Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world my beautiful, vulnerable self!

Posts tagged ‘narcissist’

People Are Not Labels

Labels are for Soup Cans

https://www.flickr.com/photos/poorcans/20900661451/in/photolist-xQVmtV-yh8Gq-8Br9Sd-4Maaoo-aQmNMR-6EtxkP-4yy1G9-2Pvp9C-8FsGxQ-7ACUMX-7YQMzo-sKdkT-6gF66N-4k4cjt-tH52Y-7wBA9z-Uq8r73-6naAjp-5WoaMD-7qEHtt-NphFXZ-8C8jQm-26PmX2c-8KwHYS-7Pc1gd-6BYvZN-2e9wtSE-EKpx8-6GaRw7-QtPQN8-283eQFu-s7emTJ-qJT9mH-zauotZ-21EW38n-C5z8wF-6KkmjD-HXUSJ-69sF6V-dPZ1QG-BL7Pye-m5bGQX-ajS8qC-8AyreB-8HEnCg-8gXZjp-6HNM47-bvN9eN-79sdVC-86nchvI’ve always found it both offensive and short sighted to assign labels to people because invariably it leads to a judgement based on generalized characteristics. Lately, I’ve realized I’m guilty of labeling and judging myself, and frankly, I don’t like what I see.

As an Empath who attracts other Empaths, I’ve learned to be especially aware of attracting Narcissists too. My fight or flight reflexes are set to ultra-sensitive after too many experiences with people who only loved my for my energy and nurturing qualities. But sometimes I overdo it, especially when I operate under the mistaken belief I need to protect my friends.

Observe More, Label Less

Lately, I’ve applied the label “Narcissist” too often and too quickly, instead of standing back and watching; allowing the person to show their many facets instead of focusing in on a single one. Needless to say, I’ve judged people overly harshly, overlooking signs there may be something far more complex going on.

When my daughters were young, a psychologist was quick to label them ADHD and ADD, completely overlooking their intelligence and ability to learn and understand complex concepts quickly, even at a young age. A year or so later when they’d tested into the G.A.T.E. (Gifted and Talented Education) Program, I attended the parents’ orientation meeting. Large posters were tacked above the blackboards in the classroom depicting various aspects of the G.A.T.E. personality. Lo and behold, the characteristics were EXACTLY the same as the ones I’d been told were indicative of ADD and ADHD.

While contemplating my guilt in being too quick to apply the label “Narcissist” I’m reminded of that long-ago lesson. We all exhibit a wide variety of behaviors which are common to different personality types. That doesn’t mean we ARE a certain personality type. I suspect there are some who exhibit narcissistic behavior when they simply haven’t learned how to have a give and take kind of relationship. It’s not that they don’t want to be loving and giving. It hasn’t made it into their skill set yet either through nature or nurture.

Personalities Formed By Nature and Nurture

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mamnaimie/8680429035/in/photolist-ee4t8z-cNjy5-oKBJYc-7tRBmg-7dpdWv-buv1Nu-aDa4AY-51uTxq-fRQgnM-7zy4Hg-ceoS1-5u6JJ6-8JFHxV-7zy4Be-ceox3-apMg6S-bR4un-dq9xPC-4zmBQJ-hPY7A8-3bZjT7-daFcd2-6ZUq3Z-27uhQ9f-r7LzYM-K5keCM-L2RZSV-dg2mJw-2bFvdJJ-i63E4D-h9hrmr-JBNmhV-7pv8vg-f8R7b2-bj66S-rBh74r-DGtb3m-EkjWM8-dg2mfg-AcSwRy-26RUBUZ-fJwZNH-prZ4C3-23RFdN8-bj6mk-8zSsSY-defSSm-4Kx1jx-pEcuwd-eiC5SUMy family wasn’t the warm, touchy-feely type. I learned how to be affectionate and loving only after I started recognizing familial behavior patterns that needed to be broken and started breaking them. To someone on the outside looking in, I suspect a lot of my behavior was narcissistic in nature.

Someone on the Autism spectrum also isn’t inclined to show affection or even endure being touched. They might appear overly demanding while giving nothing back, even though they’re giving as much as they’re able.

Sometimes we have to take a step back and ask how we’d feel if someone slapped a label on us and dismissed us out of hand, especially when we’re doing so to someone else. When an Empath friend sees something of value in that person despite their outward behavior, it’s a pretty good indication we need to broaden our perspective and give that person another chance. Maybe there’s more than meets my admittedly jaded eye.

Never to Old to Form New Patterns

For years, I had few friends and no one close because I shut everyone out, or more accurately, https://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/8156999698/in/photolist-dqNKPQ-8xXrZz-a2tqF7-ecib3q-aR5rxR-23UMduh-aWLsg4-aQ6X3p-dTTc5c-dcyQ5m-b1FLUp-drS8ZF-bsmN5R-nNhBzE-6ssEeg-9jEcfZ-aVXtzx-j6LK2o-aNpZyT-dCTfD3-dvswdt-b3pgdi-dtXu4B-6LJawW-8CFHEg-8aL7Jf-hDdmuC-anA578-cPoDxo-9qmjuQ-dtXueV-qsdJSm-dqq1i2-2cGG4pp-dqq1sP-hp14Hw-cbnjHE-7bv7xs-chavXC-7uLgNT-8E3GL9-ar7X3y-aai6ME-nt1LXG-gZvg1N-S1DgTf-8kUop7-6532HD-exeWcJ-di6ynQclosed myself in. But even as I open up to people, I still crawl back into my turtle shell when faced with behavior which at one time caused me pain. While it’s important for me to break old family patterns of behavior, I’m beginning to see I need to look at some of the patterns I formed myself.

Certain actions on the part of others trigger old memories. Those memories are painful, so the corresponding emotions are triggered causing me to shut down instead of protecting myself and adopting a wait-and-see attitude. By failing to give the person who triggered the memory a chance to show me the many facets of their being, I’m cheating myself out of getting to know someone who may have many amazing qualities, and who could bring new and wonderful experiences to my life.

Expanding Our Comfort Zone

By going with my first response and slapping the “narcissist” label on someone I don’t know very well, I’m ending a potentially wonderful relationship before it ever has a chance to take root. In every case, the only one I’m really cheating is myself, and to what purpose? Will their lives be less because I’m not part of their social circle? Probably not. Will they be hurt or slighted when I shut down and turn away? Maybe for a minute, but they’ll have plenty of others ready and willing to give them the chance I don’t.

I think instinctively I still believe I need to keep my circle small and well-known. But people become well-known and trusted over time. When we label people such that they’re unworthy of our circle, we’re really moving ourselves to the outside. Others are including them so our obvious negativity is going to affect everyone and leave us standing alone eventually.

I’ve been enjoying being part of a large, diverse group, but realize I’ll endanger my own acceptance if I believe I’m in a position to look down on anyone for any reason, much less a single behavior pattern which triggers unpleasantness for me. I need to remember ostracizing leads to being ostracized. I talk a lot about acceptance, forgiveness, and positivity, but there are times I fall back on old patterns, to my detriment.

Oh, Those Less-than-subtle Reminders

The Universe finds ways to remind me I’m being unkind and judgemental. It shows me myself 10 or 15 years ago, alone, lonely, angry, and judgemental. I had no compassion for anyone, not even myself. It’s a harsh but effective reminder I need to take a good, hard look at my own behavior and fix it before I break something important. I need to reach deep inside and connect, not with old pain that’s outlived its usefulness, but with the compassion I’ve found in recent years.

Do you assign labels before you get to know a person? Do you dismiss people without a fair chance? A chance you’d want to be given yourself? Do you allow old pain responses to cheat you out of adding amazing people to your social circle? Answer these questions honestly and without emotions clouding your judgement. You might find you’ve been unduly harsh a time or two like me. It’s not too late to fix what may only be chipped or cracked. Open your heart, and shut down the automatic responses. You might find a few diamonds amidst the rocks you so casually tossed away.

Showing Gratitude for Gifts Both Great and Small

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for reminders to be kinder and more compassionate.
  2. I am grateful for friends who set examples I need to learn to follow.
  3. I am grateful to be able to recognize and change some of my own conditioned responses.
  4. I am grateful for the experiences which created the conditioned responses, and the lessons I’ve learned which allow me to let those responses go.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, kindness, compassion, joy, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Relationship’s End for Empaths

Breaking Up for An Empath Isn’t Simple

Created with CanvaA friend’s recent break-up got me thinking about the rare (maybe 2) occasions I’ve had to end a relationship instead of someone ending it for me. With the notable exception of my marriage which was long overdue by the time I ended it, I still remember suffering emotionally when I had to tell someone what we had wasn’t working for me any more.

Even when it’s been a clean break, no further communication, both going our own way, it still seemed like a laceration to my heart. I’m not saying a lot of people don’t suffer when they end a relationship. What I am saying is Empaths get a double whammy. We hurt for ourselves and for the person we left. Physical distance means nothing when faced with emotional pain from someone we care about.

Sure, some endings come because we stopped caring (like my marriage), or because we’ve been betrayed. Though easier to get over since we effectively block the other person’s emotions, an Empath feels levels of pain others probably won’t understand. It comes back to bite us just like any other kind of grief. We re-live good times and bad, second-guess ourselves, and even entertain the notion that the relationship could be fixed if we just tried harder.

Holding On Too Long

Following that train of thought leads me to wonder if Empaths stick out relationships longer than they should, unconsciously trying to spare ourselves pain. Do we go beyond the last straw to save a relationship that isn’t really worth saving? Even more, do we ignore signs that our partner is no longer committed to the relationship and may even be cheating on us, simply to avoid being the one to end things?

For myself, years after I’d divorced my husband, people told me they knew he was cheating on me. Perhaps the signs were obvious and I chose to ignore them rather than having to end things. I knew when we were no longer connected in any way, yet chose to distance myself emotionally while pretending to maintain the relationship. I even treated him horribly, which I regretted later, hoping he’d be the one to decide to leave.

Early Lessons in Narcissism

In the end, I had to pull the plug, and he behaved as most narcissists do, though at the time, I https://www.flickr.com/photos/gastaum/14490581818/in/photolist-o5u28y-YfsirJ-k8x7MM-bxbe69-W1rTYx-arWoEp-9hSaAd-ahFY4U-dUPFnv-cbTML-9dRrhQ-nNcDz4-W1scJn-6Q5kQB-aPHuVt-dF2PfA-qsan3a-9Q3GD-7puXf-ca3kUb-8Qnh5S-7EPcJ1-9RZQ7L-2jv27s-3ytNAS-4Ax3Vm-7P6ms6-fLeJCZ-9eA4z4-dUzmHi-dJ2ajE-4s4eeJ-9ZWATV-4Ax3K3-6459Qr-r7YPq9-7ZBske-3ypqPa-7yi435-9uRzwZ-kdLtng-2c5brCn-HLfJSP-qTk7jd-oSdAwv-pNeYXi-3fqAZV-5btNtn-72Kth6-V4V7jqhadn’t made the connection. He was cruel, nasty, and abusive. Only distancing myself physically alleviated some of the effects of his vitriol. Surprisingly, his signature on the piece of paper ending our marriage legally was the most cathartic act of all for me. It’s as if the energy in his signature drained off whatever hold he still had on my emotional and energetic self. I felt drained but relieved, and finally able to move forward with my own life.

It still took a long time to rebuild myself after the damage he’d wrought, but I was already broken when we got together. Part of the rebuilding process involved creating an entirely new foundation containing components with which I was unfamiliar. Having been raised to contain my emotions and to believe taunting and teasing were symbols of love, I had to learn and forge a new path before I could rebuild on a foundation which would bear the weight of the years to come.

Creating Our Own Paths

I’ve experienced a lot of trial and error in the last 20 years or so. In some ways, it’s been a lot like rock climbing. You reach for the next handhold, testing its ability to hold your weight before using it to reach for the next rock or outcropping. Sometimes I fell back a few paces. Others, I lost a lot of ground and a great deal of skin as well. Those were painful but necessary lessons in who and what I could trust. It’s when I started learning how to recognize a narcissist and avoid being used to fuel their insatiable need for adoration and getting their own way. It’s also when I started seeing how many times I’d been bled dry in a fruitless effort to please one.

These days, I’m still on the fence. I’m mentally ready to find someone and commit, but emotionally, there’s still a lot of trepidation. I don’t entirely trust myself to see the signs of a narcissist and run the other way. I’ve seen my savvier Empath friends fall victim, which causes me to distrust my own instincts too.

Trusting Ourselves and the Lessons We’ve Learned

https://www.flickr.com/photos/101561334@N08/10197031243/in/photolist-gx5s8v-jFvehZ-ceYKvY-gx4Gcf-Qv32MQ-gx58Ji-aavAwk-k15Tk9-gcokN-jYnA9p-pts3CH-KErQUu-fMFuKi-5gvfXp-gx5zqD-594W8Y-gx5GPp-gx4EMG-S7Jpw1-P5f7sP-VMMRHL-oiRYiu-7pPH6E-2bXKRhj-2cLerFQ-oxWTqS-psDwB2-ceXTFN-amxUkM-2bsd6t6-N7Lj5T-cbSXFd-YtbGJE-bNJ5H-RNvZP3-kiboPh-WmzxPu-7UzoSM-24eKtUM-cjgru7-n3pBeq-7PK4bp-ajX4J8-nk5bJN-88HFFJ-W18WBb-jBnrh2-ciDDMd-TzUwZm-8wqYSTYet I know I already have a healthy array of red flags at my disposal. Despite the wiliness of the average narcissist, they’re bound to trigger one of those red flags before I get in too deep. And probability-wise, I don’t have a lot more decades in this meat suit, so I might as well give myself a chance to live what’s left fully and completely, even if it means having to go through the painfully unpleasant process of admitting I made a mistake, and ending things once more.

We all make choices, but rarely do we choose pain. Instead, we choose to take chances on things we know have the potential to end painfully just as they have the potentially to bring us great joy. Do we avoid the opportunity for great joy so we insure we don’t get hurt? Or do we risk potential consequences to reap equally probable rewards?

I’ve taken the safe route for a very long time as I clutch memories of the painful times close. But there comes a time when we all realize the painful stuff can only hurt us if we allow it, and it’s time to take away its power. If there’s pain to be had, we have it within ourselves to minimize the pain and decrease the longevity based on what we’ve learned from previous experiences.

What it comes down to is trusting ourselves.

Do you trust yourself, or are you still wrapping yourself in cotton wool to save you from making more painful mistakes? How’s that working for you?

 

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, even if they were painful for a long time.
  2. I’m grateful for choices. I can be what, where, and who I want as long as I’m willing to accept some risk, and some unknowns.
  3. I’m grateful for love. In its many forms, it truly does heal all wounds. Especially self-love.
  4. I’m grateful for opportunities and ideas which come to me when I learn to let go.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, love, light, ideas, support, collaboration, joy, compassion, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

 

Peace Makers in a Volatile World

Keeping the Peace Behind the Scenes

My personal peace makerThere are people in our lives who willingly accept the role of peace maker. They’re the ones who seemingly sit quietly in the background, stepping in to extend a gentle hand when our emotional campfire threatens to explode into a full-fledged forest fire. They bury their own needs in favor of those of the people around them just to avoid arguments.

Most of the time we don’t even recognize what they’re doing, much less appreciate it. We don’t see how often their own wants and needs aren’t met just so they can keep everyone else happy. Worst of all, we don’t see what it costs them to consistently occupy this place in our lives.

It isn’t that they wouldn’t like to have things their way once in a while. They just value peace and quiet more. They’re typically extremely sensitive so arguments and unrest upset them terribly.

So they allow a sibling or friend to have it their way all the time. They back down from an argument though they know they’re in the right. They agree when they’d rather stand up to someone and make their point without being shouted down. Yet deep inside, the resentment and frustration build to what we’d consider staggering levels; levels we’d not tolerate in ourselves, yet silently expect them to endure all the time.

Peace Makers in Volatile Families

I don’t think my daughters ever knew a time when there wasn’t some kind of tension in our household. At first, it was between their father and me, but eventually, my daughter Jenni and I filled in the gap when he was no longer a part of our lives. Meanwhile, Heather did her best to stay in the background, letting Jenni have the limelight and make all the choices I asked them to make together. Jenni learned Heather would give way rather than risk the wrath of her red-headed virago of a twin. That left me to manage the explosions. In hindsight, the kindest thing I did was to give them separate bedrooms when they were about 11. It gave Heather the sanctuary she desperately needed, even if it was just a thin door between herself and the near-constant volatility of our household.

As children do, my girls grew up—Jenni still believing creating a category 5 storm would make us bend to her will, and Heather allowing her resentment towards her sister to surface and grow. I regret to say she fed my own annoyance with my youngest child until it no longer hurt to sever the relationship.

The truth is, both of my girls are hard-headed and stubborn. They’re both quick to anger but Heather lets hers go more quickly. Jenni seems to hold her anger close like a security blanket. As if as long as she gets her way, she’ll be happy, and yet, I don’t think she is. I think she’d like to have her real family back, but believes she’s gone too far to come back.

Releasing Pent-up Anger and Resentment

On the bright side, since Jenni chose to remove herself from our lives, Heather and I have grown closer. But better than our closeness, she’s learned to release some of the anger and frustration that built up throughout her childhood. She’s no longer living in the shadow of a sister who’d willingly throw her under the bus if it meant someone would like her. I often wonder if she sacrificed her relationship with her sister for nothing. Nobody ever thought better of her for turning her back on her sister. People remember her for her bright red hair, but they remember Heather for her kindness and helpfulness.

Every group dynamic has at least one peace maker. It might be you or someone else. Whoever takes on the role sacrifices a great deal of themselves in order to fulfill the weighty obligations it entails. Some may hold the role for a lifetime while others will find a way to allow their own wants and needs to be met.

Sadly, the resentment which builds up is often left to fester, unspoken and without release. It might manifest itself as broken families like ours, or as health issues, or even interpersonal ones. A peace makers ability to love and be loved is thwarted and misguided by constantly subverting their own needs for the sake of peace in their environment.

Being a Peace Maker Whether We Like it or Not

I also believe that we are all the peace maker at some point in our lives. We all find ourselves in situations where it’s better to just keep silent and go along because someone else is so desperate to be right that they simply shout the rest of the world down. I can think of several occasions where I worked for someone like that and in my own way, became the peace maker. However, as it was so contrary to my normal state of being, the silence with which I tolerated the situation was anything but peaceful inside myself.

The unrest and resentment I carried around while exposed to what I realize were merely desperately insecure narcissists is really what made me realize what the real peace makers must be carrying around inside. Well, that and what I’ve seen break loose in my daughter, Heather since the split with her sister. That resentment hurts my heart, but I know anything I do or so would, if anything, just make matters worse. Like the place I hold for Jenni should she decide to re-establish our relationship on more mutually satisfying terms, I hold the same place for both girls to reach some kind of understanding and acceptance. They are very different people with divergent values, they share a bond of twin-ship only another twin would understand.

Give your Peace Makers a Break

My purpose behind writing this article is to raise awareness of the people around us who keep life on a more even keel. But it’s also to acknowledge those of you who have taken on the role yourselves. The peace makers need and deserve to be heard. They have opinions and a unique perspective which just might bring solutions we’ve never even considered. They also need to be allowed to step away from the role, whether forced on them or self-imposed. They carry a lot of our tension and stress so we can function as reasonably normal human beings. It isn’t an easy job and is often a thankless one as well.

It’s time we acknowledged our peace makers and helped them drop their burden. It’s time to allow them to shine unencumbered by everyone else’s shit.

Remembering to be Grateful

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for the peace makers who have made my life easier, and who have shouldered my crap at those times when I neither noticed nor appreciated their sacrifices.
  2. I am grateful for the outpouring of love I’m getting while trying to figure out what’s ailing my sweet boy, Toby.
  3. I am grateful for the gift of writing which has helped me work through the challenges in my life pretty much since the time I was able to write complete sentences.
  4. I am grateful for the understanding I’m getting from my more outspoken friends as I quietly break my silence over our current political climate. There will be no soapboxes. I’m still a behind-the-scenes kind of girl.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; health, happiness, beauty, communication, joy. inspiration, new clients, lessons, challenges, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

You can find the original video about peace makers here.

 

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.

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