child abuse, Dealing with difficult personalities, narcissism, narcissist, narcissistic abuse, Narcissistic boss, psychopath, psychopathic abuse

You Know a Psychopath

Most people think that psychopaths are only in the movies or that they are in prison for serial killing sprees. This is not true. Psychopaths are around you and you have interacted with them.

No, this does not mean you are in danger or that they will be physically violent if they do target you for “special attention” as a particular favorite victim. It does not mean they will target you at all.

What is does mean is that 3 out of 100 people you ineract with is a psychopath. They can appear charming, they may take great care to look attractive and they often hold positions of respect within the community.

Psychopaths are teaching, giving therapy sessions, leading churches, contributing to charities and giving you medical treatment. They make up 3 to 4 percent of the population and you have exchanged words with one of them.

Being in the presense, even daily, with a psychopath does not meam they will ever harm you. They may just be using you to help maintain or promote their image, which is their “false self.”

Psychopaths will only specifically target certain people, usually ones that are predisposed to abuse. Other people are used as tools, proxies and pawn pieces in their games.

Narcissists , sociopaths and psychopaths are one and the same but they are on a spectrum. You can look up Nine Traits of Narcissism on google or YouTube.

The term sociopath is not any different than a psychpath. There was once a desire to make a strong distnction between narcissists and psychopaths and to create a label of in-between the two ends of the spectrum.

Make no mistake, someone with 9 traits narcissism is potentially dangerous and someone with 7 or 8 traits ( a sociopath) is also very dangerous. They may not choose to be physically violent but they are a danger the mental health, and ability to thrive of their victims.

If you are working with one then you may find yourself harrassed, bullied and feel your job is in jeapordy due to them. It probably is.

If your landlord is one then you may feel the same level of harrassment, threats, and manipulation from them as the one at work.

If they are in your life and you are not providing them with narcissistic supply, making them look good, feeding their ego and listening in awe of their stories of grandeur, then you might be tormented by them. They may torment and bully you to get things to go the way they want or just for sadistic pleasure…it depends where they fall on the narcissim/ psychopath spectrum.

None of the people who have malignant narcissistic personality disorder have any feelings of compassion,  emapthy, love or remore. Although they can emulate the words and gestures of people that do have these feelings.

Narcissists will woo you in order to lure you into trusting them. They can appear normal, even charming, for short periods of time. It takes extended interaction with them in order to see their mask slip.

If something seems inconsistent or “off” about someone and you find yourself recounting conversations to try to make sense of what seemed to be perfectly rational but later did not fit, then be wary.

Narcissists use “word salad”, re-framing, pre-supposition and other neuro linguistic programming (NLP) techniques to manipulate and confuse you. You can look these techniques up on google to learn more about them.

Some people spend years learning NLP techniques in order to use them for good purposes like helping clients lose weight or overcome a phobia.

Narcissists naturally use these techniques …but with insidious intentions. If you feel like you are being dominated in every conversation, even when you are in the right, just be wary.

If you feel like someone is always dominant in conversations about topics  you  are more trained and skilled in, that is anothercred flag.

If someone knows better about every single topic you have ever discussed with them, that is a red flag. Who knows better than you about everthing? Probably only someone with such a huge ego that they pretend to know things they don’t, just to put you under their foot.

Someone who is a “pathological lier” is probably a narcissist.  They can lie right to your face with eye contact,  and sound very sincere or even offended and indignant.

If you feel your will power being sucked out of you and your identity and self worth leaving the room, every time they are in it, that is not normal.

Normal people do not have that effect on others. They do not feel the need to push others down in order to appear bigger and better.

You have interacted with these people without knowing it and you never knew why you felt bad everytime you were around them…or you wondered what it was about you that made “dominating manipulative people” seem to intimidate you.

Intimidation is a game to them and it is also a way of survival for them. They do not want you close enough to see through their games so they will keep you at a distance.

As long as you are struggling to deal with their games, you are too focused on what is happening to you to really look at them and see who they are. They are deceiptful, bullying, “all knowing” people who always have a hidden agenda.

Their behaviors are often confusing because you are unaware of their agenda, which always has to do with them.

Even when they seem to be doing benevolent acts of service their is a hidden agenda behind it.

You might want to consider doing some research on narcissism and psychopathy, just to protect yourself. In this case knowledge is empowerment. These people want to disempower you by starting with your self confidence and distorting your perception of reality.

Some study of neuro linguistic programming will also help you to protect yourself from tactics being used against you that you have never heard of. There are some great videos on NLP hypnosis by David Snyder on YouTube.

You can research NLP techniques of “re-framing”, “presupposition”, “word salad” and others.

You can look up “gaslighting” and you will find written information and videos. I am going to post some videos about gaslighting in the next few weeks and I will put the links for you here.

There is no reason to have parts of your life miserable because of not knowing the tactics of narcissists or how to identify them. You can also look up “red flags” of a narcissist or “red flags” of an abuser and you will get some information.

Trust you gut and do not trust people that make you question your own perception. If something seems off…it probably is.

anxiety, empowerment, mental abuse, mental health, narcissistic abuse, social anxiety

Learn How to Draw Boundaries with Manipulative People

Drawing boundaries is difficult for people that have People Pleaser Syndrome because we were never taught how to draw our own boundaries. Personal boundaries were constantly crossed by one or both parents.

People from abusive backgrounds were brought up to keep our feelings and opinions to ourselves and to cater to the feelings of others. If you have people pleaser syndrome then you have some (not necessarily all) of the following characteristics.

1. Difficulty saying no, especially when the other person does not want to accept “no” for an answer.

2.  Extreme anxiety during any confrontations.

3. Extreme anxiety when people are disappointed in you, or they are  not happy with your actions.

4. DIfficulty standing your ground, when you do not agree with someone.

5. Get taken advantage of easily or often.

6. Other people get more time to make their case during arguments. You end up feeling intimidated to say what your side is.

7. The need for people to approve of you.

8. Seek validation about yourself from other people

9. Get talked into doing things that you do not want to do. (like working extra shifts at work)

10. Have trouble telling people when they are crossing a boundary with you.

Usually people with People Pleaser Syndrome grew up in some sort of abusive situation during childhood.  Abuse does not necessarily have to involve physical abuse. If you were expected to take on a parent’s problems and feelings as your own, and be responsible for their feelings, then that is abusive.

If you felt you had to act in certain ways, in order to keep a parent from becoming angry, then your focus was on the parents feelings all the time. You were not able to act according to your own feelings, because in order to survive, you had to constantly monitor the moods of the parent.

As a child and as you grew into teenage years, you were supposed to be taught how to be an individual. You should have been allowed to draw boundaries that were reasonable and those boundaries should have been respected by your parents.

Boundaries that are often violated in abusive households

1. Personal space. Teenagers should have had the right to personal space, such as their bedroom drawers  not being gone through. They should be allowed to have the door closed, and not have the parent just opening the door without knocking. The knocking on a closed  bedroom door, is a basic courtesy that is often violated in abusive families. The right to personal letters, diaries and other items is important.

There are even narcissists that will violate this boundary with other adults.

( when I was first married my mother in law used to go through everything in  my apt from bedroom drawers to my trash. This was such a violation to me. I asked her not to but narcissistic people do not respect boundaries and she just did it when I was not home…my kids used to tell me she was going through drawers when I left for work)

2. The Right to have feelings. Children should have a right to feel what they feel. In some  abusive households, children are often scolded for crying or expressing feelings that they have about situations. They are taught to feel what they are told to feel. As adults we have trouble identifying what it is that we actually feel, because we are conditioned to feel what others want us to feel.

( I used to try to tell  my mother when I was upset or sad, but it made her angry. I could not talk about my feelings when my parents were divorced or when she decided to stop letting me have visitation with my father. I could not ask her to spend some of her days off with me instead of all of her free nights going on dates. I never saw her. She was at work or on a date. She called me selfish if I mentioned it)

3. The Right to choices and opinions.  In some  abusive households the child or teenager is not given the right to make choices and have opinions. Parents are supposed to be reasonable with their children and teenagers, as they express their desires and opinions.

If you were not allowed to express an opinion that was different from your parent then you probably grew up feeling like you have to keep any opposing opinions to yourself. You will have a hard time speaking about your opinion and you may even have trouble accessing your opinion at all.

People with toxic personalities will prey on those that have People Pleaser Syndrome. They know how to recognize you. They know that they can take advantage of you, in a variety of ways.

My  last boyfriend spent weeks just listening to me talk about my abusive past and how it left me with difficulty standing up for myself. He knew I was a perfect target.

Some things you can do to protect yourself. There are a few things that can help. I will talk about one of them here to start with. Then I will post some follow up posts with more ideas for you to work on. 

 Practice identifying what you are feeling and thinking.  You may know that you are feeling anxiety or discomfort, but practice trying to take a minute and be able to identify your emotions more specifically. In your mind you want to be able to say 

“You are making me feel like my feelings do not matter. You are making me feel like I do not matter.”

“I feel like my schedule does not matter to them and they do not think I have important things to do”

“I feel like I am being taken advantage and they are asking things that are not reasonable”

“I feel frustrated that they keep asking me to do something after I already said no”

“They are intentionally not listening to what I am saying, in order to get their way”

When you can identify exactly how you are feeling, then you can allow yourself to feel that way, rather than shoving your emotions down. It will give you some words to use during the communication or at least validate to yourself how the person is making you feel.

Some toxic personalities will counter your right to feel what you feel. They may use techniques to confuse you about what you are feeling. They will also try to put the fault on you that you are feeling that way.

They might say…

“You really should work on your anger issues”

“You get upset about everything”

“We have to work together” (are they working together with you, or using you?)

“Your mental illness is causing you to think or feel that way” (my ex used to do this. Any time I was upset with him, he would say that it was my mental illness )

“You are projecting another experience on me” (my ex used to say I was thinking of ex boyfriends when I thought he was being unkind to me. He said I was projecting their behavior onto him )

“I am not doing anything to make you feel bad”

“I would never do anything to make you feel low self esteem or feel bad” (my ex used to say this to me)

“You are responsible for your own feelings. There is nothing I can do to make you feel bad, unless you want to feel bad. (that was my ex husband)

One time I was trying to talk to my ex about the lack of time he was spending being intimate with me. We had not been intimate in over a month. He said “There are 12 step groups for sex addiction. Maybe you should go.”

I am sure you can add to the list, from your own experiences. Feel free to add one in the comments.

Just because someone says they are not doing something, does not mean they are not doing it. A toxic personality will tell you outright that they are not doing what they are doing.

I had a boss one time who was very narcissistic and always had to have her way. She would become enraged if anyone did anything that she felt crossed her in any way. She would rage at you behind the closed door of her office.

Out in the main areas she would brag about the fact that she was a very understanding manager. She said that she was a great manager because she respected and listened to the opinions and feelings of the people under her. She was all smile in the lobby and I could hardly recognize her as the same person who had become all red faced and screaming at me in her office.

The other tactic people will use on you is guilt. They will make you feel guilty for saying no. They might say. My family used these kinds of guilt manipulations all the time on me.

1. Well, I was hoping to have a daughter in law that would be part of our family. Being part of the family means going to all family functions, no matter what else you had planned. ( this is my ex mother in law)

2. A good daughter would...(my father has used this one to get me to go back into the line of fire with my abusive mother many times)

3. As the oldest sister you are responsible to...(my father has said this to me many times, in order to get me to forgive my sister for being abusive to me)

4. Didn’t I do you a favor last month? (The favor was something you did not ask for and probably was not helpful.) –  this was my ex boyfriend. He would pay my $60 phone bill and then expect me to 20 hours of work for him every week.

5. We really need your help. Everyone else is busy. (your time is less important that the other people who said no / they have more of a right to say “no” than you do)

6. But I lent you  money. ( so you are now an indentured servant until the debt is paid off, which will never happen because they keep adding interest on it) – my ex inlaws used to use our debt to them against us

7. I thought you cared about me (as if saying “no” to this one thing will prove you do not love them) – my ex mother in law still does this to me

8. I thought you cared about the family (as if saying “no” to this one thing is a severe violation of loyalty)

I am sure you can add to list, from your own experiences. Feel free to leave one in the comments.

More ideas in Part 2. I am working through this process of overcoming People Pleaser Syndrome myself. It can be done. It is a matter of retraining our brains, and getting the things that we missed developmentally during childhood.