This is part of ‘An Empath’s Guide to Narcissists’ video series.
I thought the following, taken from my response to a question on the YouTube video ‘Shame Ends with You,’ would make a good intro to this video It feels like it encapsulates a lot of the energy behind the question and response.
‘One thing that is incredibly common is for those who’ve been in narcissistically abusive relationships to question their own narcissism. The fact you can question it and are concerned it might be an issue is usually a good indicator that you’re not a narcissist.
The shame piece is HUGE in this, and as I dig deeper into this, I’m understanding that when the underlying emotion is shame, and it’s tangled up in almost every other, it draws in experiences that exacerbate and ‘prove’ to us our shamefulness. So it can result in behaviour that appears narcissistic because you’re holding back pieces of yourself that would feel too vulnerable or ‘wrong’ to expose given the very active shame energy.
Look gently at any selfish behaviour and ask if you intentionally set out to hurt or take advantage of others. Do you feel bad about the way you behaved? Have you learned from that experience? Are you willing to change the way you act or respond in future? Do you feel empathy and compassion for the ways your choices and behaviours have impacted others? Do you feel you’ve moved on from the choices you made then and understand where and why you made them?
If you’re able to self-reflect and grow from the experiences you’ve had, shifting into a new way of responding and expressing yourself, you are not a narcissist.
I’ve also come to understand an aspect of feeling unconsidered. When you’re in an abusive relationship, you shut down your truth, in an attempt to protect that core piece of you that knows who you really are. As you align yourself to the needs and expectations of others, you become a projection that’s easy for them to see/manage. So the core truth of you will remain unconsidered, because it has not been exposed. It is also being unconsidered by you, because in order to remain in the abuse, it is necessary to be in that state of cognitive dissonance (which includes putting aside your needs, desires and essence).
As you feel safe in bringing that core truth out into the light, you’ll meet others differently and find the reflections you draw in will be able to see and consider that person. So in that sense, it is a survival mechanism to survive (not thrive) whilst in these relationships.
One thing I’ve also noticed in myself is that I felt HUGE fear around being narcissistic, because it felt incredibly shameful to me. So it’s a self-perpetuating loop. I decided to go into that question with an open heart and mind and say ‘what if I am? What if I was? Can I love myself anyway? Do I want to behave differently?’ It feels like the worst thing in the world because it has been so hurtful in our own experience, and yet, if I was, I needed to find a way to love that, because otherwise I couldn’t heal. It really helps to clear away the shame around the concept/experience of narcissism and allow yourself to BE. You’ve done the best you can given all that you’ve experienced, and you’re here, willing to learn and grow and self-reflect. That is AMAZING!’
~ Jenny <3
* I invite you to check out the course ‘An Empath’s Guide to Narcissists,’ which walks through different aspects of this dynamic from an empath’s perspective. The purpose of the course is to become a more empowered and self-responsible empath. *