One of the biggest challenges I face when coaching someone who continues to bump into the same roadblock is uncovering the false belief that is running their inner software. To do this, I always assume that there is a protector in them that’s gotten out of control and who is no longer serving the person. The protector, like Dobby the house-elf in Harry Potter, can become wildly dangerous. In some psychological circles, this is known as protector/persecutor.
I have a client who wants more than anything to really succeed in her business. More than anything, she wants to shine and to help others do the same. Yet she keeps holding herself back. But why? Here’s a core belief she is facing which pretty much states what every co-narcissist must confront: I NEED MY ABUSER TO TAKE CARE OF ME.
For any young child of narcissistic abuse, that actually WAS TRUE at one time, which is why the false conditioning was able to take root, to begin with. Remember that narcissists are only able to “coerce” when they are in positions of power. They use coercion to maintain their power. The narcissist (who is emotionally lazy) knows that more their target believes them, the less work they will have to do to keep their target (or source of “supply”) in their place.
By the way, this kind of attachment, where one continues to hold on to an abuser through continuing to believe their perspective of you, is also known as Stockholm Syndrome: “misplaced loyalty” due to “trauma bonding”.
Breaking the bond can be tough because a narcissist’s coercion methods are designed to run below the radar (like a computer virus), constantly giving you evidence of your smallness, your weakness, your incapacity.
The question is how to help yourself or someone you know untangle themselves from this sticky web? Awareness. Acceptance. And Action.
Awareness and Acceptance
The 2 primary fears a co-narcissist is coerced into believing:
- being in the limelight is dangerous
- knowing you are capable of taking care of yourself
There is only ONE purpose behind the narcissist’s methods: You will continue to make the narc feel important and you will do this by habitually making yourself smaller than them. Period.
Scar, the Lion King villain says it best. He reveals the ONE LIE the nark needs you to buy.
And, baby, if you believe that, you’ll stay put. Just where they want you. Scar’s song could be the narcissist’s theme song of any pathological narcissist. To say it even more precisely: “You are nothing without me.”
Action, in this case, is reprogramming the old software. Since my client happens to be a very spiritual person, I used the following logic to appeal to her core values. This is helping her take the reins back and free herself from being held hostage to the toxic beliefs:
My Spirit Wins Over Your Ego. My Spirit Wins Over My Ego.
The Spirit is bright, beautiful and strong. It lives within each of us. There is nothing about the Spirit that tells us to “dim down,” “be quiet,” or “self-sabotage”. Every baby knows this because they do not turn away from all of the attention they are given. They simply take it in. This is what it means to be in the limelight in a healthy, spiritual way. This is what it means to know your value. And this is the basis of knowing you can take care of yourself. You are capable. You can do this.
Always remember, YOU are the treasure.
I believe in you.