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By September 14, 2015 4 Comments Read More →

Sociopaths use our self-image against us

Photo credit: By dusdin on flickr, cropped by Gridge  [CC BY 2.0 ]

We all have an image of ourselves. (Photo credit: By dusdin on flickr, cropped by Gridge CC BY 2.0)

We all have a mental picture of ourselves. We may think of ourselves as smart, kind, creative, professional, competent or loving. We may also have negative views of ourselves, such as disorganized, overweight, temperamental, fearful or lazy. Generally, our overall self-image is a collection of what we consider to be our assets and liabilities.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, this mental picture is learned. They write:

Self-image is a product of learning. Early childhood influences, such as parents and caregivers, significantly influence our self-image. They are mirrors reflecting back to us an image of ourselves. Our experiences with others such as teachers, friends, and family add to the image in the mirror. Relationships reinforce what we think and feel about ourselves.

Our self-image may be accurate or distorted. We may think more highly of our talents we really deserve, or we may be beating ourselves up unnecessarily.

Whatever our personal view of ourselves, sociopaths find ways to exploit it.

Boosting our self image

When sociopaths are trying to hook us and reel us in, they shower us with compliments and flattery. They talk about how they feel so much in common with us. They agree with our views and opinions.

In short, we feel like the sociopaths recognize our good points.

They also say things to make us feel better about our weaknesses. For example, if we feel that we could stand to lose some weight, sociopaths reassure us that we simply offer “more to love.”

What do all these tactics have in common? They boost our self-image.

That’s in the beginning of the involvement. Once we’re hooked, however, sociopaths target our self-image in other ways.

Within the relationship

Whenever there’s a conflict with sociopaths, a typical tactic is for them to accuse us of traits and behaviors that run counter to how we think about ourselves.

For example, if we turn down a request for money, they may call us greedy or stingy, when we’ve already been more than generous with them.

If we don’t agree to do something that they want us to do, they may call us self-centered. The truth may be that we do everything we can to accommodate others.

And here’s a big one: If we disagree on anything, they say that we don’t love really them — when we love this person more than we’ve ever loved anyone.

So what happens? We work to prove the sociopath wrong. We try to convince the sociopaths that we aren’t what they are saying about us.

It’s a brilliant approach by the sociopaths. We can’t stand the idea they have such a negative view of us. So what’s the fastest way to change their mind? Agreeing with what they want.

Added bonus for the sociopath: Not only do they get what they want, but they also increase their control over us.

Within the community

Long before we may have any inkling that sociopaths are thinking about discarding us, they launch the smear campaign.

They start talking behind our backs. They spread stories about us, such as they suspect we’re doing drugs or cheating on them.

One of the their favorite lies is that we are mentally unbalanced. They say this to friends and family, usually feigning tremendous concern, so that everyone believes what they say.

Much later, when we decide we’ve had enough of their exploitation, we try to tell our friends and family what has really been going on in our relationship — and no one believes us! They’ve already been warned that we are cheating, drug-addicted psychos!

Why is the smear campaign so devastating? Because it attacks who we think we are.

We know that we did not do what the sociopaths say we did. We are not who the sociopaths say we are. The sociopaths’ lies offend our self-image.

What to do

The best thing you can do, either before tangling with a sociopath, or while recovering from their manipulation, is to work on developing a strong, positive self-image.

Plenty of experts have written about building your self-image or self-esteem (essentially the same thing). Here are tips from the Cleveland Clinic:

Specific steps to foster a positive self-image

  • Take a self-image inventory
  • Make a list of your positive qualities
  • Ask significant others to describe your positive qualities
  • Define personal goals and objectives that are reasonable and measurable
  • Confront thinking distortions
  • Identify and explore the impact of childhood labels
  • Refrain from comparing yourself to others
  • Develop your strengths
  • Learn to love yourself
  • Give positive affirmations
  • Remember that you are unique
  • Remember how far you have come

At the same time, recognize that sociopaths intentionally target your self-image, and exploit the way you view yourself to get what they want.

So look carefully at how your views of yourself may have been influenced by the sociopaths. It may be time to change your mind about your self-image.

 



4 Comments on "Sociopaths use our self-image against us"

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  1. Icantbelieveit says:

    This is so true. Sometimes I start criticizing myself – I have to wonder, where is it coming from? Are the criticisms mine – or his?



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  2. pumpkin1619 says:

    I am three years in a relationship with a narcissist. I was one of those silly women who read “Fifty Shades of Grey” and was attracted to the “Alpha Male.” I went on a website and that is where I met him. He asks, “How much control will you give me? What will you do for me? I will consume you.” What started out as an intense game resulted me codependent on him and me raising a child on my own. Anytime I dispute him, he says I am breaking my promise of submission and he manages to downplay his actions so much that I feel ashamed for questioning him. Where he doesn’t hide his other women, he says that I have to trust him and that he wants another woman for the “structure.” I shake my head as I type this-how stupid I am. Yet I cannot seem to get away from him at my own demise. He is currently on his way out of state to spend the week with another woman. He has made me so insecure about her that I feel like someone is sitting on my chest. I have managed once to break free from him for about 3 months. He managed to interject himself right back in and just like all the books I have read, I was right back at ground zero. My entire family thinks I’m nuts, my son looks at me and ask why I am sad all the time. I don’t even know why I continue to stay. he tells me he takes good care of me, so why should it matter what he does when he isn’t with me. He knows that I cannot deal with the silent treatments, so more times than not- I am ignored. He has effected every single detail of my life, but its like I’m holding on stronger than ever.



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  3. Jan7 says:

    Hi pumpkin1619, I’m glad that you found the courage to search the net & then post here at Lovefraud. What you are describing is exactly what a sociopath does…he mentally will mind control & brain wash his victims EXACTLY like a cult victim!

    He is your cult leader & you are his cult follower!

    Breaking away from a sociopath is extremely difficult…but the first step is to recognize that you need to get this person out of your life…YOU KNOW THIS…this is why you searched the net & have shared your heart wrenching story with us. So glad that you did!

    The book “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a extremely dangerous book because it is portraying a Psychopath as exciting & fun when in reality they will only drag you into the depths of hell.

    YOU ARE NOT CRAZY….THE SOCIOPATH THAT YOU ARE WITH IS THE CRAZY ONE LITERALLY!!! Please know this!

    Outsiders do not understand the mental hold a sociopath can have over their victims…just like a cult a member needs help out of the cult and in your case this is the same.

    PLEASE reach out for more help with the National Dometic Violence Hotline (USA 800-799-SAFE) to talk with a free counselor and to ask for your local abuse center phone number where you can receive free counseling & go to free women group meetings.

    Do you know you are in a mentally, emotional & verbally abusive relationship?

    Most victims do not realize that they are in a abusive relationship. The bulk of domestic abuse is emotional, mental, verbal & financial abuse and physically abuse typically does not come into play until the vicim is ready to leave or has left the relationship. Your National & local abuse center can help you with an “EXIT PLAN” out of your abusive relationship.

    Google:

    Domestic Abuse ExIt Plan

    Domestic Abuse Exit Plan You Tube

    Dr Phil Exit PLan

    to learn more about how to safely Exit out of this aubsive relationship. Please know YOU ARE NOT ALONE ANYMORE….WE HEAR YOU!!

    You are under a tremendous amount of stress google Adrenalfatigue. org, DrLam. com, Mialundin. com , Adrenal Fatigue. With the stress your adrenal glands work over time which in return wreak havoc your blood pressure, blood sugar, high cortisol & adrenaline and over 50 hormones. These things get out of balance and cause symptoms like mood swings, depression, panic attacks, anxiety, sleep issues, memory loss etc etc…its a long list and with these things not balanced it will also prevent you to think clearly on how to get out of your abusive relationship.

    Do a search on the top left side of Lovefraud for the following along with on the net:

    gas lighting abuse

    sociopath mind control

    no contact rule narcissist (then with the word sociopath)

    Have your most trusted friends & family look at the site psychopathyawareness. wordpress.com so that they fully understand how this man is controlling you and also that he is extremely dangerous. If you want have them look at Lovefraud too unless you want a place where you can talk freely without them seeing what you are type.

    While your bf is out of town call your National domestic abuse Hotline (USA 800-799-SAFE) 24/7 365 days a year.

    Read everything at the top of this wonderful site & watch the videos up there also. Each time you are sad, mad, confused, crying etc come here and read everything up at the top over and over as it will open your mind up from your bf brain washing & mind control.

    Also come here an vent each time you feel that you need to talk with hm once you impose the no contact rule & now prior to imposing it.

    We are here for you! YOU ARE NOT ALONE ANYMORE!!

    HUGS TO YOU. 🙂



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  4. Jan7 says:

    pumpkin, This is a article from the net that explains why the No contact Rule works and most be used to get this evil man out of your life for good.

    “Why Initiate a”No Contact” Rule When Leaving a Narcissistic Relationship

    No contact is initiated as a way of breaking the psychic emotional bonds between you and a narcissistic partner, friend or family member. If you have been involved with a narcissistic person for any length of time you will undoubtedly have a strong attachment to that person. This attachment needs to be weakened which will happen much more quickly once you engage the rules of “no contact.”

    I am referring to the rules of “no contact” as RULES but these are only enforced by you. These are your rules! If you break these rules you are the one who pays the consequences. And…there are most definitely consequences that come in the form of emotional pain and re-attachment.

    No contact gives you the space and time to get your energy back into your life. It can be challenging at first as you may have to resist the urge to answer the phone, return an Email or make that call. You must get into the habit of policing yourself for your own good. Imagine that you have two different aspects of yourself; a parent self and a child self. The parent self will have to police the child self to be sure she doesn’t do anything that will hurt her. You know intellectually that breaking the rules of “no contact” will hurt that child, so you stop her from doing so, even though she is throwing a tantrum.

    Making a decision to cut off contact with a narcissistic personality when leaving the relationship is an important part of your recovery process. The decision to initiate “NO Contact” is a decision for your health and sanity.

    When you remain in contact you continue to engage in the relationship on some level and are still affected by its craziness and dysfunction. You will normally continue to be affected by the hot and cold behavior of the narcissist, be pulled in and pushed away, confused and hurt. You will continue to be drained energetically which results in depression and lethargy.

    The best remedy for getting yourself back is to stop giving your energy to the relationship in any way, shape or matter. You can only dry off when you take your feet out of the water. Cut off his access to you and your energy!

    Of course there are cases where ‘no contact” is not possible due to the involvement of children or when the narcissistic personality is a direct family member. However even in these cases contact can be greatly limited and sometimes all contact can be through a third party mediator.

    Here are the rules of No Contact:

    1) Once you have made the decision to end the relationship get your business taken care of immediately, if possible. If you are married and going through a divorce you will need to initiate the divorce right away or make the decision to put it on hold for six months to a year while you take care of yourself and your family. During that time you can initiate “no contact” and then initiate the divorce paperwork, through an attorney when you are stronger. Let the narcissist in your life know that you are ending the relationship and won’t be in communication with him for a while. Ask him to please refrain from calling, text messaging, Emailing, instant chat or stopping by your home or workplace.

    2) Taking care of business involves getting your possessions, giving him his possessions. Getting separate living quarters, separating bills and anything that would give you a reason to contact him or for him to contact you. If necessary use a third party mediator.

    3) Clean out your home and get rid of any memorabilia having to do with your ex-narcissistic partner. If you are having issues throwing something away or burning it, put it in a big box, tape it up and store it somewhere where you won’t see it. If you are comfortable burning sage or incense this can help clear the energy of your home. Also burning candles is a good way to shift the energy.

    4) Make no arrangements for personal meetings. If he stops by, don’t answer the door. If you see him in public, put your sunglasses on, avoid eye contact and move past him as quickly as possible.

    5) Make or accept no phone calls. If he calls, don’t answer the phone. If he calls from an unidentified number and you hear his voice on the other end, hang up without saying a word. He’ll get the message. If he leaves a voice mail message try and erase it without listening if you can. If he is persistent, consider having your phone number changed. This is your sanity we are talking about. It is priceless.

    6) Make or accept no text messages, emails, or instant chat. It is best to block his emails and even consider having your own email address changed so he won’t have your information. This prevents him emailing you from an unknown address.

    7) If you are on any mutual community Websites, you will want to stop visiting those sites. Do not access his Web pages, profiles, or anything that will give you current info on him. What he is doing is none of your business. What you are doing is none of his.

    8) If you have friends in common, you will want to let them know that you are avoiding any and all contact with him at this time so you can focus on your healing and you request that they NOT share any information about him with you nor any information about you with him. If you find mutual friends do not support your request you will want to avoid contact with them for a time. Do not allow anyone to tell you that what you are doing is crazy, silly, stupid, childish or invalidate your decision in any way. This is a time to surround yourself with people who support you and let go of people who don’t.

    9) If you work with him, in the same office building, same company, etc.. Same rules apply. If you are forced to do business with him, keep all communication strictly business and don’t allow him to engage you in any other way. Remember: He no longer has access to you or your energy.

    10) If you have children with him you are best to engage a mediator for all contact. Narcissistic people will often use the children as a way to get to you. You may consider asking a family member or good friend to act as the mediator for young children. If your kids are old enough to handle their own business, let them work out the details of any visits directly with the other parent and communicate with you to be sure you approve. Be careful not to use your children to punish the narcissistic parent. The kids will be the ones being affected. In some cases when the narcissistic parent realizes he has no control over you and using the kids doesn’t work, he may bow out altogether and you may rarely hear from him. So it is important that you don’t allow him access to you, even if you have kids. Keep it strictly business.

    How Long Must No Contact Last?

    No contact should remain in affect until you feel the bond has been completely severed. This can take several years so be prepared to continue “no contact” for a long time. Most will find once that bond is severed there is no need or desire to see that person, but the rules can soften a bit at this point so if you run into him on the street you may say “hello” and be kind, but not engage in any “real” conversation. If you have kids together you may be able to communicate directly at some point in the future, although there is absolutely no guarantee this will work well.

    Once you have moved on, down the road, you will want to be careful not to make the mistake of believing maybe he/she has changed. The likelihood of any real change is very small. Always assume he is the same person as he always was. Even if he had changed, your trust in him has already been severely damaged and you would never likely be fully trusting again. This is no way to have a relationship. You deserve to have someone you can trust completely in your life.”



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