There is a flip side to everything. I say this a lot, to myself and to others. At its basis is the Yin Yang symbol. Black and white together forming a whole. The black has a drop of white in it and the white has a drop of black in it. I apply this to everything and everyone. I find it helps to balance my view, and it also serves quite well when trying to solve a problem.
Of course between the black and the white, there is a rainbow of shades. However…
The human mind likes to split things mainly into opposites, it does this as a part of the judging process. Judgment is a useful tool, but it can become too rigid and this can lead to a stalemate.
Apply this to human relationships, especially to arguments which get stuck in a standoff between two people who both think they are right and the other is wrong, and who both think the other person needs to understand how wrong they are and accept it, admit it and cede victory to the rightness of the right one. But who is right and who is wrong?
In my mind both are right and both are wrong.
I can be an annoying person to know. I suck at being sympathetic, taking sides, because I can usually see the other side of the story. Not all of it, just enough to realise that there is a chuck of it missing. That missing piece interests me. I want to know what it is so that I can see the whole, rather than just one half.
Everything which I apply to others, I also apply to myself. Which can be irritating. Whenever I am ranting internally about something or someone, a little voice pipes up inside my mind which says… Yes, but there’s a flip side to this. Sometimes I just don’t want to go there, I just want to enjoy my moment of I’m right and everyone else is wrong. But I know that at some point I am going to see it the other way around, realise that I’m wrong and everyone else is right. Eventually the two sides will come together and blend, and then I will get a more balanced perspective. Which ultimately is what I’m aiming for.
I grew up with Narcissists. In their world they are right and everyone else is wrong. Full stop. I did not become a Narcissist. I won’t go into why because it is too complex and not what this post is about. However I did go through a period of being an Inverted Narcissist. Which basically means I believed I was wrong and everyone else was right. Full stop. But I realised the folly of that. Snapped out of it and moved on. It wasn’t that simple, but for the sake of keeping this simple I’ve put it simply.
That experience, growing up with Narcissists and being an inverted Narcissist, was painful but also very informative. It shaped my mind, how it works. That’s what our formative years do. And it taught me how to think on both sides of the line which divides opposites. It also shaped my emotional nature, and did something very similar with that.
I was trained by Narcissists to be empathic. To know what they were feeling and what they needed so that…
1/ I could feed their needs. Supply them with the Narcissistic supply they seek from everyone.
2/ I could avoid the tantrums and vitriolic blasts of the awful truth about myself when I didn’t give them what they wanted from me.
I became an empath for Narcissists and for myself, as a survival tactic.
Quite a few people who write about Narcissism link the personality disorder with empathy. However they tend to split the two, as in Narcissists, who are viewed as being devoid of empathy, are attracted to highly empathic people because they are the best source of Narcissistic supply.
I agree the two are linked, but I have a slightly different view of it.
I disagree that Narcissists are devoid of empathy. They are very empathic, just not in the conventional idea of what being empathic means. They are ‘bad’ empaths. They use their gift for ‘evil’. How do you think that they manage to get so deeply into the psyche of their victims? It is not all the victims’ fault for letting them in.
Being the child of Narcissists, and often being considered invisible by them due to not existing as a separate entity, you get to watch how they operate, in fact they tell you how they do it with pride. Both my parents had an uncanny ability to locate the most vulnerable point within their victims. It was not guesswork or due to poking their victim until the victim reacted, although they did do that too. They sensed where the Achilles’ Heel of others was located and then they used it against them to get their Narcissistic supply.
I’ve not only watched them do it to others, and listened to them discuss how they do it and how clever they are, I’ve had it done to me. Narcissists invade you. They trespass over your boundaries and push their way into you. They are doing to others what was done to them when they were too young to know what was happening, this is part of the wound which turned them into Narcissists. They are repeating the formation of the wound over and over again, passing it on to others.
If you already have a weak boundary, then this invasion is easy.
Narcissists don’t have boundaries between self and other. Others do not exist as anything other than an extension of the Narcissist. They are alone in the world. Always.
Empaths also don’t have boundaries between self and other. They tend to feel the existence of others as being at times more than their own, as though they are less tangibly real than others, they are diffuse, others are more defined and solid. They feel invaded by the emotions of others and are often confused as to whether what they are feeling is their emotions or the emotions of those around them.
What I’ve noticed is that many empaths do not see the flip side of their empathic gift. They do not see how they invade others with their emotions, mainly because they are too focused on being invaded to see how invasive they are being.
Another thing which I have noticed is that empaths seem to only pick up the negative emotions of others, and claim positive emotions as their own. Which is why they want to use their gifts to heal others. They want to share their abundance of inner positivity with those who have an abundance of negativity. This is unbalanced. If you pick up the emotions of others, you do that with positive and negative emotions. In fact emotions are neither positive nor negative, they are both, they are energy which can take on whatever quality we give to them, we are the ones who label them with a polarity depending on how we experience them, and experience is subjective.
All of the words above apply to myself. I was an empath. I still am, however I have created a defined boundary between myself and others. This involved a lot of self-facing. Learning to see my self, find my self, get to know my self, define to myself who my self is. It also required popping my illusions and delusions. Stop lying to myself, understanding why I lied and what the purpose of the lie was, and start being blunt and truthful. The most important thing I learned to do during this process was to see the flip side.
As an empath that meant realising that I many of the emotions I thought I was picking up from others, I was actually pushing into them. I’ve had empaths do this with me, tell me what they are picking up from me, what I am feeling… but I’m not feeling it. I know I am not because I have learned to know what I am feeling and what I am not feeling. I also know when someone is trying to push themselves into me, project their stuff not just onto me, but also into me. But I have boundaries now. I protect those boundaries using the flip side. When someone, especially if I know they are an empath or a Narcissist says something to me I pause and flip it back around on them. Narcissists are always talking about themselves, no one else exists. Empaths are often confused between who is them and who is not them. I used to call this Me but Not Me.
Both Narcissists and Empaths have an emptiness within which is filled by others. That emptiness is where the self should be. The self has been displaced, pushed out of its natural home within.
In the case of Narcissists that self has been pushed outside of them into the world, thus everyone is their self. In the case of empaths that self has been pushed into deep hiding inside of them and needs to be found and encouraged to stop hiding. Only by finding the self and releasing it from its hiding place can defined boundaries be drawn between self and other.
Why do empaths attract Narcissists, or, more to the point, why are empaths attracted to Narcissists? Because Narcissists will invade the empath and seek out the hiding self within them. This is what an empath longs for, to have their real self found and freed from the long game of hide and seek. Yet the empath is the one doing the hiding and if the self is found it may just run to a new hiding place. If the self is found by a Narcissist, the damage done may convince the real self of the empath to hide forever.
I have been hesitant in sharing this view. Not because of Narcissists. If a Narcissist were to read this they would think it was about others. Narcissists rarely see themselves as having NPD, they do however see disorders in everyone else. But because of Empaths. Empaths tend to get hurt by everything and everyone. The truth is that they are hurting themselves using others to do so. I did. Those I know who are also empaths have used me to hurt themselves and then made me responsible for their pain. That pain needs to be claimed as self-inflicted if the healing within it is to be accessed. That’s what I had to do with myself. It’s painful to do that, but not as painful as being hurt all the time by everyone and everything and feeling powerless to do anything about it because you give your power to everyone but yourself.
Feel free to express your views in the comments. I take all and nothing personally. There’s a flip side to everything.