Narcissist’s Mixed Messages

Psych Central Article Here

The irony is that narcissists are consistently inconsistent.

If you are in love with someone who sends you constant mixed messages, it can be emotionally damaging to you personally, even causing you to lose your sense of self.  The constant sending of mixed messages causes you to lose trust with your own reality and intuition. You start walking on eggshells because you want to prevent the constant shifts from occurring, not completely realizing the power is 100 percent outside of yourself.

Other terms for this type of experience are “ambivalence,” “gas lighting,” and “mind f%$#ery.”

Mixed messages can come in the following forms:

  • False promises or statements; examples would be telling you they’ll take you somewhere or buy you something in the future, and then it never happens.
  • Doing something mean to you and then acting as if it didn’t just happen and if you try to bring it up, they’ll say something like, “Quit living in the past,” or, “Why are you always so negative?”
  • Taking you out on a fabulous date Friday night and then giving you the silent treatment on Saturday.
  • Promising you your heart’s desires and then withdrawing the promisesblaming you for the change, making statements such as, “You shouldn’t have done ‘such and such,’” or, “I didn’t realize you were so…” or, “You should have thought of that before you did ‘x, y, or z.’”
  • Lying. Emotional abusers seem to be chronic liars. If you try to hold them accountable, they simply deny saying whatever it was you know you heard them say.
  • Using the “Bait and Switch” approach. They act like one person and then become another. You keep wondering, “Where did he/she go?  I know he/she’s in there somewhere.”
  • They don’t “walk the talk.” You hear a lot of words coming out of the abuser’s mouth, but you don’t see any concrete results. It’s always easy to talk about anything; much harder to actually do something meaningful. Narcissists are master false promisers.
  • Having double standards. Here’s a perfect example. A narcissist will lecture you about how you’re dressed – even though you look terrific and are in great shape – while he/she’s 50 pounds overweight and does nothing to take care of his/her appearance.

 

The truth is, emotional abuse is very destructive.  It is particularly destructive because it “falls under the radar.” Others don’t see it, or get it, and oftentimes, neither does the victim. If you are subjected to emotional abuse in the form of mixed messages you most likely don’t even realize you are being abused.

If you are the victim of this experience, then you will experience the following symptoms:

  • Confusion. You will find yourself continually wondering – What happened? Where is he/she? What went wrong? What did I do? How can I fix this? And you look to the abuser for the answers. Yes, he/she will give you answers, but only ones that hurt and confuse you further.
  • Extrinsic Focus. You spend countless hours focusing on the other person – his/her thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In the process, you aren’t checking in on your own internal voice, feelings, and intuition. You begin measuring your life based on the other person’s actions. Since the other person has a fragmented personality you will never find the stability you need by focusing in that direction.
  • Loss of Self. Because the other person never validates your reality, you stop validating it yourself. You begin to doubt your own experience, and finally lose your sense of reality altogether.

What do you do about it?

If you are subject to this type of problem then you need to do something to rescue yourself. First and foremost is to stop listening to the other person and start listening to your own inner voice. It is important for you to learn how to change the communication patterns you have been conditioned to.

Over time, while in a relationship with an emotional abuser, you have fallen in to a way of relating that is not healthy. In order to survive you have been taught and have taught yourself to turn off your own voice, listening only to the voice of the other person. Make your voice the compass, not the other person’s.

As you start listening to yourself instead of the other person, you will most likely face resistance from him/her. Don’t let this trouble you. Realize this – you haven’t been able to please this person anyway so you might as well stop trying. This is step three – stop walking on eggshells. Simply walk. Just be yourself. Say what you want to say and do what you want to do. As the other person loses control over you, he/she will be angry. He/she will “up the ante” and start doing retaliatory behaviors.  After all, you have dared to rebel!

Once you listen to yourself instead of the other person and stop walking on eggshells, realize you have declared war. I know it seems ridiculous that these two simple acts are hostile – because they really aren’t – but the narcissist will feel and believe that these acts are hostile on your behalf. He/she will panic because of his/her loss of control over you. This is detrimental to his/her side of the relationship.

In order to survive this war declaration, you must be at a place where you are no longer dependent on the other person for anything – emotional, financial, or physical. The narcissist will retaliate by taking away anything that you value, especially him/herself. As he/she loses grips on you, he/she will frantically search for a new victim. You will probably experience the silent treatment and “ghosting,” followed by a discard. You will be discarded. Mark my words. The narcissist sees no other alternative.

Yes, it is crazy. Yes, it makes no common sense to the average person who simply wants a loving relationship that is mutually satisfying. Afterall, you have no need to control other people in order to survive. But the best thing you can do for your recovery from this insanity is to rescue yourself. Take care of yourself. Walk away. This is the last step.

Walking away is hard, but what else can you do? Do you want to spend the rest of your life subjected to warfare just because you want to express your autonomy?  Is there any value in any relationship where you can’t be who you are?

Even if you don’t physically walk away from the relationship entirely; say you are married to this person or it is a parent and you are still tied to the person structurally, then you are still stuck with a discard situation. Don’t lie to yourself.  In this case, you will have to mentally detach from the relationship if you want to be yourself. You will have to live a life without having any needs met by the other person because he/she is incapable of meeting them. especially on your terms.

 

To receive my free newsletter on the psychology of abuse, please contact me at: http://www.drshariestines.com.

What is Mental Abuse?

Author Article

Brenda knew something was wrong in her marriage to Bill, but she was unable to put her finger on what. She felt like she was abused but he never hit her, so she minimized and even dismissed any warning indicators that something else was off. She was intentionally exploited by her husband; endured regular insults and rejection, alternating with affirmation; and felt manipulated into doing or saying something out of character.

Abuse is not just physical. There are many other forms of abuse, such as sexual, financial, emotional, mental, and verbal. While some of the other forms of abuse are obvious, mental abuse can be difficult to spot and explain. Abuse can happen in a home between spouses, from a parent to a child, in social situations between friends, and even at work from a boss to an employee. The sex of the abuser or the victim is irrelevant. Abusers can be both male and female.

It starts simply with a casual comment about anything: color of the wall, dishes in the sink, or the car needing maintenance. The remark is taken out of context by the abuser. The abuser misperceives their spouse’s remark as disapproval of them in some way. No matter how hard the spouse tries to explain that wasn’t their intention, it doesn’t work. The abuser calls them a liar and is off on a tirade, which ends in the spouse feeling like they are losing their mind.

Here are eight typical mental abuse tactics using Brenda’s experiences with Bill as an example.

  1. Rage – One minute everything is fine and then out of nowhere, Bill would unleash in a rage. In a fit of intense, furious anger he startled and shocked Brenda into compliance or silence. Brenda would do whatever he demanded just to reduce the intensity of his rage or make it stop. Over time, she would learn his triggers to avoid his rages. He would not take responsibility for his reactions, instead, he blamed her for losing it.
  2. Gaslighting – Bill would lie about what Brenda did in the past, making her doubt her memory, perception, and even sanity. He claimed and gave evidence of her past wrong behavior further causing doubt. As this continued, she began to question what she said a minute ago. She even thought she was losing her mind. Bill used this to further take advantage of her.
  3. The Stare – This is an intense stare lasting 1-2 minutes to longer durations with no feeling behind it. At times, it would feel creepy. Bill did this to scare Brenda into submission and frequently mixed it with the silent treatment. Bill would even do this at social gatherings giving her “the look” which meant he was upset about something she said, who she was talking to, how long she was talking, or even her not giving him enough attention.
  4. Silent Treatment – Bill would punish by ignoring Brenda. Then he let her “off the hook” by demanding an apology even though she wasn’t to blame for whatever upset him. This was done to modify her behavior. Bill also had a history of cutting others out of his life permanently over small things. Brenda learned to fear the silent treatment as a worse experience than a rage.
  5. Projection – Bill dumped his issues onto Brenda as if she were the one doing it. For instance, he would accuse her of lying when he lied. Or he made her feel guilty for doing something wrong when he did the act. This created confusion for Brenda. She started to feel as though she was the unhealthy extension of everything he didn’t like about himself. She struggled to see where he ended and she began.
  6. Twisting – When Bill was confronted by Brenda or another person, he would twist it around to blame Brenda for his actions. He would not accept responsibility for his behavior and instead insisted that Brenda apologizes to him. He was relentless in his demands that it was Brenda’s fault. When she resisted or fought back, he would add other abusive behavior such as verbal assaults or threats until she was no longer able to take it and succumbed to his demands.
  7. Manipulation – A favorite manipulation tactic for Bill was to make Brenda fear the worst, such as abandonment, infidelity, or rejection. Knowing of Brenda’s abandonment as a child, he played on that fear to manipulate her into doing what he wanted. Even in instances where she would normally reply “No,” he used her fears as a control tactic to get her to agree to do something she wouldn’t. It didn’t take long before Brenda could not recognize herself as she allowed him to manipulate her into doing things she never wanted to experience.
  8. Victim Card – When all else failed, Bill resorted to playing the victim card. He would claim that his feelings were being hurt and it was Brenda’s job to make him feel better. Sometimes, he would bring up things from his past and accuse Brenda of triggering uncomfortable feelings and then demand that she take responsibility. This was designed to gain sympathy and further control her behavior.

Once mental abuse is realized, a decision needs to be made. Are you going to continue in the relationship or leave? Whatever you choose, do it with an awareness of what is happening, the trauma this invokes, and methods to counteract the mental abuse tactics.

When A Sociopath Meets An INFJ

 

an INFJ personality and a sociopath embrace
Sociopathy is otherwise known as antisocial personality disorder. Codependency is also called relationship addiction. An INFJ is one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types. So what do these three things have in common?

A person with an INFJ personality is first and foremost an introvert. This means he or she often prefers staying in to going out, and solitude to socializing. This can make things difficult when the INFJ wants to meet someone new. The thought of making small talk with a group of unfamiliar people can be enough to make an introvert scrap the idea of forming a romantic relationship altogether.

Enter the sociopath. The term conjures images of people like John Gacy, Ted Bundy, or Jeffrey Dahmer. But not every sociopath is a serial killer. Sociopaths share common traits like failing to conform to the rules of society and deceitfulness, but they are also intelligent, charismatic, and charming. Their intelligence allows them to engage in deep conversations about abstract concepts, something INFJs crave with their whole being. The sociopath is a master at manipulation and will attempt to play on the INFJ’s emotions until he successfully charms her into a relationship that he can exploit to his full advantage.

(Please note: I’m using the pronouns “he” and “she” only as an example. Both sociopaths and INFJs can be any gender. And, although this article explores the relationship between the INFJ and the sociopath, INFJs are not the only Myers-Briggs personality type who may become entangled with sociopaths.)

Let’s take a look at how a relationship between an INFJ and a sociopath might unfold, plus why INFJs may keep trying to save the relationship long after others would call it quits.

(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality assessment.)

The INFJ and the Sociopath in a Relationship

The INFJ is caring and empathetic. Her life’s mission is to help other people solve problems, so when the sociopath tells her that his landlord unfairly evicted him from his apartment, the INFJ is quick to offer him a place to stay. The sociopath may spin an elaborate tale that plays on the INFJ’s sympathies. The more solutions that the INFJ offers, the wilder the sociopath’s story becomes until it seems that there is no other solution than to have the sociopath move in permanently.

When the sociopath says that moving has put a strain on him financially, the INFJ’s selfless nature may move her to reach into her wallet to lend him money. Then the sociopath gets into a car accident. It seems that the insurance company has raised his rates, so the master manipulator once again spins the situation to his advantage. He tells the INFJ that if she covers him under her insurance, not only will it be cheaper for him, but she will also get a multi-car discount. The INFJ has high levels of empathy, so she is once again eager to help. She may not see that the sociopath is creating a situation that takes responsibilities away from him, and puts them on her.

By the time the sociopath has failed to kick in his share of the car insurance payment, the INFJ has also seen other irresponsible and deceitful behaviors. Kind and caring, the INFJ may not give the sociopath an ultimatum. Instead, she seeks to find the reason for the sociopath’s irresponsibility. She believes that if she can make a connection between the cause of the sociopath’s behavior, and a solution to his problem, she can come up with a plan to fix the situation.

Sociopaths engage in risky behaviors with no concern for the consequences they bring. So it’s not surprising that many sociopaths have problems with drugs and alcohol. The INFJ may liken his substance abuse to an illness, because this reasoning aligns with her empathetic nature. The INFJ’s passion and devotion to causes may lead her to put all her energy into finding a cure for the sociopath’s illness.

Supportive Caretaker vs. Codependent Enabler

This is where the actions of the well-intentioned INFJ begin to walk the fine line between supportive caretaker and codependent enabler. Codependency is a term for a dysfunctional relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s addiction, immaturity, or irresponsibility. The codependent person typically sacrifices his or her needs to take care of the person who is “sick.”

And this comes at a huge cost. When codependents place other people’s health, welfare, and safety before their own, they can lose contact with their own needs, desires, and sense of self. The Extroverted Feeling function (Fe) of the INFJ allows her to tune her behavior to the needs of the sociopath, so the more changes the INFJ implements in an effort to help the sociopath, the more codependent the relationship becomes.

The INFJ enjoys seeing a project to completion. Unfortunately for the INFJ, her efforts to cure the sociopath’s addiction will never be complete. Addiction is a symptom of antisocial personality disorder, and there is no cure for the disorder itself. As with any form of substance abuse, the addict has to want to change, and since a sociopath has no regard for the risks associated with drug abuse, it is unlikely that finding a solution to the problem is something that he will actively seek.

The harder the INFJ pushes for sobriety, the more hostile, irritable, agitated, and aggressive the sociopath will become. When the INFJ asks him where he’s been, he may criticize her for being paranoid. When she denies him access to her money, he may chastise her for being too controlling. When she refuses to cover for his indiscretions, he may complain that she’s not being supportive. For the INFJ who seeks to please others, the constant conflict can become almost unbearable, and she may do just about anything to keep the peace.

The INFJ’s Breaking Point

Fortunately for the INFJ, she also has a breaking point. When her need for personal growth, emotional intimacy, and shared values have been met with deception, betrayal, and hurt, she will react with an explosion of negative emotions. Her natural problem-solving abilities will eventually turn to solving a new issue; how to escape from the codependent relationship with the sociopath.

The INFJ will realize that putting out a hundred sparks will not stop her house from burning unless she does something about the giant bonfire in the middle of the living room. She may react by lashing out at the sociopath, or cutting him out of her life completely — what’s referred to as “the INFJ door slam.

Often the catalyst for this change comes from realizing that the codependent relationship is having an adverse affect on others in the INFJ’s life. Being a devoted and caring parent, the INFJ will be quick to stop any action that threatens the safety of her children even if it means upsetting the sociopath that has taken so much of her time and energy.


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When the INFJ has had enough, her otherwise warm and caring nature can turn cold and distant. Her interactions with the sociopath may become blunt and judgmental. This dark side of the INFJ personalitysurfaces when she can no longer tolerate the emotional pain of the toxic relationship.

To the sociopath, it may seem like this behavior has come out of nowhere, but for the INFJ, it comes after intense contemplation of the many wrongs that have exhausted her patience. Though leaving a toxic and abusive relationship comes with its own challenges, the dark side of the INFJ is stubborn and intense. She will turn her attention towards a future where the sociopath no longer controls her emotions. Drawing on her Introverted Intuition, she will process what she has learned from this relationship and will finally have the closure that she seeks.

Are You in a Relationship with a Sociopath?

Antisocial personality disorder can only be diagnosed by a licensed mental health professional, but as with any condition, there are signs and symptoms to watch for, such as:

  • Sociopaths are fast talkers. They will switch back and forth between charm and threats to get what they want from you.
  • They do not take responsibility for their actions. They will place blame on everyone but themselves.
  • They will play the part of the victim and try to exploit your sympathy.

While these are some common signs, the easiest way to tell if you are dealing with a sociopath is to focus on their behavior rather than their words. The sociopath may tell you that they care about you, but if they were unable to speak, would their actions let you know? If the answer is no, you might be in a relationship with a sociopath. So what do you do about it?

  • End the relationship. Antisocial personality disorder is one of the most difficult disorders to treat because the sociopath has to want to change. The disorder itself makes them unable to see that they are the problem. Trust me on this; as much as you’d like to, you can’t fix them!
  • Leave. If you share a residence, it’s better to get out now and cut your losses. Stay with a friend or relative until you can secure a permanent place without the sociopath’s name on the lease. If the sociopath lives in your home, be prepared to have a law enforcement officer escort them off the premises, and file a restraining order if needed.
  • If you are in a situation that requires you to still associate with the sociopath, such as when children are involved, try to keep communication to only what is necessary. Use text messaging instead of phone calls whenever possible.
  • If you must communicate with the sociopath, do so calmly and without passion. The sociopath will most likely try to provoke you into an argument or debate that will toy with your emotions. Do not engage! The best way to discourage them is to not play their game.
  • Seek help. When you are ready to leave, the sociopath will play the victim. They will try to convince others that you have treated them unfairly. The more people who know your side of the story, the more difficult it will be for them to drag your name through the mud. Seek support from friends, family, law enforcement, and legal help when necessary. Find a support group for survivors of sociopaths and narcissists or speak to a mental health counselor about your feelings.

If you think you may be dealing with codependency, or need help escaping an abusive relationship, call 1-800-799-SAFE.

How to Deal If There Are Toxic People in Your Family

Author Article

Dealing with toxic friends, co-workers, bosses or neighbors is something we feel decently well equipped to handle. But what about when those difficult people happen to be your parents? Or your siblings? Or anyone in your immediate family who isn’t so easy to ignore or walk away from? These three steps can help establish healthier relationships with people you just can’t cut out of your life, for better or for worse.

RELATED: 30 FOOLPROOF WAYS TO DEAL WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE

Figure out what they can and cannot give you
No one makes you laugh like your dad, but when it comes to serious conversations, he never understands the choices you’ve made, and will never give you the validation you so desperately crave. And maybe that’s OK.“It’s important to temper your expectations about what others can and want to do,” says psychiatrist and author Dr. Abigail Brenner, “Accept that they are unable to change, at least at that point in time.”

In other words, stop thinking of your dad as someone you can go to for career advice or relationship feedback (you’ve got friends for that) and start thinking of him for what he can provide—a hilarious string of jokes guaranteed to pick you up after a stressful day.

Establish boundaries
Serious talks with your sister always end in screaming and tears. Rather than try to get her to understand where you’re coming from (spoiler alert: she never will), stop giving her opportunities to tear you down in the first place. If she tries to bring up a sensitive subject, simply don’t engage (the Gray Rock Method is one of our favorite approaches). Or, if she’s persistent, take a more straightforward approach by letting her know it’s not something you want to discuss. As the ever-wise Mary-Kate Olsen once said, “’No’ is a full sentence.”

If all else fails, it may be time to get professionals involved
You’ve tried everything to improve the state of your relationship, but still it’s not working out. It might be time to bring in the pros. Whether you choose to go alone, as a pair or even in a group, therapy can help heal by bringing in a neutral party, and give everybody important tools to understand each other and implement boundaries. Remember: You don’t have to do this all on your own.

Healing From A Toxic Relationship Won’t Happen Overnight

Author Article

Healing from a toxic relationship takes time. It takes effort. You have to make the conscious decision to change, to better yourself, to put your past in the past.

In order to heal from a toxic relationship, you have to accept your ex is in your past. You have to delete their number from your phone. You have to avoid the urge to reach out to them when you are drunk, when you are lonely, when you are scared you’ve made a mistake by leaving them. You have to remind yourself they are out of your world for a reason. You have to remind yourself you are better off without them weighing you down.

In order to heal from a toxic relationship, you have to forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for accepting such poor treatment. Forgive yourself for staying for such a long time. Forgive yourself for growing distant from family and friends who were only trying to help you. Forgive yourself for ignoring the red flags, ignoring your gut.

In order to heal from a toxic relationship, you have to grow comfortable with the idea of being alone. You have to accept the single life is better than life with an abusive ex. You have to get used to being on your own. You cannot rebound with the first person who treats you better than your ex treated you. You cannot jump into a new relationship without working on ridding yourself of the baggage your last relationship brought you. You cannot assume a brand new relationship is the only thing that will make you feel better. You cannot let yourself believe happiness and relationship status are linked.

In order to heal from a toxic relationship, you have to raise your standards. You have to rediscover your self-worth. You have to practice self-care. You have to treat your mental health as a priority. You have to realize you are someone worthy of love and respect. You have to promise yourself you are not going to take crap from anyone anymore. You have to recognize what you deserve. You have to fight for what you deserve.

In order to heal from a toxic relationship, you have to remain patient. You have to remember results are not going to be seen overnight. It’s going to take a while to trust again. It’s going to take a while to love again. Your struggles are valid and so are your emotions. No matter how long your healing takes, you cannot give up on yourself. You cannot swear off of relationships. You cannot hide yourself away. You cannot assume you are unlovable and will never be happy again.

Even if it’s hard to believe right now, you are going to heal from this heartbreak. You are going to reach a place where you feel confident and strong again. You are going to mean it when you say you are okay. You just have to have faith in yourself. You are more resilient than you think

How Do I Deal with My Toxic Mother?

Author Article

From a young woman in Macedonia: Hello. I would like to ask you how to deal with my mother who is always negative. First of all I must say that she is a good person and would never hurt me. However she has always been a very negative person which affects me really bad. Since I was a child,she has always been crying about her small health, financial and any other issue she would have. I’ve always lived in fear that something bad will happen,that she will die,that we are destined to be an unhappy family and I’ve never been happy in my home.

The first words I hear every morning must be her bragging or crying about something, its a very bad start of the day to see your mother unhappy but this is an everyday thing for me. She continues this during the whole day and even if someone says something positive she always has something negative to find. She is always crying,screaming to us,bragging how everything is horrible.When I try to talk to her about this,and tell her that this affects me really bad in every field of my life, she starts making drama and bragging to my father that I want to control her and that I am bad to her. Even though I only say to her that I want her to be more positive just because it will make us all happier, she tells me that I am mean,bad and horrible person who doesn’t respect her.

I feel very depressed because of this, she has made me think that things can never be good,never improve,there must be something bad in everything,that I am bad just because I don’t want to see her unhappy and bragging everyday…

If I tell her that I can’t listen to this everyday she tells me to go and live on my own than.I am only 20 years old student who can’t live on my own.I strongly believe that everything is energy, and wonder how to have a good positive attitude and life when I have such a bad energy coming from the most important person in my life.I must say that this affects my mental health really bad, I don’t want to wake up in the morning because I don’t want to listen to her , I hate my home, I am depressed and I am becoming negative on my own. I am very jealous to every happy family.

Answered by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker on 2019-01-13 – Link

A.
It sounds to me like your mother is profoundly depressed. She is looking at the world through a filter of negativity and despair. There’s a saying that every cloud has a silver lining. But for your mother, if someone gives her a silver lining, she immediately puts a cloud around it. It is a sad way to live, especially since it is so advanced that she can’t even let the love of a caring family help her change it.

You didn’t mention whether your father shares your concern. I certainly hope so. As a daughter, there is very little you can do to change your mom’s attitude. But your father may be able to encourage her to get into treatment with a mental health professional.

It is not healthy for you to deal with this constantly. Since you can’t yet make a home of your own, you need to find ways to “leave” without physically leaving. Leave for school early. Get involved with school activities or a part time job that keeps you out of the house as much as possible. Find other young people who are doing positive things through volunteer work or an activity you enjoy. Spending time with them will help balance out the negativity of your mother.

Don’t argue with your mother about her attitude. You can’t change her. She will only change if she decides to get the treatment she needs. All you can do is let her know that you love her — which is a lot.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie