Updated: Nov 21, 2020
Hey survivors. I am going to be discussing the dangers of interacting with narcissists and the damaging effects that this can have on you as a person. Interacting with a narcissist can affect you in so many ways. They can affect your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behaviors. They can lower your self esteem, self worth, self belief, self assurance and self respect. They can make you see yourself, other people and the world in a completely different way.
Narcissists speak a language that normal, healthy people do not speak. I believe that they created this language as a coping or defense mechanism. It was a way to deal with the constant let downs, discomforts or disappointments in their lives. If they heard something that they didn't like or if they saw something that made them feel a certain way, they would reinterpret it by bringing it into their realm and distorting it's meaning. Narcissists have a difficulty with experiencing any form of acceptance or neutrality. Certain things make them experience negative emotions. They may experience hatred, anger, envy or jealousy towards a person. But they cannot acknowledge those emotions, they have to project them on to you.
Narcissists hate any form of truth, as the truth is against them. So it's all about distorting the truth and creating their own distorted meanings and interpretations of everything they see and hear. This is not only in the present moment. They will even rewrite the past and redefine your thoughts or beliefs about the future. When you interact with a narcissist, you are giving them an opportunity to manipulate your way of thinking. Once the narcissist gets into your mind, they can then make you see yourself, other people and the world in a completely different way.
Pay attention to subtle comments or backhanded compliments the narcissist makes towards you. This affects your self esteem, self worth, self belief, self assurance and self respect. This will change the way that you see yourself, in all kinds of ways. If they are targeting your looks, you may no longer believe that you are an attractive person. They could target your weight and suddenly you question whether you are too thin or too fat.
They could also target your qualities or talents, the way you talk, the way you walk. There is almost no limit to what they could criticize about you. As a genuine, honest person you will likely trust what this person is saying. You will assume that like yourself, they are coming from a place of truth and honesty. But the narcissist actually has a hidden agenda and that is to change you. To change your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behaviors. When they give you a subtle comment or backhanded compliment, they are aware that this is going to make you think differently than how you would normally think. You are going to start having negative thoughts about yourself. This will then lead to negative emotions. Which will lead to negative beliefs about yourself and potentially negative behaviors.
Interacting with a narcissist will not only change how you see yourself, but it will also change how you see other people. The narcissist will plant a thought in your mind that a specific characteristic, quality or trait is not right or not good enough. At some point you may then see the same or a similar characteristic, quality or trait in someone else. Now that the narcissist has got into your mind and managed to distort your thoughts and feelings. This could now lead to the distorted belief that someone else is not right or not good enough, because they share a similar characteristic, quality or trait to you. This could potentially lead to the distorted behavior where you are now criticizing or devaluing this person. Because your thoughts were previously distorted by the narcissist.
Keep in mind that the narcissist may be aware of someone in your social circle who shares a similar characteristic, quality or trait. In this type of situation, the narcissist will use their subtle comment or backhanded compliment to kill two birds with one stone. So now you are seeing this person in a different or negative way, because of the distorted thought that was planted into your mind by the narcissist, through the use of a subtle comment or backhanded compliment. A person who you would never have seen in this way, if you had not interacted with the narcissist.
Another tactic you may encounter with the narcissist is how they compare you to other people. They will pick you apart and psychoanalyze every little thing about you as a person. This could be your looks, characteristics, qualities or traits. It doesn't have to be a verbal comment. But under the radar or in a subtle way, they will plant the thought in your mind that something about you is not right, or not good enough. They will then direct your attention to another person who they perceive to have more desirable looks, characteristics, qualities or traits.
They may not even perceive this to be true, remember the main goal here is to make you believe that this is true. This isn't just limited to your looks, characteristics, qualities or traits. This could be something you are doing in your work, a hobby or interest. They will always find a way to compare you to someone else. While doing this they will also be passive aggressive, they will make you feel uncomfortable. Naturally you don't want to feel uncomfortable around this narcissist. You may be a codependent who desires to please the narcissist. So after they have planted the thought in your mind that this other person is better than you, or doing it better.
This may then lead you to question yourself. You may identify the problem of being criticized by the narcissist or feeling uncomfortable around them and then the possible solution is to adopt the behaviors of the person they are comparing you to. This isn't always the desired outcome of the narcissist, I don't think they always strategically consider the consequences of their actions. But the more predatory types will. So now the narcissist has got into your mind and made you belief that you, or something you are doing is not good enough. They have compared you to someone else and planted the belief in your mind that they are good enough. To please the narcissist or to feel more comfortable around them, you are now changing yourself at the expense of your core identity. Once the narcissist catches on that you are willing to change yourself to please them, they will then target more of your looks, characteristics, qualities or traits. Until you don't know who you are any more. You feel like you are not good enough for the narcissist and a copy of whoever they tried to turn you into. You no longer recognize your characteristics, qualities or traits in yourself. You no longer want to see them as whenever you would try to be yourself around the narcissist, they would constantly abuse you. Even if you caught on quite early to what they were trying to doing to you. Even if you were being relatively authentic or true to yourself. The narcissist cannot see you in this way. They cannot see you as a genuine or authentic person. The reason for this is because they are projecting how they feel about themselves on to you. They do not believe that they are genuine or authentic. So when they witness your looks, characteristics, qualities or traits... They cannot help but to compare them to someone else.
Narcissists are inauthentic, so they see in you what they see in themselves. Because of this they cannot see you as an unique or authentic individual. Narcissists are prone to group and generalize everything they see. They have a difficulty accepting differences, it makes them feel uncomfortable. They have to feel like they know everything. Of course there are always going to be differences and there are always going to be things we do not know. And for us, we can accept that. But with narcissists, they have to mold everything together. They have to believe that everything is the same, everyone can be compared. And this can be very dangerous for you, if you are interacting with narcissists for long periods of time. These dysfunctional behaviors will influence you and the way that you see yourself, other people and the world around you.
You will begin to develop a distorted view of everyone and everything, just like the narcissist. You will see things from a place of judgement, rather than a place of acceptance or neutrality. This will affect your quality of life and your experiences. This is why nothing is good enough for the narcissist. Nothing ever satisfies or fulfills them. Because in their minds they have to know everything. Everything and everyone has to be familiar to them. They have to have a similar look, characteristic, quality or trait to someone else. And this isn't just with people, this goes for anything in life. It has to be compared to something or someone that they have seen before. So to them, nothing is new and everything is old. Everything is the same. It makes them feel more comfortable. It makes them feel as though they are the all knowing, all seeing people they wish to be.
Of course, they cannot be all knowing or all seeing. But when they condense everything in their minds, as though there are no differences and everything is the same. They actually believe it. And the reason why nothing ever satisfies or fulfills them is because they cannot see anything as being good enough. Because that would reflect on them and their deeply denied belief that maybe they are not good enough. Even the person they were comparing you to, they may have planted the thought in your mind as though their looks, characteristics, qualities or traits are greater. But when they are interacting with that person, they were probably saying the same thing about you.
A single interaction with a narcissist could influence your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and even your behaviors. Even if you interact with a narcissist for a long period of time, this could even change you at a core level. You may not know what you think, feel or believe. You may have behaviors that are not true to you. And this isn't just the effects that narcissists may have on you. This is also the effects of social conditioning throughout your school and work life. Programming from media influences such as television, movies, music and video games. Pressure from your family, friends or relationship partner.
This isn't just about narcissists. The world is trying to change you. And this is why you will find very few people who are their true, authentic selves.
There is a way to get back to who you are. Spend time everyday looking in the mirror, remembering who you are. Remind yourself of your characteristics, qualities or traits everyday. Practice guided meditations on authenticity to get back to your true way of thinking. This will then lead to more authentic feelings, beliefs and behaviors. Practice mindfulness. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings throughout the day. Be aware of your thoughts and recognize whether they are true to you, or something you have learned from the narcissist or someone else.
Be aware of when the narcissist is trying to project their emotions on to you. When you are the narcissist, practice the observe don't absorb technique. This will allow you to observe what they are saying or doing, rather than absorbing it and accepting their thoughts, feelings, beliefs or behaviors as a part of who you are.