Controlling people

 

Controlling people

 

Controlling people are very keen on telling others who they are, what they are, what they are thinking and the motivation behind their actions.  They will deliver their “insights” with such “authority” that you will feel that you have to defend yourself.  No one has the “right” to define someone else, most people do not know themselves very well never mind somebody else.  It is a complete and absolute violation of boundaries and one of the narcissists favourite means of control.  The narcissist will believe their own fantasy world and think that what they are saying/doing is actually right or constructive.  They will justify their actions by saying/thinking “well someone had to tell him/her, I was the only one who had the courage to do it!”

 

Control is a really destructive problem in any relationship whether it is romantic, friendship, professional or familial. When people try to control others they are attempting to define that person according to what they want/need them to be.  They cannot see that the other person exists and a sentient being that exists in their own right, they don’t respect you for who you are and it can be done in many ways such as:

  • Negative comments couched in false concern or “helpful advice”.
  • Gaslighting, denying your reality and projecting their own made up one.
  • Complete disregard for your feeling.
  • Constant lying about even the most frivolous things
  • Inventing “stories” about negative things that other people said about you.
  • Trying to prevent you from expressing yourself and negating everything your say.
  • Cruel “jokes” that are designed to hurt.
  • Adapting a really condescending and contemptuous attitude towards you.
  • Making examples of other to demonstrate what could happen to you if you do not submit to their coercion.
  • Going on a smear campaign behind your back if they feel like they are losing control, so that they damage your reputation before they are exposed.

The problem with recognizing controlling people is that a lot of their control is very subtle and we tend to see their comments as bad taste, we think that we must have missed something when they lie (because they are absolute masters at inventing lies on the spot) or accuse ourselves of being paranoid when people’s behaviour changes as a result of a smear campaign.

 

Controlling people will always play the victim if they are pulled up on their behaviour.  They will say things like “I was only trying to be helpful, you are so ungrateful”  or “you always misunderstand what other people are saying” (universal miscomprehension – how could they possibly know this?) or “do you always have to be so negative, you are not always right you know”.

When a person has good intentions (in general) it is hard to imagine the motivation behind a controllers behaviour because the big question is “why would anyone want to do that?”, the best “reason” that I have come across is because they are essentially very weak personalities and they think that if anyone else shines that they will disappear completely. Everything that happens around them they relate back to themselves, so for example a child could get sick at a time when a narcissistic parent wanted to go on a weekend break and the narcissist will think that the child did it on purpose to ruin their holiday, a puppy could chew up their favourite pair of shoes and the narcissist will think that the puppy “knew they were my favourite (and did it on purpose)).

It is possible to break free from the spell binding dominance of a controller and this is done by standing back and taking a long hard look at their actions, not their words.  The disparity between their actions and words is also a controlling tactic. When you see the pattern, there is absolutely no point in addressing it with them because they will deny everything and project their bad behaviour back on to you.  What needs to be done is to move out of their presence as much as possible, create relationships with other people who will support your reality and to learn (or relearn) to trust yourself and your intuition/gut feelings again.

 

Narcissism and suicidal feelings

 

If you come from a narcissistic family of origin or have had a narcissistic partner, suicidal feelings are “normal”.  This is because you have been drip fed poison about yourself over a long period of time, interjected with acts of “kindness”.  The acts of “kindness” were performed simply to keep you doubting yourself. In reality the narcissist wants to destroy you because it gives them sadistic pleasure and makes them feel strong. They invalidate everything that you do or take credit for it themselves.  If you come from a narcissistic family of origin you will have been caught up in a system (more than one person), that has constantly devalued you.  This only adds to the confusion that you will be experiencing, one person could be wrong – but all of them?

What the narcissist is out to achieve is to murder your soul.  To attack your personality because they do not have one.  They do it by choice not by accident, they know how to behave but they choose not to (all you have to do is notice the difference in how they behave publically vs privately).  They get away with it in part because you project good intention on to them where there is none, even if we think that they are “up to something” it is our incredulity, politeness and our cultural mores that keep us stuck (such as you should respect everyone, being vulnerable and open is a “good” thing, don’t judge people and universally trust everyone until proven otherwise)

A narcissist might well speak of you in glowing terms in public and at the same time demean, humiliate and abuse you behind closed doors.  This is an inverted smear campaign designed to discredit you if you say anything about their abuse.  They are extremely paranoid and their fear of exposure makes them capable of anything, even murder.  That sounds very melodramatic but when you are dealing with someone who has no conscience there are no limits to what they will do.   They do not see you as a sentient human being, merely an object for them to feed off, provide drama and entertainment for and generally make them feel more alive inside their emptiness.  Being offensive and crippling others self-esteem just makes them feel powerful.  Another really unpleasant thing about narcissists is that the nastier you are to them the more respectful they will be to you.  So if you are abrupt and uncooperative with them they will simply see you as a bad source of narcissistic supply and move away.

No matter how strong a person is, there is no way that they could stay strong under a constant vicious, vile and sadistic attack like that.  It is no wonder that sometimes you feel filled with a sense of utter despair, unloved (and unlovable), and helpless.  The reason for this is that you were looking for love where there is none, you were told that they love you, but a narcissist notion of love is to draft someone else into their service.  The minute that doesn’t work for them, that person will be totally discarded like an empty wrapper, the only time you will hear from them again is when they want something from you.  It is not your fault that a narcissist treated you the way that they did.  In fact, it has nothing to do with you at all, it could have been anyone with a kind and trusting nature that they felt they could push around.  Knowing that does not take away the pain or scars that they have inflicted but it is a good starting point to take back ownership of your life and to become the whole and beautiful loving person that you were always intended to be.

To do this you have to do a few things:

  • Work on creating stronger boundaries
  • Realise that no one has the right to tell you who you are, what you are thinking or the motives behind an action or decision that you took
  • Realise that you are being lied to constantly with only a light dusting of truth to make their lies seem credible
  • Know that they will say bad things about you behind your back, there is nothing you can do to prevent that (they can do it about anyone) authentic people will see through their smoke and mirrors
  • It isn’t personal, it is an extension/function of their personality disorder
  • Try to remember who you were when you were a young child, before people tried to mess with your head
  • Keep a journal
  • Show compassion to yourself
  • Be careful (judge without being judgemental i.e. is this person a good fit for me, my strengths and my weaknesses) about who you let get close to you

Holding space for someone

When we hold space for others it means that we empathise that we can feel other people’s pain where ever their journey might have taken them, without judging them for making “wrong” decisions, making them feel “less than”, by trying to fix them with our “superior knowledge” or influence the outcome or get annoyed with them because they don’t take our advice.  What holding space for someone means is that we open our hearts and our minds, we offer a non-judgmental non-controlling space where they can just be themselves and try to work their own problems out.

It is really hard to hold space for other people unless we feel that someone has “our back” which is why “normal” people in relationships with narcissists can appear really flakey and unreliable because they can seem really supportive and loving when all is well with their narcissist and disintegrate for their friends when they come under a barrage of fire from the same, as a narcissist’s attack is nearly always savage and can leave their victim very unstable because all is not what it seemed to be.

Holding space for other people is the essence of being a human.  It is not about money, success and all of those superficial things.  It is not what we have been taught but it is what is true.  We need to let people (now more than ever) be weak, be vulnerable and to feel safe to ask for help.

The rules are very simple:

  1. Don’t try to tell people who you think that they should be. That does not mean that you should live without boundaries.
  2. Don’t “over advise” or get pissed off when they don’t take your advice, they are living their own journey and trusting their own intuition (however that might be at the time), it is their journey not yours
  3. Don’t overload people with information, narcissism is a really hard concept to accept – be gentle/ be kind.

When people first learn about narcissism there is a lot of incredulity/half acceptance because they cannot believe that they are “that bad”, to be supportive expect to hear the person you are supporting become quite obsessed with the topic and be very repetitive, they only want you to listen so that they can work it out for themselves.  They are learning about the condition and are trying to mold the vast amount of information out there in to their own particular situation.

If we judge them as they grapple around in their confusion they will immediately recoil into their shell, when we hold space for them we give them the courage to move on and the resilience to keep going.

There is a phase in the journey on learning about narcissism when people have a tendency to beat themselves up and wonder “how could I have been so stupid/blind?”, “how could I have been so “accepting” of this type of abuse?”.  This is just an inevitable part of the journey and each person’s story is different.  However, there are two main reasons why people accept abuse the first is they come from a narcissistic family of origin, so abuse is their form of “love” and the second is that a narcissist will constantly check boundaries (like a small child) and every time they are permitted an abuse, the next time they will push a little harder.  So what might feel like a behaviour that occurred as a result of a bad day or fatigue is really the first steps towards something much more sinister.

A person who has been abused will be very confused so when they come to you for advice, instead of telling them what you think that they need to know, ask them open questions so that they can discover for themselves.

When a person feels that they are in a safe space, that is to say with people who are empathetic, compassionate and tender, they can get in touch with all of their more complex emotions and if necessary completely break down in front of the person(s) who is supporting them.  This is of immense help to the victim because they can then get in touch with “stuff” that they have been denying or minimalizing up to this point.

Strength and confidence are very important if you are going to hold space for someone.  Which means that you are in for the long haul (while respecting your own boundaries) and that you will not be shocked or aghast by what you hear or “turned off” by excessive emotional outbursts.

It is not easy to hold space for other people and it takes patience and practice.  It is also important that you do not hold space for the “wrong” person, someone who just wants an emotional crutch and shows no real desire to grow and move on. This is a hard thing to recognize because it is not always obvious

 

Signs you have been abused or are being abused by a narcissist

 

Signs that you have been abused or are being abused by a Narcissist:

You are unsure of yourself.  Do you find it difficult to make decisions?  Constantly refer to other people for validation or before you do something (when you never did this before?)  The reasons for this are three fold a) the narcissist does not want you “to get ahead” and be successful in whatever you do, as they see this as an injury to their own self-image. B) a narcissist will always blame someone else for everything, if you are in a relationship with a narcissist then you will be the obvious target, c) a person is much easier to control if they are confused and fearful of making the “wrong” decision.  This demeaning and destructive behaviour works slowly and over time you wake up wondering why you have no energy and have completely lost the fight to defend yourself (and maybe even get out of bed).  The narcissist will take absolutely everything away from you that they can. Your social support network, your money, your confidence and self-esteem.  When they have done this they will be pleased with themselves because in this broken state you are much easier to control and they will see this as a victory.

Confusion is an inevitable by-product of abuse.  You will feel violated and doubt yourself at the same time.  Your reality will constantly be denied and they will not engage in open and frank communication.  If you say that you are not “happy” with the situation, they will go on the offensive and tell you that you are depressed, you are too sensitive, you need to go to therapy or do something, but it is never their fault. They will not work together with you to find a solution/compromise, on the contrary they will work against you.   Any disharmony in the relationship with a narcissist will always be the other person’s fault and they will let you know either directly or indirectly that they are wonderful person for staying with such a crazy person like you.  For example, they might tell someone else that you are being “really tough to tolerate at the moment”, but they will stand by you, even though they know very well that they are the source of your anguish.  This is a double win for them because a) the other person sees them as a loyal and caring partner, b) they get to continue to abuse you, knowing that everyone thinks that they are great, and won’t believe you if you try to set the record straight (you are the one going through mental health issues after all, not them!)

They also believe that they are being magnanimous for pointing out your flaws to you so that you can change and become the better person that they deserve.  They create all of the rules for you, but they are for you alone, they do not abide by any of them.  They have the freedom to do whatever they want to whoever they want even when it means hurting others (including their own children).

You cannot pull a narcissist up on their behaviour for three reasons a) they will flatly deny that they did what they did b) you will get a counter “attack” with narcissistic rage or c) take your constructive criticism and flip it right back at you “no you are…”

Arguing with a narcissist is futile because they will not stick to the argument, they do not argue/discuss to find a solution to a problem, they argue to “win”.  The techniques that they employ to do this are irrelevant to them no matter how nonsensical or illogical they are.

The person on the receiving end of this type of abuse will know instinctively that there is something “wrong”, but might not know what or why.  Most people if they have been accused of a certain type of an annoying or inappropriate behaviour will go off and introspect (even if they are defensive at the time of the argument), a narcissist will not.  They will not listen to what you say and they will firmly place the blame for their behaviour somewhere else, anywhere else, it is just never their “fault”.  This is not just the behaviour of a small child who denies stealing biscuits, it is more pathological than that.  They don’t just deny what they have done, they want to hurt the person who has suggested that they were culpable of a wrong doing, either by a smear campaign, gas lighting or some other means, this is narcissistic abuse and they are relentless in the pursuit for “winning” their “game” (like hurting the person who confronted them, preferably destroy them).  This can literally go on for years.

If you have been subjected to narcissistic abuse either at a family of origin level or in adult relationships it may well be the case that you disassociate from your feelings. So if someone is overtly shouting abuse at you and you don’t react.  You don’t tell them to F**k Off and you don’t cry or cringe either, you just stand there, speechless, it is only when you get to some place that you feel safe that your emotions emerge.  This might serve you in the short term, but in the long term it has been proven to decrease your ability for healthy psychological interaction and function. It often happens that the person who is being abused by narcissists exhibits symptoms that the narcissist “should” own, such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts etc., this is because you are taking on the “stuff” of a narcissist. You didn’t earn it, they projected it on to you and expect/ insist that you own their negative thoughts about themselves and the world in general.  It is very, very stressful being around a narcissist

 

 

Talking to children

 

 

Most parents know that talking to their children is vital for their emotional and intellectual development, however, there are very different ways of talking to your children.  They basically fall into 3 groups:

Talking to them

Talking at them

Having a conversation with them

The favourite way of the narcissist is talking “at” their child.  This way they do not invite an interaction or give space for their child to hold an opinion that in any way contradicts their own or to express any individuality/independence.  We know that narcissists are very competitive and so they will often use language that is too complex for the stage of development of their child.  This is so that they can feel “better” than their child by confusing them with age inappropriate language.

An MIT study has shown that children from wealthy families hear far more words than those from poor families.  However, it is not the amount of words that a child hears that is important it is how they hear them that matters.  What matters is “conversation” speak a little and listen a lot, this has been proven to be crucial factor in their ability later on in life for inter human relationships and their ability to socialize make friends and create firm and fulfilling relationships.

The number of words that a parent had didn’t seem to matter at all to the brain development of a child, it was how those words were delivered that was crucial. It was the back and forth delivery that mattered, when a child is allowed to converse with their parents, that child feels heard and this has a huge impact on how their brain develops so as a result it also has an impact on how the child feels about themselves – self-esteem, confidence both personally and socially.  The more a child feels listened to, the more confident in themselves they are.  This has a huge impact on a child in later life as it has a massive impact on their happiness and success.

But that is not where it ends, because having a back and forward chat with your child also helps them to understand what other people are trying to say, which is very different from just listening and as such helps to develop their empathy and in return will help them to develop healthy relationship all through their lives.  This is not just an inter human relationship because it also relates to their relationship with inanimate things which translate into addictions of one sort or another whether it be drugs, shopping, working or fitness.  They are all counter intuitive for healthy inter personal behaviours, if a child does not feel that they are heard for who they or and they do not have a voice they will look for solace somewhere else, somewhere “less dangerous” where they feel “legitimate”.

This is an example of how and why a narcissist parent starves their child of freedom of expression and the consequences of such a loveless “parent”.

 

 

 

Arguing with a narcissist

When arguing with narcissist it is important to know that you will never “win”, they will argue in an incoherent way and you will be left wondering “what just happened?”. They are deliberately destructive in their approach and are in the argument to win.

Here are some of the techniques that they use:

  • They negate everything that you say (even when it isn’t an argument),
  • So you say something like “my fried Mary is going to Greece on holiday next week”, they will reply “no she isn’t she is going to Spain”.  They say it with such certainty that you start to question yourself, even though you know that the narcissist has never met Mary.
  • They assume superior knowledge to you on absolutely everything even when it is blatantly obvious that they haven’t got a clue what they are talking about. For people who are so image conscious it is surprising that they don’t mind looking idiotic in this situation.
  • There is absolutely no point in accusing them of wrong doing because they are never wrong and will never admit fault. It is likely to make them defensive, aggressive and more determined to “win”.
  • Narcissists will never talk to you, they always talk at you, so you are never going to be able to make that connection and they will fire off one ridiculous statement after another.
  • They will use the hamster wheel effect, which is that they will argue round and round in circles without ever getting anywhere. This is done to frustrate their “opponent” (and all conversations with narcissists are competitions) and you will just give up because it is clearly a futile conversation.
  • They will hop from topic to topic. You could be talking about a domestic issue that needs to be resolved in a hurry and they will suddenly say “well you made us miss the flight to Paris three years ago!” “What?”
  • They will talk at you in a really condescending and patronising tone which implies that they are seriously wondering if you are bright enough to follow the “conversation”. If you get angry with them for not sticking to the point they will tell you to calm down and not be so emotional.
  • They will accuse you of things that they are doing. So they will accuse you of having an affair (because they are) and when you say “I was thinking that you might have been having one” they will go on the offensive and say “you are just saying that because I accused you first”.  They are big into projecting their shortcomings/faults on to you or other people.
  • They have a cycle of being reasonable and being completely hypocritical and unreasonable. This is very difficult because you never know which version of them is going to turn up.   This allows them to take the opening move like in a chess game  giving them the upper hand because you always hold back to see who is showing up
  • Never expect an apology there is no way that the narcissist will admit to any wrong doing, which means that there is no point in asking them to be accountable for their behaviour.
  • Use “we” instead of “you” because this will sound less threatening to them and more likely to bring the argument to a speedier close.
  • Don’t be provoked into taking their bait. They will try to escalate the argument simply because they find it fun and love the drama.
  • Pretend to take their excuses seriously in a way that they know you don’t such as “yeah right”, this is a very narcissistic thing to do because you are saying the right words but your tone and body language will let them know that you don’t believe them.
  • These conversations are exhausting and futile so get out of there as fast as you can