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Narcissistic Relationships: Becoming a Survivor

Updated on September 26, 2019
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The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.

When you hear the word "survivor," you think of people who have been through the fire and come out stronger. That is definitely true of people who have been through relationships with pathologically narcissistic people. A survivor is what we become after we have been a victim. The most important distinction is, then, where is that line? You are a victim when something is still affecting you greatly on a daily or constant basis - whether you are still in the situation or not. A survivor sees the trauma or the situation as something that happened but which does not define them. A victim is still in it completely, either physically or mentally. The transition from victim to survivor begins when someone is able to start processing, understanding and moving on from what has happened. It is complete when someone is able to let go of other definitions of themselves and change their mindset,

In order to become a survivor, it's necessary to first let go of other definitions of yourself, such as being a victim. This can be really hard for some people. There can be perceived safety in being a victim. Victims are not held accountable for anything. They are not responsible for anything. They are never to blame for anything. Ironically, many perceive that there is power in victimhood, as well; that there is identity in claiming the status of victim. This is a fallacy. There is no power in helplessness. There is no safety in the lack of control that is intrinsic to a victim identity.

It can be difficult to let go of a victim mentality. Not only is there perceived safety or even power in this mindset, but many times the narratives that have been created around this belief are very deep and have helped to form our self-concept and identity. If this is no longer true, what does it mean? If I am not a victim, what am I? If I am not the sum total of these experiences, what am I? What does letting go of this definition mean?

Maybe it's time to figure that out.

We are not defined by our experiences. We are so much more than that. Who you are is so much more than What You've Done or What Has Happened. These things can help shape your reality, but they are not the sum of your reality.

As people who experience things, we have choices about how we will view them and how they will affect us. If we are still struggling with a victim identity, we may see them as negative and hurtful because we are coming from a place of hurt. If we have moved on from that place of hurt, we can often see things much more clearly for what they are.

For example, if we are struggling with a victim mentality, we may take someone's harsh words personally and internalize them, allowing them to define and hurt us. If we have moved on from this mentality, we can see the behavior for what it is: a reflection of that person rather than ourselves. We don't take it personally because we realize that it isn't personal. It's not about us. It's about the other person. This doesn't mean we simply excuse the behavior. It doesn't mean we don't take necessary action to prevent harm to ourselves. It means we don't take it personally.

A struggle with victim identity is a struggle with the ego. The ego demands to be recognized. It yearns to be validated. It tells itself stories all day long, imagining that this is so. It imagines that it is the most important thing – not just to itself but to everybody. It fancies that everyone is talking about it, thinking about it, directing messages toward it and acting because of it. It does not stop to think that everyone else has their own ego which is doing the exact same thing and telling itself the exact same stories.

This is the reason it is so difficult not to take other people's behavior personally. The ego insists that other people's behavior is about you. If this is denied, the ego feels unimportant and becomes injured. When the ego is injured, it will rage. This is why the idea that “abusive behavior from others is not personal” causes some people to become very angry. Many people take comfort in that thought, because it means they did not cause this problem and are not responsible for it. But for others, it feels dismissive – of themselves, of their anger and of their pain. It is none of these things, but that doesn't change how they feel. It does not excuse the abuse that happened to them, nor does it somehow imply the abuser is not responsible or should just get away with it, but that doesn't change the way they feel, either. This is because the anger and pain are actually coming from an ego injury caused by the idea that they are not important enough to be the reason for the abuse.

However, abusive behavior from others isn't personal. It is not about us. It has nothing to do with us. It is about the abuser. They are behaving that way because they are choosing to react that way to how they feel and the stories their ego is telling itself. That's it. We cannot control their behavior or stop it – regardless of what they say. Those are the self-defensive stories their ego is telling itself so they can escape the blame (and shame) for their behavior. When we can let go of the victim mentality, we can see this very clearly. Abusers give their power away, too, and that is why they abuse: because they feel so weak and powerless.

The more we are able to break out of the mindset of victimhood, the better we are able to see that other people's behavior has nothing to do with us. It may affect us, but it is not because of us. These are two different things. Just because something someone else does affects us or our lives does not mean that we are the catalyst or the cause of the behavior. This is another story the ego is telling itself about its own importance. There is no power in these stories.

Power manifests when we realize we are not victims anymore. Safety manifests when we take control of our lives and decide that we are the architects of our own experience. Security comes when we can trust ourselves to act in our own best interest.

The past is over. It's done. Whatever happened, however it unfolded, it cannot be changed. But it doesn't need to be changed in order to be dealt with differently. The past doesn't have to control a person's entire life unless they allow that to happen. Using the power of choice, we can decide that we are no longer slaves to our past - or to anything. Because we aren't. We have power. We have choices. We have the ability to change.

So many people have become trapped in the idea that the conditioning, beliefs and behaviors they have now are permanent. They are not! If you are willing to sit with the discomfort of doing something different, you can change these patterns. It starts with recognizing them, taking accountability and understanding that these patterns can, in fact, be changed.

We sometimes hear people saying things like asking them to take accountability for their choices is implying that they deserved to be treated badly, or that it's victim-blaming. The fear behind that statement is always heartbreaking, because it usually means that person is afraid deep down that they did deserve it because of the choices they made. That fear is a prison. It keeps people from seeing how things can change.

We can't be afraid to take responsibility for our choices. We have to be willing to admit that we have some toxic or dysfunctional patterns, behaviors, thoughts and/or mindsets, too. We have to be willing to admit that we've made bad decisions and mistakes. It's not all just the other person – even if they are a narcissist or otherwise toxic personality. The fear seems to be, "If I have any responsibility here, that means I deserved the way they treated me." That is absolutely false and if anyone says that to you, they are wrong. Admitting these things does not excuse or justify any other person's behavior toward us and it does not erase our right to be treated with respect, consideration and dignity. You have to get to a place where you understand and believe that. It's the only way to be OK with taking accountability for your stuff: realizing that it doesn't make you any less valuable. Being imperfect does not damage your worth. It does not give other people the right to abuse you. Nothing gives anyone the right to abuse you.

No change in yourself or your life can be created without taking accountability. It all starts with you deciding that you have had enough of feeling powerless, of feeling helpless. It starts with you deciding – choosing – to create a better life for yourself. It starts with you choosing you. It starts with the power of choice.

Once we have accepted our power and understand that we have choices, we begin to realize that we are not victims. We may have been victims at one time, but we are not victims anymore. Victims have no power. Victims have no choices. If we have accepted and understood that we have these things, we realize that by definition, we cannot be victims. We are survivors.

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      Unknowing Monster 

      2 weeks ago

      or thought differently while considering my disorders, changes the thought process and provides a very different and rewarding interpretation of my world. When dyslexia is allowed to be undiagnosed and untreated, childhood reading difficulties continue into adulthood. This dyslexic NS would have like to be informed of my disorders earlier instead of discovering them at 60 years of age. I believe that my dyslexia had a greater influence than my epigenes for the development of becoming a NS. I had no choice to be a dyslexic NS, as I never ask or desire to be one. You cannot ask or desire something you do not know exists, regardless of it being good or bad.

      I will never see my loving daughter again from this mess, as she is studying in France. If I had managed my affairs properly, I would a position to provide financial support to her. My daughter has obtained all “A``s except one B+ for her BA in Political Science degree. Fathers are supposed to protect and provide for their children. I never ever wanted to hurt and destroy anyone. I do not enjoy seeing someone’s misfortunate and pain. You will never be able to understand the pain and feeling of hopelessness of a father who unknowingly has destroyed his daughter. I would give my life for her. I can just see tears and panic with my wife and daughter shortly because of me. No matter what direction or action, someone will get hurt. The inability to read and comprehend can prevent a child from reaching his or her potential as the child grows up. This challenge can have long-term educational, social and economic consequences. I have unknowing paid a high price for not receiving the proper treatment for my dyslexia; and my family has paid even a greater price. I have only three options now: 1) die homeless on the street, 2) die in prison or 3) take a long walk off of the short train bridge. I need to built the courage to chose one before my path of destruction increases more. Regardless of the choice I make, I will not be part of my daughter`s life when she needs me the most and my shameful legacy will also haunt me in the grave. Examples of the high price that I have paid are that I will never be able to walk my daughter down the aisle for her wedding or have the joy spending time with my grandchildren, but having the knowledge that I was the cause of her self-harming by unknowingly becoming something I detest. The regret of not being part of simple activities such as TNRV and socialization of feral felines with my daughter. How do you explain to the ones that you love that they have no future because of mental disorders starting in grade one that was not recognised by you until two years ago? This is a very good case example where the offender will hurt more than the victim when once they realise and accept reality. My mind is in a continuous state of confusion and agony. Such is the case for me.

      I now wish I had never met my wife and had my daughter to avoid putting them though this bizarre and unreal situation. I have no doubts that an NS is dangerous, has no limits, and tells on the themselves. It is hard to hide a trial of destruction when it resembles a nuclear holocaust. Be glad that you are not the one who is destroying and wasting the lives of those you dearly love and feel the full horror from your actions. Not every dyslexic NS wants to be one, especially if it destroys family and friends, and may not realize they are one. A NS can be a vampire that sucks and robs the joy and life out of themselves and others. More education and awareness are needed to address these disorder problems instead of the blame game and the desire to strike back: avoid being bitten by the empathy vampire. One kind sole on another channel, she said is sorry for me, which indicates she understands that no one benefits from narcissism. It is not justification, sympathy or acquittal that I desire, but to provide you and the subscribers with insights from an unknowing dyslexic NS monster: the other side of the coin. Since some subscribers requested the desire to view other case studies, Kim please feel free to make pod casts from the above information. If the subscribers want to be mad at somebody, they can choose the education system that fail preventing me by not properly treating my dyslexia and recognize the need to prevent others from a similar fate.

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      Learnt the Hardway 

      2 weeks ago

      The past is over (agree). It's done.(agree) Whatever happened, however it unfolded, it cannot be changed.(agree) But it doesn't need to be changed in order to be dealt with differently. The past doesn't have to control a person's entire life unless they allow that to happen (Unless illegal activities have been done). Using the power of choice, we can decide that we are no longer slaves to our past - or to anything. (Not a slave, but a captive for doing illegal actives ability to change.before deciding to change). Because we aren't. We have power. We have choices. We have the ability to change (Depending on the context of past actives and the survivor and offender do not realize the need to change in their senior years. Moral of the suggestion, do not wait to long to become a survivor from being a victim or offender as the time for your life may simply run out).

    • profile image

      Unknowing Monster 

      2 weeks ago

      The Little Shaman please let me know if you approve of me joining in the discussions. I can only contact you through Facebook. Many of your subscribers do not realize that a narcissist hurt themselves more than the victim. With proper counselling and wiliness, the victim can heal and move on to a better life, but the narcissist cannot unless they want to change. The narcissist robs themselves of the enjoyment of being a parent and fellowship of other beings. Once children become adults, you cannot experience part of their childhood. The narcissist may run out of their life, before they realised who is the problem. Conducting illegal activities will only deprive the narcissist their freedom and having a meaningful life. I now think very differently which shows me what I missed in my life. I can understand the hurt of the victims, but their revenge on the narcissist by disconnecting and doing nothing. Time spend plotting revenge is time wasted in your new life.The narcissist victory is when the victim does not want to heal and move on to a better life without the abuser. In my case I had no choice because the catalyst was not address initially which lead to allowing a destructive chain reaction to proceed over my life in my mind. I never asked or desired to be dyslexia and narcissistic sociopath. You can not desire something if you do not know it existed until your 58th birthday. The time has run out for me because the emotional and financial damage is done and cannot be corrected, as one cannot travel back in time. If the victim is not careful, they may have a similar fate. More education and awareness are needed to address these disorder problems instead of the blame game and the desire to strike back: avoid being bitten by the same empathy vampire.Your podcasts came too late in life for me, but they have excellent information.

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