Tag Archives: codependent

When Children Aren’t Allowed To Say No

Narcissistic parents are notorious for not allowing their children to have any boundaries.  They have no problem going through their children’s personal belongings or even breaking or getting rid of things their child uses or loves.  Children are allowed no privacy, & some narcissistic parents go as far as removing their bedroom doors.  Possibly the worst thing narcissistic parents do is refusing to allow their children to say “no”.

Narcissistic parents are too self centered to realize or even care that by not allowing their children to say no, they are teaching their children some pretty terrible lessons.  When children learn that saying no is bad & not allowed, this teaches them that others can treat them however they wish.  This opens the door for other wicked people to abuse these children.  It also sets these children up for a life of misery because they don’t believe they have the right to say no to anyone, no matter what.  They also believe that they have to say yes to everyone & everything, & that obviously is a huge problem!

Children need to feel safe knowing that there won’t be any repercussions if they say things like, “No”, “Stop doing that,” “Don’t touch me”, “That hurts”, “I don’t agree with you” & “I won’t do that.” 

When a child doesn’t experience this ability to set reasonable boundaries, they can turn very submissive.  Their boundaries become very blurred.  They change their likes, dislikes, views, etc. depending on the company they keep.  They lose their individuality.  They do above & beyond what is reasonable for other people, even to the point of enabling terrible behavior.  They tolerate way too much, including abusive behavior, because they don’t believe they have the right to do otherwise.

When a person grows up not allowed to say no, the fear of what could happen can become paralyzing, & they literally can’t say the word no.  This fear happens because of many possible reasons.  Some of those reasons might be the fear of hurting other people’s feelings, fear of someone’s anger, fear of being punished, fear of abandonment or the fear of being seen as selfish, bad or even ungodly.  This fear also can happen because a person is too hard on themselves, & if they say no, they judge themselves very harshly.  They condemn themselves as horrible people, so they don’t say no in order to avoid feeling that way.

If you recognize this as your behavior, you’re not alone.  This is so common among children of narcissistic parents.  The good news though is that you can make healthy changes.

I always recommend starting with prayer in any situation, & this one is no different.  Asking God for help is never a mistake.  Also ask Him to show you the truth about where you end & others begin, what you should & shouldn’t tolerate, how to start setting healthy boundaries & anything else you need help with.

Also start paying attention to how you feel.  Does it bother you when someone expects something from you?  Why does it bother you?  If it feels unfair since they don’t ask others to do as much as you or they want you to do something they could do themselves, that is very reasonable!

Start small!  Start by not answering your phone if you don’t want to talk to the person calling or something like that.  The more you gain confidence in smaller boundaries, the more it will help you to go on to bigger ones.

Know people are going to be upset with you for your new boundaries.  Rather than being hurt by this, think of it this way.  Safe, good people will be happy for you & encourage you.  Only toxic people are offended by reasonable boundaries.  Seeing toxic people for who they are may be painful, but it’s also a good thing.  It shows you who you need to remove from your life.  And, removing them allows more time & energy for those who truly deserve that from you.

Having good boundaries won’t happen over night, but it will happen.  Just stay with it!  You can do this!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

Empathy vs Codependency

A couple of very misunderstood concepts today are empathy & codependency. 

Some things I’ve read about empathy haven’t been overly accurate.  In fact, some make it sound like being empathic is some sort of weird psychic power when it is nothing of the sort.  Some people also seem to think having empathy means that you have no boundaries, & are completely self sacrificing 1000% of the time.  According to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary however, empathy means: “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.”  Empathy is a good thing to have, since it enables you to be kind to others.

Codependency isn’t like empathy.  It isn’t concerned about what is best for others or how you can help people.  It’s about enabling bad behavior.  Also according to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, codependency means: “a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (such as an addiction to alcohol or heroin)”.  Codependency says, “Let me make this situation pleasing to you” whereas empathy says, “How can I help you to help yourself to do what is best for you?”

Although both of these words clearly have very different meanings, some people confuse them, using them interchangeably either from a point of being naïve or being manipulative.  With narcissists, it’s almost always manipulative.  Narcissists don’t care if someone empathizes with their pain, but they do care about having a victim who is willing to overlook their abusive ways & enable their toxic behavior.  Narcissists may claim their victim is lacking in empathy when what the narcissist really wants from the victim is codependency.  Many victims of narcissistic abuse are empathic people, & unless they know better, they will be hurt by the narcissist’s accusation.  Rather than have the narcissist think they are heartless, sometimes empathic people enable the narcissist’s toxicity in an attempt to get the narcissist to think they are good people & earn the narcissist’s favor.

If you realize that you have codependent tendencies or are in a codependent relationship, you’re not alone.  It happens to many victims of narcissistic abuse.  The good news is you don’t have to stay that way.  You can unlearn these unhealthy behaviors!

As always, I recommend starting with prayer.  Ask God to show you what you need to change & how to make appropriate changes.

Also learn what you can about empathy & codependency.  Learning what you can will help you to see when you’re being empathic & when you’re being codependent.

Don’t forget to learn about boundaries, too.  You’ll need to gain a good sense of boundaries & know effective ways to enforce them.  To help you get started, I created a free online book study course about boundaries.  It’s available on my website at: www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com

I know this probably sounds pretty overwhelming & hard to make the healthy changes you need to make, but really, it’s easier than you might think.  Once you recognize progress in yourself, it encourages you to keep on doing what you’re doing.  Also know that you’ll feel a lot of guilt when you begin to change your codependent ways.  That is totally normal.  When it happens, rather than give into ask yourself if you truly have a reason to feel this guilt or not.  Chances are excellent that you’ll recognize that you have no valid reason for the guilt.

I wish you the best with making these healthy changes!

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

Things People Wrongly Say Are Victims’ Responsibility

Something came to mind lately that I think many of you who follow my work can relate to.

Years back, I posted something on Facebook. My husband & I had a minor disagreement & I was angry. As a result, our cats were acting up badly. Cat owners know this can be normal. Cats are very in tune with their humans & when we’re upset, they’re upset. I asked if any of my fellow cat parents knew of a way to calm the cats down since there was no need for them to be upset. An aunt & a cousin both told me I needed to make up with my husband. That would calm the cats down. Immediately I was angry.

These people knew nothing about our disagreement, but naturally felt it was my responsibility to make things right. Not my husband’s. Not up to us to work things out together. All responsibility was mine, according to them. This isn’t an isolated incident either. This same aunt once told me I needed therapy to figure out how to fix the relationship with my parents. Another aunt once chewed me out for not watching football with my husband. He likes it so I should watch it with him even though I absolutely hate sports. Yet, not once did she ever tell him he should get into some interest of mine.

If you’ve been through narcissistic abuse, I would guess these scenarios sound somewhat familiar to you.

People seem to think that victims have a lot of responsibility, & not all of it should be on a victim’s shoulders.  Not making an abuser angry so they don’t abuse their victim is one example that comes to mind.  How many people tell wives or children of men who beat them to just stay out of his way so he won’t hit them?  Obviously that is very wrong.  What isn’t as recognized as equally wrong is making victims feel as if they are responsible for making the relationships in their lives work.  Whether the other person in the relationship is abusive or not, this is simply wrong, yet many people, including victims, accept this without question.

When someone is in a relationship with an abuser, telling them to fix the problems in the relationship is not only a stupid suggestion but impossible.  No one person can fix a relationship.  It takes two people working together.  Plus, abusers have no interest in fixing anything.  Being abusive gets them what they want, so they have no desire to change anything.

Making someone feel responsible for how happy a relationship is or is not also can be a sign of a narcissist.  Think about it- narcissists do everything they can to convince victims they are the real problem in the relationship.  They also make sure their victims know they are responsible for the narcissist’s happiness.  If they can make a person who isn’t their victim feel they are the problem & they need to make a relationship better, this must encourage them.  It shows them they can do this & probably even proves to them that this is how things are.  One person should be solely responsible for a relationship. 

If you are in this position & someone has told you that you need to make changes to improve or even fix a relationship, please know that they are absolutely wrong!  Galatians 6:5 says that each person should carry their own load.  In other words, each person has things for which they are responsible.  One person isn’t responsible for an entire relationship! 

If you aren’t familiar with boundaries, it’s time to be.  I created a free book study based on Dr.s Cloud’s & Townsend’s book “Boundaries”.  It’s available on my website.  Even if you aren’t interested in the book study, then please read the book!  I found the information in it & the other books in the series to be life changing.  I believe they can help anyone with weak or even non existent boundaries.

Also, never forget to pray.  God is more than happy to help His children however they need help, so let Him!  Ask Him if things are your responsibility or not.  Ask for help on knowing what to do or not to do in your relationships.  He gladly will teach you whatever you need to know. 

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

Enabling Is NOT Loving!

It seems to be a common false believe that giving someone everything they want, enabling them to do anything they want without consequences is loving & even Godly behavior. 

So many people I spoke with in my family were downright cruel to me because I wouldn’t see my father at the end of his life in 2017.  The barrage of phone calls, social media messages & emails was intense.  I barely read any of the messages, because after reading a couple, I knew how incredibly toxic the rest would be.  I thought it wiser to protect my mental health by saving the messages without reading them as evidence for police if I opted to take that route.  Anyway after my father’s death, I learned that because I refused to say goodbye, he finally turned to God!  In spite of my fears it wouldn’t happen, my father gave his heart to Jesus at the end of his life, & is now in Heaven.  (That story is on my website at: http://www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com if you’d like to read it)

While none of us knew it at the time, me not saying good bye to my father was for his benefit.  My family clearly thought I was a cold hearted witch who stayed away out of spite.  I knew in my heart God wanted me to stay away & going would have had terrible consequences, but I didn’t know any further details.  Me not going made him reach out to God for the first time in I don’t know how long.  If I had gone, I firmly believe he wouldn’t have turned to God.  So as strange as it may sound, not saying my final good byes to my father was the most loving thing I could do in that situation.

Although many situations are different, the basics are similar.  Someone wants you to do something that you know is not in their best interest.  It may even cause you pain or problems to do that thing, yet it is expected of you to do it.  If you do it, your actions are applauded & if it caused you problems, those problems ignored.  If you don’t do it, you’re criticized & even shamed for being selfish or unreasonable. 

This is utterly WRONG!

Yes, it’s good to do for other people.  Some people genuinely need help & sometimes you are exactly the right person to give that help.  But doing anything a person wants isn’t always a good thing.  Look what 1 Corinthians 10:23 says:


All things are lawful [that is, morally legitimate, permissible], but not all things are beneficial or advantageous. All things are lawful, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].  (AMP)

1 Corinthians 6:12 is similar & just as informative:

Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything [and brought under its power, allowing it to control me]. (AMP)

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean it’s for the best that you do it, either for you or for someone else.  People who are accustomed to getting everything they want are spoiled, entitled, selfish & often feel that they don’t need God.  By saying no sometimes, it actually benefits people.  They learn to be more self sufficient, they don’t become entitled, selfish jerks.  And yes, they may recognize everyone’s need for God in themselves.    

Maybe situations in your life aren’t as dire, but still, if you know that doing something for someone isn’t in their best interest or yours, don’t do it!  The good will far outweigh the bad!

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