Category Archives: Christian Topics and Prayers

All things Christian. Prayer requests are welcome.

Guilt Or God Working Through You?

Some of you long time readers will remember this story..

In May, 2016, I had a huge argument with my parents.  My mother in-law had just died, & since they read the obituaries in the weekly paper, I knew they would see hers.  I also knew that they wouldn’t acknowledge what I had told them about her that caused me to go no contact with her 14 years prior, but instead would talk about what a great lady she was.  I was mentally prepared for that, so when I saw their number on my caller ID the day after her funeral when the paper came out, I wasn’t surprised.  I asked God to help me get through the call & guide my words.  I thought it was going to be a mostly typical conversation, & I was wrong. 

I was NOT prepared for my parents being angry with me for not telling them about her death so they could attend the funeral.  I also was ill prepared for the intense feeling of betrayal or the rage that I felt.  I ended up yelling at, crying & cussing out my parents.  Not my normal behavior by any means!  When I hung up the phone my first step was to pray.  I told God I was so sorry!  I never should’ve behaved that way.  Somehow I must have missed His guidance & messed up everything.  God spoke to me extremely clearly at that time, & said, “I wanted this to happen.  Your parents needed to see their normally calm & reasonable daughter extremely upset thanks to their behavior.” 

That argument was the last time I spoke to my mother before she died just under three years later.  It was also one of the last times I spoke to my father who died about eighteen months after.  Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I think that argument was a catalyst for no contact for me, which in turn motivated my parents to turn to God at the end of their lives.  It really did have a purpose!

At that time & for quite a while after, however, in spite of knowing my parents needed to see my reaction, I still felt terrible.  The guilt was intense!   

I think this is normal for most children of narcissistic parents.  Our parents train us early in life to please them at all costs, & to feel intense guilt or even shame when we fail.  Even when we are adults, when we do something that we perceive as wrong, we automatically feel that guilt because it’s a reflex built into us by our parents.

The thing is though that sometimes doing something other people think is wrong is a good thing.  Naturally narcissists would disagree with that, but it’s true.  What one person sees as wrong can be right for someone else. 

While the guilt may make you feel as if you’re doing something bad, it may be inappropriate to the situation.  God may be working through you, & sometimes He works through people in rather unusual ways.  Just look at the argument I had with my parents.  It felt awful at the time, but it turned out to be very beneficial for all three of us.

The next time you automatically feel guilt about something, then please, take a moment to ask God if that guilt is justified or if He is working through you somehow.  You may be very pleasantly surprised to find out He is working through you, & there is no valid reason for you to feel any guilt!

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10% Off My Print Books

My publisher is offering 10% off my print books until August 5, 2022 when you use code MAKER10 at checkout.

My books can be found at the link below..

https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cynthiabaileyrug

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A Very Important Life Skill

If you are interested in psychology like me, then I would really like to recommend the Netflix series “Mindhunter”.  It’s a fictional series based on how the science of criminal profiling came into existence.  The FBI team attempts to learn about criminal profiling.  Two male detectives are the main focus of the show.  They interview various serial killers in an attempt to understand why they did the things they did.  The plot is fascinating & the acting is very good!  My husband, who usually isn’t particularly interested in crime shows loves “Mindhunter” as much as me if this tells you just how good it is!

Anyway the reason I’m mentioning this is there was a fantastic quote on the show by Agent Ford, one of the two male detectives I mentioned earlier.  Ford has excellent instincts & listens closely to them.  In one episode, he let someone talk him into something other than listening to his instincts.  It turned out his instincts were right on, as usual.  He was upset, naturally & said the most interesting thing.. “The only mistake I ever made was doubting myself.” 

When a person is subjected to narcissistic abuse, doubting one’s self becomes the norm.  I always had pretty strong instincts, but learned early in life to ignore them due to the narcissistic abuse.  I was sure I was wrong because I believed I was ignorant of so much, too judgmental, & even just plain stupid.  This is so typical of the mentality of victims of narcissistic abuse, but that doesn’t mean it’s correct.

Whatever a narcissist has told you about yourself, I want to encourage you today to question it.  Logically, as if you were an outsider looking at the situation rather than someone directly involved in the situation.  If you do this, chances are excellent that you will realize just how wrong the narcissist was about you.

I also want to encourage you to pay attention to your instincts.  I realize some folks are naturally more in tune with theirs than others due to differences in their personalities, so some of you may not be overly interested in doing this.  Please consider giving it a try though.  I firmly believe the reason instincts are so accurate is because they are the Holy Spirit guiding us.  Doesn’t that make them worth listening to?

To learn to trust your instincts doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen.  Pay attention to what they tell you.  When you feel strongly, do what you feel your instincts are leading you to do.  Early on when doing this, you are going to make some mistakes along the way, but don’t give up!  The more you listen to your instincts, the more in tune with them you will become.  And, the more you do this, the less mistakes you will make.  That means the more you will learn to trust them. 

Being in tune with your instincts is a wonderful thing in many ways.  You can avoid many problems by trusting them.  You also will learn to avoid toxic people by trusting them.  Your instincts pick up on subtle cues to people & situations that the cognizant mind doesn’t notice.  Instincts also put pieces of the puzzle together which help you to learn what you should or shouldn’t do, what is good or bad for you & even what people it is best for you to avoid.  Don’t you think it’s worth investing the time in fine tuning this skill to help you improve your life?

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Showing Your Emotions

It seems to me that many people consider people who are free with showing their emotions weak, “drama queens or kings” or even crazy.  Not showing emotions is often looked on as a sign of strength.  I really disagree with this thinking.  There really is nothing wrong or bad about showing what you feel inside.

Years ago, I remember my mother telling me about her mail carrier.  She hadn’t seen her for a while, then finally saw her one day.  She asked how she was doing & where she had been.  Turned out the lady’s husband committed suicide.  My mother thought her composure in discussing this topic was admirable.  I disagreed!  This lady could have been in a state of shock & was unable to show emotions due to that.  But, she also could have been glad he was gone & didn’t miss him.  Her lack of emotions gave no clue which was how she was feeling about her loss.

Showing emotions is a healthy thing to do.  It helps you to process them in healthy ways.  Did you know many people who don’t process anger often end up with health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease & digestive issues?  They also can suffer from depression since sometimes repressed anger manifests as depression.

Showing emotions also helps people to know where they stand with you.  If you weren’t obviously happy that your spouse brought you your favorite coffee as a surprise sometimes, how would he or she know how much you appreciated it?  Or, if you held in disappointment, how would your child know that he or she needed to work harder to get better grades?

The Bible even describes times when Jesus showed His emotions.  When Lazarus died, Jesus knew He would raise him from the dead, but even so, He was emotional & let that show.  John 11: 32-35 says,  32 When Mary came [to the place] where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who had come with her also sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit [to the point of anger at the sorrow caused by death] and was troubled, 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept.”  The Gospels also tell the story of Jesus becoming enraged when He saw people buying & selling in the temple.  He drove animals & people out & flipped over tables.  Hardly the actions of someone afraid of showing their emotions.

Showing emotions is truly a courageous thing to do.  It shows you aren’t afraid of the opinions or judgment of other people.  It shows you are brave enough to be vulnerable.  It shows you are in touch with your emotions, which is a very healthy way to be.

What is not courageous is hiding all emotions behind a mask of stoicism.  This often is a trauma response created by those who have been exposed to cruel people who criticize them for how they feel & invalidate their feelings.  If this describes you, please know that you don’t need to be that way anymore.  You are an adult & allowed to feel your feelings & yes, even show them!  That doesn’t make you oversensitive, overreacting, stupid or even crazy.  It makes you human. 

If you’re struggling to get in touch with your emotions, I suggest praying, paying attention to how you feel about everything & journaling about your experiences.  Read over your journal entries periodically too, don’t simply write them & forget them.  They can help you to have insight. 

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Enjoying Life, Mental Health

Dismissive Listening

One way people can treat others poorly is by practicing dismissive listening rather than empathic listening.  It is a very common behavior.  It is so common, in fact, that many people don’t even realize that it’s not right.  They may feel badly after someone treats them this way but not necessarily know why, because in addition to being so commonplace, it’s also very subtle.

Dismissive listening can be recognized easily if you know what to look for.  Basically it is like the name says, it is when someone dismisses what you say.  Some common dismissive phrases are:

  • “Don’t be upset/sad/angry!” 
  • “The same thing happened to my friend!  She was fine though.”
  • “At least it’s not…<insert random bad thing here>”
  • “Well it could be worse!”
  • Any sort of toxic positivity phrase like, “cheer up!”, “Positive vibes only!” or “Think only happy thoughts!”

Dismissive phrases like these often try to shut down & even instill shame in the person talking to the dismissive person.  They also are a sign of someone trying to fix another person rather than listen to what they have to say.

While narcissists clearly are pros at dismissive listening, not everyone who talks this way is a narcissist.  Some people simply don’t realize how they are treating others is wrong. 

I urge you to pay attention to how people treat you when you talk.  If someone is quick to dismiss what you have to say, that is a red flag.  They may not be a totally unsafe person, but they may not be comfortable with the subject matter & as a result, want to stop you from talking about it.  Some people simply can’t handle talking about specific topics.  While that is fine, dismissing you if you bring up a specific topic isn’t fine.  The dismissive listening is a red flag that this topic isn’t a safe one to discuss with this person, so you should avoid it.  It also could potentially be a sign the person is dysfunctional or even narcissistic.  The way they behave otherwise will let you know what the case is.

I also want to urge you to pay attention to how you treat others when they are talking.  If you catch yourself being dismissive to others once in a while, it happens.  It’s normal, really.  On a regular basis though, it’s not good.  You can make changes though! 

Remember that being a good listener means you want to hear what someone has to say, & you make that obvious.  You make it clear you are willing to listen to them.  You let the other person speak without interrupting.  You don’t change the subject.  You let them speak without judgment or criticism. 

You also don’t need to offer advice unless the other person asks for it.  Unasked for advice is just rude & presumptuous! Not to mention, many people just need to vent rather than advice. 

Show empathy.  Let the other person know you care by saying things like, “That sounds really hard.”  “Can I do something to help you?”  “I’m here for you.”  & “I care.”  Those little phrases will make a huge difference to someone in need of a comforting friend.

Body language can be important too.  It sends subtle cues to the speaker that you are involved in this conversation.  Touch their hand, look them in the eye, maybe offer a hug.

Dismissive listening may not be the worst thing a person can do to another, but it still needs to be avoided in order to have healthy, happy relationships.

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Ruminating Thoughts Have A Purpose

If you have C-PTSD, you know all about ruminating thoughts, even if you aren’t aware of what they’re called.

Ruminating thoughts are when something keeps going over & over in your mind.  You either struggle with not thinking about that thing or can’t avoid it.  This can be utterly miserable & depressing!  Not to mention scary too, because not being able to have control over your thoughts is a very scary thing.

Prior to my brain injury, I could control mine to a degree.  They happened, sure, but I could distract myself & stop the rumination.  After the brain injury though, that stopped happening.  Once ruminating thoughts began, they were out of my control.  They stayed until they felt like leaving.  I hated it!  That is, until I realized something.

As miserable as ruminating thoughts can be, they do have a purpose.  Ruminating thoughts help you to process trauma, & make no mistake- trauma needs processing if you want to heal from it.

When you can’t stop thinking about something, you feel the emotions connected to it, whether they are good or bad.  Think back to when you first started dating someone you love.  At first, you couldn’t stop thinking about that person.  Everything reminded you of that person.  And, every time you thought of that person, you thought about how much you love him or her, how attractive he or she is, the good times you were having together & more.  By constantly thinking about this person, or ruminating, you naturally felt all kinds of emotions.

This happens with ruminating thoughts about trauma too.  Obviously it isn’t nearly as pleasant, but even so, it serves a purpose.  This is another way that you can process the trauma & the emotions attached to it.  It will help you to heal. 

The next time you have ruminating thoughts, I would like to urge you to sit with your ruminating thoughts.  Feel the anger, the hurt, the fear, the sadness… whatever emotions you felt at the time of the trauma.  Talk to God as you do this.  Maybe write down what you are experiencing in your journal.  I know it’s hard, but it really is worth it!  It’s worth it when the trauma loses its ability to hurt you so badly.  It’s worth it when you realize you survived something pretty horrific, & now can think of it without feeling utterly devastated.  It’s worth it when you feel more peace & joy in your life because you have healed from this trauma.

As an added bonus, when you do this, the ruminating thoughts on this won’t keep happening.  In fact, chances are slim you will think about it often.  Naturally you won’t forget it, but most likely it only will come to mind quite rarely.  And, when it does, thinking of it won’t consume you like ruminating thoughts can.  I always noticed when I’ve healed from something traumatic, remembering it feels much like remembering a really bad dream.  Unpleasant of course, & something I’d rather not think about, but also not devastating. 

Please remember too, just because you have sat with your ruminating thoughts once doesn’t mean you will be totally healed.  Maybe that will happen, but most likely it’ll take doing this a few times.  That is normal.  Each time you do it though, you are going to become stronger & more healed.

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The Real Truth About Denial

Today’s post admittedly sounds different than my usual posts. I hope you’ll continue reading anyway, because I believe the message is important.

I woke up recently from a nightmare, as I often do.  In it, I was driving a young girl somewhere while she used my phone to call one of my relatives.  As a funny aside, I know in the dream I blocked my number from showing up on the relative’s phone when she called.. just as I would do in real life.  Anyway the phone was on speaker, so I could hear the conversation.  It sounded innocent enough.  I was fairly guarded anyway, because although I haven’t had any negative interactions with this relative, I also haven’t had any positive ones either.  I wasn’t sure if this person was safe or unsafe.  This relative asked to speak to me, & the girl looked at me before answering.  I quietly said, “maybe tomorrow” & she said that to the other person.   Suddenly this person’s demeanor went from normal to viciously trashing me.  She said I was selfish to the core, a spoiled brat & many more awful things that my family has said to & about me.  I grabbed the phone to hang up as I drove & that is the point I woke up. 

It triggered a nasty emotional flashback as I woke up.  It emotionally took me right back to the time when my father was dying, when my family attacked me constantly & daily for his final almost three weeks because I didn’t say goodbye to him.  When I was able to physically calm down a bit, I began to pray, as I often do when I have nightmares.  This turned out to be very interesting.   God not only comforted me as usual, but He also told me some things.

God reminded me of that awful time when my family was attacking me, & how He told me then that they did so partly out of denial.  They wanted to believe my father was a great guy, our family was great & I was the problem.  Me not saying goodbye threatened their denial, which is mostly why they were so cruel to me at that time.

He also told me about facing truth opposed to living in denial.  He said denial isn’t simply a poor coping skill.  It comes straight from the devil himself.  Denial is about lying to yourself rather than facing the truth.  Since the enemy hates truth, of course something coming from him would embrace lies & reject truth.  John 8:44 in the Living Bible says, “For you are the children of your father the devil and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning and a hater of truth—there is not an iota of truth in him. When he lies, it is perfectly normal; for he is the father of liars..” 

People who are deeply entrenched in denial hate anyone who is a threat to it, & will do anything to protect it.  The reason being, God said, is that they become “entwined” with the enemy.  I found that choice of words interesting, so I looked it up to be sure of exactly what it meant.  According to Cambridge dictionary’s website, the definition of entwined is “closely connected or unable to be separated.” 

A person gets into this entwined state so subtly, they fail to recognize it.  It starts out as learning something painful.  Anyone’s natural reaction to pain, physical or emotional, is to pull away from it.  The devil uses this reaction to his advantage.  He convinces people just don’t think about the pain & it won’t hurt anymore.  Simple, subtle & very effective.  This happens repeatedly with other painful things, & the more it happens, the more entwined someone becomes with the enemy.

When a person is deeply entwined with the enemy, they can’t see their bad behavior as bad.  They are so entangled with him that they will not see truth.  They almost never see how their denial hurts other people.  On the rare occasion that they do see it, they are so deceived that they see any person who tries telling the truth as a real problem.  That means they think hurting anyone who tells the truth is acceptable & sometimes even a good thing to do.  With my situation that I mentioned earlier, God showed me at that time that my family truly thought they were doing the right & even Godly thing by trying to harass, bully & shame me into saying goodbye to my father.

Being involved this way with the enemy doesn’t mean they aren’t entwined with him in other areas as well.  Since he found one access point into a person’s life, he certainly can find others just as easily.

I know that all of this may sound hard to believe.  I get that.  However, I firmly believe this to be accurate since it can be backed up by Scripture.  Consider Ephesians 6:12 also from the Living Bible.  It says, “For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world.”  Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the devil & his minions stopped attacking people.  Quite the opposite in fact.  Psalm 55:3, Psalm 38:20, Psalm 64:1, Psalm 69:4, Ephesians 6:11 & 2 Timothy 4:18 are just a few examples.

Please seriously consider what I have said here today.  Pray about it for yourself, & ask God to show you the truth if you have doubts.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Doing Something New

As I mentioned some time back, I decided to abandon making YouTube videos in favor of podcasts since they are much easier for me to make. And thankfully, they have been well received!

Because they have been doing well, I decided to expand where they can be accessed. My podcasts now be found on many platforms. Those links are below. I hope you will check them out!

So far, I’m still figuring this all out as I go. Not entirely sure what I’m doing at the moment, so please just bear with me! Plus, writing is my top priority & has been since God told me many years ago it was my purpose. This means podcasts aren’t going to get as much of my attention. I don’t have any particular schedule with them, so I won’t release new ones faithfully every day, week or even month. I release them a few at a time periodically. I have been pretty lazy about doing this over the last year or so, & I apologize for that. It’s changing, I promise! I just had so much happening in my life in the recent past, my work has fallen too far behind.

So anyway, here is the list of where my podcasts can be found. I hope you find a platform that you like, & will listen to them. Thank you as always for reading & supporting my work! I hope it blesses you as much as you bless me!

Amazon Music:

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/636257ca-b20e-4c80-b0c4-76c6da81d4b6/cynthia-bailey-rug

Anchor By Spotify:

https://anchor.fm/cynthiabaileyrug

Apple Podcasts:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/cynthia-bailey-rug/id1632080095

Castbox:

https://castbox.fm/channel/id3103069?utm_source=podcaster&utm_medium=dlink&utm_campaign=c_3103069&utm_content=Cynthia%20Bailey-Rug-CastBox_FM

Google Podcasts:

https://www.google.com/podcasts?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9hbmNob3IuZm0vcy8yNWViYmY5OC9wb2RjYXN0L3Jzcw==

Overcast:

https://overcast.fm/itunes1519449931/cynthia-bailey-rug

Pocketcasts:

https://pca.st/3qvsb30s

RadioPublic:

https://radiopublic.com/cynthia-baileyrug-6BonBp

Spotify:

https://open.spotify.com/show/5aY76eAGa3xOfVMimiQMai

Stitcher:

https://www.stitcher.com/show/cynthia-baileyrug

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25% Off Sale On All Of My Ebooks & 15% Off Sale On All Of My Print Books!!

My ebooks are going on sale for the entire month of July! From July 1-31, 2022, all of my ebooks will be 25% off! The discount is applied automatically at checkout, so there are no coupon codes necessary. If you have wanted any of my books, this is a great time to grab them cheap!

My ebooks can be found at the link below…

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CynthiaBaileyRug

If you prefer print books, you can get 15% off of them by adding code HUSTLE15 at checkout. This sale ends July 1, 2022. My print books can be found at the link below…

https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cynthiabaileyrug

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One Way To Handle Narcissists

Talking to narcissists is incredibly frustrating at best.  They think they know best on every topic, & aren’t open to hearing other people’s views.  Even more frustrating is when they are abusive, because when confronted on that behavior, narcissists turn things around to where the victim is to blame, over sensitive or overreacting.  They may even deny the incident happened altogether.  So often it’s easier to avoid confrontation & provide no reaction whatsoever, thus depriving the narcissist of their coveted narcissistic supply. 

There is one other way to handle abusive behavior by narcissists I have discovered in my personal experience that can work pretty well.  And, I’ve learned it’s also Biblical! 

When a narcissist says or does something abusive, rather than react, responding is always best.  Reactions are immediate & without thought, which means they can be overly emotional.  Seeing victims overly emotional feeds narcissists, so it’s best to deprive them of that.  Instead, take a moment to inhale deeply & exhale.  This short task helps to calm both the mind & the body, which will help you to formulate a good response.  The best response in these situations I have found is one that is completely logical & void of emotions while asking questions.

As an example, let’s say a narcissist tells their victim they’re stupid.  Rather than the victim reacting & making a bad situation worse, a victim would do best by staying calm & asking logical questions.  “You say I’m stupid?  I don’t understand why you think that let alone say it.  I have a degree in engineering.  You know that.  I just don’t understand why you think that, let alone think it’s an acceptable to say.  Why do you think these things?”  Another example could be something my ex husband used to say often, as many narcissists do.  A narcissist tells their victim they are the only person in the world who would be upset by the narcissist’s behavior.  A great way to respond would be, “Really?  So you’ve really talked to every other person?  I had no idea!  Thanks for telling me!  I guess I should change my beliefs then so I’m not the only person in the entire world who believes this way, shouldn’t I?” 

Responses like this show the narcissist that you recognize what he or she said is foolish, but without calling the narcissist a fool.  It also shows them that you are on to what they are doing, whether that is trying to manipulate you or tear you down.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, & as I said, it’s even Biblical.  Proverbs 26:5 in the Good News Translation says “Give a silly answer to a silly question, and the one who asked it will realize that he’s not as smart as he thinks.”

As long as you stay calm & logical in the situation, without showing any sign of anger or hurt, the narcissist may get angry about what you say, but they also know they can only get so angry without looking completely foolish.  Since they are so focused on appearances, they want to avoid looking foolish at all costs, even if no one is around but you. 

As an added bonus, responses like this do make them back off in this one particular area.  I’ve seen it happen first hand.  I used this tactic with my mother several times.  A close friend of mine mentioned using it with narcissists she knew as well, also with excellent results.

The next time you’re in a challenging situation with a narcissist, try this!  I think you’ll be quite pleased with the results too.

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Making Assumptions About People

It’s amazing to me the assumptions that people often make about each other.  Some people assume someone with tattoos & piercings can’t hold down a good job, for example.  Others assume women with blonde hair are all ditzy.  There are so many other assumptions that are equally ridiculous.

I’ve always been an introvert, & pretty quiet.  Around people I’m very close to, I can be fairly chatty, but those I’m not comfortable with or don’t really know well, I’m very quiet.  This has led to some pretty stupid assumptions about me from other people.  One of my sisters in-law told my husband I obviously think I’m better than their family & treat them like “trash.”  The accusation was astonishing since I really tried hard for years to be civil & even nice to her.  Guessing any of you introverts reading this have experienced similar accusations.  People often think being quiet means we feel superior. Some even think it means we’re depressed, whether or not we truly are depressed.

With the prominence of social media, assumptions have become even more commonplace.  Since many people share so much on there, they assume everyone else does.  If a person doesn’t share a lot, ridiculous assumptions are made.  In my life, people seem to think I must not have much to do each day since I rarely share anything personal.  I just see no point in sharing my plans for whatever I plan to do each day.  I also don’t complain about my physical & mental health concerns, so people assume they aren’t a daily struggle.  People also see pictures on social media of a happy couple or playing children & assume these people are living happy, care free lives.  They don’t realize that there could be a lot of pain hiding behind those smiles.

Assuming things about other people is so unwise.  People may be absolutely nothing like what you assume they are.  That big burly biker guy may have a baby at home that makes him melt into a big teddy bear every time he sees her.  That woman in your church who appears so pious & volunteers constantly may be abusing her husband & children at home.  

Making assumptions is so bad that the Bible discusses the topic in several locations.  All Scriptures are from the Amplified Bible.

  • I Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
  • Proverbs 18:2  “A [closed-minded] fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his personal opinions [unwittingly displaying his self-indulgence and his stupidity].”
  • John 7:24 “Do not judge by appearance [superficially and arrogantly], but judge fairly and righteously.”
  • James 4:11 “Believers, do not speak against or slander one another. He who speaks [self-righteously] against a brother or judges his brother [hypocritically], speaks against the Law and judges the Law. If you judge the Law, you are not a doer of the Law but a judge of it.”

The next time you are tempted to make an assumption about someone, I would urge you not to do that.  God frowns upon it pretty seriously, as these Scriptures point out.  Even if He didn’t, by behaving this way, you may be missing out on knowing some pretty awesome people.  Matthew 10:16 says, “Listen carefully: I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves [have no self-serving agenda].”  I believe these words to be incredibly wise when dealing with people.  Spot the signs that they are either safe or unsafe & act accordingly.  Yet also be willing to be kind to everyone.

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“Healthy” Narcissism

Have you heard the term “healthy narcissism”?  If not, it is a term coined to describe having a positive, healthy view of self, being assertive & also being good with self care.  It first was coined in the 1930’s & is still used today.

I truly mean no offence to the mental health professionals who created the term & those who use it, but that term doesn’t sit well with me.

Those of us who have been abused by narcissists naturally have an aversion to anything with the label “narcissism” attached to it.  We have stared evil in the face & survived what was meant to destroy us.  We learned that evil was known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  We know that the word “narcissism” has no good or healthy aspect to it.  Healthy narcissism often feels like an oxymoron to us, no matter what anyone says. 

It is also offensive to us, because the term healthy narcissism comes across as a very subtle downplaying of true narcissism.  In a way, the term puts healthy people on the same level as narcissists.  It makes narcissism sound not all that bad, like maybe narcissists are just a bit over the top with these normal, healthy behaviors that “healthy narcissists” use.

At the same time, the term can reinforce what narcissists tell their victims, that if they have any boundaries, self esteem or practice self care in any way, they’re selfish.  Having experienced the extreme selfishness of narcissists first hand, not one of their victims wants to be like them in any way.  This means victims will turn from anything that could be perceived as selfish, including healthy things like boundaries & self care.

For anyone reading this who feels this way about this term “healthy narcissism”, I hope you realize that although you may feel this way, please know that there is nothing wrong or bad about having good self esteem, boundaries & practicing self care.  Just because a narcissist told you these things were bad & prevented you from exercising such things doesn’t mean that person was right. 

Many narcissists also claim to be Christian & won’t hesitate to twist God’s word to justify their completely erroneous thinking.  These despicable people often destroy their victims’ faith or they make them believe God isn’t a loving father but instead a heartless dictator who wants victims to do nothing to take care of themselves.  For those of you who have been in this position, I want to let you know something.  1 Corinthians 6:19 in the Amplified Bible says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]?”  Consider how you would treat a beautiful temple.  You certainly wouldn’t allow it treated any old way.  You would protect it & treat it well.  That is exactly how you should treat yourself.  Never forget, your body is a temple.  Treat it accordingly & not like an afterthought. 

Self care is NOT selfish or bad!  It is a good thing, & yes, even a Godly thing.  True self care isn’t narcissistic, so never let anyone convince you otherwise!

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Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse & Anger

Victims of narcissistic abuse are shamed for being angry.  It seems if we show any signs of being less than happy about the abuse we endured, people tell us that we’re too negative, wallowing in the past, bitter, not letting things go as we should & more.  For Christians who are in this position, we often get added shaming relating to our faith.  We are lectured on how we should forgive, be Christ-like, labeled as a fake or bad Christians & other false & hurtful accusations. 

We also are expected to show undeniable evidence of the abuse we suffered.  When we can’t produce evidence of the soul destroying gaslighting & verbal abuse the narcissist in our lives inflicted upon us, we are accused of being angry with the abuser so we made things up as a way to make that person look bad.

You know something?  Victims of narcissistic abuse ARE angry, & rightfully so!  No one should treat anyone as we have been treated.  No one should push another person so deep into depression that they lose all hope.  No one should destroy another person’s identity, self esteem & sometimes even faith in God.  Yet, we have experienced all of these things & much more at the hands of narcissists.  We also have experienced betrayal & abandonment by people who should have been there for us, seen people we thought loved us support our abuser & more.  So yes, we are angry!

Do you know what doesn’t help this anger?  Being shamed for feeling what any normal human being would feel under the circumstances. 

I know it can be hard but please, do NOT accept the shaming messages!

People who treat victims this way clearly have their own issues.  Normal people have no desire to hurt others.  Even if they don’t understand what you have experienced, they won’t try to shame you for feeling what you do or minimize your trauma.  Anyone who does such things is displaying a lack of empathy, which makes them a very unsafe person.

Some people who do this also have experienced similar trauma, & lack the courage to face it.  Instead of facing it, they try to avoid all reminders of that trauma.  If someone speaks of experiencing something similar to them, they often will say anything as an attempt to shut that person down.  It’s a survival mechanism.  If it hurts the other person, that isn’t their top priority- avoiding their pain is.  The person in question may not be malicious with their intentions, but their behavior certainly is. 

Yet other people are all about being positive, & not in a healthy way.  Often they think it’s ungodly to be anything less than extremely positive.  Being positive certainly isn’t a bad thing at all.  When it is taken too far, however, that is a problem.  There is nothing wrong with admitting that sometimes, things aren’t happy, positive or even good.  Sometimes it’s ok, even healthy, to say things are bad.  Refusing to accept that & claiming everything in life is nothing but rainbows & unicorns isn’t healthy.  Don’t let the toxic positive people make you feel otherwise!

Whatever the reasoning behind someone acting as if your anger about narcissistic abuse is wrong, remember, that is their issue, not yours.  Narcissistic abuse is cruel, devastating & utterly wrong.  Everyone should be angry about it!  Even Jesus got angry about injustices done to people, if you remember.  If we are to be like Him, that means there is nothing wrong with being angry about injustices.  Besides, not feeling anger about narcissistic abuse would normalize it.  Narcissistic abuse would become an acceptable thing if people became numb to their anger about it, & that never should be!    

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Narcissists & Repentance

According to merriam-webster.com, repent means:

1: to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life
2 a : to feel regret or contrition
b : to change one’s mind

Narcissists are incapable of true repentance.  It’s very obvious to anyone who has been in any type of relationship with a narcissist for even a short length of time that their behavior looks nothing like the definitions of repentance.  They don’t turn from sin or dedicate themselves to change.  They don’t feel regret or contrition.  They don’t change their minds either unless doing so can somehow benefit them. 

If you expect such things from a narcissist, you need to know they will never happen.  They may put on a good show of repentance sometimes, but only if doing so benefits them.  If a victim wants to end the relationship, for example, they may promise change & appear to have regrets, but the problem is these things are only for show.  And, this show won’t last forever.  It only lasts until the narcissist realizes the victim is back in the relationship to stay. 

While narcissists are perfectly capable of change, the fact is they rarely want to, & when they do, they do only because it will be advantageous to them.  They only pretend to change when someone ends a relationship with them because they want that person back in their life, & to resume the dysfunctional relationship as it was.  Causing someone pain & suffering truly isn’t enough motivation for a narcissist to truly change.  The suffering of others is totally irrelevant to them. 

When dealing with narcissists, they seem to think they are above such things as true repentence.  So long as they say they are sorry, all should be forgiven & forgotten, & the relationship should return to its normal, abusive & dysfunctional state.  They believe that the fact they don’t really mean that they’re sorry shouldn’t matter to their victims.  The fact that the narcissist is unable to feel remorse for the pain they caused also shouldn’t matter, & neither should their unwillingness to truly repent.  In their minds, it’s simply the victims’ job to forgive, forget & tolerate the narcissist’s abuse indefinitely.

The problem though is that this is utterly unhealthy.  Not only for the narcissist who engages in such incredibly dysfunctional thinking, but in particular for their victims.

There is a saying.. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over & over while expecting different results.”  How true is that?  It makes perfect sense!  If a narcissist apologizes to you for something, then you forgive & forget, soon you can count on the narcissist doing that same behavior to you again.  He or she had no consequences for the bad behavior.  Then you forgive & forget again, & the cycle continues.

If you are expecting the narcissist in your life to one day to have an epiphany, realize just how terrible their behavior is, & truly repent, give up on that idea.  Yes, it’s difficult.  Yes, it’s painful.  However, it’s much easier than continuing to live life waiting on something that is not going to happen & be continually disappointed.  Instead, live your life without that expectation.  Maybe it will happen one day.  With God, all things are truly possible.  If it does, rejoice & be grateful!  But, if it doesn’t, you won’t be devastated if it never does because you had a reasonable expectation that it wouldn’t happen.

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Pay Attention To Your Dreams

Dreams are much more important than I believe most people realize.  They help the brain to process everything that happens to us, both good & bad, which helps to keep our sanity in tact.  Sometimes they also are a good problem solving technique, because you can dream about some scenario you never considered before about a problem you face in your waking life.  They also are a fantastic gauge for our mental health, which is what I want to focus on today. 

For many years, I had a recurring nightmare.  The details would change slightly but the theme was always the same.  I was an adult, but needed to repeat high school.  I also needed to rely on my mother to get me there, but she was running late &/or screaming at me, much as she did during my final year & a half of high school.  In the early days of the nightmare, I was in a blind panic because I was going to be late & had no choice.  I also would get to school to find out I had a test on something I hadn’t studied, couldn’t find my locker or some other unsettling scenario.  I also was embarrassed to be the only adult in high school classes.  I often woke up in a terrible panic from these nightmares.

As time went on, I began to work on my emotional healing, & as I did that, the dream changed.  Sometimes I wouldn’t care that I was running late, or I could find my locker.  Eventually I started to realize I had my own car & didn’t need to rely on anyone to take me to school.  Once that change took place, it wasn’t long before I realized I had already been through high school & had no need to repeat it.  Finally, the nightmares stopped altogether. 

At the time of this recurring nightmare, I started to work on my emotional healing.  I also learned about Narcissistic Personality Disorder & how to deal with my C-PTSD.  The more I learned & healed, the more the nightmare changed.  It also became much less frequent.  Eventually, the nightmare stopped altogether.  I don’t remember the last time I had it, but I do know it’s been years. 

As it was changing, I realized that it was a reflection of where I was in my healing journey.  The healthier I became, the more power I took back in my nightmare & the less upset I was when I woke up. 

Not everyone has recurring dreams or nightmares.  If you do, they are absolutely worth paying attention to.  I firmly believe they repeat because there is an important message in them.  Just look at mine as an example.  It showed me the state of my mental health.

Even if you don’t have recurring dreams or nightmares, the ones you do have are still important.  It’s wise to pay attention to them.  I sometimes know what my dreams are trying to tell me right away, but if not, I pray & ask God to show me.  I also look up everything I can think of in a dream dictionary, such as people, places, colors, objects, or numbers.  Any detail at all can be very helpful, no matter how small.  There are plenty of free dream dictionary websites online.  Usually after prayer, once I start looking things up in a dream dictionary, things start to make sense & I can figure out what the dream meant.

Also, there are plenty of dreams you will know you had, yet you don’t remember any details at all.  It may be just a vague feeling that you dreamed something about a particular subject.  Don’t worry about that.  Those dreams are normal.  They are simply the brain processing something.  It isn’t important enough for you to remember the details, so you don’t. 

A dream journal is also a really good idea.  At least write your dreams that you feel are important in your usual journal along with the date.  Looking back over your dreams can be an interesting & educational experience.

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Another Good Sale On My Print Books!

My publisher is offering 10% off my print books when you use code INFLUENCE10 at checkout until May 27, 2022.

Print versions of my books can be found at the link below..

Cynthia Bailey-Rug’s spotlight on Lulu

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Forgiveness After Abuse

Many people who have survived an abusive relationship, whether the abuser is a family member or spouse, have been told they must forgive their abuser if they truly want to heal.  It is often said like forgiveness is a magic wand – once you decide to forgive, you do, all damage caused by the abuse is gone, the abuser has an epiphany about their horrible behavior & abuser & victim live happily ever after.  Sadly, this is absolutely NOT the case!

Forgiveness can be an absolutely wonderful thing.  Unfortunately though the topic is misunderstood by so many, & the people who believe wrongly seem to be the loudest about the value of forgiveness.

To start with, forgiveness doesn’t mean forgive & forget.  There are many Scriptures that mention forgiveness in the Bible, but nowhere is “forgive & forget” mentioned.  In fact, I consider it to be a very un-biblical concept.  Jesus says we are to be as wise as serpents yet innocent as doves in Matthew 10:16.  Forgiving & forgetting to me seems completely unwise.  If someone is abusive, then their victim forgives & forgets abusive incidents, the abuser readily will repeat their abusive behavior because they know there will be no consequences.  However, if you give them consequences for their behavior, there is a much better chance of them changing.  Clearly that isn’t always the case but it creates a much more likely scenario than forgiving & forgetting, & allowing them to abuse you repeatedly.

Many people think that forgiveness & reconciliation are the same thing, but clearly they are not! Luke 17:3-4 in the Amplified Bible say, “Pay attention and always be on guard [looking out for one another]! If your brother sins and disregards God’s precepts, solemnly warn him; and if he repents and changes, forgive him.  14 Even if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him [that is, give up resentment and consider the offense recalled and annulled].”  Notice how it states that the offending person repents, you are to forgive him.  It doesn’t say you must forgive no matter what.

Many people who misunderstand Godly forgiveness are also quick to quote the part of Ephesians 4:26 that says not to let the sun go down on your anger.  They quote only a small portion of the verse.  In reality, it says, “Ephesians 4:26  “Be angry [at sin—at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior], yet do not sin; do not let your anger [cause you shame, nor allow it to] last until the sun goes down.”  According to this verse, anger is acceptable as long as you don’t allow it to motivate you to doing something shameful or sinful such as doing something vengeful to hurt the person who hurt you.

Another interesting point to consider about Ephesians 4:26.  It shows what actions are acceptable reasons for feeling anger.  Sin, immorality, injustice & ungodly behavior.  There should never be a point in a person’s life that such things don’t make them angry!  Feeling neutral about them or accepting them would normalize some pretty terrible behavior that should not be normal under any circumstances.  You can forgive a person while still being furious about the wicked & cruel things they have done to you.  I can tell you that I have forgiven my parents, but I still despise the cruel things they did to me in my lifetime.

If someone tells you that you need to hurry up & forgive your abuser or even “forgive & forget,” then please disregard what they say.  Forgive God’s way when you are ready to take that step.  Don’t let anyone make you feel as if you aren’t forgiving fast enough, as doing that can slow down the healing process.  Take the step when you feel ready to do so & only then.  And, never forget that you are always going to feel some anger at what was done to you because it was wrong.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling that way!  It’s a healthy way to feel & yes, even a Christian way to feel!

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15% Off All Print Books!

My publisher is offering a sale.. 15% off all print books when you use code SELFLOVE15 at checkout until May 20, 2022

My books can be found at the link below..

https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cynthiabaileyrug

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What Real Love Looks Like Compared To What Narcissists Call Love

I read an interesting article recently on ibelieve.com about some things adult children wish their parents would say to them as well as tips on how to incorporate them into the relationship with their adult children.  The suggestions in the article struck me as being the exact opposite of what narcissists call love.  I thought it would be a good idea to share them to help victims of narcissistic abuse to understand what real love is & is not.

Thinking before you speak was the first on the list.  In other words, a person trying to show love will be considerate & not rude or critical with their words.  They try to offer encouragement instead of discouragement.  If they must offer correction, they do so gently.  Narcissists are much different.  They may think before they speak, but only of what they can say to inflict the most pain or gain the most control.  They may even call this loving behavior because they claim they are trying to help their victim.  Nothing could be farther from the truth!

Next on the list was not acting like the center of their adult child’s world.  Normal, functional parents realize that they won’t be the center of their child’s world forever.  They may grieve some as it happens, but they also accept that as a natural part of the relationship because that is exactly what it is.  They know their children still love them & they still love their children.  Many narcissistic parents however, expect different from their children.  They expect to remain the center of their children’s world indefinitely.  When the child of a narcissistic parent starts to separate from them, the parent views this as a betrayal on the child’s part.  To narcissistic parents, growing up is proof their children don’t love them anymore.  And, if those children want to prove they love their parents, they must keep them as much the center of their world as possible.  Ignoring their spouse & children in favor of the narcissistic parents is not only acceptable behavior, but it is encouraged.

Third on the list was having a soft reproach.  In other words, being gentle with your words when you must tell someone you disagree with them or disapprove of something they have done.  The Bible describes this as speaking the truth in love.  Obviously, this is NOT something narcissists do.  Overt narcissists are often extremely critical & heartless with their reproach.  Covert narcissists are much more subtle but equally cruel.  They prefer to express disappointment & use guilt trips.  Narcissists will claim they love their adult children which is why they say what they do. 

Fourth on the list was choosing quiet over giving advice.  A person who understands loving behavior recognizes the value of this.  They know unasked for advice is rude & insulting because it basically tells the recipient of this advice they aren’t smart enough to handle the situation on their own.  Rather than make someone feel this way, they remain quiet unless asked for advice.  Narcissists, as usual, behave in the complete opposite way.  They value their own thoughts, feelings & opinions more than making anyone feel loved, so they have no problem forcing their unasked for advice on others.  They may say they are only trying to help because they care, but the truth is giving advice is just one more way for them to show off what they believe is their supreme intellect or to attempt to control another person. 

Last on the list was apologizing.  A person who is humble & loving will apologize to anyone, including their children, when they have done wrong.  Narcissists are far from humble, even the covert ones who put on a false display of humility.  Rather than apologize, they will excuse or deny their bad behavior.  They even may blame their victim for forcing them to do what they did.  When I was in my teens, my mother called her abuse “tough love” & said she was trying to “save me from myself” if I confronted her.  Apologies never happened.  Instead, she tried to convince me love equaled abuse, which is typical narcissistic behavior.

If you are in the position of hearing a narcissist tell you they love you, then please remember what I have shared with you today.  Love shouldn’t hurt you or make you feel badly.  It should prove someone truly cares for you & wants what is best for you.

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Demanding Partners

Being romantically involved with a demanding partner is a miserable experience.  It’s not something I could do ever again!  If you are wondering what is happening with your partner, I hope to help you understand him or her better today & find ways to cope.

Demanding partners expect their partners’ lives to revolve around theirs.  If the partner makes plans or buys something without checking first with the demanding partner, the demanding partner is clearly offended & angry.

Demanding partners are entitled, & expect the world to revolve around them.  If both partners have a need, the demanding partner’s needs always come first even if the other partner’s need is equally or even more important. 

Demanding partners expect to be in charge.  They have final say in what friends they have, what cars the couple buys, where they live & even what they do for holidays.  What their partners say is irrelevant, because clearly a demanding partner is the only one who is allowed to make decisions.

Demanding partners who don’t get their way act like spoiled, pouting children.  They get angry & accuse others of being thoughtless, insensitive, selfish & more.  Or, they use passive/aggressive tactics such as the silent treatment, deliberately forgetting to do things for their partner or doing those things badly.

Demanding partners don’t like to be inconvenienced in any way.  If they have to wait on their partner, they get angry.  If their partner asks a favor of them, they may do it, but clearly resent being burdened by the request even when the favor is a small one.

Demanding partners have bad tempers.  The slightest thing can make them disproportionately angry, & not only with their partners.  Being cut off in traffic, someone accidentally butting in line in front of them at the grocery store or a co worker getting a raise can trigger their rage just as easily as their partner forgetting to do something for them.

Demanding partners are exhausting!  Being with someone like this means you have to work hard constantly if you want to keep them happy.  You have to do for them & anticipate their needs & wants.  You have to expect no gratitude for your efforts, only more demands.  You also may have to hear about how you never do anything for this person, you can’t do anything right, you should try harder, & for them to change their minds about what they want on a constant basis. 

If this describes your partner, then my heart truly goes out to you!  It is a miserable way to live! 

If you have tried speaking to your partner about this behavior, how does he or she react?  If your partner is upset by the fact their behavior has hurt you, this is a good sign!  Sometimes people are so caught up in the busyness of their life or some emotional pain that they behave in very selfish & insensitive ways.  People like that can change if they want to, & seeing someone they love hurting because of their actions is a great motivator for them. 

If your partner responds by being defensive or trying to deflect the conversation onto your faults, this is a huge red flag.  That is a sign of seriously dysfunctional, if not narcissistic, behavior.  You are going to need to decide whether or not this relationship is worth continuing.

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There May Be A Demonic Element To Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is a term used to describe the very uncomfortable feeling of having two conflicting beliefs.  As an example, let’s say you believe that your mother was a caring, loving mother & you also believe that any problems in that relationship are completely your fault.  Then one day you learn that she is a covert narcissist.  In such a situation, facing the truth feels awful.  You grew up believing this one thing & were comfortable with it, even if it was painful thinking you were the problem in the relationship.  Learning this isn’t true creates anxiety & confusion about what is really true.

In speaking with a follower of my work one day on the topic of cognitive dysfunction, she mentioned that she believes it can be demonic.  At first, this concept sounds very far fetched, I realize, but the more we spoke, the more it made sense.

As Kavya said, when faced with the truth, many people’s core beliefs come back & they believe the lies instead.  This could be evidence of demons at work.  This also could be people operating in the spirit of fear, because they’re afraid to step out of their comfort zone of what is familiar.  So afraid, in fact, they are content to stay with what’s familiar even when it’s wrong & toxic.  That spirit of fear comes in & keeps them in toxic situations.

Another good point she made is evil is against rational thinking.  These spirits want to stunt growth.  They want to keep people miserable & down.  So when people lack good rational thought skills, there can be a demonic influence. 

Evil is also against truth.  They worked through the people in Jesus’ time on earth to hide the knowledge of who He was & what He could do.  That hasn’t changed today.  They instill doubt in people or find ways to make the Gospel message sound impossible.  They also work to hide the truth about other things.  Creating cognitive dissonance easily could be a part of that.  They make people so despondent that they return to their original beliefs, in spite of how obviously wrong they were & how miserable they were while functioning in those beliefs. 

Even good, caring people can end up supporting narcissists because they lack critical thinking skills.  They don’t recognize that there is evil influencing them.  They go with their feelings rather than facing the evidence in front of them, because the truth is making them so incredibly uncomfortable.  Doing this opens the door for evil to work in their minds & lives.  After all, who wants to face the fact that someone they are close to or even love is an abusive monster?  No one!  Doing that is extremely hard & painful!  Some people lack the strength & courage to face painful truths, so instead, they take the easy way out.  They continue in their denial out of fear of facing that pain.  I believe that fear can open a door for evil to enter their hearts, because sometimes in this situation, even a good person can end up so focused on protecting their denial that they mistreat & abuse a victim. 

If you experience cognitive dissonance like many victims of narcissistic abuse do, then please keep this in mind.  I don’t think it is always demonic, but it has that potential to be.  Protect yourself, & face the truth, even when it’s hard.

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About Passive Aggressive Behavior

Many narcissists use passive aggressive behavior to get what they want.  It is a very effective weapon, after all.

Passive aggressive behavior is when someone says they are fine yet clearly something is bothering them.  Their behavior & words fail to align.  This leaves their victims confused, & wanting to do whatever they can to make this behavior stop.

Some examples of passive aggressive behavior are:

  • The silent treatment, which is refusing to speak to or acknowledge someone.  When confronted, the person giving the silent treatment often says everything is fine or they don’t know what the other person is talking about.
  • Deliberately being irritating.
  • Running late, in particular when the victim is naturally punctual.
  • When asked to do something, passive aggressive people will procrastinate do the task poorly or “forget” to do it at all.
  • Sabotaging things important to their victim, such as spilling something on the victim’s shirt as they leave for a job interview.
  • Mean comments or teasing followed by “I was just joking!”
  • Deliberately making themselves sick or if they’re already sick, making it worse to punish victims for something.
  • Feigning weakness or incompetence to gain sympathy or to force others to do things for them.

Basically, passive aggressive behavior lets a person be angry without admitting it so they don’t look “bad” for being angry.  It also is a means of controlling a victim, because unless you are well aware of this sort of dysfunctional behavior, the confusion will be uncomfortable enough to make you want to do anything you can to get the relationship to return to its status quo.

There are ways to cope with this sort of behavior.

Examine the behavior before assuming it’s passive aggressive.  Your best friend may not have returned your call because she is busy or she simply forgot, not because she’s passive aggressive.  If she frequently doesn’t return your calls or shows other passive aggressive behaviors though, that demonstrates a pattern of passive aggressive behavior.

Remember you can’t change this person.  Passive aggressive people act this way because it gets them what they want, which means they don’t want to change.  Nothing you can say or do will make them change, in particular if the passive aggressive person in question is a narcissist.  You need to adapt your behavior to deal with them.

Don’t get sucked into the behavior.  Remind yourself what they are doing & why they are doing it.  Their motivations are not about you, they are about this person not being willing to act like a mature adult to resolve the problem.  If you do what they want you to do or show that you are upset about their actions, they realize this behavior gets them exactly what they want, so they will continue doing it over & over.  Whenever possible, don’t do what they want you to do.  And, don’t let them know it bothers you.

Look at the situation realistically & preferably with a little humor if possible.  My mother used to give me the silent treatment on a regular basis starting in my teen years.  Naturally at first, it was terribly upsetting.  In time, I realized how ridiculous & childish it was, so it upset me less.  I also began to look at it as a break from her drama & abuse, so I thoroughly enjoyed the silent treatments.  They also struck me rather funny because she was trying to punish me, yet I was enjoying my “punishment.”

Give consequences for their behavior when possible.  As an example, if the person in question shows up late as a passive aggressive behavior, stop waiting on them.  If you’re going somewhere together, leave without them if they are late.  If you’re doing something scheduled such as seeing a movie & the person shows up late, go watch the movie without them.

Passive aggressive behavior is extremely annoying, but it doesn’t have to control any aspect of your life.

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People Who Say Those Who End Relationships Hate Or Are Unforgiving

Something I have come to learn about people is many times, when you end a relationship with someone, other people assume it’s because you hate that person.  I was reminded of this not long ago when someone made a comment on one of my old YouTube videos.  The video was made when I first learned my father was dying, & I mentioned how I wasn’t going to see him at the hospital.  The commenter said that I shouldn’t hate him, I should forgive him.  This frustrated me because I have heard similar comments before so many times, mostly from my intensely dysfunctional family.  In talking with people who read my work, I’ve learned this happens all the time.

Anyone who jumps to the conclusion that those of us who have ended relationships do so out of hatred & unforgiveness needs to know some things.

There are people who end relationships out of hatred & unforgiveness of course, but the vast majority of people have other valid reasons for ending relationships, even with their own family members. 

People change, & sometimes those changes mean people grow apart.  It’s natural.  Not every single relationship was meant to be a lifelong commitment. 

Sometimes people think someone is a certain way when the relationship begins, but as time passes, they realize that person is not like they thought.  Most people are on their best behavior at the beginning of any relationship, & as time passes, they stop trying so hard.  That can mean there are some ways people are incompatible that weren’t evident at the beginning, or it can mean that someone is dysfunctional or even abusive.  There is nothing wrong with ending such relationships.

While family should be a lifelong relationship, it isn’t always possible.  Sometimes family members seem to be good people until something happens that changes them.  Maybe the patriarch or matriarch of the family dies, & suddenly people change.  That happened in my family.  Once my grandparents died, people changed a great deal, & not necessarily for the better.  The patriarch & matriarch of a family often can keep the bad behavior to a minimum.  Once they pass away, the bad behavior is no longer restrained, & people feel free to behave however they like, including very badly.  When the bad behavior is toxic or even abusive, there is absolutely nothing wrong with ending those relationships.

People who are so quick to judge & criticize others who end relationships should consider such things before passing judgment.  There are other things they also should consider.

People who have been abused almost never exaggerate their experience.  If anything, they leave out plenty of details & even minimize it.  If someone claims another person abused them, chances are excellent it was much worse than what they said.

Abusers are excellent actors who portray themselves as good people to anyone who is not their victim.  Just because someone is nice to you doesn’t mean they are incapable of being abusive. 

Along those same lines, just because someone is active in their church, volunteers, is a teacher, doctor or in another helping type profession doesn’t mean they can’t be abusive.  Abusers can be found in all walks of life.  They exist in all religions, races, genders & careers.

Enduring toxic & abusive relationships doesn’t make you a good, Godly person.  It isn’t the “good Christian” thing to do.  There are plenty of Scriptures throughout the Bible where people are told to have nothing more to do with other people.  In Genesis 12:1, God told Abraham to leave his family.  2 Timothy 3:1-5 talks about people God wants His children to have nothing to do with.  Titus 3:10 warns to have nothing to do with divisive people.  Ephesians 5:6-7 says we are to have nothing to do with those who are deceptive.  Clearly this is a topic on which God has plenty to say, & people would be wise to take that seriously rather than judge those who end certain relationships.

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Encouragement For Those Who Went No Contact With Their Narcissistic Parents

I don’t know how many nasty comments I have heard people say when it comes to severing ties with narcissistic parents.  I’ve heard no contact with a narcissistic parent is taking the easy way out.  Relationships take work, & walking away is cowardly & lazy.  Blood is thicker than water, so just put up with whatever they do.  Every time I hear this sort of nonsense, I just want to scream.

If someone has told you something similar, I want to encourage you today to ignore their idiocy!  Rather than feel badly for severing ties with your abusive parents, consider some points…

Most of us who have gone no contact agonized over the decision for a long time.  It wasn’t done thoughtlessly.  Quite the opposite!  It took me at least a couple of years before going no contact.

A lot of pain & suffering led up to the decision to go no contact.  Years upon years of abuse led to it.  This decision wasn’t reached because of one small disagreement!  It was reached only after suffering years of constant emotional & mental abuse.  Often other forms of abuse were present as well such as spiritual, physical, sexual & financial.  There is absolutely NO reason to tolerate that from anyone!  It’s only right to protect yourself!

No contact isn’t easy.  Not only the decision to sever ties with a parent.  The aftermath can be incredibly difficult. 

Many narcissists engage in horrific smear campaigns that turn a person’s entire family & many friends against them.  So many people who go no contact with their narcissistic parents lose any family they have as well, because the family blindly sides with the narcissist.  The ones who go no contact are labeled as selfish, spoiled, ungrateful, evil, un-Godly & more.  This happened to me, & I can tell you that it is incredibly painful when people you think care about you turn on you & side with the people who have caused you such intense pain. 

Other narcissists refuse to take no contact as an answer.  They harass & stalk their victims mercilessly.  They show up places where the victim frequents often.  They inundate their victim with constant phone calls, voicemail messages, text messages, emails & social media messages.  The sheer volume can be utterly staggering!  And, they will have others harass you too.  I have been in this situation & I really can’t describe how terrifying it is.  To think that someone has the ability to manipulate others into harassing you & can devote so much time to harassing you makes you wonder what else exactly are they capable of doing?  It’s also terrifying when you block one means of accessing you they have then suddenly they show up via another means.  One of my abusers was so vicious that I blocked her access to my website, because she began contacting me through it after I’d blocked her ip address by usingother computers.  One of her messages simply said “boo!”  To me, that clearly was her way of saying, “You can’t stop me!”  So disturbing!

Even if you are fortunate enough not to experience those scenarios, that doesn’t mean no contact is easy.  Once you’re away from the constant abuse, you’d think you could relax & begin to enjoy life, but that doesn’t always happen.  Sometimes, once your brain realizes it can stop functioning in survival mode, it seems to want to force you to face all of the problems that were on the back burner because you had to focus on survival.  That can be very overwhelming at first, & it takes time to make your mind behave in a more manageable way.

There is also a grief process that happens after no contact with narcissistic parents.  You grieve the parents you never had but wanted.  You grieve your stolen childhood.  You grieve the family & friends you lost only because you were trying to protect yourself.  You realize your parents & family never loved you, & grieve that loss. 

No contact isn’t easy by any means.  To follow through with it takes an incredible amount of courage & strength.  Never, ever let anyone make you feel as if something is wrong with you for severing ties with your narcissistic parents.  Instead be proud of yourself  because you had the fortitude to do one of the most difficult things a person can do!

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People Who See Things A Bit Differently

I am one of those people who sees things differently than the majority of people.  I believe this different perception comes from not only my natural personality but also surviving narcissistic abuse.  One way this perception manifests is I often can spot problems quicker than most people.  Some time ago, I noticed one of my cats was acting a little bit standoffish.  I mentioned this on Facebook & said that I was concerned about her.  A friend said, “She probably is just having an off day.  Don’t worry about it.”  I ignored this comment because I just knew something was wrong.  When my cat saw the vet, he diagnosed her with an over active thyroid.  If left untreated, it could have caused her serious problems or potentially even killed her.

This also happens with people.  If someone I’m close to introduces me to their new boyfriend or girlfriend, I almost immediately pick up on whether or not this person is a good person or not & in time, I’m usually proven right.  One former friend of mine married a guy who I didn’t particularly like on first sight.  I couldn’t put my finger on it that day, but something felt off to me even though the guy said & did all the right things.  It didn’t take long & I realized this guy wanted to isolate my friend.  I knew he was going to end our friendship soon.  In less than one year after we met, my friend married him & only two weeks after the wedding, the new husband started an argument with me that caused me to lose my friend of over 20 years. 

To me, this different way of looking at things is a gift.  In those two examples I provided, I was able to get my beautiful kitty the help she needed before her thyroid caused her more serious problems & I also wasn’t blindsided by the dissolution of my friendship because I could see it coming long before it happened.  Good stuff if you ask me!  However, other people don’t share that opinion.  Many people can be critical of people like me who can spot things easily.  I want to help you today.

One thing people have said to me is I’m just looking for problems.  Spotting problems easily isn’t “just looking for problems.”  It’s being aware, which is not a bad thing at all!  Being aware helps you to know how to deal with people & situations. 

Similarly is a comment about trying to start drama.  So much no to this one.  Nothing about the truth is starting drama.  The truth really does set you free like nothing else & it is a very wonderful thing!

Another comment people have said is that it’s too negative to be like this, because I only see the bad.  This is another thing that is not true!  People who are highly in tune with potential problems also are equally in tune with good things.  I spot red flags in people just as quickly as I spot “green flags”, those things that show someone is a good person.  The green flags cause me to relax, unlike the red flags that get my guard up.  On the outside it can look as if I’m ignoring the good & focusing on the bad.  This isn’t the case though, as those of you reading this know since you probably do the exact same thing!

If you are someone who sees things differently, then ignore the nay sayers.  Enjoy this quality about yourself & use it no matter who disapproves of it!  God has given you a great gift, so use it & use it well!  It will help you time & time again & also enable you to have good relationships, so why shouldn’t you use it?

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Losing A Narcissistic Parent

When someone’s parent dies, if they had a good relationship with that parent, or at least the relationship looked good to outsiders, chances are good they will get plenty of support.  People will tell them how sorry they were for their loss, bake casseroles & say things like, “If there’s anything I can do, call me.” 

When a narcissistic parent dies, however, the scenario is much different.  The usual signs of support & love aren’t common.  Quite the opposite in many cases.  Often, flying monkeys come out of the woodwork to shame the adult child at this time for being such a terrible son or daughter.  To add insult to injury, people often don’t know what to say to someone who has lost a narcissistic parent.  They seem to think since the adult child wasn’t close to the parent or maybe hadn’t even seen them in quite some time prior to their death, their death doesn’t affect the adult child at all.  They may say a brief, “sorry to hear about your parent” & then act as if nothing has happened. 

When my parents died, this was my experience. My father died in October, 2017, & I hadn’t spoken to my father in several months, then almost eighteen months later when my mother died, we hadn’t spoken in almost exactly three years.  My father was the first of my parents to die.  His death was surrounded by flying monkey attacks.  They happened frequently for a few months prior to his death, then daily for his final three weeks.  When my mother died, it also was an incredibly hard time for me.  Thankfully there weren’t many flying monkey attacks, but it was still very difficult.  The circumstances surrounding her death & her final few months were tragic, leaving me feeling incredibly guilty for being no contact when she clearly needed help.

The scenarios I described earlier is exactly how things worked for my husband & I.  When his parents were getting sicker & frailer, he spent a lot of time with them.  He was the only one to take them to the hospital & help them out when no one else would.  People showered him with concern & love when they passed away.  My husband got through the situation quite well, keeping to himself as is his nature, but no doubt several folks would have been more than happy to listen if he wanted to talk or if he’d needed help. When my parents died, things were very different. Those closest to me were very supportive but those not as close to me weren’t.  It was clear they didn’t know what to say or do, so in most cases, they said & did nothing, even acting as if nothing unusual had happened in my life.

Since so many of you who follow my work are in positions more like mine, & you are on my heart to talk to today.

When your narcissistic parent dies, it’s going to be hard.  The lack of support & understanding from those in your life may make it harder.  And, it really hurts!

I learned something.  It’s perfectly normal to feel as I did.  If you feel the same way, you’re ok!

For one thing, it’s a shock.  Narcissistic parents seem to take up all the space in the relationship.  They can feel bigger than life.  That means it’s impossible to imagine life without them.  It even can feel like them dying is impossible – they’ll always be there.  The fact they aren’t anymore is a strange & difficult thing to face.

There’s also the fact that losing a parent is different than losing anyone else.  You never lived one single day without your parent.  You may not have seen them daily or called often, but even so, the only world you know involved your parents being in it.  They were always a part of your reality.  That alone makes it seem impossible to make sense of a world without them. 

Lastly, whatever the relationship, if you’re drastically affected by your parent’s death it’s because you loved your parent.  That is totally normal.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  That is just as normal as feeling virtually nothing when your narcissistic parent dies because you grieved them enough when they were alive. 

Losing a narcissistic parent is a very strange thing to face.  Don’t judge yourself for how you feel about it.  Just focus on taking care of yourself, & grieving however you need to.

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Receiving God’s Comfort

God created people to need relationships not only with Him but with each other.  A part of that is the need for consolation & comfort during the tough times.

There were many times shortly after the death of my mother that I received God’s comfort.  It was such a horrific time, undoubtedly the hardest of my life.  I was overwhelmed with everything I had to do as well as processing her death & the fact she chose me to be her personal representative after her & my father saying otherwise years prior.  His comfort & strength enabled me to do the impossible at that time & come out on the other side even stronger than I went into the situation.  It gave me a new appreciation for His comfort.  It also showed me that people, even the most well meaning ones, can’t offer the kind of comfort that God can.

People can’t understand your pain exactly.  Even if they have experienced similar situations to yours, you are different people, which means you feel pain & process it differently.  God created you, so naturally He knows you better than any human can.  This also means He understands your pain better than anyone else.  He has experienced things that humans have such as rejection, betrayal, being taken for granted & more.  His comfort comes from the place of truly understanding how you feel, which is something no human being can manage.

God’s comfort is truly something special.  His comfort creates a deep intimacy with Him, a feeling of truly meshing with Him, because you know He truly understands.  He also gently gives words of encouragement in ways no human can, such as by calling your attention to song lyrics or a Scripture that you never thought of quite this way before.  There is also comfort in knowing that He is working in your situation on your behalf.  This deep intimacy with God comes from no means other than allowing Him to comfort you.  It is one good thing that comes from a pain that causes you to run to Him for comfort. 

Another good thing that comes from that is once you have received His comfort, you become more able to offer comfort to other hurting people.  Your empathy has increased & naturally you want to help others.  You also have experience in receiving God’s comfort & can help other people to do the same.  2 Corinthians 1:3-5 in the New International Bible says, 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”

If you haven’t asked God to comfort you before, why not try it now?  There are plenty of verses in the Bible that show He is willing to do it.  In the New International Translation, Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  And, Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  Clearly, God wants to comfort you.  Let Him!  You won’t be sorry!

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What It Means To Be Strong

Often when a person experiences the death of someone they love or they open up about abuse in their past, people tell them the same thing, & that thing is how strong they are.  It can be an empowering statement, but more often than not, it isn’t. 

Many people say this when they don’t know what else to say to someone that has suffered trauma & pain.  They usually say it to people who haven’t opened up a lot about what they’re feeling.  In these situations, people assume because someone hasn’t opened up about a lot of what they feel, the person must be coping well with the situation at hand..even when that isn’t the case.

Being told how strong you are also can be a way to gently tell a person to stop talking about their pain.  Your pain has made this person uncomfortable for whatever reason, & they want to stop you from discussing it.  Since they can’t tell you to shut up without appearing like a total jerk, they tell you how strong you are.  While the words, “stop talking about it” aren’t said, something in how “You’re so strong” is said can leave a person feeling as if they shouldn’t discuss their pain. 

Being truly strong in these situations isn’t like what many people think it is.  Real strength isn’t being stoic & going on with your life as if nothing happened after suffering trauma.

Being strong means being real.  Being open about whatever is going on with you, admitting you’re suffering or being more emotional than usual rather than taking the easy way out & pretending all is fine isn’t easy.  It takes a great deal of courage & strength to be that vulnerable!

Being strong means having the strength to face your pain head on & deal with it to the best of your ability.  Many people lack that strength.  They prefer ignoring their pain or pretending bad things never happened to them.  They are the people who do their best to stop others from discussing their pain, because it reminds them of their own pain that they’re too cowardly to face.  Strong people are nothing like that, & should be proud of their strength!

Being strong means crying, being angry, being numb or whatever negative emotion you feel & accepting the emotions without judgment or criticism.  Facing such emotions without judgment & criticism takes a great deal of bravery & strength.  There are not a lot of people who are willing to do that.  The majority of people judge & criticize their emotions very harshly rather than accepting them for what they are & coping with them to the best of their ability.

Being strong means asking others to help you when you’re having one of those days where you feel like you can’t function.  Many people can’t handle when someone is this vulnerable & can be very judgmental & critical. It takes a lot of strength to admit that you’re falling apart right now & need some help knowing an insensitive reaction is a distinct possibility.

All of these feel like the exact opposite of strength at the time they’re happening.  They feel like you’re doing everything society looks down on.  Wallowing in your pain, not letting go of the past, whining, indulging in self pity… yet nothing could be further from the truth!  Doing such things are acts of tremendous strength, especially when you are hurting the worst.  The more pain you’re in, the more strength & bravery it takes just to get out of bed each morning, go to work, eat regular meals & shower.  Being in tremendous pain means each of those normal, little things has become a tremendous burden.  When you can do them, you should be proud of yourself!  When you do the other things I mentioned such as facing your pain in addition to those things, you are proving that you are strong, tough & brave.  I hope you’re very proud of yourself!  You should be!

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When Families Are Too Close

Most people consider close knit families to be a good thing.  And they really can be a blessing!  They obviously love & support each other through everything life throws their way, yet everyone still has their own life & a healthy amount of individuality & privacy.  Sometimes however, families become too close.  These families are known as enmeshed, & they are truly toxic.  Families like this have very lax or non existent boundaries, dysfunctional patterns in relationships & they discourage any independence.  Children who grow up with such families end up as dysfunctional adults until they break the chains of enmeshment.

Enmeshed parents are overly dependent on their children.  They rely on their children for emotional support while offering nothing in return.  They also expect their children to share their beliefs, values, to meet their expectations even into adulthood all while ignoring their own & they also expect their children to keep their parents as their top priority during their entire lifetime above anyone else including a spouse, children & even God.  These parents believe their children need nothing from the world beyond their family, & looking to that world is discouraged.  Parents like this also expect their children to maintain the status quo of dysfunction, & are chastised severely if they don’t.  Privacy doesn’t happen between parents & children, meaning any topic is suitable for discussion, any item is considered appropriate for the parents to snoop through (purses, dressers, closets, laundry, etc).  Families like this remind me of the Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  The children are supposed to be concerned of nothing beyond the Collective, in other words the enmeshing parent.  And, if those children opt to marry, their spouse is supposed to be assimilated, also focusing on the Collective.  Any hint of not behaving in this manner is seriously frowned upon & results in shunning, shaming & treating the spouse terribly.

Children who grow up in these dysfunctional enmeshed families have plenty of issues.  They have virtually no knowledge of their own needs, often minimizing or completely ignoring them.  Their goals aren’t their own, but their parents’.  These children never learn how to say no in a healthy way.  They have serious trust issues with other people, & a fear of abandonment in relationships.  They also feel overly responsible, in particular for taking care of their parents.  Possibly the saddest part is children who grow up like this never have the opportunity to make their own choices & mistakes, which are needed to form their own identity.  Without this, these children grow up with low or even non existent self esteem. 

If you recognize yourself in this information, rest assured you can heal from the damage done.  I can’t tell you it will be quick & easy, but I can tell you it is very possible.

I always recommend a close relationship with God because it is of the utmost importance in every area of life.  It is also incredibly helpful with healing from abuse.  (And, make no mistake about it – enmeshment IS abuse!)  Allowing God to help you heal & show you what to do is going to be vital to healing.  He knows best what you need to do & how you need to do it, so let Him show you & give you whatever you need to do these things.

There are some basic things that everyone needs to do to break this enmeshment with family.  You will need to start by setting boundaries.  There is information about this on my website at www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com, so you can start there.  Learning what is & is not your responsibility will be extremely helpful for you.  And, start small, such as not answering a text immediately.  Starting small will help you to gain the confidence to set more & more challenging boundaries in time.

Get to know yourself.  Learn who God made you to be, what you truly like & dislike,  & how to identify your feelings over what your enmeshed parent told you to feel.  To do this, start paying attention to how you really feel about things & don’t judge your feelings. 

Accept that there is no shame in not having your parents as your top priority as an adult.  People need to have God as their top priority, period.  If you are married, your spouse should be your second priority, followed by your children, then your parents. 

Your enmeshed parent isn’t going to like these behaviors, & that is your parent’s right.  You also have rights, including doing what you need to do to be a healthy, functional person!  Don’t let your parent’s disapproval take you off that path!

Do what you need to do to break free of this enmeshment.  It won’t be easy but it absolutely will be worth it!

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Being “Oversensitive”

Anyone who has been subjected to narcissistic abuse most likely has been ridiculed, judged & criticized for being too sensitive.  Claiming their victim is too sensitive seems to be one of the favorite ways all narcissists love to abuse.  It’s no wonder, really.  It’s a pretty effective weapon when you think about it.  If someone can convince you that you are in the wrong for being upset about something they say or do, then you will stop verbalizing your feelings.  Instead of confronting them, you may still feel upset, but you will tolerate what they do quietly rather than face their harsh judgment.  It’s just natural behavior.  At least until you learn that this really isn’t about you being too sensitive.  It’s about the narcissist being an abusive jerk.

One thing about being “too sensitive” I’ve come to realize though is being sensitive truly is NOT a sign of weakness.  I know, narcissists say it is, but it isn’t.  It’s more a sign of weakness to hide your feelings.

Hiding rather than being open about being a sensitive person certainly can appear to be the best & easiest choice, but really, I don’t think it is.  Feelings must be processed, & if they aren’t processed in healthy ways, they’ll manifest in very unhealthy ways such as physical & mental health problems.  Heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, adrenal fatigue & diabetes often can manifest in people who are very adept at hiding their true feelings.  Anxiety & depression, even to the point of suicide are common among people who keep their feelings inside.

Being sensitive takes courage.  Admitting how you feel goes against the norm, & can be met with intense cruelty.  Not many people can handle someone’s honesty about their feelings.  They only want people around them to act happy & as if nothing bad ever happens to them.  They don’t want to hear anything negative or be forced to deal with a topic that’s deeper than the very superficial.  There are also those, like narcissists, who see people who are openly sensitive as weak.  Anyone abused by a narcissist knows this, & exactly how hard it is to deal with people like this.  Being willing to be vulnerable takes courage, but especially after being mocked & abused for being this way.

Being sensitive also is a sign that you have a loving heart.  Again, another thing narcissists will say isn’t true, but as usual, they’re wrong.  You’re offended for someone who is treated poorly & angry for those who are abused because you care about people & don’t want to see them hurt.  This goes for yourself too.  If someone hurts you & it upsets you, that’s because you love yourself & know you deserve better than to be treated like this.  That loving heart can help you to create healthy boundaries & even confront people about their bad behavior when it would be simpler to pretend they didn’t do whatever it was they just did that hurt you.

The next time someone criticizes you for being oversensitive, remind yourself that being sensitive is simply proof that you are a wonderful person.  If someone can’t appreciate that fact, it’s their loss.  You just be you, & don’t worry about their approval.  Stand up for what’s right, cry at sad songs & movies & don’t hide your feelings!  Be proud of being a rare gem by being a caring, sensitive person! 

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