Insensitivity Training – Learning from Narcissists
If you’ve commented on one of my posts about Narcissism, I’ve probably mentioned somewhere in my reply – Find the Gift in the Curse – or something along those lines. But what do I mean by that? How could there be a gift in the curse of being caught up in a relationship with a Narcissist?
Seeing the gift in the curse requires patience with yourself. Compassion for yourself. Being gentle and kind with yourself as you pass through the stages of healing. Before you can receive the gift, you have to lift the curse. There are varied ways of doing this, but the most effective is to break the silence.
All victims of Narcissistic abuse end up trapped in a prison of silence. It is solitary confinement of the worst kind. Your body may be free, but inside everything, the mind, the emotions, every atom of your inner being is alone. Isolated. Inside that prison is a sadness so overwhelming it suffocates. You can scream, but the sound just echoes around you, and dies before it penetrates to the surface.
Breaking the silence is the only way to free yourself, but breaking the silence is terrifying. The Narcissist made sure it would be, because the Narcissist made sure your confinement was voluntary.
On the surface you may look perfectly fine, you will probably have practiced this look. You will also be very adept at convincing all those around you that you are fine. You may even get annoyed at anyone who questions the image you have created and are carefully controlling. You are fine, and that is that.
You have come as close as you will ever get to being a Narcissist. You have become an echo of the Narcissist. Because that is what the Narcissist is ultimately after, they are passing on their wound to their victims. What they do to others was done to them before they were aware of it. It became a part of their being. They are stuck on repeat, repeating their wounding over and over again. And passing it on, partly in an effort to heal, but their way of healing hurts everyone else. It hurts them too, but they can’t feel it. They have become desensitised. This lack of sensitivity is key to why they are attracted to very sensitive people and why very sensitive people are attracted to them.
You may attract Narcissists, but you are also attracted to them. Before you blame yourself for this, stop. Pause. Take a breath. It is subconscious. It is a part of the law of attraction. You are not deliberately seeking out Narcissists and inflicting hurtful relationships on yourself. You are a very sensitive person, you care deeply and feel deeply. You are drawn to people in pain, you have a natural urge to offer them solace, to heal their suffering with a touch of human to human compassion and love.
There is one thing genuinely very sensitive people have in common – They tend to be more sensitive towards others than they are to themselves. They tend to put the needs of others before their own. They may take from themselves to give to others in a – You need it more than I do – way. They have a tendency to be insensitive to themselves.
I used the word – genuinely – in front of – very sensitive – because most of the Narcissists I know, especially the female ones, claim to be very sensitive. They often go to great lengths to let you know how sensitive they are, and will talk up a storm about it at every opportunity they get. However their version of being very sensitive means they are hyper-sensitively touchy and take offense at almost everything anyone else says or does, everything is very personal and usually negatively so. They are delicate flowers whose petals bruise easily and then discolour and turn nasty. Their nastiness shows how completely devoid of sensitivity they are and how insensitive their sensitivity is.
One of the ways I sense that I am in the presence of a Narcissist is when I feel increasingly censored. I can’t say or do anything without feeling that somehow it is going to hurt them. I constantly feel the need to apologise for myself to them. They never let me forget a slight, and they have to repeatedly ‘forgive’ me for being myself. If only I could be less of myself, then I might please them, and I do want to please them, don’t I?
This is in some ways what happened to the Narcissist as a child. The person who gave them their wound which turned them into a Narcissist made them feel that who they were was flawed, bad, wrong, evil, needed to be eradicated and replaced with someone else, someone perfect, perfectly good, perfectly right, omnipotent and superior. Their early environment was devoid of sensitivity to their true needs. They became painfully sensitive to their needs, yet at the same time completely insensitive to them. They live in a paradox of contradictions which they repeat with others. Whatever they say to you about themselves or yourself, they will at some point say the exact opposite with the same conviction of it being true.
All of the Narcissists I know one way or another play the victim. They are seeking to draw to themselves heroes who will try to save them. Some Narcissists actually play the part of the Wounded Healer. Their wound is special ergo so are they or they are special ergo so is their wound. They spend a lot of their time ‘fixing’ other people, healing them of their imperfections and trying to make them perfect, destroying who they are so they can be remade in their own image. Who you are must die and be replaced by their version of you which is so much better than your version of you.
This process is done in stages. When you first meet a Narcissist, they may make you feel incredibly special. They only associate with special people because they are very special. Then, once your defenses are down because you’ve been swept off your feet and are now precariously perched on a pedestal, it begins. You could be really beautiful if only you had a nose job. It’s a pity that your teeth are crooked or you’d have a wonderful smile. People would like you more if you weren’t so selfish. Chances are that when they were ‘courting’ you they told you that you were the most beautiful person they had ever seen, had the most dazzling smile, and they admired how selfless you were. They also were drawn to the fact that you were the most caring and sensitive person they had ever met, but now you’re rude, insensitive and don’t care about them. How could you do this to them!?!
They have created an ideal for you to live up to. Don’t let them down. You are special, they chose you from a crowd of possible candidates, now prove it, and don’t prove them wrong. They are special and can only love another special person. You do know they love you, don’t you? They love you with a love you have never had before and never will have ever again, don’t lose it. Don’t hurt them by betraying their heart, their trust in you. Did you deceive them when you told them who you were?
But of course they have no idea who you were and are. That is irrelevant. They need you to be who they want you to be and become. But you have to do it willingly. Which is why they are attracted to sensitive people. Sensitive people are the most likely to deny themselves to please another.
You as a sensitive person were attracted to the Narcissist for many reasons. They can be incredibly charming and irresistible, they put a lot of energy into it, and they know how to say exactly what you want to hear. The most crucial reason is that you are too insensitive to yourself. The gift in the curse of the relationship with a Narcissist for you is to learn how to be more sensitive to yourself… and more insensitive to others.
You don’t lose your gift for being very sensitive and caring by becoming more insensitive and less caring. You are learning how to create a boundary of self-respect. To balance your gifts with the opposite of those gifts, which are gifts too. You are also learning that to use your innate gifts you have to, first and foremost, take care and be sensitive to the person who bears those gifts, you. If you don’t start with yourself, you will lose yourself and lose your gifts bit by bit, almost imperceptibly until one day you have nothing left to give or care about.
Having said that, if you have already reached that point, which many victims of Narcissists do… nothing is ever final, the end is a new beginning. For you. You have to start caring for yourself and stop caring for the Narcissist. They won’t like that. Tough. Be tough. Be insensitive to them.
Everything starts within us and works its way through us and out into the world, to others. To truly give to others you have to give to yourself first. To care about others you have to care for yourself first. Your compassion has to encompass you first, before it goes out to others. Yes, you can bypass yourself and be completely selfless, but your self still exists and if it is being starved to feed others you will attract those who will feed off of you until you say ‘Enough!’.
Saying ‘Enough!’, standing up for your needs, for yourself… is the first step to breaking the silence. Learning to become insensitive will make breaking the rest of your silent prison easier as you will have to deal with those who want you to stay where they put you, and they will use your sensitive nature against you to make you go back of your own free will. They will also use others to help them do this, which means you have to block out a tidal wave of voices telling you that you are being selfish, uncaring and insensitive. And insane too. Your sensitivity may cause you to buckle under the pressure, and slowly retreat into your prison. Being insensitive will act as a protective shield.
Mimic insensitivity if you have to, use what you’ve learned from the Narcissist against them to save yourself. This is a matter of survival.
Most Narcissists accuse others of being Narcissists with alacrity. They always accuse others of being who they are. They occasionally will ask if you think they are a Narcissist. It’s a trap. Just like most of their other moments of seeming self awareness. They will use anything and everything to get things to go their way. They are very flexibly creative control freaks. No rules apply.
Stop worrying about everyone else and focus that concern on yourself. They are not worrying about you, not in a way that is beneficial for you. They are worried that they’ve lost control of you and they are trying to regain that control… with the help of others and with your help. Stop helping them!
I used to think that being insensitive was the worst thing I could be. I saw what Narcissists did and did not want to do that or be that way. But then it gradually dawned on me that the only way to free myself from my self-created prison and from them was to echo and mirror back to them what they were doing and had done to me. Being insensitive to them and their manipulations is one of those. They have helped me and improved me, but not in the way they intended. By pointing out my flaws to me, they showed me where my talents lie, they also showed me the muscles which need training, the vulnerabilities which have strength hidden within them.
Insensitivity training is a must for those who are sensitive. You’re not getting rid of your sensitivity, you’re balancing it. You may actually find that with the addition of insensitivity, your sensitivity increases in a positive way. For you, and for others.