Unraveling the Ties: Understanding Toxic Love Addiction

Unraveling the Ties of Toxic Love Addiction

The beginning of a new romance often carries with it an air of excitement and wonder –the anticipation, the butterflies, the feeling of being understood and valued. This is how most love stories begin, whether they lead to a healthy relationship or veer into the realm of toxicity. The initial stages of toxic love are often indistinguishable from the onset of a healthy romance, making it difficult to discern the difference between healthy love or toxic love.

Why does toxic love feel so much like healthy love from the start?  Because it mirrors our deepest desires and needs. In the initial phase, a toxic partner may present themselves as the perfect match, mirroring your likes, dislikes, and even your deepest values. This mirroring creates a powerful sense of compatibility and attachment.  You might feel an intense connection, a sense that you’ve finally found someone who gets you, as if you’ve met your soulmate. This immediate, deep connection may be a healthy love but more often, it is a hallmark of toxic love. It’s an intensity that can feel exhilarating, but it’s also a sign of potential danger ahead.

As the relationship progresses, the early euphoria of toxic love begins to crack. The same intensity that once felt like passion might turn into possessiveness. The attentiveness can transform into control. The feeling of being understood may morph into a sense of being manipulated. It’s a gradual shift, often so subtle that you might not notice until you’re deep in the throes of a toxic relationship, hooked in a toxic love addiction.

The key to differentiating between toxic and healthy love lies in recognizing the early signs, and trusting your instincts. Healthy love grows steadily, based on mutual respect, trust, and genuine understanding. Toxic love, on the other hand, often rushes into intensity, lacks boundaries, and is marked by an undercurrent of control and manipulation.

What is Toxic Love Addiction… 

Toxic love addiction is a deeply emotional and complex phenomenon that goes beyond the bounds of a normal, healthy relationship. It’s characterized by a powerful and often destructive attachment to a relationship that consistently harms one’s emotional well-being, yet feels impossible to leave. This perplexing paradox is often a sign of toxic love addiction, a term that might sound dramatic, but for many, it’s a harsh reality.

A toxic love addiction emerges in relationships characterized by a tumultuous cycle of emotional ‘highs’ and ‘lows.’ The ‘highs’ bring intense affection and connection, fostering a sense of closeness and happiness. Yet, these peaks are sharply contrasted by devastating ‘lows’ filled with conflict, emotional pain, abuse, trauma and neglect. Throughout this cycle, our bodies react chemically to these emotional extremes by producing Peptides. Peptides are highly addictive, and fuel a craving for the alternating ‘highs’ and ‘lows,’ creating the addiction within our body.  This highlights the powerful role that our body’s biochemical responses play in our emotional behaviors and relationship choices.  This cyclical nature of chemical dependency from peptides is a defining aspect of toxic love addiction. An addiction akin to heroin or cocaine addiction in its intensity and compulsiveness, but rather than a substance, it’s an addiction to a destructive process.

Those experiencing toxic love addiction find themselves continually drawn to partners who are emotionally unavailable, abusive, and manipulative, namely narcissistic partners.  Despite the pain and turmoil these partners and relationships bring, breaking free from the cycle feels daunting, if not impossible. The addiction lies in the intense emotional connection and the hope that the brief moments of happiness and affection will become the norm.

The Roots of Toxic Love Addiction… 

Have you ever wondered why we find ourselves stuck in a relationship or in a loop of similar relationships, even when they don’t serve us?  The answer lies in the roots of our childhood experiences and the level of nurturing we received during our development years. From birth through six, our most important formative years, our parents and/or caregivers shape our understanding of how to have relationships based on how they treat us, our siblings, each other and themselves.  A blueprint is developed during these formative years, etching deep subconscious beliefs, patterns and conditioning about love and self-worth that unconsciously dictate the relationships we choose as teens and adults.

A child raised in a loving environment, that feels loved and safe most of the time, develops the subconscious beliefs and tools for healthy relationships and generally goes on to have healthy adult relationships, easily able to identify and avoid toxic individuals.  A child raised in a dysfunctional environment, that feels unloved and unsafe most of the time,  particularly those with childhood experiences filled with trauma, abuse, neglect, abandonment and emotional upheaval, instead develops the subconscious beliefs and tools for toxic relationships and generally goes on to have toxic adult relationships, unable to identify, avoid or get away from toxic individuals.

Our childhood experiences create our subconscious blueprint, the part of us that runs 95% of our life, the lens in which we view and engage in adult relationship, a ‘comfort zone’, if you will, of how to have relationships.  Therefore we unknowingly seek partners who reflect our deep-seated beliefs about love, worthiness, and self.  When childhood experiences are rooted in a healthy dynamic, our subconscious mind will unknowingly draw us towards partners who recreate love and safety, a healthy ‘comfort zone’.

When childhood experiences are rooted in a dysfunctional dynamic, our subconscious mind clings to what it knows, even if it’s detrimental, and will unknowingly draw us towards partners who recreate the familiar chaos of our childhood, a dysfunctional ‘comfort zone’.  Whether it was our parent’s inconsistent affection, witnessing turbulent relationships or experiencing abuse, these experiences were unhealthy, yet they feel familiar and safe on a subconscious level, leading us to toxic partners.  This ‘comfort zone’ isn’t about comfort at all.  It’s about the subconscious replaying old scripts, seeking the love we needed and wanted in order to flourish, unconsciously ignoring “red flags” we were conditioned to accept.

We never consciously choose to walk into an abusive relationship.

Instead, it’s the dynamics we observed and absorbed as children that lays the groundwork.  The unresolved childhood traumas and deep-seated wounds, lead us to seek relationships that unconsciously mirror the unstable dynamics experienced in our early years. There’s a subconscious belief that love must be earned or that intense emotional turmoil is a normal part of love. Consciously, we understand that we don’t want to relive the hurt we experienced as children; we know we should avoid toxic partners. However, our conscious mind, which governs only 5% of our life, struggles to override the powerful subconscious beliefs that dictate the remaining 95%. These beliefs, deeply ingrained during our formative years, silently steer us towards familiar yet harmful relationship patterns.  The key to breaking free from a toxic love addiction lies in healing our childhood traumas and rewriting our beliefs. It’s only through this transformative process of inner child healing that we can break the cycle of toxic relationships and open our hearts to healthy, loving connections.

The Destructive Dance In Toxic Love Addiction… 

Imagine the relentless rollercoaster of emotions, where love is intertwined with pain and seeking validation becomes a desperate lifeline.  It’s not just about being in love; it’s about an unwitting addiction to a familiar chaos; the unending pursuit to fill a deep-seated void from our formative years.  The scars we’ve carried since childhood; wounds that silently script our love stories, setting the stage for toxic love addiction. This addiction, rooted in childhood, becomes fully triggered in relationships with toxic partners, where the dynamics of abuse and control come to the forefront.

Toxic love addiction is a complex and emotionally exhausting ordeal, characterized by a destructive and confusing cycle that repeatedly oscillates between intense emotional ‘highs’ and devastating emotional ‘lows’, that keeps individuals trapped in a confusing, painful loop. The cycle encompasses three distinct phases – Idealization, Devaluation, and Discard – each playing a critical role in the dynamics of toxic relationships, methodically chipping away at the victim’s self-worth.  Understanding the essence of these phases is crucial in recognizing the patterns of toxic love addiction and the manipulative tactics designed to perpetuate and strengthen the damaging addiction. 

Idealization Phase – The Seductive “High”..

The Idealization phase is often akin to a whirlwind romance, where the narcissistic partner engages in love bombing. In this stage, the partner on the giving end of the toxic dynamic, showers their partner with excessive affection, attention, admiration and seemingly unconditional love. This period is marked by intense courtship, grand gestures, and often a rapid escalation of the relationship. The partner on the receiving end feels incredibly valued, cherished, loved and special. This phase sets the stage for dependency on the abuser, creating a powerful emotional bond, leading the victim to become emotionally attached and making the individual believe they have found their perfect match.  

Devaluation Phase – The Emotional “Low” Part I…

After the intoxicating ‘high’ of the Idealization phase, the Devalue phase comes as a stark and painful contrast. In this stage, the partner who once seemed so loving, begins to withdraw their affection and attention. The partner instead employs a range of abusive tactics designed to erode the victims self-esteem.  The arsenal of control and manipulation includes blaming, bullying, belittling, criticizing and gaslighting, alongside cheating, lies, circular conversations, and word salads. This marks the onset of various forms of abuse – emotional, verbal, psychological, financial, and sexual – ushering in the devastating ‘low’ of the cycle.  As the victim begins to internalize the negative messages, the victim doubts her/his worthiness, feels isolated and crazy.  This shift typically happens gradually, plunging the victim into deep confusion and a desperate longing to recapture the affection she/he once received. 

These manipulative behaviors, delivered intermittently and escalating in intensity and frequency over time, systematically wear down the victim’s self-confidence and self-worth. The longer the relationship endures, and the more often the victim returns to it, the more intense and frequent the abuse becomes, while the ‘highs’ grow increasingly scarce.

During this phase, the victim experiences not just emotional trauma but also physical and psychological withdrawals, from the addiction. The stark reality of this phase lies in the devastating impact it has on the victim’s mental and physical state, leaving them grappling with the deep-seated effects of this toxic cycle.

Discard Phase – The Devastating “Low” Part II…

The Discard phase is the culmination of the toxic cycle, marked by an intensified withdrawal or an abrupt end of the relationship, initiated by the individual who has been idealizing and devaluing the victim, typically the narcissist.  Unfolding suddenly, this phase delivers a devastating blow, that leaves the victim feeling abandoned, worthless, and desperate for the cherished moments of the Idealization phase. It’s during this phase that victims feel the most intense withdrawals from the addictive aspects of the relationship, underlining the stark reality that it often takes an average of seven attempts to permanently break the addiction and leave a toxic relationship. This phase underscores the painful and cyclical nature of toxic relationships, where the shifts between the euphoric highs of idealization and the desolate lows of devaluation can repeat several times before the final termination of the discard occurs. This back-and-forth pattern prolongs the emotional turbulence and uncertainty, with a final termination being uncertain and elusive.

The cycle of idealization, devaluation, and discard is the core component of toxic love addiction.  It creates a traumatic bond where the victim becomes increasingly dependent on their abuser for emotional validation. The intense highs of the idealization phase, followed by the crushing lows of devaluation and discard, create an addictive pattern. The victim may find themselves longing for the return to the blissful connection of the idealization phase, which keeps them hopelessly entangled in the cycle. This addiction to the rollercoaster of emotions is what makes toxic love so difficult to escape and so damaging to the victim’s emotional well-being.

Throughout these phases, particularly after the devaluation and discard, the narcissist often employs tactics like the ones below to keep and draw the victim back into the relationship.

Unraveling the Complexities of the Abuse Cycle

If a toxic relationship consisted solely of the emotional highs and lows of the Idealization, Devaluation and Discard Phases, the entanglement might not grip as fiercely. But when you weave in a series of manipulative tactics that exert deep control, the scenario transforms into a deep toxic love addiction that is as difficult to overcome as a heroin addiction.  These tactics are not just controlling; they are insidious, making the escape from a toxic relationship daunting, leaving you questioning your sanity, trapped in a cycle of emotional turmoil.

Love Bombing / Hoovering…

Love Bombing and Hoovering are similar tactics used with the intention to keep the victim in the cycle of abuse, thereby guaranteeing Narcissistic Supply.  Love Bombing is an overwhelming display of affection, attention and gifts used by abusers to gain the victims trust and affection at the beginning of the relationship, used during the Idealization Phase, or after the Devaluation Phase. It’s a deceptive tactic that creates a powerful emotional connection.  Hoovering, on the other hand, is where the abuser tries to ‘suck’ the victim back into the relationship through manipulative behaviors like making promises to change or showering the victim with affection and apologies.  Hoovering happens during the period after abuse and/or during a period of distance, such as after the Devaluation Phase, and is used after a breakup, the Discard Phase. 

Hoovering is essentially a resurgence of Love Bombing – to lure the victim back into the cycle. This manipulative tactic plays on the victim’s emotional vulnerabilities and their deep-seated longing for the relationship’s Idealization phase, making it incredibly challenging for them to break free from the toxic cycle.  Both tactics shower the victim with attention and affection until they’ve got the victim hooked, then the abuse slowly starts without the victim realizing it.  The initial Love Bombing is when the hook of the the deepest connection occurs, so when the victim thinks of leaving, she/he remembers the good times, and gives the abuser chance after chance. 

Trauma Bonds…

This phenomenon occurs when the abuse and intermittent periods of kindness (or no abuse) from the abuser create a strong emotional bond between the victim and the abuser.  It’s akin to the Stockholm Syndrome, where victims develop a psychological dependence on their abusers for validation and self-worth. This bond makes it incredibly difficult to leave the abusive relationship, as the victim often feels a misplaced loyalty or love for their abuser. It’s a dark version of loyalty, where the victim finds themselves sympathizing with the very person who’s hurting her/him.  It first develops with our parents and/or caregivers, but we didn’t know it was happening.  We were dependent on the very people who were abusing us, thus creating an unhealthy bond.  Trauma Bonds are a powerful force that inexplicably keeps the victim tethered to their abuser no matter how many times they’ve left.

Cognitive Dissonance…

Cognitive Dissonance plays a crucial, yet distressing role in the cycle of abuse. It occurs when victims find themselves grappling with two opposing beliefs – on one hand, they hold onto the belief that their partner loves them, while simultaneously on the other, they are painfully aware of their abusive behavior. This conflict creates significant psychological distress, as victims caught in this paradox struggle to reconcile the disparity between the abuser’s loving gestures and their harmful and abusive actions. The resulting traumatic confusion and internal conflict makes it harder for victims to clearly see the abuse, eroding their trust in their own instincts, feeling paralyzed and uncertain about taking the necessary steps to leave the relationship.

In a manipulative twist, the abuser exploits cognitive dissonance to their advantage, intertwining moments of kindness with their abusive behavior, to paint themselves as a ‘good person’, further confusing and entrapping the victim in a conflicting narrative of love and pain. This phenomenon mirrors experiences from childhood with abusive or neglectful parents and caregivers. The early exposure to such conflicting realities lays the groundwork for similar patterns in adult relationships, where the struggle to reconcile love with hurt becomes a familiar, albeit painful, internal battle.

Gaslighting…

A particularly insidious form of psychological manipulation, Gaslighting involves the abuser denying and distorting reality to make the victim question her/his perceptions, memory, and sanity. This tactic erodes your sense of reality, leaving you dependent on the abuser for validation of what’s true and what’s not. The narcissist will deny what they just said, will tell you “you’re imaging things” or “you’re too sensitive”, anything to deflect the blame back on the victim so the abuser can escape taking responsibility.  Gaslighting is very powerful in undermining the victims confidence, keeping the victim questioning his/her sanity to the extent the victim doesn’t trust herself/himself enough to make a decision about or taking action to leave.

Reactive Abuse…

Reactive Abuse occurs when the victim, pushed to their emotional limit by prolonged and continuous abuse, responds in a manner that appears uncharacteristic. This reaction, often borne out of intense frustration and a sense of helplessness, can manifest as yelling, outbursts of anger, or even throwing objects. It’s an understandable human response to enduring abuse over extended periods, whether that spans hours, months, or even years.

In such moments, the victim, typically known for their patience and composure, reaches a breaking point and ‘stands up’ to their abuser, albeit in a way that mirrors the aggression they’ve been subjected to. This behavior, however, is often skillfully manipulated by narcissistic abusers. They provoke such reactions intentionally, only to then use them as evidence to label the victim as ‘the abuser,’ ‘crazy,’ or ‘overreactive.’ Such accusations serve as a cunning tactic to shift the blame, making the victim question their sanity and further entangling them in a web of guilt and self-doubt.

Abuse Amnesia..

Abuse Amnesia is a perplexing yet common phenomenon among victims who endure chronic abuse. It describes the victim’s tendency to minimize,  overlook or downplay the severity of the abusive behavior, particularly during phases when the abuser exhibits kindness or remorse. During these periods, memories of the relationship’s happier moments come to the forefront, leading the victim to rationalize the situation with thoughts like “it isn’t that bad” or “they didn’t mean it.”  This form of selective memory acts as a coping mechanism, a subconscious survival strategy that enables the victim to remain in the relationship despite the cycle of abuse.  

This amnesia typically manifests during the Love Bombing and Hoovering phases – times when the abuser showers their victim with affection or attempts to draw them back after a period of Devaluation or Discard. It also arises in the lulls between the tumultuous ‘lows’ of abuse and the intoxicating ‘highs’ of reconciliation, subtly encouraging the victim to withstand further abuse. Abusers often exploit this phenomenon to their advantage, using it as a manipulative tool to shirk responsibility and avoid change. To counteract Abuse Amnesia, it’s vital for victims to document incidents as they occur.

Each of these tactics, along with the 3 phases of Idealization, Devalue and Discard contribute to the complexities of the Cycle of Abuse, making it exceptionally challenging to recognize the abuse and break free. Understanding these tactics is a crucial step towards recognizing the signs of toxic love and seeking the help needed to escape and heal this damaging cycle of Toxic Love Addiction.

The emotional toll of toxic love addiction can be significant. It can lead to a range of emotional and mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and a severe erosion of self-esteem and self-worth. The individual often feels trapped in a cycle of seeking validation and affection from a partner who is unable or unwilling to provide it in a healthy and consistent manner.

Keeping a written record or audio diary of all events serves as a powerful reminder of the reality of the situation, anchoring the victim in their truth and empowering them to see the relationship for what it truly is.

The Path To Healing…

Breaking free from the cycle of toxic love addiction requires a journey inward, to confront and heal the unseen wounds of our past. The journey begins with recognition – acknowledging the patterns and understanding their origins.

  1. Self-Reflection: Engaging in introspective practices such as journaling or therapy can help unearth the subconscious beliefs formed in childhood. Understanding that these beliefs are not truths, but rather the product of past experiences, is key to dismantling them.

  2. Professional Help: Particularly modalities that focus on trauma, such as Inner Child Healing, can be pivotal in healing childhood wounds and breaking free from toxic patterns.

  3. Self-Compassion: Healing requires a profound level of self-compassion and self-care. Recognizing that the wounded child within needs love, acceptance, and validation is a crucial step in breaking the cycle of seeking these in harmful relationships.

  4. Rebuilding Self-Esteem: Engaging in activities and practices that build self-esteem and self-worth is essential. This could involve setting boundaries, pursuing passions, or simply practicing self-affirmation.

  5. Community and Support: Surrounding oneself with a supportive community that understands and validates the journey can provide strength and encouragement.

As one navigates through the healing process, a transformation occurs. The journey from toxic love addiction to self-discovery is not just about breaking free from harmful patterns, but also about rediscovering who you are beyond your wounds. It’s about redefining love on your terms, finding joy in solitude, and appreciating relationships that offer genuine care and respect.

The pathway to healing is neither linear nor easy, but it is laden with the potential for profound growth and self-discovery. In healing from the shadows of our past, we not only reclaim our story but also open ourselves to the possibility of a love that is healthy, nurturing, and fulfilling.

You Are Not Alone: Embracing The Journey To A Toxic Free Life

We have covered a lot in this article, and the profound impact of childhood experiences cannot be overstated in the context of toxic love addiction.  Recognizing this connection between our childhood experiences and our adult relationships is a pivotal step in breaking the cycle of toxic love. It empowers us to understand that the patterns we find ourselves repeating are not reflections of our worth, but echoes of our past. 

Breaking free from the shackles of toxic love addiction is about healing these childhood wounds and rewriting the narratives that have bound us. It’s a transformative process that involves delving into our inner child, understanding the roots of our toxic relationship patterns, and relearning what healthy love truly means. This journey is about liberating ourselves from the destructive cycles we’ve known and opening our hearts to the possibility of nurturing, respectful, and loving relationships.

This journey of entanglement in toxic love is not a path chosen consciously. Even when we consciously recognize the toxicity of these connections, our deeply ingrained subconscious beliefs, controlling 95% of our life, overpowers our rational thinking. Understanding and overcoming toxic love addiction is a challenging but crucial journey. It requires confronting deep-seated emotional wounds, re-evaluating beliefs about love and relationships, and, seeking professional help to navigate the path to healing and healthier relationships.  You cannot heal toxic love addiction on your own and I’m here to help.

If you find yourself resonating with the patterns of toxic love addiction, either in your adult relationship or shadows of your childhood, remember, you are not alone, and there is a path forward. I invite you to join me in a free “Step Into Sanity Breakthrough Session.” Together, we can start untangling the complex web of your relationship patterns, gain insights into how your past is influencing your present, and take the first steps towards a future where relationships are sources of strength, joy, and authenticity. This session is an opportunity to begin unraveling the ties of toxic love and take the first steps towards a new chapter, one where you are empowered to build relationships that honor your worth and bring genuine happiness into your life. Click below to embark on your journey towards a deeper understanding of yourself and your relationship. 

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The Prison of Guilt: Breaking Free From Toxic Chains

The Prison of Toxic Guilt and the Struggle to Leave

Are you feeling the weight of a decision that seems both necessary and impossible? You’re considering leaving a toxic relationship, and that’s tough. You might feel like you’re trapped, wrestling with the guilt of leaving someone who’s got such a tight grip on your life. I see you, and I want to help you understand that what you’re feeling is more common than you might think.

The mere prospect of leaving a toxic partner often summons a profound and all-consuming sense of guilt, alongside a haunting dread associated with the notion of departure. Guilt can be a pervading force, acting as an anchor that keeps us submerged in the depths of a toxic relationship long after we’ve recognized its harmful nature. Leaving a partner who’s brought turmoil into our lives isn’t just a physical separation; it’s an emotional uncoupling that requires us to confront and discard deep-seated feelings of responsibility, loyalty, and commitment, even when they’re no longer deserved.

It’s not just about leaving a person; it’s about leaving a complex tapestry of beliefs, battles, and bonds behind. Guilt can whisper lies into your heart, suggesting you’re abandoning a partner or giving up too soon, despite the pain they’ve caused. It’s the voice that says you owe your tormentor care, even when they’ve shown none towards you.

Guilt is an insidious force; and for many women, this guilt is a prison—a confining space built from the bricks of ‘should haves’ and ‘what ifs.’

Healthy Guilt vs Toxic Guilt…

We all feel guilt from time to time over a mistake or mishandling of a situation that we wish we had done better.  Feeling bad about a genuine, unintentional error on our part is a healthy guilt.  Healthy guilt serves as a catalyst to insights that helps us take responsibility for our actions, and to make amends when appropriate.  It also leads to a change in action on our part for the future so that we are congruent with the person we want to be and avoid making the same mistake again.  Healthy guilt promotes positive personal growth by encouraging empathy and a commitment to uphold our values and ethical standards. Healthy guilt is proportional and rational. It is a healthy part of the human experience.

Toxic guilt involves feeling guilty for actions or situations that are out of our control, thereby taking on unjust or false responsibility. False responsibility refers to when you feel responsible for things that you aren’t responsible for and shouldn’t feel responsible for.  Feeling guilt and taking responsibility for the things that happen around us that we didn’t cause or create, is toxic guilt. When consumed with toxic guilt, we are very quick to attribute what went wrong to something we said or did and blame ourselves for it, even though we didn’t create the situation and it is in no way our fault.  Feelings of shame often accompany toxic guilt through excessive self-blame and self-punishment. Toxic guilt is characterized by irrational feelings of unworthiness and persistent feelings of being inherently flawed.  Toxic guilt is disproportionate and misplaced. Common triggers for unhealthy guilt include abuse, trauma, unrealistic expectations, perfectionism, and/or manipulation by others. Unhealthy guilt contributes negatively to depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.  

Why Toxic Guilt Arises…

Toxic guilt first rears it’s ugly head in dysfunctional homes where a child experiences trauma, abuse and neglect. The child is blamed or feels blamed for the mistreatment, either directly or indirectly, and in order to survive, internalizes that it is their fault, taking on false responsibility for their parent(s) behaviors and the situations.  This becomes the default for dealing with relationship problems.  Once in an adult relationship, this person again feels overly responsible for all the problems in the relationship, even though they are not causing them, triggering toxic guilt. A toxic partner is unwilling to take any responsibility for his/her behavior, and blames the victim, who now takes on the false responsibility for their partners abuse and behaviors. The victim now believes she/he caused the partners abuse, cheating, lies.  The victim never causes abuse in any way shape or form.  The abuser alone is responsible for his/her actions.  

When contemplating leaving a toxic relationship, toxic guilt underscores the symphony of internalized false beliefs and societal pressures that contribute to the confusion of leaving. It’s the internalized voice that says leaving is a betrayal, after all, you are the real problem, causing doubt and fear to keep you trying harder. 

We’ll delve into some of these guilt-inducing narratives used by toxic partners to keep their victims feeling toxic guilt for contemplating leaving and for guilting them to come back.

The Manipulating of Toxic Guilt…

No One Will Love You Like I Do…

You’ve probably heard that leaving a narcissist is no walk in the park. They know how to hold on, to make you feel like you can’t live without them.  You may have heard them say “You’ll never find anyone who loves you as much as I do” or  “You’ll never make it without me”.  These types of statements are meant to scare you and undermine your belief that you’ll be better off without them, causing you to fear leaving. You might find yourself worrying that you might never find someone who will love or understand you like they do.  But think about it—has their “understanding” felt more like control? Has their “love” felt more like ownership? You deserve the kind of love that’s real and respectful, not conditional and controlling. Breaking free requires a kind of strength and self-assurance that feels out of reach when you’re down in the trenches. But you’re stronger than you know.

You’re Abandoning Them…

It’s okay if you’re battling guilt for wanting to leave. It’s normal to feel like you’re abandoning them, betraying them or being disloyal. But remember, loyalty has its limits. And, the truth is, you are not abandoning them, you are simply choosing to stop being abused. You are not betraying them, you are picking you and your sanity, probably for the first time ever. Self preservation is necessary when someone’s well-being comes at the expense of your own, it’s not disloyalty to save yourself. It’s survival. There is a huge difference between what actual abandoning is versus choosing to no longer be abused.

You’re Giving Up, You Should Try Harder…

Maybe you’ve been taught that ending relationships is akin to giving up on someone. Or maybe you believe that you should never quit, after all, “winners never quit” and “quitters never win”, or only “losers quit”. Perhaps every time you try to leave, he/she is accusing you of “giving up. And so you’ve stayed for years, never giving up, holding onto the hope that tomorrow things will get better. But let me tell you, those sayings are for sports or for when the going gets tough in your career or business—not for when the “tough” is actually an abusive partner. It is okay to “give up” on an abusive partner. You’re not supposed to be the energizer bunny and keep going and going and going. It is important to know when it is time to stop trying in a relationship that is going to continue to undermine your self-worth.

You’re A Failure…

Societal narratives reinforce guilt. The stories we read, the movies we watch, and the anecdotes we hear often romanticize self-sacrifice and portray those who end relationships as ‘failures’ or ‘selfish’ when they choose to walk away for self-preservation.  Society has a lot to say about marriage and commitment, doesn’t it? Stick it out, they say, as if endurance is a measure of love. But enduring abuse isn’t love—it’s torture. These scripts play a significant role in deepening the guilt one feels when contemplating leaving a toxic partner. You’re not failing anyone by refusing to tolerate abuse any longer.  I bought into this for years until I could see that leaving abuse was not a “failure” at all but success.

Holding Onto Hope…

It is the human condition.  Hope is how we endure and get through so many tough situations in life.  Without hope, life could not continue.  Holding on to the hope, that things will get better, that there is good in this person, if you just wait long enough, is a testament to your optimism, not to the reality of your situation.  We also hold on to hope because we fear change, change is scary, change is hard and because many times we feel we are the problem. The hope that a narcissist will change with enough love and effort is a powerful deterrent to leaving.  But hope without change is excruciating, isn’t it.  You keep waiting for that promised change, where he/she will see you, hear you, for validation.  It might be time to let go of the hope and start creating the life you want.

Fear of Retaliation / Repercussions…

And then there’s the danger of what might happen if you leave.  The gripping fear of a narcissist’s retaliation or repercussions can paralyze, making the sanctuary of the known, no matter how toxic, seem like the safer option. It is a legitimate concern, a powerful force that keeps many women trapped.  But safety found in the arms of an abuser is a dangerous illusion—a false sense of security, built on the shifting sands of manipulation and fear.  The anxiety of things getting worse once you leave is real, validate your feelings and make plans to protect yourself. It’s okay to take your safety seriously. Planning your exit strategy is not just smart; it’s necessary. You’re not wrong for wanting to protect yourself, and your kids.  But, don’t let the fear or threats of retaliation or repercussions keep you from leaving.  Most of the time, the things you fear most don’t happen.

Trauma Bonding…

You might be experiencing something called trauma bonding, where the negative experiences bind you to the narcissist in a way that’s hard to break. It’s like a dark version of loyalty, where you find yourself sympathizing with the very person who’s hurting you.  Trauma Bonds are a powerful force that inexplicably keeps you tethered to your abuser no matter how many times you’ve left.  Deep down, you know you deserve better, but still you stay. I’m here to affirm you deserve better and trauma bonds can be broken.

Love Bombing…

Love bombing is another trick up a narcissist’s sleeve. They shower you with attention and affection until you’re soaked in it, and then, when they’ve got you hooked, they start to show their true colors. That initial sweetness keeps you hooked into the relationship and anytime you think of leaving, you remember the good times, and want to give him/her just one more chance.  It is the cycle of the high’s and low’s that triggers the toxic guilt that keeps you believing you’re leaving the good part of him/her, rather than the abusive part.

Gaslighting…

The partner contemplating departure may also face a barrage of gaslighting—being made to question their reality and sanity. Such experiences tie one’s sense of judgment to the approval of the very person who is causing the hurt, thereby escalating feelings of guilt. Psychologically, guilt is closely tied to fear—fear of being alone, fear of being judged, and fear of admitting a mistake. It’s a defense mechanism, a way of avoiding these deeper fears by sticking to the devil you know instead of facing the unknown angels that await.  Gaslighting is very powerful in undermining your confidence that leaving a toxic relationship is in your best interest.

The Misplaced Responsibility

At the heart of guilt in toxic relationships is a misplaced sense of duty on the part of the victim. You may feel responsible for your partner’s happiness or blame yourself for the relationship’s failings, despite logical evidence to the contrary. This misplaced sense of responsibility is frequently the residue of manipulative dynamics within the relationship. Abusive partners are adept at shifting blame and responsibility, turning every argument and issue into a reflection of your supposed “shortcomings”.

You might feel like it’s your responsibility to maintain peace or happiness, believing that the relationship’s problems are yours to fix. This false belief is fueled by childhood conditioning and societal tales that glorify sacrifice for love, yet in reality, it binds you to a harmful dynamic where guilt becomes a toxic companion. Your childhood may not have taught you about healthy boundaries or the sanctity of self-respect. Instead, it instilled a duty to be the caretaker, the peacemaker, the doormat, the ever-giving without thought of receiving. It taught you to value others’ happiness over your own at all costs, to see self-denial as a noble sacrifice, to find honor in endurance. This is no a recipe for a healthy relationship.

Abusive partners manipulate this sense of duty to their advantage, casting blame for their actions onto you. The truth is, you are not the solitary keeper of your relationship’s success. Shedding the weight of the responsibility of duty redefines leaving not as failure, but as an act of self-preservation, paving the way for healthier relationships where the journey is mutual, where faults and healing are shared..

The Releasing of Toxic Guilt…

The psychological origins of toxic guilt are deeply rooted in our identity and sense of self in relation to others. From childhood, we’re often taught that loyalty is a virtue, that long-term relationships require perseverance, and that prioritizing others is the hallmark of a loving, caring individual. These lessons, while valuable in the context of healthy relationships, can become distorted, anchoring us to relationships long past their expiration date when applied to toxic ones.

Recognizing the complex origins of toxic guilt is the first step toward disentangling from its grip. It requires a brave confrontation with these woven threads: the personal, the relational, and the cultural. As you start to identify the sources of your toxic guilt, you create the opportunity to challenge and reframe them, setting the stage for the emotional freedom that is to come. 

Toxic guilt is crippling, emotionally and psychologically, keeping you stuck accepting breadcrumbs of love. Recognizing your worth, acknowledging that your needs are valid and establishing boundaries that protect your emotional well-being are important steps. Remember, asserting your needs isn’t selfish—it’s a step towards a balanced life.

You Are Not Alone…

You’re not alone in this. The guilt you feel is a natural response to a extremely complicated situation. It’s okay to prioritize your happiness and your health over that guilt. It’s okay to walk away from something that hurts you. It’s okay to choose yourself. And when you’re ready to take that step, know that it’s not just okay—it’s courageous.

To free yourself from the trap of toxic guilt, it’s essential to differentiate what’s within your control and what isn’t. While you can offer compassion and honesty, you cannot manage your partner’s behavior or rectify their personal issues. Recognizing this is neither an admission of defeat nor an act of selfishness—it is an embrace of balance and self-respect.

Seeking support is a crucial step towards freedom from toxic guilt. Healing toxic guilt gives you the clarity to know what is best for you and the motivation to take action.

Embracing the Journey To Recovery…

The journey out of a narcissist’s grip is fraught with emotional landmines. The toxic guilt you feel for leaving is one of the most treacherous. But it’s a journey that takes you towards the ultimate destination—self-love. It’s in the embrace of self-compassion that you find the strength to release the toxic guilt and step into a life of true peace and freedom.

If you’ve reached the end of this article and find yourself resonating deeply with the struggles of toxic guilt, know that you’re not alone. Confronting and releasing toxic guilt is a complex, yet achievable journey. You don’t have to navigate these waters by yourself. I’m here to offer guidance, support, and a safe space to work through these intense emotions.

If you’re ready to take a step towards breaking free from this invisible prison of toxic guilt, I invite you to join me in a complimentary “Step Into Sanity Breakthrough Session.”  Together, we can explore your unique situation, address the burdens you carry, and start charting a path towards a life filled with self-love and freedom. Click below to embark on your journey towards healing and reclaiming your life.

Take the next step to break the cycle toxic guilt, set up your 

FREE “Step Into Sanity Breakthrough Session” today:  

To Feel Sane and Like Yourself Again – click here!

Understanding The Hidden Ties of Abuse: Trauma Bonds

Understanding the Hidden Ties of Abuse:

Trauma Bonds

Trauma bonding is an emotional attachment that develops out of a repeated cycle of abuse, devaluation, and positive reinforcement. This bond can feel just as strong as a “loving bond” created by love and care, if not stronger. The concept of trauma bonding offers insight into the puzzling loyalty, attachment, and affection that can develop between abuser and abused. It creates a powerful emotional connection analogous to the bond that can form between hostages and their captors, known as Stockholm syndrome. It’s a phenomenon that perplexingly ties victims to those who harm and disrespect them, often keeping them in damaging situations for far longer than seems reasonable or safe. Understanding trauma bonds is critical for those who find themselves inexplicably tied to an abusive partner. 

The Roots of Trauma Bonding…

Trauma bonds are created in environments where there is an imbalance of power, where there’s a presence of danger, intensity, unpredictability, and a promise of love, protection or reward. The abuser’s intermittent kindness or affection amidst the cycle of abuse creates a powerful emotional attachment. This roller coaster of fear and relief stimulates the body’s natural hormonal response, much like the highs and lows experienced with certain drug addictions, creating a trauma bond.

This cycle causes a flood of biochemical changes in the brain.  The intermittent abuse and affection cycle triggers a complex release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain and stress-fighting chemicals, as well as oxytocin, which enhances bonding. This creates a ‘high’ when there’s kindness after cruelty, further binding the victim to the abuser with neurotransmitters and hormones reinforcing the trauma bond. As the pattern repeats, the emotional highs and lows deepen the attachment, making it more challenging for the victim to leave the abuser.

Understanding the Cycle of Abuse and Intermittent Reinforcement

Abuse, strangely enough, doesn’t often start with violence but with charm, affection, and intense connection—followed by the gradual introduction of abusive behaviors.

Trauma Bonding forms during cycles of abuse, where intense negative emotional experiences from the abuse and intermittent positive reinforcement from the “Love Bombing” or “Hoovering”, create a bond that feels almost unbreakable.

The paradoxical nature of trauma bonding arises from the cyclical pattern where moments of kindness is mingled with cruelty, tenderness replaced with raging, reconciliation alternates with silent treatment, and love is shadowed by hurt, leading to a confusing array of emotions and attachments for the victim. This powerful cycle is precisely what makes trauma bonds so resistant to change, so difficult to break and feeling impossible to sever.

The resulting cycle follows a pattern that can trap the victim in a confusing emotional state for years, reinforcing their attachment to their abuser through hope for a return to the relationship’s more affectionate early stages.

Abusive relationships often follow a recognizable pattern, sometimes referred to as the cycle of abuse which builds the trauma bond:

  1. Tension Building: Stress and tension increase in the abusive partner, leading to a feeling of dread in the victim.
  2. Incident: The abusive event occurs, which can be physical, emotional, verbal outbursts, psychological, threats or demeaning criticism. 
  3. Reconciliation: The abuser may apologize profusely, promise change, give excuses (blames) or even deny the abuse occurred, convincing the victim of their good intentions.  He may also show affection to “make up” for the incident.
  4. Calm: A period of peace and normalcy, often referred to as the ‘honeymoon phase,’ where things seem to go back to normal and the victim’s hope is renewed.

During the reconciliation and calm phases, the abuser use “Love Bombing” or “Hoovering” to shower their victim with love, affection, gifts, promises of change or future faking, reinforcing the bond. This intermittent reinforcement’ serves to foster hope and expectation, strongly attaching the victim to the abuser.  Abuser do not abuse 24/7, that adds to the confusion of if the relationship really is abusive.

The Psychological Impact of Trauma Bonding…

The impact on mental health is profound. Victims stay in abusive relationships due to a complex interplay of psychological factors, including hope, fear, love, and the instinctual drive to attach for survival. This blend creates a powerful sense of loyalty or sympathy towards their abuser, dismissing the severity of the situation. They might rationalize staying in the relationship with thoughts like “He’s not always bad,” “It’s not really that bad”, “He didn’t mean it” or “He really does love me.” Such thinking is a hallmark of trauma bonding and a reason why victims struggle to leave.

The victim experiences psychological effects such as:

  • Denial: Refusal to accept the reality of the abusive dynamics as a coping mechanism to survive.
  • Shame: Deep feelings of embarrassment, shame or unworthiness.
  • Cognitive Dissonance: Holding conflicting beliefs that the abuser is both caring and harmful, leading to confusion and self-doubt.
  • Learned Helplessness: A state where the victim feels powerless to change their situation due to repeated abuse and failed attempts to escape or improve the relationship.

Victims often blame themselves due to the abuser’s manipulation tactics, which can include:

  • Gaslighting: Convincing the victim that their understanding of the abuse is flawed.
  • Isolation: Cutting off the victim’s supportive relationships, increasing their dependence on the abuser.
  • Projection and Blame-Shifting: Redirecting fault onto the victim to evade responsibility, indirectly reinforcing the belief in the victim that they have the power to “fix” the relationship “problems”.

Characteristics of Trauma Bonded Relationships…

Some indicative signs of a trauma-bonded relationship include:

  • Secrecy: The victim feels they must hide the reality of their situation from others.
  • Unexplained Loyalty: Others may notice the unhealthy nature of the relationship, but the victim feels intense loyalty to their partner.
  • Justifying Abuse: Rationalizing harm as ‘just a tough time’ or blaming external factors like stress, job or alcohol.
  • Chronic Hope for Change: Clinging to the memory of the ‘good times’ and the abuser’s potential to change.
  • Ambivalence and Denial: The victim may defend the abuser and their relationship, despite recognizing its destructive nature on some level.

Strategies to Break Free…

Breaking a trauma bond is no easy feat, but it’s possible with understanding and support from a professional that includes:

  • Education: Learning about trauma bonding can help victims recognize patterns they’re caught in.
  • Acknowledgment: Accepting that the relationship is abusive and not a form of twisted love.
  • Self-Care: Prioritizing one’s own needs and wellbeing above the relationship.
  • Boundaries: Setting firm limits on what behavior they will not tolerate.
  • Support: Engaging with a professional to provide the necessary guidance.
  • Gradual Disengagement: Breaking away from the abuser’s influence, which may require strategic planning, especially in complex situations involving cohabitation or financial entanglement.

You Are Not Alone…

Trauma bonding explains why victims of abuse stay in or repeatedly go back to harmful situations against their better judgment. Trauma bonding makes leaving an abusive relationship difficult, but not impossible. Recognizing the signs of a trauma bond is the first step towards breaking free. With support and self-compassion, survivors can undo these ties and begin the healing process. Acknowledging the pain and struggle in breaking away is also a crucial part of healing, as it validates the victim’s experience and the complex nature of their journey toward recovery.

For those suffering within these bonds, remember you are not alone, and with the right support and resources, you can reclaim your freedom and start anew on a path to a healthier, safer, and more fulfilling life.

Embracing The Journey To Recovery…

Recovery from trauma bonding is not merely about leaving an abusive situation; it’s about reclaiming self-identity and healing the deep-seated wounds of abuse. It is about understanding the long-term effects of trauma, learning how to trust again, and slowly rebuilding a life marked by self-respect and healthy relationships.

If you recognize the patterns of trauma bonding in your life, that is a powerful insight!  But untangling its threads and stepping forward into a healthier way of living is where true transformation happens. It’s a journey that requires courage, support, and action.

That’s why I’m offering you a lifeline out of the trauma bond cycle: a free “Step Into Sanity Breakthrough Session” with me. 

Here’s what you’ll get from our session together:

  • Understanding: We’ll shed light on the dynamics of your unique situation.
  • Clarity: You’ll gain clear insights into why leaving has been so hard.
  • Strategy: We’ll brainstorm practical steps to help you break free from these toxic trauma bonds.
  • Support: You’ll learn about the ongoing support available to you as you embark on your journey to freedom.

This session is the beginning of your new life, free from the shadow of manipulation and control. It’s where you start building towards a future filled with hope and the love you truly deserve.

Your past doesn’t have to define your future. Your journey to freedom starts now.

Let’s step into sanity together and pave the way to a stronger, more empowered you.

Embark on a transformative journey today, and experience the relief of feeling sane, centered, and truly yourself again.

Take the next step to break the cycle, set up your 

FREE “Step Into Sanity Breakthrough Session” today:  

To Feel Sane and Like Yourself Again – click here!

The Twisted Maze of Gaslighting: A Silent Emotional Predator

The Twisted Maze of Gaslighting:

A Silent Predator

Today, I want to talk to you about a silent predator that may be lurking in the shadows of your relationship. It’s cunning, manipulative, and can leave you questioning your own sanity. I’m talking about gaslighting.

If you’ve ever felt like you’re going crazy, if you’ve ever doubted your memory, or if you’ve felt the need to apologize even when deep down, you knew you weren’t wrong – my heart goes out to you. You’re not alone, and you’re certainly not crazy. What you might be experiencing is gaslighting.

Gaslighting: The Invisible Chains…

Gaslighting is a devious form of emotional abuse where your partner manipulates situations repeatedly to trick you into doubting your own experiences, memory,  perceptions, and sanity.  It’s like living in a house of mirrors, where every reflection is distorted, and you can’t find your way out. The perpetrator uses their power and charm to disarm you, making you question your reality and leading you to a state of confusion and despair.  Thereby gaining more narcissistic supply.

Imagine living in a maze where every turn you take, the walls shift, and the exit moves further away. That’s what gaslighting feels like. You might hear things like, “You’re too sensitive,” “You’re imagining things,” or “I never said that.” And because you love them, because you trust them, you start believing them over yourself.

It’s the moments where your reality is twisted until you start doubting your own sanity.  A vicious cycle, that can leave you feeling lost, isolated, and utterly alone.

Linda’s Story…

Let me tell you about Linda. She’s been through the thick of it, can tell you just how daunting this experience is.  Linda was vibrant, full of life, and had a spark in her eyes that could light up a room. But then, she met him, a partner who wielded gaslighting like a weapon.

Slowly, his words started to chip away at her confidence, his actions making her question her worth. “You’re too sensitive, Linda,” he would say. “You’re remembering it wrong.” Linda began to lose herself.  Over time, she felt her spirit wane, her zest for life dimming under the weight of constant doubt and confusion.

You see, gaslighting doesn’t just affect the mind; it takes a toll on your soul. It strips away layers of your self-esteem, leaving you vulnerable, and in Linda’s case, a shadow of her former self. But here’s the thing about Linda – she’s strong, just like you. And when she realized what was happening, she reached out to me for support. She broke the silence and took back control of her life.

Recognizing The Signs…

Gaslighting is insidious. It creeps up on you, and before you know it, you’re caught in its web. The first step to breaking the spell of gaslighting is  recognizing the signs that your partner uses to gaslight you. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Denying facts even when there’s proof: The gaslighter will blatantly deny facts, even when you have concrete evidence. They’ll assert themselves so confidently that you start doubting your own memory and perception.
  • Trivializing your feelings: They’ll make you feel that your feelings are baseless or that you’re being overly sensitive.
  • Shifting blame: They’ll turn the tables and make you feel that you’re the one at fault.
  • Projecting their actions onto you: They accuse you of the very things they themselves are guilty of.
  • Withholding information: They create a power imbalance by withholding information, making you feel dependent on them for the ‘truth’.
  • Telling lies: They fabricate stories and lies effortlessly, creating a distorted reality for you to muddle through.
  • Deflecting: Twisting conversations or words around, bringing unrelated things into a fight to cause confusion, bring up your past “mistakes”, 

How Gaslighting Makes You Feel…

Are you constantly second-guessing yourself? Do you feel like something is wrong, but you can’t quite put your finger on it? These are the silent whispers of gaslighting, telling you that something isn’t right:

  • Constant Doubt: You constantly doubt yourself and your memory. You feel like you can’t trust your own mind.
  • Apologizing Often: You find yourself apologizing, even when you’ve done nothing wrong.
  • Feeling Crazy: You feel confused and crazy all the time.
  • Isolation: You’re withdrawing from friends and family because it’s just easier than trying to explain what’s happening.
  • Loss of Joy: The things that used to bring you joy no longer do.

Countering Gaslighting…

If Linda’s story resonates with you, know that you have the power to break free. You have the strength within you to reclaim your reality and these are great steps to regain your sanity:

  • Keep A Record: Keep a journal of instances where you feel gaslighted. Write down exactly what happened including conversation and events, and how it made you feel.  Record conversations so that you can play them back to yourself and recognize the gaslighting.
  • Trust Yourself: Start by trusting your instincts. If something feels off, it probably is.
  • Set Boundaries: Learn to set and enforce boundaries. You deserve respect.
  • Disengage: If safe to do so, disengage from conversations when you recognize manipulative patterns.
  • Speak Up: Break the silence. Talk to trusted friends, family, or a professional who can provide an outside perspective. Let your voice be heard.

You Are Not Alone…

Gaslighting can make you feel like you’re living in a world of chaos and as if you’re the only one going through this turmoil. But the truth is, there are countless Lindas out there, wrestling with the same invisible chains. Understanding that you are not alone is crucial. There are people out there, like myself, who understand, who’ve been through it, and who are ready to support you.

You are strong, you are worthy, and you have the power to overcome this. Don’t let anyone – not even a partner – make you doubt your reality. Trust yourself, reach out, and take the first step towards reclaiming your life.

Wrapping It Up…

Gaslighting is meant to control and manipulate you by denying your reality to the extent you doubt yourself and feel crazy, giving control to the abuser over your life, and getting the narcissistic supply they crave.  Remember, you are not defined by the manipulation you’ve endured.  Don’t let the maze of gaslighting confine you any longer.

Understanding, recognizing, and learning how to counteract gaslighting and manipulation are essential steps in breaking free from the grips of a toxic relationship. 

Take Back Your Power and Break Free From Gaslighting…

Do you recognize the subtle signs of gaslighting in your own life? Have you seen the walls of doubt and confusion close in, felt the sting of your reality being twisted and doubted your own sanity? You are not alone. Many have walked this twisted path, questioning their reality under the heavy fog of gaslighting.

But here’s the good news: clarity is just a conversation away.

I invite you to take a brave step towards reclaiming your reality with my FREE “Step Into Sanity Breakthrough Session.”  This is more than just a talk; it’s your gateway to a clearer, brighter path.

In this session, we will peel back the layers of confusion, sift through the doubts, and lay down the stepping stones back to your true self. You’ll have a safe, judgment-free space to express your thoughts, share your experiences, and most importantly, start the journey to healing and empowerment.

You deserve to trust your reality, to live free from the chains of manipulation, and to find peace in your truth. Don’t let gaslighting dim your light any longer.

Let’s step into sanity together and pave the way to a stronger, more empowered you.

Embark on a transformative journey today, and experience the relief of feeling sane, centered, and truly yourself again.

Take the next step to break the cycle, set up your 

FREE “Step Into Sanity Breakthrough Session” today:  

To Feel Sane and Like Yourself Again – click here!

Narcissistic Supply: The Invisible Lifeline

The Invisible Lifeline: Narcissistic Supply

We all like a little attention. A compliment on a new outfit, praise for a job well done, or even the joy of likes and comments on our latest social media post. But what if your entire sense of self-worth was built around this external attention? Enter the world of Narcissistic Supply

What is Narcissistic Supply?

At its core, Narcissistic Supply is the fuel that powers the narcissist’s self-esteem. It’s their lifeblood, the sustenance that fuels their ego and keeps them feeling superior. Narcissist Supply is their exaggerated need for external validation. 

While all humans have a need for recognition and affirmation, for narcissists, it’s an insatiable hunger. Narcissists’ deficient self and inner resources make them dependent on other people to affirm their impaired self-esteem and fragile ego.  They only validate themselves as reflected in the eyes of others. Despite their façade of confidence, boasting, and self-flattery, they crave attention, respect, and constant admiration and actually fear deep down that they’re undesirable. 

Narcissists hunger to have their needs met, and even demand limitless special treatment, admiration and importance to feed their sense of entitlement and self-centeredness. It’s an unquenchable thirst for attention, validation, and adoration.  Narcissistic supply is how individuals with narcissistic tendencies and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) cope with the world and make it a place for them to thrive – by having others validate them so they feel superior.  And, If you’re in a close relationship with a narcissist, they expect you to supply them.

A Relatable Analogy: Think of a smartphone. No matter how advanced it is, without its battery being charged, it’s useless. For the narcissist, narcissistic supply acts as this constant battery recharge. Only, it’s not about electricity but a relentless hunger for reactions and validation.

Why Narcissists Crave Supply…

In a nutshell, narcissists are incapable of feeling genuinely good about themselves, ever. They depend on others to define their value, seeking endless validation, attention, and praise from others to compensate for their low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and a perceived lack of acceptance. These struggles are often a result of early childhood trauma and attachment issues.

Typically, the narcissist grew up in a dysfunctional home and did not receive the love, or reflection of his or her value and worth that was needed to build internal self-esteem.  As a child, the narcissists most basic needs were ignored by their caregivers. They were emotionally abandoned and neglected, resulting in permanent deep psychological damage. 

As a result, a “False Self” was developed as a defense mechanism to protect the narcissist from the hurt and pain of a world viewed as unloving, unaccepting, hostile, unrewarding, unjust, and unpredictable. The primary function of the “False Self” is to foster ego, self-worth, confidence, and self-esteem. But, because the disconnected “False Self” is bankrupt of constructive emotions, and only tears down the “host” with destructive emotions, the narcissist is unable to experience or genuinely express love, trust, or empathy, making it impossible to establish authentic bonds with others. Instead, the “False Self” relies on control and manipulation, mentally spinning deceptive webs to capture its supply. Hence the pulling in by love bombing: attention, gifts, love, promises and pushing away of discard: criticism, belittling, anger, silent treatment. 

The “False Self” helps the narcissist momentarily feel a sense of worth, but it is fragile and when the façade crumbles, the narcissist desperately seeks supply from others to patch up his/her worth and maintain the ego.  Narcissists seek to use people and things outside of themselves to provide their emotional needs that did not get met in childhood with narcissistic supply.

The pursuit of narcissistic supply serves multifaceted purposes for a narcissist. It momentarily bolsters their ego, providing a fleeting sense of worth and confidence. It outlines the parameters of relationships, ensuring the ‘False Self’ remains unchallenged and in control. Yet, this is a temporary fix, a band-aid over a wound that never truly heals, hence, the feeling of filling a bottomless pit.

Sources of Supply…

There’s a range of emotions and reactions narcissists feed off. Praise, admiration, and even fear or distress can all be sources. Narcissists are often skilled at extracting these reactions from those around them, especially their intimate partners, using various tactics that range from charm to intimidation.  

While many of us appreciate positive affirmations and shy away from conflicts or negative comments, a narcissist sees it differently. For them, even negative attention can serve as a precious supply. Ever faced a situation where expressing your distress or confronting the narcissist led to them turning things around and making it about themselves? That’s them drawing from the well of narcissistic supply.

Why is Supply So Vital to Them?: At the core, many narcissists harbor a deep sense of insecurity. This profound internal void makes them rely heavily on external validation. Without this constant supply, they can feel threatened, leading to erratic behaviors.

The Cycle of Extraction of Supply: Narcissists may initially shower their partners with attention and affection, drawing them into a state of emotional dependence. Once they feel assured of their partner’s attachment, the behavior can switch — becoming critical, dismissive, or even aggressive — to provoke a reaction, be it distress, confusion, or desperation for reconciliation. This emotional reaction reaffirms the narcissist’s control and fuels their need for dominance.

The Duality of their Behavior: Always Hungry for More…

Imagine having a bucket with a tiny hole at its base. No matter how much water you pour into it, it’s never really full. That’s how the narcissist’s ego operates. It’s always seeking, always hungry, never truly satiated.

This is why you might find them swinging between extremes, oscillating between charm and rage and/or silent treatment, from being the most loving partner to suddenly cold and distant. One moment, they might be the most considerate and attentive partner, and the next, they could belittle you over something trivial. It’s because they’re always seeking reactions — be it your affectionate gratitude or your hurt dismay. They’re just navigating their constant need for supply.  It truly is not personal, it is truly all about them.

Remember that one time you shared a heartfelt concern about feeling overlooked in your relationship? Instead of empathy, your partner took it as a personal attack and listed all the times he felt unappreciated by you. That’s him drawing supply — turning the tables and making it about his feelings, leaving you feeling guilty and second-guessing yourself, leaving him feeling in control of you and your emotions.

Narcissists have a pattern. They draw close when they need a “hit” of validation and pull away once they have it. It’s a cycle of charm and disregard. They don’t see people for their intrinsic value but as sources to tap into when they need a boost.

Healthy Self-Worth vs. Narcissistic Supply…

When understanding the dynamics of narcissistic supply, it becomes imperative to delineate it from the concept of healthy self-worth. The two are worlds apart in their origin, expression, and impact on relationships.

Most of us derive our self-worth from genuine connections, meaningful achievements, and personal growth. In contrast, a narcissist’s self-worth is like a house of cards, built on a shaky foundation of external validation.

Grasping the distinction between genuine self-worth and the deceptive façade of narcissistic supply is pivotal.

Healthy Self-Worth: This originates from within an individual, rooted in self-acceptance, self-love, and an intrinsic understanding of one’s value. It is cultivated through positive interactions, achievements, and the ability to overcome challenges independently. Healthy individuals do not require constant admiration or attention to feel good about themselves. Their actions and intentions align, fostering a genuine self-perception that is not dependent on how others see them.

Narcissistic Supply: In contrast, narcissistic supply is externally driven. Individuals with narcissistic tendencies seek validation, admiration, and attention relentlessly from others, as they are unable to generate these feelings internally.  Their actions and intentions do not align, and are dependent on how others see them.

Healthy Self-Worth: People with a robust sense of self-worth express empathy, honesty and genuine interest in others. Their self-esteem does not depend on external validation but comes from internal validation of knowing their intrinsic worth. Healthy individuals derive a sense of accomplishment and self-worth from acts of kindness, compassion, and authenticity, allowing them to foster healthy, reciprocal relationships that meet everyone’s needs. 

Narcissistic Supply: On the other hand, those seeking narcissistic supply are often manipulative, exploiting relationships to meet their endless need for attention. They fake empathy, kindness, interest and love to get supply. Upon receiving their desired praise and attention, narcissists temporarily ‘feel good’ about themselves and will devalue you once their supply needs are met, leading to toxic and one-sided relationships.

Healthy Self-Worth: Healthy Self-Worth contributes to stable, supportive, and nurturing relationships. People with a secure sense of self-worth build relationships based on mutual respect, trust, and authenticity. They seek connections that are reciprocal, valuing the well-being of others as much as their own. Individuals are able to give and receive love freely, creating a balanced and fulfilling connection.

Narcissistic Supply: Relationships marred by the relentless pursuit of narcissistic supply are unstable and abusive, with the narcissistic individual frequently oscillating between idealization and devaluation of their partners, based on the supply they need and receive. Narcissists perceive people as expendable tools in their quest for supply. When the narcissistic ego hungers for validation, they put on a charming façade, garner their needed supply, and then, without a second thought, discard the person until the next pang of ego-hunger strikes. They’re not in pursuit of inner worth; they’re on a relentless hunt for supply.

Healthy Self-Worth: A genuinely confident person feels good about their achievements and is fueled by internal recognition. They invest in genuine qualities, building a foundation of authentic self-worth and a desire to be a great person.

Narcissistic Supply: A narcissist, however, is more interested in how others perceive their achievements, often exaggerating or lying to ensure they’re seen in the best light to construct a façade of being a good person. Narcissists aren’t in pursuit of genuine self-worth. It’s all about the hunt — finding people, places, or situations that shower them with the attention, admiration, and blind loyalty they crave. For them, it’s about being seen as great, not being great.

Healthy Self-Worth: Individuals with a strong sense of self-worth are often the unsung heroes. They do not need the spotlight to feel accomplished. Their actions are driven by values and integrity, not by the desire for attention. They find contentment in doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. 

Narcissistic Supply: While narcissists feed off perceptions. They want to be seen as the hero, the star, the best — irrespective of their real actions or intentions.  They boast about how great they are and all the “good” they do.

Healthy Self-Worth: Individuals with healthy self-worth are open to reflection and personal growth. They are not threatened by criticism; instead, they use it as a tool for self-improvement. They recognize their flaws and work towards becoming better versions of themselves.

Narcissistic Supply: On the opposite end of the spectrum, narcissists feel attacked and threatened when they “perceive” they are being criticized. They do not feel the need for self-reflection or self growth since they are perfect and flawless.  In their mind, you are the problem and they do not need to become a better version of themselves since they are already the best at everything.

Narcissists meticulously scan their environment, seeking individuals and situations that promise a generous outpouring of validation, attention, adoration, and unwavering loyalty. This is the essence of narcissistic supply, a far cry from the concept of self-worth.

In conclusion, while healthy self-worth is an internal reservoir of strength and self-belief, narcissistic supply is an unquenchable thirst for external validation. The disparity between the two couldn’t be more stark. Recognizing these differences is crucial in fostering healthy relationships and identifying patterns of narcissism.

Recognizing When You’re a Source…

It’s vital to discern when you’re being treated as a reservoir for narcissistic supply. Patterns might include:

  • Being put on a pedestal one day, then sharply criticized the next.
  • Feeling like you’re constantly walking on eggshells.
  • Observing your partner thrive on creating chaos or conflict, only to play the hero or victim.
  • Feeling like you are living with Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.
  • A rollercoaster of feelings: crazy, self-doubt, lost, broken, isolated, afraid to be yourself.

Wrapping It Up…

Understanding the concept of narcissistic supply gives you a lens to decode the often confusing and contradictory behaviors of narcissists. By recognizing their patterns and their relentless need for validation, you’re better equipped to navigate your interactions with them.

Narcissists wear a mask. Behind it, they’re perpetually insecure. Every act, every word is aimed at replenishing their supply. While you might be focused on building a genuine connection, they’re strategizing on how to get their next validation fix.

It’s not about you; it’s about their endless quest for supply. Knowing this empowers you. You can choose how to engage, set boundaries, and prioritize your well-being.

Remember, the path to healing starts with understanding. And by grasping the essence of narcissistic supply, you’re one step closer to breaking free from the narcissist’s grip.

Breaking the Grip…

Understanding the concept of narcissistic supply is the first step. The next is ensuring you don’t get drawn into or stay stuck by their manipulative games. 
 
I invite you to seize this moment and take your next step to break the narcissists’ grip.  Schedule your complimentary “Step Into Sanity Breakthrough Session” with me and together, we will uncover the strategies and insights needed to dismantle the narcissist’s grip on your life, paving the way for a future filled with peace, authenticity, and a profound sense of self.
 
Embark on a transformative journey today, and experience the relief of feeling sane, centered, and truly yourself again.

Take the next step to break the cycle, set up your 

FREE “Step Into Sanity Breakthrough Session” today:  

To Feel Sane and Like Yourself Again – click here!

Understanding The Different Types of Abuse 

Understanding The Different Types of Abuse – 

In Intimate Relationships

Abuse in intimate relationships often remains hidden, not just from the external world, but sometimes from the victims themselves.  Abuse is often hiding in plain sight, leaving the victim suffering because she/he doesn’t recognize the behavior as abusive. There are many reasons a victim may not recognize the behavior as abusive. One common reason is the abuse is so covert, she/he doesn’t know it is happening; and a second common reason is the victim is conditioned to the abuse because of childhood trauma / abuse.

Abuse within intimate relationships is a grave and complex issue that takes on various forms, can span a range of actions, words, and attitudes, each distinct, but all aiming to exert control over a partner.  To make it even harder to recognize, abuse doesn’t happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, abuse is intermittent, and generally starts out slowly, building over time, making it very hard to detect, especially at the beginning of a relationship. As the victim is exposed to the abuse over time, she/he slowly becomes conditioned to the abuse, putting up with more and more, much like the old adage of a frog put in a cold pot slowly being boiled to death doesn’t recognize the pot is getting hotter.  It is common for the victim to not see some forms of abuse as abusive due to the slow ramping up of abuse over the relationship.

While many of us see images of bruises, broken bones and black eyes (physical assault) when we think of abuse, there are many other forms of abuse, both overt and covert, that have a deep impact on a person’s well-being. In this article, I delve into the different types of abuse, shedding light on the common signs and the subtle signs to look out for.  By understanding the various types of abuse and forms abuse can take, it will help victims identify problematic behavior so they can seek help, and work towards healthier relationships.

1. Physical Abuse: 

Physical abuse or assault is perhaps the most overt form of abuse and what most think of when abuse is mentioned. It is the intentional use of physical force to harm someone and involves any act that results in bodily harm or physical harm and damage.  Physical abuse is always used for the purpose of controlling, intimidating, manipulating and even punishing their victim.

  • Common Signs: This can range from hitting, slapping, punching, pushing, shoving, biting the victim, to more severe forms like choking, strangling or restraining. Throwing objects at or near the victim, punching holes in walls or doors, breaking or hitting objects, using weapons or other objects to threaten or harm is also physical abuse.
  • Subtle Signs: Withholding medical care, depriving sleep, abandoning the victim in unfamiliar places, even driving recklessly.

2. Emotional Abuse:

According to the National Domestic Violence Center: Emotional abuse involves non-physical behaviors that aim to control, isolate, or scare you.  “What these actions have in common is that they can erode your sense of value as a human being, and it can happen silently, slowly, and even without your awareness,” Mindy Mechanic, PhD, a clinical psychologist and professor at California State University, Fullerton.

It doesn’t have to be loud or violent to “count” as emotional abuse. This form of abuse targets a person’s emotions, making them feel devalued or worthless.  Emotional abuse is more elusive than physical violence, but its scars can run just as deep and are just as damaging. 

  • Common Signs: Frequent criticism or humiliation, even in front of others, belittling, criticizing, blaming, bullying, badgering, rejecting, ignoring, excluding or isolating the victim, withholding affection, silent treatment, lies, cheating, extreme jealousy, disrespecting the victim’s boundaries, 
  • Subtle Signs: Using “jokes” to insult, employing a condescending tone, or frequently putting down the victim, forgetting things already discussed, denial, guilting, shaming, control what you do, say or wear.

3. Verbal Abuse:

Verbal abuse is used to frighten, dominate, ridicule, manipulate, and/or degrade the victim as a means of controlling and maintaining power over them by using loud or violent tones and words. Verbal abuse is just as damaging as actions while it breaks down the victims self-esteem. Verbal abuse specifically pertains to harmful words used to degrade, control and negatively impact the victim. 

  • Common Signs: Regular instances of yelling, screaming, raging, swearing, name-calling, insults, shaming, accusations and continuous belittlement along with emotional abuse.
  • Subtle Signs: Refusing to communicate or “stonewalling”, backhanded compliments, trivializing the victim’s feelings or concerns.

4. Psychological Abuse:

Psychological abuse seeks to distort and manipulate the victim’s mind and make them feel crazy through covert or insidious control. Of all the typed of abuse, this form of abuse can be the hardest to detect. Psychological abuse is insidious, and often there are no overt signs of violence as there is in the other forms of abuse.

  • Common Signs: Gaslighting (making someone doubt their memories, perceptions or sanity), circular conversations, projections, intimidating behaviors like standing in a doorway, following you, breaking things or harming pets, creating a sense of impending doom, threatening harm, whether to the victim, themselves, or others, using children to manipulate or control the victim, such as threatening to take them away.
  • Subtle Signs: Using the silent treatment or withholding love or affection as a form of punishment, isolating and/or cutting off from family, friends, or external support, passive-aggressive behavior.

5. Sexual Abuse:

Sexual abuse in intimate relationships means any unwanted sexual activity without the clear and voluntary consent of the partner and refers to a series of behaviors used to manipulate or influence an intimate partner. Typically, these behaviors are designed by the perpetrator to gain control over another person sexually. This may involve acts of physical abuse, but it may only involve mental and emotional manipulation such as pressuring or coercing the victim to perform a sexual act that they do not want to perform.

  • Common Signs: Rape, molestation, forced sexual behaviors after victim has said “no”, even if they had sex in the past with that partner, holding you down or restraining you during sexual acts, unwanted kissing or touching, unwanted rough or violent sexual activity, engaging in sexual activities while you are intoxicated or unconscious, coercing (guilting, shaming, obligating) into having sex, pressuring into having sex after a fight.
  • Subtle Signs: Making unwanted sexual comments, refusing to use condoms, restricting someone’s access to birth control, criticizing one’s sexuality, recording sex without victim’s permission, sharing recording without victim’s permission, using recording to force sexual contact.

6. Financial Abuse:

Financial abuse involves controlling a victim’s economic resources including their ability to acquire, use, and maintain financial resource along with limiting their financial independence. While less commonly understood than other forms of abuse, financial abuse is one of the most powerful methods of keeping a victim trapped in an abusive relationship. 

  • Common Signs: Not having access to joint accounts, not having any access to money, not permitting the partner to work, forcefully taking victim’s earnings, not allowing victim to have a checking/savings account, debit and/or credit card in their name, not involving the victim in crucial financial decisions.
  • Subtle Signs: hiding money, hiding assets, limiting access to money for groceries, clothes, medical needs, employment sabotage (no car, or won’t make car accessible, won’t help with kids, demeans job, causes drama so victim is late), being uninformed about password and login changes to bank accounts and other financial resources.

7. Spiritual or Religious Abuse:

Any attempt to misuse religion, faith, or beliefs to exert power for the purpose of manipulating and controlling the victm.

  • Common Signs: Using religious scriptures (verses) to justify abusive behavior or to control victim, prevent victim from practicing her/his religion in the way victim would like, use victim’s beliefs to manipulate or bully her/him, demand that your children be raised with/without a certain religion, using scripture to demand sexual acts or favors, sharing private matters publicly for the purpose of shaming or coercing you into submission.
  • Subtle Signs: Shaming, making fun of, or ridiculing your religious beliefs or practices, feeling ashamed about having different beliefs from your partner, being forced to attend religious gatherings, being punished for not adhering to strict gender roles in the relationship.

8. Isolation Abuse:

Limiting a victim’s interactions with the outside world in order to weaken their victim, prevent them from hearing others’ perspectives, and to bring them into line with his own beliefs and requirements.

  • Common Signs: Severing ties with friends, family, and other external support systems: criticize their partner’s family and friends, seek to make their partner feel guilty every time they’re away from home, discourage their partner to not to meet people or leave the house,
  • Subtle Signs: Creating situations that prevent the victim from meeting others such as: “Are you really going out with your friends?” “With the kind of day I’ve had, you’re leaving me on my own?” “Why do you have to go see your parents? Don’t be so dependent on them, you have your own life now.” “I don’t like you going out to dinner with your workmates, stay home and we’ll have a special dinner together”.

9. Stalking Abuse:

A pattern of obsessive attention directed towards the victim. Stalking occurs when someone watches, follows, or harasses you repeatedly, making you feel afraid or unsafe.

  • Common Signs: Frequent unwanted encounters such as uninvited appearances at the victim’s home, work, grocery, where victim exercises, unwanted phone calls, sending unwanted texts, messages, letters, emails, or voicemails, leaving unwanted items, gifts, or flowers, damaging victim’s home, car, or other property.
  • Subtle Signs: Using tracking devices, social media or friends to monitor the victim.

10. Cultural Abuse:

Using cultural identity as a means to dominate, manipulate, coerce and control victim.

  • Common Signs: Mocking one’s cultural background or identity, not allowing victim to speak in their primary language, or to speak to their children in that language, not allowed to have contact with other people who share victim’s beliefs, preventing participation in cultural traditions or events.
  • Subtle Signs: Misusing the traditions, practices and expectations of the cultural community to justify abusing  the victim.

10. Digital or Cyber Abuse:

The digital age brings with it a new form of abuse. Essentially, digital abuse is any form of stalking, harassment, intimidation, bullying, or exertion of control that happens in cyberspace for the purpose of controlling and manipulating the victim.

  • Common Signs: Cyberbullying, “doxing”, and stalking through social media platforms, tells victim who they can or can’t be friends with on Facebook and other sites, looking through victim’s phone or computer without permission; using location tagging or spyware to monitor and track victim, posing as victim online, remotely controlling victim’s smart home devices to intimidate victim, making victim feel unsafe for not responding to messages immediately.
  • Subtle Signs: Insistently checking the partner’s devices or monitoring their online interactions, stealing or being forced to give passwords and logins to social media sites.

In conclusion, you may experience one, some or all types of abuse in your relationship. The type of abuses are often comingled and are hard to separate. An abuser will use any type of abuse they can to gain control of their victim. It is less important to name the type of abuse you are experiencing than to recognize you are being abused.

It’s essential to recognize and understand the myriad ways abuse can manifest in an intimate relationship so you can take action to protect yourself. Regardless of the form it takes, abuse invariably leads to lasting damage emotionally, physically and in your soul. If you or someone you know may be experiencing abuse, seek help from trusted professionals or organizations specializing in aiding victims. Remember, recognizing the problem is the first step towards resolution.  If you’re experiencing physical abuse, leave immediately.

Is Your Relationship Truly Healthy?

After understanding the varied and often subtle forms of abuse, it’s crucial to introspect about your own relationship. If you find yourself wondering about certain behaviors in your partner, it’s time to get clarity.

My “Am I Crazy Or Is He A Jerk? Quiz has been designed to help you discern and understand the dynamics of your relationship better.

 👉 Take the FREE “Am I Crazy Or Is He A Jerk?! Quiz Now and

discover if your relationship leans towards unhealthy patterns.

 

Remember, it’s always better to be informed and proactive rather than regretful. Your well-being and peace of mind are paramount.

The Essence of Narcissism: More Than Just Vanity

A Deep Dive Into The Core of Narcissism:

More Than Just Vanity

 
We hear the term “narcissist” thrown around a lot these days, in fact, more than ever!  40 years ago you rarely, if ever, heard the term used to describe someone.  Now it’s become almost commonplace, but its true meaning can often get lost among misconceptions. Let’s shed some light on what being a narcissist truly signifies.
 

1. What exactly is a Narcissist?: 

Narcissism is extreme self-involvement to the degree that it makes a person ignore the needs of those around them. While everyone may show occasional narcissistic behavior, true narcissists frequently disregard others and their feelings. They also do not understand the effect that their behavior has on other people.

It’s important to note that narcissism is a trait, but it can also be a part of a larger personality disorder. Not every narcissist has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), as narcissism is a spectrum. People who are at the highest end of the spectrum are those that are classified as NPD, but others, still with narcissistic traits, may fall on the lower end of the narcissistic spectrum and inflict just as much harm.

People who show signs of narcissism can often be very charming and charismatic. They often don’t show negative behavior right away, especially in relationships.  In fact, they may seem to be everything you have every wanted in a partner, hiding their true self from the victim. People who are narcissistic often like to surround themselves with people who feed into their ego either positively or negatively. They build relationships to reinforce their ideas about themselves, even if these relationships are superficial.

2. Origins of Narcissism:

The roots of narcissistic behavior often trace back to childhood experiences. Factors can include excessive pampering or excessive criticism from parents or other primary caregivers. Trauma, abuse and/or neglect also contribute to the formation of narcissistic traits.

3. Insecurity at the Root:

Narcissists project a façade of confidence or arrogance, but beneath this veneer lies a very fragile ego. Behind this mask of extreme superiority, they are easily upset by the slightest criticism. Their self-worth is constantly in flux, requiring constant external validation—termed “narcissistic supply.”  Narcissists use a variety of tactics and defenses to keep you insecure and confused to ensure that their status and their needs are met. It’s easy to feel crazy, as they vacillate unexpectedly between their fake confidence and their real fragility.

4. The Two Main Faces of Narcissism:

  • Grandiose/Overt Narcissists: The ‘life of the party’ individuals, they thrive on attention and often possess magnetic charisma. Their actions shout, “World! Look how magnificent I am!”
  • Vulnerable/Covert Narcissists: More subtle in their approach, they lament, “Why can’t the world recognize my brilliance?” Often seen as downcast, they harbor a sense of unjust treatment and hold onto grand visions of what they could have been.

5. The Six Secondary Faces or Subtypes of Narcissism:

  • The Malignant Narcissist: This is a concerning blend of narcissism, aggression, and sadism. These individuals don’t just seek attention but often manipulate and exploit others for pleasure.

  • The Cerebral Narcissist: Pride in intelligence is their hallmark. They feel their intellect elevates them above others and love to showcase their cognitive abilities.

  • The Somatic Narcissist: Obsessed with their physical appearance and physique, they’re the type constantly checking themselves in the mirror or frequenting the gym not for health, but appearance.

  • The Communal Narcissist: Masquerading as community pillars, these individuals always highlight their altruistic and community-centered actions, seeking validation for their “selflessness.”

  • The Spiritual Narcissist: They’re on a “higher plane” than others, or so they think. Using spirituality to affirm their specialness, they may claim a unique, profound connection to the divine.

  • The Parental Narcissist: They weaponize their role as a parent, seeking constant validation for their “exceptional” parenting skills, often sidelining the actual needs and feelings of their children.

6. The Fluid Nature of Narcissism:

It’s crucial to note that narcissists can oscillate between grandiose and vulnerable states, the main types (faces), like a chameleon adapts to their environment in seconds.  A bountiful supply of attention boosts their grandiosity, while its absence pushes them into vulnerability—portraying them as moody, withdrawn, victim or even depressive.  Each narcissist has a main type, switching in and out of the main types and secondary types whenever it benefits them, adding to the confusion of figuring out if someone is a narcissist.

7. Manifestation In Relationships:

  • The Idealization Phase: At the onset, narcissists might shower their partners with affection, making them feel special.
  • The Devaluation Phase: Over time, the narcissist may start to belittle, criticize, or gaslight their partner, causing emotional turmoil.
  • The Discard Phase: Once the narcissist feels they have no more to gain from the relationship, they might distance themselves or seek a new “source” of attention.

8. Diving into Their Most Common Traits:

While the above “faces” provide a framework, it’s crucial to recognize common signs of narcissism:

  • Sense of Entitlement: A belief that they are inherently deserving of privileges, superior to others and worthy of special treatment.
  • Lack of Empathy: Unable or unwilling to understand and resonate with the needs, wants, and feelings of other people.
  • Inability to Self-Reflect: They believe they are not at fault, are always “right”, and therefore are unable to self-reflect about their behavior.
  • Manipulative Behavior: A narcissist will at first try to please you and impress you, but eventually, their own needs will always come first.
  • Lack of Responsibility: Blaming, deflecting, projecting, demeaning others, everything is someone or something else’s fault.
  • Arrogance: Must have the best of everything, monopolizes conversations, looks down on people they perceive as “inferior,” and only associate with those they think are equally special.
  • Need for Admiration: A constant need for praise or admiration. People with this behavior need to feel validation from others and often brag or exaggerate their accomplishments for recognition.

9. The Game of Control:

Narcissism is all about controlling others, especially partners, to get narcissistic supply and maintain their mask to keep up the façade of how amazing they are in their own mind so they can avoid feeling worthless.  The unifying factor between the 8 “faces” is their motive: control. Whether by charm, gaslighting, abuse or eliciting sympathy, they aim to dictate your thoughts, emotions, and views to get the supply they need. They use verbal, emotional, psychological, physical, financial and/or sexual abuse as their main forms of control along with love bombing and hoovering.

10. In Conclusion:

While the term “narcissist” might be thrown around casually now-a-days, understanding its depth aids in recognizing and navigating relationships tainted by narcissistic traits. Understanding narcissism isn’t about labeling or judging people. It’s about recognizing patterns and behaviors that are harmful to you and your kids well being.  As you continue this journey, hold onto this knowledge—it’s a beacon guiding you towards healthier interactions and personal growth.  Awareness is the first step towards better relationships and personal growth. If these behaviors are impacting your life or those around you, seeking professional support is always a recommended course of action.  If you are being physically abused, leave right now and reach out for help.

 Dive deep into spotting the red flags – because you deserve a relationship that uplifts, not undermines.

15 Red Flags to Know For Sure You Are With A Narcissist!

Click here and Grab your FREE insightful checklist today…

Tracy May Bio

Tracy May Bio...

Tracy May is the foremost expert in Toxic Love Recovery.  She is a Love & Relationship Coach empowering women to break free from toxic love patterns, narcissistic abuse and trauma to finally get the love they deserve and to have a life full of joy, fun, connection, true intimacy and success. 

She is a Recovered Toxic Love Addict, a Domestic Violence Survivor, a Women’s Empowerment Coach, a Trauma Informed Coach, an Author and a Speaker. 

She overcame adversity in a childhood full of trauma and abuse only to find herself back in the trenches of abuse throughout her adult life in 3 narcissistic relationship.  She finally broke free from the limiting beliefs, codependency and programming that had kept her stuck in the cycle of abuse and trauma for almost 25 years in her 2nd marriage.

Her mission, to help women who feel invisible, powerless and unlovable go from barely surviving to thriving and design the life they dream of, is near and dear to her heart.

Tracy’s passion to eradicate abuse in relationships one woman at a time with her one-of-a-kind coaching supports women to re-discover their true worth, their voice and lovability and feel free to be themselves to have the relationship & business they have always craved.  

Her desire to empower female entrepreneurs to break free from the chains of toxic love and the limiting beliefs that have kept them stuck accepting breadcrumbs for love and blocking their business success comes from her unique experience building 3 successful businesses despite the chaos, confusion and hardships in her personal life from toxic relationships.

Tracy co-authored the international best-selling book “Entangled No More: Women Who Broke Free From Toxic Relationships Building Their Empires”.  She is a Success125 Most Impactful Leader Nominee in 2022, an Executive Contributor in Brainz Magazine, a TAGTalks speaker and Women Thrive Summit Speaker in 2023.

Tracy’s coaching certifications, trainings & life experiences support her to empower women all over the world, just like you, through private and group coaching with her Rise & Thrive Programs.  She offers FREE “Step Into Sanity” Breakthrough Sessions to start your healing journey at:  http://www.talkwithtracymay.com

When Tracy isn’t coaching you can find her soaking up the sun at home or on a beach getaway, horseback riding, golfing and relishing time with her children, grandkids and great granddaughter.

Tracy fiercely believes in you and her loving, warm, and compassionate nature shines through while she supports you in conquering the entanglement of abuse.

Coaching changed her life forever, and she knows it can change yours, too.

Tracy May Short Bio...

Tracy May is the foremost expert in Toxic Love Recovery.  She is a Love & Relationship Coach empowering women to break free from toxic love patterns, narcissistic abuse and trauma to finally get the love they deserve and have a life full of joy, fun, connection, true intimacy and success.

She is a Recovered Toxic Love Addict, a Domestic Violence Survivor, a Women’s Empowerment and Trauma Informed Coach, an author, writer & speaker.

She overcame adversity in a childhood full of trauma and abuse only to find herself back in the trenches of abuse throughout her adult life, including a 20+ year narcissistic abusive marriage.

She supports women who feel invisible, powerless and unlovable go from barely surviving to thriving confidently and design the life they have always dreamed of.

Tracy’s coaching certifications, trainings & life experiences enable her to empower women through her Rise & Thrive private and group coaching programs.  She offers FREE “Step Into Sanity” Breakthrough Sessions to start your healing journey at: http://www.talkwithtracymay.com.

Tracy fiercely believes in you and her loving, warm, and compassionate nature shines through while she supports you in conquering the entanglement of abuse.

Coaching changed her life forever, and she knows it can change yours, too.

Books & Meditation Resources

Books for Healing...

Books – Starter Reading:

The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz

Co-Dependent No More – Melody Beattie

The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships – Harriet Lerner

The 5 Love Languages – Gary Chapman

Entangled No More – Women Who Broke Free From Toxic Relationship Building Their Empire – Tracy May & 19 co-authors.


Books – Advanced Reading:

Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender – Dr David Hawkins

The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle

 

Daily Meditation Books or Mobile Apps:

The Language of Letting Go: Daily Meditations on Codependency – Melody Beattie (Also in a Mobile App)

Meditation for Healing...

The beautiful Hawaiian Prayer for Forgiveness is called “Ho’oponopono” (pronounced HO-oh-Po-no-Po-no), and it’s lovely.

This meditation will be great for you to use as a way to focus on more positive and loving thoughts and is a tool for restoring self-love and balance.

In practice, it works sort of like a mantra for self-love. And, even more surprisingly, it’s super simple.

The ho’oponopono prayer goes like this:

“I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you, I love you.”

That’s it. And isn’t that something we all need to hear? “I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you,   I love you.”  It’s very touching, and healing, especially given how simple and universal these words are.

To practice ho’oponopono meditation, take a few deep breaths with your eyes closed. Then, slowly repeat this mantra to yourself about 7 or 8 times: “I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you, I love you… I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you, I love you“— and so on.

End with a few moments of silence to let the message resonate within you.  Now open your eyes.  How do you feel?

Don’t be surprised if you feel a wave of emotions or cry, this is normal and just allow yourself to feel.

Do this meditation at least once a day, preferably 2-3 times every day. 

Chanting this prayer over and over is a powerful way to cleanse the body of guilt, shame, haunting memories, ill will, or bad feelings that keep the mind fixated on negative thoughts and your abuser.

With regular practice, reciting these four simple phrases helps rebuild self-love and self-esteem at the times when we need it most.

For people who carry a lot of guilt, it’s also an easy way to practice self-comfort when you’re feeling down.

The Empowerment Code

The Empowerment Code:
Unleash Your 5 Superpowers Roadmap

“The Empowerment Code” is a proven roadmap for transformational work to create the relationships and empowered life you have always dreamed of having.

As the core foundation of the Fiercely Empowered Coaching System, the unique system I use in all my coaching programs, “The Empowerment Code” is integral to the success of your journey.

As the cornerstone to finding your voice and reclaiming your power, “The Empowerment Code” is a set of tools you will use to transform yourself and your relationships so you can have a life that exceeds your wildest dreams.

Read each section below for a brief overview of the highlights of each superpower and then schedule a complementary “Step Into Sanity” Breakthrough Session to learn how you can implement “The Empowerment Code: Unleash Your 5 Superpower” into your life right now!

Superpower One: Take Care Of Yourself

In relationships, it is so easy to focus on everyone else and forget to take care of yourself in the business of life. Husband. Kids. Work. Family. Friends. Church… It is important to take care of yourself and your needs so that you do not face burn-out by depleting yourself too much. Self-Care is what allows you to continue caring for others and have a healthy relationship. At the end of the day, were your needs met? 

This Superpower is focused on:

  • Helping you discover how to take care of yourself in the face of other people’s needs that pull on you
  • Teaching you to say no when you mean no instead of yes to avoid upsetting another person.
  • Learning about your own needs, possibly for the first time.
  • Knowing your own needs are important so you can make decisions that are congruent with taking care of yourself and others in a healthy way.

Using this Superpower in your relationships, you will be able to:

  • Take care of yourself because you will know your needs and how to balance your needs with the needs of others.
  • You will be able to feel powerful enough to ask for what you need without the fear of rejection.
  • Take time for your own self-care, making sure your needs are met.
  • You will know how to take care of your own needs, especially when others won’t, for whatever reason.

Superpower Two: Set & Keep Boundaries

Often, there is a lot of anxiety around setting boundaries in relationships for fear the other person won’t love you or will be angry with you if you don’t do what they want. Are you walking on eggshells trying to keep the other person from being angry? It is necessary to have boundaries in relationships and set expectations to keep from disappointing yourself and others.

This Superpower is focused on:

  • Discovering your core values.
  • Learning what you will and will not allow.
  • Knowing what you are willing to tolerate and not willing to tolerate.
  • Discovering what you truly want in life so you can set and keep boundaries that allow you to create the relationships and life you desire.

Using this Superpowers in your relationships, you will be able to:

  • Set and keep your boundaries even in the face of another person’s negative reaction.
  • Have certainty in knowing what is important to you so you can set and keep boundaries.
  • Always be grounded in your core values, especially when circumstances arise that cause you to question your boundaries.
  • Integrate the skills of setting and keeping boundaries so you feel safe and respected when you stand up for yourself.

Superpower Three: Protect Yourself From Abuse

We often think of abuse as physical, getting hit. Abuse is also emotional, verbal, financial, sexual and even psychological. We can experience abuse in many relationships from intimate to parents/family to co-workers/bosses and even friends. It is important to recognize the often-overlooked ways you are abused by the people you care for the most and how to stop tolerating abuse you are aware of, even if it seems mild or like no big deal. Any abuse undermines your self-confidence and self-worth and damages the balance of power in relationships that are important to you.

This Superpower is focused on:

  • Learning about the six types of abuse and how they show up in relationships.
  • Assessing any abuse you experience in your relationships that you haven’t noticed.
  • Discovering the system you are in with your spouse that is not working.
  • Knowing how the system works to keep you stuck in the system.
  • Learning about why you stay in unhealthy/toxic, even abusive relationships, continually trying to fix the other person.

Using this Superpower in your relationships you will be able to:

  • Transform any abuse you are experiencing in your relationships.
  • Become empowered to step out of the systems you are in and create healthy ones.
  • Transform your false beliefs, thoughts, and patterns from dis-empowering to empowered ones that help you no longer tolerate unacceptable behavior.
  • Find your voice and reclaim your power so you are seen and heard.
  • Protect yourself from all types of abuse whether it is overt or covert.

Superpower Four: Radical Self Acceptance

“I fully love and accept myself, no matter what.”

Practicing radical self-acceptance is not easy. You may believe you accept yourself but, in your heart and mind, you judge, criticize, blame, second-guess everything you do and every decision you make. You can be tempted to avoid noticing these internal self-rejecting messages by binge watching tv, overeating snacks, shopping, drinking or doing drugs too much. Even caretaking others can be a distraction from hearing the negative voices of self-rejection. Being in unacceptance of yourself can even paralyze you from creating the life you really desire. And you are not alone…most people are doing this, daily. It becomes a habit we do not notice.

This Superpower is focused on:

  • Bringing light onto your false beliefs and patterns from past traumas that helped create self-rejection within you.
  • Transforming co-dependent behaviors that keep you stuck in unacceptance of yourself.
  • Discovering how self-rejection has helped create unfulfilling relationships, self-sabotage and unhappiness.

Using this Superpower in your relationships, you will be able to:

  • Learn to truly accept and love yourself despite your perceived shortcomings.
  • Use your new beliefs and patterns to accept yourself even when you “fail or make a mistake”.
  • Transform how you think of yourself moment-to-moment so you are living from an empowered place in all your relationship.

Superpower Five: Forgiveness

Ah, Forgiveness… How do you forgive someone who has betrayed you? Cheated on You? Abused You? Left You? The list could go on and on. Of the 5 Superpower, this is the most crucial and the hardest one for most because forgiveness is synonymous with forgiving another’s behavior. Forgiveness is the last superpower of the journey to finding peace and serenity. Transforming the other superpowers first makes space for you to forgive yourself and others, which is the ultimate key to loving and rewarding relationships and life.

This Superpower is focused on:

  • Learning to forgive yourself for the ways you let yourself down or didn’t leave sooner.
  • Forgiving the other person or persons who have hurt you, let you down and used you.
  • Deeper discovery of false beliefs and patterns from past traumas that keep you in unforgiveness.
  • Learning to acknowledge your feelings and allowing them to flow through you.

Using this Superpower in your relationships, you will be able to:

  • Truly forgive yourself for the past and into the future.
  • Forgive the other person or persons for the past and into the future.
  • Decide if you want the person who hurt you to be in your life.
  • Live a life full of peace and harmony, knowing how to handle your feelings.

The Goal: A Healthy, Empowered Life

With the goal of transforming your relationship with yourself and others, “The Empowerment Code” works together to create harmony within yourself so you feel worthy and good enough to “Unleash Your 5 Superpowers” into your relationships to have the connection and love you have always craved.

Throughout “The Empowerment Code”, we will work with your false beliefs, patterns and programming that contribute to the systems that keep you stuck in unhealthy, unfulfilling relationships.

We will work together to transform your survival behaviors with thriving habits that will allow you to create a happy, loving relationship or know if it is time to let go of this relationship and venture onto a new one, coming from a healthy and full place. Either way, whatever choice you make, you will be living an Empowered Life and using the skills, strategies and tools you now have from The Empowerment Code every day!

I love helping women like you on their journey to an Empowered Life and Relationships!

Find out how The Empowerment Code: Unleash Your 5 Superpowers Roadmap can change your life for good and schedule your FREE Step Into Sanity” Breakthrough Session by clicking HERE now.

To Your Amazing Life!

Much Love,