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Validation & Praise

Growing up with abusive parents is a truly horrific experience.  The abuse takes a deep root inside of you & does a tremendous amount of damage.  One common way that damage manifests is the need for validation from other people.  If you think this doesn’t describe you, then please read on anyway.  You just might learn something about yourself.

External validation is great.  It’s always nice when other people praise you or say that something that was done to you was wrong.  However, adult children of abusive parents often take the desire for such things to an extreme.  It is quite clear that is what is happening when a person displays certain behaviors.

Someone who drops hints about something good they have done or a good quality they have may be seeking external validation.  The praise that other people give them in such situations is very welcomed since it tells this person that they really are OK, good, smart, attractive, valuable, etc.

Similarly, exaggerating a person’s good deeds or qualities is another cry for external validation.  As the saying goes, you don’t see commercials for Rolls Royce cars because they know their worth & value.  They don’t need to convince others they are great.  Anyone who feels they must magnify their good qualities is doing so in the hopes of gaining praise & external validation.

Excessive posting on social media can be a sign of someone looking for external validation.  Someone who shares a lot about their life on social media may be seeking “likes” & positive comments as a way to gain some external validation.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying a person who mentions something positive they have done, a positive quality they have or who shares on social media is completely dysfunctional.  Not at all!  I’m simply saying these things when done in excess can be a sign of someone who is seeking external validation & that is unhealthy.

External validation is great, but it truly shouldn’t be extremely, over the top important to anyone.  If it is, this is a sign of something wrong, such as low self esteem or envy.  It also can be a sign of a personality disorder.  Narcissists clearly take this to an extreme since they demand approval & praise from others, but those with Borderline Personality Disorder may also seek external validation frequently.

Being hyper-focused on external validation can be truly disruptive to a person’s life.  It can damage or ruin relationships with its neediness.  Even the most patient people get tired of feeling as if they constantly must reassure someone at some point. 

If you feel a strong need for external validation, you can fix this problem!  I know, because I once felt that need but no longer do.  I hope what I did helps you too!

The first step for me was to turn to God.  I asked Him for help, to show me what I needed to do to be healthier & to help me understand who He says I am.  I also studied what the Bible says about believers.  There are a lot of Scriptures about what God thinks of His children!  It’s very eye opening!

I watched my behavior, too.  If I realized I was starting to seek validation from other people, I stopped myself.  I asked myself why I felt this was necessary.  I also asked myself why I felt I needed the approval of this particular person.  If that person was dysfunctional, I realized that their approval truly wasn’t important.  They naturally would only praise dysfunctional behaviors so why would I want their validation?!  I also realized that those who are functional won’t make me feel I have to beg for validation.  They offer it freely.

Rather than turning to people for validation, I turned inward.  I acknowledged my feelings & thoughts.  If I felt that I did something well, I praised myself.  If I recognized something I’ve been through was wrong or bad, I told myself that.  My validation became good enough for me.  That took some time but it did happen & was well worth the wait!

I hope if you are seeking external validation in excess, you can change your ways.  People are fallible human beings, which means they will fail you sometimes.  Constantly looking to them for validation is setting yourself up for disappointment.  Instead, turning to God for it & learning to validate yourself will be much more fulfilling for you!

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You Deserve Compassion & Kindness!

Once someone has been abused, often they quietly & obliviously develop the misguided belief that they are unworthy of compassion & kindness. 

Most likely this comes from their abusers constantly telling them that they are a burden, they’re stupid, do nothing but cause problems & other things that instill a deep root of toxic shame in victims.  That toxic shame tells people that their feelings, needs, wants, pains & every other thing about them aren’t valid. 

Add into this the phrase “victim mentality” & the shame society often inflicts on anyone who says they were a victim.  Clueless & often heartless people say victims should’ve just walked away, pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, they should stop living in the past & being so negative.  It makes people feel that they deserved the abuse, & are weak for being abused or even having PTSD or C-PTSD as a result of the abuse, which only adds to the toxic shame.

Even worse than the toxic shame is the fact that being on the receiving end of such treatment makes people doubt the validity of their pain over their experiences.  They may think they weren’t abused so badly since their parent didn’t beat them, or their abusive husband “only” forced her to have sex a few times.  Other people have it so much worse, so their experiences couldn’t be all that bad, right?  WRONG!  They were bad!  In fact, they were worse than bad.  They were atrocious!  Being abused is horrible, no matter how frequently one is abused or whether it was verbal, physical, sexual, spiritual or financial. 

After being on the receiving end of such treatment, is it common for people to think they’re awful people, whining about trivial matters, so they don’t deserve any compassion or kindness.  Today, I want to tell anyone who feels this way that they are ABSOLUTELY WRONG!  I don’t care what your abusers said you were or that other people maybe had it “worse” than you.  Your pain is valid.  Your experiences were terrible.  You did NOT deserve any of it.  And, you deserve compassion and kindness! 

Whether you are comfortable admitting this or not, the truth is you have been through some pretty horrific things.  Those things weren’t your fault.  You did nothing whatsoever to deserve them.  You aren’t a bad person because others said you were & treated you terribly.  Their behavior speaks much more about them than it does you.  And, it doesn’t mean you are undeserving of compassion & kindness.  You are as worthy of compassion & kindness just as much as any other person.  In fact, you are just as worthy as any other person in every possible way, period.

If you haven’t begun to focus on your healing, maybe today is the day to start.  It will benefit you so much to do so!  Admitting the abuse was wrong & painful is an excellent place to start.  Also recognizing that the way your abuser treated you truly had nothing to do with you but with your abusers is powerful for healing.  Get angry about the unfairness & cruelty of what was done to you!  That will help you to see that you didn’t deserve it, & you deserve to be treated so much better.  Pray, write in a journal, seek a counselor that specializes in trauma or whatever helps you to heal.  The more you heal, the more you’ll recognize that you are valuable.  The more you recognize your own value, the less poor treatment from other people you will tolerate.  You also will recognize what you deserve, & that includes to be loved, respected & treated compassionately & kindly. 

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Blaming Abusive Parents Versus Holding Them Accountable

Life isn’t easy for adults who were abused by their parents.  The judgment of other people, often those who don’t know much if anything about the situation can be particularly painful.

Society as a whole says things like blood is thicker than water, forgive & forget, you only get one mother or father, they tried their best, & other such drivel.  Basically, this makes victims feel like holding their abusive parents accountable for their behavior is unfairly blaming them.  This is so wrong!

Blaming someone & holding them accountable are very different things!

Blame assigns responsibility for something done.  It is very critical & basically, the exact opposite of praise.  Blame is accusatory, & unwilling to listen to or consider anything other than the perception of the person doing the blaming.  It also implies shame, saying someone who did something is intrinsically bad.  Consider how narcissists speak as an example.  They blame others for making them act badly, for upsetting them & pretty much anything.  It also puts the person doing the blaming in a superior position, even if only in their mind.  Suddenly they become “good” & the other person becomes “bad.”

Holding someone accountable is different.  It states responsibility without the shame factor that is implied in blame.  It also means that you are responsible for your actions & you also are liable for them.  The person being held accountable is responsible for their actions, & can give satisfactory reasons for them.  Both people in this equation are equal, no one is “good or bad,” “superior or inferior”, unlike when blame is present.

I have spoken with a LOT of victims of child abuse as well as being one myself, which has taught me a tremendous amount about how adult victims of child abuse think.  One constant I have noticed is the lack of blame most victims have for their parents.  They don’t hate them, or feel superior to them somehow.  They would like to know why their parents treated them as they did. 

They also grew up believing that they were responsible for their parents somehow.  Abusive parents, in particular narcissistic ones, often engage in parentalizing behaviors, expecting their children to care for their needs instead of them caring for their children’s needs.  Or, the abusive parents looked to their children to fix some problems in their lives, such as their failing marriage.  These abusive behaviors led these children to feel as if they were betraying their parents if they blamed them for anything.  They excused the abuse or assumed responsibility for it themselves.

Once these children grew up & recognized their parents were abusive, they often still have trouble blaming their parents.  Instead, they hold their parents accountable, which is much more rational than blame anyway. 

Holding one’s abusive parents accountable for the abuse is perfectly reasonable.  It allows someone to have empathy for the struggles the abusive parent had that fueled their abusive ways while also allows this person to realize that setting boundaries or even removing such a parent from their life is sensible & reasonable.  This is what I did with my parents.  I recognized their dysfunction & why they were as they were.  My heart went out to them but since they weren’t willing to change their toxic ways, I had to set boundaries to protect my mental health. 

Narcissists clearly don’t handle blame or even holding them accountable well, in particular when this comes from their child, but their response isn’t your responsibility.  By holding them accountable in a reasonable way rather than angrily blaming them, any emotional reaction they have is their responsibility, not yours. 

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Why Narcissists Feel They Must Know All About Their Victims After The Relationship Is Over

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Biggest Sale EVER On My Print Books! 30% Off!

My publisher is offering 30% off all of my print books until Tuesday November 29, 2022. Simply use code JOYFUL30 at checkout.

My books can be found at this link:

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

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Finding Healing From Narcissistic Abuse With Other Survivors

My Facebook group is full of some really wonderful people.  Godly, kind, caring, & very intelligent.  I’ve made some great friends through this group.  One of which & I were talking not long ago about where we have found the most help in understanding narcissists.  She told me that I can quote her, so this is what she said.  She has been to 14 counselors including psychologists, a psychiatrist, pastors, church counselors & an EDMR specialist but none of them gave her the kind of help that I have.  Me, with no formal education in the mental health field, no LCSW or PHD or anything behind my name!

I’m not saying this to brag.  I’m saying this because what my friend said next made a very good point.  She said I have helped her more than those counselors because I’ve been through so much with narcissists.  I have no formal training, but I have plenty of experience, & sometimes that is just what you need to help you in certain situations.  Narcissistic abuse recovery is one of those situations. 

While I mean no disrespect to mental health professionals, they usually don’t know much about Narcissistic Personality Disorder or any of the Cluster B disorders.  I have two counselor friends who told me something very interesting.  They don’t know each other, so naturally they never have spoken.  They are about 15-20 years apart in age & studied at different colleges in different parts of the country.  Yet, both said the exact same thing, that they had only one afternoon’s study about all of the Cluster B personality disorders.  That’s it for FOUR very complex personality disorders!  If both of the counselors I have spoken to have the exact same experience in this area of their education, I would guess it’s common if not the norm. 

Don’t take this as seeing a professional to heal from narcissistic abuse is a waste of time.  It isn’t, so long as you choose the right counselor.  You can’t pick just any counselor to help you with abuse recovery.  You will need to find a counselor that specializes in abuse recovery or trauma focused therapy. 

If you can’t find a counselor with these specialties or can’t or would prefer not to see a counselor, the good thing is healing is still possible!  The friend who inspired me to discuss this topic has made leaps & bounds in her healing journey because she found knowledge & help from others who also have been through a lot at the hands of narcissists.  Their knowledge & experiences have helped her tremendously, & their understanding & compassion validated her, which has enabled her to help other victims as she was helped.  She likened it to a relationship between a recovering alcoholic & an active alcoholic.  No one can understand the struggles of the active one like someone who has been in the same situation.  Would you expect a person who has never drank so much as one beer to understand the struggles of someone who can’t go a day without drinking a fifth of whiskey?  Absolutely not!  So why would narcissistic abuse recovery be any different?

If you are looking for help in your healing journey, & won’t see a counselor for whatever reason, you can heal!  I haven’t seen a counselor in many years either due to my lack of trust after seeing some less than caring ones.  Like my friend though, have learned a great deal from others who have experiences similar to mine as well as studying narcissism.  Consider looking for help elsewhere as she & I have.  Connecting with people who share similar experiences is invaluable!  Many online forums are available.  As I mentioned, I have a wonderful group on Facebook, but there are many others too on Facebook or other websites.  A quick internet search will point you to many of these forums. 

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Dysfunctional Families And The Holidays

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Big Sale On My Print Books! 20% Off!

My publisher is offering a sale- 20% off all of my print books! Simply use code SNEAKPEEK20 at checkout. This code is valid until November 4, 2022.

My print books can be found at the following link:

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

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I’d Love Your Thoughts On A New Idea I Have

I’ve been toying with the idea of creating some digital ebook type courses, maybe printables. Nothing overly expensive of course. I always try to minimize costs of everything I write & these would be no exception to that. (Kinda weird to do, by the way.. I want costs to be cheap but not so cheap people see them & think “This can’t be any good.. it’s too cheap!” lol)

I need your thoughts on this idea.

First of all, is this something you would be interested in? I know written type courses aren’t as popular as audio or video, so I wonder if this would be appealing.

Second, if you like the idea, got any ideas on topic matter? I have a few but still would love to hear your thoughts to see if I’m on the right page (so to speak) with my readers.

If you’d like to answer my questions, feel free to comment or email me at CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com

Thank you for your help, everyone!! I love & appreciate you! 😘❤️

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Highly Functional Versus Highly Dysfunctional

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You Are Not Responsible For How People Feel About You

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You Are Not Responsible For How People Feel About You

As the adult child of a narcissist, I can’t count how many times I have felt overly responsible for other people in so many ways.  One of those ways was how people feel about me.

If I met someone who didn’t like me, I felt it was my responsibility to change so they could like me.  If someone felt envious of something about me, I had to downplay that thing they viewed that way.  If they felt I was a snob, I had to prove to them that isn’t the case, & I am just quiet.  If they thought something was wrong with me because I love my cats & old cars, that too had to be trivialized around them to make them feel better about me.  And honestly, it got old.

As I healed more & learned more about people, not only narcissists, I realized something.  How someone feels about me isn’t my responsibility.

People are often quick to judge others they have just met.  I do it myself.  Upon first meeting someone new, I pick up on someone’s energy & the subtle cues they display quickly & that determines if I am willing to speak to them more or not.  Unfortunately mistakes can be made with snap judgments.  As I mentioned earlier, people have thought I’m a snob because I’m quiet.  My one sister in-law told my husband this many years ago, & she was far from the first one to make such a foolish assumption about me.  And interestingly, she also wasn’t the only one who behaved in the manner in which she accused me of behaving. 

When people make judgments about other people, often they can do as my sister in-law did, & project their flaws onto another person.  Narcissists haven’t cornered the market on projection, although they definitely do it more often than the general public.  The average person will do it too sometimes, & their projection makes them feel negatively about the victim of their projection.

Insecurity is also a reason people may feel negatively towards a person.  Their insecurity makes them feel threatened or badly about themselves.  If you are someone in a minimum wage job who dropped out of high school, for example, imagine how you would feel around a biochemist.  Clearly they make a lot more money than you & have a much more advanced education.  You easily could feel inferior.  Most people would be uncomfortable in this situation but wouldn’t act out on their feelings.  Some insecure people however, wouldn’t hesitate to let the biochemist know they dislike him or her, are unimpressed with their intelligence, etc.

Along the lines of insecurity is envy.  Envy can make a person feel badly about themselves, & wish to make the person who made them envious feel just as badly.  Women in particular are known for doing this.  Some women see another woman that they believe is much prettier than them, & they will talk negatively about her behind her back.  Their envy makes them behave badly.

No matter what someone’s reasoning for their negative perceptions of you, their perceptions are just that – theirs!  They chose to see you a certain way & not learn the truth.  A person who is unwilling to learn the truth about another clearly has issues, & those issues have nothing to do with you.  So the next time you find out someone thinks badly about you, just remember that you are NOT responsible for how other people feel about you.

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15% Off My Print Books Until October 7, 2022

My publisher is having yet another sale! 15% off all print books when you use code PUMPKIN15 at checkout.

My print books can be found at the following link:

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

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What Is Trauma Blocking

Trauma blocking isn’t an overly common term but the phenomenon is surprisingly common.  Trauma blocking means a behavior designed to avoid thinking of certain painful & traumatic events.  This may not sound overly harmful but when done consistently, it can be.  It’s healthy to take breaks from facing pain sometimes of course, but it is also healthy to face pain head on.  There needs to be a balance.  When you feel strong, you need to face that pain, but if you start to feel overwhelmed, it’s wise to take a break & avoid thinking about it for a while.  Balance is the key to coping with trauma!

Back to trauma blocking behaviors.. following is a list of some of them.

A very common trauma blocking behavior is excess.  Anything done in excess that leaves little or no time to face pain is trauma blocking.  That excessive thing may be something people commonly consider such as drug abuse or binge drinking, but it also can be something that seems normal such as watching too much television, scrolling through social media or even socializing for excessively long hours.  All of these behaviors serve the same purpose – keeping a person’s mind occupied for so long they don’t have time in a day to think of anything else, like traumatic experiences.

Another trauma blocking behavior could be eating mindlessly.  Eating requires attention, so it is easy to focus on that over painful trauma.  That doesn’t make this a healthy coping skill however!  Eating disorders are far too easy to fall into & are so unhealthy.  Not only can they cause the obvious physical problems like diabetes or high cholesterol, but they can cause a person to avoid dealing with past trauma that needs their attention in order to heal.

On a related note, exercising constantly also is unhealthy.  Most people who exercise compulsively are never satisfied when they reach a goal, so they set another & another.  This compulsion is often referred to as body dysmorphia, & is frequently related to eating disorders.  It is dangerous to a person’s physical health as well as mental health.  How can anyone who is so focused on their body be able to spare time to deal with their emotional baggage?

Being busy all the time is yet one more trauma blocking behavior.  It seems as if society as a whole admires those who are busy constantly, but this behavior is far from healthy!  People need some time to relax & rest, & being busy constantly doesn’t allow that.  People who dare to take some down time are often looked down on for being lazy & unproductive, which truly makes no sense!  Being too busy is dangerous for your physical health but also your mental health.  It leaves no time for recovery & restoration let alone facing trauma. 

Shopping too much also can be a trauma blocking behavior.  Buying things can trigger the brain’s reward center.  It feels good to get something you want or even things you need.  Shopping for the sole purpose of triggering that reward center in the brain isn’t a wise idea.  That can create an addiction as well as avoiding facing trauma.

Coming from a family with a healthy work ethic can be a good thing.  However, coming from a family who clearly believes that if you aren’t working you are useless is so unhealthy.  Yet sadly, this is a pretty common occurrence.  People who have survived this upbringing often hide in their job as a way to avoid trauma while simultaneously building their self worth. 

If you recognize yourself in any of these behaviors, please don’t beat yourself up over this!  Facing trauma is hard.  Wanting to avoid it is totally understandable!  While facing it is wise, I also think taking breaks sometimes is equally wise.  Don’t try to face an entire childhood or 15 year marriage worth of trauma at once.  Face things as they come up, & if you feel like it’s too much, take a little time off when necessary where you refuse to deal with the trauma.  If you’re afraid of taking too much time off, set a goal of allowing yourself a week or whatever time seems reasonable to you, then at the end of that set time, pick up where you stopped.  You will find yourself stronger & more equipped to face things after your break.

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Doing Another New Thing

Recently as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve decided to get into doing podcasts. I just decided to add them to Instagram. They are the same as my podcasts on YouTube- a picture of my logo with a podcast audio attached, just on a different platform. Lots of people like Instagram, so I figured it’s a good outlet for them.

Not sure what else, if anything I’ll do with Instagram. I may add the memes about NPD I’ve made & any future ones I make. I don’t know just yet. God will show me what to do though, of that I have no doubt.

If you’re on Instagram, & want to check them out, then follow the link below. I only have uploaded 1 so far, but hubby is on vacation so I simply haven’t had the time yet to do more. I will after he goes back to work.

https://www.instagram.com/cynthia_bailey_rug/

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People Who Believe Their Opinions Are The Only Right Ones

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When People Are Overly Defensive

Sometimes people can be very defensive.  The least little comment can be taken completely out of context, leaving the commenter baffled, wondering what just happened & how what they said could be taken so differently than how it was meant.  Defensiveness obviously is very damaging in relationships, yet it happens all the time.

Defensiveness comes in many forms.  It can appear as avoiding discussing a matter, denying what has been said, verbal attacks, lying or gaslighting.  To sum it up, defensive behaviors send the message that the person confronting is wrong, is the problem, or behaving in an inappropriate manner.

This sort of behavior shows that defensive people have control issues & believe that anyone confronting them is a threat.  They are clearly uncomfortable with emotions, & that means they are uncomfortable not only with their own but those of other people.  This makes them very impulsive & fast with their reactions.  They don’t think things through in a balanced way & they tend to avoid too much emotional closeness with others.

When someone gets defensive, survival instincts can kick in, which is why they behave as they do.  The defensive person is acting this way in the hopes of avoiding accountability & to make the person that is confronting them back down to protect their ego.

Please don’t misunderstand me at this point.  I’m not saying that defending yourself is always wrong or a product of dysfunctional thinking.  Far from it.  It is reasonable to defend yourself sometimes.  What is NOT reasonable is to jump on someone who confronts you the moment they say something you don’t like.  A functional person weighs what is being said & if the other person is right, admits it then makes appropriate changes in their behavior.  Or if the other person is wrong, a functional person defends their behavior.  If the other person is using criticism as a means of control, a functional person may not defend themselves but instead limit or end the relationship.

Back to the original topic..

If you are in a situation with someone who is being overly defensive, if at all possible take a moment to inhale deeply then exhale slowly.  This action calms your mind &

body which allows you to respond rather than react.  It also gives you a moment to pray for guidance on how to handle the situation.  If you feel yourself still feeling unable to handle the situation in a calm manner, then try getting away from this situation for a few moments.  You can say something like, “I need a couple of minutes.  I’ll be right back”.

Also, don’t tell the defensive person that they are being defensive.  This only makes such a person more hot headed, most likely because they have heard this comment before.  Hearing it again triggers their anger at someone who sees through their behavior for what it is.  Remain calm & as emotionless as possible.  Remember the Gray Rock method that helps dealing with narcissists?  That also is appropriate in this situation, whether or not the defensive person is a narcissist.  If you are calm & unemotional, the defensive person may feel less threatened & calm down as well.  If the defensive person is a narcissist, they may become more agitated.  Their reaction will help you to determine the best way to deal with this person & also whether or not to continue this relationship.

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The Reality Behind Triggers

Feeling triggered has become more or less a joke in society today.  If someone is at all offended, they are often accused of being triggered & mocked for it.  This has diluted the serious nature of valid triggers.

Triggers are common after trauma.  Something happens that reminds a person of past trauma which triggers their anxiety, anger, hurt or whatever emotions they felt during the traumatic event.  These triggers also can prompt flashbacks, emotional flashbacks, intrusive memories or at the very least extreme duress. 

To help prevent being triggered by this event or a similar one again in the future, it is best to recognize what caused the trigger in the first place.  Once you do that, you can heal, which means that trigger either won’t happen again or if it does, it won’t be nearly as debilitating.

While it can be easy to say something like you were triggered because someone said or did something distressing, the fact is there is more to it.  Triggers have their root in how a person’s actions made you feel, & that feeling was put there by the original trauma.

Some common feelings behind triggers are feeling…

  • Judged
  • Unworthy, not good enough or somehow “less than.”
  • Blamed
  • Disrespected
  • Unloved
  • Unimportant
  • Unheard
  • Invisible
  • Not valuable
  • Controlled or manipulated
  • Betrayed

All of these feelings are important & very painful.  It is vital not to trivialize them or brush them off!  They are serious, & should be treated accordingly.  You need to recognize that they are abusive & you feeling these things isn’t fair!  Get angry about what was done to you that made you feel this way.  In fact, hate what was done to you!  I know for many who have been abused, thinking this way seems wrong.  Abusers do their level best to make sure victims tolerate their abuse in silence, & part of their efforts involve making victims feel unreasonable & shamed for being upset in any way about what the abuser does to them, but you know something?  That is wrong!  You have every right to hate their behavior & be angry for what they have done to you!  And, when something they did still causes you pain well after the event happened, it seems to me being angry & hating that is only normal.  So get angry because when you do, it will help you!  Being angry helps it “click” in your mind that you didn’t deserve the abuse & that whatever the abuser told you, you were not to blame for their treatment.  They clearly were the one with the problem because they think it’s ok to treat someone with such malice & cruelty.

If you were told it’s not Christian to behave this way, I want to offer you one thing to consider.  There are several Scriptures in the Bible that say we are to hate evil.  Amos 5:15 starts out by saying “hate evil & love good.”  Romans 12:9 says we are to hate evil & cling to what is good.   These are only 2 examples, but there are many more.  Clearly, this proves that hating such cruel, evil behavior & being angry about it is NOT ungodly behavior! 

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When People Blame Others For The Trauma They Experience

Extremely dysfunctional people often have a very bad habit.  They find ways to blame the innocent for cruelty or even abuse others inflict on them.  These are the people who ask someone what they said to make their spouse hit them, criticize a woman’s choice of clothing on the day someone raped her, or say things like, “I don’t know why you two just can’t get along” in a shaming tone when someone says their elderly parent is abusive.  They also may minimize the trauma, invalidate the person’s feelings about it or even deny it happened altogether.

This bad habit isn’t simply dysfunctional for the person who behaves this way.  It’s also exceedingly cruel to the people they say such comments to & treat so poorly.  Saying such things is shaming, & it implies someone deserves whatever trauma has happened to them, brought the abuse on themselves & are to blame for not turning an abusive relationship into a good one.  Of course, such words aren’t spoken directly, but the implications are still there.  To someone who has suffered trauma & is in the vulnerable position of admitting that to someone else, this behavior can make a person feel ashamed for suffering, not preventing the trauma or even bringing it on themselves.  Minimizing, invalidating & denying trauma also are cruel, because they make a person feel ashamed of themselves for feeling as they do.  They feel they are wrong, flawed or even crazy when subjected to someone who minimizes, invalidates & denies the trauma. 

When a dysfunctional person treats an innocent person this way, they have their own reasons for doing so, & those reasons are never healthy.

This person may be on good terms with the abuser, & doesn’t want to think they could be so close to someone who is so cruel.  Admitting someone you think highly of is in reality a toxic monster isn’t exactly pleasant of course.  Blaming someone for making the person they care about behave badly is much easier for people like this to handle.

Some are simply cowardly.  To support victims, you have to do things.  You offer them compassion, caring, kindness, & support.  You listen to their horror stories because it helps them to talk about it.  Blaming an innocent person makes what happened to them something they deserved, & in that case, they don’t deserve any of the things that victims deserve.  It’s much easier than supporting someone who has been traumatized.

Some of these extremely dysfunctional people have experienced their own trauma, & you facing your trauma offends them.  It reminds them of pain they want to forget, which makes them extremely uncomfortable.  Or, they see you facing your pain & feel cowardly for not facing their own.  They don’t take this as a sign that it’s time to start facing their pain.  Instead they try to shut down the victim.  That is why they say such cruel things.  Their goal is to stop this person from making them feel things that they have worked very hard to avoid feeling.  Shaming someone is a very quick & effective way to accomplish that.

If you have experienced being treated this way, my heart goes out to you.  It’s not fair or right in any way.  Please never forget though that it has absolutely nothing to do with you.  There is nothing wrong with you for wanting to discuss what happened to you.  There is, however, something very wrong with someone who is willing to treat someone who has been traumatized so poorly.  Don’t let their dysfunction determine how you feel about what happened to you.  You know the truth about the situation.  You were there.  You lived through that & are living with the aftermath of it.  The cruel person who treated you so badly wasn’t.  This means they don’t know nearly as much as they think they do, so why would you seriously consider anything they have to say on the matter?  There is no good reason to!

Rather than taking their cruelty to heart, ignore them.  Focus on taking good care of yourself & your healing, & leave the dysfunctional to their dysfunction.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism, Personality (including introversion, Myers Briggs, etc.)

Boundaries Are Good For Everyone!

Dysfunctional people, especially narcissists, often believe that giving someone everything they want & doing anything they want is what it means to love & honor someone. They even claim it’s not Godly to say no.

This couldn’t be more wrong though!

Romans 15:2 in the Amplified Bible says, “Let each one of us [make it a practice to] please his neighbor for his good, to build him up spiritually..”

Did you notice what that verse says?  It says we should please our neighbor “for his good.”  That alone proves that not everything that can be done for someone is for their own good.  But, even if you don’t believe the Scripture, simply observing those who have gotten their way about nearly everything shows you that isn’t good.  People who are very accustomed to getting their own way are very arrogant & entitled.  They can be extremely demanding of others & have virtually no respect for the time & needs of others.  Worst of all, they also can be narcissists.  It’s very good for people not to get their own way all of the time. 

It’s also good for people not to do for others all of the time, because those who are catered to will come to expect that.  They can become very entitled & demanding rather than appreciating all someone does for them or returning the favor.

For victims of narcissistic abuse, saying no creates a great deal of shame.  Narcissists train their victims to do whatever they want with no regard to the victim’s own needs, wants or feelings. They also make sure their victims know how selfish & terrible they are if they consider their needs, wants or feelings rather than only the narcissist’s.  After being berated for being so terrible enough times, any normal person in this situation learns to avoid having any boundaries, & simply do whatever the narcissist wants in order to avoid trouble.  It seems to be the easier alternative to being shamed for having boundaries.  

After years or even a lifetime of being forced to go along with whatever the narcissist wants, setting boundaries seems almost impossible, & I don’t mean only with the narcissist.  It can seem impossible to have boundaries with anyone.  It can be done though!

As always, I recommend starting with prayer.  Ask God to help you learn how to set & enforce healthy boundaries.  Ask Him for strength & wisdom & anything else you need in this area.

Start small.  Don’t be available every single time someone wants to speak to you.  Let the phone ring sometimes.  Don’t answer that email or text immediately.  If you must get together with someone, suggest a different time or even day than they want.  These tiny steps can help you to gain confidence & set bigger boundaries. 

Remind yourself often that it isn’t your job to please other people.  It is your job to please other people according to what is good for them, according to Romans 15:2.  Sometimes what is good for someone is doing things for them & being a blessing, but other times what is good for someone is saying no or forcing them to handle something without your assistance.

Don’t let other people make you feel as if you’re a terrible person for having boundaries & telling them “no” sometimes!  That is certainly NOT the case!

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

My New Shop On Facebook Is Open!

I have just created a shop on Facebook! Most of my books are currently available for purchase in there, & soon all will be. I opened it to make a central location where all of my books can be purchased, & is easy to find. Each link on the books takes you to a universal link, showing you all places where it is available for purchase.

My shop is connected to my business page, The Butterfly Project, which is why my name doesn’t appear on the shop, just FYI.

I hope you like the shop! Come check it out at the link below:

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

You Matter!

Since my readers & followers consist primarily of people who have survived narcissistic abuse as I have, I naturally try to provide information to help either in dealing with narcissists, going no contact or healing from narcissistic abuse.  Simple encouragement, however, doesn’t happen all that often, & that is wrong on my part.  Everyone needs encouragement sometimes, & that is what I want to do today.

Victims of narcissistic abuse usually don’t realize their true worth & value.  How could they when narcissists do their level best to make sure their victims’ self esteem is utterly destroyed?  When a narcissist reminds you constantly about all of your faults, even ones you really don’t have, maintaining any sense of self esteem is nearly impossible.  So today, I just want you to know that no matter what a narcissist has told you, you matter.

You may think God made mistakes when He made you, but He certainly didn’t!  He made you as He did for valid reasons!  Ephesians 2:10 in the Good News Bible says, “God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.”  And, Psalm 139:16 says, “you saw me before I was born.  The days allotted to me. had all been recorded in your book, before any of them ever began.”  Clearly, God knew what He was doing when He made you, so obviously you mean so much to Him.

You may think no one would notice if you just disappeared from the lives of the people you love, but that isn’t true.  They would miss you & be devastated if you were no longer a part of their lives.  You fill a special place in their lives that no one else but you ever could fill.  You matter a great deal to them.

You may think the man or woman you love needs you to be low maintenance, to avoid “bothering” this person with your needs, wants or feelings, but that isn’t true.  Someone who truly loves you wants to know all about your needs, wants & feelings.  And, believe it or not, they will be happy to do things for you.  This person is with you because they don’t love anyone like they love you, & they want to share their life with you.  You matter so much to this person.

If you have children, you are of the utmost importance to them.  Children love their parents automatically.  I’m sure you have made mistakes raising your children & think that makes you an awful parent, but you’re wrong.  All parents make mistakes.  There is nothing wrong with that so long as you apologize & make things right to the best of your ability.  You taking care of your children, showing them love & protecting them makes you a wonderful parent, & you children love you.  You matter more to them than you realize.

If you have pets, I can promise that you matter a great deal to your pets too.  Animals may offer unconditional love, but even so, they aren’t happy with people who dislike them or mistreat them.  If your pet greets you when you come home, snuggles up to you while you watch tv or sleep, or just generally wants to be in your space, those are just some of the signs that say you matter a great deal to your baby.

Today, just remember that no matter what any terrible, cruel narcissist has said, you matter.  You matter much more than you know to those people in your life.  You aren’t whatever the narcissist told you that you were.  They only said such things as a way to hurt you.  In fact, what narcissists criticize most is what they are the most envious of in their victims.  They criticize those things to make their victims feel those special things about them aren’t really special, not because they mean what they are saying.  They know they are lying, even though they won’t admit it.  Just remember that, & give their lies no credibility. 

Starting today, please start reminding yourself often that you matter, because you truly do matter!  And while you’re at it, ask God to show you that you matter.  He will be more than happy to do so!

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

Anger In Adult Children Of Narcissistic Parents

Narcissists are angry people.  They believe they are entitled to say, receive & do anything they want.  This includes demanding the blind obedience of their child.  Any time their child dares to set a boundary or say no, narcissistic rage will follow.

Rather than own their anger like your average mature adult, narcissists project it onto their child.  They accuse their child of having a bad temper.  I can’t begin to count the times my mother would see me anywhere from slightly frustrated about something to angry, & in a shaming tone, say, “There’s that Bailey temper!”  I heard it enough that I grew up assuming I had a terrible temper.  This sort of scenario is very common for children of narcissistic parents.

A narcissistic parent also has no tolerance for any of their child’s emotions, good or bad.  In fact, any emotions of the child’s are met with mocking, shaming or even being ignored.  The child learns very early in life not to display any emotions because of this.

This type of environment results in a child who grows up full of anger & toxic shame.

Adult children of narcissistic parents need to know that their feelings of anger & shame are normal under the circumstances.  There is nothing whatsoever wrong with them for their feelings.  They are a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.

That being said, however, it doesn’t mean it’s your lot in life to suffer through life with these feelings.  They can be dealt with & healed from with prayer, hard work & time.

My best friend has a saying that I just love, “You have to feel your feels.”  In other words, you have to feel your emotions to process them effectively.  It’s very true.  You do have to feel your feels!  It’s ok to get angry about the things you are dealing with.  In fact, that is the only way I know of to truly heal.  Face those ugly emotions.  Talk about them, with someone safe such as a trusted friend & with God.  Cry.  Write in a journal.  The more you do this, the less power they have over you.  I don’t know if you’re familiar with the old legends of vampires, but part of the legend is that in darkness, a vampire can do anything.  They possess super natural strength & abilities.  Yet, that same vampire in the sunlight will turn to dust.  Emotional issues are much the same way.  If you keep them in the dark by not facing them, they possess a great deal of power.  If you bring them into the sunlight by discussing them, that power dissolves.  

Another very helpful thing I have learned is to question things.  Let’s use the example of my mother accusing me of “that Bailey temper.”  When I first started facing this issue, I asked myself why she would say that?  What times did I show I had a bad temper?  When she’d accuse me of being angry, was I really angry or just frustrated?  If I was really angry, why?  Was I truly overreacting like my mother said I was?  I realized I wasn’t overreacting.  When I was frustrated or angry, it was justifiable.  In fact, I didn’t get angry easily at all.  Later, when I learned about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I also learned about gaslighting & projection, which showed me why my mother said what she did to me.

Doing these things lifted a HUGE weight off my shoulders!  I learned the truth about this particular issue, & was set free of being ashamed of my terrible “Bailey temper”.

I encourage you to do the same things I did, Dear Reader.  You don’t deserve to suffer any longer with the anger & toxic shame.  Use what I did as an example of how to get started, & change things or add to it to help you to heal.  You deserve to experience freedom from such toxicity in your life!  xoxo

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

Another Helpful Tool For Healing From Narcissistic Abuse

Whether you are currently suffering at the hands of a narcissist or have suffered narcissistic abuse in the past, chances are you have questioned yourself.  Whether they are questions like, “Was the narcissist right about me?” or, “How could I have not seen what this person was really like before we got married?!” I will guarantee you have had many questions.  Pretty sure that is just a part of the experience of narcissistic abuse.  After all, narcissists want their victims to question themselves & never the narcissist. 

You can deal with those questions though & in such a way that it helps you to heal.  If you’ve followed my work for long, you know I always recommend starting with prayer.  I’m suggesting an effective addition to prayer, not a replacement for it.  I’m talking about using simple logic.

Whatever your question is, I strongly recommend asking God to help you to see the truth about the situation before you do anything else. Then, consider your question not from any emotional standpoint, but instead one of stone, cold, logic.  For example, let’s say you asked yourself how you could’ve missed the signs pointing to narcissism before you married your narcissistic spouse.  Consider the relationship as if you were watching someone else in this situation rather than yourself.  Are there any tell tale red flags of narcissism?  And, what was known about narcissism at that time?  If nothing, it is perfectly normal not to recognize the red flags.  It is also normal to be swept off your feet by a narcissist.  They are in their best behavior when in the beginning of a relationship.  They can be so skilled at seduction that even one who knows a great deal about narcissism can cast caution to the wind.

This type of thinking is also very useful when it comes to the narcissist’s criticisms.  Don’t think about how it makes you feel.  Instead, ignore any emotions attached to this for a few minutes.  Then, ask yourself what evidence there is that what this person says is true, & look at the situation objectively.  Is there evidence that you are as terrible as the narcissist says you are?

How about when the narcissist tries to convince you that your friends & family want nothing to do with you?  Is there evidence that this is true or is the only so-called evidence what the narcissist has told you?

By taking some time to pray, calm down, consider your situation without emotions to skew your thinking & look at it objectively, you can see the truth in the situation.  The truth is incredibly freeing & healing, which is why that is the goal.

Also, when I say you should ignore your emotions while considering your situation, please keep in mind I only recommend it temporarily.  Ignoring emotions isn’t a healthy thing to do for any length of time as a general rule.  They don’t go away but instead manifest in unhealthy ways.  Ignoring them for a very brief period of time to focus on truth & healing, & then dealing with the emotions once you learn what you need to know, is a healthy thing to do.

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Habits Of People With Anxiety

Living with anxiety is so incredibly difficult for many reasons.  Following are some of those reasons that most of us don’t usually think about.

Feeling relaxed makes anxiety worse.  When you are accustomed to living in a state of hyper-vigilance, feeling relaxed is very abnormal.  It can make you feel so abnormal that you immediately return to your anxious state.  If at all possible when this happens, remind yourself that there is no reason to be anxious at this time.  Take a few deep breaths & focus on how they make your body feel.  This calms the mind & body.  If you can, enjoy feeling relaxed as much as you possibly can.

External validation is of the utmost importance.  Everyone needs validation.  That’s simply how God made people.  Anxious people crave it like oxygen, because we don’t trust our decisions & have such an incredible amount of self doubt.  However people, being imperfect beings, will fail to give you all of the validation that you need.  Learning to validate yourself is so important!  Doing so requires a great deal of leaning on God & questioning yourself to decide if your beliefs are truly yours or those of some dysfunctional, abusive person. 

You are an expert at hiding your anxiety.  People with anxiety know how awkward & uncomfortable we can make other people feel.  Rather than do that, we learn to hide our anxiety to the best of our ability.  Some of us become so skilled at this, others have no idea we live with anxiety.  This isn’t always a bad thing, since some situations are made worse when someone recognizes another’s anxiety.  There are also times when it will behoove you to let someone safe know that you are struggling & ask them for help.

Along those same lines, we also hide our emotions.  Hiding emotions seems to be a natural side bar of hiding anxiety.  People may think we are naturally happy or even confident.  They see what we portray ourselves as, not the bundle of negative emotions that we truly are inside.  Similar to hiding anxiety, this can be beneficial in some situations but there also is nothing wrong with showing them to safe people & asking for help if needed.

Overthinking is normal to people with anxiety.  Overthinking can be beneficial.  When you’re packing for a trip, it helps to pack if you consider every possible scenario in that trip.  You’ll think of bringing things with you that you might not have considered otherwise.  But, overthinking in day to day life?  Not always so beneficial.  It only adds to anxiety that is already there.  When it happens, if at all possible, it’s best to take a little time to yourself.  Breathe slowly & deeply in & out a few times.  This slows down the mind & heart rate, which allows you to think more logically about the situation.  Often, it shows you that what you’re overthinking doesn’t require nearly so much thought.  Or it helps you to get a grasp on the fact that something is completely beyond your control, so there is no point in worrying about it.

Lastly, some folks with anxiety depend on certain inanimate objects to feel comforted & safe.  Remember as a child how you felt safest when you had that special teddy bear, blanket or baby doll?  That happen in adulthood now too, except now, it’s ear buds, cell phone, purse, wallet or something else.  I don’t know why this is exactly, because logically you know they won’t protect you.  Yet somehow, leaving home without this security item can lead to downright panic.  I barely even use my cell phone but if I leave home without it, I feel absolutely lost. 

If you exhibit any of these behaviors, know you’re not alone & you’re not crazy!  You simply are showing signs of having anxiety.  Work on them as you feel able to & pray for God’s help in healing.  They can improve in time!  I promise!

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What Complements Are Like For Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

I have yet to talk to one victim of narcissistic abuse who doesn’t struggle with receiving complements on some level.  I certainly am one of them.  You may be able to relate to my story.

Growing up, my overtly narcissistic mother was very critical of me.  She said it was for my own good but it really didn’t feel that way.  My self esteem was about non existent. 

Just before I turned 17, I met my ex husband.  At first, he showered me with constant praise.  Eventually that stopped, & he became very critical.  Of course, he denied that because he didn’t say words like, “stupid” or “fat.”  He implied them by saying things like, “I’m surprised you don’t know that” or, “well, you certainly aren’t small…”  By the time that marriage ended, I had no self esteem.

For most of my life, if people complemented me, I would tell them why they were wrong.  Eventually I realized this made people uncomfortable, so I started to smile & say thank you.  I was still cringing inside, & thinking of how wrong they were, but at least they didn’t realize that.  I was more or less satisfied with this arrangement for a long time. 

Eventually though, I decided it was time to consider complements rather than blindly shoot them down.  I realized that people don’t usually say things with an ulterior motive or to hear themselves talk.  When they pay complements, they sincerely believe what they say.  I still struggle with trying to believe them, but knowing this helps.

Then I read about shame & suddenly things made sense!

When a person is subjected to narcissistic abuse, they develop a deep root of shame thanks to the gaslighting.  Being told how terrible, ugly, stupid, flawed, mentally unstable & more they are over & over does this.  So when someone complements this type of person, one of two things may happen..

Cognitive dissonance can happen.  That is the term for the very uncomfortable feeling of receiving new information that clashes with one’s core beliefs.  Being told you are something good after believing that you are nothing but bad creates a very painful cognitive dissonance.  The automatic reaction to cognitive dissonance is often to reject the new information immediately.  That isn’t always wise though.  That new information should be questioned!

Another possibility is the complement triggers shame, because the person feels they have somehow duped this poor person.  They feel shame because they believe they were being deceitful.

If you experience these feelings when someone gives you a complement, I would like to encourage you to challenge this.  I can’t promise you’ll become completely comfortable with complements, but at the very least, you will learn to feel better about them.

Remember what I said – most people don’t have any ulterior motive for paying someone a complement.  They’re simply being nice & sincere. 

Consider the complement.  I would bet the same thing someone praises you for is something the narcissist was quick to criticize about you.  Narcissists are quick to tear down anything good they see in their victims, so that alone should prove that it’s true. 

And never forget to pray.  God will be more than happy to help you to heal in every area!  Let Him do just that!

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

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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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health

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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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health