Narcissistic Abuse & “Shame”

How many of you feel shame?

Do you question yourself and wonder if I should have known better?  You tell yourself I’m supposed to be smart, why didn’t I recognize what was going on sooner. Why didn’t I leave or go no contact sooner?

Abuse by a Narcissist causes you to doubt yourself and question if it’s something you are doing wrong.  They manipulate you into questioning your own sanity and perception of reality. They are masters of button pushing.

Most people abused by Narcissists are deeply empathetic and believe they can fix the Narcissist. An Empath thinks the narcissist doesn’t really mean to do what they are doing. Rationalizing and making excuses for the narcissist’s behavior.

Shame carves deep scars in people who have endured psychological abuse. Abuse can become synonymous with shame.  You question yourself, am I making something bigger out of a situation. You tell yourself others have endured so much worse than I have. You tell yourself it wasn’t that bad.

Abuse is abuse, no matter what the circumstances were or are. Take for example- Two persons, one drowns in 5 feet of water and the other drowns in 20 feet of water, end result is they both drown.  Abuse is abuse.

Narcissists lack empathy.  They don’t consider their actions or the implications those actions have on others.  They never take responsibility for their actions either. They need to feed their ego, their inflated sense of self and entitlement at the expense of others.   Narcissist’s often target someone who has a huge capacity to empathize with others.  Resulting in the Empath placing the narcissist’s needs above their own.

it wasn’t until the late 1980’s that narcissistic abuse became more widely recognized and accepted.  In the 1990’s one began to see more and more written on the subject, regarding the growth of narcissistic abuse in society. Unfortunately, narcissism and the resulting narcissistic abuse has become an epidemic.  The embedded and reinforced sense of entitlement in our society fuels the narcissism epidemic.

Shame comes out of frustration and fear of being misunderstood. For example, when you try to tell others and explain what has happened to you and how you were treated/mistreated, they look at you as you are the problem, no one can be that bad, and they walk away from you – the actual victim.

In her book “I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t)”, author and speaker Brené Brown calls shame a “silent epidemic”:

Brown says that shame needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. It’s no wonder, then, that people who have endured abuse at the hands of an intimate partner/family member are so likely to feel ashamed about it. Abusers thrive on secrecy, silence, and judgment. They rely on planting the very feelings that nourish shame.

With little self-worth, we’re not good at setting healthy boundaries.  Or caring about ourselves first.   So, we are ripe for manipulation by them. We believe them when they tell us their behavior is our fault.  We are primed to put their needs above our own.

Narcissists can detect and exploit a person’s inner feeling of shame, acquired somewhere in our childhood, that tells us we are not good enough.

They know exactly what buttons to push to re-open the wound of that damaged inner child. They, also, know the ones that soothe us, make us feel special and good again.  The ups and downs of a narcissist’s manipulations.

When they love-bomb us at the start. When they pour out their love for us after abusing us, we’re grateful for it.  It fills that void.  It makes the emptiness go away.

That hole inside us was dug out in childhood. Somehow our emotional needs weren’t fully met, so we never feel that we are good enough.

If our emotional needs aren’t met as a child, we grow up with shame.

How do we overcome shame?

The first step is to start sharing in a comfortable, confidential, and safe environment.  Once you start sharing your story and getting some validation it should diminish some of that shame.  Join groups of people that have experienced the same or similar behaviors. People that you can relate to and know you are not alone.  If the shame does not go away after these steps, you may need to talk to a professional to work through this and, perhaps, some other issues that are a result of being abuse.


Remember you are not alone and we are in this together.

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