Overcoming Narcissism and Emotional Abuse

What makes a woman ready to give up safety, security and marriage in order to preserve her sanity? What has happened to bring her to a place where the thought of living simply in poverty sounds better than to live more comfortably, but with anxiety, tension, depression and often a host of physical maladies?

The answer is that living with a narcissistic and emotionally abusive man has become too much to manage. Suffering with subtle and overt abuse has taken too much of a toll and change must happen.

Consider that many women live with one or more of the following destructive symptoms of narcissistic and emotional abuse—attempts on his part to deny problems:

  • Powering Over: This has also been called “Power Play,” when one forces their will on another
  • Scapegoating: Putting the burden of responsibility onto an innocent person and placing themselves in the favorable light
  • Minimizing: Treating another as a lesser individual or treating actions as less severe than they are
  • Playing the Victim: Making it seem as if the perpetrator is the one being wronged instead of the real victim
  • Blameshifting: Taking the onus off the perpetrator of harm and putting it onto the victim
  • Excuse-making: Making “rational” explanations for inexcusable actions, failing to take responsibility for misbehavior
  • Rage Reactions: Erupting in overt or covert anger—this could take the form of passive aggressive actions or outright rage
  • Stonewalling: Retreating into silence
  • Shunning: Intentionally discontinuing contact with a person because of dislike for their justifiable actions
  • Justification: Offering a “reasonable” excuse for inexcusable actions
  • Rewriting History: Disavowing knowledge for having done a harmful action they have done
  • Deception: Lying about an action to place themselves in a more favorable light
  • Magical Thinking: Everything will be fine. We can work this out. It shouldn’t be too hard. I’m sure change will just happen. A little help will do it.

One woman said this recently: “I’m never sure of when my husband will become abusive again. He gets better for a while and then he reverts to his old ways. My way of describing it is that the root of the abuse is still there…some tendrils have been eliminated, some pruned, and others stifled, but the root is still alive and very strong. Denial is most definitely the gatekeeper of the root…and the drug that numbs the conscience of the abuser.”

Narcissistic men are often charming, self-confident and powerful. His power and charm can be alluring, however before long—and typically after you’ve fallen for him—you discover that his self-confidence becomes arrogance, his determination becomes stubbornness. He is hyper-sensitive to criticism, and any challenge becomes an attack on his personality. To irritate him means you face his hostility.

There is overlap in narcissistic and emotionally abusive men. All narcissistic men are emotionally abusive and most emotionally abusive men have narcissistic traits. In every relationship there are behaviors that are troubling. We each must make a decision as to whether or not to tolerate the troubling behavior, make an issue out of the troubling behavior, or draw a line in the sand indicating we will not tolerate said behavior. We each must decide whether we enable certain traits or embark on an intervention regarding those damaging traits.

Can Narcissistic and Emotionally Abusive Men Change?

While some narcissistic and emotionally abusive men can change, they cannot change without intervention. With intervention, and depth counseling, people CAN change. Without strategic intervention, the situation WILL remain the same.

 Let’s understand a few things about entrenched personality traits:

  • They are usually outside of our awareness—we don’t wake up in the morning and decide to be narcissistic, self-centered or passive-aggressive.
  • They are reinforced by denial—DENIAL—Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying to myself.
  • They are reinforced by collusion—enabling the troubling behavior because of maladaptive coping and accommodation
  • With clear guidance and intervention, things don’t change, but people can!!

What does it take to bring about change? In a word—Intervention. You must first look closely at all the ways you make it easy for your man not to change. Do you scold, complain, nag and criticize? These are not effective change tools. People often change when what they have to gain is greater than what they stand to lose. In other words, they may have to face the daunting possibility of losing the comfort of their marriage, their home, their family and other aspects of their life they desire. That prospect, combined with depth counseling where a specialist works with the Narcissist/ emotionally abusive man to break down their denial and face the realities of their personality and the impact their behavior has on others, creates a powerful change dynamic.

We are offering a 4-Day Men’s Intensive designed to help men overcome narcissism and emotional abuse. If this sounds like something needed in your or your mate’s life and marriage, you can learn more here. You can also contact us here or call us at 206.219.0145 for more information and to reserve your spot in this powerful group.