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Child Roles in the Narcissistic Family: Scapegoat

As in other types of dysfunctional families, children in the narcissistic home fall into roles orchestrated by their parents. Such parents assign the roles to reinforce their deluded self-beliefs and control family dynamics. Like other aspects of the narcissistic family, child roles are artificial and meant to serve the needs of the parents rather than support the children’s authenticity and development. Typically the dysfunctional family roles are scapegoat, lost child, mascot, and hero/caretaker, but in the narcissistic family there is an idealized golden child and the hero/caretaker role may mix with that of the scapegoat or golden child. In smaller families, children may play more than one role. Children defined by artificial roles experience distortions to their sense of identity and face emotional and physiological trauma that can last a lifetime if not addressed. Here we examine the role of the scapegoat and scapegoat/hero.


Narcissists always need a target, and the scapegoated child is it. Blamed for the ills of the family, scapegoats are treated to negative projection, criticism, and rage and are often burdened with excessive responsibilities as well as restrictions at home. If you are a scapegoat, no matter how hard you try or how capable you are, it is seldom good enough, and anything negative you do is viewed as proof of your failings. You are labeled a screw up or rebel so that any reaction you have against the injustice of the role can always be interpreted as confirmation of its accuracy. As the family bad seed, whether you argue, yell, cry, withdraw, or try to explain, it is seen as acting out. In a very real sense, as scapegoat you experience a character assassination that may amount to a lifelong smear campaign within the family and possibly beyond it to relatives, friends, and community members.

The child selected for scapegoating triggers the parent’s narcissistic injury, activating his/her most violent defenses. Your mere act of seeing causes the parent to lash out with projecting rage: You are called difficult, unfair, angry, disloyal. The narcissist’s disappointments become your fault. The narcissist’s abuses become your misdeeds. The narcissist’s responsibilities become your weights to carry. In short, the narcissistic parent uses you to deflect accountability and as a catchall for his/her disappointments and anger at the world.

As the family target, you as scapegoat have it hardest, at least on the surface. Your personality disordered parent sees in you what s/he hates about her-/himself. This may be because you are most like that parent, most aware of her/his shortcomings, and/or most questioning of or confrontational about the family’s unhealthy dynamics. Perhaps you are the most aware and strongest child and therefore the biggest threat to the narcissist’s architecture of lies.

Scapegoated children may react at home and school by fulfilling their role as underachiever, disaffected misfit, or rule-breaking rebel. They may struggle against family expectations by taking on aspects of the hero role, becoming highly capable, responsible, and perfectionist overachievers and/or self-effacing caregivers/rescuers. They may attempt to defend an abused enabling parent and siblings, recognizing the cruelty in the family and identifying with the pain of other family members. Some scapegoats internalize the narcissistic value system and become narcissistic themselves. Others endure so much assault that they experience a kind of emotional and/or physical collapse that leaves them unable to fully function in adulthood. In extreme cases scapegoats are so pathologized they end up institutionalized. However they respond to their circumstances, scapegoated children inevitably carry the emotional and physical fallout of abuse. As long-term trauma victims, they are most likely to experience symptoms of complex post-traumatic stress, including anxiety, depression, anger, phobias, addiction, and degraded health. Those who avoid becoming narcissistic themselves are vulnerable to codependent and/or abusive relationships, especially if an enabling parent has modeled codependency.


But scapegoats’ vulnerabilities are often also their most powerful strengths. As a scapegoat you may become highly empathetic, having been marginalized and trained to put others’ needs first. You also may become unusually self-reflective, seeking out insight and awareness to make sense of the abuse and cognitive dissonance you endured. As an outlier, you are likely to have greater perspective about the family dysfunction and motivation to break away from it. If you are able to carry such awareness forward into healthier relationships, you may end the cycle of blame and abuse with your own family. Often it takes having kids of our own to realize how far out of bounds our parents were with us. Scapegoats who become parents commonly experience an aha moment (or many moments) when they say, “I would never treat my kids the way my parents treated me!”

As the family scapegoat, your identity is distorted by your narcissistic parent’s false projections. Your challenge is to believe in your own perceptions and truths—no small matter for someone who has been systematically targeted, undermined and discredited. This means dissecting the narcissistic family system, recognizing its cruelties and lies, and nurturing the self within who was never properly loved.

Thank you Julie Hall for this awesome article!
By Julie L. Hall

This article is an adapted excerpt from Julie L. Hall’s book The Narcissist in Your Life: Recognizing the Patterns and Learning to Break Free coming from Da Capo Lifelong Books/Hachette Book Group December 3, 2019. Julie is the founder of the popular blog The Narcissist Family Files. Learn about her coaching.

The post Child Roles in the Narcissistic Family: Scapegoat appeared first on Narcissist Abuse Support.

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Thank you Tina Swithin for this great article!

I still remember walking through the doors of family court for the first time in August of 2009. To anyone on the outside, I looked like I had it all together. I was a respected and recognized member of my local business community, but more importantly, I was a mom. On the inside, I was shell-shocked, riddled with anxiety and out of my element. I clung to the words printed on my court paperwork, “in the best interest of the children.” Those words were playing in my mind on a continuous loop. Those words gave me hope that no matter how dire things felt in the moment, that my daughters would be safe and protected through this next chapter of our lives.

After spending almost ten-years volunteering at my local women’s shelter, I found myself tapping on their doors and desperate to be let in. This was by far the most humbling experience of my life. Due to the financial abuse that had been in play for years, but intensified when court paperwork was filed, I found myself in pro per and attempting to make sense of the mountains of court documents that were required of me. I sat up, late into the night at the women’s shelter with my laptop strategically propped in the window ledge as I desperately needed access to the open Wi-Fi of a neighboring home. Just three weeks prior, I had been driving a brand-new Mercedes in a gated community and there I was, choking back tears in a dimly lit bedroom with my very young daughters sleeping in an unfamiliar bed just a few feet away.

I was devastated to discover very early into my custody battle that parental rights carry more weight than children’s rights. My path into the family court system included a two-day trial, over thirty court hearings and two full child custody evaluations. During this time, minor’s counsel was appointed, over twelve police reports were generated and a total of three child welfare reports determined that my ex-husband was a “moderate risk” yet did nothing to protect my children. I was shocked to discover the hard way that an unfounded child welfare report is often misinterpreted as an event that did not happen however, more often than not, it means that the event did happen, but the child is now with the “safe parent.” After a six-year battle, I was successful in my plight to protect my children. In 2014, my ex-husband was stripped of his parenting time and all access to our daughters based largely on emotional abuse.

Throughout my battle, I found myself repeatedly saying, “it should not be this difficult to protect children.” I have dedicated my life to family court advocacy so that my daughters’ suffering was not in vain. In 2011, I founded a grassroots movement, One Mom’s Battle, which has now expanded internationally. This issue is one of epidemic proportions and it’s not just one mom’s battle. My custody battle was not about my ex-husband’s love for our daughters, contrary to what he told the court. It was about winning, and his motivation was to hurt and control me. He lost power over me when our marriage ended so the children were his only weapons. This is true in most high-conflict custody battles but often, both parents are unfairly grouped together in the “high-conflict” category.

What is the common denominator that we see in high-conflict custody battles? Often, one parent has a diagnosed (or suspected) Cluster B personality disorder. The three disorders that are most common are: Borderline Personality Disorder (more common with females than with males), Narcissistic and Antisocial Personality Disorders (more common in males than in females). With each of these three Cluster B disorders, there is a pronounced lack of empathy and a repeated testing of laws, rules, and personal boundaries. The high-conflict parent will purposefully become delinquent in child support to exercise financial control over the other parent. There is a high level of manipulation to meet their own needs which can fluctuate with their mood or state of mind. In addition, there is often a history of domestic violence, fraud or other criminal activities. Substance abuse, addiction (alcohol, drugs, sex or porn) and other forms of mental disorders are also prevalent with these disorders. Any of these pervasive issues should pose as a “red flag” to court professionals.

Judges and family court professionals are often fooled when a high-conflict individual proclaims that they want to be an active participant in their child’s life. The narcissist’s portrayed interest in being a part of the child’s life is the furthest thing from the truth. I refer to this as the courtroom mask – the narcissist is wearing a mask in the courtroom or when the eyes of a court professional are upon them. Outside of the court setting, the mask falls and the narcissist’s true colors show. This is where it is critical to pay attention to courtroom statements versus actions.

When a judge, commissioner or a family court professional is making a decision that impacts the life of a child, it is important to err on the side of caution. This is even more critical if a parent shows impaired empathy, disregard for boundaries and poor impulse control with their children or their former spouse. Many high-conflict individuals may appear to be a loving, devoted parent through their testimony or declarations, yet their actions prove otherwise. The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study), conducted by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control, clearly illustrates the lifelong effects of childhood trauma and abuse. The ACE Study should be utilized by anyone who is tasked with deciding the future of a child. Children are dependent on family court professionals and their rights should supersede parental rights.

Tina Swithin is the Author of the series, “Divorcing a Narcissist” and a Family Court Advocate who resides in San Luis Obispo, California with her husband and two daughters.

The post DIVORCING A NARCISSIST appeared first on Narcissist Abuse Support.

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Thank you Chad Boyd Chalmers for this great article!

Growing up, I was the furthest thing from perfect. In fact, I was a straight C+ to B- student, yet I was the Golden Child to a narcissistic father and a highly obedient sensitive mother. I was treated better than my other siblings, simply because they were D and F students who voiced their opinions. As they rebelled outwardly, I smiled and kept quiet as I observed the verbal abuse that came their way by doing so. I was the youngest and unconsciously thought this was the best way to survive.

Unfortunately, my siblings took my behavior as me trying to be perfect, and my brother, who was the scapegoat of the family, brutally took his anger out on me. My mother, who didn’t want my brother to feel the wrath of my father any further, would hide my brother’s daytime abuses from my narcissistic father as a way to protect him, not fully realizing that she was abandoning me. At night my father controlled the household, but during the day, my newly nurtured narcissistic brother now ruled the roost. And in this dysfunction, distrust had been born, and none of my vulnerabilities were safe with anyone.

Every time I was angry or sad and needed to talk or voice my concerns, I just bottled it up. The words from my narcissistic father would always flash in my head like an alert sign ‘I already have enough problems with these two, I don’t need another.’ And these words would always be accompanied by the look of my highly obedient sensitive mother to echo/reinforce his words as a way to silence me. And that became my role. I didn’t cause waves. I didn’t rock the boat. I feared the consequences too much. And in the process, I became a voiceless human being who wasn’t allowed to have emotions because that’s what I needed to do to survive. And this strategy worked……..until it didn’t anymore.

When I entered adulthood, everything seemed perfectly fine. I was out of my home and felt free for the very first time, but what I didn’t realize for a very long time, was that I was anything but free or close to being an adult. My actions and reactions to  work and life situations were extreme, which made it difficult to hold jobs and have healthy relationships. The Golden Child tag I was nurtured into, was my introduction into victimhood and that thought process never left me. When I trusted, I trusted the wrong people. It was like narcissists could smell me out of a crowd.  My whole thought process about relationships and communication were entirely out of whack, and it wasn’t until I found myself in the same type of relationship/work cycle for the 5th time, did I finally realize that I was powerless over the Golden Child role and needed to work on deprogramming myself.

It’s been eight years since I started the retraining process and it hasn’t been easy.  I’ve created new boundaries for myself, and I find that the narcissists at work try to break them down the most. Sometimes I’ll fall for their games and take two steps back, but I always dust myself off, get back up, and march five steps forward in response. I can’t change them, but I can change how I react to them, and the longer I work at expressing myself and letting my voice be heard, the stronger I become, and the harder it is for their actions and words to hurt me anymore.

And as far as relationships go, I’m still working on building my self-everything within them, but instead of putting my vulnerabilities into the hands of people who only knew how to hurt me, I’m now happy to say that I’m dating a nice boring girl who lets me be me, and handles me with care.

Chad Boyd Chalmers is a narcissist abuse survivor, certified life coach, and author of the upcoming book How To Survive The Narcissist Apocalypse. 

narcissistapocalypse.com

The post Life of the Golden Child of a Narcissist appeared first on Narcissist Abuse Support.

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Thank you Diana Fletcher for contributing this great article to our site!

I am so friggin over my mom. Just so over this.

Please. No more.
We were responsible for my mother’s happiness since before we were born, tiny embryos developing and taking in her every thought, her every word, her every action. We were soon to learn that if we wanted her love, we must make her happy. No one knew how to do this, including my mother. If we could make her happy, we would be loved, truly loved for who we were. But she has never known who we are.

In my mother’s world, as with any narcissist, everything is about her. We are reflections of her because of course, what else could we be? We exist only as an outward extension of her.

We didn’t know that word, narcissist, and we didn’t know a lot about normal, but we knew scary when we saw it. My three sisters and I stuck together and used humor to survive and later marriages, travel, alcohol, and drugs to escape. All of us are not close anymore, but when we needed each other as children and young adults, we were there for each other.

Even now, as I write this, the thought comes: You’re writing negative things about Mom! You will be in trouble!

But I’m tired. It takes its toll, this pressure, the years that we have endured this weird shit. I am 61. That’s a lot of years of mean comments, anger over our haircuts or any weight gain, her inappropriate and often cold responses to our views and thoughts. So many years, the evaluations, the criticism, the constant knowing that we really weren’t wanted and this woman found no true joy in any of us.

Anything close to the truth scares my mother, so of course any emotions were out of bounds (e.g. You’re so sensitive!).

Truth is not the important part of LIFE; it is how people perceive you. What THEY think is crucial and so very, very important to my mother. She called it pride when she recalled this in her own mother. I call it sickness. That belief that other people’s thoughts or opinions are more important than your own? What the hell? It doesn’t matter if these are people who have never met you. THEY have the only important opinions.

I knew this was bullshit from an early age and often found myself saying, “but who cares what they think?” The answer was and is, obviously, my mother.

I understand now that she only could do what she could do. Louise Hay taught me that. I practice forgiveness. If I keep practicing, I am hoping to nail it at some point. People can only do what they have learned in life. She could not dig herself out of the unhappiness hole she had dug.

She is never going to be the mother I wanted and needed. She is never going to give any one of us what we wanted from her, and it is time to let go.

How do I do that though? How do I put down the load that has always been too heavy to carry? How do I disconnect from my mother, who now looks fragile and old? Fragile but still strong. How do I let go of the pain?

She is 97 and claims she wants to die. She continues to take all the medication that prevents this from happening, but whatever. My father is gone and she misses him, though we know he too, failed in the directive to make her happy. She has two sisters who love her, nieces, nephews, grandchildren. Having never opened her heart completely to let these people inside, to let herself have close and meaningful relationships with them, she has successfully kept joy out of her daily life. This makes me so sad to write that.

So what do you owe to the person who gave you birth, kept you safe from outside predators, fed and clothed you and always encouraged a college education?

This person who cared for me when I was a child, or sick, and later after a serious car accident. This person who helped me with my children when they were babies.

This person who made me cry so many times, saying so many hurtful things, making demands that were impossible to satisfy. The person who criticized most of the gifts we gave her, including our time and attention.

The person who Dad would want us to care for after he was gone.

Recently, in trying to figure out plans for going forward, my sister and I discussed finances, as there are not unlimited funds. We also discussed how to let go, how to separate what we owe to our father–what he would expect from us.

We talked about the evening phone calls, sometimes one after another until we are beaten down and can’t answer anymore. We discussed how to handle the pain of those calls because there is nothing we can do about the fact that she is old. We can’t have her live with any of us. We are survivors, not masochists. We talk about visiting her and how she can still make us feel horrible.

It is just an unhappy situation for everyone concerned.

So this is what I came up with. I can’t make her happy.

I have never been able to make her happy.

I will never be able to make her happy, and neither can any one else, so we will make sure she is safe.

We will make sure she stays safe.

That’s all we can do Dad. I’m tired and over this.

The post I am so friggin over my narcissistic mom appeared first on Narcissist Abuse Support.

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I'm gonna live in the arena. I'm gonna be brave with my life. I am gonna show up. I'm gonna take chances. - Brene Brown

I'm gonna live in the arena. I'm gonna be brave with my life. I am gonna show up. I'm gonna take chances. - Brene Brown

I'm gonna live in the arena. I'm gonna be brave with my life. I am gonna show up. I'm gonna take chances. - Brene Brown

If you get in the arena you're going to fail. You're going to get your ass kicked. You are going to know heartbreak. - Brene Brown

Today I'll choose courage over comfort. I can't make a commitment for tomorrow, but today I'm gonna choose to be brave. - Brene Brown

I am trained for this moment. - Brene Brown

I'm gonna live in the arena. I'm gonna be brave with my life. I am gonna show up. I'm gonna take chances. - Brene Brown

You're in a shame shitstorm. - Brene Brown

I'm gonna live in the arena. I'm gonna be brave with my life. I am gonna show up. I'm gonna take chances. - Brene Brown

If you get in the arena, You're going to fail. You're going to get your ass kicked. You are going to know heartbreak. - Brene Brown

The post New Brene Brown Quotes appeared first on Narcissist Abuse Support.

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A big thank you to Darlene Lancer for providing us with this great article!

Codependency is sneaky and powerful. You may not be aware that it’s the root cause of your problems. Focusing thinking and behavior around someone else is a sign of codependency. We react to something external, rather than our own internal cues. Addicts are codependent, too. Their lives revolve around their addiction – be it food, work, drugs, or sex.

Codependency derived from the term “co-alcoholic,” originating in studies of family members of substance abusers who interfered with recovery by enabling.

Family therapists found that their codependent behavior developed in their childhood growing up in a dysfunctional family. In the 40s, German psychoanalyst and humanist Karen Horney wrote about neurotic behavior caused by self-alienation. She described personality types that fit codependency and believed that they resulted from faulty parenting and the “tyranny of the shoulds.”

The 12-step program Codependents Anonymous (CoDA) was founded in 1986 by Ken and Mary, two therapists who had grown up in abusive families.

Definitions
Codependency is considered a disorder in the American Psychiatric Association, due to lack of consensus on a definition and empirical research. However, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does list a dependent personality disorder, described as someone more passive, submissive, and dependent than most codependents. In 1989, experts at a National Conference arrived at a suggested definition: “A pattern of painful dependency on compulsive behaviors and on approval from others in an attempt to find safety, self-worth and identity.” Other definitions by experts in the field include:

Melody Beattie: Allowing another person’s behavior to affect him or her and obsessing about controlling that person’s behavior.

Earnie Larsen: A diminished capacity to initiate, or participate in, loving relationships.

Robert Subby: Resulting from prolonged exposure to oppressive rules.

John Bradshaw & Pia Melody: A symptom of abandonment – a loss of ones inner reality and an addiction to outer reality.

Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse: A brain disorder that leads codependents to seek the relief of soothing brain chemicals, which are released through compulsive behaviors, including addiction to work, substances, gambling, food, sex, and/or relationships.

Charles Whitfield: A disease of a lost selfhood.

Darlene Lancer: A person who can’t function from his or her innate self and instead organizes thinking and behavior around a substance, process, or other person(s).”

Beattie’s and Larsen’s definition centers on relationship behavior. I agree with Bradshaw, Melody, and Whitfield that codependency resides in us whether or not we’re in a relationship. I also agree with Wegscheider-Cruse that addicts are codependent and that relief is sought through substances, processes, and people. However, unlike Cruse, I believe codependency is learned behavior that’s trans-generational. Other influences are cultural and religious biases. Although research shows that some teens had brain abnormalities even before they became drug addicts, their twins did not become addicted, so the full impact of genetic and organic causes is still unclear, particularly in view of the brain’s plasticity in adolescence.

Core Feelings and Behavior
Codependent feelings and behavior vary in degree on a continuum. Like a disease and addiction, if untreated symptoms become compulsive and worsen in stages over time.

Core feelings include:

Denial
Low Self-esteem
Painful emotions: Shame, Guilt, Anger and Resentment, Anxiety and Fear, Depression
Core Behaviors include:

Dependency
Intimacy problems
Dysfunctional communication
Dysfunctional boundaries
Control of oneself and/or others (includes Caretaking)
Core feelings and behaviors create other problems, such as, people-pleasing, self-doubt, mistrust, perfectionism, high-reactivity, enabling, and obsessions. Codependents are usually more attuned to other people’s needs and feelings than their own. To quell anxiety about rejection, they try to accommodate others, while ignoring their own needs, wants, and feelings. As a result, they tend to lose their autonomy, particularly in intimate relationships. Over time, their self-worth declines due to self-alienation and/or allowing others to devalue them.

Codependents have varied personalities, and symptoms differ in type and severity among them. They also have diverse attachment styles. Not all are caretakers or are even in a relationship. Some seek closeness, while others avoid it. Some are addicts, bullies, selfish, and needy, or may appear independent and confident, but they attempt to control, or are controlled by, a personal relationship or their addiction. Sometimes that relationship is with an addict or narcissist. A relationship that is one-sided or marked by addiction or abuse is a sign of codependency. But not all codependent relationships are one-sided or abusive.

Recovery
Untreated codependency can lead to severe anxiety, depression, and health problems. There is help for recovery and change. Recovery goes through stages that normalize codependent symptoms. The goal of recovery is to be a fully functioning adult who is:

Authentic
Autonomous
Capable of intimacy
Assertive and congruent in expression of values, feelings, and needs
Flexible without rigid thinking or behavior
Become informed. Get guidance and support. Codependent patterns are deeply ingrained habits and difficult to identify and change on your own. It often takes an experienced third party to identify them and to suggest alternative beliefs and responses. Therapy and 12-Step meetings provide this. In recovery, you will:

Come out of denial
Let go of others
Build an autonomous Self
Raise your self-esteem
Find pleasure – develop friends, hobbies
Heal past wounds
Learn to be assertive and set boundaries
Pursue larger goals and passions
Self-Help and Therapy
Codependency is highly recoverable, but requires effort, courage, and the right treatment. A therapist should be knowledgeable in treating codependency, shame, and self-esteem, as well as be able to teach healthier behavioral and communication skills. Cognitive-behavior therapy is effective in raising self-esteem and changing codependent thinking, feelings, and behavior. In some cases, trauma therapy is also indicated.

Recovery can generate more anxiety, so it’s important to maintain a self-help support system such as, Al-Anon or CoDA 12-Step programs. Do the exercises in my books, Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You and Codependency for Dummies and my ebooks, 10 Steps to Self-Esteem and How to Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits (see also companion webinars) to build self-esteem and become more assertive.

©Darlene Lancer 2019

The post What is Codependency? appeared first on Narcissist Abuse Support.

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6 of Bill Eddy’s favorite Tips for Divorcing a Narcissist

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Bill Eddy the author of many books but my favorite is Splitting. Bill was a lawyer and a clinical social worker and the founder of the High Conflict Institute. What I love about this interview is the way he explains how the judges view this type of divorce, he explains the term ‘splitting’ the black and white thinking of a narcissistic abuser. We also talked about the fact that there is an increase in narcissistic people and he explains his theory on how this has exploded. You do not need to be going through a divorce to listen to this video because there is so much information that she shares with us.

Thank you, Bill, for doing this wonderful video with me.
Best Tips For Divorcing a narcissist with Author Bill Eddy (Splitting book)

The post Tips for Divorcing a Narcissist with Author Bill Eddy appeared first on Narcissist Abuse Support.

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Thank you Darlene Lancer for providing this wonderful article for our website!

Her website can be found here: whatiscodependency.com

The key to happiness is meeting our needs. Although codependents are very good at meeting needs of other people, many are clueless about their own needs. They have problems identifying, expressing, and fulfilling their needs and wants. They’re usually very attuned other people and may even anticipate their needs and desires. Over the years, they become so used to accommodating others that they lose the connection to their own needs and wants.

This pattern starts in childhood, when our needs, especially emotional needs, were ignored or shamed. As children we had to adapt to the needs of our parents, who may have been physically or mentally ill, addicted, or just emotionally or physically unavailable. Some of us had to adapt to the wants and expectations of a selfish or controlling parent just to survive. After a while, rather than be disappointed or shamed for not getting our needs met, we tune them out.

As adults, we can’t stop ourselves from sacrificing our needs and wants in relationships, at the expense of our own happiness. At first we may be motivated by love, but before long we’re resentful as our discontent and imbalance in the relationship grow. Without recovery, we may believe the problem only resides only in our selfish partner. If we leave the relationship but haven’t reclaimed ourselves, we’re sad to discover that we don’t know what we want or what to do with ourselves― except to get into another relationship―fast! Otherwise, the underlying emptiness and depression that we were unaware of will arise.

Why Meeting Needs Matters

The reason it’s important to satisfy our needs is because we feel emotional pain when they’re not met. You may be in pain and not know why or which needs are not being fulfilled. When our needs are met, we feel happy, grateful, safe, loved, playful, alert, and calm. When they’re not, we’re sad, fearful, angry, tired, and lonely. Think about how you meet or don’t meet your needs, and what you might do to start meeting them. It’s a simple formula, though difficult to carry out:

Meet Your Needs →→→ Feel Good

Ignore Your Needs →→→ Feel Bad

Once you identify your emotions and needs, you can then take responsibility for meeting them and feeling better. For example, if you’re feeling sad, you might not realize you’re lonely and have a need for social connection. Even if you do, many codependents isolate rather than reach out. Once you know the problem and the solution, you can take action by calling a friend or planning social activities.

Identifying Needs

We have many needs that you may not have considered. Although some of us are good at meeting physical needs, we may not be able to identify emotional needs if those were ignored. Here are some needs. See if you can add to this list from Codependency for Dummies:

Mental Autonomy Emotional Physical Integrity Expression Social Spiritual
Knowledge Independence Acceptance Safety Authenticity Purpose Family Meditation
Awareness Empowerment Affection Shelter Honesty Self-growth Friendship Contemplation
Reflection Self-knowledge Be understood Medical Care Fairness –

Equality

Self-expression Cooperation Reverence
Clarity Boundaries Support Water Confidence Creativity Reciprocity Peace
Discernment Freedom Trust Air Meaning Humor Community Order
Comprehension Solitude Nurturing Sex Pride Play Reliability Gratitude
Stimulation Courage Love Health Self-worth Passion Communication Faith
Learning Grieving Food Appreciation Assertiveness Generosity Hope
Joy Movement Values Goals Companionship Inspiration
Intimacy Pleasure Self-respect Beauty
Identifying Your Wants

Some people recognize wants, but not their needs, or vice versa, and may get them confused. If our wants were shamed growing up – if we were told we shouldn’t want something – we may have stopped desiring. Some parents give children what they think they should have or make them do activities that the parent wants and not what the child would like. Instead of pursuing our own desires, we may accommodate what other people want. Do you resent someone for always getting his or her way, but don’t speak up and advocate for what you want? Make a list of your desires. Don’t restrict them by your current limitations.

Recovery

Recovery means implementing the above positive needs formula. It includes fulfilling your healthy desires. We become responsible to ourselves and develop enough self-esteem to make ourselves a priority.

First, you have to find out what you need and want. Then, value it. Think about why it’s important. If we don’t value a need, we won’t be motivated to meet it. If it was shamed in childhood, then we will assume that we can forego it. Many people don’t fulfill their goals or dreams because they were ridiculed growing up. Similarly, if grief, sex, or play were shamed or discouraged, we might assume these weren’t valid needs. Next, figure out how to fill that need.

Finally, some needs require courage to stretch ourselves to meet them, such as self-expression, authenticity, independence, and setting boundaries. Other needs are interpersonal and require courage to ask other people to meet them. We can only do this if we value ourselves and our needs and feel entitled to have them met. It also helps to learn to be assertive. (See How To Speak Your Mind – and webinar How to Be Assertive.

Recovery takes encouragement and support from others and usually counseling, too. This may seem daunting, but start simply each day by journaling and attuning to your feelings your body. Take the time to ask yourself what you want and need. Start listening to and honoring yourself!

©Darlene Lancer 2019

Darlene Lancer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and expert author on relationships and codependency. She’s counseled individuals and couples for 30 years and coaches internationally. Her books include Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You and Codependency for Dummies and seven ebooks, including: 10 Steps to Self-EsteemHow To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set LimitsDealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People, and Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness. They’re available on Amazon, and other online booksellers and her website, www.whatiscodependency.com, where you can get a free copy of “14 Tips for Letting Go.” Find her on Soundcloud,Clyp,LinkedIn YoutubeTwitter @darlenelancer, and Facebook.

The post Meeting Your Needs is the Key to Happiness appeared first on Narcissist Abuse Support.

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"Everything happens for a reason, even when we are not wise enough to see it. When there is no struggle, there is no strength." - Oprah Winfrey

"Whatever you fear most has no power -- it is your fear that has the power." - Oprah Winfrey

"Everything happens for a reason, even when we are not wise enough to see it. When there is no struggle, there is no strength." - Oprah Winfrey

"It doesn't matter who you are, where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you - always." - Oprah Winfrey

"I believe there's a calling for all of us. I know that every human being has value and purpose. The real work of our lives is to become aware and awakened. To answer the call." - Oprah Winfrey

"When people show you who they are... believe them!" - Oprah Winfrey

"You teach people how to treat you." - Oprah Winfrey

"Live your best life!" - Oprah Winfrey

"Always take a stand for yourself, your values. You're defined by what you stand for." - Oprah Winfrey

"What I know for sure is that what you give comes back to you." - Oprah Winfrey

"What other people label or might try to call failure, I have learned is just God's way of pointing you in a new direction." - Oprah Winfrey

"Follow your feelings. If it feels right, move forward. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it." - Oprah Winfrey

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