Tag Archives: lies
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
When a victim of abuse has proof of abuse, such as bruises or broken bones, that person is usually believed. Sadly, the emotional warfare narcissists dish out doesn’t leave such obvious physical evidence behind, & many victims aren’t believed because of that. As a result, victims are often re-victimized by people who don’t believe them, & who accuse them of exaggerating, lying, seeking attention or being the abuser who is trying to cover our tracks. This often includes a victims own friends & family.
The excuses people give as to why they don’t believe a victim may sound plausible, but in reality, they aren’t. This post shares some commonly used excuses. I apologize in advance to those who find this post triggering or upsetting!
“She is too nice. I can’t imagine this sweet person abusing anyone!” Abusers hide their cruel activities from everyone but their victim. By acting “nice” around other people, this protects the abuser’s reputation & makes people believe him or her over the victim.
“This person is a pastor/teacher/ nurse… there is no way he could be abusive.” Wrong. Narcissists are drawn to helping professions such as pastor, teacher, & the medical field because people in these fields are admired. Such positions also offer power over other people.
“But she is so active in the church! She carries her Bible everywhere she goes!” Being active in the church & carrying around a Bible doesn’t mean a person couldn’t be abusive. There are abusive people in every area of life, & that includes in the church. This role of being “religious” can bring them the admiration they want while protecting their reputation in such a way if their victim speaks out, they often won’t be believed.
“He brags about his kids all the time. I can’t imagine this person abusing those kids.” Narcissists have children as yet another means of gaining narcissistic supply. When people think well of their children, narcissists take it as people thinking well of them, so yes, many narcissistic parents will brag about their children as a way of gathering narcissistic supply.
“She’s your mother! Mothers always love their children & never would hurt them!” This is delusional. While most mothers do love their children, not all do. The same goes for fathers. Some people, like narcissists, are simply incapable of loving anyone & this includes their children.
“He’s always nice to me. He can’t be abusive.” All this means is the abuser hasn’t let you get close enough to them to see their true self. They are keeping you at a distance.
“She says you’re lying & she never abused you.” Seriously.. do you really think an abusive person would accept responsibility & admit being abusive? Not gonna happen. If they admit anything happened, you can guarantee they will have excuses or their version will be much different than the victim’s version.
“He never hit her! That means it’s not abuse!” So wrong! Abuse can be more than simply hitting a person. Abuse also can be manipulating, invalidating, harshly criticizing, destroying a person’s self esteem, or forcing someone to do sexual acts they want no parts of.
“The victim is an angry person. That doesn’t mean the narcissist was abusive!” Ok, that can be true. However, if you know the victim, you will know if this person is generally angry or not. And, if the victim is just an angry person, chances are super slim that anger will be focused only on one person. He or she would be angry with pretty much everyone.
“They were just not a good match.” There is a big difference in a mismatched couple & abuse. A couple who isn’t compatible can still involve good people. Abusers aren’t good people, period.
“They were toxic for each other.” If this is the case, both parties involved will admit their shortcomings. One person will not claim total innocence while the other claims abuse. They also will work on trying to improve their relationship or mutually agree to end it. And, if they end it, one person won’t stalk or harass the other.
The next time someone says one of these types of comments to you, I hope you remember this post & it helps you!
One of the most intriguing things I’ve noticed about narcissists is watching one lie in order to convince herself as well as others that something is the truth.
There was a show on TV a few years ago called, “Lie To Me” that I just loved. It was about a deception expert- basically a human lie detector. He would work with the police or military or whoever to help solve mysteries, because he was more able to detect lies than an actual lie detector. The show was fascinating not only because the stories were interesting, but also because it was really educational. It taught me about micro expressions- the fleeting expressions people make without being aware of them. It also would show examples of various faces of people expressing various emotions. Cool stuff if you’re interested in psychology like I am. This show taught me a lot about how to detect the truth about people. Body language & facial expressions are much more reliable than the words they speak.
A few years ago, after watching a marathon of “Lie To Me” on netflix, my husband & I went to dinner with my parents. While my father was away from the table, my mother was telling my husband & I that my father had just recently gotten rid of his cell phone- gave it to a neighbor lady. She said she had no idea why he did that, what was wrong with him? She even paused for a moment after she said that, as if allowing it to sink in. I quickly realized what was going on…
I’d given my father a cheap cell phone a few months prior, because he complained that my mother spent so much time on the phone, he couldn’t use it often. She has a cell, but keeps it in her purse. I thought a simple, cheap cell phone might work for him- it’d eliminate the conflict & it was only about $15/month to maintain. From day one, my mother was mad he had this phone. She griped at him & I both about how he didn’t need a cell phone, how it’s a waste of money, he’s ALWAYS buying minutes for it (yea, once a month..), he spends too much time on the phone & other nonsense. He finally was so tired of her complaints, he gave it away to get her off his back. My mother was glad he got rid of the cell phone, but did not want to be to blame for him doing so. Her solution was to lie & try to convince herself, my father, my husband & I she had no idea why he got rid of it. To admit she nagged him into doing so would make her look bad, & no narcissist can handle looking bad in any way. Lying this way was the best way to handle it, in her mind. Eventually it worked- she is currently convinced she has no idea why he got rid of his cell phone.
My mother isn’t the only person I’ve seen do this. (Her display was only the most obvious one.) In fact, I think it’s a pretty common thing among narcissists. After all, they’ll do anything to prevent them from looking bad. My mother also will talk about what a great, loving mother she was to me. She also has bragged about how upon meeting her, my one parakeet loved her very much (that didn’t happen) & how much my furkids love her (they don’t even like her). She has even said that she can’t keep rescuing me because if she does, I’ll never learn (my mother has not one time “rescued” me in my entire life). She is again trying to convince herself that her lies are the truth.
Unfortunately, I think this phenomenon is a coping skill that narcissists use when the truth is too ugly for them to bear. They simply cannot bear to look anything less than perfect. They especially can’t handle admitting the truth that they were horrible & abusive to their own child. I wonder if the reality of how much damage they have caused would cause them to emotionally & mentally collapse. I find narcissists to be rather weak people, & believe that is a very distinct possibility.
When these situations happen, I know they can be frustrating & hurtful. It especially hurts when your narcissistic mother brags about how much she’s done for you. When this happens though, please do your best to remember, this is how she chooses to cope. Yes, it’s hurtful to you & yes it’s dysfunctional, but it’s her choice. Unfortunately, she has the right to exercise this ridiculous behavior. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to condone it.
When my mother brags about how good she’s been to me, I refuse to give her the validation she is seeking. I won’t say a lie is the truth just to support her dysfunctional coping skills. However, I also don’t tell her she is wrong. She can have her delusions if she wants to, just don’t expect me to agree with them. I get around validating her by saying things like:
- “I don’t remember that.”
- “Uh huh” (shows I’m listening but it’s non-committal)
- changing the subject
Unfortunately this coping mechanism of hers still hurts sometimes, but I have noticed that it hurts much less than it once did. Once I realized that my mother’s bragging about her fantastic mothering skills is all about how she copes with abusing me, it took much of the sting out of what she said. I think this is because I realized although she is refusing to invalidating me & refusing to accept responsibility for it, she knows what she has done. What she did bothers her enough that she feels the need to deal with it, & this just happens to be her way to cope, dysfunctional as it is.