Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Why Focusing On the Narcissist Inhibits Recovery

Have you ever heard the saying “what you focus on is what you create?” Quantum Physics and the Law of Attraction as talked about in the films “The Secret” and “What the Bleep Do We Know” talks about the power of our minds to create our reality. This means where we focus our attention and energy is where we see the results in our life.

If we were to apply the law of attraction to a situation such as narcissistic abuse, it follows the same principals. If we continue to focus on the abuse and the narcissist in our lives, we will continue to experience that energy in our day to day reality. This is why in my support forum I try to direct those in recovery to focus on their recovery rather than what has happened in the past. I know this can be tricky, since it is important to get validation from others that what you have experienced is “not normal or healthy!” However once we come to realize that we have undergone a process of abuse it is time to change our focus to overcoming the affects of the abuse rather than continue to focus on the details of the abuse.

I know it is tempting to continue to rehash the events and all the horrible things he or she has done to you. But continual rehashing will only serve to keep you stuck. In my support group I see a lot of “comparing notes” happening on a regular basis. The importance of comparing notes is to see that “yes this was typical narcissistic behavior I was dealing with.” But how much confirmation do we need before realizing that YES I was in a narcissistic relationship and I was deeply affected by it.

The goal for everyone who shows up on my Websites is to move beyond narcissism and get their lives back. This means healing to a point where you can feel good about yourself again and use the experience of the abuse to launch you into an even better life than the one you had previously.

Sometimes darkness visits us to move us to the next level and the next level isn’t always what we think it should look like. Many people see success in what can be observed on the outside such as material/financial success, nice home, nice car, good job, good looking spouse, academic achievement and so on. But true success can only be measured in our experience of inner peace, love and light. How we feel about ourselves and our experience of being in the world is really the only thing that really matters; because from our own experience of peace and self-love we are able to extend this inner peace and love to others. It is in the darkness that we learn to be a radiant light.

People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are terminal victims! People who are victims create situations in their lives where they constantly feel victimized. When we are in relationship with a narcissistic personality we also feel victimized by their behavior, only they are unable to see their own part in creating a painful reality for us. Because we are caring and compassionate we are normally the ones who yield and give-in. We are the ones who normally take responsibility for the relationship. Over a period of time that constant yielding begins to break us down and drain our energy. When we finally declare ourselves a victim of abuse in many ways it gives us permission to withdraw from a harmful, dysfunctional situation and take care of ourselves. But we can’t both be victim and empowered. We can be only one or the other. My goal for the support forum is to be a place where we can quickly transition from being a victim to being empowered. This is why I encourage only telling our stories one time and then moving beyond our stories. There comes a point where we need to realize that the narcissistic personality is no longer a chosen part of our reality therefore continuing to focus on him is keeping us stuck in that negative energy.

In my own self-exploration I realized that my constant focus on the Narcissist in my life really kept me from being truly responsible and accountable for my own dysfunctional involvement in the relationship. I was allowing him to treat me in ways that weren’t acceptable, respectful or honorable. This is about me, not him! I did not speak out and I didn’t say NO! Not until the end of the relationship! By my very willingness to be his toxic dumping ground for his own repressed emotions, I was part of the dysfunction. I can’t possibly blame him for everything! If I am unwilling to see my own part in this, then I will never truly move beyond it. Because until I see my part, I can’t truly be empowered. When we realize that everything is a result of the choices we make, then we are empowered to make new choices. On the other hand, if we feel powerless then we have not only given him our power but we continue to give our power away each day we wake up and chose to be a victim.

The truth is, our world is filled with people who don’t have our best interest at heart. There are a lot of cold, uncaring people out there. We even have times where we feel cold or uncaring towards another. It is part of the human condition. However it is our personal responsibility to teach others how to treat us. We can’t change what someone else does, however we can change how we react or respond to it. If someone says something cruel to you, you can let them know that their behavior was cruel and uncalled for and disengage from that energy. If we wait for validation from someone who treats us badly or cling to the hope that he/she will recognize their poor treatment of us and have remorse, then we may be waiting a long time. Some people simply don’t have the inner capacity to see their own participation in creating the circumstances of their lives.

This is where the process of our own recovery comes in. We have to sort through what is our responsibility and what isn’t and let go of anything that doesn’t belong to us. For example our narcissistic partner’s behavior is not our responsibility no matter how much he may try and convince you otherwise. In fact nobody’s behavior is our responsibility except our own. We may get angry as a reaction to something our partner does or says, but it is still our reaction. If we find that we are with a partner that constantly provokes us to anger through disrespectful, undermining or dishonoring behavior than we need to consider changing dance partners. We deserve to be treated with love, kindness and respect and if we bring people into our lives who don’t treat us well, it is our responsibility to change that.

Sometimes we draw people into our lives to show us how we truly feel about ourselves deep inside. This is what we call mirroring. It is typical that those people we attract into our lives mirror some aspect of ourselves, often an unconscious aspect.

The narcissistic personality, famous for his projection, is great for triggering those deep seated unconscious aspects of ourselves. If our self-worth was really solid, then an outside entity wouldn’t have the power to strip us down to our lowest point. But sometimes we have to be stripped down to the core of who we are in order to find our true selves and bring it into the light. So if we were to look at the situation from an empowered perspective we could see how the narcissistic entity is actually serving our highest good by providing an opportunity for us to meet our true selves.

The true spiritual path is a path to the authentic self. And it’s really quite ironic that a narcissistic personality, one who spends all his energy avoiding his true self, is the catalyst for others to come in contact with their true selves. Perhaps the deep truth behind what appears to be a tragedy is that you were ready for this journey to the depths of your own soul and this person came into your life to assist you on that journey. He led you into the darkness so that you could find the light of your own being. Now…you can emerge into the light with more than you were before you met him. Because when you enter such darkness your only choice for life is rebirth, to become the light and find your way into a whole new dimension of being.

So…with all this being said you can see that focusing on the narcissist in your life only serves to keep you stuck in that dark reality, where to focus instead on the gifts that have come from that experience you will see and experience more and more of the gifts.

What I would like to see more of in the group focus for recovery is that really deep soul searching where we identify what we have learned from the experience, what we intend to do differently in the future, and to talk about that authentic self who is emerging as a result of being stripped to the core. This is an opportunity for your growth! Embrace it!


Kerri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kerri said...

Hi Kaleah. I have been coming across your name and writing all over the internet. It has been a beautiful blessing for me, especially this particular blog. I'm surprised others have not commented on it as it has been the most helpful thing I've found for moving on. There is a tendency to doubt the severity of the situation and a need to "compare notes", to make sure I wasn't crazy. This blog pushed me past that towards my full recovery. I had gone a month with no narcissist contact and made the mistake of contacting him via email to make one last effort to inform him of the unconscious behavior that ruined our relationship. My psychology degree and "fixer" attitude wanted to try one more time.
Of course, he bypassed everything I said and was all sweet with the "let's talk, it would make me happy". I could feel the vampire allure and was able to break free from it but of course I am kicking myself today for such a relapse. Thank you Thank you Thank you for snapping me out of the victim identity and prompting me to move on. I am fortunate I did not take the bait and need to forgive myself. I really want to see the actualization of all people. This drive to fix has gotten me into trouble many a time and your blog just made me remember that I am the one for me. The journey to self continues. It is beautiful, blissful, and full of more love than another could ever possibly give. The journey to self is the journey to God. The continual surrender to the love and power within me aligns me with the presence of the divine. Thank you for facilitating such a healing.

Catherine said...

Hi Kaleah. I'm grateful that you have authored such thoughtful and direct discussion of both narcissism and a positive path to our inner self. It has been difficult only recently to not obsess about him...ironically, it was my refusal to obsess about him that made him so very angry. Some part of my now wonders if I had simply allowed him to take over my life, would the relationship have worked, is it my hard-headedness which drove him away from me? So now the obsession begins. I'm grateful for the reminder that this is not the path to peace.

Pooja said...

Narcissistic personality disorder is a kind of mental disorder. In this type, a person has an overly high feeling of their own importance. There are many signs of this disorder like thinking you are better than those around you, obsessed with fantasies of power, success and good looks, taking advantage of other people, difficulty in maintaining relationships, fragile self esteem, over sensitive etc. For more details refer narcissistic personality disorder

asdfasdf said...

This article is very helpful and balanced. It expresses understanding for the need for others to understand, because it is an isolating experience.

I wonder if you can help me with insight on my situation.

First of all, I AM focusing on my recovery. I'm exercising, have cut out 90% of former alcohol intake, no caffinne and I've been surrounding myself with as many people as possible, given I'm 3,500 miles from home.

Long story short, I met a predator who I became entangled with. I was isolated at the time. He picked the perfect person. He knew that I was estranged from my family, because pathology runs deep. During the discard phase, he threatened to contact them to tell them my medication had made me 'insane.' It was a calculated move to discredit me.

Of the contacts me made, one found its way into my work-life and caused intense suffering. Basically, he aimed to dissemble my life.

During the trauma of dealing with the work issue, my mother (queen bee of all NPD sufferers, though more anti-social and definitely psychotic-- as in literally) demanded to fly out and 'help.' In the end, she used everything I confided in her and threatened to have a meeting of the minds with my former abuser. This was the FIRST time since childhood I'd confided in her.

I feel so isolated in my situation. Her golden child (only sibling) as well as other family members have anti-social tendencies and 2 have experienced psychosis. Needless to say, I live in fear and isolation, though I once taught high school in some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the U.S. I'm no crybaby.

I've lost faith in people, because they DON'T get it. "It's your mother. Of course she loves you!" I'm the bad guy.

As much as I focus on healing, it feels like the trauma will never end. I feel hopeless, alone, and scared. On top of it, I have managed to intermingle with mom-subtitutes and have poor social supports.

Advice? Thank you for your time.

Vic said...

I have been dealing with someone like this for the past 20 years. My ex husband and father of my child has put us threw hell back. I cant seem to get past what he has done. I recently took him for child,support and I am about to loose my home due to him not paying. All I know is I cant take the pressure of what he is doing. I was asking myself the other day and trying to figure out what is the point of what he is doing? Your comments helped me so much how do I help others who go through this? Thank u for your comment u gave me hope thank u

Shakthi said...

Hi dear kaleah, no words can express my gratitude towards you. I was totally shattered and was beyond any hope. Now i want to come out, you for me is an angel Godsend ...

John said...

After reading your article about the fragility of the victim of the narcissist, and how their inner self is emotionally lacking and able to be stripped down by the narc. Implies that the victim had emotional issues to allow this to happen. After a recent breakup with a girl who only through research i have determined to be a narcissist, and after youv'e been in a painful heart wrenching relationship with one , then read the definition of narcissist, it becomes shockingly obvious your suspicions that something was wrong, were painfully right. I slightly disagree though and feel that when you open up to allow yourself to love on the highest level, which is what they make you feel like, you are doing just that ,opening your self up to love that you have always dreamed of, It is then that the narc. enters into our hearts and souls and ruins them. It is my feeling that no one is safe from the narc, strong or weak minded, for it is the moment we open to love they enter. Terrible thing

Melodie said...

My partner used LOA to support his narcissistic tendencies. It was shitty but now I have a better understanding of LOA because of it.

I do feel stripped of what I thought and believed beforehand.
Yet now I realize it is important for me to look at my beliefs and identify where they came from. I realize I picked up some not so great ideas from him but it has given me more consciousness towards my beliefs.

I do feel reborn and also stronger in many ways. I'm a better person for having been in that relationship. Although I may not recommend it to everyone, I'm proud of myself for coming through it.

Having the courage to admit that I blindly agreed to most everything he said. I'm more aware of myself and how I feel now more than ever.

Thank-you for offering this LOA version of Narcissism. I've been reading a ton on it and now I'm going to do my best to let it go and let in the man who will next touch my heart.


Alfred Clark said...

I appreciate your emphasis in recovery on doing what is needed for our own empowerment and not focusing exclusively on the narcissist. I am, however, dealing with PTSD and other effects of living with this person for 13 years. The path back to my true center feels like a long and arduous one. But I am working with people that want me to let go of the terrible bonds connecting to the narcissist. This is tough work. IT takes time and patience. I only hope that I will be able to keep going until I reach my inner light and love

Alfred Clark said...

I agree with the idea of focusing on our own spiritual recovery rather than the narcissist. However, validation of the effects of abuse is very important. Then we must find why we were drawn to this kind of person in the first place and I find that there are many reasons. IT is when I look into these and find my true emotions and not always the reactions I am having to the narcissist that I feel I move forward

Thynna Ngangura said...

Love it! One love,


new pilates said...

Hello Kaleah, This is the very first time I have commented or blogged on the internet.
I am in the midst of leaving my narcissist 54 yr old boyfriend. I am leaving because I realize if I don't. I'll die spiritually. I just made 52. I knew he was a textbook narc for 3 months, thanks to the internet.
I continued to endure his behavior, but now I could'nt do it another day. I feel angry at myself for staying. I found out he has been lying and possibly cheating. I cannot rely on seeing and proving, I only need to use my spiritual intuition, and Im gone. please pray my recovery.

LLI DEC ARTS said...

Dear all,

I am at the phase of my life where I am still recovering form my relationship with narcissist, and I have read and researched on the topic wide and far, however, as we know that disorder is rooted in the childhood, as in narcissist also in the childhood pattern of us/victimized partners.
What I am referring to is that all the literature directs for the ex partners of narcissist to remove themselves physically and mentally, but what do you do when you are stuck with the narcissistic family and you are sharing your living space with them?
What is the direction in that case?
As said, through this life experience I realized that my family is narcissistic, I got in the relationship with the narcissistic and now I am due to the horrid circumstances that relationship got me in, back living with my parents? I feel like trapped by the narcissists - hence it is hard to move on as I am faced with the same unhealthy environment on the daily bases.
I feel there is only God left too. to give me strength to overcome this.
Bless you

Morgan said...

I appreciate this article so very much. It inspires me to continue the quest back to who I was before I married the N. I was married 13 years. I am a highly paid successful executive who married a high ranking military officer. When I met him he was in the process of getting a divorce and had convinced everyone that his first wife was crazy. He was beyond charming and a card carrying member of MENSA. He specifically pursued me for months before I would even talk to him. He told everyone "I was the love of his life." Long story short he was a lying cheating no good bad guy. Now I know why his first wife was crazy. At the end he admitted he had done a lot of bad things during our marriage and asked if we could reconcile. Only God could have given me the strength at that moment to say no. Now each day I still fight the thought of him. Oh not the real him the one that I fell deeply in love with. You know the one that DOESN'T EXSIST. Now in therapy, I am starting to forgive my self for taking all of his abuse and wasting so much of my life. Remember if your family and friends tell you something is not right with a guy or gal listen to them.

jane kay said...

I am in awe of reading here...I am recovering from a recent break up, but feel it was truly described at the beginning of this forum. I am trying to be blessed with gratitude for this person I love. His treatment of me did strip me down to almost nothing, and I am facing whatever "nothing" I had agreed I was, and building from there. Going to al anon has helped, but understanding at this depth, for me, needs to include god, spirit, and alcoholism combined with the N personality. It is hard to believe a person can be like he is, and not see it. Nevertheless, experience has taught me it is true.

Today's Teacher said...

I recently broke off my relationship with someone who has NPD. He swept me off my feet. I made changes and decisions in my life I never thought I'd make. I have up my dog, my apartment and all my furnishings. He raved and bragged about me to everyone. It was almost embarrassing at times. Prior to meeting him, I was bold, strong and confident. I had a great life...and was happy. Throughout our relationship, I confronted him on every verbally abusive assault. I had returned to therapy within the first few months of the relationship after 6 years of not needing it. Fortunately, I was able to return to a therapist I've worked with on and off for 20 years--she knows me well. I have always been strong and a fighter. I set goals for myself and no matter how afraid I might become, I work to accomplish them. None of this stopped the change in my verbally abusive and insecure partner. Despite seeing things all along...and looking to leave the relationship several times, finally I just left. The break-up was long and drawn out for several weeks. While going through the process, he found someone new to date (someone he had kept in contact with over the years). He had her in the sidelines. I relapsed with him several times, and I literally thought I was headed for a breakdown. I really hoped that by talking things out, he would evolve into a better person. He seemed to want to at times. It just never lasted. His rages were quick and extremely hurtful verbally. No one in my adult life has left so much collateral damage. I am picking up the pieces...but it hasn't been easy. I cannot wait to be the happy healthy person I once was...with a bit more insight because I was with someone who was so broken.

Ultreya Camino said...

Thank you Kaleah for the spiritual insights brought forward on this site I have just found. I recently realised I have been suffering from the effects of being in a relationship with what I now realise was a Narcissist over 30 years ago! I had a daughter to him who was put up for adoption. She contacted me a few years ago and we started a reunion process. However upon meeting her I realised she was not the person I thought she was from her initial letters, and when she met her birthfather she started displaying his traits more and more towards me. I was in shock and the memories of everything I went through with him all came back to me, and that’s when I started my research on NPD and BPD. Now, 18 months later after undergoing alternative therapies, counselling and researching on forums I am just starting to feel myself again. I am no longer in contact with my birth daughter. It was a very hard decision but I know it is the right thing for me. I believe and have hope that to find the courage to move away from your narcissist relationship, other healthy relationships will come into your life to fill it.

Inky fingers said...

What a wonderfully insightful post. I really feel a lot of gratitude now I am on the way out of the dark and it shows me how much better life can be. I've also learned a lot and am ready for a bright future.

Andre said...

Dear Kaleah,

You are absolutely correct about looking at the run-in with a NPD person (in the context of a love relationship) as an opportunity to heal oneself. Also the need to move forward. However, be assured that it is not only males who are sometimes narcissist. As a male looking for tips, this article was almost perfect except it would havebeen nice had you hyphenated the "he" and "him" (of the NPD sourcee) to "he/she"and "him/her". recovery from NPD relationship is not a female or male issue. it is a human condition issue. Nevertheless, excellent and truthful post. one's life WILL be beetr after heaing from an NPD love relationship.

Laura Kamienski said...

I agree 100% that the focus of recovery must be on recovery. However, there is a difference in the level of "choice" we had in a pathological love relationship compared to a normal relationship. These people are skilled at creating a trance like state through trauma bonding and manipulation. One of the common threads among survivors is how they felt like it was someone else who was living the nightmare with a narcissist, that they completely lost themselves. This isn't merely a metaphor. It's a reality based on chemical imbalance and psychological phenomenon. I urge all therapists to use caution in using the "choice" approach toward empowerment. There is a slippery slope landing in survivor blaming. One transcends from victim, to survivor to empowered. Understanding what happened is critical. This understanding includes an understanding about how choice was taken away. I think the the notion of everything that happens to you happens because of choices you make is a dangerous idea and is based on the desire for control and to feel safe. After all if we can make choices to stay safe, we can be safe. But the reality is, at some point in a pathological love relationship, our ability to make choices was severly impaired.

Wonderer said...

Yes, regarding the last blog in 2014: it sometimes felt as if it was all a "choice-less" path and had to happen perhaps to wake us up. It's true that we have to take responsibility for our own actions, yet at times I wondered: Does the narcissist

lay out such crumby choices that it dredges up our infantile selves? The only choice that ever seemed to work was to leave, and finally for good. Perhaps there is a better way to respond to difficult people but I haven't yet found it, at least not in every case.

Wonderer said...

Yes, regarding the last blog in 2014: it sometimes felt as if it was all a "choice-less" path and had to happen perhaps to wake us up. It's true that we have to take responsibility for our own actions, yet at times I wondered: Does the narcissist

lay out such crumby choices that it dredges up our infantile selves? The only choice that ever seemed to work was to leave, and finally for good. Perhaps there is a better way to respond to difficult people but I haven't yet found it, at least not in every case.

Gen-hong Pan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MrsKGC44 said...

Amen. Thanks for saying that.

as the mind wanders said...

Hello! I have thought my so-called friend of over forty years was a sociopath...until I started reading about narcissists. I am wondering what the difference is? This "friend" has tried to take my life on two different occasions that I am aware of, and is anyone but myself. Needless to say, I have extricated myself from the friendship, but the focus must remain on all that has occurred because, in trying to understand why she would want to kill me, I had and have to think about all that has taken place. Which, as you might imagine, keeps me from enjoying my new found freedoms, and keeps me from moving on. In examining the 'whys' of why she would try to harm me, I have determined that she and her husband are responsible for a certain person's disappearance, and I think I may be the only one able to put the pieces together.

lee woo said...

Self-awareness is not self-centeredness, and spirituality is not narcissism. 'Know thyself' is not a narcissistic pursuit. See the link below for more info.


madrecita said...

Alot of the advice is to leave the relationship. What if you have kids with the narcissist? I've moved out to the sauna to create my own sacred place of safety, but my kids are still in the house. As I learn how to build myself back up, I feel its my duty to provide them a healthy example of how to protect myself, be a strong and vibrant woman. Its still harmful for me to be around him though. I'm feeling very depleted this morning. I guess what I'm looking for is some links for families in NPD situations.

Natalie said...

Yes, I agree.

Natalie said...

Yes, I agree.

Ken Pan said...

I completely broke out of mental rut by focusing ALL thoughts on transforming my inner (mental) self into a positive-attitude-only mentality. Since the mental prison is in our minds, focus on changing the thoughts. None of us are perfect, and we are all capable of continuous self-improvement. Improve ourselves mentally, and life will get dramatically better.