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The Promises of Recovery


The Promises of RecoveryRecovery is a transformational journey called individuation. The promises of recovery and the benefits it returns are freedom, confidence, and self-love. There are stages of recovery from addiction and codependency, from building awareness and detaching, doing the hard work of changing yourself and your life, to eventually experiencing the promises.

It’s common for people to complain that their partner or loved ones aren’t working on themselves. They think, “Why bother?” This attitude is ill-conceived, because we embark on this journey to change ourselves, and we are the ones who reap the rewards.

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What is Narcissistic Abuse?


What is Narcissistic Abuse?Narcissists don’t really love themselves. Actually, they’re driven by shame. It’s the idealized image of themselves, which they convince themselves they embody, that they admire. But deep down, narcissists feel the gap between the façade they show the world and their shame-based self. They work hard to avoid feeling that shame. This gap is true for other codependents, as well, but a narcissist uses destructive defense mechanisms that damage relationships and their loved ones’ self-esteem.

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What Is a Trauma Bond?

A trauma bond is an attachment to an abuser in a relationship with a cyclical pattern of abuse. Patrick Carnes, Ph.D., coined the term in 1997. He defined it as an adaptive, dysfunctional attachment occurring in the presence of danger, shame, or exploitation in order to survive. It is a trauma reaction created due to a power imbalance and recurring abuse mixed with intermittent positive reinforcement; in other words, good and bad treatment. The abuser is the dominant partner who controls the victim with fear, unpredictability, belittling, and control.

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Having a Narcissistic Parent

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selfish father on cell phone neglecting childA narcissistic parent behaves as they imagine themselves to be—the king or queen of the family, or someone whose activities are more important than being part of the family. As a child, your parents are your world until you’re able to leave home. Your survival and self-concept depend on them. A narcissistic parent can severely damage your self-esteem, which to develop requires love and acceptance from both parents. Children of narcissistic parents typically grow up insecure and codependent.Continue reading

Narcissists’ Dirty Little Secret

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secretive, secretYou won’t guess abusers’ dirty little secret – the one thing narcissists and abusers don’t want you to know. In fact, they find it so shameful that most of them won’t admit it even to themselves. They hide it behind their abuse and bluster, their braggadocio, and their arrogance.

People are fooled by the narcissist’s bold persona. They’re confused by their words and intimidated and shamed by their aggression. They don’t realize that an abuser’s personality is a mask and that their behavior is a smoke and mirror game. It’s manufactured as a defense system to hide a scared, insecure child inside – a child who feels as insignificant as the abuser’s pretense of importance.

Their secret is that they feel insecure and needy. This is why they must at all costs feel powerful and in control. Once you realize this, it explains their entire personality and abuse. They act as if they’re needless and judge their partners for their needs and feelings. Some abusers and narcissists seem quite self-sufficient outside of an intimate relationship.


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Are You Feeding Narcissistic Supply?


Vampire, Narcissist, Narcissist's SupplyNarcissists hunger to have their needs for power, admiration, and attention filled is constant and relentless. They require continuous validation and praise but don’t hope for the same in return. If you’re in a close relationship with a narcissist, they expect you to supply them.

The term “narcissistic supply” is based on the psychoanalytic theory that concerns essential needs of babies and toddlers to maintain their mental and emotional equilibrium. Loss of necessary supplies in childhood can lead to depression and later attempts to get them through addiction and other means.

Narcissists’  deficient self and inner resources make them dependent on other people to affirm their impaired self-esteem and fragile ego. They only validate themselves as reflected in the eyes of others.

Despite their facade of confidence, boasting, and self-flattery, they crave attention, respect, and constant admiration and actually fear that they’re undesirable.

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How to Have Boundaries in the Pandemic

enmeshed boundaries diagramMaintaining boundaries is challenging for most of us. But the pandemic has made it even more difficult. People have been quarantined with a partner, housemate, or family for nearly a year. Normally, we could create physical space by seeing friends, going to work, the gym, or even taking side trips.

All that has changed. People who have been alone and lonely realize how much they need others. Some couples are closer, while others are headed for divorce.

Drug and alcohol abuse has risen, as well as mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. A recent UK study reveals some interesting statistics:

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Why Receiving is Hard

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couple, receiving gift

Is receiving a compliment or a gift difficult for you? Do you ever ask for a favor or help, or would you rather do it yourself? These are just small examples of why you may not be getting the love you want in a relationship. In healthy relationships, there is a daily exchange of love, help, and cooperation.  Continue reading

Healing Psychic Wounds of Codependency

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woman, psychic woundsCodependency is more than a relationship problem. Wounds of codependency affect our psyche and individual development. Make no mistake. It’s to no fault of our own. Codependency is adaptive and helped us survive growing up in a dysfunctional family system. But that adjustment cost us our individuality, authenticity, and our future quality of life. The beliefs and behaviors we learned led to problems in adult relationships. In fact, they tend to recreate the dysfunctional family of our past. Continue reading

4 Types of Narcissism Share a Core Trait

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There are four major types of narcissism. Researchers have been hunting for the core of narcissism that all narcissists share despite varying symptoms and severity. Narcissists use a variety of tactics and defenses to keep you insecure and ensure their status and their needs are met. It’s easy to be confused, but it’s important to understand and spot which type of narcissist you’re dealing with. Recently, two research teams have identified a common trait.

Trifurcated Model of NarcissismContinue reading

Dating a Narcissist

online datingYou won’t realize you’re dating a narcissist. Narcissists are exceedingly skilled at making you like them. They can be alluring, charming, and exciting to date. In fact, in one study, it took seven meetings for people to see through their likable veneer. When dating, a narcissist has a greater incentive to win you over—sadly, sometimes all the way to the altar. Narcissists are never boring. Continue reading

How to Tell if You’re Willful or Strong Willed

Strong-willed people are successful, yet those who are willful often sabotage success.  Willful individuals can be fiercely stubborn in their opinions and pursuit of their goals, ignoring what other people think and need. They often fiercely force their will despite obstacles or negative implications. Their behavior has obsessive and compulsive qualities in that they’re unable to let go and is an obstacle to overcoming codependency and addiction. Continue reading

Changing Codependent Dynamics in Abusive Relationships

Codependent Dynamics in Abusive RelationshipsIf you’re in an abusive relationship, you may not realize that your behavior encourages the relationship’s unhealthy dynamics. Often codependents are in abusive relationships with addicts or people who have mental illness. From my personal and professional experience, it’s hard – nearly impossible – to change the dynamics in abusive relationships without support, particularly in a long-term relationship. Continue reading

How to Detach and Let Go with Love

Although it’s painful to see our loved ones be self-destructive, detaching allows us to enjoy our lives despite another person’s problems and behavior. Attachment and caring are normal. It’s healthy to get attached to people we love and care about, but codependent attachment causes us pain and problems in relationships. We become overly attached—not because we love so much but because we need so much. Continue reading

7 Ways of Cultivating Love in Your Life


garden,cultivating, cultivateMost of us seek someone to love or to love us. We don’t think about cultivating self-love or realize that love originates within. You may be seeking a relationship, but research suggests that singles are actually happier than married people, with the exception of happily married people. But even that dwindles over time. A new study shows that on average, after the first year, spouses return to their baseline state of happiness prior to the marriage. Thus, similar to the conclusions reached in the studies done on lottery winners, after marriage and after winning, we eventually return to how happy we are as individuals.

Self-esteem matters. Research has well-established that it’s a big factor in the health and happiness of marriage. Low self-esteem can prevent us from reaping the rewards of love in a relationship.

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Science Explains Mind Control!


A new study sheds light on how people influence and control our mind. Research on mice, whose brains are remarkably similar to humans, reveals that our brains are affected by those around us. The key factor is dominance. The brain of the subordinate mouse synchronized with the dominant mouse. This likely applies to our relationships. Typically, people with stronger personalities make the decisions and get their needs met more often than their partners do.

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8 Ways We Sabotage Love

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Although we seek love, we may unwittingly damage or derail it. Surprisingly, our fear of not being loved, which includes fear of abandonment, loneliness, and rejection, can lead to eight frequent behaviors that sabotage love and relationships. When we lack self-love, although we may have relationships, generally they’re unfulfilling or don’t last.  We won’t find real love if we don’t believe we’re lovable. Continue reading

The Startling Reason We Sabotage Love


distant-couple-in-bedMost relationships fail and nearly half of American adults are unmarried. Why can’t we find love and why don’t relationships last? As much as we want love, paradoxically, we also fear it. Fear of not being loved is the greatest reason we don’t find love and sabotage it in relationships. Ironically, we can create our worst fear by trying to avoid it. This may sound ridiculous if you attract distancers.

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What is Healthy Narcissism? Is It Self-Love?

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Oscar Wilde, Self-love“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance,” wrote Oscar Wilde. Known for his wit and irony, was Wilde referring to narcissistic love or real self-love and healthy narcissism? There is a difference. Wilde’s use of the word “romance” suggests the former. That’s a key to differentiating the two concepts.

Romantic love is filtered by illusion and idealization. In the romantic phase of relationships, intense feelings are predominantly based on projection and physical pleasure. All is rosy, because we don’t really know the other person or see his or her flaws.

Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray is about narcissism.

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How Shame Feels and What Makes it Toxic

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Sprawled on the hallway floor, skirt flying, hitting and kicking, I wrestled with Tina before a crowd of junior high school schoolmates, including a dozen boys from my class. Tina was a gang member who had recently transferred from another school. She and her cohorts had taunted and insulted me all week. She started in again, shoving me at our adjacent lockers. I’d finally had enough, I pushed her back, and we ended up fighting on the floor.

Before actually harming one another, the girls V.P. escorted us to her office. Tina was expelled. I felt relieved that only my modesty was tarnished . . . until I returned home. Then I was mortified to discover a small rip in my panties!  My defectiveness, symbolized by that imperfection, had been exposed. This is the essence of shame.

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Why You Can Love an Abuser

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Loving an AbuserFalling in love happens to us ― usually before we really know our partner. It’s because we’re at the mercy of unconscious forces, commonly called “chemistry.” Don’t judge yourself for loving an abuser or someone who doesn’t treat you with care and respect, because by the time the relationship turns abusive, you’re attached and want to maintain your connection and love. You may have overlooked hints of abuse at the beginning because abusers are good at seduction.

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Why You Were Ghosted and What to Do

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empty chairRejection and breakups are hard enough, but being ghosted can be traumatic. It can leave you with unanswered questions that make it hard to move on. Although ghosting also occurs in friendships, it’s usually associated with dating. More devastating, but less common, is when a spouse disappears after years of marriage. It’s like the sudden death of the person and the marriage. But even the unexplained, unexpected end to a brief romantic relationship can feel like betrayal and shatter your trust in yourself, in love, and in other people.

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Unexpected Trauma from Abuse


Unexpected Trauma from AbuseCodependency robs us of a self and self-love. We’ve learned to conceal who we really are, because we grew up pleasing, rebelling against, or withdrawing from dysfunctional parents. This sets us up for trauma. As adults, even if we’re successful in some areas, our emotional life isn’t easy. We’re insecure about our worth and find self-love elusive. Continue reading

Spiritual Transformation Through Relationship

Romance, Loving coupleA relationship can be an exciting spiritual path to the unknown. It offers an ever-present opportunity to grow―a path to spiritual transformation and mutual discovery and ultimately the divine. The word spirituality derives from “spiritus,” meaning vitality or breath of life. Like an electric charge, that force awakens our soul. The more we’re aligned with it, the stronger and more alive is our soul. We tap into this power each time we express ourselves authentically.Continue reading

Covert Tactics Manipulators Use to Control and Confuse You

Covert ManipulatorsMany of us don’t recognize manipulators or even realize they’re trying to control and confuse us. We may have an uneasy feeling in our gut that doesn’t match the manipulator’s words or feel trapped into agreeing with a request. Most people react in ways that escalate abuse. Or they play into the hands of the abuser and feel small and guilty, but retreat allows unacceptable behavior. If you had a manipulative parent, it may be harder to recognize it in a partner, because it’s familiar.

To “know your enemy” is essential in dealing with a manipulator. Spotting their hidden arrows allows you to respond strategically. Understanding what they’re up to empowers you.

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What You Should Know about Narcissists, Their Partners, & NPD

narcissistic man, narcissist, narcissim

Poor Narcissus. The gods sentenced him to a life without human love. He fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water and died hungering for its response. Narcissism was named for him. Like Narcissus, narcissists only love themselves as reflected in the eyes of others. It’s a common misconception that they love themselves. They actually dislike themselves immensely. Their inflated self-flattery, perfectionism, and arrogance are merely covers for the self-loathing they don’t admit–usually even to themselves. Instead, it’s projected outwards in their disdain for and criticism of others. Continue reading

What is Self-Esteem and How to Raise It?

What Is Self-Esteem?Self-esteem is what we think of ourselves. When we raise our self-esteem, we have confidence and self-respect. We’re content with ourselves and our abilities, in who we are and our competence. Self-esteem has significant ramifications for our happiness and enjoyment of life. It affects not only what we think, but also how we feel and behave. It influences every aspect of our lives.

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Why Narcissists Act the Way They Do

You can enjoy narcissistic symptoms when a narcissist is charming, charismatic, seductive, exciting, and engaging. But they can also act entitled, exploitative, arrogant, aggressive, cold, competitive, selfish, obnoxious, cruel, and vindictive. You can fall in love with their charming side and be destroyed by their dark side. It can be baffling, but it all makes sense when you understand what drives them. That awareness protects you from their games, lies, and manipulation.

Narcissists have an impaired, undeveloped self. They think and function differently from other people, because of the way their brain is wired, whether due to nature or nurture.

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What is Codependency?


Codependency Symptoms, Cause and Treatment

Codependency is sneaky and powerful. You may not be aware that it’s the root cause of your problems. If your thinking and behavior revolve around someone you may be codependent. Codependents tune out internal cues and instead of expressing their own needs and feelings, they react to someone or something external. Addicts are codependent, too. Their lives revolve around their addiction–be it food, work, drugs, or sex.

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Need-Fulfillment is the Key to Happiness

Need-Fulfillment is the Key to HappinessThe key to happiness is meeting our needs (need-fulfillment). Although codependents are very good at meeting the needs of other people, many are clueless about their own needs. They have problems identifying, expressing, and fulfilling their needs and wants. They’re usually very attuned to other people and may even anticipate their needs and desires. Over the years, they become used to accommodating others and lose the connection to their own needs and wants.

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Combat Narcissists’ and Abusers’ Primary Weapon: Projection


Understand narcissist projection, protect your self-esteem and confront abuse.

Projection, in general, and narcissist projection are defense mechanisms commonly used by abusers, including people with narcissistic or borderline personality disorder and addicts. Basically, they say, “It’s not me, it’s you!” When we project, we are defending ourselves against unconscious impulses or traits, either positive or negative, that we’ve denied in ourselves. Instead, we attribute them to others. Our thoughts or feelings about someone or something are too uncomfortable to acknowledge. In our minds, we believe that the thought or emotion originates from that other person. Continue reading

The Danger of a Covert Narcissist


MaskYou may be fooled by a covert narcissist, but they’re every bit as much narcissists as the stereotypical extroverted narcissists. Some narcissists may emphasize one personality trait over others. A person with an outgoing personality might always show off and need to be the center of attention, while another narcissist might be a vindictive bully, an entitled playboy, an imperious authoritarian, or an exacting know-it-all, as articulated by Madonna, “Listen, everyone is entitled to my opinion.”

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Why and How Narcissists Play Games


Narcissist GamesNarcissists play games. To a narcissist, relationships are considered transactional, like buying and selling. The goal is to get what you want at the lowest price. It’s a self-centered, business mindset. Emotions don’t intrude.

In relationships, narcissists focus on their goals. For a male narcissist, that’s usually sex or to have a beautiful woman at his side. A female narcissist may be looking for material gifts, sex, acts of service, and/or an extravagant courtship. It’s important to understand a narcissist’s mind.

They see relationships as a means to get what they want, without concern for the feelings of the other person. Their only concern is what they can get out of it. Continue reading

Beware of the Dark Triad


Think of the Dark Triad of Narcissism, Psychopathy, and Machiavellianism as the Bermuda Triangle – it’s perilous to get near it! The traits of all three often overlap and create personality profiles that are damaging and toxic, especially when it comes to intimate relationships, where we let our guard down.

One woman was the subject of identity fraud. Her bank accounts and credit cards were compromised.  She regularly spoke to the FBI and suffered extreme anxiety and emotional stress. The authorities were unsuccessful in finding the culprit.

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How to Spot a Narcissist


How to Spot a NarcissistNarcissists can be beguiling and charismatic. One study showed that their likable veneer was only penetrable after seven meetings. But don’t fall in love with one. Over time you can end up feeling ignored, uncared for, and unimportant. Typically, a narcissist’s criticism, demands, and emotional unavailability increase, while your confidence and self-esteem decrease. Here’s how to spot a narcissist… Continue reading

Love Bombing and Narcissistic Attachment

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Love Bombing and Narcissistic AttachmentLove bombing can feel glorious! The lavish attention and affection seem to answer our prayers. We’ve found Mr. or Ms. Right―our soul mate; unsuspecting that we’ve been targeted by a narcissist. The bomber abruptly changes colors and loses interest, and our dream comes crashing down. Rejection is excruciating, especially at the height of romance. It’s a traumatic shock to our hearts. We feel duped, betrayed, and abandoned.

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Dealing with Toxic Parents

Toxic relationships include relationships with toxic parents. Typically, they do not treat their children with respect as individuals. They won’t compromise, take responsibility for their behavior, or apologize. Often these parents have a mental disorder or a serious addiction.

We all live with the consequences of poor parenting. However, if our childhoods were traumatic, we carry wounds from abusive or dysfunctional parenting. We may not recognize it as such. It feels familiar and normal. We may be in denial and not realize that we’ve been abused emotionally, particularly if our material needs were met. Unfortunately, when they haven’t healed, toxic parents can re-injure us in ways that make growth and recovery difficult. The first step to protect yourself is awareness, followed by detaching and setting boundaries.

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How to Tell if a Narcissist Loves You


Unhappy coupleAnyone who’s loved a narcissist wonders, “Does he really love me?” “Does she appreciate me?” They’re torn between their love and their pain, between staying and leaving, but don’t want to do either. Some swear they’re loved; others that they’re not. It’s confusing, because sometimes they experience caring companionship, only to be followed by demeaning behavior. Narcissists claim to love their family and partners, but do they?

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How to Handle Narcissistic Abuse

How to Handle Narcissistic Abuse | Healing from Narcissistic AbuseWe’re all capable of abuse when we’re frustrated or hurt. We may be guilty of criticizing, judging, withholding, and controlling, but some abusers, including narcissists, take abuse to a different level. Narcissistic Abuse can be physical, mental, emotional, sexual, financial, and/or spiritual. Some types of emotional abuse are not easy to spot, including manipulation. It can include emotional blackmail, using threats and intimidation to exercise control. However confronting and healing from narcissistic abuse is possible.

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Do I Have to Lose Me to Love You?


Losing Our Self - HemmingwaySome of us get so wrapped up in a relationship that we tend to lose ourselves. It happens slowly until it’s too late. We don’t realize that losing our Self is the ultimate cause of despair. When the relationship inevitably ends, it’s devastating, because we are lost. We might seem to do fine on our own, but the struggle to achieve it shows up in our relationships. We lose ourselves gradually in small imperceptible ways.

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Do’s and Don’ts in Confronting Abuse


Confronting AbuseAbuse is about having power over someone. Abusers typically want to feel superior and to control and dominate. To them, communication is not about understanding. It’s a win-lose game. They use verbal abuse and/or violence to accomplish this. They’re frequently self-centered, impatient, unreasonable, insensitive, unforgiving, lack empathy, and are often jealous, suspicious, and withholding. Continue reading

5 Red Flags and Blind Spots in Dating a Narcissist


Dating a NarcissistNarcissists can be beguiling and charismatic. They easily charm codependents. One study showed that narcissists’ likable veneer was only penetrable after seven meetings. I’ve had a number of clients who claimed that the courtship with their narcissistic spouse was wonderful and that abuse only began following the wedding. With greater insight, these clients admitted that there were signs that they’d overlooked. Here’s how to know whether or not you’re dating a narcissist…Continue reading

Gaslighting 101: Signs, Symptoms, and Recovery


Hidden abuse, gaslighting, manipulationGaslighting is a malicious and hidden form of emotional and mental abuse, designed to plant seeds of self-doubt and alter your perception of reality. The term comes from the play and later film Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer.

Gaslighting refers to a deliberate pattern of manipulation calculated to make you trust the perpetrator and doubt your own perceptions or sanity, similar to brainwashing. Like all abuse, it’s based on the need for power, control, or concealment.Continue reading

Narcissus and Echo: The Heartbreak of Relationships with Narcissists


Narcissus & Echo - Relationships with NarcissitsThe poignant myth of Narcissus and Echo crystallizes the problem of relationships with narcissists. They were tragic characters in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Sadly, both partners feel insufficiently loved but are locked in a painful drama. Yet, the narcissist feels irreproachable and blames his or her partner, who too often readily agrees.

Narcissus was a handsome hunter who broke the hearts of many women. Despite their love, he remained aloof and arrogant. Pridefully, he held them in disdain.Continue reading

Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers


Daughters of Narcissistic MothersOur mother is our first love. She’s our introduction to life and to ourselves. She’s our lifeline to security. We initially learn about ourselves and our world through interactions with her. We naturally long for her physical and emotional sustenance, her touch, her smile, and her protection. Her empathetic reflection of our feelings, wants, and needs informs us who we are and that we have value. A narcissistic mother who cannot empathize damages her children’s healthy psychological development. Continue reading

5 Life-Changing Habits that Build Self-Esteem

Raise Your Self-EsteemOur thoughts are powerful – for better or worse. They set off chain reactions that build self-esteem or undermine it. Authority over our mind is the ultimate power. “Mind is everything. What you think you become,” said Buddha. Thoughts affect not only our mental health, relationships, and the ability to achieve our goals, but also our physical health – our digestion, circulation, respiration, immunity, and nervous system. Next are our actions. Change begins in the mind, but is manifested and amplified by our actions. Continue reading

Getting Triggered and What You Can Do


What to Do When Triggered | Getting Triggered and What You Can DoGetting your “buttons” pushed or getting “triggered” can hurt or enrage us. But it’s an opportunity to heal and grow. The more hurts we’ve endured and the weaker our boundaries, the more reactive we are to people and events. Our triggers – our buttons – are our wounds.

Codependents are off the charts when it comes to reacting to others’ feelings, needs, problems, opinions, wants, and more. When we react, we permit our insides to be taken over by someone or something outside of us. We’re pulled off center and might start thinking about that person or about what might happen in the future. There’s no filter or boundary. Continue reading

Relationship Killers: Anger and Resentment


Anger and resentment hurt when we don’t get what we want or need. It can escalate to rage when we feel assaulted or threatened by something physical, emotional, or abstract, such as an attack on our reputation. When we react disproportionately to our present circumstance, it’s because we’re really reacting to something in our past event – often from childhood.

Many of us have a lot of anger and for good reason, but we don’t know how to express it effectively.

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How to Spot Manipulation


manipulationWe all want to get our needs met, but manipulators use underhanded methods. Manipulation is a way to covertly influence someone with indirect, deceptive, or abusive tactics. Manipulation may seem benign or even friendly or flattering as if the person has your highest concern in mind. In reality, it’s to achieve an ulterior motive.

Sometimes, it’s veiled hostility. It can be abusive and the objective may purely be power. You may not realize that you’re being intimidated. If you grew up being manipulated, it’s harder to discern what’s going on, because it feels familiar. Continue reading

10 Tips to Spot Emotional Unavailability

How to Spot Emotional Unavailability and Emotionally Unavailable PartnersIf you’ve ever been in a relationship with someone emotionally unavailable, you know the pain of being unable to get close to the one you love. They’re evasive, make excuses or are just inept in talking about feelings or the relationship. Some use anger, criticism, or activities to create distance. You end up feeling alone, depressed, unimportant, or rejected. More women complain about emotional unavailability than men, yet are unaware that they’re emotionally unavailable, too. Continue reading

The Power of Personal Boundaries


The Power of Personal BoundariesLove won’t last without personal boundaries. It’s easy to understand external boundaries as your bottom line. Think of rules and principles you live by when you say what you will or won’t do or allow.

If you have difficulty saying no, override your needs to please others, or are bothered by someone who is demanding, controlling, criticizing, pushy, abusive, invasive, pleading, or even smothering you with kindness, it’s your responsibility to speak up.

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Recovering from Rejection and Breakups


Recovery from Rejection and Recovering from BreakupsBecause our nervous system is wired to need others, rejection and recovering from breakups are painful. Loneliness and the need for connection share the evolutionary purpose of survival and reproduction. Ideally, loneliness encourages us to maintain our relationships and reach out to others. Rejection in an intimate relationship especially hurts. It’s particularly difficult in the romantic phase of a relationship when you have unmet hope for the future.

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Dealing with a Passive-Aggressive Partner

Passive-Aggressive PartnerPassive-aggressive people act passive, but express aggression covertly. They’re basically obstructionist and try to block whatever you want. Their unconscious anger gets transferred onto you, and you become frustrated and furious. Your fury is theirs, while they calmly ask, “Why are you getting so angry?” or blame you for the anger they’re provoking.

Passive-aggressive partners are generally codependent, and like codependents, suffer from shame and low self-esteem.

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Are You a Caregiver or Codependent Caretaker?


Are You a Caregiver or Codependent Caretaker?Conventional belief is that we can never love too much, but that isn’t always true. Sometimes, love can blind us so that we deny painful truths. We might believe broken promises and continue to excuse someone’s abuse or rejection. We may empathize with them but not enough with ourselves. If we grew up in a troubled environment, we might confuse our pain with love. Although relationships have disappointments and conflicts, love isn’t supposed to be painful and hurt so much. Are you a caregiver or a codependent caretaker? Continue reading

Living with an Addict – Alcoholic


alcoholic familyIn 2022, 48.7 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder, including 29.5 million using alcohol, 27.2 million using drugs, and 8 million people who used both.

Living with an addict can be a living hell. Unpredictable and dangerous, yet sometimes exciting and romantic. Never knowing when we’ll be blamed or accused. Not being able to dependably plan social events. As the addict becomes more irresponsible, we pick up the slack and do more, often becoming the sole functioning parent or even the sole provider; yet we’re unable to lean on our partner for comfort or support.Continue reading

Are You a People-Pleaser?

Are You a People-Pleaser?A people-pleaser isn’t just big-hearted or kind to others. Nor are people-pleasers compromising. People-pleasing differs from accommodating someone though we rather not, because we value the relationship and know that compromise is necessary to sustain it. People-pleasers don’t have the luxury of choice. Their behavior has become a lifestyle. It’s compulsive, because they’re unable to say no.

Everyone starts out in life wanting to be safe, loved, and accepted. It’s in our DNA. Some of us figure out that the best way to do this is to put aside what we want or feel and allow someone else’s needs and feelings to take precedence. This works for a while. It feels natural, and there’s less outer conflict, but our inner conflict grows. If we’d like to say no, we feel guilty, and we may feel resentful when we yes. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.


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Trapped in an Unhappy Relationship?

Woman Confined Behind a Chain-Link FenceDo you feel trapped in a relationship you can’t leave? Of course, feeling trapped is a state of mind. No one needs consent to leave a relationship. Millions of people stay in unhappy relationships that range from empty to abusive for lots of reasons, but feeling trapped often stems from unconscious fears.

People give many explanations for staying, ranging from caring for young children to caring for a sick mate. One man was too afraid and guilt-ridden to leave his ill wife (11 years his senior). His ambivalence made him so distressed, he died before she did! Money binds couples who believe they can’t afford to separate. Yet, couples with more means may cling to a comfortable lifestyle, while their marriage dissembles into a business arrangement. Continue reading

Symptoms of Codependency

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Symptoms of CodependencyThe term codependency has been around for almost four decades. It originally applied to spouses of alcoholics, first called co-alcoholics. Research later revealed that the characteristics of codependents were much more prevalent in the general population than had been imagined. They found that if you were raised in a dysfunctional family or had an ill parent, it’s likely that you’re codependent. Don’t feel discouraged if that includes you. You’re in the majority! So, what are the symptoms of codependency? Continue reading

Why Can’t I Get Over My Ex?


Breakups, break-up, Breaking UpRejection and breakups are painful, especially for codependents – even in an abusive relationship! It can take us longer to get over a breakup, sometimes years, for even a short relationship. Codependents have difficulty letting go.

Breakups affect our self-esteem more than it does for people who are secure and confident. This is because breakups trigger hidden grief and cause irrational guilt, anger, shame, and fear.

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What is Emotional Abandonment?

distancingWe may not realize that we’re feeling emotionally abandoned or that we did as a child. We may be unhappy, but can’t put our finger on what it is. People tend to think of abandonment as something physical, like neglect. They also may not realize that loss of physical closeness due to death, divorce, and illness can feel like emotional abandonment. However, emotional abandonment has nothing to do with proximity. It can happen when the other person is lying right beside us – when we can’t connect, and our emotional needs aren’t being met in the relationship.Continue reading

Codependency Relationship Problems


Codependent Relationships, Codependency in Relationships by Darlene Lancer, MFTEveryone laughs when I tell them that I wrote Codependency for Dummies. But codependency in relationships is no laughing matter. It causes serious pain and affects the majority of Americans, both in and out of relationships. I know. I spent decades recovering.

There are all types of codependents, including caretakers, addicts, pleasers, and workaholics, to name a few. They all have one thing in common: They’ve lost the connection to their core. Their thoughts and behavior revolve around someone or something external, whether it’s a person or an addiction.

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The Dance of Intimacy


The Dance of IntimacyThe relationship duet is the dance of intimacy all couples do. One partner moves in, the other backs-up. Partners may reverse roles, but always maintain a certain space between them. The unspoken agreement is that the Pursuer chase the Distancer forever, but never catch-up, and that the Distancer keep running, but never really get away.

They’re negotiating the emotional space between them. We all have needs for both autonomy and intimacy – independence and dependency, yet simultaneously fear both being abandoned (acted by the Pursuer), and being too close (acted by the Distancer). Thus, we have the dilemma of intimacy: How can we be close enough to feel secure and safe, without feeling threatened by too much closeness?

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Child Parentification: The Cause, Signs, and Recovery

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child cookingThe term child parentification was coined in 1967 by family systems theorist Salvador Minuchin, who said the phenomenon occurred when parents de facto delegated parenting roles to children. It can happen when one parent is physically absent or when a dysfunctional family is under stress because a parent cannot perform their parental responsibilities. Usually, this is due to a physical or mental impairment that may be caused by mental illness, a disability, addiction, emotional disconnection between the parents, or environmental stressors, such as poverty or financial instability.

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Three Secret Behaviors of Narcissists

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Narcissists’ entire personality is a defense to help them manage their hidden insecurity and inner turmoil. There are three secret behaviors they do that aren’t immediately obvious, but if you think about them, they would make sense to you and explain their manifest behavior.

These behaviors stem from core symptoms of narcissism, especially their lack of empathy and grandiosity, and also arrogance.

It’s important in understanding narcissists to realize that their brain works differently and that they see the world much differently. Don’t compare them to yourself.


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Symptoms of Children of Narcissists and Addicts

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Narcissistic ParentChildren of narcissists and addicts (all substance abusers) grow up in a stressful, dysfunctional family environment, which in most cases leads to codependency. Due to the symptoms and defenses related to substance abuse and narcissism, particularly impaired boundaries, lack of empathy, and mood dysregulation, these parents are unable to see or value their children as independent individuals, validate and nurture them, and provide a reliably safe relationship and home environment.

Generally, narcissistic parents are ignoring, controlling, blaming, self-absorbed, and intolerant or unaware of their children’s needs and of the effects of their behavior on other people.Continue reading

How to Identify and Combat Gaslighting

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How to Identify and How to Combat GaslightingIdentifying gaslighting behavior and knowing how to combat gaslighting are essential to maintaining your self-esteem, and mental and emotional health.

Gaslighting is a form of narcissistic abuse that’s used not only by narcissists, but also by sociopaths, addicts, and other abusers. Sometimes it’s intentional, and sometimes it has become a habit to hide and maintain power.

Understanding Gaslighting

The term gaslighting comes from the movie Gaslight with Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman in which the character played by Boyer slowly tries to make Bergman’s character think that she’s losing her mind in order to steal from her.

Gaslighting is not an occasional lie or denial. It’s a pattern of behavior calculated to make you trust the perpetrator, confuse you, and make you doubt your own perceptions, sanity, memory, or feelings. It’s based on the need for control or concealment – often of an affair or gambling, or financial information or losses.

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Are You Kind or Are You Codependent?

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Are You Kind or Are You Codependent?Do you wonder whether you’re a kind, empathetic person or are you codependent?

There is a difference between empathy and codependency. There are codependents who are abusers and not caring, and some people who are caring and aren’t codependent. So what’s the difference?

First, the definition of codependency has nothing to do with kindness, although many codependents are kind and may be selfless and self-sacrificing to an unhealthy degree. Codependency stems from dependence and insecurity, because codependents need other people’s validation and appreciation to feel worthy.

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The Stages of Narcissistic Relationships

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The Stages of Narcissistic RelationshipsNarcissistic relationships often go through a painful cycle that is a predictable outgrowth of narcissistic personality disorder. Central to understanding a narcissist’s behavior is that their relationships are transactional. Their impaired boundaries and lack of empathy prevent them from seeing other people as separate three-dimensional beings with needs and feelings of their own. Thus, more than most people, they’re motivated by self-interest without considering the impact on their partner. However, it’s important to remember that there are several types of narcissists with varying symptoms and severity of pathology.

In narcissistic relationships instead of deepening love, dissatisfaction and abuse increase. Naturally, this creates conflict.

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Healing Shame with Unconditional Presence

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“Unconditional Presence: Letting Yourself Have Your Experience”

Since we can never gain assurance that we are lovable through trying to prove our worth or cover up our flaws, what we need instead is a way to discover our core nature as intrinsically beautiful, already, just as it is. This is what can free us from the whole bad self/bad other runaround.

The journey from self-hatred to self-love involves learning to meet, accept, and open to the being that you are. This begins with letting yourself have your experience. Genuine self-acceptance is not possible as long as you are resisting, avoiding, judging, or trying to manipulate and control what you experience. Whenever you judge the experience you’re having, you’re not letting yourself be as you are. And this puts you at odds with yourself, creating inner division and conflict. Continue reading

Difference between a Strong Ego, Weak Ego, and Big Ego

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Difference between a Strong Ego, Weak Ego, and Big EgoThe term “ego” has a bad rep, but in fact, having a strong ego indicates mental health in contrast to a weak or big ego. In Freud’s structural model of the psyche, “I” was translated to the Latin, “ego.” Unlike the primitive “id” seen in infants, the ego develops in stages and represents the “reality principle.” It delays gratification and mediates the id’s wants, emotions, and instinctual drives with reality. Its functions are control, judgment, tolerance, reality testing, planning, defense, memory, synthesis of information, and intellectual functioning.

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Articles and Blog Posts on How to recognize Signs of Codependency, Codependent Relationships, and Codependent Behavior by Darlene Lancer, MFT, author of Codependency for Dummies

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