Who is your Audience?

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts…” – Shakespeare (who else!)

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When you tell a story, who is the story for?

When you talk, who is your listener?

When you write, who is your reader?

When you think… who is your audience for your thoughts?

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One of the first pieces of advice which I received about blogging was to figure out who I was blogging for. Who I was talking to in my posts? Who was the reader of my writing? Who was the browser of my blog? Who was (and is) my audience?

For those of you who just read the paragraph above and are still reading even though you don’t have a blog and aren’t interested in blogging, or posts about bloggers discussing blogging – this post is not about blogging.

Bloggers can get caught up in blogging about blogging because a part of their audience is other bloggers who are interested in the blogging part of the blogosphere. If a blogger blogs about blogging, they’re likely to get more ‘hits’ from other bloggers which they can see on their post and in their stats.

Blogging is similar to other types of human interactions.  When we get a reaction which we view as positive for something we did or said, or both, we may do it again and again because we want more of the reaction which we got from it… because it feeds and nourishes us, encourages us to keep doing and/or saying what we are doing and/or saying.

Narcissistic? Please press the ‘Sigh!’ button now (dear programmers, we need a ‘Sigh!’ button).

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charlie-brown-sigh

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Sometimes in life our listener, our audience, and keeping their attention focused on us becomes more important to us than what we are saying or doing. We may stop listening to ourselves and only listen to others who are telling us who to be for them, what to say for them, what to do for them, so that they will keep liking us, following us, being interested in us.

Basically we’re only interested in them so that they’ll be interested in us (I got into trouble for saying this a while back on Twitter –  I was talking about someone else, but someone listening (should I put listening in quotes?) to my story about someone else thought I was talking about them and made it all about them and insisted that my story was all about them even when they confronted me and I explained that it wasn’t it had nothing to do with them, I wasn’t thinking about them (I had forgotten all about them in that moment – Gasp!), I was thinking about me and this story was all about me, but… – Sigh!)

This tactic of catering to an audience can be very successful if your goal is to be popular. You’re listening to what those who make people popular, the populace, want and you’re supplying their demand. That should make you popular to popular demand, right?

Maybe. It works for some…

However it doesn’t work for everyone.

The magic formula only works magic for some people, not for everyone.

I recently read that entrepreneurs who make multi-millions succeed because they think their ideas are brilliant and possible rather than focus on how impossible and stupid they may seem. They put their efforts into what is right rather than waste time=effort on what is wrong.

Another magic formula which works for some but not everyone. Is magic fickle? Does it have likes and dislikes too?

It can be a perplexing puzzle for those who try doing it the magic formula way who don’t get the expected miraculous results. They’ve followed the instructions after reading them carefully, but the thing they are using isn’t working the way it promised them that it would if they used it exactly as instructed.

You read the secrets of successful people, did exactly what they told you do to… so why aren’t you successful? Did the successful people only pretend to share their secrets with you (and became even more successful for doing so), but they kept the real secret of their success to themselves? Or is their success the result of something else? Such as selling you a pipe dream – which you bought hook, line and sinker… and now you’re angry at yourself for being naive and buying their storytelling lie. You’re so angry at yourself that you’re furious at them. The lying liars!!! The hustling hustlers!!! The successful successors… you’ve found them out but you’re still a failing failure and they’re still on top… of you, gloating and laughing about it!

So you then search for instructions on how to get revenge on those who lied to you, who sold you a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow and it was all a narcissistic way to get from you what you thought you were getting from them. The inglorious bast…tet worshippers!

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I can haz... success

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Ouch!

We’ve all been there, done that… and usually have more than one T-shirt (including scars) to prove it.

We get very angry at people who lie to us, at those who abuse our trust. But our rage at them is more about our fury at ourselves, for being naive, for trusting, for feeling foolish that we trusted, for fooling ourselves, betraying ourselves… no, no, we don’t want to hear this, we want to hear something else, where things makes us good and others bad, because we’re all a bit black or white that way!

The best and most successful liars are the ones who keep their lies simple and simply tell us what we want to hear – they sell us our dreams, wishes, hopes, and secret desires. They don’t actually need to do anything more than tap into our psyche a little bit, we’ll do the rest, we’ll do all the grunt work. We’ll take their words and turn them into a story which we’ve always wanted to hear and be true. A good salesman lets us sell whatever it is to ourselves. All they need to do is to find and push that button – which is easy because we’re always pointing at it even when we think we’ve hidden it.

I recently came across an article which claimed to investigate this phenomena… I have no idea if it did because I stopped reading after the second paragraph (just like some of those who clicked on this post and then clicked away again – perhaps only because there were too many words). I read some words which I did not want to hear, and that was it for me. I was an audience member who was lost.

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not listening

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Now, some people, myself included sometimes, actually like to read and listen to what they don’t want to hear. It depends on, many things, like which ear is listening, which side of the brain is activated and is most active in our lives, in the way we communicate and relate and are communicated with and related to… and variations of that theme. Our reasons for it may be the same or different, or the same and different. We’re all unique yet also a part of the collective – that is what joins us and separates us simultaneously.

We’re also all part audience and part ‘on stage’. To really enjoy a performance, a part of you has to relate to both sides of the equation, because then all of you is interested.

The greatest storytellers involve us in the telling of the story as much as they appeal to us in the listening to the story. We’re in all of it, immersed, an attentive listener as well as being the one who is speaking.

Think about it, when you read, the words being read are relayed to you through your own voice inside your head. You give voice to the words of others… and the tone (and other things) which you use when doing so dictates whether you’ll listen or not. Sounds like my mom… my dad… my teacher… my ex… my crush… my obsession…. So you are as much a storyteller (a story-relayer) as you are the listener to the story being told. You’re an active participant even when you consider yourself not to be.

If you can’t do that, can’t hear the words being told to you in your own voice… you probably won’t listen.

The best storytellers know this… the best liars know this too.

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betrayal... from withinand it doesn’t come from your friends… unless you consider yourself to be your friend… or enemy.

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I sometimes point out that narcissists have empathy – I have also echoed the more popular view that they lack empathy. Am I confused about this, is that why I say one thing then contradict myself? No, yes… no and yes.

Empathy – is one of those words which has so many meanings it is verging on meaning nothing at all.

Our interpretations of words change over time – often due to popular usage, which may be wrong but then it becomes right. We’re not all using the same dictionary or interpretation. The most popular storytellers use words, and ideas, in their most popular form and interpretation. The least popular storytellers use the same words, and ideas, in a way which is obscure to those who hear their stories. It may have been popular, the popular meaning, a few years ago… but things have changed. Vampires… still bloodsuckers, but now they’re sparkly and look very attractively human, whereas before they wore too much creepy make-up and were funny-weird-scary-which-became-funny-haha.

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Then-and-NowAnd this doesn’t include the ‘then’ before this version of ‘then’…nor does it include ‘now’ in the future which will look back on this version of ‘now’ and ask the same thing.

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Frankly the more I hear about what others say that empathy is (and isn’t), the more the word empathy becomes synonymous with sympathy, and the various interpretations of that. To me they are not synonymous, and sometimes I see them as possible antonyms. And in the end I really don’t know what empathy means anymore… which may be a good thing, or not.

There you go… communication interrupted and possibly disrupted. For good, for bad, for… FS!

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When I tell a story, who is it for?

When I talk, who is my listener?

When I write, who is my reader?

When I think… who is the audience for my thoughts?

Who is my audience?

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Whom do you think?

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I asked someone this question – who is your audience? – recently… can you guess what their reaction was?

Was their reaction what yours would have been?

Perhaps you need me to flesh out the story before you answer that…

When you tell a story, and someone listens to it, not only listens but remembers what you’ve said, partly because they have a good memory and are an attentive listener and partly because what you said was in writing, but you (perhaps) forget what you’ve said and that you put it in writing and can’t delete it, take a break from this listener then return and tell them the same story again only this time you’ve changed it in a manner which contradicts your original version of it (but the original version still exists in print), and the listener compares the different versions which you’ve told (in their memory and in print) and finds that the story, which is now several different stories, seem to not only contradict each other but point back to the storyteller and the storyteller’s view of their audience… and perhaps the fact that the storyteller likes telling stories but not listening to themselves but not their audience (they not interested in their audience other than for what they get from them), because if they did they would be as perplexed as their audience and as questioning as their audience is of tales told. They’re not listening to their audience or themselves, they’re just listening to a story being told, too their compulsion to tell, but not to what the story is they are telling is telling… which is telling… a story of its own, separate and conjoined.

Everything is connected… people say that quite often, it is a popular saying, but do they connect the dots, listen to those dots and their connections, or do they just like saying – Everything is connected.

Now.

Then.

Here.

There.

The past, present and future connect… sometimes earlier than expected because we live in superfast communication times where time travel is not only possible but…

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Time travel only on ThursdaysDoes that means this past Thursday or the one before that?

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ps. This Spinning Yarns prompt reminds me of Ripping Yarns – loved those stories!

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10 thoughts on “Who is your Audience?

  1. Interesting insight! I had to reread your response a few times, as a part of me felt unsettled about it…what was it? It’s the narcs being empaths, even though they are “bad” at it and it is “twisted” as you mentioned. That’s the truth but I think using the word empath bugs me. I mean, I think empathy is actually the polar opposite of what a narc is. Empathy is experiencing others people’s pain & joy- like you said above-“you can put yourself in the shoes of a narcissist” and see what they see. Sympathy is much more widely used in life- it is basically feeling sorry for someone- we do this a lot. I think what makes children of narcissists so empathetic is they have experienced so much-good, bad, ugly etc. They can then see this and feel this in others more easily & respond.

    A narcissist, in my opinion pretends to show this trait & relies on past experiences with others to look empathetic but it feels different from someone who is actually really being empathetic. So, I think I prefer thinking of them as mirroring manipulators versus bad empaths since it leaves the empath part out. It’s like calling them bad lovers- they can’t love (in the traditional sense)-so how can they be bad at it. Anyways, it’s just another label and since the definitions of all this stuff is sometimes unclear, we can all decide for ourselves what we think or don’t think. That’s what makes life good & gets my gears working.

    I found a youtube video (from Brene Brown…ugh) that describes the difference with a cool cartoon dealio…www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw

    Thanks for your response…you’re writing makes my soul sing ❤

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    1. I shouldn’t say this… my cue for saying something… but I love that you said ugh after Brene Brown. I’m fairly certain we had a discussion about this a while back, about narcs and their love for people like Brene Brown.

      You’re right in what you say. And that’s why I don’t push the point, and often keep quiet about my views (It can happen). I think it depends upon where certain human traits develop, how and what develops them. A narc has the ability to mimic – this requires other abilities, one of which is a precursor for empathy but isn’t a matured version of empathy. It’s empathy in its instinctive form before instinct starts thinking.

      Narcs are actually adept at mimicking sympathy, because sympathy is one step away from superiority in some versions of it – which is a goal for many narcs. They can, when motivated to do so by some selfish need and the way to get it fulfilled, sympathise a person to death – because this elevates them. They don’t feel sympathy, they think it, like they don’t feel many things, however feeling is split between mind and heart, and they can feel anything if it can be replicated by the mind in a convincing enough manner.

      Certain emotions are not emotions but mind-motions.

      If the person with whom they are interacting is not paying attention to what they are receiving or where it is coming from, they can mistake what a narcissist is doing as being genuine.

      I love the way your gears work, keep oiling them and sharing their workings – it makes my gears work a little harder and sometimes realise they need oiling or fixing 🙂

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      1. I remember you once telling me, that this writing back and forth was a two way street. I felt so indebted to you at the time, for your post and words to me which ultimately kept me from harms way & I was able to stay strong & get out. It would have gone on longer if you hadn’t been my virtual ally. I have empathy for all those who are stuck, but I do believe if you look & seek it out- you’ll find an opening in which to squeeze through and change the course of your life. It’s possible but the work is up to the individual-it does not come for free. I love your gears too…mutual gear love going on, ha ❤ and I will now be the obnoxious emoticon responder 😉

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        1. TY 🙂

          Trust your own flow, and keep an eye out for the flow of others, sometimes their flow dances with ours and we learn a new way to flow. Life and relationships is a mix of beautiful and ugly, and many variations in between, such as beautiful-ugly and ugly-beautiful. Like a compass… (I’m sure there is an emoticon for compass!)

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  2. I love this! It really got me thinking about why I would tell my “story” if I ever got around to doing it. I suppose it is in part, a bit of a narcissistic drive, but I think it’s mainly because I’ve found that there are two types of people that have always surrounded me. Those who always assume I’m lying and make my life a living hell, and those who may or may not believe me, but stand idly by, watching things happen in the hopes that I will learn how to take on the world by myself. Mostly though, I would want my story to get out because I think it could help others. We grow up being told that parents, police, teachers, friends’ parents, and other family members are there to help you in times of abuse and crisis, but when you go through all those channels, and no one believes you, let alone lifts a finger to help you, or in fact tortures you further, where do you go from there? I still don’t know how to answer that, and am still struggling to find someone who believes me and can help me along my path to being the person I want to be. I think there are many others with similar stories out there and if something I’ve endured can help them in some way, I can take a little solace in feeling like it was at least not ALL for nothing. Although I suppose there is still that self-centered drive to want to get through it and finally feel like I am not living in a constant war zone.

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    1. Thank you for sharing 🙂

      You’ve made some very interesting and pertinent points – ones which often haunts us, and cause obstacles, as well as being the inspiration behind why we share our stories.

      I live in the UK, and during the past several years the news here has been covering a very complex story involving abuse, famous people, and those in positions of authority which failed to protect those who were abused and instead protected the abusers. It’s a rolling stone which gathered so much moss that now it is acting as a wrecking ball. The case is under constant re-review of those in authority now who are supposed to investigate what those in authority then did and didn’t do. It’s a mess. A very human mess. Hopefully some good things will come out of all the bad things, and we’ll all evolve in a constructive way towards healing rather than passing on the hurt.

      Those who have experienced narcissist abuse tend to be most likely to abuse themselves in a subtle manner – as in judging themselves for any narcissism they may display and trying to avoid narcissism in any shape and form (which can end up being more narcissistic than the narcissistic thing they are trying to avoid doing). It’s a paradox which is hard to figure out… until you realise that certain aspects of narcissism are healthy. But how do you do that when your experience of narcissism has been unhealthy?

      Sometimes you just have to shut out all the voices and opinions which come fromt he outside and focus on the voices on the inside. Some of those will be ones you’ve absorbed from other people – those who repeated their opinion so often it became yours. But is it yours? Some of the inner voices are yours and yours alone, some of what they are saying is wise. Our own special and personal version of wisdom – as in what we need to do for ourselves. If what we need to do is share our story, then so be it. Give it a go. Maybe you’ve tried doing it before and been told to shut up. Try again. Keep doing what you need to do for yourself… at some point you’ll figure it out.

      Life, living it and being human is a bit of a constant war zone – not everything about war zones is negative.

      I write about my story for myself. If someone else gets something out of it, it’s because they found something in it by themselves for themselves. That’s healthy narcissism, whether it continues that way… the roads we walk in life are twisty, sometimes we need to take detours. We find our way eventually. And others find their way. We may or may not like their way or our way, and they may or may not like our way or their way… when our way and their way cross paths, things can get even more complicated than they already are. Particularly if they happen to have NPD, and insist that your way is their way or bust.

      Sometimes other people not lifting a finger to help us… is exactly the kind of help we need. And sometimes it is not. It’s difficult because there are so many factors involved in any given scenario. Such as maybe they don’t know how to help us, maybe they can’t help us, maybe helping us puts them in danger and who is going to help them then… not us because we’re already helpless so we can’t give what we don’t have. And maybe they’re helpless and expecting them to help us is… just a vicious circle of the helpless.

      That was brought very painfully home to me when I found myself on the outside of a situation which reflected a dynamic of which I had always been on the inside. Someone appeared to be in the same situation I had always been in… and I didn’t know how to help them. I suddenly realised why those who had not helped me, had not helped me. They didn’t know how, just as in that moment I didn’t know how to help this person who was like I had been. I realised a lot of things in that moment, about myself and others, about life and people, and being human.

      If we live in a war zone thinking we’re not entitled to the war but are entitled to peace… we’ll never be peaceful, we’ll just pass on the hostility. Things begin and end with us – and with others within themselves.

      We’re all a bit tortured, we can’t control others but we can exert a certain control over how much we torture ourselves ( and because we torture ourselves we pass that on to others). If we give ourselves some peace, some compassion, some TLC, we’re more likely to pass that on to others too… and they might accept it and maybe incorporate it, then pass it on. We’re all a part of the whole.

      Listen to yourself, see where it leads.

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      1. I understand your thoughts about not being able to help, or not knowing what to do to help. However, being unable to “help” is not the same thing as making the situation worse by posing your own attack. If someone came to me saying that they were in a certain situation and I could not help them get out, I would truly feel bad for them. The last thing I would do is attack them so they are “prepared for what would happen if they confronted their abuser publicly” or simply dismiss their feelings. At the very least sometimes just having an open ear and sharing some words of understanding helps tremendously in those situations, especially if it is something you have already gone through yourself.
        You are right, living peacefully on a constant basis is unrealistic, but even in war, there are allies. When everyone around you is constantly posing their own attack, you have no choice but to attack back to defend yourself. This is no way to live, because a constant state of fight or flight is not really living. I think that was why I mentioned I would hope to help others with my story, because even if I cannot physically do anything to help remove them from their situation, maybe my experiences would help them to get through it just because there is someone who understands and is willing to listen. I have someone who understands my situation after being in it themselves, but they were one of my “attackers”, and still continue to attack psychologically, so though there is some understanding, it is not really help in any capacity.

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        1. I agree that if communication and relating can be done on a peaceful, or as close to peaceful as possible in a do no harm kind of manner, level then that is the ideal way to do it. However we’re all human and all have experienced pain in one form or another and that makes us protective and defensive which another person may experience as offensive.

          Sometimes what we perceive as an attack is not an attack, it is just someone else defending themselves against what they perceive as an attack. It’s a reaction to an action… which isn’t necessarily seen as it is but as it has been. We sometimes view people through the lens of other people whom we have known. Most interactions are not just you and the other person, but you and all the people whom you have known and the other person and all the people they have known. We’re all haunted by ghosts of the dead and the not yet dead.

          If you have a choice between telling your story and telling your story – choose to tell your story. Your story is a microcosm and macrocosm, which reflects an universal experience and truth.

          Share yourself… this may do harm, this may offer healing, this may be neutral, this may be… how you see it, how others see it, how it is seen from so many angles and perspectives that it becomes the story of stories.

          Follow your heart and see where it leads 🙂

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  3. That was fun, thanks 🙂 ! Proud of my emoticon accomplishment, thanks to you. So…the answer to the questions above…who is my audience, who is my story for??? ME. For me, it’s me. We are all ego oriented in that kind of way. I write, journal & talk to find out about myself and it’s connections to others but ultimately it does revolve around me. I think this is normal. I also think that the better you know yourself, the more able you are able to write/tell about yourself. And then people’s reactions and input make it that much more interesting-as on a blog where people can respond & communicate back in forth. I think that’s why I like knowing about other people. It stems from my need to know myself, and this is done by learning about others-it’s a circular cycle and gives life to ones soul & self. As adults, I think we lose some of this natural inquisitiveness- the asking questions and learning-probably because we are too busy and tired to deviate our attention from getting the milk at the grocery store and doing a load of laundry before the work week begins.

    I know my favorite thing about your blog is your questioning. And it also made me think, why I would talk more & tell my ex narc friend so much- I think it ultimately came down to me waiting for her to really acknowledge & answer me…that sounds weird but I think you can intuitively know if someone is really present or not. I realized over time she was not present. When I’d talk it was one direction to her but the reciprocation back was odd & I was unable “to connect the dots.” When she talked, she listened intensely to my reactions/answers which is flattering but the reciprocation was not occurring, the other way around. Their was no self reflection on her part, which you pointed out was missing from the story you mentioned above. We are only able to really listen to others, if we can hear ourselves. If we can’t hear ourselves, this is unable to occur because we are too preoccupied with the primitive instincts of survival & working from a place of survival versus a place of learning/evolving.

    As for empathy & sympathy-two very different things. I think being empathetic is a higher level skill that is strong in people who use this skill often and were in some shape or form forced to develop it when young or they had a role model who showed them what it was. It is taught, learned & developed in people, I think. Some of us are innately more sensitive to ourselves & others and this also can make one more empathetic, as we are in touch with our emotions & therefore in touch with others too and can feel & see emotions from others more easily. So someone that has a disconnect from emotions (a narcissist) is unable to have empathy. All of the traits that they have that hurt others etc- stem from a lack of emotional range. If someone does not have emotional range then stay back- they don’t get themselves, and if you think they’ll get you, you’re out of luck.

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    1. TY 😀

      The empathy and empathy/sympathy issue is one which seems to constantly cross paths with the narcissist/not narcissist and NPD issue. Sometimes it is used as ‘proof’ that someone is or isn’t a narcissist – but this ‘proof’ is actually opinion based on interpretation which is often based on personal preference, personal interpretation based on points of reference of personal experience.

      Empathy in its dictionary form is – the capacity for understanding and sharing another’s feelings or ideas – or – the imaginative re-creation of a mood, feeling or emotional state.

      Which means, in my understanding and interpretation of it, the ability to answer the question – How could so and so do that, be that, think that, feel that? Therefore if someone is empathic they can understand a narcissist, because they put themselves in the shoes of the narcissist and see things from their perspective – even if that perspective is the antithesis of their own personal perspective. Empathy requires that you get out of the way and see someone else’s way without your own opinion colouring your view. You’re endeavouring to understand someone else’s view to inform your own.

      However empathy is not always used that way, and that’s when things get confusing for me. Then I have to figure out how someone is using the term ’empathy’, which often leads me to the conclusion that they don’t mean empathy they actually mean sympathy but they’re calling it empathy.

      Sympathy is, according to my dictionary – the act or capacity of entering into or sharing the feelings or interests of another – or – inclination to think and feel alike – or tendency to give favour or support – or – unity or harmony in action or effect.

      This is similar to empathy in some ways, however in other ways it deviates as it does not require a person to get out of their own way to see the viewpoint of another. It is about connecting with another from your viewpoint with theirs.

      So I think when most people talk about empathy, they actually mean sympathy. Narcissists do have empathy, however they do not have sympathy. The empathy which narcissists have is twisted just like all the other human traits which they have, and is used in a manner which others find at first charming but later, once the charm has worn off, disturbing. Once we’re disturbed by a narcissist we forget the charming side and may pretend it never existed or tag it as evil manipulation, etc. It is that but it also isn’t always that.

      We tend to view empathy as a purely positive trait. It can be exactly that. It can also be the opposite of that. The best manipulators tend to be adept at seeing what their ‘target’ is seeing. This is marketing 101. Find out what people want, then offer it to them, give them a taste of it for free, get them hooked on your supply, them make your demands, then offer them more at a price.

      People talk a lot about narcissistic supply, I’ve discussed this too. It’s a fact when dealing with a narcissist. However it is also a fact when a narcissist is dealing with us. We want something too, from them – they give it to us, and then they take it away. This is why people become obsessed with narcissists – even after the narcissist has taken them to hell and beyond. We still want something from the narcissist, something which they will never give us. Like closure.

      Like you so aptly pointed out, your narc kept you on tenterhooks trying to get something which you never got and were never going to get, but… maybe if you tried one more time…

      Narcs are ‘bad empaths’… partly because they judge us based on themselves, and that’s how they get under our skin.

      I sometimes ‘test’ people using tactics which I learned from narcissists. Narcissists sometimes tell you the naked truth… how you react to it, tells them all they need to know about you and whether they should keep you or discard you. It is a chilling way to relate, but for them relating isn’t about your temperature, it is about theirs. That’s not my aim when I use what I’ve learned from them, my aim is simply to figure out who I’m dealing with and who is dealing with me.

      There are a few narcs in the non-narc community.

      Listening is very important, listening with more than just ears. To others, to yourself. And then figuring out what you’re hearing. What filters are being used, and how they are being used.

      You’re very savvy. Trust in you. Listen carefully to yourself. 🙂

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