You’ve heard the word narcissist, but what does it really mean?
In this episode we’ll discuss:
- What narcissism is— how it’s presented in the Bible and the criteria psychologists use to diagnose it
- The difference between labeling people vs. naming behaviors
- Different types of narcissism
- What it feels like if you’re in a narcissistic relationship
- How do I know that I’m not a narcissist?
- The antidote to narcissism
Dr. Alison: Hey everyone. I'm Dr. Alison Cook, and I'm here to help you discover what brings out the best of you. This podcast is all about helping you break free from painful patterns, mend your past, and discover your true self in God.
I'm so grateful you're here and I can't wait to get started. As we learn together how to become the best version of who we are with God's help.
Hey, everyone, it’s Dr. Alison, and welcome to this very first episode of The Best of You podcast. So this week, I want to kick off our very first series, I'm calling psychology buzzwords. So what I want to do in this series is tackle some of these buzzy words that we are seeing everywhere.
Some of them you may be more familiar with than others. Some of them represent aspirational qualities, the best of who we hope to be. And some of these words represent the toxic side of things. They show up when people are living from the worst of who they are.
Before we dive into this series, I want to say the following, and I'll probably repeat it over and over in this series. Because it's so important to understand the power of words. There's a difference between labeling a person and naming a pattern of behaviors. Labeling, slaps a sticker on someone that says, "You are this. This is who you are. You are bad."
On the other hand, naming a pattern of behaviors brings clarity. It brings life, it brings freedom. It's saying, "Here is what this is, here is how this affects me, here is how it affects other people, and now that I have clarity. I can move toward health both in myself and in my relationships and I can move away from toxicity."
So labeling uses knowledge as a weapon. It takes words and throws them on people and it doesn't really help anybody. Naming patterns of behaviors uses knowledge as a shield. It's not so much about attacking the other person or even labeling the other person.
Instead, it's about equipping and empowering you to live with wisdom and discernment. It's about you learning to honor your own heart, mind, and body as precious and worthy of care. So in your name patterns, whether in yourself or in other people. You can take steps to turn away from harm, and toward becoming the best version of who you are with God's help.
All right, today, we're going to start off with one of the buzziest buzzwords right now, and that's narcissism. So I want to start here for two reasons. Narcissism, in many ways, represents the worst of who we can become.
It's the opposite of a strong, healthy sense of self. It's a picture of what we want to move away from. And a lot of people don't understand this about narcissism, they see it as someone being too full of themselves. When the reality is, it's the absence of a core sense of self and we'll unpack that a little bit as we go.
So the second reason I want to start with narcissism, is that it's the word I see thrown around the most, right now. And there's a lot of good reasons for that it's real, it's destructive. If you've been in a relationship with a narcissistic parent, pastor, partner, friend, anyone, it's really devastating.
It's really hard to see it, to name it, and to find your way out of that kind of relationship. But the term is also often misused in ways that can be damaging. So it's really important that we understand it since we're hearing it a lot.
All right, so to define narcissism I'm going to look to two primary sources. And because this is a podcast where we talk about faith and psychology. We're going to look at the Bible and we're going to look at the DSM for our definition of narcissism.
The DSM is a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. It's what psychologists use to classify and describe patterns of human behaviors. It's exactly what we're doing here. So it gives us a picture of how the world of psychology is seeing these behaviors. And it's only one picture, there are many ways of looking at this. But I find it to be helpful when we're trying to understand these things.
So this is how I define it in its simplest terms, and that is, "Narcissism is the absence of a strong sense of self." And that might be surprising to some of you. You might have thought of narcissism as being someone who's completely full of themselves. And that's, a lot of times, is what we say or they love themselves so much.
But the reality is that someone who is narcissistic is very far from their true sense of self. From their God-made self. There's a bit of a black hole inside, a bit of a void. And, as a result, someone who's narcissistic has to take everything in the world, around them, as an object to try to fill that void inside of them.
Everyone in the world, around a narcissist, really only exists to help that person fill their own void inside. The narcissist can't really connect inwardly to a healthy core sense of self, out of which to give out to others. So they're always trying to fill that void on the inside.
So with that in mind, here's what the DSM, which is this manual used by psychologists says about narcissistic behaviors. These are the criteria that are used to diagnose someone who is narcissistic.
The first and important point is that "It's a pervasive pattern of behaviors." And we'll get into more of what we mean by that word pervasive. But here's some of the checklist: A grandiose sense of self-importance. Someone who's preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love, sort of this idealized fantasy of love.
Someone who requires excessive admiration. They might have a sense of entitlement, which is an unreasonable expectation of special treatment. Or maybe they want you to automatically comply with whatever they think, or want, or need in any given moment.
They lack empathy. Which means they are either unable, or unwilling to recognize, or identify, or come alongside the feelings of other people. They are someone who exploits other people. And this is what I mean by this idea that they're looking at you only as someone to serve their needs, to fill that void inside of them. You're just an object in their world. Arrogance is a feature of narcissism, as well as envy.
Now, here's the thing, we all have some of these qualities. And in order to meet the criteria to be diagnosed, as someone who's narcissistic, you have to have a bunch of these qualities. And remember that word, they have to be pervasive, and we'll talk more about what that means.
But before we get there, I want to look at a passage from the Bible. That I think really describes this idea of narcissism really well in a way that's amazing to me. Because it's long before the word ever really existed in our modern vernacular.
So listen to me read these words from 2 Timothy 3, now, I'm reading from The Message Version. Okay, are you ready? This is 2 Timothy 3:1-5, "Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. People are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people."
So that's from The Message version, again, from 2 Timothy 3, I'll link to it in the show notes. But it's so striking to me, there's a way in which nothing is really new under the sun. You're going to find that as we dig into this podcast. All these psychology buzzwords are, in many ways, new words, for old behaviors, behaviors as old as the sun.
So another thing that's interesting to me is N.T. Wright's translation of this very same passage uses the phrase, "People will be in love with themselves. And there will be a pattern of godlessness."
Now, again, this idea that people are in love with themselves. Not so much because they actually love themselves in that way that we're supposed to care for ourselves. But they're just in love with this idea of themselves because there's such a void at the center. And, so, there's no real ability for love to flow vertically and horizontally.
They're only able to bring love toward "ME" inwardly. "I can only bring the love in. I don't have anything on the inside from which to pour out to others." That's the narcissist
Okay, so there's a lot to unpack here. So I want to start — I just want to pull out three different things from what we just read. Number one, this idea, "Don't be naive." Don't be naive in this world. And you know this you're listening to this episode, so you're obviously interested in this idea.
You know there's toxicity in our world. I wish there wasn't. I wish I could get on here and talk about nice happy things all the time and I promise we will. But it's real. Narcissism is real and we can't be naive. And if you find yourself in a narcissistic relationship without knowing what it is, it's really helpful to understand it so that you can name it.
This is biblical. It's biblical, to be wise, to be discerning, to be careful, to be cautious, to arm ourselves with that shield of knowledge that I was talking about.
The other thing I want you to pay attention to is this idea of patterns of behaviors. Both in the DSM and the Bible, there's this emphasis on patterns. This is so important, it's not just a one-off. Any one of us can be selfish, self-centered, entitled, arrogant, or envious.
Any one of us can be any of those things in any given moment. If any one of those behaviors, at one moment in time makes someone a narcissist, we are all narcissists, right there. I mean, I know I am. If any one of those behaviors makes somebody a narcissist.
There's a difference between someone who's self-centered in a moment, and someone who has a constant pervasive pattern of only being able to see the world through their own self-centered lens. Who is incapable of empathizing with another human.
So this idea of it being a pattern of behaviors, over time, is really important to understand as we go through all of these buzzwords. These are not one-offs.
We get to make mistakes, we get to have a moment. It's not just a selfish or self-centered person, even. This is a pervasive pattern of self-focus behaviors, over time, with reckless disregard for other people, okay? So don't be naive, these are patterns of behaviors.
So the third thing I want to pull out of 2 Timothy, in particular, is this idea that he says, "They'll make a show of religion." So religious people are not immune from these toxic behaviors. And I know you're sitting there listening to me going, "Yes, I know this."
I know many of you have been hurt by narcissistic behaviors in faith communities, in faith-filled homes. You may have grown up in a home where faith was shown, but the way that it was lived out was really toxic. So people of faith are not immune from these patterns of behaviors.
In fact, Timothy highlights that "These behaviors will come from people making a show of religion," he's highlighting this. And I don't want to stigmatize any one group. But we can be really quick to point to celebrity culture, or politicians, or other go-to places.
But the truth is these toxic behaviors are also in faith communities, and they can be even more hurtful there. Because we're not expecting them there. We're, oftentimes, taking our guard down when we go into these faith communities. And so it's even more harmful than when we bump up against these toxic behaviors. So those are three things to pause on before we move forward.
So what are some examples of different types of narcissism? Well, first of all, it lies on a spectrum and that's true of any behavior. Most of us are not one thing. Most people are not all one thing, we're complex. And some forms of narcissism are more damaging than others.
They all create wounds, they all create pain. But some forms can be more damaging, and even more dangerous than others. So my good friend, who's a professor and therapist, Chuck DeGroat has an amazing book. Where he talks about how narcissism shows up by Enneagram type.
So for those of you who are Enneagram enthusiasts, please check out that book. It's fascinating to see the ways he describes the different numbers and how narcissism shows up. The book is called When Narcissism Comes to Church. And he talks a lot about how narcissism shows up in faith communities, specifically.
But Chuck says, "There are many faces of narcissism." And with that in mind, I want to paint a picture of a couple of different types of narcissism, and how these may have shown up in your life.
So I'll start with what I call a more benign narcissist. And this type of person might not even quite make the cut for a diagnosis. But a lot of the features are there, and it's helpful to understand because it's one of the more common types.
For example, let's say you have a parent who is really self-preoccupied. Maybe it's your mom, maybe she can only talk about herself. She can't really understand that you have struggles, or that you're busy with raising your kids, or your work, or all the things that you have on your plate. Maybe she can only see you as someone to be there for her. It's really all about her needs and she's not, necessarily, trying to hurt you.
There's nothing malicious going on but she really can't see you. She can't empathize with you. She can't enter into your world. No matter how hard you might be trying to get her to enter into your world, to see your world, she just can't do it.
She can only exist in her own world and you can only be in a relationship with her as long as you enter into her world. And what I mean by that is as long as you are listening to her, propping up her ideas, validating her feelings, seeking out her opinions. She can't really do those things for you, okay?
So the reason I use the word benign is that this person isn't actively trying to harm you. So let's say, for example, you set some boundaries with this person. Maybe you reduced the amount of time you spend with them, or maybe you get some space from them.
They don't necessarily try to manipulate you, or guilt-trip you, or coerce you to feel guilty or obligated to them. They might even let you go. But even in that, especially when it's a parent, that's painful.
Because it's like, "Why wouldn't they come to me and ask what's going on?" And you have to remember, this person simply cannot see you. They cannot come into your world and say, "I want to hear about you, how are you? What's going on with you?"
This is really hard, especially, when it's a parent or a family member. It's like they live in their own orb and you're welcome if you enter into their world. But if you need it to be about you, that option isn't there.
So it's not that there's malicious behavior. Again, you might be able to be around this person, but you will need to adjust your expectations of them. You might need to limit your time and you've got to constantly remind yourself, "This person is never going to ask me about my day. They're never going to enter into my problems, my opinions. They're not going to seek out my opinion." So you reduce your expectations in that way.
So next up, we go to what a lot of people call covert narcissism, and I tend to call it victim narcissism. It's still always about them but it's more from this victim place. It's more from this place of, "You need to be available to me. I need you. I need you always to be helping me. I need you to love me. I need you to affirm me."
There's a lot of guilt-tripping, and a lot of manipulation in this type of narcissism. They're always trying to get your affirmation. They're using tactics to keep you close to them and these tactics are harmful. Because they usually pull on your own wounds and your own vulnerabilities.
They don't really necessarily want your help. They don't really want to come out of that victim place. But they do want you to validate them in that victim place. And if you don't, let's say you try to set a boundary or you try to take space, they won't like it, and they may try to blame you. They may try to make you feel bad. When in reality, all you're trying to bring out is more of your true self in the relationship, and they can't tolerate that.
So the next one we get into is what we call overt narcissism. Which is really what people are typically talking about when they start to say things like, "Oh, he's such a narcissist." Or "Oh, she's such a narcissist."
It's that sort of archetype of this charismatic, self-promoting, sort of, dynamic person. And these people, at first, they are a lot of fun. There is usually a lot of energy. There is a lot going on, they make you feel wonderful. They make a lot of promises about what they can do for you. You might feel really special to be chosen by them initially.
So, initially, we can really get sucked into sort of this orb of the overt narcissist. But over time, again, remember patterns of behavior over time. You start to realize, man, this is all about their world, this is all about them.
Heaven forbid, I have a difference of opinion, or maybe I don't want to show up for that thing. Or maybe I need to call them out on something and I think they're being a little bit selfish. And, all of a sudden, you start to see this other side of the person.
You start to realize that it's not okay to question or challenge them. You can't confront or have any sort of meaningful conversation about conflict in any way. It all goes really, really, well with this type of person as long as you stick to their terms, all right?
So this is when a lot of us get sucked into it and it can feel really bad about yourself. Because you're like, "Why didn't I see it earlier?"
But I want you to remember, again, these are patterns of behavior. So, initially, this person is really wooing you, it's really fun, there's a lot going on. And it takes a minute to see behind, peer behind the veil, and see what's really going on underneath.
All right, last, we move into the most-toxic narcissism, what we call malignant narcissism. Now, these are folks at whatever point you cross them, at whatever point you challenge them. Whether it's their leadership or maybe their victim narrative, they're going to come after you. So, and that's what we mean by malignant, there's going to be malice. There's some malignant intent here.
So, for example, you might start to notice, you know, "Man, I really love how dynamic this person is, they're motivating and captivating. But I'm seeing some things behind the scenes that are concerning me, in the way that they're treating other people. It feels like maybe they're not thinking about how their actions are affecting others." And when you start to see that, and if you start to point it out, they're not going to like it.
Their core sense of self can't tolerate that disagreement, that difference, that differentiation. It's what we call, psychologists call, when you start to insert some difference, you bring your own self into the picture. You differentiate from that person, they can't tolerate that.
They can't tolerate you calling them out and you'll be punished if you do that. You'll be punished if you don't abide by what they perceive to be their needs, their demands. What they've dictated to be the way things are going to be, and this is where it can get really destructive.
It can get really hard to get out of these kinds of relationships. Especially in a marriage or maybe even a church community or a family member, in any type of committed relationship where there's been some investment on your part. Because they're going to use things against you. They're going to take things they know about you and use them against you and it's really, really toxic.
So I want to touch on, next, a little bit, just to quickly on where does narcissism come from? So I've come to believe that shame is at the root of narcissism. And, so, this can happen when a child either had no attention and were completely neglected.
So they didn't get the healthy mirroring, this idea of mirroring is the idea of parents, kind of, holding up a mirror to a child. To help a child see themselves that's really healthy when a child is young. That's what we need when we're young.
So if you didn't get that you don't develop that healthy sense of self. And then on the other extreme, this can happen when children are overindulged and no boundaries are ever set. They're never taught how to see some of their blind spots, how to see some of their shortcomings, which is also really important.
So either extreme can create the situation in which nobody's ever taught this child, "Hey, you know sometimes you get it wrong. Sometimes you've got to be able to tolerate somebody disagreeing with you. Somebody not liking the way you do things, somebody's giving you input. You've got to learn to tolerate challenges. You've got to learn to tolerate other people's boundaries, other people's YESES and NOs. You've got to be able to say them and you've got to be able to tolerate them from others."
And, so, if this isn't taught, if this child never learned this, whether they were overindulged or whether they were neglected, there's a lot of shame at the root. Where they don't know how to tolerate.
They've never built up that core sense of self to tolerate, somebody, coming into their space, and introducing difference. Introducing another perspective, introducing maybe healthy confrontation or a healthy boundary. And then their desire to avoid that shame, that void inside that's been filled in with shame in the absence of any healthy messaging.
They're really quick to turn things around and lay that shame right back on you. And spoiler alert, this is our topic next week, we're going to get into their favorite tactic to use, which is gaslighting. So you might even think of narcissism as people who are stuck in those very early stages of development and that's where there's so much shame there.
Because it's like a little child inside the narcissist. A really young child that has never been able to grow into a healthy, mature adult who understands boundaries. Who understands distinction between myself and others. So remember, narcissism isn't a strong sense of self, it's the opposite. It's the lack of that whole sense of a healthy self.
So I want to move into how does it affects us? What's it feels like to be in a relationship with someone with these patterns? Because many of you listening have probably been hurt by someone or maybe even wondering if you're in a relationship like that.
So here's what it can feel like; you start to find yourself in a world where you don't exist. It's like you're looking around, going, "I'm in this relationship and I don't exist in this relationship. I only exist in so far as I'm mirroring back to them what it is that they think, what it is that they need. I'm validating their feelings constantly."
And you can start to feel a little crazy, almost like, "What's wrong with me?" Like, "Why can't I make myself heard?" "Am I not explaining myself clearly enough?" "Am I doing something wrong?" "Am I not standing up for myself enough?"
Because they can't enter into my needs or honor my opinions, they can't hear me. They can't have a healthy dialogue. They can't have this conversation, where you might say, "Hey, here's what's hard for me." And then maybe there's an exchange when two healthy people come together.
It goes kind of like, "Here's what I need, here's what I'm struggling with." And then the other person listens and they might say, "Okay, I get that, I hear you, I understand, here's how I see it, here's what I need." And then two healthy people come together and negotiate through those differences.
But with a narcissistic person, you can't do that. You can't have that kind of healthy communication. As long as you're gazing upon them, as long as you're building them up, as long as you're listening to the way they see the world, the relationship is good.
But if you take a second look. If you show any difference. If you question something. If you say, "I'm not sure I agree with you on that. I'm not sure I want to do it that way." Or, "I think I need to set a boundary here." They can't tolerate that.
So there's no communication avenues possible with someone who is truly narcissistic. And that's what's really hard for people to understand, those communication avenues are closed off. You're not going to get anywhere by continuing to try to make yourself heard, with someone who's truly narcissistic.
In healthy relationships, there's a back and forth. You might have ruptures but you repair. You might have disagreements, but you negotiate your way through them. You might have conflict, but you figure it out, you figure out a way forward.
Someone who is narcissistic cannot do these things, you can't get traction with them. They need to be in charge. It needs to be on their terms, they can't repair after a rupture. They will do just enough to engage, but never really get to the root of the problem so that the problem can be healed and solved.
Because the only way to get to the root of a problem is for both people to be able to get to the root of themselves. To see themselves clearly including an awareness of our strengths and of our shortcomings. It requires a full self to be able to go into a relationship with another person and there's no sense of self there. There's no stable core sense of self there when someone is narcissistic.
I want to just briefly touch on this question, how do I know I'm not a narcissist? I get asked this a lot and it's a very simple answer. When you can really start to genuinely reflect on yourself, to the point where you're genuinely asking that question, you're probably not a narcissist.
When you can reflect on yourself with any sense of self-awareness, and even naming, "Oh man, I do long for approval. I'm aware that sometimes my motivation is to try to get approval." That's healthy self-awareness because then you can work with that. Or I want my kids to validate me, to tell me that I'm awesome.
I know, it's not primarily my job as a parent to get my kids to validate my needs. I know, that's not what I'm supposed to be doing. I know I'm supposed to be loving them for them and helping them become their truest self.
But, man, sometimes I just want them to tell me I'm doing a great job. That's healthy self-awareness. That's you owning your own stuff. That's you becoming aware of your own blind spots, be compassionate toward yourself, you don't need to shame yourself, but it's just this healthy way of seeing yourself.
So we all have to be doing the work of looking inside our own hearts, I mean, every single one of us. If you're a church leader, a pastor, a politician, a parent, a celebrity, whatever your situation is in life, you have to be doing the hard work of looking inside your own heart.
Because we can all move toward narcissistic tendencies. We can all move toward trying to get our own gaping wounds healed by manipulating others. By trying to get other people to see us a certain way instead, of trying to be who we really are with God's help.
We have to do this work of really being vulnerable about where we're struggling. About where we need validation, about where we notice when we're being a little bit entitled. Or when we're trying to manipulate someone else trying to get them to do what I want them to do. Instead, of asking someone directly for what I need, and letting the other person be an adult, and respond how is best for them.
We all have to do this work to stay on top of ourselves. To notice, "When am I loving the spotlight, and when do I need to practice stepping back out of the spotlight? To make sure that, that desire isn't getting the best of me?" Or, "When do I need to make sure that I'm lifting up others voices? That I'm not making it all about my voice?"
So we want to be looking for people who are doing that work. It's not that they're perfect, it's that they're doing the work of growing in self-awareness. They're doing the work of showing up and here we're going to go with the opposite of the patterns that we want to be looking with.
We want to be looking for consistent patterns of kindness, of humility, of goodness, of self-control, of patience, of gentleness, of faithfulness, of peace. These are the fruit of God's Spirit. These are the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5. And we want to be looking for people who show that they know how to live from this place of being loved.
Of having received kindness, of having received goodness. But they have something to pour out to others from that place of wholeness inside. And that comes through self-awareness. That comes through facing our stuff, we learn to be good to ourselves, even when we have really blown it in the moment.
Because when we learn how to do that for ourselves. When I learned how to go, "Man, I was just so manipulative right there, I cannot believe myself." But I can be kind to myself in that, I can forgive myself, I can be patient with myself as I grow, that's cultivating a whole sense of self. And then guess what, when someone else comes to me and says, "Hey, I noticed you were a little off yesterday." I can take it. Because I've learned how to take it inside of myself, I've done the work.
So the difference between health and toxicity is the ability to reflect on your own behaviors honestly. And to be able to come to the table and say, "This is where I am. This is what's going on inside of me and I am okay with that. I'm okay with where I am right now. I want to grow, I want to change. Do you want to do that work with me? Can we do that work together?"
The more we do this work inside of ourselves, the more we will recognize the kind of people who are also doing this work. And we'll begin to move away from toxicity and more toward health.
So what's the antidote to narcissism? It's becoming your truest self in God. It's not becoming less of yourself, it's becoming more of your truest, deepest, best self. And it starts by doing the work of looking inside.
It's learning how to grow strong inside, learning who you really are. The things you like, and some of the things you don't. And it's welcoming all parts of you to the table in partnership with God. Because as you become truer and truer, as you become at peace with the real you. The best of you and sometimes the worst of you, as you learn to acknowledge all parts of you. And you bring God into that, and you learn to show up for yourself.
With these qualities, with gentleness, with patience, with humility, with kindness. You grow this beautiful sense of self, this beautiful soul, and you start to show up for other people in that way. And you start to notice the kind of people who can show up like that for you.
It's not that people are just showing up telling you how great you are. It's that people can show up with you and with kindness, and with compassion, you grow together. So keep doing this work, get to know yourself, keep getting honest with yourself.
It's such rich work, it's the best kind of work. It's the fruit of a soul that's known. And there's so much peace in that, there's so much freedom, in just being able to know yourself, know the good stuff, and know the bad stuff.
Know that God knows it, have a few safe people who know it and there's so much freedom in that. And when you do that you bring life to yourself and you bring life to others. You empower others to do that work too, this is freedom.
So I just want to close today by saying if you've been in a narcissistic relationship, or if you are currently wondering if you're in one. I first want to say there's no shame in that, a lot of people get sucked into it. It's really easy to be duped and to get sucked into one of these, there's no shame in it. It's really also hard to extract yourself.
So first of all, just name those behaviors. If you're seeing the signs, and if you're wondering if you are in a relationship with someone who's narcissistic. First, just name those patterns of behaviors with yourself and with God.
Because remember naming is clarifying. And then I want you to find safe places, you're going to need to find support and safe places where you can show up as your true full self. And it could be a therapist's office, it could be a group of friends.
But you'll need to find a place where you're really seen, and where you can begin to build up that core sense of self. So that you begin to disentangle from some of these tactics, that that person might be using to try to disrupt you and to make you feel crazy. You often need to get help outside of the system.
So remember, when I was saying you're not able to communicate with that person anymore. You've got to get support from outside of that relationship. To help you see more clearly how you can disentangle from the toxicity and craft a plan to help you move forward.
So we'll circle back to a lot of these topics. But remember to name it, be gentle with yourself, and get support, get support. I'll link to some places where you can do that in the show notes.
All right, to close our episode out today, I want to close every episode with a question and a challenge. The question is what brings out the best of you? And this week, I want you to think about this question, especially, if you're someone who's been hurt by a narcissistic relationship.
I want you to think about these questions. Where do I feel most alive? Where do I feel most myself? Where do I feel the most seen? Where do I feel like a real person who's loved, honored, and valued? It might be with other people, it might be a place, it might be with God, it might be in a counselor's office, it might be an activity that makes you feel alive.
But I want you to notice and I want you to move toward that. Because as you heal and you move toward what brings out the best of you. You will begin to disentangle from these toxic relationships, and you'll begin to find your way into a healthier, more whole-hearted way of being and to the best version of who God longs for you to become.
So I just want to leave you with this reminder today. When you move toward health, when you move toward becoming the best of who you are, you set yourself free. And as you set yourself free, you will set everyone around you in this world free too. Thank you so much for joining me today and I will see you here next Thursday on The Best of You.
Thank you for joining me for this episode of The Best of You. Be sure to check out the show notes for any resources and links mentioned in the show. You can find those on my website at dralisoncook.com. That's Alison with one -L- cook.com.
Before you forget, I hope you'll follow the show now so that you don't miss an episode. And I'd love it if you'd go ahead and leave a review, it helps so much to get the word out. I look forward to seeing you back here next Thursday. And remember, as you become the best of who you are, you honor God, you heal others, and you stay true to your God-given self.
Great podcast !!
Would love one that talks about how to heal from narc abuse without having to spend money. Healing for the poor!!
Andrew Bowen says
Be in the Word everyday
Pray for God’s wisdom and to renew the mind
Repent. Ask God to reveal what we can change
Be in the Word with other Christians
Go to a Celebrate Recovery group (it is free)
Karen Kimball says
Securing your knowledge in your true identity in Christ. Neil Anderson has some great books.
Very eye opening to a situations I’ve been in lately.
Thank you for all this good info
Sandy Powers says
Wow!!! Thank you so much for this! Your explanation of the different kinds of narcissists is so helpful! I have had each type in my life, and it helps so much to understand them – and to not feel guilty for drawing boundaries or for not over-investing in them expecting a give and take relationship! How freeing that feels!
Thanks again for doing these podcasts! I can’t wait until next week!
Thank you so much for this. I printed out the transcript, and I’ve underlined and read it over and over. I had been working on forgiving someone who constantly violates my boundaries and doesn’t understand the pain that causes. me. I’ve always thought he was a narcissist, but he didn’t fit the profile of the charismatic person drawing people into his circle. He fits into one of the lower grades of narcissism, with his own unique degree of anger and entitlement. He’s a loner with very poor social skills. Your explanation about the core of the problem, the lack of a sense of who he is and his limitations, is so spot on. Also the parenting that lead to it. It explains his lack of empathy, his belief in his entitlement to a relationship with me, his focus on himself, his sucking energy from another person to fill his void. And much more! Reading this enabled. me to release my expectation that he would hear my cries for him to respect my boundaries, and to understand how hurtful his behavior is. He can’t do. it. With this understanding, I can forgive him and pray for him wholeheartedly.
This is excellent. Thanks so much for your in-depth analysis. My mother is a covert narcissist and I’m letting go of the relationship. It’s really hard and I’m navigating a lot of hurt and pain. I appreciate your Christian perspective on this and your advice. Thanks so much!
This podcast was so helpful for a family situation we are living through. I appreciate so much the balance of understanding brought here – from seeing the core need, to defining the problem, to seeing it from God’s perspective, and practical ways to begin to walk through this. Thank you so much!
First, thank you Dr. Allison for being willing to address this ever going behavior issue to everyone’s attention. I am that person that has been married to a man who is highly narcissistic in his behavior. It has been extremely difficult at times. I have been on counseling which has helped along with research through articles and YouTube. While I have gained a wealth of knowledge, I am still in this marriage. From my experience the reality is he will never change, it’s only temporary to win me back after I have left for periods of time. It is not a marriage, it’s me giving up myself, my thoughts, my opinions, basically my mind. We go to church, been through various counseling sessions, and I. Depth marriage classes, etc. One pastor shared with me we have done more counseling and workshops in a few short years than couples that have been married for 20 or 30 years! O matter what nothing changes long-term and of course I am the problem. I am not repenting, and I don’t forgive, in other words he is to be able to treat me however and I am to except it. He believes he’s a Godly leader, husband, father, etc. He is what I would say religious to check the box but in church he’s praising the lord with hands lifting high, amening, talking to church people and the pastor all fired up, and oh so Charismatic! You have to get close to him a d spend a lot of time before some recognize it. He says if I divorce him I am breaking a covenant, interesting right? However I believe one day soon I will have the confidence, strength, and courage to walk away. I am a believer and I have a relationship with my Heavenly Father. I know he will be with me, never leave me, and I will never be alone. I have concluded I am co-dependent and have never been alone. I realize it would be better to be alone and be in peace and no longer suffer from the verbal, mental, and emotional abuse. I want to trive and not just survive another day, otherwise I am just settling. I met a lady at a church we have recently started to go and she has written a book called “The secrets in the sanctuary “, her name is Julie Davenport. It is so worth your time to read. She is so pleasant, loving, kind, and warm I see why a narcissists would choose her. They want us for the qualities we possess since they never will. They exploit us to get out of us what they don’t have and I can tell you it hurts deeply. I am working through things to be who God created me to be. Jeremiah 29:11 he has a plan for ALL of our lives and it’s not to HARM us. It’s with God’s help I will get out of this mess. I am a Victor, no longer a slave to Victimization. Remember the enemy comes to kill, steal, a d destroy, he will use anyone willing to do his evil. I pray for my husband, but I can’t save him nor change him. I am only responsible for me and my sanity. Thank you again and I hope one day to share my story, whether a book, movie, or just speaking to help others know there is a way out and we are meant for so much more.
This is really helpful podcast. Love the way you take time and make sure we listeners do understand what you are conveying. I have been going through healing processes directly from God through fast and prayer. But i really do not know the right words to explain the problems I had inside me, more like Hannah from the bible, muttering and hurting on the inside, all I knew was to pray in tongues and fast which brought a lot of healing inside my thoughts and was led to read the book bondage breaker by the holyspirit.. And went for inner healing classes from my malayalam (Indian)community. This podcast highlights the problems and to discern with such wisdom about the people around us and to take care of our soul from being hurt. But in my life I’ve learnt that as time goes by with perseverance and endurance not with resignation but with blazing hope. Reacting to hardships by avoiding especially in marriage is not simply the answer. My mom’s endurance in that marriage with my father really changed him, because she constantly fasted and prayed and theres a lot of difference iny Dad, He was more of a benign narcissistic, not labeling.. God made me understand my dad, that he was abroken man and needed healing, I too thpught of avoiding him, but Gods grace of patience and endjrance changed me into accepting and loving my Dad unconditionally as Christ loved His church regardless of who we are. When we have that perspective we can truly love difficult people. My prayer was always “lord help me to see people through your lens. Help me to discern their heart like you do”.
I am young and single but I know this kind of relationship I have with my father is for the greater good and a certificate of experience so maybe i might be able to help people on the fiture eho are hurt and wounded like my Dad.
Love your podcast Dr. Alison cook.
I will keep hearing them.