Author Archives: Kathy

Quieting Your Inner Lizard Is Key To Effectively Dealing With Narcissists

There I was searching for a tool in boxes in the dark garden shed when a large green lizard suddenly jumps from one of the boxes, landing on the left side of my face, clinging for dear life. His right eye was directly in front of my left eye, staring into my soul it seemed, as I desperately tried to pull him off. The more I pulled, the more intense his stare, until I finally pried each of his back legs off my face, and he dropped to the ground, and scurried off.

I awoke from this dream convinced this was another delicious message from the all-wise world beyond our own, but what was I to make of it? I remembered reading in life coach Martha Beck’s best selling book, Finding Your Way In A Wild New World, that we all have a lizard self inside us. He rears his ugly head in times of stress and fear, and we act much like a lizard, acting out of basic survival instincts instead of using rational thought. This can lead to problems of course, as acting from primitive emotions naturally leads to fight or flight actions rather than thoughtful effective problem solving.

Since I had recently been experiencing the emotional backlash from the behavior of some narcissists in my life, I took the dream to mean to keep an eye on my inner lizard, and quiet my desire to react in a hostile, primitive way that could escalate conflict between myself and the narcissists.

So if it’s best not to react in a hostile way from the pain and confusion inflicted by narcissists, what is the better way to react? I had already spent many years silently letting them upset me after finding out first hand that fighting them wouldn’t get me anywhere, and I was at the end of my rope where doing nothing was no longer an option.

In an effort to better understand what was happening I needed a clear definition and awareness of what exactly narcissistic behavior was. I had been confused for most of my life when these individuals, who I loved and thought loved me, would suddenly says things or do mean things. Reading books like Dr. Les Carter’s best seller, When Pleasing You Is Killing Me, and listening to his helpful videos on YouTube about narcissists helped me see them and their behavior clearly, and come up with some plans for better dealing with them so they weren’t as disruptive in my life.

What is a narcissist? Narcissists are people who have developed a way of dealing with others where they try to control them to suit their needs above anything else. They do this because early in their childhood they came to believe their needs would not be met unless they came up with plans to manipulate others into getting what they wanted. There are different kinds of narcissists, the ones I most often encounter are either overt or covert narcissists.

An overt narcissist is someone who is outgoing, and openly and loudly talks about themselves, telling how superior they are, often mentioning people of high social status that they are associated with. They are direct and open when criticizing others, and creating a false image of themselves that puts them above others.

A covert narcissist is someone who has the same goals as an overt narcissist, but they are more sneaky about it. They use quiet ways to control others by giving them the silent treatment if someone isn’t doing things in a way that suits them, or they talk badly about someone to others instead of directly to them. They often use people as scapegoats, blaming them for their frustrations with their lives, and turning others against them so they can remain superior, and the blameless victims of their circumstances.

If you recognize that you might have narcissistic tendencies, don’t worry, everyone does. It is normal to want to talk about yourself or want things to go a certain way, but these people have extreme tendencies. They are very difficult to have a reasonable conversation with, where you work out a disagreement or compromise on something, or express anger or confusion. They tend to get extremely angry if you say “no,” for example, to something they want you to do.

Now that you are aware of who the narcissists are in your world, and how they operate, and you are aware that fighting with them, or silently accepting their behavior are not options, you can thoughtfully make plans to put limits and boundaries on your time spent with them. Sometimes you can completely remove yourself from them, but sometimes you can’t, for example if they are co-workers or family members.

The hurt inflicted from the narcissist can be deep, but your job is simply to become aware of the dynamics, and change your interaction with them to protect yourself. For example, communicate by email instead of phone conversations to limit what they say to you, send letters instead of texts, limit your visiting time, take breaks in social gatherings, see what they are trying to do and just listen without engaging, and finally just be yourself by making your own decisions and choices no matter what the narcissist does to try to change you.

It is so easy to react out of pain, and want to strike back, but hold on, give it some thought, pry that lizard off your face, and proceed with dignity. No need to villainize the narcissist, just see them for who they are, say “no” when you want to, set those boundaries, and hold yourself and your actions strong and in check.  In other words, simply carry a strong sense of yourself, a wonderful quality that can’t help but help you in every part of your life.

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Is Ignoring Your Fear Courageous Or Foolish?

Everything you hear these days, from spiritual leaders in Oprah Winfrey’s book “The Path Made Clear,” to Life Coach Martha Beck’s advice in her best seller “Finding Your Way In A Wild New World,” seem to be giving two conflicting messages. On the one hand they say that in order to live your most authentic, fulfilling life you should live your truth, and let fears of social objection take a back seat. On the other hand they say to be still and listen closely to your body, and to use negative physical reactions as guides to making choices that are more harmonious and healthier for you. So which one do you do? Do you tremble in fear, sometimes getting to the point of being physically ill while you charge ahead making bold life choices, or do you let your fear serve as a warning signal of dangerous situations and actions, and avoid them, perhaps cheating yourself out of enriching your life?

After experiencing the consequences of taking some risky action lately, even though a voice inside me was fearful, to the point where I had some clear dreams of danger ahead, I came up with a simple method to help make the best decision. First of all, if you are thinking of doing anything at all risky, that in itself warrants taking a moment of stillness to check in with yourself to see if you are feeling fearful. This sounds easy, but when you’re determined to do something, it can be hard to think to take a minute and let it settle in you before taking action.

Once you are aware that you’re feeling somewhat fearful, let that be your cue to take a step back, and apply some wisdom to the situation. In other words, be W.I.S.E.

W – Weigh
I – In
S – Social
E – Ego

I have found that it’s easy for me to take bold action, marching past my fears, if I believe I’ll get a reward that will serve my social ego. In other words, if I’ll get approval or a feeling of accomplishment or superiority according to our social rules and expectations, I am more likely to forge ahead, possibly discovering unwanted consequences in the end. If I take ‘receiving social rewards for my ego’ out of the picture, and let myself reflect on taking the action without any social recognition of any kind, it is much easier to evaluate whether it is worth the damage it could cause, or benefits it could create. In my experience the universe tends to keep my soul on track, and my ego in check.

So next time you consider taking bold action, take a minute, weigh in the reasons why your social ego might want you to do it, and consider if those reasons are really in the best interest of having a calm, happy, creative worry-free life. Sometimes courageous moves break us free to do the things that make us the happiest in the quietness of our souls, and sometimes they simply bring pain, struggle, and drama, minimizing any social reward they might bring. The only one you really have to answer to is yourself, so be kind, thoughtful, and WISE.

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How To Close The Trap Door Of Worrying About Others (Once & For All!)

There it is, waiting for you to step out and fall through the hole in the floor, gently disguised by a small decorative rug.  It looks inviting enough, but bam, there you are falling and landing with a big emotional bruise on the floor of the room below.  That is what it can feel like when you calmly approach a situation where a loved one is in turmoil.

Being middle-aged, we have enough life experience to recognize pitfalls and poor life choices so that we make better decisions, and can enjoy the fruits of our lessons, while dealing with the problems of adult children, aging parents, and aging ourselves.  We do this because we value our relationships, and want to remain close and engaged, but sometimes the cost of staying close with others is too much, especially when loved ones are in turmoil.  It can consume you with worry, robbing you of enjoying the life you have worked so hard to build, landing you with a hard thud on the floor of worry and fear.

After another ride on the roller coaster of emotions, leaving me battling fear and worry, I decided enough was enough!  Having my happiness depend on the ups and downs of someone else’s life was not fair to me, and exhausting to say the least.  But how do you maintain a close relationship with your loved ones without letting their ups and downs influence your happiness?  Here are the reminders I started using that helped me cover that trap door securely:

  1. When you sense you are feeling fear and worry about someone, do something that occupies your attention completely that you enjoy.
  2. Remind yourself that it’s OK to let go of someone you love, letting them make their own mistakes.  They will learn just as you did.
  3. Remind yourself that your time in this life is limited.  Your wonderful timeless spirit is occupying your body temporarily.  You will move on when your body dies, so everyone and everything in your life is a gift to be enjoyed, and not controlled.
  4. Remind yourself that having a close relationship with someone doesn’t mean you have to know everything about them.  Set limits on subjects you will talk about with certain people.  You don’t have to go deep to love them deeply.
  5. Believe in the magic of “acting as if.”  This is powerful magic!  Act as if everything will be OK, even if you don’t fully believe it, things magically turn out OK.  Acting carefree about someone’s situation changes the dynamic and focus between you, and helps the rough edges dissolve and vanish.
  6. Remind yourself of all the things that have worked out for you, and continue to work in your favor, big and small, that could’ve easily turned into a disaster.  A loving universe and higher power is really on your side.

When you remind yourself of these truths, they work like nails, securely covering that gaping hole of worry with a strong platform, allowing you to build upon it with love, joy, and family.

 

 

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