The quick answer is if they want something from you, they are thinking of a way to get it. Other than that, no, they don’t think of you, not in the same way we do them.
Most of the people I have spoken with so far, including myself, when I took that first step to reach out for help, often start with. This is going to sound stupid, daft, silly, mad, crazy or unbelievable. Most people who have suffered at the hands of a narcissist, be it parent, boss, friend, other family members or a partner, have started with those words unless they are further along in recovery; even then, sometimes we slip. You are far from alone in how you feel. None of it sounds stupid, daft, or any of the others most of us lead with when we very first open up. Unfortunately, narcissistic abuse is very real in society. When it’s only emotional or psychological abuse, it’s hard to see. Even when their physical abuse, with how the narcissist blame shifts or uses Our reactions against us, it’s hard to see clearly what’s happening to us, especially while we are living it. And it’s hard to trust and open up to start; sexual abuse is another people find it incredibly hard to open up about.
Then once out, even though we know they are so wrong for us, they can run on a continuous loop around our heads. Though we know they are toxic, we can find ourselves reminiscing about those good times when the narcissist was Idealising us, when they were treating us better than anyone ever had, simply because we had something they wanted, never because they cared. We just want to move on, yet they stay stuck on a repeat pattern within our thoughts. We question, did they love me? Do they think of me? Are they are happier with the New? Why wasn’t I good enough? What could I have done differently? Even when we know we want to stop, we can still find ourselves going over the past, paying attention to the narcissist’s new life, and forgetting to focus on our own and start to build our future.
We can still think of them and even care for them because we have an attachment to those we are or once were close to. An attachment system is usually formed in early childhood with a baby and its primary caregiver, people can and do attach to others, they can also connect memories with emotions, making the attachment stronger, and within the dynamics of a narcissistic relationship, the narcissist will downplay all their negative behaviour, exaggerate all those times they idealised us, then they’ll blame all of their toxic behaviour on us, provoke us to then exaggerate our negative reactions, so they can make us doubt ourselves, blame ourselves, and with the help of their gasligting abuse, we then make extremely valid excuses up within our minds of why it wasn’t them and why we need to change to keep them happy, as well as the Trauma bond we find ourselves needing a reason to keep our attachment to them, with a narcissist the attachment system either never develops, or some form of trauma happens to them in childhood that they then turn to the fight survival mode to protect themselves cutting of their attachment to others, cutting off their positive emotions like joy, happiness and love to protect themselves, meaning on a deep level they can never truly connect with or miss others.
Empathy is a human ability to be able to identify with how another person might be feeling so that we can respond in an appropriate manner. Empathy is when you can think about how you would feel if something bad happened to someone. As we once did and still can deeply care for the narcissist, we can empathise that people make mistakes, they’ve had a rough deal, they’re trying to change, and we can see that right side in them, the illusion of the narcissists’ Admiration face when they idealised us, we lived it, we know they are capable of it, and we can miss it, even though we know they treat us so wrong, also as they’ve often gaslighted us into believing it’s all our fault, as we’re often the ones left feeling crazy, with heightened emotions from the effects narcissistic abuse has on our Brains, also because we’ve possibly reacted, we end up with health problems. The narcissist will have fed our minds with things like. “Who’d love you.” “You’re crazy.” “You’re lucky to have me.” We believe them. A narcissistic person most often can simply just not have the emotional Empathy to see what another person is feeling. They just don’t understand it. They can not relate, put themselves in another’s shoes to genuinely care. Some have cognitive empathy, this is to think emphatically, and this is used in a negative way. They only see how they can use our empathy for their advantage, how they can exploit others to get their needs met, to guilt-trip us, place fear in us, and not how they can help others.
When they come for the Hoover with guilt trips and pity plays, we can feel guilt for so many things, for not being there for them. We can feel guilt for not helping if they ask for our help. Narcissists have little to no guilt or remorse. Without that empathy, they don’t feel bad when they hurt someone. They can see how others would perceive them, so they do carry shame. However, they quickly remove this shame by blame-shifting it onto others, Projecting their own thoughts and feelings onto others, and then telling stories to those who empathise with how badly they were treated as they’ve learned this gets them attention. Often believing their own stories as reality.
We have a conscience, and we question what we could have done better, especially when we have children with them, as we want our children to have two parents, and when one is toxic, taking children from that toxic household can be heartbreaking, you have to remember, children do better in a happy home with one parent than an abusive home with two. A narcissist lacks a conscience, meaning they are unaware within themselves of the true differences between right and wrong, they believe they are special and superior, and rules don’t apply to them.
We have object consistency. This is usually formed around the age of 2-3, meaning we develop a side to caring for others even if we are not around that person at that time. Those of us who have this means even when someone hurts us, we can still care about them. A narcissist lacks in object consistency and, at any moment, can just stop caring for others if they feel their needs are not being met.
We have whole object relations, we know within ourselves we make mistakes, we understand others make mistakes, we look for the good in them, that admiration face of theirs when they mirror us and idealise us, we’ve seen it we know who they can be, and how well they can treat us. They lack whole object relations. They are unable to see that humans are not perfect and come with flaws. So once they realise they don’t like something about someone else, instead of seeing them as perfectly imperfect, as we often do them, with different thoughts and feelings, who make mistakes, who learn from mistakes, they see us as damaged and hurtful and just don’t care enough or have the ability to understand and find a middle ground with us, as we try to our own detrimental effects to do with them.
We have a cognitive reflection. Therefore we can reflect on our behaviour. We see and learn from our mistakes. Narcissists lack in Cognitive Reflection, making communication with them extremely challenging. They believe it’s our fault for any problems they are having. They blame all others for their own failing, rarely to never reflecting on their own behaviour, mistakes or errors in judgment.
It’s so frustrating trying to have a reasonable conversation with a narcissist who will never see your point of view. Those with the disorder will never listen to reason or your point of view, so learning how to handle your own emotions and your own responses around them, I do recommend no contact as the best approach.
It’s better to have loved and to have lost than it is to live with a narcissist psychopath for the rest of your life. You are not, and you were never crazy. You just loved, cared, trusted and respected the toxic words of a narcissist. Narcissistic people that you never had the knowledge to understand who they are, what they do, those red flags, or that this personality disorder even existed. If they were your parents, you were raised to believe it to be normal. We end up accepting behaviour as normal that we should never have accepted. Yet, often most adults of childhood narcissistic abuse will say something just didn’t feel right, and how could a child know what that feeling was when they were being taught by the very person making them feel this way. Even partners, as they treat us so right in the beginning, then slowly infect our minds, our instincts speak, yet we don’t know what they are telling us.
So what exactly do they do to us? That makes us think of them so much. Emotional abuse is hard to see. These are some things that happen to people in emotionally abusive relationships.
Emotional abuse is non-physical, yet some or a lot of physical abuse can occur in these relationships also. We know when we’ve been punched in the face, it hurts, it leaves marks, we feel it, and we see it. Yet, due to fear and intimidation, most still don’t leave; psychological abuse hurts us differently, in the most unimaginable ways. We just don’t see it happening. You just can not see it or feel it. Just like physical abuse, psychological abuse causes so much pain. Yet, mostly the confusion and pain occur in our hearts, minds and soul. Both types of abuse leaving lots of side effects like anxiety, trauma bonding and CPTSD.
The relationship usually starts with the narcissist wanting you all to themselves, building on that attachment system within us. We get used to them being around. It almost feels like we’ve lost a limb when we are without them. This isn’t always the case, depending on how many other partners the narcissist already has on the go. In most cases, this is a major Red Flags, the very first idealisation stage when they just can not seem to get enough of us, with them treating us so well and let’s face it, we get to a point when we can not get enough of them either. However, when you want to go out with friends at first, they might offer lifts to keep an eye on you, yet we believe they are being kind. They might make us feel guilty for going, so we slowly stop going.
Further into the relationship, they will start with the arguments. the silent treatments, or the accusations, either before we go or when we get home, we end up cutting ourselves off from friends and family due to fear of the narcissist’s reactions, or the narcissist triangulates with toxic words like. ” they don’t like you anyway.” Or “they talk about you behind your back. They said this about you.” Or “your parents just use you.” And the rest. They’ll start arguments before family events. Then when you arrive, they’ll be the life and soul of the party while you’re left hurt, angry or frustrated. They can use this against you further down the line in their smear campaign when they want to make out you’re crazy. When we are isolated, we lack the support system to help us see what’s happening, or if you have got people saying things in the beginning when the narcissist is treating you so right, the narcissist will go all out to make sure you cut them out. When we do see, most of us, through our own pride, through guilt for not believing those who were right, fear of judgment, fear of being misunderstood, or embarrassed, don’t want to approach those very people who could help us, worse still with some narcissistic people they will have all your friends and family on their side as their flying monkeys or enablers believe the narcissist and not you. Isolation is a major red flag for future awareness when you start dating again.
Try reaching out to friends and family you’ve been isolated from. Genuine people who love and care will help you, reaching out online to support groups, where you can speak with those who’ve lived it and understand, to build up your confidence, connect with others, not feel so alone, you can make amazing online friends. Then start getting back out in the world. This isn’t easy to start, especially with anxiety. Learn your triggers, so you know yourself. Find anchor thoughts. Keep telling yourself that you are safe now. Start by just smiling at people, then say hello. It will get easier, and you will get there.
Most people around narcissistic people no longer feel in control of their own lives, thoughts or feelings. We often have to learn how to think for ourselves and put ourselves first without feeling guilty for doing so.
The narcissist tells you they are the only ones to understand you, to care about you and to love you. It’s hard enough being isolated and feeling alone. Lost in a world of thoughts that are no longer your own. All now based on the narcissist’s reality, thanks to the narcissist’s toxic words. Yet the only or main person you have for reality checks is the very person making you feel how you do. They then come at you with verbal attacks of “You’re insecure.” Or “You need help.” Or “No one will love you.” When we’ve been taken down mentally, these words cut deep, our minds believe them, and we start to believe that something is wrong with us, and they help us to feel grateful that we have their help and support when they play nice and their words of. “After all, I do for you.” When in reality, if you honestly think about it, they do very little for us other than make our lives a living nightmare. While we are not understanding, they are the ones taking us down. This puts the narcissist more in Control of our minds. These toxic words chip away at our confidence and self-worth. Leaving us questioning our very instincts, believing we are not lovable and should be grateful for the narcissist’s negative toxic love.
Once you do start to see, writing it out helps a lot of people, so we can begin to putting reality back into our minds, thinking for ourselves again. Learning and understanding about the disorder so we know how we think and feel is far from ”crazy” we’ve just been gaslighted and manipulated by someone to feel that way so they could keep control over us. Learning those ”insecurities.” were actually our instincts speaking out, even though, at the time, we didn’t know what they were telling us. Now we know when our intuition is telling us something. Also, when we’re not sure what it is, we trust it as it’s usually right.
From one moment to the next, you just don’t know who they are going to be, leaving us walking on Eggshells around them, tiptoeing around the landmine in case we set them off. In reality, it’s not us that set them off. It’s who they are. They set themselves off. This doesn’t make it any easier while you’re living it or fresh out, yet after time learning to understand that the nice and nasty side is who they are. It’s all to manipulate to get their needs met, all to distort our reality and prescriptions of them, all to train our minds to behave how they want, all to keep control over others as they don’t know honestly what they wish to be or who they are, they feed off others, why no matter what you try it’ll never be right. This trains our minds to doubt our own thoughts, to question our abilities, to fear being open and ourselves around others, to be scared of what people will think of us, worrying about offending others—worrying about all other people’s reactions to us just being ourselves.
Most people, either in a relationship or once out, feel ashamed for being themselves. As a narcissistic person continually puts us down and criticises us, some do it obviously, “you can not do that.” The overt narcissist. Some subtle. “Should you do that?” The covert narcissist. When you’re constantly being told you’re not good enough, no one will love you, you’re too fat, you’re too thin, you’re stupid, you’re insecure, you’re crazy, and all the other negative gaslighting phrases, it programs most people’s minds to believe it. We then no longer feel good enough about who we are, the skin we are in. Our own abilities and this holds us back from being who we indeed are. When they point out our mistakes, our flaws and our insecurities, when they make them up as they go along and sink us further, it takes a piece of us every single time. It chips away slowly over time at our self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence. We start to believe them and their poisonous words. They plant those seeds of doubt and then help them grow within us. Most of us then learn to open up no longer. We shut ourselves off because they shame us into believing our feelings are not typical. They invalidate us at every turn.
This also means we start to question our own sanity. Was it them? Is it me? If only I? Am I crazy? Did I do that? Why don’t I remember that? This, again, is mostly down to the gaslighting from the narcissist, psychological abuse that gets you to doubt your own reality and sanity. We lose more trust within ourselves and our own capabilities. We think of those times they treated us right, then question ourselves. Make no mistake, you did nothing wrong, and it’s their manipulative abuse.
We then also start to no longer feel in control of our own lives. All our hopes and decision-making they Promise and don’t deliver. Then as the narcissist has questioned continuously what we are doing, where we are going, and our choice in how we dress, we might start to worry that our own individual choice doesn’t please them and might start arguments with them, so we end up asking them, we start doubting ourselves and running our choices through them and going with what they approve of rather than what we do.
Look at others that have done the things you’d like to do. They are just a person like you. It’s possible. If they can do it, so can you, don’t look to be better than others. Look to be better than you, to keep growing, learning, and developing your own qualities and abilities. Just get started. Once you start, it gets easier, don’t look at mistakes. Look at the lesson and go again. Acknowledge any achievement along the way, open up to those who’ve lived it and will validate your feelings as normal. That will give you ideas of how to move on. Take those ideas that work for you. You can create a new dream, new goals, and new hopes. You can take back control of who you are, and start with the simple things, how you want to dress. You’re now free to choose for yourself, and don’t let anyone tell you that’s not right or make you feel uncomfortable. Those who do the problem are with them, not you. Feel comfortable, feel good, feel happy in the clothing you have on, dress like you and show up as you. You have to feel comfortable with your choice, with good intentions, and do what’s right for you. Choose what you want to watch, where you want to go, take back your decision-making skills, you have them, take back your thoughts, they are yours, take back control and simply be who you want to be for yourself.
Breaking the pattern of thoughts within your mind, just like watching the same movie, you know what’s going to happen, you know the end, yet because of the good bits you view it again, or that same track of music, the more you listen to it the more it sticks in your mind. You might hear different bits from it each time you listen, or you might take different perspectives from it, which is excellent, yet when you’re listening and hearing the same thing over and over again, that’s what you’re hearing, and your mind is perceiving. Then your mind focuses on it, that song you hear in the morning that gets stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
Your mind and thoughts need interrupting, like when you’re deep in conversation, then someone takes you off-topic, and you forget the original point because your mind was interrupted.
With the narcissist, unfortunately, we sometimes want to change our thoughts, yet because we’ve nothing perceived as more important to focus on, stuck on the old dreams instead of finding new ones, we can not shift those thoughts, or we get so stuck and caught up in that woe is me pain mindset, why do they get to move on while we hurt? even though we want to we just can not seem to shift them out of our minds, we have to find ways to make it a must, when it’s a must when our minds know we must. We then take action to find a way to do this. We then find ways and methods to break our thought processes and make our minds work for us rather than against us.
When you miss them, remember the reality of the relationship you had with them.
Think about it as if you were to go back, what it’ll be like in six months, one year. The pattern keeps cycling. You’ve already been around it before. Start giving yourself a better future by thinking about how happy you will be, and everything you can do without having the narcissist to answer to.
Remember, you don’t really love them. Even if you thought you did.
Obsession, trauma bond and attachment to anyone are not love. It’s intense, and it’s mistaken for love. You think it’s love; it’s not love. It is those chemicals your body has released because of those highs and lows, and it’s not love. Are those highs really worth the lows and the doubts?
Start telling yourself over and over until it sinks into your mind, “ It’s not love. It is an addiction, and it’s not love. It is an addiction.”
Set Boundaries and stop all contact, Grey Rock. If they still see the children. At the start, it’s going to be really hard. You will have withdrawals. Keep going; it gets easier. Do it now, and you have to go through the withdrawals no other way. It’s far better to do it now than in ten years’ time. After withdrawals, you will reclaim your happiness.
Discover a new passion for yourself. By replacing the void, that they leave behind with new activities, new friends, anything, just get yourself busy and keep going so you don’t go back. Sometimes it’s not the person you miss, and it’s the routine you miss.
When you’re having down moments, put some uplifting music on, or call someone close to you. Look for things you have achieved in life. Look for something to be grateful for.
When they just pop into your head, acknowledge they have, then tell yourself you’re not interested, find anything you can to remove those thoughts. Watch something funny, Listen to something good, call a friend, start making plans for your future, whatever it takes to reprogram your mind, you can and you will.
Get help, and support groups, find and connect with others who’ve been their best friends and family, and reach out and find someone to help you.
Changing how you think takes time and patience from within.
Like if you kick a ball with your right foot, You have to deliberately direct your thoughts to kick that ball with the other foot, then practice, practice, practice, you will feel uncomfortable, and it will feel unnatural. You will miss kick. It will not be as powerful as your usual foot. It will be sloppy, it will be messy, and it will be hard. If you keep going, it gets easier.
Learning any new skill is the same as making yourself think about things you want to think about. It will feel strange and uncomfortable at times, and it will feel unnatural. You need to think optimistic. You need to support your own thoughts, and you need to think positive. You need to believe it is possible. Then you need to work on it.
It’s going to be a process that takes time, you will have setbacks along the way when you don’t see great change, but you must keep going. Keep changing, keep learning and keep growing.
When you change how you think, you will change your life for the better.
Whatever it is that’s stopping you right now. Whatever is your limiting beliefs, you need to write them all down.
However, that person made you feel.
Any of those setbacks you’ve had.
I’m not good enough.
I can not trust anyone.
It’s just too hard.
My hearts had enough.
I don’t know how to start rebuilding my life.
Whatever they are, whatever got programmed into your mind, you need to see them all and write them all down.
Write down the story you tell yourself. Next, write the truth—things like.
- We had a fantastic connection.
They learnt everything about me, mirroring me, and faked it all.
- They can change,
They’ve said they’d change so many times and never managed it. What’s different now? Nothing they will not change,
- It was my fault they acted that way.
No one deserves to be manipulated and abused.
- We could make it work this time.
What’s different this time to last? Nothing, we can never make it work as they do not love or care for me.
- I’ll never find real love.
If I go back to them, it’ll take longer to find real love, as they don’t love me.
Now you need to ask yourself, what have these beliefs cost me in my past? Then write that down. What are they costing me today? Then write those down. If I don’t change, what are they going to cost me over the coming days, weeks, months and years? Write them all down.
Every-time old limiting beliefs come to your mind, catch that negative default mindset thought, take control back of your mind, and then deliberately place a new thought into your mind. You need to do a mindset reset. Take back control of your own mind and your own life.
You no longer have to live your life how your default mindset has been trained to do so. You are free to change that and live your life how you want to.
- No more, “ no one will ever love me.”
Now it’s “the right people will always love me.”
- No more, “I don’t even know where to start.”
Now it’s “I’m going to take small daily steps each and every day, slowly but surely turning my life around.”
- No more, “I’m not good enough.”
Now it’s “I’m good enough for me, and the right people will understand me.”
- No more. “I don’t trust anyone.”
Now it’s. “I trust my instinct.”
“The significant problems we face can not be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
Learning or creating yourself to be exactly who you want to be, to rediscover your own thinking abilities, removing self-doubt from your mind. With good intentions, there is no wrong way or right way to live your life. It’s better to do your best and miss than do nothing at all. We are all survivors. We are all still here. Good people will understand you and forgive innocent mistakes. Those who don’t are not the people for you.
Keep trying new things, keep going. You’ve got this.
Is a narcissist capable of change?
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach. She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.
Click here for Elizabeth Shaw’s Recommended reading list for more information on recovery from narcissistic abuse.
What is? and how to handle the smear campaigns.
Fight, flight, freeze or fawn