I know. There is a lot going on in this world and it can be overwhelming. Last week we talked about how to pick up on red flags and not get taken in by a Narcissist. I do believe that knowing the signs can help somewhat if you begin to notice your own feelings. That is what I think is important.
If you have been abused by a priest or someone in power, you may have gotten somewhat familiar with what is called the “imbalance of power” and the term “Narcissist”. Power positions tend to draw narcissists. Does not mean everyone in power is a Narcissist, same as not every priest is a sexual predator, but certain people tend to gravitate towards leadership positions in jobs or in group settings.
But once again, I want to stress that it is not the Narcissist we have to look out for, but for our own gut feeling that someone is not right. We need to respect our own feelings.
Someone who I spoke to who was clearly in distress over their situation, said to me that the person with whom they were dealing was not a Narcissist. Still, whatever was happening between them was causing this person tremendous feelings of guilt and grief and confusion.
To me, that is like going hiking in the woods and running into an animal who wants to eat me and saying….well, it’s okay….at least it’s not rabid.
It does not matter what devoured you once you have been eaten up and your bones have been thrown to the side and discarded.
The person who hurts you or who infringes on your boundary can be a loved one or someone who seems to be in need of help. They can be good, decent human beings. But they are human beings. And sometimes human beings are willing to accept whatever someone gives to them if it benefits them. And sometimes you can keep giving until it begins to hurt you or pull you down.
And this good person perhaps has no intentions to hurt anyone. But we all have Narcissistic tendencies to a certain extent, and we all have survival instincts.
In other words, as my Dad always used to say, “People aren’t against you, they are for themselves”.
I always kind of had it drilled into me that being liked was a passive thing. All I had to do was smile and be polite. I was taught how to cook, set a table, and respond politely to small talk. Also to always be pleasant and to never show a hint of impatience or to scratch myself impolitely in front of company. Napkin on my lap. You sit there until you are told to leave. Then you clean up.
And feelings were not valued growing up. I think my mom felt that feelings were the enemy of cleanliness and order. When I went to my first wake at the age of 8 for my grandfather, my mother told me to kiss him in his coffin. And when my mom gets an idea in her head, it’s either do it or she won’t let up. So I heard about how it was like he was sleeping and I did love Grandpa, didn’t I? Didn’t I want to kiss him goodbye because I would never see him again.
This is not something I would even recommend to an adult if they were not comfortable with it. I did kiss my father on the head when he was in his coffin and I will never do that again. That is not how I want to remember someone. I kissed him after he passed away while he was still at the hospital and that was fine….but not when someone has been in cold storage for a couple of days.
Anyway, I refused to kiss my grandfather. But I ended up having a mini childhood breakdown after that. I had trouble sleeping and jumped at noises at night. See my dad had told me that the dead could be in the room with you and you wouldn’t know. I know he was being philosophical, but I just kept thinking that actual bodies were going to show up if I let down my guard at night.
Another thing I remember about feelings is being encouraged to feel fear. Not fear of things that didn’t exist….I could not talk about that….but rather, fear of leaving home.
I was very overprotected as a child. I could very rarely stay at anyone’s house overnight because my mother was afraid of fires. I could not go out if I washed my hair that day because my mother was afraid of illness. And if I said I liked a boy or that I thought someone was cute, my mom told me how afraid she was of a man getting angry and beating me up.
But expressing fear or saying I was afraid to do something pretty much guaranteed that I’d be forced to do it.
And of course, my father felt that females had no control over their emotions and that was a terrible thing to have to work with, he said.
So I think many of us grew up learning to suppress our emotions, not to listen to them. Is it any wonder why it is difficult now to pay attention to and to respect how we feel?
Another thing that hinders protecting ourselves, I think, is that we as humans tend to judge other people and categorize them quickly. That can be a good thing if we are really paying attention to our radar. But not so good if we at first push away doubts when someone is nice to us. Then it’s hard to see them as anything but nice.
Also, when you are a good soul, an empathic person….someone with a heart of gold, you tend to project your feelings onto others. If someone is acting not so nice, we then make excuses for them. They must be tired or not feel well. They had a bad day. Something or someone upset them. And sometimes we then blame ourselves as if we did or said something wrong to cause the other person to act in such a way.
This is a very big issue with me, I know. Whenever I complained that someone did something to me, I was criticized for being jealous or bitter. Things were almost always turned into my fault growing up. So to this day, I find it difficult to separate someone else’s feelings or actions as their own and I don’t feel comfortable standing up for myself if unpleasant behavior is directed at me.
These feelings that I was raised with, were taught to me so that I would be a good person and so that I would be safe. They were taught with love. They were misguided, but having been a parent, I was lucky enough just to get everyone through the day okay. It’s a tough job.
But again, I was raised to think that men ran the world and women supported men and raised the children. I had no idea I would ever have to go on job interviews to get promotions to be able to feed my kids and pay the bills. I didn’t know that smiling and being polite was very nice (and I was for the most part liked by people at work because of that) but I became a target for everyone looking for a scapegoat.
And speaking of unpleasant people, I don’t know if the not so nice folks were Narcissists or not. Some were nice people having a bad day.
There were varying degrees of unpleasantness at work and in the family as I got older. And varying degrees of feeling uncomfortable because of being on the receiving end. And sometimes….many times….recognizing the troublemaker and feeling that “knowing” inside your gut, is not enough to keep you safe. It’s just not that simple in life.
I think where our gut feeling protects us is not when it has to tell us that someone is being a jerk to us, but when something just seems off or does not seem right to us. We may need to listen to our survival skills in order to avoid outwardly hostile people, but we need to listen to our feelings when it comes to the not so obvious.
When my boss/priest first said that he would love to stay with me when he was in town after he retired, but that he was afraid he would be “too tempted”…I thought that was about the strangest thing I had ever heard anyone say. But I chalked it up to the fact that priests are odd ducks who don’t get around women much. And that excuse pushed away my gut feelings time and time again.
I know that people tend to struggle with religious beliefs after they have gone through abuse. But I tend to think that our Kumbaya beliefs are what get us in trouble. Again, choose to turn the other cheek so as not to escalate something, but don’t get slapped because you weren’t paying attention and you trusted your fellow man over your own feelings about that person.
Another thing, listening to your inner wisdom may end up cutting people out of your life. It is a very brave thing to let someone go when they do not have your best interest at heart. They may stick around and respect you a bit more, or they may think you are “too difficult” (boundaries) and leave. Usually I find that when you let someone go, they have already gone except for the death grip you had on their hoodie. So….don’t consider it a loss. You may only be losing the person you thought they were.
And…..it’s better to sit all alone on a toadstool than to be crowded on a velvet cushion. You create your own beautiful life by who you allow into your inner circle.
Last week we learned that most people feel that the world is growing apart. Also, this blog went out to the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Ireland. Have a great week….please answer the poll.