Tag Archives: beliefs

When People Refuse To Choose Sides

It seems that so many people, even professing Christians find remaining neutral in conflicts to be an admirable quality.  On the surface, it looks decent enough.  The neutral person may listen to both people in a conflict & offer support to them both.  And in some rare situations, this is good.  Usually maintaining a neutral position isn’t fine though.  In fact, Elie Wiesel, who survived three Nazi death camps & spent his life honoring & speaking for victims of the Holocaust, mentioned this topic.  He received a Nobel Peace Prize for his work, & during his acceptance speech said many wonderful things.  One part of the speech says, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.”

Consider being friends with a couple who is getting a divorce.  They are doing so because prior to getting married, they failed to consider some important issues, such as whether or not to have children.  Now that they’re married, they can’t reach an agreement, & have decided it’s best to go their separate ways.  Their divorce is amicable.  Both parties in this situation deserve support because neither is wrong.  They are doing what they think is best for them under the circumstances.

Consider a different angle on this situation.  Instead of the divorce being based on innocent & naïve mistakes on both their parts, imagine one person is abusing the other.  That person is not only unfaithful, but verbally abusive, has ruined the other’s credit, stolen money, isolated them from the people who love them & more.  Then as the icing on the cake, rather than simply walking away, that person fights the divorce, or maybe even tries to take the innocent spouse for whatever money & possessions they have left.  Would you give this abusive, awful person the same compassion & respect as their innocent victim?  I would certainly hope not. 

Yet, people in such situations support abusers like this all of the time.  They don’t do this by openly encouraging the abuser to hurt the victim, but by claiming to remain neutral. 

People who want to remain neutral support abusers by not calling out their bad behavior, even going so far as to protect them from the natural consequences they should receive.  These people may lie to other people to make the abusers look good, even law enforcement.  This behavior shows abusers that they can do whatever they please without fear of repercussions & with unwavering support.  Basically it gives abusers a free pass to abuse whoever in any ways they would like.

These neutral people also tell victims that they don’t want to hear them talk about their abuser because “they won’t take sides”.  They minimize the victim’s pain & deprive them of much needed help & emotional support by remaining neutral.  Victims in this type of situation can be very vulnerable after experiencing so much trauma, & being treated this way affects them very negatively.  Some even become so ashamed of being traumatized that they resume toxic relationships.   Most learn quickly to stop discussing their pain, forcing their emotions deep down inside & avoid dealing with them in a healthy way so those painful emotions manifest in terribly unhealthy ways such as self harm, depression, even suicide.

On a larger scale, being neutral allows all kinds of terrible things to happen in society.  People truly need to be held accountable for bad behavior so they learn not to continue behaving that way.  While most narcissists won’t learn, at least holding them accountable shows them that not everyone is going to tolerate their abuse silently.  Even if their victim doesn’t stand up to them, if someone else does, that still gives them that valuable lesson.  It also shows their victim that someone cares for them, which can be an invaluable lesson to someone who has been told repeatedly they are unworthy of love by a narcissist.

The next time you are in a position of having the choice of remaining neutral or speaking up for victims, then please choose to speak up!  Don’t be stuck feeling like you’re caught in the middle.  You aren’t, no matter who the abuser is!  Make a choice & stand by it! 

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

Narcissists Don’t Like People Who Are Different

Narcissists expect everyone to be just like them.  Not only do they expect other people to lie, manipulate & project, but they expect other people to share their likes, dislikes, beliefs & more.  When others aren’t exactly like them, narcissists shun & try to change those people.

My late mother in-law & two sisters in-law have been great examples of this in my life.  My personality is naturally quite different than theirs.  We never shared likes, dislikes, beliefs or really anything in common. 

The three of them hated how different I was, & tried to make me like things they did.  Usually by insulting things I care about, like my mother in-law insulting me for “liking to be all dirty” by helping my husband repair our car.  There was also manipulation though.  In passing, some time before Christmas one year, I’d mentioned to my mother in-law how I dislike cooking.  Apparently she told her daughters, because that Christmas, all three of them gave me cooking paraphernalia.  Cookbooks, utensils, food, seasonings & more. I refer to that Christmas as the Christmas of cooking.

They all are much more extroverted than me, too.  Naturally I’m pretty quiet but compared to any extrovert, I seem excessively quiet.  One sister in-law told my husband that I was a snob, thought I’m so much better than them & treated them all as, “Poor white trash”.

My own family is no better.  My parents insulted my writing even before I started writing about narcissism.  My mother called it a “waste of time”.  My father asked me one day in a skeptical tone, “Does anyone even buy those books you write?”  Others have insulted me for writing about the topics I do, in particular my faith. Obviously I’m not a good Christian in their opinion, because of what I write about.

There is nothing abnormal about this at all for narcissists.  This is how they all seem to think.  If you don’t fit inside their box, that means you’re bad, wrong, stupid & even crazy. 

If you have witnessed this sort of behavior, it’s not your imagination.  Really, this is how they & their flying monkeys act!  You’re not overreacting!  Maybe you were on the direct receiving end of the hatefulness.  Maybe you have seen it happen to others, for example in an online forum.  If you were a witness to this behavior & defended the person that was targeted, chances are you quickly were targeted.  Anyone who disagrees with a narcissist is targeted.  Their egos can’t handle that someone might think they are wrong about something, so rather than reflect & consider their own perspective, they prefer to attack an innocent person.

If this is your situation please know there is nothing wrong with you.  Your flaws are only in the mind of the narcissist.  Everyone is different, & that is ok!  There is nothing wrong with you for having different likes & perspectives from a narcissist.  There is nothing wrong with you for defending someone you think it was unfair of them to attack or at least judge & criticize.  In fact, I think defending that person makes you a good person because it shows you won’t be one of those people who does nothing in the face of injustice.  That is a rare & wonderful quality!

Just remember, when this happens to you that this isn’t proof that something is deeply wrong with you.  It proves that something is deeply wrong with the one behaving in this manner.  Healthy, functional people accept that not everyone is the same & even appreciate the differences in others.  Only completely dysfunctional, closed minded & foolish people want everyone to be just like them.

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About Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance describes the very uncomfortable feeling of learning that something you believed was true is indeed not true.  Imagine living your life always believing the sky was green.  It never crossed your mind thinking it was anything but green.  Suddenly one day, someone tells you the sky is blue.  You know the person who told you it is blue wouldn’t lie to you.  You also see for yourself that it’s blue.  You now have to accept this new fact that that the sky is blue.  That awkward feeling of struggling to accept the new reality is cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is a very common problem among those who have survived narcissistic abuse.  Narcissists lie about pretty much everything, especially to their victims.  They have no problem lying & do it constantly.  Anything to get them what they want.  Because of this, victims often struggle with cognitive dissonance when they learn the truth.  I’ve been there many times.

Most recently, I’ve experienced cognitive dissonance upon learning after my mother’s death that my parents loved me, in some way (just not a normal, healthy way).  As a child, I just assumed they did, because that’s what children do.  As I got older, I didn’t think they did due to their abusive ways, & worked hard to accept that painful truth.  Then after my mother’s death, in the process of clearing out the house, I found they had saved cards & things I’d given them, school projects & other things that they wouldn’t have saved if they didn’t love me.  Talk about difficult to accept & rectify in my mind!

Experiencing cognitive dissonance can be very difficult & painful.  Learning some truths can be downright excruciating.  There is also the fact of learning that someone you love lied to you.  That broken trust can be very painful.  There is also the subject matter of the lie.  That can bring up sadness, anger, hurt & all kinds of unpleasant emotions.

When facing this distressing & challenging situation. as always I recommend beginning with prayer.  Ask God for whatever you need, such as help in getting through this, strength, courage.

Consider the evidence facing you, too.  Is it clearly the truth?  If someone has told you something that is causing this cognitive dissonance, is that person trustworthy?

Always remember that there is no shame in believing something wrong.  We all have done this!  The only problem would be if you were unwilling to be open to new perspectives & beliefs.

There is also no shame in that you trusted someone who lied to you.  This is something every single person has done at some point.  It happens!  it doesn’t mean you are foolish or naive or anything else.  It means you’re human!

Also think about this: the person who is willing to challenge their beliefs, to learn & grow, is brave & intelligent.  Many people prefer to stay in their own little box.  They are content with not changing, learning or growing.  The person they were five years ago is the same person they are now & will be in five years.  Actually, if you think about it… that describes flying monkeys.  They accept something as truth (such as the narcissist being a good person) & refuse to change their minds even when faced with evidence to the contrary, like when the narcissist shows their abusive ways.  You aren’t like that, though!  You’re willing to face truth no matter how painful it is.

Humility is another thing that shows when you are dealing with cognitive dissonance.  Being willing to change your perspective shows that you realize you don’t know everything.  That is a very good quality!

Don’t let your experience with cognitive dissonance make you feel badly about yourself.  Everyone has experienced it at some point.

You will survive this painful time with your sanity in tact, even though it may not feel like it at the time.  xoxo

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

When People Believe You Need To Think As They Do

I’ve noticed that many people think others should believe as they do.  People really can be downright shaming if you don’t share their passions.

Quite a few years ago, I said something to one of my football watching aunts about the fact my husband likes football & I hate it, always have.  She verbally jumped me for not trying harder to like it, & she also said I needed to watch games with him so we can enjoy football together.  It was surprising to me because I wasn’t complaining or looking for some solution- I just made a simple statement.  I also remember thinking, “I love knitting.  I don’t see you scolding him & telling him he needs to learn to knit so we can buy yarn or knit together.”  I wish I’d said that- it might have helped her to see how ludicrous & over the top her reaction was.

I’ve experienced similar reactions from people who are extremely focused on politics when they learn I’m not.  In fact, the topic doesn’t interested me in the slightest.  I also don’t have the desire in me to learn enough about candidates to make an informed decision on who to vote for, so I don’t vote.  This apparently infuriates some people who are deeply interested in politics, & some have been downright shaming & nasty to me because of this.  Not that I would do it, but it makes me want to be equally shaming & nasty to them for not helping to raise awareness of narcissistic abuse or help victims.  It’d only be fair, after all, wouldn’t it?

I used to be upset by my aunt & the other people who were equally nasty to me.  Then I realized something.

Not every cause can be your cause.  People believe differently & have varied interests.  That doesn’t mean something is wrong with one person & right with another because they think differently.  It simply means they’re different.

There are many valid causes that need support, awareness & activists out there.  No one can support them all though!  That would leave no time for people to do anything else, like work or sleep.  It’s much better to focus on what means the most to you than to spread yourself too thin by supporting many causes.

And, every person is unique, right down to our fingerprints & DNA.  It is only natural that the causes we support & things that interest us also would be unique.

If you’re in the position of someone shaming you for not sharing their interests or supporting their causes, ignore them!  They aren’t worth your frustration.  They have no right to tell you what to think or how to feel.  You do what is right for you.  You have your own path to walk in life, & the approval of other people is NOT required to do it.  What you do & what you believe in is ultimately between you & God, not you & other people.

If you’re actively in this situation, try changing the subject.  A reasonable person will be fine with that.  If the person isn’t reasonable, then you can tell them you don’t feel comfortable discussing this topic with them & if they continue, you’ll hang up the phone or leave the room.  If they ask why, you can tell them the truth- because they are being disrespectful, nasty, etc. on this topic.  If the person you’re speaking with is truly being obnoxious, you could try logic.  Comments like, “Because you feel/believe that way means I should too?  Why?  Give me a good reason.”  or, “That has never interested me, & I am well aware of that fact.  Why should I do something I have zero interest in?”  Statements like this can often shut a person down pretty quickly, because they realize how ridiculous their behavior is.

In conclusion, just remember there is nothing wrong with you for having the interests you have or not having the ones you don’t.  God made you to be unique, so be unique & enjoy it!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Animals, Caregiving, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

Spiritual Bypassing

I recently read about a term called spiritual bypassing.  It was coined by a psychologist named John Welwood in the 1980’s.  The term is used to describe when a person uses their religious beliefs to avoid dealing with uncomfortable things, healing old wounds & meeting important psychological needs.

 

While the term applies to all religions, I thought of it as to how it relates to Christianity since I’m not overly familiar with most other religions & most of my readers are also Christians.

 

Also, please know that I’m not trying to judge anyone.  I’ve been guilty of doing some of these things myself.

 

Becoming very active in church activities.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with being active in your church, but when you spend more time at church than with your family, something is wrong.  It needs to be done in balance.  Otherwise, resentments can build & trouble starts in your relationships.  You may even develop a superior attitude because you participate so much in your church.

 

Judging people for being angry or hurt.  The Bible says we shouldn’t let the sun go down on our anger.  Jesus said we are to forgive those who trespass against us in the Lord’s prayer.  Seems obvious to me that we’re going to feel angry or hurt sometimes, otherwise the need to forgive wouldn’t be mentioned in the Bible.  Remember, there is nothing wrong with anger or hurt.  They are God-given emotions that tell us when something isn’t right.  It’s what we do with the emotions that can be wrong.

 

Ignoring your own anger or hurt in favor of saying you forgive that person.  Maybe you think it makes you holy to claim forgiveness rather than facing your negative emotions, but it only sets you up for problems.  Emotions demand to be heard, especially the strong ones like anger.  If you ignore them, they will find another way to be heard, & most likely, not such a good way.

 

Being too positive.  So many people in the world emphasize the importance of thinking positively.  Positive confessions are stressed as very important.  People are criticized for “being too negative” if they admit they are struggling or hurting.  In fact, people can be downright shamed for discussing abuse since it’s so “negative”.  I’ve been told I need to “get over my childhood hurts” for example, which at the time, was extremely painful to hear.  I felt ashamed.  I felt like I was making too big of a deal out of being abused.  I felt like a bad Christian for not just forgiving & forgetting.  The truth is though, that when I tried to be positive, not talk or think about what I’ve gone through, & to “forgive & forget,” I was miserable.  Now that I’m open with my experiences, & facing things head on, I’m not so miserable.  I started using good boundaries.  I’ve gotten a more balanced view of my situation- bad things happened to me.  Horrible things, really, but God brought me through them & is helping me to heal.  He’s also helping me to write about my experiences to help others which I love doing.  I can’t honestly say I’m grateful for my bad experiences, but I’m grateful good has come from them.

 

Claiming to be happy 100% of the time.  Yes, in God’s presence is fullness of joy, according to the Psalms.  Yes, Jesus told us to “be of good cheer.”  However, no one is above feeling bad sometimes.  It’s not a sin to feel sad, scared, hurt or angry.  They are natural reactions to abnormal circumstances. Jesus wasn’t exactly happy in the Garden of Gethsemane now was He?  Or, when He flipped over the vendors’ tables in the church.  He also got frustrated with the apostles & their lack of faith.  Even Jesus wasn’t above feeling emotions other than joy.

 

Trying to be perfect all of the time.  People are NOT perfect!  If we were, we wouldn’t need Jesus now would we?  ’nuff said!

 

Seeing the best in people.  I have given up looking for the best in people, & instead, look for the real in people.  If you only see the best, you can set yourself up to be taken advantage of or victimized in some way, because you’d feel guilty for being negative or judgmental.  It just makes sense to be realistic about people.  There is nothing wrong with that!  Jesus basically told His apostles the same thing.  Matthew 10:16 says, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (KJV)  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Self Doubt As You Heal From Narcissistic Abuse

Recently I had a dream.  After praying about it, God showed me its meaning.  I have a great deal of self doubt.  I knew I did, but didn’t realize just how bad it was until this dream.  As I heal from narcissistic abuse & learn & grow, it takes me further & further from the abuse & dysfunction I’ve always known.  While it’s certainly a good thing, it’s also awkward.  I have a lot of times wondering if I’m doing what’s right.  Am I wrong?  Worse yet, am I crazy like my mother has said I was so many times?

I think this must be a common thing for adult children of narcissistic parents.  We grow up hearing how wrong we are about everything.  Whatever we think & feel is wrong.  Having needs & wants is wrong.  Likes & dislikes are wrong, too.  We know whatever it is, we are wrong, period, & this dysfunctional belief carries over into adulthood.  Plus, narcissistic parents speak as if whatever they say is the gospel truth.  If your narcissistic mother says something, no matter how ludicrous, no matter what truth you see yourself, it is right & you need to accept that!  Don’t believe what you see or know- believe your narcissistic mother instead!

These two things lay the groundwork for you to grow up having a great deal of doubts about yourself, especially as you heal.

While I believe this is totally normal, that doesn’t mean it is comfortable or right.

As you heal & have so many doubts, I think this is a sign to lean on God more & more.  Ask Him to help you to heal, & to have the wisdom to know what is truly right.  Ask Him to help you see if you’re heading down the wrong path & to get back on the right one.  Ask Him to help you to have the confidence to follow Him rather than the dysfunctional beliefs of your childhood.

Learn to listen to your heart, your instincts.  I believe instincts are actually the Holy Spirit guiding us, which is why they are so accurate.  Listen to them, & you will know what is right for you.

Never forget- just because your mother says something doesn’t mean it is right.  Narcissistic mothers only care about themselves & what benefits them.  They will lie to you if it benefits them to do so.  In fact, narcissists are notorious liars.  Chances are your mother lied to you a great deal & regularly practiced gaslighting on you.  You need to form your own beliefs & opinions, especially when it comes to your healing, disregarding the things she has told you.

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