This post is continued from Part 1.
2. Refusing to Ask for Help
Since a narcissist never wants to be inconvenienced by you or your needs, any time you ask for help you will be turned down, unless they are about to ask you for a favour or are trying to get back on your good side. So, instead of saying, “no”, they attack and make it because “you are too needy”, “you can’t do anything yourself”, “you are too demanding”, “you aren’t smart enough to figure it out on your own” or whatever attack they prefer. In other words, they use your personal vulnerabilities as a way of manipulating you into not asking for help.
Love and attention are given in exchange for other things in a relationship with a narcissist. “If you don’t make dinner, I won’t even speak to you or acknowledge your presence”. This may not be said out loud, but when you’ve experienced the silent treatment for extended periods of time, you learn to behave a certain way. Consciously or unconsciously you find yourself doing everything that you can to make them happy. You become very aware of how you act and how you look.
It is common for a narcissist to accuse you of being selfish when in fact they are usually the more selfish one. This may create an imbalance with
you becoming increasingly selfless. Everyone else is more important than you are.
This is a more socially acceptable way to behave than the bursts of anger discussed above, but in extremes it is abnormal. Also,
it puts you at risk of choosing another narcissist.
If you are selfless already, you are perfect.
In addition to manipulating you into not asking for help, a narcissist may say that they will do something and then not do it. The result of this is that you become increasingly reluctant to ask for help, even when you need it. Why risk the attack when you know they are unlikely to help you? How can you rely on anyone? You may become aggressive towards those individuals that ask for help.
You may see people that ask for help as weak.
The opposite reaction is to
learn how to manipulate people into helping you.
Or you may find another person in your life to do what you need done and
use them the way a narcissist would.
You might become bossy and appear arrogant as a way to control others.
All of these responses would make you look like a narcissist as well, but they are simply maladaptive survival techniques. Some people refer to this as one of the narcissistic fleas. You get this behaviour from being with a narcissist and you have to remove it when you leave.
You see people who do favours for others as weak.
The best way out of this is to keep a journal and write down each time you help someone or someone helps you. How do you manage to get things done? Make a note of what other people do for you and see if there are one or two that you “control” more than others. Force yourself to ask people for help. This is honest. Everyone needs help. Choose people who are the most likely to help you. Examine whether or not the relationships you have are reciprocal or if they are imbalanced. Observe this dynamic between you, your friends and family. What is your role?
Observe how you feel when you hear about someone else getting a favour. Do you think less of someone who asks for help? Why? It is normal for people to help each other. We live in societies because we need each other. We all need help and we all deserve it.
3. Lack Self-Confidence
Part of the abuse you received while you were with a narcissist is that you were made to feel “less than.” A preferred way to manipulate people is to make them feel like no one else would put up with them. No one would tolerate your (insert your own button here). The result of this is a profound loss of self-confidence.
When something did go wrong or an error was made, it was usually your fault, or blamed on a “scapegoat” in your household. Any conversation during which there was disagreement was used to assign blame and ensure that the narcissist was not at fault. Arguments, or heated discussions were not about resolving issues they were about pointing fingers and “winning”.
Your response to this can take many forms.
You may be aggressive and arrogant as a way to cover your insecurity.
On the other hand, you may simply defer to everyone else’s opinion,
seldom speaking up for yourself.
Either way, a calm confidence in your own opinion is not what you are expressing. If you were not on the defensive (which is caused by the narcissist) you could simply state what you think.
Any feedback would be seen for what it was; just a part of a conversation about a topic with different points of view and opinions. It is difficult to realize people are not going to attack and blame you just because they disagree with you.
Observing yourself adamantly defend yourself, especially when you know you might be wrong,
is a warning sign that this is part of your unconscious behaviour.
You may have also adapted to your situation by
acting more important than others
competing and trying to prove your worthiness.
“I am better than you are” or smarter, braver or whatever. You may find yourself exaggerating how wonderful you are. The opposite extreme is to compete for sympathy, “You may not feel well, but I feel awful.” “You had a bad day, you should hear about mine!”
When you feel like you can’t do anything right, it makes you more aware when other people make mistakes. A narcissist will use every error as more support for the hypothesis that you are not good enough. This makes you eager to point out other’s mistakes. This can be seen as
intolerance for other’s mistakes.
You make sure that everyone is aware when someone makes mistakes, which makes you look petty and vindictive, when in fact you are just insecure and trying to prove that you are no worse than anyone else.
Part 3 Do You Live in a Fantasy or find it Difficult to Trust?