hope you can see the difference there. So that led me to pulling up an article that I just think is so good. The article is I've got a year. I just started clicking around, and I guess this is the fun thing about being alive. Live stream. Ok, here we go from Psych Central says five types of narcissism and how to recognize each. This is medically reviewed by Dr. Jeffrey Witzel was written by Courtney Killian on September 15. Twenty Twenty One and why? Every time I refer to an article, can it not just be a really easy name? So, Courtney, I apologize, Jeffrey, I apologize, the link in my show notes.

[00:19:01] But I'm going to read a lot from this and I'm going to respond react because this is right out of the gate. This is so good, says as a personality trait, narcissism can come in many forms and levels of severity as a mental health condition. There's only one diagnosis, so there's the big key. There is a mental health condition, a diagnosable narcissistic personality disorder, and it's part of these this cluster of personality disorders, narcissism, histrionic, antisocial and borderline. And there are some traits, if you did this Venn diagram that intersect in all of those. But as far as personality traits, that's why I laid out that entire abandonment and attachment argument, because I really feel like that makes a lot of sense to when people feel like, Wait, am I the narcissist? And I always say, if you're asking yourself, if you're the narcissist, you're not, there's a wonderful chance that you're not. But do you maybe have a few traits or tendencies? Most likely, yeah, because you're a human being who who came from birth. If you were born as a two year old person with emotional maturity, then no. But for most of us, when we feel criticized, that's still deep within our DNA, even if the person isn't meaning it as criticism. So as a personality trait, narcissism comes in many forms and levels of severity.

[00:20:16] As a mental health condition, there's only one diagnosis. So Courtney says, you might be wondering what does it actually mean to be narcissistic? And are we using this label too broadly or are there different types of narcissism now? My personal and professional opinion is that it is being used broadly, but there are also different types of narcissism. I feel like this is a term that needs to be understood more because it is used so often and we have this immediate response when we hear what the word narcissism. So she says, in fact, you may have noticed terms like narcissist or narcissism are becoming increasingly popular. Yes, they are. And there are even a few lists of famous narcissists going around. And she says, it seems that everybody knows somebody, whether it's a family member or a coworker or a frenemy who fits this label. But these terms are also loaded and highly stigmatized. Well said. So this is why it's important to understand what they mean and how they manifest. So she has a little point in the article that says narcissism is a personality trait versus a personality disorder. When people talk about narcissism, they might be referring to, it is either part of someone's personality or as narcissistic personality disorder, which is also called NPD. So we might refer to it as that moving forward here. A little bit narcissistic personality disorder is a formal diagnosis that's classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the DSM five.

[00:21:31] As a Cluster B personality disorder, NCPDP is usually diagnosed when narcissism extends beyond a personality trait and per se. Persistently affects many areas of your life. The DSM five lists only one type of narcissism, but researchers and other experts on narcissism have found multiple ways that can show up as part of someone's personality, including those with the formal diagnosis. So we're going to talk about that a little bit more. If you're interested in what that narcissistic traits and tendencies in the DSM talk about, then I can. I would refer you to eight types of narcissism and how to spot them episode of my virtual couch podcast. But how many types are there as a mental health diagnosis? Again, there's only one, but it manifests in different ways, as does the personality trait on a general level. Narcissism is closely tied to extreme self-focus, an inflated sense of self and a strong desire for recognition and praise. And this is where I start tapping into the narcissistic traits or tendencies that I've noticed, even in my own self. Extreme self focus. I'm pretty open about adult ADHD, but there's definitely a correlation there in some situations. Inflated sense of self is that we want to be the special one. Why? Because if you look back at those roots of I need my needs met, we start to develop these tendencies.

[00:22:45] Some do in childhood of that. If I am the best fill in the blank or I get the most attention of whatever I'm doing that I get my needs met that praise or that adoration is going to ensure that I will survive. So that will often lead to this inflated sense of self or a strong desire for recognition and praise. I can tell you often that on my own journey through narcissistic traits, I'll take the podcast. For example, the virtual couch. I just released episode two hundred and Ninety, and I just spoke at an event in Utah four and a half hours where people came to hear me speak. And I would have thought long ago, that's my dream. That's all I ever want. But boy, as much as I loved every minute of it, when we're done and people want to come up and say nice things, I want to go away because I always thought, That's what I want. I want that praise. I want that adulation. But then it turns out, Oh, I was chasing that thinking that then that would make me feel whole. But in reality, that is it's nice, but you realize that is that recognition and praise that we seek because we want to be the special one because if we are the special one, then our brains saying, I think we're good. I think we're going to survive. I think we're gonna get our needs met.

[00:23:54] But if you talk about narcissism, a researchers have broken down the narcissistic personality trait into overt narcissism, covert narcissism, which we've talked about some of these terms as well. If you look at that concept of overt narcissism. You really are talking about when someone is, it's outward. It's overt, it's out in the open. It's and that's what leads to some of this grandiose narcissism. Covert is a little bit more behind the scenes. I'm looking up in my notes, overt and covert. So again, the fun. So people with overt narcissism are typically extroverted, bold and attention seeking, they may become aggressive or violent if a person or a situation challenges their sense of status. The covert subtype is less obvious. A person with covert narcissism may come across as shy or withdrawn or self-deprecating. And often, that self-deprecating piece can be interesting. I was going to say frustrating where people can go into the victim mode or the self-deprecating mode. Then you go to rescue and then now you're vulnerable, and then the person then lets you know all of the things that you are doing wrong, even trying to rescue that covert narcissist. There's also the antagonistic narcissist, the communal narcissist and the malignant narcissist, according to this article, and we'll talk more about. That said, it's also possible to look at narcissism in terms of how to fix your day to day life and your ability to form relationships.

[00:25:07] So in this context, narcissism can either be adaptive or helpful or maladaptive and unhelpful. So the point of using categories is not necessarily to label someone you think might have narcissistic qualities. And in fact, some research suggests that it could be more accurate to view narcissism on a spectrum from less to more severe. So you might then imagine that a different type of narcissism might fit somewhere along the spectrum. So enter Exhibit A, an email that I received that I think is amazing, and this is another thing that led me to want to dove into this episode now sooner than later. I've gotten a couple of these emails like this, but this one, I asked the person if they were OK if I read it, and they said, sure. They said, I'm a second generation, at least narcissistic husband and my wife deserves better. I've listened to many of your virtual couch podcasts. And I just binged on the first six episodes of Waking Up. Can you address what a person on the narcissistic spectrum can do if they want to break the link or cycle? I feel like my wife and I should separate because I treat her horribly. I think she would be better off without me or until I figure out how to improve. And then he put help. And I just said, I am so grateful for your honesty, your vulnerability. And then I had asked for permission, but I shared what I did here that I carefully chose this name, waking up the narcissism because I want to cover a lot of topics, including my own waking up and the fact that when we talk about narcissistic dusting or narcissistic tendencies, that is part of this narcissistic spectrum.

[00:26:30] And so I would love to be able to tackle on this podcast the from the victim of the narcissistic and the narcissistic relationship. But also I have my I have my own grandiose dreams. I was like this my narcissism, my grandiose dreams that I can be the special one who can then also speak to the person who may be waking up to their own narcissistic tendencies or traits. So again, if your spouse has said, Hey, I worry that you may have some of these traits or tendencies, then it welcome aboard and what a journey of self-discovery. And one of the reasons I hesitated and I hesitated on my virtual couch podcast to talk about this is because when women are in these emotionally abusive relationships and again, I have a separate woman's group, a private group formed for women who are in these relationships, whether with their spouse, their employers, their parents, their church leaders, whoever it is, those stories are so similar. So there is a if you are one who feels like you can, nothing will ever be enough. I will never get it right. He is never wrong. Then again, you know who? I'm speaking to you.

[00:27:33] Those are the majority of the emails I'm getting. And the problem is that is typically and I talked about this in an earlier episode. That's typically what we call the pathologically kind person who then when they are met up with the pathological narcissist, it creates this human magnet syndrome, which is really hard to break. Today's episode is talking more about, Hey, somebody that is starting to resonate some of these things that they hear about narcissism starting to resonate. Is this just a version of? I didn't know what I didn't know. And so it may be a tendency or trait, but I really want to work on this or do better than welcome aboard. Let's talk a little bit then about Courtney in this article says adaptive versus maladaptive. What does that mean? Some research draws a line between adaptive and maladaptive narcissism, and this helps show the difference between productive and unproductive aspects of narcissism. Again, to the emotionally abused victim of a narcissist, a productive version of narcissism sounds like an oxymoron. And it does. And it is for that that that pathological narcissist who will refuse to ever even listen to anything that you may have to say about. We need help. I think this might be a problem in the relationship, but to someone like the person who wrote me, I've actually had a couple of people write me or to myself or some of my clients that I used to call their unicorns people that over time start to then say, Wait a minute, could I possibly be? Because again, if you just tell someone, I think you're a narcissist, first of all, we got some psychological reactants.

[00:28:56] They're like, No, I'm not. How dare you say that? There isn't that curiosity. You have to have the relationship of trust with someone to be able to start doing and explore that, which is why I love nothing more than being able to talk with people or work with people long enough for them to finally say, Could it be me? And then even then you'll watch me say, Hey, tell me more. Tell me why you're asking that question. And that's a big reason why I talk about my own narcissistic traits or tendencies. Because. I want to say, look, it's hard work, but boy, is it worth it to really start to dig in and deep dove because you are not going to you are not in a healthy, connected relationship. If you are one who is realizing that you have these narcissistic traits and tendencies was I guarantee you that your spouse has suffered because of this or your children have suffered because of this, that there is a very I don't want to say likely chance. It is a thing where the people around you have had to wonder which version of you is going to walk in the door.

[00:29:49] The fun loving one, the one who is down, the one who says, Let's spend money, everybody, let's go out to eat, or the one that comes in the next night and says, Man, all I am is a paycheck that you guys. I mean, that inconsistency is just phenomenal. So adaptive narcissism refers to aspects that can actually be helpful, like high self-confidence, self-reliance or the ability to celebrate yourself. And this is not talked about often because when you hear those, if you have the narcissist in your life, you say, Oh, they have plenty of self-confidence and self-reliance and the ability to celebrate themselves. But I think this is talking about the concept of from competence in a standpoint of the people that are letting their light so shine that they can lift those around them. That kind of a vibe. I remember giving a talk one time and talking just about ego, and at the time I almost felt like I can't believe I'm about to say this, but I had been to a training and somebody had talked about ego, and they talked about If you look at people like Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Jesus, those people, they had to have confidence in order to put themselves out there to change the world. So I feel like that is more in line with what someone is talking about with some of this adaptive narcissism. Sometimes I see a lot of clients, I'll see a lot of clients in one day and then go give a speech or then come home.

[00:31:00] And sometimes my wife will say, Man, are you? How are you doing? Is that hard to transition? I used to think, Man, this must be some gift. And then the last two or three years, I thought, Ooh, is that adaptive narcissism, where in that moment I am just as present as all can be? But then the ability to switch from task to task is that a bit of that adaptive narcissism so that it allows me not to just lose myself in each one of these clients, where in any given day I can go from divorce to somebody that's worried about committing suicide? Then there's a marriage just breaking up, or there's a death in the family or whatever. Somebody finding out about a terminal disease. And you can go from one to the other to the other, and then you have a teenager coming in that just wants to talk about their favorite YouTube channel. And you're just going from one to one and just loving every bit of being able to connect with this person and hear them and help them, but then go home and just say, Hey, what are we doing tonight? So I feel like that might be a version of some of that adaptive the maladaptive narcissism, though that's the part that's connected to traits that do not serve you and can negatively impact how you relate to others and to yourself and others.

[00:32:00] Entitlement, aggression and the tendency to take advantage of others fit under the umbrella of maladaptive narcissism. And that is then what leads into the symptoms associated with narcissistic personality disorder. And again, that's why I love this concept that they are. There are these symptoms, the diagnostic criteria, a mental health professional, you're trying to find at least five of these nine symptoms to reach a formal diagnosis, grandiosity and self-importance, fantasies of success, perfection or power. A strong conviction of being special and unique. A need for admiration and praise. Entitlement pattern exploiting others for personal gain. Low empathy, envy, jealousy and distrust or arrogance. Haughtiness and scorn. And then the diagnosis criteria require these symptoms to remain consistent over time. Show up in most of the domains of life. So one of the jokes I remember in grad school when you're taking a class on diagnosis is so somebody hits four of these nine and five gives you the formal diagnosis and they go, Oh, OK, I'm off the hook. I guess I'm not a narcissist, but in reality, that's why this concept of things being on a spectrum is so important. When most people do talk about narcissism, it's the maladaptive kind that they're referring to. So unlike the adaptive, maladaptive narcissism is connected to self-consciousness, low self-esteem, higher chances of experiencing unpleasant emotions, lower empathy. And so the research has found that while maladaptive narcissism tends to decrease the older we get, adaptive narcissism doesn't decline as much over time.

[00:33:28] And so, in addition, both adaptive and maladaptive narcissism can be passed on through genes and influenced by your childhood upbringing. There you go. Nature, nurture yes. Yes, indeed. Overt narcissism. And by that, I meant that it's both overt narcissism, also known by several other names, including grandiose narcissism or this type of narcissism is what most people associate with the narcissistic personality. Someone with overt narcissism might come across as outgoing, arrogant, entitled, overbearing, having an exaggerated self-image, needing to be praised and admired, exploitive and lacking empathy. Some research connects over narcissism with the big five personality traits and extroversion and openness. And it also suggests that people with overt narcissism are more likely to feel good about themselves and less likely to experience uncomfortable emotions like sadness, worry or loneliness. And please go look on my virtual couch episodes for HSP highly sensitive person. There is such a correlation on highly since. The people connecting with narcissists and then the nurses telling the highly sensitive person so often to not worry about it. Get over it. It's not a big deal, whatever it is, but the highly sensitive person, that is not the way it works for them. So I feel like these are those traits that just start to really shine or stand out. And people with overt narcissism may also tend to overestimate their own abilities and intelligence.

[00:34:43] One study published in Twenty Eighteen also suggests that overt narcissism might cause somebody to overestimate their own emotional intelligence. That's right. They might. I think that one's check and these are the things where I will go, and I call them things like narcissistic math, where there are times early on, even in my podcast where I might be getting a thousand downloads, I'm like, Yeah, two thousand downloads an episode. So why? Who am I trying to impress? Somebody doesn't even know what the download numbers mean, but then to me, I'm overestimating these abilities are the intelligence or whatever that is. And so in this whole concept of waking up to narcissism, it's been fascinating. I did a whole episode on a thing called the Dunning Kruger effect, which in essence says that the more you think you know, the really the less you know. Now on the surface, that sounds pretty insane. But politicians are pretty famous for Dunning Kruger effect, where take, for example, someone on the campaign trail that go into a coal mining town. This is a real example from a couple of years ago, and they read a paragraph on coal mining and then they go in. I know I got it. I know I can speak to this audience. And then they talk about coal and the importance of coal and coal mining. This and coal mining that and the people that are actual coal miners are thinking this person doesn't know what they're talking about.

[00:35:50] But then to the narcissist, all of a sudden they think I'm in the moment. Matter of fact, they're going to say, you know, I think I could've sworn one of my relatives lived back here in this area. You know what? And then I started telling stories about my, my great great grandpa who mined coal. And and to this day, every time I see a chunk of coal, then I think of my grandpa and then somebody goes and checks and sees that, Hey, your grandpa, he, you know, he washed bottles at a manufacturing facility in Poughkeepsie, totally making all that up. Covert narcissism, also known as vulnerable narcissism and closet narcissism, covert narcissism is the contrast to overt narcissism. While many people think of narcissism as loud and overbearing, trait people with covert narcissism do not fit this pattern. Instead, common traits of somebody with covert narcissism include expressions of low self-esteem, a higher likelihood of experiencing anxiety, depression and shame, introversion, insecurity and low confidence, defensiveness avoidance and a tendency to feel or play the victim. So this is where I go back to that quote as well. So when someone then feels like they are being criticized and they get hit, that shame, that low self-esteem, then they turn inward and then they tend to play the victim in hopes that someone will rescue them. But the biggest problem is they go back to that. Gaslighting is a childhood defense mechanism and this desire for power and oftentimes the covert, the covert narcissist.

[00:37:11] I feel like it's almost like the spider who lures you into their web. You go to help, and all sudden you find out that that doesn't work, so matter. Fact, it makes things worse because they also feed off of that, that victim mentality and the energy that you give them and trying to help and then turn around and gaslight you so you walk away from there feeling bad about trying to help them. So while somebody with covert narcissism will still be very self focused, it's likely to conflict with a deep fear or a sense of not being enough. A study on personality and covert narcissism published in 2017 found that it was most strongly linked to high neuroticism or a tendency to experience unpleasant emotions and agreeableness. Someone with covert narcissism is likely to have a hard time accepting criticism, but unlike a person with overt narcissism, someone with covert narcissism may be more likely to internalize or take in the criticism more harshly than it was intended. So if somebody starting something by saying no offense or they're going to take offense and research suggests the categories of covert and overt narcissism aren't always mutually exclusive. In other words, somebody with overt narcissism might go through a period where they show more signs of covert narcissism. All we got, we got two or three more. We're going to hit this quick.

[00:38:14] I did not mean this episode to go this long antagonistic narcissism. According to some research, antagonistic narcissism is a subtype of overt narcissism. With this aspect, the focus is on rivalry and competition. Some of the features include arrogance, a tendency to take advantage of others, the tendency to compete with others or disagree, ability or openness to arguing. And according to research from Twenty Seventeen about facets of narcissism and forgiveness, those with this antagonistic narcissism reported that they were less likely to forgive others than people with other types of narcissism. People with antagonistic narcissism may also have lower levels of trust in others, according to a study from 2019. Communal narcissism is another type of overt, and it's usually seen as the opposite of antagonistic narcissism, so someone with communal narcissism values fairness and is likely to see themselves as altruistic as all giving. But research published in 2018 suggests there's a gap between these beliefs and the person's behavior. So people with communal narcissism might become easily morally outraged. You see a lot of this in religious narcissism or institutional narcissism from religious organizations describe themselves as being empathetic and generous, but in react to things as they see as unfair. But what? Makes it so interesting is what makes she Courtney lays this out perfectly. What makes communal narcissism different from genuine concern for the well-being of others? The key difference is that for people with communal narcissism, social power and self-importance are still playing major roles because they still are coming from this place of.

[00:39:37] That's the way they feel like they are the special one. Look at my empathy. Look at my concern, look at my leadership capabilities. But yet I will take no ownership of the hypocrisy of my own behavior the way that I act. For example, while communal narcissism might cause you to say and believe you have a strong moral code and care for others, you might not realize that the way you treat others doesn't match up with your beliefs. So you may be preaching this love and empathy as you then gaslight and then take no ownership and make someone feel less than malignant. Narcissism can exist at different levels. This is the last one. Malignant narcissism and malignant narcissism is a far more severe form, and it can cause a lot of problems for the person living with it. Malignant narcissism is more closely connected to overt and covert narcissism. Someone with malignant narcissism may have many common traits of narcissism, like a strong need for praise and to be elevated above others. But in addition, malignant narcissism can show up as vindictiveness, sadism or getting enjoyment from the pain or putting down on others aggression while interacting with other people or a paranoia or heightened worry about potential threats. So somebody with malignant narcissism may also share some traits with antisocial personality disorder. And this means somebody with malignant narcissism could be more likely to experience legal trouble or substance misuse.

[00:40:43] And in a very small study involving people with borderline personality disorder, those with malignant narcissism had a harder time, reducing anxiety and gaining better ability to function in day to day life. So I'm going to read her recap. She says narcissism, whether it's a personality trait or personality disorder, makes relationships more challenging. Amen. Different types of narcissism, whether covert, overt, communal, antagonistic or malignant, can also affect how you see yourself and interact with others. And when it comes to treatment, narcissism can be very tricky because most people living with it don't necessarily feel the need to change. I will add another amen because I get the only time I really get to work with a what then can potentially be a unicorn, as if someone does come in couples therapy and then they are open and they're willing to say, OK, I'm willing to hear you. I'm willing to to to listen or be a little bit of open. And I have to tell you that is really tricky as well. I kept another email up here just in case I had more time. Someone had emailed and said, What if our counselor isn't getting it? They said the podcast seems to come out at the perfect timing for me in my relationship with my wife. We're currently going through marriage counseling and they have a question whatever counselor doesn't appear to be picking up or addressing the spouse's narcissistic tendencies.

[00:41:53] They both are very quick to talk about my co-dependence, but the only thing said about my spouse is inability to take any blame or actually work on the marriages. They can't be forced, which this person says. I obviously agree based on your podcast in their own research, but their biggest fear is that when they are wrong about their wife, their wife's narcissistic behavior, and whether or not they are the narcissist, and they've signed up to see a separate counselor who specializes in narcissistic and codependent relationships. But it does spark interest, and I hope that this podcast in itself is getting is helping with the answers to that. Because if a counselor is not aware or familiar of personality disorders, or I'm going to be super honest because I have a couple of these things going on right now, or I'm noticing that there are a fair amount of clinicians that perhaps go into the helping field to validate themselves. Or so I feel like there's a fair amount of us in the helping profession that have these strong narcissistic tendencies or traits because we get to be the special one that helps other people and tells them what to do, which is absolutely not the way that therapy is supposed to work. Therapy is not a I will tell you what to do. It's a let me learn more about you and let me guide you.

[00:42:59] Let me stand beside you and then walk up to the obstacles in your life and then say, Hey, what do you want to do here? And what are your biggest fears or what are your insecurities? And then let's work with that. It's not a I will weigh in and I will tell you what to do. Bring to me your legal troubles, bring to me your tax questions, bring to me your business ideas, and I will then weigh my I will give my opinion on them. That is not what counseling is about, that that is perhaps a more narcissistic treated counselor or therapist. Again, narcissism can be tricky because many people living with it don't feel the need to change. But living with the narcissism poses its mental health effects, including anxiety, depression. People turn to substance abuse and sometimes the impact of these effects causes the person to reach out for help, which is what I am grateful for, which is what my women's group is for, which is, I think why this podcast is just the reception has been phenomenal. So when someone living with narcissism seeks professional support, there is a lot of potential for growth and improved mental health. But I covered this in, I think, the first episode. The unfortunate part is when the person that is starting to wake up to the narcissist in their life, then they are going to be met with a lot of invalidation.

[00:44:07] Oh, do you think you're smarter than me? Or now you care, or you better not go talk about me? Or there's so many things that now you're more disagreeable, or now you hold on to things more or but no, it's because you are starting to become. Differentiated, and you're starting to recognize I am me and I cannot lose myself, that's not what's best for me, it's not what's best for my kids, my family and my relationship. Am I modeling? And so it's difficult, is it? That can be. That's why there are so many resources like my podcast articles, you name it, just devour the information and know that it's going to take a lot longer than you would like. It's a long process, but you have begun the process. Honestly, if you're even listening to this podcast, stay on it. If you made it this far and you're somebody that's starting to say, Do I have some narcissistic traits or tendencies, then holy cow. Bless your heart. Start doing a deep dove yourself and start to be aware of those things that you are recognizing as that maybe these are some of my narcissistic traits or tendencies and own it. Take ownership of it if you are afraid to just own it to your spouse. Write it down. Try to find somebody that you can talk to about it. Do your own research because I want you to find that that piece it is.

[00:45:22] It is. It is possible to wake up to narcissism, both to your own narcissism or the majority of people listening to this podcast through the narcissist in your life. And that is such a hope of mine. So I'm going to wrap it up. If you have questions, continue to submit them through Tony overbay.com. Go to the contact page if you're interested. If you are a woman interested in joining the group again, it's for people that are in relationships with co-parenting with have been through the wringer with have narcissistic parents bosses. The interaction is amazing and we have group calls every other week and those are just I can't even I can't even tell you how wonderful it is to see people connect. It's not just a complaint to place, it's a place where people feel heard and empowered. And that's what you really need is you wake up to narcissism and whatever those forms are. I need some sort of ending catch phrase, and I feel like that now is the part I need to say, you know, I think, Dr. Laura, you say, go take on the day and I feel like I don't want you to say so. So there's a thing, there's some words, but have an amazing day, and I look forward to hearing from you questions that sort of thing as you wake up to narcissism. I didn't really feel like my heart was in that one. All right. We'll see you next time.

Narcissistic tendencies or traits can come in many different forms and levels of severity, while as a mental health condition, there is currently only one diagnosis. Tony tackles the question of whether or not we use the label of narcissism too broadly, and if we spoke more about what narcissistic traits and tendencies looked like in our everyday lives, would more people be able to take ownership of their narcissistic behaviors?

Tony refers to the article "5 Types of Narcissism and How to Recognize Each," by Courtney Telloian (medically reviewed by Jeffrey Ditzell, DO) from PsychCentral https://psychcentral.com/health/types-of-narcissism.

If you have questions or comments, or suggestions for a topic of a future episode or if you want to share your story or examples of gaslighting in your relationships please send through the contact form at http://tonyoverbay.com

#narcissist #narcissistictraits #therapy #virtualcouch #wakinguptonarcissism #tonyoverbay #tonyoverbayquote #quote #podcast #podcasting #acceptancecommitmenttherapy #motivation #coach #addictionrecovery #narcissism #happiness #behappy #mentalhealth #wellness #recovery #selfcare #anxiety #relax #mindfulness #happy #depression #mentalhealthawareness #psychology #MadeWithDescript #DescriptPro

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[00:00:01] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode seven of the Waking Up the Narcissist podcast, I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and host of another podcast called The Virtual Couch. And as a matter of fact, I think I am doing. I'm going to do a and this episode is going to be on the virtual couch almost as a come on over to the Waking Up the Narcissism podcast. Because when I cover narcissism on the virtual couch, the download numbers are they're big there. I talk about parenting, I talk about marriage, or if I talk about narcissism, it seems like the numbers are a few thousand downloads more than most. So if you are listening to this on the virtual couch and you've maybe heard me talk a little bit about this other podcast, it's called Waking Up the Narcissism and come on over. We're on episode seven and the numbers are already pretty phenomenal. So I know that there's a need here that people are emailing and emailing like crazy and saying that they feel heard. They feel understood. And so I welcome you over to this other podcast. I'm also using a new recording software. I'm going to give that a shot and it is. It's a program that will allow me to do some live streaming because the amount of questions and that I get on the waking up the Narcissism podcast is pretty phenomenal, and I thought I got a lot of questions on the Virtual Couch podcast, but I'm getting questions daily emailed about narcissism.

[00:01:16] So we're going to we're going to do more of the Q&A answers over here on the Waking Up the Narcissism podcast, and so I'd like to be able to do some live streaming. So if you are a YouTube person at all, you can go to the Virtual Couch YouTube channel and this episode will hopefully be up there by the time you go. But I want to get into a few things. I had a bunch of things, a bunch of emails that I was going to read, but I just want to jump right in today because I'm going to cover an article that is going to talk about narcissism on a spectrum now, narcissism in and of itself. The word carries so much weight, it carries so much emotion. So I do know that when let's just say that people are emailing me and they are saying, finally, I feel heard, I feel understood. The gaslighting makes so much sense when I lay out these five tips in interacting with the narcissist in your life. Whether it's your spouse, whether it's your employer, whether it's an adult child or anyone, somebody in your church, congregation or church leadership that it gives people a lot of they feel empowered when they know that, Oh, this is a thing and I am not crazy. But then if you then the rules always mean if you say, don't tell the person they're in our sister, they will lose their mind.

[00:02:27] How dare you call me that? And I will have people come into my office often and say, Hey, what even is this narcissist thing that I keep hearing about? Because it is in the zeitgeist, it's out there. You hear about it all over the place. And so the term itself, I think, is misused. And so here leads to a little bit of a story that will then get to an email that will get to an article. And I think we're going to make some sense of this. And I specifically had in mind that if you really do feel like you want someone to try and understand that you think that they may have some narcissistic traits or tendencies, I'm not going to lie. I have that in mind with this episode. So if somebody has gently nudge this episode over to you and said, Hey, this might be something that you could listen to, then I would love for you to just take a couple of deep breaths and I'm being serious and through the nose out through the mouth. Give me two or three of those because that's going to lower your heart rate a little bit. It's going to get that cortisol lowered in your brain. You're going to be able to tap into your prefrontal cortex and stay in your logical brain, because so many times when people say, I think you're a narcissist, well, then all of a sudden we feel like we are criticized.

[00:03:35] And if you're criticized, then you, you start worrying about diving down into this shame. So then we do everything we can to protect our ego. And that is what we're going to talk about here in a minute instead of just saying, OK, if somebody is going to offer this information to me, they're not just throwing it out randomly. There's a reason. So why wouldn't I want to listen with curiosity because I can still choose to agree or disagree? But curiosity is what then can lead to more of a connection between people. But I'm jumping ahead. So story time. About a week or two ago, I was interviewed on a show called The Middle, and it's by a friend of mine named Gwendolyn. Condy and Caitlin had asked me if I could cover mental health, faith and narcissism, which I feel is an interesting trio of subjects. And it was an hour long. It was an Instagram Live interview. Actually, I have it on my virtual couch Instagram account. So if you are an Instagram person, go find that and it's in the highlights. But we covered the mental health. We covered the some of the faith related things and we didn't have a lot of time. And then Gayle and said, Hey, before you go, I'd love for you to to cover narcissism.

[00:04:43] And honestly, I felt like we didn't have enough time. So I think I may have said something like, Oh, I don't know if we have enough time, or maybe we can cover it next time. And she said, Can you just give me a quick overview? And I done a little bit of preparation. I had a quote up in the background for me, and that quote was. From a podcast I had done quite a while ago where I was talking about these different subtypes of narcissism, and so I want to read this quote because in the context of the interview, I thought it was fascinating and what I'm admitting to here is I had a bit of an aha moment during the interview, so I shared with her that if you're talking about a clinical diagnosis of narcissism, this this information says individuals who meet the criteria for having narcissistic personality disorder generally can be generally described as having a belief of superiority over others that gives them entitlement to special treatment and an obsession with grandiose fantasies of success and power. And I feel like that part I think I shared with her that I don't feel like I do see a lot of people that are clinically diagnosed narcissistic personality disordered people. But this next line is what is pretty fascinating. The next line says. Deep down, however, they are very vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame and go to great lengths to protect their fragile egos.

[00:05:58] Now there's another line after that that says they're also self-absorbed and have lower levels of empathy for others, and this may lead them to take advantage of people in their quest for excessive attention and admiration. And right after that, the article says narcissism exists along a spectrum. However, however, and all of those are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder do not adhere neatly to this characterization. And so there are, in essence, three major types of narcissists. And so in that particular article or in that particular podcast that go into those subtypes. But let me hone in on the second line that I read out of this paragraph that deep down, however, they are very vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame and go to great lengths to protect their fragile egos. And again, if you are here and someone has suggested that you listen to this episode of the podcast, or if you're just one who is starting to wake up to narcissism and you have been finding a lot of information that you feel resonates with you and your relationships. One of the things I talk about often is that we are all at birth moving forward, technically little narcissist. And let me explain. So from birth, when a child is born, they enter the world. And if they are not, if their needs are not met, if they are not fed, if they are not watered, if their diapers are not changed, then they die.

[00:07:16] So we're programed with this abandonment equals death. So that's a pretty significant thing. As a matter of fact, I was listening to Hidden True Crime podcast, and there's a forensic psychologist on there that I'm just really enjoying listening to his take on so many things. And he was talking about attachment. And he said that when a baby is born, in essence, they don't even know that they exist. They don't even know that they are an entity until they do have some interaction or feedback with with another human or another individual. And so we are programed that we need to get our needs met or we die. And it's pretty easy as a baby because babies are cute, they sound awesome and they smell pretty good, except for the part where when they do go poop, but you go grab a baby and you take care of it because they they're they're just so darn cute. And so we're programed in our factory settings that if we emote, if we express ourselves, that people then meet our needs and now you start to get to ages two or three or four. And this is where the concept of abandonment kicks in. And I often lightheartedly say when kids start to get that age, it's welcome to the world of abandonment. Because if a kid then now expresses themselves and they say, I would really enjoy candy before dinner and the parent says no, think about it.

[00:08:26] Moving forward from an abandonment equals death standpoint from birth that if all of a sudden my parents aren't going to give me candy before dinner, we view that as, wait, I just expressed myself and someone did not meet my needs. And this doesn't make sense because in their, you know, in our programing, it's because if they aren't going to give me candy before dinner. What else are they not going to give me? And if they aren't going to meet my needs, then I may possibly die. I may go back to this abandonment equals death model that is programed into my very fabric of my being. So from an attachment standpoint, now the kid has to figure out, how do I get my needs met? Now what do most kids do? They cry, they scream. And then what do parents often do? Ok, fine. One piece of candy before dinner. But we're never doing this again. But does the kid hear any of that? No, they just got their needs met. They got their candy before dinner. And so kids then often adopt all sorts of different attachment styles so they may get very angry and moody until they get their needs met. They may withdraw until their parent goes up to them and says, Hey, champ, you look like you're feeling down. Or they may become the scholar. They may become the scholar at school, and they receive praise because they get good grades.

[00:09:38] Or they might be the star athlete. Everybody says, Oh my gosh, you're amazing. And so all of these are attachment patterns in order to get our needs met because if we don't get our needs met, then we die. So moving up through childhood from childhood and adolescence, we are the center of the universe. So now put that in context, and this is where I say bless their hearts. Every little kid is a narcissist because they are ego centered. The world revolves around them. They don't have a concept of what is going on to their caregivers, so if they want, they want new shoes or they want new pants because their friends have newer shoes or nicer pants and they say, I want these things and their parent who may be financially struggling, they may have just had a job loss. They may be going through a divorce, who knows. But to the little kid, they want their stuff. And if they don't get it, it goes back into this, this memory bank, this DNA bank, where if they don't get their needs met, then that means I may die. So I am going to pout. I am going to yell, I am going to scream, I'm going to coerce, I'm going to steal. I'm going to do whatever I have to do to lie because I need my needs met. And this is where you start looking at gaslighting as a childhood defense mechanism that if a child feels like if they take ownership of something, they're going to get in trouble or if they gaslight is a way to get their needs, that again starts to be plugged into their DNA.

[00:10:56] So the big difference is that we all then start as self-centered. But then the goal is with the proper modeling examples from parents and those around us that we gain this emotional maturity and we move from self-centered to self-confident. And this is why when you are arguing with someone that has narcissistic traits or tendencies as an adult, I often say you literally feel like you're arguing with a 10 year old boy. They can then respond or react and be very angry. And then a few minutes later, we're good, right? We're going to go hang out. You don't go ride bikes because they feel like that is there. We just had an argument. But now, one minute later, we're fine. We're to someone that is maybe more highly sensitive. Then they they are going to feel that argument and they're going to feel like something's wrong here and this isn't working, and we need to figure this out. So that abandonment attachment thing is so significant because now let's go back to abandonment. So as we move forward into life, people are now all having their own experiences. But we're still programed with this kid brain, this kid DNA.

[00:11:58] So if people then don't respond to us the way we want them to? Where do we go? We go to this, OK? It must be me if I can't get someone to meet my needs, they respond in a different way. We still have this belief that I must be broken. I must be unlovable. Something must be wrong with me when as a human being, now you know that you're going through all of your own stuff. So somebody says, Hey, can you babysit my kids? And if you have some event going on instead and you say, Man, I wish I could, but I'm not going to be able to. It's it's unfortunately pretty rare where the person just says, OK, no problem. A lot of times are like, Oh, OK, we must not like my kids or they must not really care for me, or I would have canceled the meeting to watch their kids. So it must be me. Something must be wrong with me. So with that said, let's go back to this part of this quote, and let's talk about narcissistic traits and tendencies. So we are bringing all of that into adulthood with us. So when deep down, we are very vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame, so then go we go to great lengths to protect our fragile egos. So after this interview with I'm going on a walk that night with my wife and we're talking about something and I just say, You know what, I'm going to, I'm going to say this to this particular person, and my wife is just weird walking a dog, and she just says, Oh, I wouldn't say that.

[00:13:15] And I, this is why I like to say I'm a marriage and family therapist. I'm a couples counselor. I have a I have I feel confident in my knowledge of these four pillars of a connected conversation that are the basis of my magnetic marriage course. And yet I really did think back earlier in that day to this quote of deep down, we are vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame and go to great lengths to protect their fragile egos. And so in that moment, I think I just said, Oh, OK, yeah, no, I'll do. I'll give that a thought. But I did a check in with myself and did I feel criticized? I did, and I know my wife wasn't criticizing me because as the marriage therapist that I am, I want every couple to realize that you are two unique individuals having your own experiences. That is what differentiation is instead of codependent and enmeshed. We want to be interdependent and differentiated, differentiated where one person ends and the other begins. So we are two different people coming into a marriage. We start it with this codependency and enmeshed because that's just what we do. We put up our best selves and we're worried that if we get too open or vulnerable, that our spouse will say, Whoa, I did not know that this is the person I'm marrying.

[00:14:24] I'm out of here. So then we play this weird attachment tango for most of our marriage, and we never quite feel like we are ourselves, or we never quite feel like we can express ourselves in the way that we truly believe. Because sometimes if we all of a sudden say a few years into our marriage, I really I really like this particular show. And if our spouse says, Well, really, you've never watched it before or you don't like other shows like that, what do we feel like? We feel criticized. And then that's where this quote is so good that we are vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame. And what a shame. I even talked about this on waking up the narcissism. I go so big on this on the virtual couch. Shame and guilt. Two different things. Guilt, I feel bad about something. Shame, I am a horrible person and no one will love me so deep down when we feel criticized, do we go to shame? So when I'm walking with my wife on this particular evening and she says, I wouldn't say that to this particular person that we're talking about, then I did feel, Oh, OK, that feels like a little bit of criticism. And if I had let myself go down into this place of shame, then I could have easily said, Wow, she thinks I'm a horrible person and a bad husband and probably a bad father too, and I go into this shame spiral.

[00:15:33] So then the next part of this line says so then very vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame. So then go to great lengths to protect our fragile egos. Now there are several ways that we go to protect their fragile ego. One of them gaslighting. I could have easily said, Oh, OK, well, I appreciate your opinion, but you know, research shows that the thing I'm about to say is really, really good. Would I be making that up? Probably having done that in the past, probably have or other ways that we go to great lengths to protect our fragile ego could be anger. Anger is about control when someone erupts with anger. They may have this pattern from the time they were a kid that that might be the way they got their needs met was being angry, so they may just reflexively say, Are you kidding me? That's really how you feel, you believe. And so then that's going to shut the conversation down. But it protects the person's fragile ego or withdraw if the person is just decided. I'm not going to say anything ever. I'm not going to share my opinion then that is a way to protect our ego because we don't want we're protecting our ego or ego.

[00:16:35] Is this inner sense of self. So. I really felt like this line made so much sense on the fact that if we're all accept this fact that we move from childhood into adulthood with some of these egocentric traits, I don't even like to say narcissistic traits because you say this to the wrong person. And then they're going to say, See, you are the narcissist. And no, I'm not talking about that because it hits much different my friends. The emails I am getting. There is a very vast difference of people that have had this gaslighting as a childhood defense mechanism, and that has been their pattern for their entire lives. So it is reflexive. It's the air that they breathe. And so it really doesn't matter what you say, this person is going to turn it around on you and they're not going to take ownership. And again, if you are one of those who have felt so heard in the first six episodes of this podcast, then you know what I'm talking about. If you're somebody listening to this right now and you're thinking, Yeah, my spouse does do that, I want you to take a look at yourself, which is the big part of why I was excited to talk about this today. The name waking up. The narcissism is deep. It is deep because I'm talking about people that are waking up to the narcissist in their life and and recognizing that they are not crazy.

[00:17:45] But I am also talking about waking up to one's own narcissism and because I talk often on my virtual couch podcast about my narcissistic traits and tendencies. And I have had people now emailing me saying, Are you just you're just joking right? Or you just you're just trying to make fun of that? Or you don't really have that, do you? And oh, I do. And that is the part that I feel so excited to share is that we have to then take ownership of our own actions, our own responses. So if you are a person who is waking up to the narcissism in yourself, then welcome aboard. Let's go on a journey. If you're the person that's waking up to the narcissist in your life, then please find validation and the things that we are talking about because it is phenomenal to feel heard and to feel understood, and I hope you can see the difference there. So that led me to pulling up an article that I just think is so good. The article is I've got a year. I just started clicking around, and I guess this is the fun thing about being alive. Live stream. Ok, here we go from Psych Central says five types of narcissism and how to recognize each. This is medically reviewed by Dr. Jeffrey Witzel was written by Courtney Killian on September 15. Twenty Twenty One and why? Every time I refer to an article, can it not just be a really easy name? So, Courtney, I apologize, Jeffrey, I apologize, the link in my show notes.

[00:19:01] But I'm going to read a lot from this and I'm going to respond react because this is right out of the gate. This is so good, says as a personality trait, narcissism can come in many forms and levels of severity as a mental health condition. There's only one diagnosis, so there's the big key. There is a mental health condition, a diagnosable narcissistic personality disorder, and it's part of these this cluster of personality disorders, narcissism, histrionic, antisocial and borderline. And there are some traits, if you did this Venn diagram that intersect in all of those. But as far as personality traits, that's why I laid out that entire abandonment and attachment argument, because I really feel like that makes a lot of sense to when people feel like, Wait, am I the narcissist? And I always say, if you're asking yourself, if you're the narcissist, you're not, there's a wonderful chance that you're not. But do you maybe have a few traits or tendencies? Most likely, yeah, because you're a human being who who came from birth. If you were born as a two year old person with emotional maturity, then no. But for most of us, when we feel criticized, that's still deep within our DNA, even if the person isn't meaning it as criticism. So as a personality trait, narcissism comes in many forms and levels of severity.

[00:20:16] As a mental health condition, there's only one diagnosis. So Courtney says, you might be wondering what does it actually mean to be narcissistic? And are we using this label too broadly or are there different types of narcissism now? My personal and professional opinion is that it is being used broadly, but there are also different types of narcissism. I feel like this is a term that needs to be understood more because it is used so often and we have this immediate response when we hear what the word narcissism. So she says, in fact, you may have noticed terms like narcissist or narcissism are becoming increasingly popular. Yes, they are. And there are even a few lists of famous narcissists going around. And she says, it seems that everybody knows somebody, whether it's a family member or a coworker or a frenemy who fits this label. But these terms are also loaded and highly stigmatized. Well said. So this is why it's important to understand what they mean and how they manifest. So she has a little point in the article that says narcissism is a personality trait versus a personality disorder. When people talk about narcissism, they might be referring to, it is either part of someone's personality or as narcissistic personality disorder, which is also called NPD. So we might refer to it as that moving forward here. A little bit narcissistic personality disorder is a formal diagnosis that's classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the DSM five.

[00:21:31] As a Cluster B personality disorder, NCPDP is usually diagnosed when narcissism extends beyond a personality trait and per se. Persistently affects many areas of your life. The DSM five lists only one type of narcissism, but researchers and other experts on narcissism have found multiple ways that can show up as part of someone's personality, including those with the formal diagnosis. So we're going to talk about that a little bit more. If you're interested in what that narcissistic traits and tendencies in the DSM talk about, then I can. I would refer you to eight types of narcissism and how to spot them episode of my virtual couch podcast. But how many types are there as a mental health diagnosis? Again, there's only one, but it manifests in different ways, as does the personality trait on a general level. Narcissism is closely tied to extreme self-focus, an inflated sense of self and a strong desire for recognition and praise. And this is where I start tapping into the narcissistic traits or tendencies that I've noticed, even in my own self. Extreme self focus. I'm pretty open about adult ADHD, but there's definitely a correlation there in some situations. Inflated sense of self is that we want to be the special one. Why? Because if you look back at those roots of I need my needs met, we start to develop these tendencies.

[00:22:45] Some do in childhood of that. If I am the best fill in the blank or I get the most attention of whatever I'm doing that I get my needs met that praise or that adoration is going to ensure that I will survive. So that will often lead to this inflated sense of self or a strong desire for recognition and praise. I can tell you often that on my own journey through narcissistic traits, I'll take the podcast. For example, the virtual couch. I just released episode two hundred and Ninety, and I just spoke at an event in Utah four and a half hours where people came to hear me speak. And I would have thought long ago, that's my dream. That's all I ever want. But boy, as much as I loved every minute of it, when we're done and people want to come up and say nice things, I want to go away because I always thought, That's what I want. I want that praise. I want that adulation. But then it turns out, Oh, I was chasing that thinking that then that would make me feel whole. But in reality, that is it's nice, but you realize that is that recognition and praise that we seek because we want to be the special one because if we are the special one, then our brains saying, I think we're good. I think we're going to survive. I think we're gonna get our needs met.

[00:23:54] But if you talk about narcissism, a researchers have broken down the narcissistic personality trait into overt narcissism, covert narcissism, which we've talked about some of these terms as well. If you look at that concept of overt narcissism. You really are talking about when someone is, it's outward. It's overt, it's out in the open. It's and that's what leads to some of this grandiose narcissism. Covert is a little bit more behind the scenes. I'm looking up in my notes, overt and covert. So again, the fun. So people with overt narcissism are typically extroverted, bold and attention seeking, they may become aggressive or violent if a person or a situation challenges their sense of status. The covert subtype is less obvious. A person with covert narcissism may come across as shy or withdrawn or self-deprecating. And often, that self-deprecating piece can be interesting. I was going to say frustrating where people can go into the victim mode or the self-deprecating mode. Then you go to rescue and then now you're vulnerable, and then the person then lets you know all of the things that you are doing wrong, even trying to rescue that covert narcissist. There's also the antagonistic narcissist, the communal narcissist and the malignant narcissist, according to this article, and we'll talk more about. That said, it's also possible to look at narcissism in terms of how to fix your day to day life and your ability to form relationships.

[00:25:07] So in this context, narcissism can either be adaptive or helpful or maladaptive and unhelpful. So the point of using categories is not necessarily to label someone you think might have narcissistic qualities. And in fact, some research suggests that it could be more accurate to view narcissism on a spectrum from less to more severe. So you might then imagine that a different type of narcissism might fit somewhere along the spectrum. So enter Exhibit A, an email that I received that I think is amazing, and this is another thing that led me to want to dove into this episode now sooner than later. I've gotten a couple of these emails like this, but this one, I asked the person if they were OK if I read it, and they said, sure. They said, I'm a second generation, at least narcissistic husband and my wife deserves better. I've listened to many of your virtual couch podcasts. And I just binged on the first six episodes of Waking Up. Can you address what a person on the narcissistic spectrum can do if they want to break the link or cycle? I feel like my wife and I should separate because I treat her horribly. I think she would be better off without me or until I figure out how to improve. And then he put help. And I just said, I am so grateful for your honesty, your vulnerability. And then I had asked for permission, but I shared what I did here that I carefully chose this name, waking up the narcissism because I want to cover a lot of topics, including my own waking up and the fact that when we talk about narcissistic dusting or narcissistic tendencies, that is part of this narcissistic spectrum.

[00:26:30] And so I would love to be able to tackle on this podcast the from the victim of the narcissistic and the narcissistic relationship. But also I have my I have my own grandiose dreams. I was like this my narcissism, my grandiose dreams that I can be the special one who can then also speak to the person who may be waking up to their own narcissistic tendencies or traits. So again, if your spouse has said, Hey, I worry that you may have some of these traits or tendencies, then it welcome aboard and what a journey of self-discovery. And one of the reasons I hesitated and I hesitated on my virtual couch podcast to talk about this is because when women are in these emotionally abusive relationships and again, I have a separate woman's group, a private group formed for women who are in these relationships, whether with their spouse, their employers, their parents, their church leaders, whoever it is, those stories are so similar. So there is a if you are one who feels like you can, nothing will ever be enough. I will never get it right. He is never wrong. Then again, you know who? I'm speaking to you.

[00:27:33] Those are the majority of the emails I'm getting. And the problem is that is typically and I talked about this in an earlier episode. That's typically what we call the pathologically kind person who then when they are met up with the pathological narcissist, it creates this human magnet syndrome, which is really hard to break. Today's episode is talking more about, Hey, somebody that is starting to resonate some of these things that they hear about narcissism starting to resonate. Is this just a version of? I didn't know what I didn't know. And so it may be a tendency or trait, but I really want to work on this or do better than welcome aboard. Let's talk a little bit then about Courtney in this article says adaptive versus maladaptive. What does that mean? Some research draws a line between adaptive and maladaptive narcissism, and this helps show the difference between productive and unproductive aspects of narcissism. Again, to the emotionally abused victim of a narcissist, a productive version of narcissism sounds like an oxymoron. And it does. And it is for that that that pathological narcissist who will refuse to ever even listen to anything that you may have to say about. We need help. I think this might be a problem in the relationship, but to someone like the person who wrote me, I've actually had a couple of people write me or to myself or some of my clients that I used to call their unicorns people that over time start to then say, Wait a minute, could I possibly be? Because again, if you just tell someone, I think you're a narcissist, first of all, we got some psychological reactants.

[00:28:56] They're like, No, I'm not. How dare you say that? There isn't that curiosity. You have to have the relationship of trust with someone to be able to start doing and explore that, which is why I love nothing more than being able to talk with people or work with people long enough for them to finally say, Could it be me? And then even then you'll watch me say, Hey, tell me more. Tell me why you're asking that question. And that's a big reason why I talk about my own narcissistic traits or tendencies. Because. I want to say, look, it's hard work, but boy, is it worth it to really start to dig in and deep dove because you are not going to you are not in a healthy, connected relationship. If you are one who is realizing that you have these narcissistic traits and tendencies was I guarantee you that your spouse has suffered because of this or your children have suffered because of this, that there is a very I don't want to say likely chance. It is a thing where the people around you have had to wonder which version of you is going to walk in the door.

[00:29:49] The fun loving one, the one who is down, the one who says, Let's spend money, everybody, let's go out to eat, or the one that comes in the next night and says, Man, all I am is a paycheck that you guys. I mean, that inconsistency is just phenomenal. So adaptive narcissism refers to aspects that can actually be helpful, like high self-confidence, self-reliance or the ability to celebrate yourself. And this is not talked about often because when you hear those, if you have the narcissist in your life, you say, Oh, they have plenty of self-confidence and self-reliance and the ability to celebrate themselves. But I think this is talking about the concept of from competence in a standpoint of the people that are letting their light so shine that they can lift those around them. That kind of a vibe. I remember giving a talk one time and talking just about ego, and at the time I almost felt like I can't believe I'm about to say this, but I had been to a training and somebody had talked about ego, and they talked about If you look at people like Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Jesus, those people, they had to have confidence in order to put themselves out there to change the world. So I feel like that is more in line with what someone is talking about with some of this adaptive narcissism. Sometimes I see a lot of clients, I'll see a lot of clients in one day and then go give a speech or then come home.

[00:31:00] And sometimes my wife will say, Man, are you? How are you doing? Is that hard to transition? I used to think, Man, this must be some gift. And then the last two or three years, I thought, Ooh, is that adaptive narcissism, where in that moment I am just as present as all can be? But then the ability to switch from task to task is that a bit of that adaptive narcissism so that it allows me not to just lose myself in each one of these clients, where in any given day I can go from divorce to somebody that's worried about committing suicide? Then there's a marriage just breaking up, or there's a death in the family or whatever. Somebody finding out about a terminal disease. And you can go from one to the other to the other, and then you have a teenager coming in that just wants to talk about their favorite YouTube channel. And you're just going from one to one and just loving every bit of being able to connect with this person and hear them and help them, but then go home and just say, Hey, what are we doing tonight? So I feel like that might be a version of some of that adaptive the maladaptive narcissism, though that's the part that's connected to traits that do not serve you and can negatively impact how you relate to others and to yourself and others.

[00:32:00] Entitlement, aggression and the tendency to take advantage of others fit under the umbrella of maladaptive narcissism. And that is then what leads into the symptoms associated with narcissistic personality disorder. And again, that's why I love this concept that they are. There are these symptoms, the diagnostic criteria, a mental health professional, you're trying to find at least five of these nine symptoms to reach a formal diagnosis, grandiosity and self-importance, fantasies of success, perfection or power. A strong conviction of being special and unique. A need for admiration and praise. Entitlement pattern exploiting others for personal gain. Low empathy, envy, jealousy and distrust or arrogance. Haughtiness and scorn. And then the diagnosis criteria require these symptoms to remain consistent over time. Show up in most of the domains of life. So one of the jokes I remember in grad school when you're taking a class on diagnosis is so somebody hits four of these nine and five gives you the formal diagnosis and they go, Oh, OK, I'm off the hook. I guess I'm not a narcissist, but in reality, that's why this concept of things being on a spectrum is so important. When most people do talk about narcissism, it's the maladaptive kind that they're referring to. So unlike the adaptive, maladaptive narcissism is connected to self-consciousness, low self-esteem, higher chances of experiencing unpleasant emotions, lower empathy. And so the research has found that while maladaptive narcissism tends to decrease the older we get, adaptive narcissism doesn't decline as much over time.

[00:33:28] And so, in addition, both adaptive and maladaptive narcissism can be passed on through genes and influenced by your childhood upbringing. There you go. Nature, nurture yes. Yes, indeed. Overt narcissism. And by that, I meant that it's both overt narcissism, also known by several other names, including grandiose narcissism or this type of narcissism is what most people associate with the narcissistic personality. Someone with overt narcissism might come across as outgoing, arrogant, entitled, overbearing, having an exaggerated self-image, needing to be praised and admired, exploitive and lacking empathy. Some research connects over narcissism with the big five personality traits and extroversion and openness. And it also suggests that people with overt narcissism are more likely to feel good about themselves and less likely to experience uncomfortable emotions like sadness, worry or loneliness. And please go look on my virtual couch episodes for HSP highly sensitive person. There is such a correlation on highly since. The people connecting with narcissists and then the nurses telling the highly sensitive person so often to not worry about it. Get over it. It's not a big deal, whatever it is, but the highly sensitive person, that is not the way it works for them. So I feel like these are those traits that just start to really shine or stand out. And people with overt narcissism may also tend to overestimate their own abilities and intelligence.

[00:34:43] One study published in Twenty Eighteen also suggests that overt narcissism might cause somebody to overestimate their own emotional intelligence. That's right. They might. I think that one's check and these are the things where I will go, and I call them things like narcissistic math, where there are times early on, even in my podcast where I might be getting a thousand downloads, I'm like, Yeah, two thousand downloads an episode. So why? Who am I trying to impress? Somebody doesn't even know what the download numbers mean, but then to me, I'm overestimating these abilities are the intelligence or whatever that is. And so in this whole concept of waking up to narcissism, it's been fascinating. I did a whole episode on a thing called the Dunning Kruger effect, which in essence says that the more you think you know, the really the less you know. Now on the surface, that sounds pretty insane. But politicians are pretty famous for Dunning Kruger effect, where take, for example, someone on the campaign trail that go into a coal mining town. This is a real example from a couple of years ago, and they read a paragraph on coal mining and then they go in. I know I got it. I know I can speak to this audience. And then they talk about coal and the importance of coal and coal mining. This and coal mining that and the people that are actual coal miners are thinking this person doesn't know what they're talking about.

[00:35:50] But then to the narcissist, all of a sudden they think I'm in the moment. Matter of fact, they're going to say, you know, I think I could've sworn one of my relatives lived back here in this area. You know what? And then I started telling stories about my, my great great grandpa who mined coal. And and to this day, every time I see a chunk of coal, then I think of my grandpa and then somebody goes and checks and sees that, Hey, your grandpa, he, you know, he washed bottles at a manufacturing facility in Poughkeepsie, totally making all that up. Covert narcissism, also known as vulnerable narcissism and closet narcissism, covert narcissism is the contrast to overt narcissism. While many people think of narcissism as loud and overbearing, trait people with covert narcissism do not fit this pattern. Instead, common traits of somebody with covert narcissism include expressions of low self-esteem, a higher likelihood of experiencing anxiety, depression and shame, introversion, insecurity and low confidence, defensiveness avoidance and a tendency to feel or play the victim. So this is where I go back to that quote as well. So when someone then feels like they are being criticized and they get hit, that shame, that low self-esteem, then they turn inward and then they tend to play the victim in hopes that someone will rescue them. But the biggest problem is they go back to that. Gaslighting is a childhood defense mechanism and this desire for power and oftentimes the covert, the covert narcissist.

[00:37:11] I feel like it's almost like the spider who lures you into their web. You go to help, and all sudden you find out that that doesn't work, so matter. Fact, it makes things worse because they also feed off of that, that victim mentality and the energy that you give them and trying to help and then turn around and gaslight you so you walk away from there feeling bad about trying to help them. So while somebody with covert narcissism will still be very self focused, it's likely to conflict with a deep fear or a sense of not being enough. A study on personality and covert narcissism published in 2017 found that it was most strongly linked to high neuroticism or a tendency to experience unpleasant emotions and agreeableness. Someone with covert narcissism is likely to have a hard time accepting criticism, but unlike a person with overt narcissism, someone with covert narcissism may be more likely to internalize or take in the criticism more harshly than it was intended. So if somebody starting something by saying no offense or they're going to take offense and research suggests the categories of covert and overt narcissism aren't always mutually exclusive. In other words, somebody with overt narcissism might go through a period where they show more signs of covert narcissism. All we got, we got two or three more. We're going to hit this quick.

[00:38:14] I did not mean this episode to go this long antagonistic narcissism. According to some research, antagonistic narcissism is a subtype of overt narcissism. With this aspect, the focus is on rivalry and competition. Some of the features include arrogance, a tendency to take advantage of others, the tendency to compete with others or disagree, ability or openness to arguing. And according to research from Twenty Seventeen about facets of narcissism and forgiveness, those with this antagonistic narcissism reported that they were less likely to forgive others than people with other types of narcissism. People with antagonistic narcissism may also have lower levels of trust in others, according to a study from 2019. Communal narcissism is another type of overt, and it's usually seen as the opposite of antagonistic narcissism, so someone with communal narcissism values fairness and is likely to see themselves as altruistic as all giving. But research published in 2018 suggests there's a gap between these beliefs and the person's behavior. So people with communal narcissism might become easily morally outraged. You see a lot of this in religious narcissism or institutional narcissism from religious organizations describe themselves as being empathetic and generous, but in react to things as they see as unfair. But what? Makes it so interesting is what makes she Courtney lays this out perfectly. What makes communal narcissism different from genuine concern for the well-being of others? The key difference is that for people with communal narcissism, social power and self-importance are still playing major roles because they still are coming from this place of.

[00:39:37] That's the way they feel like they are the special one. Look at my empathy. Look at my concern, look at my leadership capabilities. But yet I will take no ownership of the hypocrisy of my own behavior the way that I act. For example, while communal narcissism might cause you to say and believe you have a strong moral code and care for others, you might not realize that the way you treat others doesn't match up with your beliefs. So you may be preaching this love and empathy as you then gaslight and then take no ownership and make someone feel less than malignant. Narcissism can exist at different levels. This is the last one. Malignant narcissism and malignant narcissism is a far more severe form, and it can cause a lot of problems for the person living with it. Malignant narcissism is more closely connected to overt and covert narcissism. Someone with malignant narcissism may have many common traits of narcissism, like a strong need for praise and to be elevated above others. But in addition, malignant narcissism can show up as vindictiveness, sadism or getting enjoyment from the pain or putting down on others aggression while interacting with other people or a paranoia or heightened worry about potential threats. So somebody with malignant narcissism may also share some traits with antisocial personality disorder. And this means somebody with malignant narcissism could be more likely to experience legal trouble or substance misuse.

[00:40:43] And in a very small study involving people with borderline personality disorder, those with malignant narcissism had a harder time, reducing anxiety and gaining better ability to function in day to day life. So I'm going to read her recap. She says narcissism, whether it's a personality trait or personality disorder, makes relationships more challenging. Amen. Different types of narcissism, whether covert, overt, communal, antagonistic or malignant, can also affect how you see yourself and interact with others. And when it comes to treatment, narcissism can be very tricky because most people living with it don't necessarily feel the need to change. I will add another amen because I get the only time I really get to work with a what then can potentially be a unicorn, as if someone does come in couples therapy and then they are open and they're willing to say, OK, I'm willing to hear you. I'm willing to to to listen or be a little bit of open. And I have to tell you that is really tricky as well. I kept another email up here just in case I had more time. Someone had emailed and said, What if our counselor isn't getting it? They said the podcast seems to come out at the perfect timing for me in my relationship with my wife. We're currently going through marriage counseling and they have a question whatever counselor doesn't appear to be picking up or addressing the spouse's narcissistic tendencies.

[00:41:53] They both are very quick to talk about my co-dependence, but the only thing said about my spouse is inability to take any blame or actually work on the marriages. They can't be forced, which this person says. I obviously agree based on your podcast in their own research, but their biggest fear is that when they are wrong about their wife, their wife's narcissistic behavior, and whether or not they are the narcissist, and they've signed up to see a separate counselor who specializes in narcissistic and codependent relationships. But it does spark interest, and I hope that this podcast in itself is getting is helping with the answers to that. Because if a counselor is not aware or familiar of personality disorders, or I'm going to be super honest because I have a couple of these things going on right now, or I'm noticing that there are a fair amount of clinicians that perhaps go into the helping field to validate themselves. Or so I feel like there's a fair amount of us in the helping profession that have these strong narcissistic tendencies or traits because we get to be the special one that helps other people and tells them what to do, which is absolutely not the way that therapy is supposed to work. Therapy is not a I will tell you what to do. It's a let me learn more about you and let me guide you.

[00:42:59] Let me stand beside you and then walk up to the obstacles in your life and then say, Hey, what do you want to do here? And what are your biggest fears or what are your insecurities? And then let's work with that. It's not a I will weigh in and I will tell you what to do. Bring to me your legal troubles, bring to me your tax questions, bring to me your business ideas, and I will then weigh my I will give my opinion on them. That is not what counseling is about, that that is perhaps a more narcissistic treated counselor or therapist. Again, narcissism can be tricky because many people living with it don't feel the need to change. But living with the narcissism poses its mental health effects, including anxiety, depression. People turn to substance abuse and sometimes the impact of these effects causes the person to reach out for help, which is what I am grateful for, which is what my women's group is for, which is, I think why this podcast is just the reception has been phenomenal. So when someone living with narcissism seeks professional support, there is a lot of potential for growth and improved mental health. But I covered this in, I think, the first episode. The unfortunate part is when the person that is starting to wake up to the narcissist in their life, then they are going to be met with a lot of invalidation.

[00:44:07] Oh, do you think you're smarter than me? Or now you care, or you better not go talk about me? Or there's so many things that now you're more disagreeable, or now you hold on to things more or but no, it's because you are starting to become. Differentiated, and you're starting to recognize I am me and I cannot lose myself, that's not what's best for me, it's not what's best for my kids, my family and my relationship. Am I modeling? And so it's difficult, is it? That can be. That's why there are so many resources like my podcast articles, you name it, just devour the information and know that it's going to take a lot longer than you would like. It's a long process, but you have begun the process. Honestly, if you're even listening to this podcast, stay on it. If you made it this far and you're somebody that's starting to say, Do I have some narcissistic traits or tendencies, then holy cow. Bless your heart. Start doing a deep dove yourself and start to be aware of those things that you are recognizing as that maybe these are some of my narcissistic traits or tendencies and own it. Take ownership of it if you are afraid to just own it to your spouse. Write it down. Try to find somebody that you can talk to about it. Do your own research because I want you to find that that piece it is.

[00:45:22] It is. It is possible to wake up to narcissism, both to your own narcissism or the majority of people listening to this podcast through the narcissist in your life. And that is such a hope of mine. So I'm going to wrap it up. If you have questions, continue to submit them through Tony overbay.com. Go to the contact page if you're interested. If you are a woman interested in joining the group again, it's for people that are in relationships with co-parenting with have been through the wringer with have narcissistic parents bosses. The interaction is amazing and we have group calls every other week and those are just I can't even I can't even tell you how wonderful it is to see people connect. It's not just a complaint to place, it's a place where people feel heard and empowered. And that's what you really need is you wake up to narcissism and whatever those forms are. I need some sort of ending catch phrase, and I feel like that now is the part I need to say, you know, I think, Dr. Laura, you say, go take on the day and I feel like I don't want you to say so. So there's a thing, there's some words, but have an amazing day, and I look forward to hearing from you questions that sort of thing as you wake up to narcissism. I didn't really feel like my heart was in that one. All right. We'll see you next time.

One of the most frustrating things after "Waking up to Narcissism" is trying to explain your relationship struggles to friends, co-workers, or family members who haven't experienced narcissistic forms of abuse (emotional, financial, spiritual, etc.). Many people in these situations find themselves almost wishing their emotional abuser would physically abuse them because "at least people would understand why I would leave." But the emotional wounds and scars run deep, and on most occasions, don't heal properly without a lot of work.

In today's episode, Tony describes his "Death by a thousand cuts" theory when talking about narcissistic patterns of abuse. A thousand paper cuts can still lead to someone "bleeding out," yet each individual paper cut appears insignificant on its own. Tony reads examples from his private women's group of examples of "Death by a thousand cuts." You can submit your questions, comments, or request to join the group through the contact form on http://tonyoverbay.com.

#narcissism #narcissist #therapy #virtualcouch #wakinguptonarcissism #tonyoverbay #tonyoverbayquote #quote #podcast #podcasting #acceptancecommitmenttherapy #motivation #coach #addictionrecovery #happiness #behappy #mentalhealth #wellness #recovery #selfcare #anxiety #relax #mindfulness #happy #depression #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthmatters #psychology #MadeWithDescript #DescriptPro

Tony tackles the intricacies of the narcissistic trauma bond. For many, the harder you try to find your voice or to separate yourself from the narcissists in your life, the more difficult it becomes, which only makes the bond more challenging to break. Tony references the article "Trauma Bonding - Why You Can't Stop Loving the Narcissist." https://broxtowewomensproject.org.uk/trauma-bonding/

#therapy #virtualcouch #wakinguptonarcissism #tonyoverbay #tonyoverbayquote #quote #podcast #podcasting #acceptancecommitmenttherapy #motivation #coach #addictionrecovery #narcissism #happiness #behappy #mentalhealth #wellness #recovery #selfcare #anxiety #relax #mindfulness #happy #depression #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthmatters #psychology #MadeWithDescript #DescriptPro

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

[00:00:00] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode five of the Waking Up to Narcissism podcast, I'm your host, Tony Overbay, and I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and podcast host of the virtual couch. And I'm in private practice somewhere in Northern California, but I just want to jump in and I have so much content to cover today. I want to talk about a trauma bond, what a trauma bond is. And we're going to get to that. But I have some things I want to do up front. First, if anybody happens to be in the Salt Lake area and are interested, I'm going to be speaking at a leading Saints live event from one to five p.m. on October the 16th. And you can go to leading St. Paul Tony in Utah, or you can go find my Facebook page. Tony Overbay licensed marriage and family therapist or the virtual couch account on Instagram, and I will post more about that. But that's that's going to be exciting. It's interesting because I have four hours to cover so much material, and the host, Kurt Frankel, has asked me to cover narcissism in ecclesiastical and ecclesiastical settings. So maybe in religious leadership. So that's going to be one of the many things I'm going to try to get to. I told him I'm going to try to solve all the world's problems there because I've got four hours to do so. That's October 16th, and I also wanted to just touch on a couple of the emails.

[00:01:23] Oh, and make mention of contact me. There are a lot of emails. I'm almost overwhelmed with the amount of emails, but I don't stop. I'm looking for more examples of gaslighting. You can ask questions. I want to get to question and answer episodes. And I know I keep saying this that coming up down the road. But I have a couple of authors, one of a new book on narcissism that it's going to come on. But the real thing I'm looking forward to, I'm still trying to figure out how to do this. Behind the scenes is bringing on people that are currently in relationships with have been through relationships with people that are struggling with narcissistic personality disorder or narcissistic tendencies. And there's a lot more there if people are involved in divorces, if people are a lot of people get frustrated and angry and they want, they do want their story to be told. But then when they step back, they think, OK, if my kids hear this down the road or my community. So we're just working out some of the the finer points, but we're going to get real people, real examples, and I think that's going to be pretty fascinating. But for now, I have so many emails of examples of gaslighting, but not just people saying, Hey, here's some gaslighting, but most people are sending emails and they're asking questions like this, and this is the latest one that I received.

[00:02:32] So it was actually last night and so I didn't actually get a chance to respond and say, Are you cool if I share some of this? So I'll change up some of the things. But I think this is one of the most interesting parts or points of the type of email I receive at the end, she says. I'm one of those people and I'm not sure if I have rose colored goggles on or if I'm the problem. I feel like for the most part, I'm a very secure and hardworking person. I've dealt with this for, say I'll say, over 20 years, and it's actually improved somewhat. I think that's kind of a key. We'll get to that today on this episode about trauma bonding. And she said, I always try to replace situations of what I think a normal marriage would look like or how a husband would and should react in similar situations. And she said, I feel I'm so far down this road that I have no idea. And she says just some key things here, she said. Also, my parents divorced when I was young and my mom didn't remarry until I moved out, so it's hard for me to go by example. And so I just want you to know person who emailed me and will read a little bit more from this to that. You're asking all the right questions. And one of the things that I think is significant is when she said that she didn't know what that would look like, that she's so far down this road that she has no idea.

[00:03:40] And that's a concept that I think is why I'm so drawn to this work and working with or helping people navigate those relationships with people that may have these personality disorders because you don't know what you don't know. And a lot of the people that find themselves in these relationships, and I covered this on a previous episode are the pathologically kind people. There are a lot of times highly sensitive people, people that have grown up and have maybe been in this type of a home as well. So they have already grown up trying to read the room and feel the energy or the empathy in the room and knowing how to show up so that they can keep the peace or be the peacekeepers. So then they may find themselves in these relationships. This is part of that human magnet syndrome with some of these people that are very strong willed, very domineering, there's a lot of possibly love bombing. At first, the person shows up as this amazing knight in shining armor that the this person wants to marry or wants to be a part of or in that relationship because they may have seen that modeled by their own parent, whether it's their mom or their dad, that just ultra confident person that they can feel like they are safe or secure.

[00:04:54] But then there are all these times where their parent most likely didn't take ownership of anything or. We didn't model the my bad or I'm sorry, but there was a lot of the ignoring culpability of situations or ignoring of taking responsibility and oftentimes pushing it off on kids or spouse or you guys, you guys are driving me crazy or you're making me feel like this is what I had to do. So oftentimes the children have grown up seeing a model of parents that don't take ownership or responsibility and that often do put off the the responsibility of their actions onto those in their family, whether it's their spouse or their kids. So I appreciate that this reader, this writer, said that she doesn't know if she really knows what a healthy relationship looks like. So when I'm trying to teach people about my four pillars of a connected conversation or to be heard is to be healed or any of these concepts, I realized over the years that a lot of times I met with a blank stare because it's as if I'm telling just this fairy tale. And then the people are waiting in my office for me to be done with my fairy tale story, so then they can get back to trying to tell me that their spouse is the crazy one. And wouldn't you agree? And can you just tell them to knock it off and get back to doing the things that that they used to do so that then the controlling person in the room can feel better? Ok, we're good again.

[00:06:16] And just like this email I started with today, not sure if I am if I have rose colored goggles on or if I'm the problem. And so you don't have rose colored goggles on or if you do their goggles of kindness and you're trying to do all you can to to help and to preserve a marriage, when in reality, the tool that we need to help with are those five things I talked about of some nice self-care raising your emotional baseline, getting your PhD and gaslighting, disengaging from productive conversations and setting boundaries and recognizing that there isn't anything that you will say or do that will cause that aha moment or that epiphany. But the more that you put these other things in place and then set these boundaries and then can stay present when your I just want to say for right now, when you're a narcissist and reacts and we talked about that, I think in episode two, when they start to say, Oh my gosh, you won't let things go or you're so angry, or they start pushing all the buttons to get you to react, and that's hard, and that's scary. But as you stay present with that, then that is what we'll start to shift the dynamic and the more clarity that you can have. That's where we need to be.

[00:07:16] If you are going to start to see some change in the relationship, I feel so bad. I'm twenty seven minutes in and I haven't talked about the trauma bond, but I am going to talk about the trauma bond. This is not going to be like that narcissistic apology where I just draw this out for a few days or a few episodes. So I'm going to go right to article and I'll send I'll put a link to this in, the show notes. It looks like it's from the UK, but it's the Broxton women's project because I've done a few episodes on trauma bonding or one episode on the virtual couch I've been interviewed about at a time or two, and I felt like this is a really good article. And so I'm going to do, I think, what the kids call reaction video these days because I'm gonna do a lot of reading, so I'm going to take no credit for the reading of this, but then I'll comment on it along the way. So trauma bonding, why you can't stop loving the narcissists? They say trauma bonding makes you psychologically addicted to your abuser. This explains why trying to stop contact and feel like you're coming off of a drug. And the article doesn't have a I'm just so I'm just going to say they it doesn't have a specific author's name, but they say that survivors and perpetrators of domestic abuse often form trauma bonds, whereby they both become emotionally hooked into the relationship.

[00:08:22] This can make it extremely difficult for the survivor to unlock herself and escape from the abuse trauma. Bonding happens when an abuser provides the survivor with intermittent rewards and punishments. So in that scenario, a psychological conditioning develops. So the survivor becomes snared into the relationship, and they're just hopeful of the next reward or. And I think this is such a key point or a reprieve of the suffering. So when I'm working with people and they will often say, No, no, no, he's not that bad, there's good times that they find themselves craving those good times. So they are they become willing to deal with the bad times and they start to find any way that they can to try to get back to those good times. Basically, if you're looking at it from a concept of like addiction, they'll do anything to get that next fix, even lose their sense of self or buffer what he's saying from the kids, or make sure the kids are being calm or whatever that looks like in order to get that man. Hopefully, then he'll be nice. And there are so many times that I'm working with with someone in this scenario. And again, I'll just go with if I'm working with a woman in this situation where she'll say now was good week and I'll say, OK, why tell me why it was good? And I'm almost laughing of some of the people I've worked with.

[00:09:33] I know they know where I'm going with next. But was it that it was nice or that you had these connected conversations or that this person really said, Man, I don't know. You tell me who you are, how you know we need to connect? Or is it that there was an absence of being mean? And so if that's the case, life is not about or relationships are not about an absence of being mean. The norm is being nice and then having some incredible connected moments. It's not. Hoping that there isn't a blowup and trying to manage that situation, so then it is a good week, nobody freaked out. He didn't blow up on me. So these powerful emotional bonds, this is so wild, powerful emotional bonds develop that are extremely resistant to change. Trauma bonding involves cycles of abuse following an abusive incident or a series of incidents. Perpetrators will often offer a kind gesture to try and recover the situation, and a period of relative peace can follow before tensions start to rebuild, and the abuse inevitably starts again. So abuse that can be that can mean a lot of things can be a triggering word and with trauma bonding. We often talk about emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, financial abuse. So there are a lot of different types of abuse. So the spiritual abuse is one that I work with in my realm quite a bit where if somebody feels uncomfortable, then they will.

[00:10:50] If they feel really uncomfortable, sometimes they will just say that God told them to tell their spouse that they're doing something wrong. And that can be really that can that can be highly manipulative. It can. I have to tell you I was. There's a podcast called Hidden True Crime, talking about the Chad and Lori Daybell case, which I'm just fascinated by. And they were sharing at one point that that Chad Daybell's wife, Lori, who unfortunately rest in peace. She died along this process, and you can go check out the material on that case. It's it's so sad. But they were sharing that there was a time where she, Lori, really enjoyed playing a game on her phone and rather than Chad having the four pillars of a connected conversation and say, Hey, I'm noticing you're playing the game and tell me more about that. And are you? Are you feeling off or depressed or what do you like about the game on this podcast? They talked about that. He said that her grandmother had visited him and told him to tell her to not play the game. And I look at things like that as spiritual abuse of that abuse of power. And back to this article. Braxton Women's Project survivors will try their best not to anger their partner and to do everything expected of them that remember how loving their partner, Cannon was in the early days of their relationship or hoping for the return of that behavior.

[00:12:01] And they think they just need to work out what they are doing wrong to bring back the loving part of their relationship. And it won't occur to them that the loving gestures were always manipulative and never genuine, their partner being incapable of real love. Those are strong words, but I think they're very well said and I could do so many episodes or examples on that part. Where do everything expected of them, which that alone, that phrase expected of them? That's not a real relationship. You are a human being showing up in a relationship with your own unique gifts, talents and abilities just as your spouse is. So the unhealthy relationship is the what? What do I need to do for them? Not what can I do? What can he do? And as we do these things together, we edify each other. A one plus one is three type of energy. And then this part is hoping to return to that behavior. They think they need to work out what they're doing wrong to bring back that loving part of the relationship. And that part, I will see people when then the relationship, let's say it breaks apart or they're heading toward divorce, that the trauma bonded spouse will so often say, If I would have done more of this, even if they say, OK, see where things are now. If I would have treated his his my stepdaughter nicer, then things probably would have worked out better.

[00:13:13] And man, I just say, Boy, bless your heart for trying to find a way that you could have changed this dynamic. But had you then done everything quote, you were expected with this stepdaughter. Then there would have been something else, and that would have been something else. So it's this never ending just rabbit hole of things that you would not have been doing wrong because the whole point is the gaslighter, the narcissist. The manipulator is not willing to take ownership of their own things. So rather than just say, Oh my gosh, you're right, I'm not being very kind. I'm not being fair. I'm not taking accountability. They're able to say, Well, if you would have done this, the whole thing would have been different and you'll run into a consistent pattern of that. This article what I love about it, it just has these quotes throughout that are just so spot on. This says trauma bonding feels like you've broken me into pieces, but you're the only one who can fix me. That one's deep. This is the person that you can then come up with examples in your head of where you turn to them for for love or for connection. So then they are the ones that have broken you into pieces and then you want to go to them for for healing. So you do whatever you can to try to get that relationship back to a place so that you feel safer, that they will hear you.

[00:14:24] Trauma bonding has similarities with Stockholm Syndrome, where people have held captive, develop feelings of trust and affection toward their captors. Both Trauma Bonding and Stockholm Syndrome are survival strategies that developed to help survive and emotionally or physically dangerous situation, and women will hold on to toxic and abusive relationships and become more vulnerable to trauma bonding for a lot of reasons. And they go into a couple of those that I think are spot on and go a little bit toward the way the email that I started with today. Survivors who were raised in abusive households are more vulnerable to trauma bonding. And again, let's look at abuse that could be emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, financial abuse, any of the. An abusive relationship. An abusive relationship may seem more normal or acceptable to them, and this is one of the reasons why it's so important for parents to model healthy relationships to their children, which we're going to touch on that down the road when people do finally feel like this is not good for me. They will often say, I need to stay in the relationship for the kids, but we'll get to some data down the road that shows that if you are modeling an unhealthy relationship and that relationship is more likely to then move into the next generation, your kids. If your kids don't see you being able to have a voice or to do things that you love or to feel confident, then I believe that isn't what is best as a modeling form for the kids.

[00:15:42] Because then they grow up saying, I thought that was normal. I thought that was the way that relationships just worked. Women raised with abuse will also be likely to have lower self-esteem with less expectations of being treated respectfully, being in the abusive relationship will further damage self-esteem, sometimes to the point that the woman will believe she deserves the abuse she's being subjected to. The abuse becomes her norm. Despite it making her feel deeply and happy. She may stop aspiring to anything better and she doesn't feel worthy of love. And the longer the survivor remains with the narcissistic abuser, the more difficult it is to break the trauma bond. There is so much in that paragraph it's and I hate continuing to say we'll get to all these things down the road, but we could break that thing down. The five part series Trauma, Fear and Abandonment actually increase feelings of attachment. And this is this one is this is where people say, why? Why can't I leave even when I know what's going on? It's because of these all of these different factors that we're talking about today in the trauma bond. The nice person is wanting this approval, wanting to go to the very person that's hurt me to then try to make sense of everything.

[00:16:44] And so the more that one does this, then it will increase those feelings of attachment because you are so desperate to find those moments of connection, not knowing that that's not the norm or the real healthy way to be in a relationship in general. So again, trauma, fear and abandonment actually increase feelings of attachment. The more you have been hurt by him, the more intensely attached you will be. Trauma bonds are hard to break, but even harder to live with. Women and trauma bonds will tend to blame themselves for their partner's abusive behavior. She will agree with him when he tells her that she shouldn't cope with that. She couldn't cope without him, that she's not really good enough, that she's made him angry and that he wouldn't need to punish her if she tried harder. She'd also make excuses for his abuse. He had a difficult childhood. His mother didn't love him, so it's understandable why he gets angry. And she'll think that if she can stop being stupid or try harder or show more affection or intimacy or never doubt him, then things will be fine. But again, that's because anything that she is doing that he then takes as criticism, which ends up being most everything. Then he will do anything to defend that fragile ego, and that is then pointing the blame outward. And who is the number one target? It is the spouse. And if the spouse isn't around, it can be the children or it's going to be the idiots at church or the stupid neighbor, that guy on the road or whatever it is, never him.

[00:18:02] If she does manage to break free from the trauma bond, the abuser will commonly revert to the courtship phase to win her back, and she will be very vulnerable to his efforts. And think about now why as we lay it out this way, because that's what she wanted. She wants that guy who's nice and it was nice at the beginning and who she wants. He's had these dreams. I want to be able to grow old with him on the beach. I want this to be the way that our life is. Oh my gosh, now he's being nice. I think he gets it. And I hear that in my office so often and my job is to meet the client where they're at. I call them rule outs. So it's OK. No, I hear you. I will often say I want to share that. I worry that that he just found a new button to push and that this isn't who he is at his core. So then I call it a shelf life, so we'll see. Is it a week? Is it two weeks where then he just says, OK, we're good, right? And goes back to whatever he was doing before or then he says, OK, you didn't tell me that you were unhappy again. I thought everything was great.

[00:18:52] It's been a week. And so that what is he doing? Putting it on her, put it on her to you need to tell me this is on you now. Again, how crazy is that? How fascinating. So the more she reaches out to the abuser for love recognition and approval, the more the trauma bond is strengthened. This also means that she'll stay in the relationship when the abuse escalates, perpetuating the destructive cycle. Because he's the one abusing her and making her feel terrible. She will often see him as the only person able to validate her and make her feel OK again. Trauma bond this next quote Although the survivor might disclose the abuse, the trauma bond means she also may seek to receive comfort from the very person who abused her. And it's really difficult to watch that in a couple's therapist setting to see someone have that light bulb moment or that aha moment and then want, why want something different? But then he OK, he's going to be a little bit nicer. No, no, no. It's OK. I think it's OK, or they feel so. It's so scary because of what we talked about and one of those previous episodes of if all of a sudden she's like, No, I'm going to have a voice, I'm not going to just give in. Then it oftentimes, then that will amp up the the tension in the relationship. And so it can cause the the kind person to go back and say, No, you know what? I know I'm better equipped now.

[00:20:02] I think things are going to be different. And sometimes that can take honestly a year. So it really can take years for a person to then wake up to this narcissism and then know what to do with that. And I want to say, and I should do this more throughout the episodes. I do that if you are the partner because I've also had some really cool emails from the men in these relationships that are saying, OK, no, I listened and yeah, I hear you. I don't want to call it narcissism, either. Such labels with narcissism, but they say, OK, maybe at some pride, maybe it's my ego. But but it's still difficult or fine. I might have some of these tendencies, but now what do I do with them? And so I love that. I really do. But that doesn't mean that then the spouse who has been feeling unheard or unloved then just says, no, no, now's the time to do the work to find maybe a good individual. Therapist help you raise your emotional baseline or find a good couple's therapist who knows the concepts of something like emotionally focused therapy. What what I love, who can then help you give you a framework of how to communicate? I'm going to run through these real quick and then we're done. Escaping from a trauma bond is notoriously difficult. Professional help is often needed.

[00:21:06] The following steps can help liberate the survivor from this destructive relationship. If possible, this can be really difficult, but they stay physically separate from the abuser. It's essential, and although this can be difficult, it's invariably easier than emotional separation. And this is just the concept of where if over the years, that person, even though this trauma bond, even though there are times and you desperately want to love them or you try to love them, or you worry about what's wrong with you. But if they are the two of you together, if your cortisol levels are flowing high so that you are in your fight or flight response constantly, then they are triggered. You're triggered even just by being in the same room, then a physical separation can often be one of the best things. But then, boy, still, that's where I feel like you really do need professional help. That sounds like I'm saying, Boy, are you crazy? I'm not. But I'm saying then that physical separation can get you out of that fight or flight. But then unfortunately, now is where the logical brain will try to kick back in. But your pathological kindness will cause you to first go to the Oh my gosh, what did I just do? He must be feeling so hurt, and all of this is hard to say this next part at times. But bless your heart for thinking that you do understand how he feels. But that's actually the problem that has gotten you in.

[00:22:15] The situation that you're in is that you have been so worried about how he feels, what he must be going through that that is why you react the way you often do to the gaslighting or the emotional or spiritual or financial abuse. So this is a time for you to again raise your emotional baseline and show up as confident as you can be to be able to still express yourself because that's the relationship that you need and you deserve. The second thing they suggest is if you can cut off lines of communication as far as possible, and they say this can be made almost impossible if you share children, have a restricting communication to just email, for instance, or through a third party for child care. Related matters might be possible. And here's another one we'll talk about this down the road. I know how that can be really difficult, but a lot of times people, it's OK to set a boundary of I'm going to communicate through text or email because the phone calls can hearing the voice can immediately then cause that fight or flight response. And then you're prey to the gaslighting or the manipulation and at the end of that phone call. I wanted to say all these things, but I didn't, and I just ended up saying, OK, no, you're right, which is not where we want to go. The third one, and I really like this the way they put this, acknowledge you have a choice and can choose to leave the relationship because I I say so often acceptance does not mean empathy.

[00:23:28] If you accept the fact that you can leave, it doesn't mean an all or nothing thought of OK, but accepting the fact you can leave, then that allows you and they put this really well when choices acknowledge you can gain control and drive your destiny with less vulnerability to further abuse. So I always say that when you accept the fact that you could leave, then you're not continually looking for. Should I leave? Should I not leave? Wait, what if he just said that? Nice things I probably shouldn't, right? Or asking the people around you and dealing with the psychology of the peanut gallery because they don't really know what you're going through. So just accept the fact that no, what if I need to I can in that way, then you are able to be more present with your self care and in trying to figure out or communicate the best way to interact with with your the person with the narcissistic traits, self-reflection will enable you to understand how your character traits and vulnerabilities played a part in this codependent bond. Being abused is never your fault. Grateful that they said that. However, there may be aspects of your personality that made you more susceptible to this type of abuse, and that's where we talk about that kindness or that empathy or giving someone the benefit of the doubt.

[00:24:29] The quote that I almost misread that I talked about, I think in our last episode that I really think about often is it's in a podcast I did a long time ago on the virtual couch talking about narcissists or sociopaths and psychopaths. Oh my, altogether. But the quote says narcissists and sociopaths are extremely good. Sniffing out trusting vulnerable people who tend to see the good in others. So thus they can be very difficult for quote nice people to spot until the offender has reaped tremendous and undeniable havoc. Relatedly, because people tend to view others as subscribing to a generally accepted moral code such as that lying and harming others is wrong. Even an otherwise savvy person can work hard to find a good reason why somebody is acting off, rather than identifying problem personalities and behaviors for what they are and feelings of anger and distrust or fear about what we quote know about a loved one will cause a lot of distress, otherwise known as cognitive dissonance. So as a result, most of us wind up resolving the cognitive dissonance by reinterpreting facts that feel at odds with what we need and what we want to believe about somebody so that I think that just becomes such an important part of the learning about your own character traits or what got you into this relationship. So that's that self-reflection, what worked out a few more of these that they list work out what hooked you into this abusive relationship? Was it a fantasy or illusion or a perfect future? Was that your partner convinced you that he'd meet some deep felt need? Were you hoping he would make up for something you felt you were lacking and learn about the character traits of narcissistic abusers is this will help you understand what happened to you so you're less susceptible to future abusive relationships? Again, we'll cover that one down the road.

[00:25:59] Your picker is not broken because you're starting to wake up to what's going on, so you will be in a much better place. And again, we'll cover a lot of that down the road, develop a support network of professionals, friends and trusted family who will actively, positively and compassionately support you to recover from the trauma bond. Domestic abuse is an isolating experience, but prioritizing social connections is vital for recovery. The narcissistic abuse or relationships? Often there's a phrase called sequestering, just like when you sequester a jury and they have no interactions with anyone else, the person will also be sequestered. You know, you better not talk about this with your sister or hope you're not airing our dirty laundry to anyone, but you need to. That is that is sequestering. That is part of it. Sounds harsh, but the emotional abuse, because you're human, you can you can communicate with who you need to communicate with, and that's part of being an adult.

[00:26:47] And so if you are being, I then again say you can have love or control in a relationship and not both in an adult relationship, but that's maybe a good time. I think I was going to mention this at the beginning. I didn't. But do please reach out to me through the Tony over the contact section, and we've figured out a really nice way to open up the support group that I have for women who are maybe in these relationships trying to navigate through these relationships or looking for support after post relationships with narcissistic individuals, make decisions that support your self care, be self compassionate, both physically and emotionally. Don't berate yourself or quote mistakes. See recovery work as part of progress, and it's part of your journey. Live in the present notice how you're feeling now if you're still in the relationship notice. How trapped you feel. Notice how scared and unloved you feel. Notice how you've compromised your self-worth in the relationship. Stop hoping for things to be better in the future. But notice how you're feeling now, except that sadness and realize that you it's OK to grieve the end of an intensive and abusive relationship. Don't expect to feel better right away or too soon, but have confidence that better times will come. And I think honestly, that's where something like a support group or working with a professional really helps. Write a list of what you'd refuse to tolerate in a relationship.

[00:27:57] For example, I will not be intimate with someone who calls me names or I refuse to be questioned every time I go out. All right. Well, where would I like? Or I will not have conversations with someone when I feel desperate or obsessive and then start planning your future free from your abusive partner. Make life affirming, positive choices for your future. I think we'll wrap it up right there, and I really just appreciate the support again of the podcast. Reach out if you are interested in joining that support group and please continue to send me your questions. And just again, I will stop right here because I could not be more grateful or just feel blessed for the people who are sending in emails just saying that they finally feel heard or understood. Because I really, I do. I hear you, I see you, and you are going to get through this whatever stage of this year, just start. Just start devouring this data again. There's no scarcity mindset from those of us that are in the helping profession that sometimes you need to hear a lot of things from a lot of people to really make sense of things. And so I hope that this is just one of those voices. So have an amazing day week and then say, I'll see you next time on the virtual couch, but you can go look at the virtual couch as well. But I'll talk to you next week. Ok, bye.

Today we tackle why good people look for reasons their narcissist is acting off rather than accepting the situation for what it may be. Plus, Tony describes four types of gaslighting. Please submit your questions as well as your gaslighting examples through the contact form at http://tonyoverbay.com

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

[00:00:00] Hey, everybody. Welcome to episode four of Waking Up the Narcissism, I'm your host, Tony Overbay. And let's dove right in. I would love to encourage you to continue to send your examples questions. Anything that is on your mind through the contact form at Tonyoverbay.com have been compiling all of that on one Google document. And I have to tell you, I think we're up to about 13 or 14 pages single space. So that is to say that the feedback has been overwhelming, and I wanted to highlight just a few things with regard to feedback, just because I want you to know that there is comfort in numbers. I know that that doesn't bring resolution. But the what I'm hearing is just hear some examples. Just I've listened to the podcast several times with tears running down my face. Thanks for spreading awareness to so many people trapped, abused, confused and secure and uncertain. What's real? Listening to your podcast was shocking. I could have sat in your office chair in my life that became the foundation of your podcast or someone saying, I just listen to the first episode. It's absolutely mind blowing. This is my life. I've been married for this many years with my spouse. We have kids together. Everything you said in the first episode is my life. It's scary. I'm looking forward to listening, but but also scared and and I imagine that I can understand that that's going to be the feeling a lot I had someone else talking about.

[00:01:19] They were in the midst of grieving this idealized relationship with their parents and now recognizing the narcissism. And just this person in particular said they never paused a podcast to look up. The author tracked down the contact info and contact them just to say thank you. So I'm just grateful that people are finding a little bit of comfort and just knowing that they're not alone. Another another one says, Oh gosh, episode two had me, especially when you were talking about the emails you were talking about. They said, this person said that they've been going to couples therapy. It's just gone really bad. They feel broken. At this moment. Their spouse feels like they're being selfish and that he's been stonewalling them between sessions. And so it's just so I'm so grateful that people are finding comfort and understanding that it really just is not them. They're not alone. And there's also, if I do just a search for the word crazy in the emails, that's there's it's used often someone saying here, they say that there are times that their spouse and them, they feel like they're just roommates, then they would love for their relationship to be better. And in this particular instance, this this person who submitted the email said that talking about their husband, he literally said, I'm sorry you feel that way, but then walk away. And she said, if I don't ask questions in a certain way, then he won't answer me and it'll either be quiet or he'll say that I don't understand what you're saying and the latter one, because then if she clarifies better what she means.

[00:02:47] But now, if it's in a judgmental way, then he says that she's phrasing the question wrong and then he'll rarely talk to her. But here was one of the big keys is that she said she can count on her hand how many times that he has inquired about her personally. But then what breaks my heart is this next line and again, the word crazy. I can find that in the emails that people are sending me, she says, Am I crazy? I feel crazy. Sometimes rarely is is anything his fault, and he almost always has to be right. However, with that said, I still feel like most of the hard parts of our relationship are my fault. Why can't I be OK with the way things are? And she said, I just it's I don't like when he put such a negative light because he really is a good person. I know I'm not perfect, and that's the part that again just breaks my heart and I wanted to address that. There's a quote from an article that I included. There's a virtual couch episode on this, and it was one about psychopaths versus sociopaths. And so it's a little bit of a hidden gem at the end of that one, and it's from an article called Narcissist or Sociopath.

[00:03:45] The similarities, the differences in the signs. This is back from Twenty Sixteen, a Psychology Today article, but this quote has just stuck with me for so long, and they talk about it. The narcissist or the sociopath are both extremely good, or they have a sixth sense for spotting the right people to manipulate. And I do believe it's a subconscious thing. It's not as if they are out there just wanting to prey on someone. It's just that's the person that they find is the person that will engage with them, the person who will fall victim to the love bombing. But here's what this this article says it says narcissists and sociopaths are extremely good at sniffing out trusting vulnerable people who tend to see the good in others. Thus, they can be very difficult for nice people to spot until the offender has wreaked tremendous and undeniable havoc. And relatedly, because people tend to view others as subscribing to a generally accepted moral code such as that lying and harming others is wrong. Even an otherwise savvy person can work hard to find the good reason why somebody is acting off, rather than identifying problem personalities and behaviors for what they are. And I'll go on about that in a little bit. But boy, I tried to read that as slow as I can, just because there's so much there. That nice people, it's very difficult for a nice person who's willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt to then call someone out on their gaslighting or the inconsistencies of their story, even if they are very confident that what they're seeing is a lie.

[00:05:16] And so the next part of that quote, relatedly, because people tend to view others as subscribing to a generally accepted moral code and that one in itself, we tend to think that people see life through the same lens that we do. And I was speaking at an event a few nights ago and and I'll just tell a quick story. There were a few years ago I used to run around a track in my local town for 24 hours to raise money for schools and for kids and those sort of things. And the first year that I was running this race, I had never ran the race before, and it was an all new experience or it wasn't a race, but it was running around the track for 24 hours. And so I didn't exactly. I had a million bananas and gels and hydration, and every time I run around the track, I'm saying to my wife, How am I doing? And she's saying, You know, you're doing great, you're doing better than you think. And I ended up having some, some struggles, some challenges, some issues ended up making it through. We raised a lot of money for the community.

[00:06:08] I think that first year ran about 111 miles. And afterward I was I was sharing notes with my wife and I kind of just said, Hey, when you would tell me you're doing awesome or you're doing better than you think. How did you know that? And and I loved it because she just said something to the effect this was years ago, but something like, well, it was the first time we're doing it. I mean, you're doing it, you were doing it as well as you could do it. And I think about that often of you're going through this life for the first time, you're going through that marriage or that awareness or awakening to narcissism for the first time. And so how would you not think that other people are ascribing to the same beliefs or that that we all see things through a similar lens? That's normal, that's human. There's nothing wrong with you for thinking that we're all kind of seeing things similar in that same vein. And this presentation earlier this week, I also talked about how what's fascinating is that you can have two people stand side by side and have them see the same thing. So you've got the same input, but then have them literally in that very moment, write down what they saw. And it's going to be two completely different outputs. And so it can be that simple that we're we're just experiencing things for the first time it at any given moment.

[00:07:23] And then we're also then bringing in that input and then our output is going to be different. So everyone is going to be different. But this is where I want to tell you the narcissist, the sociopath, the psychopath. They're they're coming from a completely different place, and it sounds like I'm being mean or judgmental. But part of the reason I was excited to do this podcast is I just need to at this point say that's it's we just need to accept that because again, as I covered in earlier episodes, this comes from some deep childhood wounding. We got some nature and some nurture going on. And so when somebody is worked from a, you know, when they've started operating from a mindset of that, they can literally never be wrong or that will be abandonment and abandonment equals death, then, especially when you're going through that in your youth, where again, every kid is already a little egotistical, narcissistic being just because they're a kid. But then with the right modeling, with the right people, parenting them well with people that they in their in their immediate sphere of influence are taking ownership of their behaviors or actions or apologizing for things. So if you see that behavior and you have that secure attachment with your parents, with your, with your friends, with those around you, you're going to grow from self-centered to self-confident. But if you are self-centered to begin with, which again, we all are as little kids because the world revolves around us, because that's just the way that that life works.

[00:08:52] But if you don't have that modeling, if you don't have that example, if the people in your life have haven't taken ownership for their behaviors or they are a bit absentee or so many other factors, then that person goes from self-centered to self-centered. So that's where it can feel like you're arguing at times with a with a 10 year old boy or a 10 year old girl, so to speak. And the reason I go into that is because now fast forward 20, 30, 40 years where that person has been on that pathway. You've been on a completely different one and you're now let's say that you're on the West Coast and you're describing the beach in the ocean, and there's somewhere in the middle of Kansas talking about a cornfield. And so you're you're even talking about two completely different things. The the problem I don't want to frame is a problem, but the problem is you get to realize, Oh my gosh, they're talking about Kansas and they're saying, I don't even know what you're talking about. Like, that's ridiculous. You know, all I see in front of me is cornfields and wheat. And so and they'll convince you of that to the point where all of a sudden you're sitting there looking out at the ocean and you're thinking, Hey, my, is this even real? You know, or because they're pretty convincing.

[00:10:01] So when you look at it that way, I go back to this quote because people tend to view others as subscribing to a generally accepted moral code, such as that lying and harming others is wrong, then a otherwise savvy person is working hard to find the good reason why somebody is acting off rather than identifying the problem personalities and behaviors for what they are. And I remember the first time I read that quote, even in this episode, I just moved past that that lying and harming others is wrong, but it's real. I mean, I have worked with clients who have been sat across from their spouse in a court case and watched their spouse, their narcissistic spouse, lie to the judge, lie to the jury. I've been in court cases where I have testified on behalf of a client in a getting out of a relationship with with the narcissistic person and and that that narcissist has is just openly lied in court. But it's because they're just not going to ever be wrong because being wrong is abandonment and abandonment equals death. And the hard part is that they typically surrounded themselves with people that eventually just give in or acquiesce or just say, OK, I guess that's the way it is that then they're assuming that the judge is going to do that. Their attorneys are going to do that.

[00:11:14] There's there's fascinating data that shows how often that a narcissist even going through, let's say, a legal proceeding changes their attorney. Why? Because they know more than their attorney. So when their attorney doesn't agree to do what they tell them to do, then they say, OK, well, you don't get it, you're fired. And then they eventually find, I mean, I'm over generalizing, trust me, because I'm sick. Then they eventually find an attorney who says, OK, hey, it's your money. I'll say what you want me to say. So and then what does that do? It just becomes more of this echo chamber of they get that validation. And so the next part of this quote is pretty interesting, too. So then feelings of anger, distrust, distrust or fear about what we quote know about a loved one is going to cause us great distress, otherwise known as cognitive dissonance. So as a result, then most of us wind up resolving this cognitive dissonance by reinterpreting the facts that feel at odds with what we need and want to believe about somebody. So what does that mean? So we've already talked about how nice people are are in these relationships. We talked about that last episode. I think this human Magna syndrome, the pathologically kind, meet the pathological narcissist, and that does create this unfortunate, you know, this trauma bond, this human magnet syndrome. And now the nice person believes that that person that they're married to must be operating at least from a similar moral code.

[00:12:39] So then, even if they watch their spouse lie, then they think there's got to be a reason. Maybe he's just tired. Maybe he's just stressed. Maybe it is because I'm not doing what he wants me to do, but that's not the case. You know, so now all of a sudden, the nice person is working hard to find the good reason why somebody acting off rather than recognizing this pattern or this problem personality or the behavior for what it is. So now now they feel anger or they don't trust them or they fear what the person across from them is saying or doing. And that causes distress. It causes us to feel this cognitive dissonance. I don't like what I'm feeling and what I'm seeing because it's different than what I want to believe. And so our brain needs to make sense of things. So then at that point, we are going to resolve that cognitive dissonance by reinterpreting the facts that feel at odds with what we need, what we need and we want to believe about somebody. We're going to start creating a narrative that it must be all these other external factors. You know, again, maybe stressed or hungry or tired or, you know, we're not having enough sex or whatever it is. And then what does that do? Now, all of a sudden, now I can even internalize it because I'm the nice person.

[00:13:48] So now I can say, Man, it must be me, it really must be me. But but then when we talked about this on this, this women's group last night, what an amazing call. And a lot of people have reached out and have asked about joining this, this group, and please feel free to reach out and contact me. And it was such a powerful call, though there were a lot of new people on there, but then people then start to do the again, the what's wrong with me story. And then we had a big part of the call last night where, you know, it's natural or normal. Then to start thinking, OK, I just need to. I just need to try. I just need to to try to do more. And so if he's saying that, I need to. I don't know if I need to be more physically attentive, if I need to do whatever, and then they do. Well, guess what? Yeah, now it's something else. Well, now you never ask me how I'm doing, or now you just expect this of me. So then the nice person will. Then they'll then, you know, mold themselves into this whatever that the narcissist wants them to be. But then surprisingly, now it's something else. And that even goes on after separation or even after divorce, where now the nice person will go back and think, Oh my gosh, if I would have just done more of this other thing that he said, then maybe the relationship would have worked.

[00:14:56] And bless your heart, but that's where I say. That game is never ending, because if you and here's the kind of the cool, deep psychology around that is that to the person that is never willing to take ownership or nothing is ever their fault. And again, I'm talking about a default from childhood experiences. So if that is the case, then it's they've spent their lives saying, it's not me, it's you. If you'll just do this or this or this, then everything will be better. But when you do that, then it's something else, because if they can continue to point the blame outward or external, then and I think you can maybe see where I'm going, then who does not have to take accountability or ownership of their actions, them? So and I've had some fascinating examples of this in cases where I once had a client that came to me for it and I'll say, quote, quote, pornography addiction. But then when they came in, they were they were having some acting out behaviors every few months, I mean, months. So definitely didn't fall into the category of addiction. That's for sure. And so it was relatively easy to, to quote, cure this person. And at one point, their spouse came to me and said, Oh my gosh, you, you've worked a miracle with him. You know, I've got I've got my husband back.

[00:16:09] And so then it was time for them. They said, OK, they're going to start to do their work. But when they started to do their work, it was difficult and it was scary. And so they they withdrew from the therapy with their therapist. And at that point? Now what happened? Now they they said, OK, no, now he's doing these other things. And I was working with him at that time, this person and we did everything we could to have him, you know, he still was not acting out. There was no relapse. He would be more attentive. He was trying to do more of one one person. Couples therapy is what I was calling it. But it was never enough until then. Finally, some heavy accusations were logged against this person and because ultimately, the person with the narcissistic tendencies or narcissistic traits when it got to the point where they didn't have anything else they could blame externally. And then they they tried to do a little bit of a deep dove on themselves, and it got uncomfortable and scary. Then it was almost like this reflexive action to then point it right back at the person, someone else to project onto someone else because then again, I don't, it's not about them. And so you can start to see the pathology around that and where that can lead. I'm going to wrap this up pretty quick here, but I wanted to really quickly touch on.

[00:17:24] I got so many emails talking about gaslighting because it's interesting. You know, people ask, does the does the narcissist know they're gaslighting? You know, is there? Hey, all of a sudden they realize, Wait, I'm gaslighting too. And so I did an episode long ago on types of gaslighting, so I was going to go through those really quick. This is from an article from I think it's from called the Good Men Project, and it talks about four levels of gaslighting. I think this is this interesting, and I'm going to be honest on my virtual couch podcast, I'm talking about more general mental health issues. And so I think in that scenario, I'm trying to just put it out there to the universe, you know? And I think sometimes that can be used against the kind person. What I mean by that is that this podcast is called Waking Up the Narcissism. So I'm talking to the people that are are waking up to narcissism. It's rare that the narcissist because again, they don't know their narcissist. If you're asking yourself, Am I the narcissist? Most of the, I mean, number one rule is no, you're not, because you're asking yourself, because that means you have some awareness that you're aware of of you have a sense of self. You know, you're willing, you're trying desperately to own it. Isn't that fascinating? So you're saying, Wait, maybe I'm going to ask this because I could do that.

[00:18:33] I could apologize. I could take ownership of this. And then maybe everything will be better. But no, you're you're acting the way you're doing, you're acting the way you're acting in reaction to not feeling heard, not feeling understood from the gaslighting. And I will say this every episode I can. But if you put yourself in another relationship where you feel heard and seen and understood and you're not continually fixed or judged, would you thrive or would you still just walk in and start yelling at your husband? I don't think so. Or or wife, you know, depending on the situation. So that was a big, long ramble. I was about to say, where was I going with that? But I remember gaslighting as I am going to go through these four different types of gaslighting. I want to I want you to listen to this with the this is the if I am doing it, it's most likely one of these more. I'll just call it innocent types or there's a reason behind it. It's not done to confuse or push away the blame. It's done because you don't feel heard. So first type unconscious gaslighting, the person is totally unaware that they're engaging in it. In fact, they perceive that they're being very reasonable in their interactions because they don't have any clue about the impact of what they were doing, and they might even lack the capacity or the willingness to question their own viewpoint and consideration of another's viewpoint.

[00:19:42] Here's what this can look like the I don't get it, the I don't get it act. So in the example they give is over the course of a week, this person said I had explained and explained the company's vision to my colleague so many times. They said I teach English as a second language for a living, so I'm intimately familiar with how to break down concepts. And reword definitions and give examples. And this was a totally different issue, and my colleague continued to claim confusion over and over again. So when somebody says that they're confused and they make no effort to dove into why, they're confused and they continually put the onus on you to explain it, it not only becomes tedious, but it has you starting to question what you're saying. So this person said they began to wonder, You know, how is that I'm not getting through or how is it that he's not understanding the ideas that I'm explaining? And then it hit me he didn't want to understand, but likely didn't even know that. So someone who truly wants to understand, they make efforts in that direction. And this is where I say boy, instead of judgment again, try curiosity. And and and I do a lot of couples work my magnetic marriage couples course, and this is not trying to plug this, but is starting up in a few weeks.

[00:20:44] And so I teach what I just love these four pillars of a connected conversation. But the goal is to be heard, to be heard is to be healed. And so oftentimes, you know when if I don't understand you, but I desperately want to and I'm curious and I just I'm struggling to understand you, then there are ways to frame that communication. My four pillars of assuming good intentions can't put out the message You're wrong questions before comments and then don't go into your bunker. Stay present. I've done a lot of those episodes on the virtual couch, but there is a framework to make that happen. But if someone truly does not want to understand, then they're not going to put in that effort, and that can be so frustrating. They also give this example, it says, coexisting in a parallel universe along with ignoring my words. My colleague addressed issues that he claimed I had raised. He said it's as though I had mentioned ice cream, and his response was well, when we talked about cheesecake. And he said, as you could imagine, this was so baffling. You know, what was he addressing or who was he addressing? Was even addressing me if he had added words and like, you know, this raised a different issue for me. This other issue, he said, then I would have understood. But instead he would say things like, you know, your point about X again.

[00:21:49] So if he's saying, you know what you were saying about cheesecake and you're and you're like, I never said cheesecake. But when they said that when they referred back to their messages to see if they had talked about cheesecake and it had never been raised, they began to wonder if we were just existing in this strange and parallel universe with alternate forms of ourselves. And he said, I truly believe, however, that he thought I had raised those points about cheesecake, which all the more baffling. The second type of gaslighting is an awareness that something's off. And in this case, the author said that they believe the Gaslighter senses that something isn't working, but they're still not aware of what that impact is on the gas lady. So likely the gas lighters had previous experiences similar to this one, and they've come to the feel this uneasiness around the interaction. But they still just kind of keep moving on ahead, because why would they change the approach? If you really do think that you're right to engage as you've been doing and still don't fully understand why people aren't interested in engaging? So here's what that can look like. They call it the flood of words. So one person said that they would send a short message to their colleague, only to receive a deluge in response. So one sentence would receive a multi paragraph response. And it was overwhelming, and it had the effect of totally wiping out anything that they had said.

[00:22:55] And so, he says, I understand some people are verbose while others are more succinct. This woman, though, said she was married to a man who is verbose, so she's well versed in this flood of words. And at the same time, she said she would continually wonder, Where does this come from? You know, what was I even asking? I wasn't asking that and so on. And she said I felt that my reality was quivering. How did what I wrote necessitate a response that not only didn't acknowledge my words, but it included a conversation I had never started and I was massively overwhelmed in quantity. And furthermore, the flood of words did not seem to be my colleague's attempt to understand me or have an interchange. Instead, he created a wall of explanation from his point of view or an endless tide of justification to push back and obliterate what he had likely perceived as a challenge. And I have to tell you, when I look at my own destinies of narcissism and I'm not kidding around, I mean, that's part of why I'm just so fascinated by this work. And I mean, I'm good with that flood of words, and I type fast. And I know that there have been times where I'd probably overwhelm my wife, where I wasn't even aware that I was just jumping into the world of justification and probably not even answering the question.

[00:23:57] So that's one to really, you know, to be aware of. The third is intentional, and here's where things start to get a little bit interesting, more of a more aware of an impact, but no intent to seriously harm. So this is a person who has more awareness than the gas is in situations one and two. They know what they're doing is harmful, but they would never describe themselves as gaslighting, because that's that's left for the malevolent, malevolent individuals, right? They're not trying to hurt somebody or drive them crazy, but they are into power struggles and they're so into winning. And here's what that can look like stonewalling. Refusing to answer what's said Oh my gosh, this one's common. If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, I would imagine that you will ask a question. They won't answer that one. Then they'll answer, Ask a question of you. You're the nice person. You respond, assuming that, then they'll respond back to your question and they don't. And then if you say, did you see my text, then you're not going to get it. Yeah, you know what? I didn't really have a good answer. You're going to get. No, I never saw it. But then why did you respond to the other one? You know, again, they're not going to take ownership, which is so frustrating. Or they're going to then say, yeah, I saw your text. I don't know how I'm supposed to answer that.

[00:25:02] That's ridiculous. So stonewalling, refusing to answer what's been said in this article. The person said, In fact, my colleague not only did that, he simply acted as though what I had said never existed. Messages would be exchanged. And if I was left wondering if he'd actually read my words, have my message gone through? I was certain I had. But why was he so oblivious to what I had said? How come every word made little to no impact is that my words disappeared into the ether, never to be acknowledged again. When I'm working with people and we're starting to talk about boundaries, especially when we end up getting into separation or divorce. Boy, this one comes out even more. You know, when we're talking about, Hey, how about that child support or you want to split 50 50 on this dental bill? No response, you know, but when then they say, I need to drop the kids off early? You know, then. And then again, the kind person is responding. So in that one, and it can feel like you're being so mean or rude, which is hard for the nice person. But I often say, here's where the boundary is that I'm going to copy and paste the message until you answer it. And then finally, you will get the answer. But the nice person again, trying to give that that nurses the benefit of the doubt is often thinking, Oh, maybe, maybe I ask the question wrong.

[00:26:08] Maybe that was rude of me. Maybe he didn't see it. But know start to trust your gut and start to start to listen to yourself. You listen to your instincts a little bit more. Also, in that intentional, more aware of an impact version of gaslighting, it's called whiplash communication. So he says the final straw came in one of our last communications, and it's when communication went from I'm upset to you don't have to respond to I'm betrayed and you said you would, but it goes all the way to you don't have to. And by the end of the message, this person was left wondering if they should even respond. Had they done something wrong, had they inadvertently impacted this person in a negative way, but they didn't need to say anything. So on the one hand, they say, I think the gaslighter in this situation is likely confused by what they're feeling. And on the other hand, it's not their first rodeo. They've done this before knowing that others end up hurt or angry or unsettled by their actions. So sometimes when the gas lady doesn't understand, the Gaslighter simply tells them, You just don't get it. You know what? Don't even worry about it. You don't have to respond. And in this person's case, they said it was true. The paradoxical pieces didn't make sense when you put everything into a cohesive whole, meaning that the I don't know how many times we process this with someone in session yesterday where you know, they they were just saying, You know what, I don't even want to continue to have this conversation.

[00:27:19] It's obvious that you don't understand me, you don't hear me. And so don't even I don't even want you to respond. So what are they trying to do? They're still trying to control the situation by telling you, you're the one that doesn't get it, even though you're actually the one that gets it. And they just are having a hard time taking ownership or or giving an answer that doesn't paint them in a bad light. The last one is is a bad one, the malicious with intent to desired, with desire to harm textbook gaslighting. Stephanie Psaki's has an article where she outlines the warning signs, blatant lies, denial, manipulation and wearing the gaslighting down, mismatching actions and words lining others against you. Weaponizing confusion, projecting all of those gathering the army. This one I talked about a little bit before the most malicious piece that they, this person experience with their colleague. He had other people look at the project and informed me that they thought that it was fine. So he said he had to step away if he was going to get the if the other person, if the narcissist was going to gather the masses against this person and continue to prove their point against mine, that actually the company's point, where were they to go with it? Nowhere.

[00:28:24] One person against an army is useless, and it certainly had them questioning what they were proposing. And that one's the one where and I can give so many examples of and I didn't even recognize this was a trait of narcissism until I was well into my practice where it would just be those situations that just just felt odd. They hit different, as the kids say. So all of a sudden I would have, let's say, a wife on my couch. And then the husband said, You know, I was talking with your with your brother and my my my sister in law. And, you know, my sister and even my physician, I was talking with him and we all kind of think you're depressed, like it was a real conversation. And and the the narcissist, the Gaslighter thinks that they've gathered this army. So now that they can, it's even more reason to prove that their their spouse is crazy. But in reality, it's like, really you, you talk to all those people. And that one became one of the easiest ones to work with. To set a boundary with is then I would often say, You know what that sounds like? That's really hard for the, you know, your wife there to hear that you would talk to all these other people. So maybe what we should do is, let's see. Let's put a group text together, and let's just address that with everybody.

[00:29:29] You know, I'm more than happy to get everybody on the same page. And what would happen? I mean, and I don't like using all or nothing statements, but I will say always, always the gas lady, the narcissist or the gaslighter. The narcissist would say, No, you know, I don't want to bring them into it. You know what? That's I don't want to do that. And I would see that in my session. So often I would get a text from one person and they would say, Hey, get, I'm going with the wife is the the husband is the narcissist in this scenario, the one I'm thinking of in particular. Where the wife says, Hey, did you really say that this was probably more of my fault, but that that you were afraid to tell me directly? I'm like, No, no, no, we're putting a stop to this right now. So then whenever we'd have the next session, it's like, Hey, can you just sound like there's some confusion there? So can you just send me the group text if you, you know, if the husband in the scenario feels inclined to share something that he feels that I said about the wife in a session. First of all, it's kind of not the way it works. And so let's just do a group text and then surprisingly, things that I were that I was saying about the the the victim, the spouse here, they disappeared because now the narcissist knew that they couldn't do that anymore.

[00:30:42] That was a good example of setting a nice, healthy boundary. But but gaslighting is it's so much more prevalent than what we think it is. And this article kind of sums up by saying, you know, sometimes it occurs as these microaggressions from people who don't even know they're doing it. I would imagine most people are guilty of this. I've been guilty of that. Sometimes we know something's off, but we and we still pursue a little line of inquiry and then things end up taking a turn for the worse and we can start. We just left feeling like our reality is just starting to quiver. They say in this article like like a minor earthquake. And she said until in her own case, it wasn't until somebody else pointed it out that they began to see it. And with that new perspective, they were able to get a huge sigh of relief and understand, you know, they said the furniture of my home had never been rearranged. Somebody was just trying to make me feel like it had been. And this is where I have so, so many examples of this. I honestly have. I think it's 40 50 pages over the years of gasoline and examples. And in this podcast, I want to start to get to those so people will understand that they're not crazy. So if you are talking about, you know, if you're aware you're the nice, kind person that's waking up to narcissism and you're telling, you know, you're saying, OK, but no.

[00:31:47] Sometimes I do feel like maybe I'm doing the gaslighting. Know what you're trying to do is make sense of things and even explain yourself or point out these errors of what you're seeing in front of you. And then when it's turned back around on you and you are the one feeling crazy, it can feel like, well, I guess I'm trying to convince him that he's wrong. And maybe I'm not. No, you. We got to get you back to trust in your gut and and being able to get above that, that gaslighting the anxiety that comes with that. You know, I go back to the episode that I talked about the things you can do in these interactions. You got to raise your emotional baseline that self-care can get your PhD in gaslighting. You need to understand when it's happening and then be able to step back and just look at it. Talk about this on an episode. I think maybe last time to about those popcorn moments, you be able to sit back and watch the show and not get emotionally invested or involved when you know, Oh, this is gaslighting. Yeah, I never said that. Or no, he actually did do that. And so I'm not going to engage. And that's when you're going to start to watch the person go through a variety of emotions because they're trying to find that right button to push, to get you to then engage.

[00:32:51] So then it will not be about them. It will now be about the argument or the confusion, or it's about you and your reaction. It's not so covered a lot of ground. We're going to do probably a Q&A next week because I have so many cues, so I need to give some A's. So if you have some more cues, send them in through the contact form on Tony or ORBCOMM. Please keep, you know, sharing your examples in your AHA moments and your awareness because it's helping so many people as you do that. And I can't lie. I'm so grateful for the reviews. I actually just read through them last night to my wife, I was almost I was getting a little bit teary eyed because there's so many nice things said there. And and I hate being that guy that's saying so like, you subscribe all that stuff. But it really, I've been shocked at the download numbers and the amount of ground this podcast is covering because people need all the tools. I have zero scarcity mindset when it comes to this podcast. I want you to get all the podcasts, all the information, all the YouTube videos, because it takes all that to help you. I'm going to be cheesy now to help you wake up to narcissism. All right. Have an amazing weekend, and we'll talk to you next week.

Tony gives examples of the narcissistic apology, and he explains "Narcissistic Awareness Grief," a term coined by Dr. Christine Hammond (https://growwithchristine.com/). Tony refers to an excellent article by Diane Metcalf on Narcissistic Awareness Grief https://toolbox.dianemetcalf.com/nag/ Please submit your questions as well as your gaslighting examples through the contact form at http://tonyoverbay.com

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