Overcoming Narcissist Abuse, By Elizabeth Shaw – Life Coach.
For the most part we are lead to believe that narcissists are either totally lacking in any empathetic skills, and often are attracted to people with empathy, I shall explain a little more about the different types of empathy, why some narcissists might have a negative form of empathy, to hopefully give you more understanding on the empathetic levels of the narcissist you might have been or you are dealing within your life. Now when it comes to a narcissist psychopath they have zero healthy, positive, good empathy according to research and these are the most dangerous, as it’s no longer a case of they are single-minded and it’s all about them, it’s a case of they simply don’t have the ability to care for other humans wants, needs or feelings in any way, shape or form, these are not only negative, toxic people, they are dangerous.
Empathy is what humans have that makes them able to connect and relate to another human, to understand and accept other people’s hopes, feelings, dreams, wishes, sadness and joy. Whatever another could be feelings, to be able to sympathise with them, or feel joy with them. To feel how someone else feels within that moment however long that moment is. People without empathy can not truly connect with others, communicate on a deeper level with others, can not truly love and care for others as they can not relate to how others feel. Those without healthy empathy only care about their own needs.
The three types of empathy that humans can have are.
Cognitive empathy, having an intuition, a rather accurate perspective on how another person might be feeling, it’s thinking within our minds how another person might be feeling ( although all humans make errors in judgment, even narcissists who will never admit it.) So even with cognitive empathy we might occasionally get it wrong, especially around narcissistic people who put on a grand act with their admiration face so we feel connected with them on a deeper level, help them, praise them and reciprocate those actions and feelings we believe they have for us, as their words and actions at that time are strong and positive towards us, we believe they love and care, although once out of that toxic relationship, we often realise all those times our instincts were literally screaming out at us, yet as we didn’t know what our instincts were telling us, just something they said or did, that didn’t add up, didn’t match out values or beliefs made us question, yet might not at that time truly be aware of ourselves, our beliefs were programmed to see the best in everyone, know that no one is perfect, we all make mistakes, we all have history, as we couldn’t see proof for what our instincts were telling us, our empathetic mind overrides them for the reality that we are actually living when the narcissist is treating us so well. The narcissist hasn’t got positive cognitive empathy, they can be tuned in instinctively that if they act a certain way towards us, they get their needs met. They just like how we are making them feel in that moment. The same goes for when they have the envious face, when they are jealous or insecure, not getting their own way, losing control of someone else’s mind and are treating us so wrong, our minds are led to believe, from when they treat us so right and all their toxic word salad, provoking, blame-shifting and gaslighting that we are the ones at fault, so again our minds override our instincts, believing that we have hurt their feelings and it’s something we did wrong. Leading us to accept behaviours from them we should have never accepted, we want to help them as we care for them and perceive that how they are feeling and acting towards us is because of something we did wrong, we then want to make it up to them, make them feel better, and when we give in and do exactly what they want, they offer intermittent reinforcement of the admiration face, they play nice, we feel better as they are happier and they are treating us right, our cognitive empathy feels happier and we believe it was our fault, it is never your fault. Cognitive empathy is our thoughts to understand how someone else is feeling in that moment, it helps us to try and negotiate with those around us as we can think about how they might be feeling in that moment, understanding their view point, even if it doesn’t match our own view point, so we try to compromise so as not to hurt another’s feelings, sometimes we then put another’s person’s needs before our own, however, narcissistic people tend to have negative cognitive empathy or extremely low levels of negative cognitive empathy, they can not relate to how you are feeling in that moment, they can not see your point of view, they feel no need within them self’s to help or motivate you to feel better, so feel no need to find a compromise, you can be sat crying inconsolably in front of them, because of something they did, and they will sit with a glint in their eye, starring straight at us sometimes you might catch a moments smirk on their face, as they ponder about how we’ve made ourselves so upset just because we didn’t do exactly as they said so they had to punish us in some way to make us, make it up-to them, and yet still we stay and try to make it up, because of all their manipulative ways, and our empathy we just do not see they are destroying who we are, they simply at that moment can not think about us, or how we might be feeling, even when sat deeply hurt in front of them, their minds haven’t the abilities to see how we feel or how they might have caused it. Their negative cognitive empathy just means they are thinking of how they can use things against us, pull on our empathy and caring side to get their own needs met, Even good people can at times ignore others deep emotions, or not put ourselves in another’s shoes, as it depends on what we have going off in our own lives and minds at any given moment, if we have so much going off, we can miss meeting a need of another unintentionally hurting someones feeling, yet often afterwards or if that person asks we will then feel remorse or guilt, blame ourselves, learn from our errors in judgment. whereas the narcissistic person mindset when they can sit watching you cry, when they hurt others intentionally or unintentionally, they are so wrapped up in getting their own needs met, they can not think about how they have made you feel, they can not reflect or look back to see what they did, as they believe what they did was right and it’s somehow our fault, they can not feel that level of guilt or remorse to see the consequences of their own behaviour towards others.
Cognitive empathy is more about thinking empathetically rather than feeling empathetically, so the narcissists might understand that we are sad, or happy, yet they can not put themselves in our shoes to think about how we might be feeling or how they could help, only ever about themselves.
If they are not getting their own way, if they have pushed us too far, to the point we say no more, this is when they can recognise they need to say sorry, yet they don’t have the empathy to mean the sorry, they don’t have the remorse to feel for us and give a genuine apology for something they have done, they just see at that moment that they haven’t finished with us yet, they can still use us to meet their needs, or they haven’t got another person lined up, this is when you’ll get the false apology, the “if you hadn’t I wouldn’t.” Or they’ll pull on your empathy. “I know I need to change, I need you to help me.” Then as soon as you accept their apology they are back true to form of being themselves. Then if you have enough and go no contact, some will up their games, using your empathy against you, knowing exactly which vulnerabilities to hit to cause you inner pain and turmoil, as they have lost control and they feel anger and resentment towards you, as they can not empathise, they don’t care for how bad they make you feel, which is why it comes so naturally to most and why some of their games are hideous.
It is possible for people that have cognitive empathy to actually show empathy towards others to meet their own needs, yet lack the emotional empathy to sympathises when they are hurting someone.
Emotional empathy, this is when one person can physically feel in that moment just how another is feeling. If someone around you is happy you actually feel their happiness, if someone is sad you feel their sadness, if someone is hurting you feel hurt, Like when someone smiles at you and it becomes contagious and you smile back, someone else’s emotions can become contagious and have a direct impact on your own emotional state, how you physically feel matches them, like when you’re around a negative narcissist you feel emotionally negative, when your around a love bombing narcissist you feel emotionally high and happy, narcissistic people on some level have this again in a negative way, whilst those around them are meeting their needs, they fill up on their positive emotions and reflect them back out, when someone isn’t meeting their needs they feel negative and reflect them back out, they do not have the ability to feel how others are feeling. Only how they are and the needs of their own that need to be met. So when they are angry, you might connect on an emotional level and want to help them out, yet when you are angry they can not relate and have no intentions of helping you out, if you are sad, they can not relate, they just see it as attention slipping away from them and want to do what they can to pull attention back onto them.
Having emotional empathy helps people to connect with others on a much deeper level, to connect and communicate with others and compromise on meeting each other’s needs, as many narcissists are missing emotional empathy or have cut themselves off completely from these feelings due to overwhelming childhood traumas. That was their coping mechanism and they never learned to pull back out of it, when people feel overwhelmed with emotions it can be extremely draining and can lead to psychological burnout. Often then making even the smallest of tasks incredibly hard to manage, and interacting with other extremely daunting, often when around negative, hurtful narcissistic people, we end up tired, drained and irrational, cutting ourselves off from the outside world, confused and full of anxiety and sometimes leading to depression.
Compassionate empathy, when we can think and feel how another is feeling, then we become extremely moved to help them any way we can, this is the empathetic ability narcissists are completely lacking in, and what can keep us trapped in a narcissistic relationship no matter who that narcissist is within your life, friend, family, members, boss or partner. We can think how they feel, feel how they feel and are moved to helping them, why even the grandiose narcissist might pull out the victim card to pull on all your empathy and get their own needs met. Also why they can hurt you so badly and just walk away, they can not think and feel about how you might be feeling, they have detached their emotions and simply do not care, especially if their own needs are being met elsewhere, they just see no more need for you within their life. Yet if you’re not giving them what they want, they feel anger towards you and as they can have cognitive empathy, they know exactly what your weaknesses and vulnerabilities are, they will use them against you, to hurt you, as they are throwing a massive tantrum to get their own way.
Narcissists potentially have a negative empathy, they might actually have empathy just different from those who actually care about others. where they can see the empathy in others, then use others empathy to manipulate, to take people down, to find the empathy in another towards them and use it against them to meet their own needs, once those needs are no longer getting met they seek to destroy, they use people’s caring empathetic side against them, just like their negative emotions, so they might have the cognitive empathy yet they can only use it to see another’s empathy as to what they can gain, what vulnerabilities they can use against someone to manipulate, yet they don’t have the emotional empathy to actually care about the other might feel. People with empathy can still feel anger and rage when they are provoked by others on the things they care about the most, narcissistic people can pick up on others empathy, on what others truly care about, then instead of using positive empathy to connect in a positive way, to help others out to lift others up, they use what people care about the most, to hurt other people the most, so they can manipulate to meet needs of their own.
Some people can have two or three narcissistic traits, yet not be on the disorder as they do have the empathy to care for others on a genuine level, even if it’s limited, those you can manage yourself around, others with five or more traits are on the narcissistic personality disorder spectrum and no contact is the best method for recovery.
Narcissist psychopaths are usually born without empathy, narcissists and narcissist sociopaths tend to have had some early childhood trauma, so the cut off the empathy towards others to save themselves.
The best way to handle those around that are lower scale and you can not cut them out of your life, don’t give them anything they can cut you with, don’t tell about you, don’t ask about them, be monotonously boring as you possibly can, don’t make eye contact when face to face, just look over the top of their ear, keep things on an need to know basis, if they are provoking your emotions to create anger, retreat, rethink and only respond if you need to do so, remember you can not change who they are or how they treat people, you can change how you respond and how you let them make you feel, it takes time, it takes patience, it’s a learning curve, it might feel uncomfortable, you might slip up, when you do slip up and that dark cloud hits, it’s just a reminder to go again, try a new approach, so you feel happy, it’s not mean treating those who like to hurt you this way, it’s for your mental health. You can and you will recover from this.
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