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What You Can Learn From a Narcissist
It can sometimes seem like all we can get from the relationship with a narcissist is pain and suffering, but the truth is that we can learn a lot from them if we are able to see past our own hurt.
What Love Is
From a spiritual point of view, it could be said that narcissists are sent to our lives to teach us and prepare us for what love really is. They do this by showing us what love isn't. How often are we looking for perfection in a partner? People often have a very strict set of characteristics or traits that they will accept and they will not take anything less. After you have experienced a narcissist, you might have learned that what is truly important was not even on your list. You might realize that some of the things you found unacceptable in a partner are actually not that big of a deal to you in the long run, as long as the person is caring, giving, supportive and fair. You might realize that what you took for granted or turned your nose up at is not something you can find in everybody. When you experience a relationship with a narcissist, you learn very quickly what is truly important in a relationship - because the relationship with a narcissist contains none of those things. This is probably one of the most important lessons you can learn from them, and it should not be taken lightly.
You Control Your Own life
Another very important thing we can learn from the narcissist is that you can only control your own actions. If the narcissist has taught you anything, it is that. You cannot control other people's actions, feelings, behaviors and more importantly, they cannot control yours. We are all responsible for our own actions and how we behave. How many times has the narcissist blamed you for how they feel or what they did? You know it's not true. This is an important lesson to learn, because as we see, the narcissist is the result of not being able to learn that. Where this gets tricky is when it's you. When abuse is involved. It's easy to say, "My husband or my wife did this to me and it made me feel bad, or sad, or angry" or whatever. And it feels true. But the truth is, other people don't have control over your feelings, or the actions that result from these feelings. Only you have control. A physically abusive person who hits their spouse will often say, "You made me do it! You provoked me!" Is this true? Of course not. If it were, it would happen every time people got mad at each other, and it doesn't. Adults control their feelings and their actions. In this same way, no one is responsible for your feelings except you. We choose how we react. In extreme situations, we may not be able to change how we feel but we can choose what we do, and how we exercise those feelings. This may be the most personally-valuable lesson you learn from the narcissist, because you learn that - UNLIKE the narcissist - other people only have the power over you that you give them. You can choose not to react, to not get upset and in doing so, you can take that power back. It sounds impossible to some people, because your body becomes conditioned over the years to react a certain way to stress, but try it. See what happens. You will be amazed at how much better you feel when you choose to just... not react emotionally.
Is This Victim-Blaming?
Sometimes there are people who don't necessarily want to hear these things, or those who say it sounds like victim-blaming, so let's address that right now: if you choose to believe that other people are controlling your feelings, your actions and your life, that is up to you. But it's only true if you let it be true. You have to decide that it isn't true. If you choose to believe that you are helpless in the world and at the mercy of everyone else controlling everything about you, here are two words for you: you're not. But you have to believe it. Nothing will change until you do. It's a very attractive mindset; that is why narcissists hold on to it so tightly. They want to be a victim because it's easier. It's easier to be a victim than to be a survivor. It's easier to blame than to take responsibility for your own part in a situation. Nothing can ever be your fault when you are the victim, and this is the mindset narcissists cling to. Now, if you need incentive to change that mindset within yourself, look at the narcissist. This is how they feel; this is their mindset: they feel helpless and controlled by everything and everyone around them. They blame everything on everybody else, including how they feel. They have no control or power over anything. Do they seem happy to you?
As for victim-blaming, it is not victim-blaming to teach a victim of abuse that they have some control over the situation. It is empowering. Yes, you can do something. Yes, you do have power here. You are not helpless. This is so important to understand. It's how you break the cycle.
Let Things Go & Move On
This helps pave the way for another lesson we can learn from the narcissist, and that is how to let things go and move on. It's hard to end a relationship with a narcissist because there really is no end. There is no closure, and there is no finality. The normal grieving process people usually go through when things end is not allowed to take place, either because the narcissist keeps adding more trauma which delays the grieving process, they refuse to understand the relationship is over and go away or they simply disappear, leaving many questions unanswered and lots of things up in the air. The relationship with the narcissist teaches us a very valuable lesson here: sometimes there is no closure and that's OK. We control our own closure. We can learn to resolve things ourselves, to forgive, let things go and move on, to do whatever we have to do to make things OK for us, regardless of the other person or people involved. This is a very important lesson for spiritual, emotional and intellectual growth, and it's one the narcissist will never be able to master.
To Recognize a Narcissist
Perhaps one of the biggest things you've learned from the narcissist, though is how to recognize a narcissist. That's invaluable, right? Once you learn what narcissism is, what it looks like, how it feels, you are not going to forget. You will remember it and you will recognize it in other people when it's there. This reduces your chance of being a victim again. Part of the reason narcissists are so successful is because people don't know what they are looking at. They don't realize what they are dealing with. Now you do. This is information you could not have learned any other way, and you can use it to not only help yourself but to help others who may not see what you can now see. The most important lesson in all of this is Pay It Forward. Don't let your pain be in vain. Use the lessons you've been taught and help others if you can. That's all anyone can do in this world.