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Overcoming narcissistic relationships – Recovery from Narcissistic Abuse

Everyone encounters narcissistic personalities in their life. Not only in the form of a relationship based on love, but also within a friendship, at work or in other forms. As a rule, those affected remain irritated and confused. Depending on the intensity of the contact, self-doubt and feelings of inferiority or – if the relationship lasted for a long time and a lot was invested in it – exhaustion, chronic physical ailments and depression can develop.

Recognising emotional and narcissistic abuse

The psychiatrist Reinhard Haller, an expert in the field of narcissism, describes the characteristics of narcissistic persons as follows: egocentricity, sensitivity, lack of empathy and devaluation.

While all of these four central character traits are present, one usually comes to the fore and determines how a person thinks, feels and acts. Narcissistic tendencies are inherent in every human being. Within an appropriate framework, they serve us as a psychological motor for personal development.

A distinction must therefore be made between “narcissistic reactions”* which every person has due to the natural injuries that life entails. The extent and frequency of narcissistic reactions are crucial to describing someone as having a narcissistic personality.

Someone with a narcissistic personality behaves to a large extent without consideration or empathy towards the needs, desires and feelings of others. Because they are completely centered on themselves in what they feel and think. For example, on their strong desire for freedom and independence, their supposed greatness, their hurt or their need for power and control.

Lack of critical faculties and narcissism

The lack of critical ability and the play of power and control within connections are central issues in narcissistic relationships. As are open or silent devaluation and humiliation, making the other person look bad and belittling, their inclinations, their needs, their views, and their interests.

However, if you hold up the mirror to people with strongly narcissistic personalities, they often initially withdraw, are offended, and then actively or quietly go about dismantling and devaluing the other.

A passive power and control strategy that is often used is offended silence. Silence means being offended and at the same time offending the other person because they are no longer worth speaking to. Those who remain insulted and silent have the right to retain sole control over closeness and distance in the relationship in order to keep the upper hand in contact. This is why misunderstandings are manifested in disputes and joint solutions on an equal footing are made impossible.

Lack of insight and relinquishment of responsibility

Narcissistic characters are weak of character and cowardly when it counts. They do not have the courage to face conflicts honestly and establish synergies together. They do not acknowledge their part in what is happening, admitting it openly either rarely or never. Even constructive and justified criticism is usually fought off hard.

They have a fantastic ability to know how to turn the tables and present situations as if the view of the person concerned was incorrect. If they stick by their perspective, they themselves are portrayed as lacking in empathy, being egotistical and self-centered, rejecting dialogue, being indignant or irreconcilable. Key contexts and background become twisted, ignored or faded out completely.

Narcissistic personalities transfer their own blind spots to their counterparts and the environment, while their own role in what is happening is denied, often in a perfidious and subtle way that leaves the other person seemingly helpless and powerless with feelings of guilt. Narcissistic characters are masters of emotional and subliminal manipulation with simultaneous artificial self-appreciation.

In doing so, they often hand over all responsibility for their actions. The affair, the missed friendly solidarity or insidious actions are blamed on the inadequacies and mistakes of the other. „If they hadn’t behaved so selfishly, ignorantly, opaquely, meanly, then…“. It’s essentially only understandable that you would think, feel and react that way. Admitting their own weaknesses and areas which they need to work on, especially in front of others, would ultimately amount to exposure and destruction.

While people with narcissistic personalities themselves demand a great deal of excusing and understanding, they will not receive them.

Handling narcissistic relationships

Even strong characters who have healthy self-esteem can get into a narcissistic relationship. We quickly begin to play a role in the presence of narcissistic personalities.

Because, on the one hand, every can sense a certain peculiarity in the narcissist. An aura that arouses interest and can lead to admiration. At the same time, on another level, you can immediately sense the high degree of vulnerability and the sometimes silent addiction to recognition, to which you are inclined to adapt or subordinate yourself in various ways if you want to maintain harmony and ensure the contact, as well as its supposed benefits, contact are not endangered.

You are always required, however, to put your own self and personal authenticity aside. In extreme cases, this can also mean self-abandonment. Contact with narcissistic people always leads to irritation and confusion, and in the long run feelings of guilt or permanent self-doubt. Because the seeds of doubt are sown subliminally and can keep germinating again and again. Narcissistic relationships always mean a loss of energy.

Longstanding emotional abuse can leave you with a broken sense of self-worth, which includes latent feelings of inferiority. Many victims of severe narcissistic abuse repeatedly find themselves in a state of exhaustion, later in depression or suffering from psychosomatic illnesses.

Be aware of your own methods of reacting

Handling narcissistic relationships usually requires professional support. First of all, it is necessary to recognise the behaviour and means of manipulation of narcissistic individuals and to distance yourself from contact.

It is then important to be aware of your own methods of reacting and work out personal defense strategies. You should then ask what exactly you were looking for in the connection with the individual with a narcissistic personality. What gap were you trying to fill with them? And how can this be properly closed with support from within?

Discover unhealed wounds, personal failings and blind spots step by step and heal these on different levels. Appreciate the knowledge gained through the experience of contact with individuals with narcissistic personalities. Maintain your own limits, even if your curiosity seems to want to overcome them. This is the best way to prevent from narcissistic individuals.

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