I don’t know about your experience, but, in the short year I was with him, I unlearned a lot of the behaviors I had worked so hard to achieve in therapy for the five previous years.
What I’ve been doing
I’ve been researching narcissism. It fits him. However, I’ve learned a couple of other things as well. From the little bit of research I’ve done, this condition explains so many people in my life.
We call them “drama queens”. Yeah. Those are the people in your life that go around stirring up shit just to see who will get splattered with it. The ones who can never quite be proven to be responsible, but somehow manage to be in the middle of it all.
Where it began for me
My mother is the first one I can remember making me feel like a worthless piece of scum on her shoe. Then, saying something like. “Why are you crying? Don’t you get enough attention?”
Next, my older sister would disappoint me and say, “So? It’s not like you’re important.”
My whole life I felt like I was blamed for anything that went wrong by everyone in the family. To this day, none of them have any use for me unless they want something from me.
My mother, who is in a nursing home, wants a slave. She wants someone to take her out of the nursing home and take care of her every whim.
My sisters, both older, want drama. They will do anything to get me upset and looking like an idiot.
A few years ago, they accused me of kidnapping our mother from a nursing home and keeping her away from them.
Needless to say, I don’t associate with them anymore. I just recently became friends on facebook with one of them.
Anyway, my point is that I’ve been dealing with narcissists my whole life. I didn’t know what they were called. I was taught that it was part of their addictions.
What I learned
In counseling, I spent five years learning to forgive the unforgivable, reprogram my brain, and give myself a break. These skills are going to be extremely useful.
I read an article on Medium.com yesterday. It says some of the things I’ve learned in counseling. I thought I would share them with you, so you’d know the reasoning for doing what I’m doing.
The way you focus your attention provides the programming instructions for your brain. Your attention tells your reticular activating system (RAS) in your brain what bits of information to allow in, and what bits to filter out.
What does that mean?
For example, when you make a mistake do you call yourself a derogatory name, like “stupid” or “dummy?” This is very common. This is an inadvertent instruction to your RAS to not learn from your mistakes.
This was something my counselors tried to teach me for years, but I didn’t get it. They just said stupid things like, “Think positive”, “change your inner tape to be more supportive and loving”, and “change the way you talk to yourself”. Please, forgive me, but without the above explanation, these things are a bunch of crap. I didn’t know what self-talk they were referring to, first of all. Second, when I did finally catch on to what they were referring to, I had to concentrate really hard to catch it.
Yeah. It’s work like nothing you’ve ever done before to change your self-talk. It takes becoming aware of what your subconscious mind is telling your conscious mind. However, once you do become aware, you will find nothing helps you more than this.
The hard part is figuring out what, exactly, they’re talking about. I loved this article because it not only explained just that and gave examples, it went on to talk about other things that would change as well.
Putting it into action
A more conscious way to program your mind around mistakes is to tell yourself: “Ok, that didn’t work. What would work better? How can I learn from this? How can I make sure I don’t do this again?”
This is what I had to do, when I first started and will have to do again starting today. Yes. It feels stupid to do it. However, if you keep it up for 30 days, you will notice a difference in how you feel, what you think, how you treat people, and how you allow others to treat you. It will be minor differences at the 30-day mark, but you find them if you look for them.
All real change takes time. It takes making mistakes and trying again and again. It takes feeling like an idiot and hoping no one notices. It takes a lot of frustration and anxiety.
I have a saying. It’s better to dance with a known devil than to take a chance on an unknown angel. What I mean by this is that it’s more comfortable. It’s easier. It feels safer. Even though we know this person is abusive and will hurt us, we find it more comfortable to take a chance with them again than to be alone or try with someone new.
If you have a habit of negative self-talk a little time and attention to what you are saying to yourself will provide a rich reward. The next time you hear yourself call yourself “stupid” you can follow up with a new instruction for your RAS.
As time goes on, you will find that you will notice it more and more often at first. Then, you will discover that, as you notice it happening less, your self-talk becomes more supportive and positive.
Say something like this: “Wait a minute. I’m going to make a smart choice here. What did I learn from this mistake and how can I make sure I don’t do this again?”
It may take several times of experiencing the same thing before you figure out what you truly need to change to keep from getting the same result.
Choosing the action chooses the reaction
You are now consciously programming your brain for success. This is so doable. It just takes awareness and listening to how you are speaking to yourself.
Starting is the hardest part. It stays hard for a week or two, then begins to get easier as time goes by.
Expanding its use
If you really start noticing your self-talk in every area of your life that is not what you want it to be and making changes every time you hear yourself say something that you know is shutting down options and possibilities, you will be co-creating a new reality for yourself.
Can you imagine nearly erasing all the damage done to your psyche in the past? What would it look like? How would you feel? Let me know in the comments!
And the best thing is NO ONE ELSE has to change. This is all up to you.
No one else has to even know you’re doing it! They will notice changes in you eventually. Some will simply disappear from your life. Others will drift away. Still, others will become more prevalent. It all depends on the person they are. You will be making more healthy choices, one little choice at a time, which will add up to a more healthy life. When you have a more healthy life, you won’t miss those that disappeared or drifted away.
Don’t be fooled! They will return. It may be a few weeks, months, or years, but they will return and try their old tactics again. You have to remember that!
Also, new people who treat you the same way the others did will arrive in your life. Don’t fall for their tricks either! Your mind throws red flags for a reason. History repeats itself, if you don’t learn from it. Is the monster any different just because it wears a different mask? No. Pay attention to the flags, take the time to investigate that gut feeling, and make sure you evaluate it by comparing it to the past. If there are more than a few similarities, get out fast!
It is this kind of commitment to empowering self-talk that makes life more and more joyful. Life has such a flow when you are directing your brain with the thoughts that move you in the direction you want to go.
It’s not the destination that gives us the greatest pleasure in life, it’s the journey.
Every setback, every challenge just serves to redirect your focus toward what you want to happen. Failure loses its sting because you now use it to highlight was doesn’t work, and replace that plan or decision or strategy with a more educated one.
Education is expensive. You pay with cash or ass, but it never comes free!
Between a rock and a hard place
Instead of paralysis and procrastination and denial you live in action, result, evaluation, and new action. Can you feel the rhythm of that way of living?
Have you ever had people telling you to do something, anything, and you knew what you had to do, but, also, knew you weren’t ready to do it? This is what you do to prepare for that step. This is how you get ready to do what you know you need to do.
It feels so much better to know you are moving in the direction you were meant to. Please, give this 90 days. If you don’t notice a positive change, start the band back up and dance to the same old tune with the same old demon.
All the whining, the complaining, the sense of victimization is consciously removed from your life and replaced with conscious choices. As you show up differently it is surprising how often other people seem to show up differently as well. This does not always happen…but it is surprising how often we get into little loops with certain people.
I found that when I changed my response to people, they changed their behavior or quit coming around. Either way, the negativity diminished and positivity increased.
Now that you know the first step to doing what you need to do, what are your thoughts and feeling? I would love to hear from you! Maybe there’s something that needs more clarification or examples. I will do my best to help you.
I encourage you to visit Medium.com and read the original article. I’m sure there are things I didn’t write about that may help you.
Until next time…