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Today I would like to talk about how someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) blames others for the problems in his/her life. I have to say that when I first heard about NPD and how those with this disorder are known to blame others, I was quite intrigued and amazed. I witnessed this kind of behavior in a narcissistic family for many, many years. This knowledge opened my eyes, and it began my long journey of learning all about NPD.
My parents always made my sister, my brother, and me take responsibility for our actions. Stories are still shared today among our family. One in particular was a time when I was about 6 or 7 years old, and I saw a bracelet on a doll that I liked during a shopping trip with my mom. I decided to break open the packaging and take the bracelet when my mom wasn’t looking. Later, at home, my mom found out that I took the bracelet. The next day, she drove me back to the store where I had to go in and give the clerk the bracelet. I had to tell him that I took it and that I was sorry.
My parents did not hold back when we needed to be punished. One morning, when I was about 14 years old, I was in a really bad mood. My mom kept yelling for me to get in the car because we were going to be late for school. My sister and brother were in the car waiting, but I was still messing with my hair as I tried to get it to look right (big problem, I know…haha!). Anyway, after several minutes of my mom telling me to get in the car, she gave up and left without me, so I had to walk to school. When I arrived, the principal smiled at me and walked up to me. He said, “Your mom called me and told me to give you a detention. She said that you are late and have no excuse”. He thought it was kind of funny, but I wasn’t amused. I was mad at my mom for doing this.
Years later, however, I began to appreciate what my parents did for us. They taught us that there are consequences to our actions. That is one invaluable lesson…a lesson that not everyone in this world learned as they grew up.
Now, in this narcissistic family that I knew for over twenty years, I never saw any kind of repercussion for bad behavior like I used to see in my family. Instead, I witnessed never-ending enabling behavior. When one of the kids did something wrong, even if it was clearly his/her fault, he/she was never subject to consequences. Occasionally, the parents would tell the child that he/she shouldn’t have done what he/she did, but there were no consequences. Also, if something bad happened, they would blame it on the person involved in the situation who was outside the family – a teacher, a manager, an ex-girlfriend, an ex-boyfriend, an ex-spouse, etc.
What is amazing to me is that each time one of the people that they blamed exited the picture, the problems continued. The teacher exited, but the problems continued. The manager exited, but the problems continued. The ex-girlfriend/boyfriend exited, but the problems continued. The spouse exited, but the problems continued. You would think that eventually they would realize that the problem was within the family. But they never came to this realization, or at least they never openly admitted it.
During those years, the family members would share the drama with me all the time. When I offered my advice, I was met with defensiveness if it didn’t agree with what they wanted to hear. I occasionally gave them a healthy dose of reality, telling them that there was too much enabling and not enough tough love, and this angered the members of the family. This reaction completely frustrated me. I tried to help them, but somehow, when I gave advice (which they asked for), I became the target of their anger. Somehow, I became the “bad guy”. I eventually began to blame myself for causing more problems within the family because I thought I was giving them bad advice. But, deep down, I knew it was good advice, and I became so confused and conflicted. My self-worth started to tumble, and I became depressed and even more frustrated.
OK, so now I want to get into what happened after learning about NPD through counseling. First of all, I now realize how deeply blessed I was to have wonderful parents. Understanding the concept of consequences for bad behavior is invaluable. It teaches us respect for others along with the concept of boundaries. Even though I was mad at my parents when I was a child, I now know why they had to use tough love on occasion. Looking back now, I certainly deserved that detention and even appreciate it!
Constantly blaming others for problems in life is one of the hallmark signs of narcissism. The family that I talk about above clearly has this trait. As I learned more about NPD, I now know why I felt so depressed and frustrated. It wasn’t because I gave them bad advice or that I was a bad person. Narcissists don’t want to hear the truth. They want constant praise and admiration. Giving them a healthy dose of reality will hurt their image…their false self. Instead, they want you to back them up and tell them how wonderful they are at dealing with a bad situation, even if they are dealing with it poorly. They don’t want you to help them solve the problem. The purpose of those family members talking to me about their issues was to dump it on me, not to help solve the problems. So, although I truly tried to help them, they viewed it as an insult. I learned that if they couldn’t accept responsibility for their actions, the problem was on them, not me. This was the beginning of my journey of reclaiming my self-worth.
It is important to know (and this literally took me years to accept) that you can only change YOUR behavior. You CANNOT change the behavior of someone else, no matter how bad you want to help them. The likelihood of changing a narcissist is nil. They don’t believe they have any issues, and pointing out any problems with them will lead to anger and extreme defensiveness. They will also throw all the blame onto you, so don’t be surprised if that happens. If you can leave the situation, it is probably the best thing to do. If not, learn as much as you can about NPD and how to effectively deal with it. One way to do this is to set boundaries, and I will discuss that topic in my next blog.
Have a great day!
Image at Creative Commons, http://www.lillylulu123.deviantart.com/art/Crying-Eye-315830804
“Narcissism falls along the axis of what psychologists call personality disorders, one of a group that includes antisocial, dependent, histrionic, avoidant and borderline personalities. But by most measures, narcissism is one of the worst, if only because the narcissists themselves are so clueless.“
It took me almost 49 years to learn the meaning of true fulfillment and true peace. I had to go through an extended period of living in a narcissistic environment and looking for life’s meaning through materialistic goals before realizing that I was way off target. I am currently in the process of writing a fiction book about narcissism that is based on a true story, but I wanted to share some basic facts on this blog about narcissism to help those who are having to deal with others with this personality disorder.
For many years, I was living in an environment surrounded by people with narcissism, but I didn’t realize it. I had heard of the word “narcissism” but really didn’t know much at all about it and honestly, I didn’t care to know. Little did I know that I was surrounded by narcissistic behavior and that I had been a victim of narcissistic abuse for quite some time.
Basically, narcissists are very selfish people. They are known to lack empathy for others and are known for always placing the blame on others rather than taking responsibility for their own actions. In my case, I was made to feel like I was the problem even if the issue had absolutely nothing to do with me. This led to me questioning myself constantly which eventually led to depression. I knew deep down inside that this thinking was twisted, but I managed to always make excuses rather than face the difficult decision to end these destructive relationships. The best way to describe it was that my soul was restless, and I did not have true inner peace. To satisfy the narcissist’s demands, I was continually finding that I had to turn my back on my own values. This struck right at the core of my soul, and I was miserable.
Thankfully, these destructive relationships did come to an end through the action of the actual narcissist. I was no longer any use to this person, so I was left as if I was a piece of garbage. However, this was probably the best thing that ever happened to me as I it opened the door to my healing.
The following are some of the characteristics of someone with a narcissistic personality disorder:
1. Lack of remorse for their mistakes
2. Does not care about the consequences of his/her actions
3. Pathological lying
4. Very charming; can get emotional in public, but this is all a show to manipulate others
5. Expects victim to follow along without question. He/she tells victim what to do rather than ask.
6. Controls spending of others, but he/she spends freely on themselves
7. He/she doesn’t listen simply because they don’t care
8. Gaslighting – manipulative behavior, takes advantage of others
9. Projects faults onto others – blaming others for their problems
10. Lack of empathy – doesn’t care about the needs or feelings of others
11. Highly contradictory
12. Breaks others down that they feel are inferior
13. Thinking he/she is better than others
14. Core of concern is power, success, attractiveness
15. Needs to be center of attention and requires constant praise
16. Appears unemotional
17. Easily hurt or rejected
Narcissists come across as being very egocentric and sure of themselves, but the root of the problem, believe it or not, is insecurity. It has been shown that those affected by this personality disorder are actually very insecure and they use the above behaviors to feel better about themselves.
Recovering from narcissistic abuse can be a long process, but you can recover and live a truly fulfilling life. First and foremost, you must realize that YOU ARE NOT THE PROBLEM! The narcissist can be very cunning and manipulative. It is important that you realize this. If you are with someone who refuses to take responsibility for his/her actions and wants to blame everyone else for their problems, the best thing to do is to get out of that relationship if possible. Narcissists do not want to change and they do not want to be criticized in any way, shape or form. In fact, “narcissistic rage” is a known feature of this personality disorder, and they can become very mean and vindictive when questioned. The narcissist has the problem, not you!
Realize that no matter what you say or do, the narcissist will not have sympathy or empathy for any of your problems, no matter what they are. If the problems do not directly affect him/her in some way, they don’t care if you are suffering. Remember, they are the center of their world, and the rest of the world are just puppets to be manipulated so that they can get what they want. They truly believe “the ends justify the means” no matter who they have to run over to get there.
Next, remember that narcissists truly believe that they are always right. It is pointless to get into an argument with them because you will never win. They will end up making you question your own sanity because they are expert manipulators. Additionally, narcissists believe that they don’t need any help. Counseling a narcissist is very difficult because they will not admit to shortcomings.
Bottom line – if you feel like you are in a relationship with a narcissist, please get some help. Leave the relationship if possible. Be educated about how narcissists function so you can deal with them as effectively as possible. Trust your intuition…..if you feel something is wrong, it probably is!
As for me, I am now at a place of true fulfillment and peace. By going through the healing process, I have not only learned how to recognize this personality disorder but I have also learned how to deal with this type of person more effectively. But the biggest lesson of all is the lesson of selfishness vs. selflessness. Over the past several years, I have been a volunteer at a thrift shop and found immense happiness in helping those who are less fortunate. I have also started up a website on adenomyosis (similar to endometroisis) which I suffered from for 17 years. Women from all over the world are accessing this site, and I constantly get “thank you” messages for making this information available to them and for letting them know that they are not alone. I am also writing this blog to help to inspire others to become the best they can be.
But the most important thing of all is putting all of my trust in God. Without Him, I would never have been able to come as far as I have in the healing process. He has literally carried me through some of the toughest times of my life.
Between trusting God completely, helping others, and putting other’s needs before my own, I have finally found true happiess, peace and fulfillment. I realize now that selfishness in the form of narcissism will never bring true happiness. Looks, finances, material objects, etc. will all vanish one day, but the selfless acts of a Christian person will never be forgotten. God not only saved me, but he showed me the way to true happiness. Selflessness is the key. My soul is finally at peace.
“For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” Psalms 1:6
“The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong. You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the Lord abhors……For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as a shield.” Psalms 5: 5-6, 12
“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Narcissistic Personality Disorder, http://www.mayoclinic.org
Recovering From Narcissistic Abuse, by Andrea Schneider, LCSW, http://www.goodtherapy.org