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About Cognitive Dissonance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Real You & The False You

Some years ago, I began to realize I didn’t know who I really was.  I was the result of people telling me who I was, how to dress, what to like & not like.  It’s taken a long time but I can say honestly that now, I’ve finally shed that false person & become the person God made me to be.

 

This is very common with children of narcissistic parents.

 

As a child, you learn early on that your job is to please your narcissistic parent at all times no matter the cost.  If there’s something about you that doesn’t please that parent, it’s best to change that into something that does please that parent rather than face the traumatic consequences.  This behavior becomes such a habit, you aren’t even aware that you do it.

 

Eventually you grow up.  Not into the person God created you to be- an adult version of that false self your narcissistic parent forced you to become.

 

While creating the false self worked for surviving childhood with a horribly abusive narcissistic parent, it no longer serves you well as an adult.  Chances are, you’re unhappy & don’t even know why.  Maybe you work at a job you hate.  Even though it’s a good job that pays well, it just doesn’t fulfill you or bring you any joy.  Maybe you wear a style of clothing you hate just because it’s what you feel you’re supposed to wear, thanks to your narcissistic parent.

 

It’s time for this behavior to stop.  Whether or not your narcissistic parent is still a part of your life, it’s time to stop worrying about pleasing your parent & start worry about pleasing yourself.

 

As always, prayer is the best place you can start.  Ask God to help you become the person He made you to be, & be glorified through you.  Ask Him to show you what you need to do to accomplish this.

 

Also, start paying attention to yourself.  This is hard to do, I know.  Narcissistic parents raise their children to ignore themselves & focus on the parent, & that is a tough habit to break.  It needs to be done though!  Pay attention to how you feel about things.  Do you really like that car you drive or is it just because your narcissistic parent said you should drive it?  If your job isn’t fulfilling, ask yourself why?  What about it doesn’t work well for you?  Do you really like vanilla ice cream even though you were always told you didn’t?  Even little things like the ice cream thing are important- your likes & dislikes make you, you.  So pay attention!  The more you pay attention to how you really feel about things, the easier it gets.  And, the more you learn, the more you’ll want to learn.  You’re going to find out that you’re actually a very interesting, special, unique person!

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Do You Believe People Too Easily?

I was watching one of my favorite shows on the ID channel last night, “Deadly Women.”  It tells stories of women who have killed, many are serial killers.  Interesting stuff when you’re into psychology & crime like I am.  Not to mention, it scares hubby- he swears I watch it to get ideas which entertains me.. lol

One of last night’s stories involved a woman who was married, had a couple of children & her widowed mother lived with her family.  This woman wanted to present the image of being far wealthier than they really were, so she ran up a lot of debt, & continually took money from her elderly mother.  Eventually, her mother stopped giving her money & she ran out of options.  She decided to strangle her mother & attempted to make it look like a suicide.  As soon as her mother was dead, she spent a lot of her mother’s money.  The police figured out what happened & arrested the woman.  The narrator of the story said there was no evidence of mental illness or abuse in this woman’s life.

At this point, my mind was blown. So obsessed with appearances that she murdered her own mother- does that sound like the actions of a mentally stable person?!

I got to thinking… how many people watching that show blindly believed the story as it was told?  How many were shocked by her actions because someone said there was no evidence of mental illness?  Probably a great deal of the viewers.  Most people tend to believe something, anything, when it is said with enough confidence, & that narrator sounded confident in the information she read.

I think that can be a very dangerous thing, believing people so readily.  Not that everyone is a liar or out to get you, naturally, but the truth is some people *are* liars or *are* out to get you.  If you’ve dealt with even just one narcissist in your life, you know that is the truth.  But also, even a well meaning person may inadvertently lie to you or mislead you simply because they have wrong information.  I believe it truly is best always to weigh all information for yourself.

I felt after watching that show last night that I should remind you, Dear Reader, that it’s best to think for yourself!  Don’t blindly take someone at their word, no matter how convinced they are of what they are saying.  Consider Matthew 10:16: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (KJV)  While Jesus gave this advice to his disciples, it seems like very good advice to me for anyone.  I have asked God for wisdom & discernment, & I believe it has helped me in this area tremendously.

I tell you this even about my writing- never blindly listen to what I say!  While I try to provide accurate & helpful information, I can be wrong,  Or, sometimes what I write about may not work for you or you simply disagree with something I write.   There are no one size fits all solutions in life, & especially when dealing with the main topic of my writing- narcissism.  So please, when you read what I write, consider it & how it relates to your individual situation.  Hopefully it helps you, but if it doesn’t, don’t try to make it work for you.  Find another solution that does work for you.

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Changing Yourself To Please Others

I realized something a little while ago.

 

I went to choose some music to listen to while taking a shower.  I wanted something different, so I picked Michael Bolton’s “The One Thing” CD.  While it played, I realized I hadn’t listened to it in years.  In fact, I hadn’t listened to any of his music in years.  Admittedly, I usually prefer hard rock over soft, but even so the main reason I hadn’t listened to him years was because my husband dislikes Mr. Bolton’s music.

 

Did he ever ask me not to listen to those CDs?  Only in his presence, which really is just common courtesy anyway.  (I don’t care for bluegrass, but my husband does, so he listens to it when I’m not around.)  Sooooo…. what the heck?!

 

I realized quickly that this is typical behavior of someone raised by a narcissist.  Narcissistic parents expect their children to morph into whatever pleases them & abandon their own likes, dislikes, dreams, feelings, needs, etc.  Apparently I carried the habit well into adulthood & marriage.

 

I’m not amused.  It’s not even about the music- it’s the fact I so readily gave up listening to an artist whose music I enjoy just because my husband doesn’t feel the same way.  It makes me mad that this behavior was so ingrained in me, I did it without thinking.  My husband & I have been together since 1994.  It’s now 2016 & I just realized it.  That had to be a very deeply ingrained behavior, to take me so long to figure it out!

 

Have you done the same, Dear Reader?  Have you changed yourself for another person just because you thought it would please that person, even if they didn’t ask you to?

 

If so, then I urge you today to go back to what you were comfortable with.  If you & the other person in the relationship disagree on something, it won’t hurt your relationship!  Normal, healthy people respect each others’ differences in personality & taste.  They don’t expect someone to change to please them.  In fact, they encourage their friends or lovers to be the best person they can be, no matter how similar or different they are.  If someone wants you to change to please them, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship.  It’s one of the warnings that you are in the presence of a narcissist.

 

Be the person God created you to be, Dear Reader, or as Shakespeare said, “to thine own self be true.”  You will be happy & at peace with yourself.  And, those who truly love you will appreciate the real you.

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The Truth Really Will Set You Free

I recently read a wonderful quote from Jefferson Davis- “Truth crushed to the Earth is truth still, & like a seed will rise again.”  As soon as I read this, I thought about how it relates to those of us who have been raised by narcissistic parents.

Many of us grew up in this toxic environment, learning very early that we are never to discuss the abuse going on at home, nor are we allowed to protest it.  We also aren’t allowed to have or express feelings, wants or even needs. This results in growing up “stuffing” everything deep down inside & ignoring things, even pretending the abuse we endured wasn’t so bad.  After all, others had it much worse, right?  *sigh*

The truth is we do have needs, wants, & feelings.  We also have been through unimaginable abuse.  And, as Mr. Davis said, those truths will rise again.

There comes a point in your life where suddenly you no longer can “stuff” everything.  You have to admit that you were abused, & that it did a great deal of damage to you.  You also can’t ignore the fact you have wants, needs & feelings any longer.  You want to be heard for the first time, instead of being treated as if you’re completely invisible.  You also may get angry, very angry, that you have been treated in such a way.

At first, this is scary.  You aren’t used to feeling anger or wanting to be heard.  It feels very abnormal to say the least.   And, the thought of discussing what happened to you at the hands of your narcissistic parent(s)?  Terrifying!  However, if you are at this point, I would like to say to you today to push on!

You have just reached a turning point in your life.  It’s actually a very good thing, even though it may not feel that way at first.  This is the point you start to realize you have worth & value, & you are not the terrible things your narcissistic mother said you were.

As abnormal as it feels, keep on healing, learning & growing.  Work through your feelings of fear, & ask God to help you however you need that help.  They won’t hurt you.  In fact, the experience will make you stronger.  You will become comfortable knowing you have the right to have your own needs, even if one of those needs is discussing what your narcissistic mother did to you.

Regarding discussing what happened with your narcissistic mother, by the way, I’m not saying that you have to discuss it with everyone, or write a book or even a blog like this.  I am saying though that you don’t need to feel as if you’re hiding some dirty little secret, like her abusing you was something for you to be ashamed of.  You have nothing to be ashamed of, but your mother has plenty.  The shame of what she did to you is hers, not yours, so don’t carry it any longer!  Put the shame back where it belongs- on your mother.  Refuse to carry it one more day!

Dear Reader, lean on God. Let Him help you to heal & grow.  He truly will, because He loves you so much & wants to bless you.  You can get through this painful time, & will come out on the other side so much stronger, healthier & happier for it!  xoxo

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Yesterday..

Good morning, Dear Readers!

I just thought I’d share something…

As I’ve mentioned lately, I’ve been feeling really bad. It just seemed as if nothing was going right, & it’s been taking a toll on me. Thankfully, things changed yesterday…

To start with, the previous day, my mother called, wanting a favor from me. I told her I’d call back to let her know if I could do it. After some prayer & thought, I realized I couldn’t do it. Even at 43 years old, it takes a lot of courage to say NO to my mother sometimes.. especially without offering her any explanation (I didn’t want to hear any criticisms of my reasons for not being there for her). I called my parents yesterday morning, & thankfully was able to talk to my father instead- he accepted my no without question. No problems. Saying no helped me feel stronger than I had- it reminded me I had a right to say no, to have boundaries & to have my life as a priority.

Although leaving home made me extremely anxious as it always does, I still enjoyed my time out with my husband last night. I bought a couple of little things at a store without telling myself I don’t deserve them or we shouldn’t spend money on me. We then went to a car show, & on the way home stopped by a local car dealer where we’d seen a 1969 Dodge Charger. It was a replica of the General Lee from the old tv show, “The Dukes Of Hazzard,” one of my favorite tv shows as a kid & my favorite car ever. I wanted to snap a quick picture of it before we went home. We pulled into the lot just as someone was moving it, & as I snapped a ton of pictures of this car, he told my husband & I the story behind the car- it was one of only 17 remaining cars from the tv series & movies! I never thought when we left home yesterday afternoon that before we got back home, I would’ve seen a real General Lee!!!

Yesterday was such a blessing to me. Not only did I have fun, got a couple of nice little prizes, & get to see my favorite movie/tv car, but something else happened. If you recall, I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I’ve mentioned how God has shown me I need to get the real me back.. to stop being “Eric’s wife” & be “Cynthia” again. Well, the real me came out yesterday, out of the blue. God is enabling me to be who He intended me to be, & it feels good! It’s also affected my husband. God once told me that if I get me back, not only will I be happier, but my marriage will improve. From what I saw yesterday, this is very true. My husband seemed more relaxed than he has in quite some time & we enjoyed each other’s company more. It’s strange- I thought I needed to change to please him, which is why I lost myself in the first place, yet instead, it caused us to lose much of the closeness we had when we first got together.

I’m sure that this change is something I will have to continue to focus on maintaining, but it is a good start. It gave me the kick in the butt I needed. I’ve been too afraid of rejection to even start focusing on getting myself back. Yesterday showed me it’s a good thing, & gave me courage.

I guess the point of telling you all this isn’t only to share in my good news, but to encourage you. Trust in God, even during the darkest times. He has a plan, & He will help you however you need. It may not be as fast as you want or how you expect it to happen, but it will happen. And, when it does happen, you will be blown away by His goodness & love. ❤

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Ahhh…the joy that is a narcissistic mother

My mother has ended her silent treatment. I had a good run of a couple of months of silence this time, but it’s over now. She called me this morning & acted as if we’d just spoken yesterday. It’s like nothing happened- no silent treatment, no trashing me to my father, nothing bad…

In case I haven’t said it lately, I absolutely freaking HATE head games!!!

It was a typical conversation with my narcissistic mother. The exact same conversation that happens every time she stops speaking to me then eventually resumes talking to me. It’s also why I love it when she gives me the silent treatment & dread when she ends it.

She called under the guise of looking for my father- as he often does, he vanished for hours. Without a cell, she has no means of reaching him when he is away from home. Then there was the complaining about him, & that morphed into “did I tell you about my latest back problem?” Side note: I have no sympathy for her back problems, because, as many of you know, when I was 19, my mother threw me into a wall so hard, I was in constant pain for 10 years. I quit working outside the home a few months later. Then there was the usual guilt trip because my husband works long hours (my parents seem to believe I have some evil powers that make him work long hours against his will while I live like I’m on vacation..), & telling me again about a man who recently died who my mother is glad is dead. I must admit, that last part had me laughing. Not because the man has passed away of course or even her coldness about his passing (that was just disconcerting!), but because my mother claims he is a terrible person because he liked to present himself as such a great person when he really wasn’t. According to her, this man even wrote his own obituary & “it sure made him sound like a great guy!” Yes, you read that right. A narcissist is complaining about another person’s narcissistic behavior. Can you wrap your head around that one? I’m still working on it..

Is it any wonder I’ve had a headache all day? As if starting out my day that way thanks to anxiety & nightmares waking me last night wasn’t quite enough…throw in a Mom call & my head is not happy with me..

My mother’s call has skewed my day. I was ok considering I had a rough start to the day. Now? I feel shaken up. Anxious, angry, depressed, dissociating a lot, head achy, & exhausted. It is ridiculous things are this way, however, it is the norm for those times that I have to deal with my mother.

There was also a small part of me that was feeling guilty earlier today for not calling my parents or suggesting lunch together or something similar. Unfortunately, this seems to be the norm for children of narcissistic parents- always at least some guilt in there somewhere for something, some perceived slight against the parents or failure to measure up to their unrealistic expectations.

I think the reasoning is because we are raised by narcissistic parents to feel guilty because we never quite measure up. We don’t get good enough grades in school, or study the right subjects. We always fail because we aren’t whatever they think we should be. We don’t choose the career they want us to work, or marry the person they think we should marry, or drive the right car, or we disappoint them with some other life choices. We are conditioned to feel guilty & the frequency in our lives of knowing how often we disappoint our narcissistic mothers is so painful. That isn’t always easy to shake off, even when we are adults & know better.

But yanno something?? When we “fail” our narcissistic parents, we are simply living life according to our rules as we should. We are following God’s plan for our lives rather than their plans, which is obviously way more important! As Shakespeare said in “Hamlet”, “To thine own self be true.” What wise advice! Living for someone, anyone, else is a guaranteed way to make yourself utterly miserable!

And, as for feeling guilty for not spending time with your narcissistic parents, I’ll share something that God has shown me many times. My parents are reaping what they’ve sown with me. I don’t want to spend time with them because of the sorry way they have treated me for my entire life. Who wants to spend time with anyone who mistreats or abuses them?! If you are battling guilt for setting boundaries on your interaction with your narcissistic parents, please remember that- they are reaping what they have sown. People who sow bad seeds (being abusive, neglectful, hurtful, manipulative) will sow an unpleasant harvest (being ignored, strong boundaries that are enforced, not tolerating abuse) in return. That doesn’t mean something is wrong with you- it means you are a normal person!!

Now if you’ll pardon me, I’m off for some well needed self care. Music, relaxing, snuggling furkids & a shower…

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