I’ve read quite a few times lately that victims of narcissistic abuse should never have compassion on narcissists. Narcissists don’t deserve compassion. Feeling sorry for them only opens the door for you to fall for their gaslighting & abuse.
Honestly, I don’t totally agree.
While it’s true having compassion on someone can lead you to tolerate things you normally don’t allow, that isn’t the case 100% of the time. For so many of us who have been abused by narcissists, we have learned what narcissism entails. We can predict the gaslighting & crazy making they will do, so we know how to deal with it when it happens. We also realize how healthy boundaries look, & have no trouble enforcing those boundaries. We are often also able to feel pity for the narcissist who abused us- after all, whatever made them the way they are must have been pretty terrible. Their behavior is so dysfunctional. It’s very sad. We can balance compassion for them with maintaining healthy behavior on our part.
God has enabled me to pray for my parents daily, even on those days I am so hurt & angry, I don’t care where they spend eternity. Sometimes, my prayers are very insincere, but I pray anyway because God understands how I feel & honors the fact I’m trying.
So why bother praying for them, especially during bad times? Why care at all for people who have hurt me so deeply, & who won’t even acknowledge I live with C-PTSD? They don’t deserve it! They’ve done too much while refusing to acknowledge anything they’ve done!
One reason is because God wants us to pray for other people, even those who have abused us. I also believe is because having compassion helps me to remember that I am NOT like them. Some examples of ways they are different than me are:
Narcissists don’t care about anything about anyone. People are nothing more than items to be used to benefit the narcissist. They are not entitled to normal human feelings, needs, wants, likes or dislikes.
Normal people though care about other people. Even people who have hurt us- we don’t wish awful things on those people. We may not actively wish the best on those people constantly, but we also don’t wish the worst on them.
Feeling compassion, even periodically, for the person who abused you, who made you experience indescribable pain, I think, can be a good thing. It’s a reminder that you are NOT like them! You instead have escaped what is meant to destroy you with your humanity in tact. That is really a big accomplishment! Definitely something to be proud of! Escaping narcissistic abuse without being bitter isn’t an easy task.
I truly believe that this is an individual thing though. Just because I’m good with feeling compassion for the narcissists in my life doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you too. And you know what? That’s OK! God has very individualized plans for each person, even those in similar situations. I’ve met some people with narcissistic mothers who feel no compassion for them, only disgust their mothers chose this dysfunctional, abusive way of life. It doesn’t mean they’re carrying around bitterness or anger, only disgust for the poor choices their mothers have made. This works for them just fine. It enables them to keep firm & healthy boundaries in place or to stay no contact. It doesn’t hinder their healing process, either. So if you feel that having compassion for your narcissistic mother is wrong for you, don’t feel bad! That may just be the path for you.
10 responses to “Is Feeling Compassion For Narcissists Good Or Bad?”
My parents, collectively and individually, have broken my heart into a million pieces. They have robbed me of joy and destroyed my health. They have been my worst enemies yet I cannot hate them. I hate what they have done to me and others and the many very bad choices they’ve made. But I don’t hate them. For my own protection and so that I can live a normal life in the years left to me I have had to go strict NC with my NM and her enablers. But I still do what I can for them by praying, especially for their salvation. I wish them well and pray for their protection and provision. And I couldn’t do that if not for the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, I am different from my abusers. And the greatest difference is that I am indwelt by the Spirit of God. He is the reason why I can have compassion for those who have done so much to hurt me. It is by His power that I can hate the sin but love those who sin against me. We may not experience the emotion of love toward our abusers but we commit acts of love for them when we pray or simply by refusing to take revenge. And that is my definition of compassion.
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Beautifully said, Suzanne. ❤
I realized I had to leave my husband when he started directing his narcissistic rages towards my children one year ago. I didn’t know it was narcissism until this past fall, when my children’s pediatrician listened to the story of my 15 year marriage – mostly about my response to his behavior, which is all it has been for 15 years. The word “narcissism” was like the missing piece to the puzzle.
His mother was narcissistic and very controlling, and his father very passive. His mother has dementia now. She is like a different person.
From what I have studied since September, the cause of his narcissism would have been a disruption in his attachment to his parents very early on. He is the middle child of three, all 18 months apart. His mother yelled at them every single day of their childhood. He was bullied mercilessly through elementary school and middle school.
I knew all this going in, but I didn’t realize that he wouldn’t heal, and creating a new family (mine, with our children) would not be a path forward for him but a trap in the same mistakes. Who would know this when they are 20? I did not.
He is a miserable person.
For many years, I thought he could be great, and that he could find happiness, and now I know he cannot.
I am sad for him. I hope I can break the cycle and let my daughters move forward without this curse.
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That’s very sad.. what a shame not only that his life was so miserable but that he has turned out this way instead of healing. I pray your daughters will be OK. It’s a terrible thing for a child to be on the receiving end of a parent’s narcissistic rage. It’s great you’ve learned about NPD & have left him though, for your & your daughters’ sake.
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Word-for-word, this is how I feel too. I understand the hostility people have towards the narcissistic people in their lives – I had that too – but now I’m recovering from the experience I had, I can look back and feel compassion for the person who hurt me so badly. He must’ve been so hurt himself to have developed such a distorted outlook and I don’t feel the need to hate him for it. I’m glad I am the way I am and that I can choose compassion, for myself and others. I feel sorry that he wasn’t given a chance to feel that. I see him as a hurt child in an adult body, trying to survive. I don’t see him as the frightful monster I once did. Thank you for your words. I don’t think many people share this point of view, like, if you don’t hate a barcissist for what they did, you must be codependent or have low self esteem. I feel like our outlook actually comes from a place of humanity and self worth. It allows us to move on without hate x
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I totally agree with you. it does seem that way, like people think there’s something wrong with you for not hating a narcissist. It seems so much better to me to feel that compassion- it’s just further proof you’re not like the narcissist & they weren’t able to destroy your good heart (much as they may have tried to).
Absolutely. Such a journey to reach this point. Thanks for your reply.
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It’s quite a journey for sure! xoxo
I just want to add that I didn’t have children with the narcissistic person I’m speaking of above. I only had to ensure my own recovery from the abuse. I can’t imagine how it awful must be to have children involved. I’m just sharing my experience of how recovery feels. 3 years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed that I’d reach this point. Wishing anyone affected by a narcissistic person a lot of love. Don’t give up x
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I can’t imagine that either. Your own healing is hard enough but also helping a child while continuing to deal 28th a narcissist?! That’s so much!