Walking on eggshells is a common phrase used to describe the behaviour of individuals who constantly feel the need to be cautious and careful around certain people. This behaviour is often seen in relationships with narcissists, where individuals are trained to be on edge and fearful of the narcissist’s reactions. This article will explore the effects of walking on eggshells, the reasons why individuals engage in this behaviour, and strategies for dealing with it.
When an individual finds themselves walking on eggshells around a narcissist, they begin to suppress their authentic selves. The narcissist invalidates their thoughts, feelings, and appearance, causing the individual to doubt themselves. This invalidation leads to the gradual loss of one’s own identity and the adoption of a persona that pleases the narcissist. This subtle form of mental abuse is manipulative in nature and gradually chips away at the individual’s sense of self.
Walking on eggshells is a response to negative, toxic, or abusive individuals. It is a subconscious attempt to protect oneself from further harm. Often, individuals do not even realise they are being abused until they begin to lose their own values, beliefs, and boundaries. The abuser creates an environment of insecurity, instability, confusion, and fear, all while professing their love for the individual. This manipulation forces the individual to constantly try to please the abuser, resulting in a constant state of anxiety and a loss of personal freedom.w
Some examples of behaviours that indicate walking on eggshells include the fear of speaking up and causing an argument or receiving anger or passive-aggressive reactions. Not making noise that may disturb the abuser, fear of negative comments or judgment about appearance, fear of not responding immediately to messages or calls, fear of living one’s own life and being true to oneself, fear of asking others for help, fear of not meeting the abuser’s expectations, fear of socialising with friends, and fear of being judged by others.
The prolonged experience of walking on eggshells has several negative effects on the individual’s mental and emotional well-being. Anxiety becomes a constant companion, as individuals fear reactions from others even when they are not in an abusive situation. This anxiety can manifest in various ways, such as fear of phone calls or messages, fear of speaking up for oneself, fear of saying no to others, and a constant need to please others to avoid judgment. Moreover, the repetitive criticism and put-downs from the abuser chip away at the individual’s self-esteem, leaving them feeling worthless and constantly apologising for themselves. The loss of personal freedom and the shutting off of oneself from the outside world exacerbate these negative feelings. Individuals may find themselves trapped in a cycle of blame and self-doubt, constantly questioning their own thoughts, feelings, and actions.
To overcome the effects of walking on eggshells, individuals must take steps to regain their sense of self and establish healthy boundaries. If you are still in an abusive situation, creating a safe exit plan is crucial. Seeking support from trusted friends or professionals can be beneficial during this process. Once out of the abusive relationship, individuals must work on reconnecting with themselves and expressing their own thoughts and desires. Surrounding oneself with positive, understanding individuals who encourage emotional expression can create a supportive environment for personal growth. Setting new boundaries and enforcing them is essential, as is developing new core values and standards that align with one’s own beliefs. Reconnecting with old friends who are understanding and supportive can help rebuild social connections and provide a sense of belonging. Engaging in activities that bring joy and pursuing new hobbies can reignite individual interests and passions. It is also important to challenge negative self-talk and replace it with positive affirmations that reinforce self-worth and capability. Taking small, consistent steps towards personal growth and embracing one’s own uniqueness can lead to a happier and more fulfilling life.
In conclusion, walking on eggshells is a behaviour that occurs when individuals are constantly fearful of negative reactions or abandonment from certain individuals, often narcissists. This behaviour is a response to manipulative and abusive tactics employed by the narcissist. The effects of walking on eggshells include anxiety, loss of self-esteem, feeling disconnected from others, constant apologies, negative self-talk, loss of personal freedom, fear of self-expression, and self-doubt. To overcome these effects, individuals must create a safe exit plan if in an abusive relationship and then focus on reconnecting with their authentic selves. Surrounding oneself with positive and supportive individuals, setting new boundaries, developing new core values, reconnecting with old friends, engaging in activities that bring joy, and challenging negative self-talk are essential steps towards reclaiming one’s identity and living a fulfilling life.
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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.