Unsafe People – Identifying and Protecting Ourselves from Narcissists
Some of us were fortunate and/or resilient enough that we had or developed relationships with a few safe people that we could count on in childhood. Role models that had character and modeled respectful, loving, functional behavior towards us. However, for many targets, the majority of our messages came from unsafe (narcissistic parents).
We were not protected from unsafe people nor were we taught how to identify and protect ourselves from unsafe people because we were being raised by the very unsafe people that we needed to be protected from.
UNSAFE PARENTS DONT PROTECT US OR GIVE US POSITIVE MESSAGES ABOUT OUR WORTH
During our formative years we rely on the messages from our parents to determine our identity and worth. Our parents mirror our worth via their interactions with us. If most of that interplay lacks boundaries and involves: shallow emotional connection, selfishness and self absorption, dismissive (I’m too busy for you- staring at their phone or watch) behavior, blaming, shaming, and criticizing comments about our needs and feelings, or their narcissistic competitions for “attention”, then the messages we receive about our identity and value are that ultimately we are not valuable and furthermore that we don’t DESERVE to be protected from unsafe people. We internalize our parents messages and come to believe that we are inherently unworthy.
God says in the Bible, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also“
Materially speaking, If we have a rare diamond ring, we wouldn’t pull it off our finger and toss it on the counter as we wash our hands at a restaurant before dinner. This instinctive desire to protect things or people we value is not lost on the child of a narcissist.
When we grow up accustomed to not having been protected nor valued, we doubt we have anything worth value that needs protecting. We don’t establish good boundaries and discernment to protect ourselves. When a narcissistic partner comes along, they sniff out these vulnerabilities, play them to their benefit and exploit us terribly.
INABILITY TO IDENTIFY UNSAFE PEOPLE MAKES US INCAPABLE OF PROTECTING OURSELVES FROM THEM
Without boundaries protecting our worth, we believe that “everyone” deserves the benefit of our doubt, unconditional love and kindness. We forgive again and again, excuse away and keep close to us, those who should be far far away from us. We never learned to discern. We were taught to give ourselves away to anyone who needed us. We feel guilty, judgmental or selfish for saying no or for thinking badly of others by naming their lack of safety.
Prior to the narcissist, many of us to varying degrees may have been taken advantage of, bulldozed over or were the recipient of other disrespectful behaviors of unsafe people in relationships; due in part, to our lack of boundaries and low self worth. We were hurt by them for sure and learned valuable lessons; it’s even likely these experiences felt ‘normal’ to us at the time so we didn’t question them, but none of those broke us, so to speak.
The malignant narcissist is the consummate unsafe person in any relationship. Although our childhood prepared us to become accustomed to the 2nd class treatment that only a narcissist gives out, we didn’t firsthand experience being the target of someone who actively wanted to drain us of our lifeforce. (Survivors know Im not exaggerating) We are entirely unprepared and lack the coping skills that would protect us. Who’d have thought we as an evolved human being, needed to sit in wait of a pending attack from a predator who looked just like us. The narcissistic abusive relationship is so outside the range of normal that we entirely lose our bearings.
There are some scary things in life: a vicious animal attack, a horrific car accident, a tragic fire, but NOTHING and I DO MEAN NOTHING prepares you for the terror induced from meeting another human being who has NO CONSCIENCE. I’m scared of ANYTHING that can chew up a human being and unceremoniously spit them out.
INSTINCTIVELY WE DON’T EXPECT A MEMBER OF OUR OWN SPECIES TO ALSO BE OUR PREDATOR
THE GOOD NEWS: In recovery, we spend a great deal of time identifying what makes a person a malignant narcissist and validating our own self worth.
We should know our friends AND our enemies.
A NARCISSIST IS OUR ENEMY
Why are they our enemies? Because their lack of humane character and empathy allows them to devour us in a predatory fashion and we don’t want to be eaten. By acquiring such a fine tuned knowledge about the narcissist, we begin to sift through, organize and decide for ourselves who WE really are. In essence, it’s untangling ourselves from enmeshment. Besides, It’s triply beneficial! We get to extinguish any narcissistic traits that we have, we get to reinforce our own identity, and undo the brainwashing, blaming and shaming a narcissist did by telling us who we are. In effect, we develop very sound boundaries.
WE ARE OUR OWN BEST FRIEND
Defining our boundaries; what we will or will not tolerate from others, is an act of self knowledge, self actualization and self respect. We listen to who we respect. Following through, by administering consequences to those who violate our boundaries teaches us to trust ourselves to act in our own best interest. By treating ourselves well, we are investing in ourselves through all our healthy, empowering choices and we begin to feel our own self love. We affirm our self worth.
The act of ceasing communication with a narcissist is a very strong boundary. It’s an act of self love and standing up and declaring that we refuse to have relationships with unsafe people. That’s a pretty strong statement. The declaration itself propels us light years ahead towards loving ourselves. Putting our money where our mouth is, is an investment in our worth that exponentially multiplies.
The more we love ourselves, the more we will feel our own value. The more in touch we are with our own worth, the greater our instinct is to protect ourselves through boundaries from unsafe people.
STAY TUNED: WHAT MAKES NARCISSISTS SUCH UNSAFE PEOPLE?