The 3 SIGNS You're Dealing With A Narcissist & How To SET BOUNDARIES! | Dr. Ramani & Jay Shetty | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "The 3 SIGNS You're Dealing With A Narcissist & How To SET BOUNDARIES! | Dr. Ramani & Jay Shetty".
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So the way gaslighting works is, it's a denial of a person's reality. That's step one. I never said that. That never happened. I'm very authoritatively saying to you, something didn't happen. That by itself is not gaslighting. Now the step two of gaslighting is the best selling author and host. The number one health and wellness podcast. On purpose with Jay Shetty. Hey, everyone. Welcome back to On Purpose, the number one health podcast in the world. Thanks to each and every one of you who choose to come here to become happier, healthier and more healed. And I'm so grateful to our incredible audience. It's been phenomenal to see how much you've been listening, learning, applying in your lives over the past few months. I love seeing the reviews. I love seeing all the tags on Instagram and on Twitter and the videos on TikTok. It means the world to me that you're also sharing and passing this forward. And today's guest is someone that I've known for a couple of years. We've interacted in some really interesting environments. And I have to say that whenever she speaks, I'm like, wow, like I'm completely in awe. Her insights are phenomenal in real time. I've been part of like almost group things. And whenever today's guest shares an insight or shares some wisdom or shares a perspective, it's so powerful that you know that there's years of experience. There's decades of learning that go behind it. And so I feel really honored that I get to have this conversation. She's been on the show once before, but we were just talking beforehand about how it was during the pandemic. So that was very pandemic focused. But I think today is going to be really, truly powerful for you. I'm speaking about the one and only Dr. Ramani, who's a licensed clinical psychologist in LA, a professor at California State University, LA and the founder and CEO of Luna Education, Training and Consulting. Dr. Ramani is an author of several books. I recommend them all, including Should I Stay or Should I Go? Surviving a relationship with a narcissist. And don't you know who I am? How to stay sane in an era of narcissism and title men and in civil in civility. Now, Dr. Ramani will be adding the role of host to her resume. She launches a new podcast, navigating narcissism with Dr. Ramani, a show that focuses on narcissism at its impact on relationships. Now, I know all of you are fascinated by relationships, narcissism and your mind. There's no one better than Dr. Ramani. Dr. Ramani, thank you so much for doing this. That's a very big introduction. So I hope I can live up to it. It's true. And I think we have we've been in so many rooms. We have a lot of mutual. We have. We do. Yeah. People that we work with. And I really mean it. Like I love the way you listen and I love the way you articulate what you are hearing and connecting and putting the dots together. And you're so in demand. So to actually have you here today is really, really special. I wanted to start off by understanding a bit about how you came to this work and like how narcissism because today you're known as the person who knows. Literally, everything about narcissism was deeply studying it.
When did narcissism become a study of focus? (03:11)
When did narcissism become an obsession or a focus or a point of study for you? Sort of around 2004, 2003, thereabouts and it was it was in a research capacity, looking at what was happening in healthcare settings when you had really demanding antagonistic, entitled patients and the toll that was taking in healthcare settings, which seems so obvious. But that led me to do a deeper dive. And I realized how little this had been researched in sort of healthcare situations, I was specifically working in the area of HIV. And so that started a research program. At that same time, I also had a clinical practice. And in my clinical practice, you know, more and more people were kind of coming in with the same relationship story because I was studying narcissism in my research. I'm thinking, how interesting, let me just shed this light on the patterns they're seeing that are quite antagonistic and, and that just knowing that. And they said, well, can this change? And the answer to that's pretty much no. Once they knew it couldn't really be shifted that much. It totally changed their point of view and lifted a lot of self blame. So those were the two things kind of happening and that honestly, should I say, or should I go my first book on narcissism came from after the sessions, these clients were so overwhelmed, they'd often say, could you just put this in an email? Right. And I really felt for them because I could see it was a real, real deer in the headlights experience. So I'd knock out, you know, something in an email, it also helped me organize my thoughts. And then I thought, okay, I keep writing the same email. So let's just make that a book. So when the world started sort of going upside down, I thought, this is interesting. I am going to approach this topic because I thought, well, this is actually what's happening right now. And everyone was using the word. A lot of people weren't using it correctly. And that's where that came from. Then from there, where's where it got interesting was I'm a writer. That's what I do. But two young people approached me, former students and had said they were student, they were finishing school at the time. They said, you should really be on YouTube. And I said, that's ridiculous. You know, at my age, it didn't make sense. It wasn't how I consumed media. And they said, let's, let's take a few months. Let's see what kind of how it, how this space works. And over time, years of sort of honing it and tuning it and all of that, that was actually where all of a sudden this reach happened on this YouTube channel. So it was an evolution. But what I found was where the real sort of pivot was for me, the world of mental health was not recognizing what was happening to people in these relationships. And that's when I got angry. And to me, anger is a great motivator. I thought these people have gone to therapists and being invalidated. And maybe it's how you communicate and maybe you aren't trying hard enough. And I thought, oh my goodness. And that's really for me when it sort of felt like a revolution. I thought something's got to give. And if this means that people are going to say, you know, what's wrong with you and you have a target on your back, I mean, I've been called every name in the book. And people said, this is an unempathic therapist. How could she? And I thought, oh my goodness. Like, I thought people are trying to shut this discourse down through shame. And I thought, nah, let's just keep going. I'm old enough to not really care what people think about me anymore. And so I, that's, that's really where it came from. And now that's just sort of the focus. The narcissism piece to me is interesting from a scientific framing and all of that. But the real passion for me is working with people who have been through these relationships and have never really felt recognized, seen or heard to help them with their healing and help them find themselves so they feel that they can stand on their own in the world and actually have their voice again. That's the mission. Yeah. So important and so needed. And I'm so glad that you're doing it. I feel like this is more common as an occurrence today than, than, than ever before.
Narcissism is a very quiet condition (07:06)
And do you think that's because narcissism was somewhat hidden for many years in the sense that it just happened behind the closed doors or like, why is it only now that we're talking about it so much? That's such a good question, Jay. You know, and it's almost like without giving you too pedantic, a history lesson is that people have been, the word narcissism in this application, like about other people didn't really even start coming into the literature until maybe the very late 1800s, early 1900s, then some psychoanalytic theorists talked about it. But it was a really quiet backwater in the world of mental health and mental health and psychology are new fields. It wasn't even until 1980 where we saw it come with the idea of narcissistic personality disorder, which is its own issue. This is very recent to me. What is that? You know, 40, not even 50 years ago. And so this people have been narcissistic since there have been people. And in actually an interesting framing on it can actually come from there's fascinating work. And if you've never read it, I can't recommend this book enough. The Book Behave by Robert Sapolsky, maybe one of the most extraordinary books I think has been written in the last 10 years. And to me, Sapolsky is a giant in all fields related to psychology. He makes this incredible. He lays, he's talking about aggression. Sort of why are, why do people behave aggressively? Why do people behave badly? And we do know the science has shown it. Narcissism is associated with aggression and violence. Like this isn't just like, these people are handful. There's actually a risk here and we're not addressing this risk. But when you look at what he says, as you look, when you look at the evolution of human history, he said, what we do see is a greater level of antagonism in people who came more from cultures where they were hurting, hurting animals, goats, whatever cows, why? Because you could steal those things. But people who are pastoralists, people who farmed, you really can't go get up and steal a field. I guess you could steal some of the ears of corn, but you're not going to make off at the whole field. Farming is more collaborative. Herding is more individual. So if you go back, and that is, we're talking hundreds, if not thousands of years of human history, how people sort of interacted through the world economically. You look at history lessons. I remember it's my daughter was taking world history. We had a very long drive to school. So I said, why don't you teach me what you learned on the way to school? She'd study. I'd learn something. But what I thought over and over again, over 500 years of world history, a lot of drives over many years is that what we were seeing is that these people in the history books were all very antagonistic. They were all very narcissistic. They didn't have empathy. They were arrogant. They were aggressive. They were controlling. They lacked empathy. They had to be the hero. Like it was always the same story. So I actually think narcissism, narcissistic relationships, all of this has been around since time immemorial. It was only because psychology is a field and it's relative infancy that we're only talking about it in this way now. And it is only in the last 15 years that we have actually started paying attention to the harm this personality style does to the other person in a relationship. It's incredible, isn't it? When you look at it from that perspective about how long people have suffered from or suffered with something because our learning was still catching up with its experience and you think about anyone who hasn't lived in the last 15 to 25 years, they potentially were called names, outcasts, misunderstood, unheard, unseen as you're saying. Absolutely. I mean, Jay, I have worked with clients who are older. Okay. So they've been in 30, 40, 50 year marriages that have been difficult from the very, very beginning. And they said, you know what? It wasn't until I watched your videos. It wasn't until I read your books. It wasn't until the last five to 10 years that this finally had a name. And until then I assumed it was my fault. I wasn't trying hard enough. I was complaining. I was being unrealistic about what a marriage should look like. That's what they were. They were basically in essence, turning it back on themselves, blaming themselves. And culture wasn't helping. You know, people are saying, well, guess you're not marriage is tough. You have to make compromises. That's just how they are. They don't mean it. Their bark is worse than their bite. And so people would internalize that. And if you really want to look at it this way, even historically, we didn't really start talking about domestic violence until the late 60s into the 1970s. That's when Lenore Walker made the whole sort of, you know, the circle of abuse and in a relationship and all of that. This is all new. And that was in the 70s to this day. We still do not accord emotional abuse. The same level as we do physical abuse. And yet I got to tell you, everyone who's physically abused is emotionally abused, but emotional, emotionally abused people are showing up with the same level of symptomatology, often the same level of post traumatic kinds of decrements and functioning, you name it. So we see it is this is all slowly evolving. Interestingly, the field of mental health is still slow to catch up. That's something that's got to change. Yeah, absolutely. No, I'm so glad we're having this conversation. And thank you for letting us go on a history lesson, because I think it's really important, quite frankly, to understand, to really get context of where we are. Seeing as you said, these words are thrown around now and they're also everywhere. And you've probably done this a million times, but for our audience, could you please define narcissism and then narcissistic personality disorder? Because I do feel now, as you said, a lot of people are using this on a daily basis.
Awareness and discomfort (12:45)
And while it's healthy that our language is evolving, I do often find that people also get wrongly labeled or early labeled or whatever it may be. I totally agree. And this is a big problem struggle. Call it what you will is that so narcissism is a personality style. OK, so if a personality style could be anything, including narcissism, agreeableness, introversion, neuroticism, those are all personality styles, right? So narcissism is on the shelf with them. Now we would view narcissism, which sits under a bigger umbrella called antagonism as a more maladaptive style because their behavior can often put them at odds with other people, things like the entitlement, the arrogance, the manipulativeness, the grandiasticities, those sort of really uncomfortable patterns. That's narcissism. OK, now when we jump the rails to narcissistic personality disorder, it's a whole different game. The reason people really get kind of a be in their bonnet about this needs to be diagnosed by a licensed mental health practitioner is because in order for a person to be diagnosed with a mental illness, not only do they have to have a laundry list of whatever is associated with that, whether it's depression, anxieties, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, substance use disorders, doesn't matter. Personality disorders are the same. So you have to have that list. And this is the ringer. You have to be able to show that that person is either experiencing something we call subjective distress, meaning that they're uncomfortable or social and occupational impairment, meaning that their life is kind of getting wrecked by this and they're aware of it. It's a lot of awareness and discomfort that many people who are narcissistic don't have. In fact, they're kind of sitting on top of the world. They got a partner, they got a side piece, they've got a they've got money, they've got success, they've got power. They're thinking, I ain't got no problems now. They're burning down everyone around them, but you cannot diagnose someone because someone else is unhappy with their behavior. That's not what our diagnostic systems were designed to do. So when we get into these antagonistic disorders, like narcissistic personality disorder, it's pretty rare that people with these personalities get into treatment. And when they do, it's for some other reason. Their marriage is blowing up. They're using substances. In some cases, they're depressed. Something's gone wrong at work. They've been involved in something sort of publicly that makes them look bad. So they go to therapy to say face. So the thing that gets them into therapy is not like, Oh, I've noticed I don't have much empathy and I'm really entitled and arrogant. I'm looking for help with that said no one ever. Okay. So what they're coming in with something else, often very arrogantly, like, okay, I see your fancy certificates on the wall, Doc. So how long is it going to take you to fix me? I'm paying a lot for your time. Very dismissive, very arrogant. Now every so often you'll see a narcissistic, not every so often, not uncommonly in people who have narcissistic personality disorder. They may also have something else going on like depression or anxiety. Or like I said, a substance use disorder. The therapist is going to focus as we do on the more acute issue, the depression and the anxiety substance use disorder. And they'll try to manage that. Right. Through combination of therapy, maybe medication, whatever they use. I'm goes on the moods, lifting a little or the anxieties managed or they're sober. But there's still really awful and entitled and arrogant and all this other stuff. And because a lot of therapists don't bring personality stuff into the room, they don't think about it. They're thinking that maybe I'm not doing this right. This person still is not like, they're still not behaving nicely, but they're not using anymore and they seem to be their sleep seems to be better. And so you see what I'm saying is the personality is like the baseline. It's the thrum under the other stuff that's happening on top. That's the disorder. A person, you have a personality. I have a personality. For example, I'm introverted. Okay. Believe it or not, incredibly introverted person. That is my personality. It is not going to change. Next week, I am not going to be the life of the party. Okay. On any given Saturday night, I'll tell you the probabilities. I am home reading a book, watching TV or doing something ridiculous at home, but I am at home. Okay. I can't change that. If you said to me, well, come on, doctor, we're going to make you extroverted. I'm like, no, you're not. And, and if you said, but you have to become extroverted, I might be able to stretch myself, but I'll collapse or I'll be exhausted or, you know what I'm saying? So that's personality. It is who we are. It's a psychological fingerprint of sorts, but it's always right under the surface. So you're not going to make the introvert an extrovert. You're not going to make the neurotic person more sort of relaxed and impulsive. You're not going to take a conscientious person and turn them into someone who is sort of acts out, impulsive and doesn't plan. These personalities sort of set who we are. And so this is the case of people who have narcissistic personalities. They have very disagreeable personalities. They have antagonistic personalities. That's the difference. And so before people say it, I'm like, I'll say, does this person have a lack of empathy? Are they entitled? Do they seek validation? Sometimes people say, well, I think he's narcissistic because he cheated on me. I'm like, well, he cheated on you. That's all I got here. I don't know if this dude's narcissistic. You'd have to tell me a little bit more about this person's behavior. And I think people are using this as a buzzword to to label or, or talk about someone who did something that aggravated them. And you got to remember narcissism is not a one off. OK, so if one day someone did something like having a bad week, but in general, they're a very even tempered, warm, compassionate, kind, mindful, a self aware person. That's who they are most of the time. But then 20 things are going wrong. Parent is sick, child is sick, job is going badly, and they're a little bit more short fused, but they're even saying, I am not at my best. I am so sorry, cut me a wide berth. You know, I'm so, and they're very aware that they're not behaving well. They may they're not they're not behaving well. In that case, isn't narcissism. It may just be a bad week. That's such a great explanation. And I hope everyone who's listening and watching, I hope that's giving you a real context and a wider perspective on on how this will fit together. Thank you so much for that genuine masterclass. I think it's where I want to start is do we do we have any understanding or how much is our current understanding on how people end up with a narcissistic personality?
How do people end up with a narcissistic personality? (19:37)
Because I think that's healthy for people to have context over to. Like you said, like whatever personality we are, we can't change that core root base of it. So it's worth knowing how we ended up there because again, whether we're parents, whether we're thinking of being parents, whether we're navigating the world and concerned about ourselves or someone in our life, it helps us understand. What are some of those facets or elements that brought people into being narcissist as a personality? Right. So this is where it gets interesting. Right. So personality is a funny little thing where it's it's there's a little bit of a genetic piece to it. A genetic piece is something we call temperament. Okay. So we all have temperaments and we see it even in babies. Some babies, you hold them in their arms, your arms, they soothe like this. They're easy. They're smiley. They're often they're just content, you know, and they're and they're often kind of, and even as soon as that point where they're sort of aware of who other people are in toddlerhood, they come into preschool age, they're very aware. They'll take their cookie. They'll split it in half. There's some kids like that, right? Then there are those kids who no matter what you do, they arch their back and they cannot be soothes than there are. And they always need attention and they always want attention and they're mean to their siblings and they take not only the one cookie, but they take all the cookies. Right. That stuff, that biological stuff is foundational in many ways to our personalities. I'd say to everyone, if you have access to anyone who knew you early in life, see how well like they describe your infancy or your toddlerhood and how well it tracks to who you are now. Every so often as a shrink, I get to talk to like a parental figure in that person's life. Never been wrong yet. Every time that baby temperament toddler, temperament tracks in, I'm sure you were a sweet baby. I called your mom, say Jay is a sweetest little baby. Doesn't everyone say that? I don't know. Oh my God. No, they'll say, oh, this one, you know, I definitely not. And I was a super, super, super sweet baby. You know, I'm, I think I'm a pretty sweet adult, actually, you know, but a little intense, but sweet, you know, I can relate to that, you know, but I bet you were. And so that temperament forms like a seed. All right. That's a seed right there. That temperament is how the world reacts to us. That kid who's, ah, and won't be sooth and needs attention and needs to cartwheels through the living room. The world doesn't like the kid, that kid that much, right? They go through babysitters, don't like them. Parents are just a little bit of eye rolling. Kids are perceptive and it might even affect attachment because the parent is so exhausted for dealing with that tough child. It could even impair attachment experiences. And then they go into school, teachers don't like them as much. Even peers might be frustrated by them. They're having more invalidating experiences, right? That's a little bit of some of the seed of what we see can be narcissism, right? Because narcissism also has an attachment piece to it. In general, people of narcissistic personalities often have more anxious or avoidant attachment styles, a little bit more anxious than anything else. And why that might be, it might be that there was chaos in the family. There may have been a bad relationship between the parents. The parents may have been distracted with their own lives. They could have be bothered with having kids. There may have been literal violence, mental illness, whatever, substance use. Something was happening in that early environment that may have impacted the attachment experience. That's also associated with narcissism. We know that in some cases, trauma early in life is associated with narcissism, but that gets tricky because in the vast majority of cases, it's not because the person might say, well, I had trauma in childhood. I'm not narcissistic. Yeah, that's the bet I would take. But we do see that sometimes, especially if that impacts attachment, that's going to make a difference. Those are sort of what I consider more of the difficult early circumstances, the adverse childhood experience, origins of narcissism. However, there's another side to it, which is the overindulged kind of pathway to narcissism. It's like think of narcissism as Rome and multiple roads coming into Rome. Right. And in the sort of overindulged pathways, this is where you see sort of your standard spoiled kid. The parents will give the kid anything, things and experiences and money. But here's the ringer. And it was a very interesting study that came out a couple of years ago, where it's not just the spoiling, but it's telling the child, your more special than any of these other kids, not just that you're special. That's a lovely message, but you're more special. You don't that that line's not for you. You know, the other kids waiting that line, I'll figure you're too special to wait in that line. That sort of that you're better than the others. You're more special than the others, which a narcissistic parent may do to their child. And that's how we'll sometimes see narcissistic parents may be yet narcissistic kids, but not as a rule. So, but all these pathways I'm describing don't always end up in narcissism. Why some end up that way? I do think the temperament piece probably plays a bigger role than we think. And I've worked with many, many narcissistic clients over my years of practice. And I've seen all of these etiology origin pathways play out, but depending on the origin, that will affect how the narcissism looks in adulthood. The more kind of traumatizing neglect origin will result in narcissistic people who are a bit more sullen, resentful, aggrieved, sad, socially anxious, whereas the spoiled child narcissism will end up a little bit more grandiose. So that that if hope that makes it a little bit clear, yeah, that's a lot of kind of, yeah, that's a lot of color. Right. I mean, I think one of the biggest challenges we see is that when I speak to people, whether I'm working with them or I meet them or when they're working with a therapist and then I'm connecting with them in another part of their life. Most people don't realize they're with someone narcissistic until after they leave. Like when you write a book, should I stay or should I go? I've, I've found a lot of people figure it out towards the end. It's not something you spot very quickly, at least from people I know. And I would love to hear your experience. You obviously you've done this for so long. You, you've had so many conversations around this. I found that it's not something that people spot very early or sometimes their early signs of it even seem positive or it seems that it can be attractive. Like you said, a lot of people who are narcissistic can be ambitious. They can be successful. They could have achieved a lot of things through that pain, that trauma. So walk us through now.
Narcissists can be very attractive (26:25)
If we're in that, should I stay or should I go mode? That's the name of Dr. Ramani's book as well. So as we're talking about it, feel free to order that book. When you're in that position and you start to sense there's some narcissism in the person you're with. A, what are you going to sense? What are the things that people usually notice? Why don't we notice it early on? Like what about narcissism is somewhat attractive? Is it can it be attractive? It's very attractive. And here's the bringer in these relationships. I people want the narcissistic people to be the cartoon villain, right? They want it to be in your face, bad mean, lying, deceitful, betraying all the time. Right? Well, that would be easy. No one's going to put up with that. The challenge with these relationships, whether it's a parent, whether it's a partner, colleague, friend, sibling, you name it, is that there's often enough good days in there to keep you hooked. All these qualities charm, charisma, confidence, ambition, being fun, loving, being extroverted, wanting to have all kinds of interesting experiences, narcissistic people are very sensation seeking. They're novelty seeking. It can be really fun. That's why we talk about the love bombing that happens at the beginning of these relationships. And what happens is when I've worked with people, especially those who've been in longer term relationships, they'll say, doc, it isn't always bad. It wasn't always bad, but the bad is really bad. Like the bad leaves me wondering if I'm any good and I feel like a bad person. And I feel like I'm the one with the problem and on and on and on. Right? But then there are those good days. And the person will often say, see, I was the one who was wrong. I'm being rid. I'm being too demanding. I've got this silly notion of what a relationship's supposed to be. And I can set a clock on the fact that it's going to go back into the downward. So I think that that's one thing I want everyone listening to this to know is that people say, well, maybe this person in my life isn't that antagonistic. Maybe they're not that narcissistic because we have these good days plan on the good days. It's like being in a relationship or it's like living some place where the weather's always extreme. It's either like 85 degrees and sunny or like the most horrific hurricane blizzard and that weather alternates like on an every few days basis sometimes. And so as a result of that, it confuses people to no end. It isn't always bad. There were good moments. There are good memories. And that's what confuses people. So this idea of recognizing someone in my own podcast, navigating narcissism. We've done now 30 episodes, right? It's amazing. 30 episodes, 30 conversations about narcissism. And in every, in many of these cases, what I've seen, especially in the intimate relationships, somewhere around one, two, three years, things were becoming clear. Although you see the red flags as soon as like the first month, the pieces turning into something like pixels, right? A couple of pixels teach you nothing. Lots of pixels make a picture and it takes a couple of years for a lot of folks to get enough pixels to say, okay. There's no not seeing this, but by then they may be so deep into it, that cognitive dissonance kicks in and you want it to work. So you tell yourself whatever story you need to tell yourself so the relationship can sustain. Well, we have enough good times. Maybe it's my fault. I'm being too demanding. And you'll see this, especially if a person is trying to find a relationship at a pressured time of life. They want to have kids. They feel pressured to get married, whatever it may be. But even in a family. A person will say, I can't walk away from my parents, even though every interaction the person has with them is wretched. And and my job is to help people find that middle ground of having realistic expectations. But I do think that when people, red flags are always a story that can be told retrospectively, like, okay, there was a red flag on the first day, the red flag in the first month. Everyone else say like, okay, all that being late or, you know, all that telling me that they told me not to apply to that school because they cared about me and didn't want me to feel like I was, you know, they don't want to watch me go through the school telling me that I couldn't get in. But in fact, what they were doing is holding them back on their dreams. Like the pixels turn into a picture. And I think that that it does take time. And a lot of people will feel embarrassing. How did it take me two years to see this to which I say two years is fast. Good for you. And when the love bombing ends and love bombing last anywhere from six weeks to a year, I think that's about the range. And so when the love bombing ends and the devaluing starts, people are almost this on this weird addictive treadmill of like, how do I get back to that? And what and what do I need to change in myself? Never stopping to think, okay, this person brought their a game for about three months. They've shifted. I have not changed. So if you can see it clearly, you can see the patterns clearly, things like, you know, they'll get incredibly sensitive to criticism. That's a very common pattern in narcissistic folks. And so everything will be going well. And a person's feeling more comfortable and they might give him feedback. I don't know what they're wearing or the restaurant they chose or their job and a rage that feels like a tsunami will enter the relationship. And the person would be like, what the heck just happened? Those ego injuries can really result in these volcanic kinds of, you know, sorts of shows of emotion. That's when people start getting confused and saying, maybe I was harsh. Maybe I shouldn't have said that. And so that what we see invariably is the survivors in these relationships, take it upon themselves to try to change everything about themselves, believing they can change the other person. And if there's only one takeaway here, it's that narcissism, like all maladaptive personality styles is really resistant to change. The more maladaptive the personality, the more rigid it is. The more healthy and flexible the personality, the more given take. So agreeable people are incredibly flexible. So even if they don't want to do something, they might think, like, I love her. You know, she wants to go. And I'm, you know, what they've always been there for me. So I'm going to go to the horror film festival, I cover my eyes, but then think that that's the give and take of a relationship. And won't be angry about it. That's the flexibility. Narcissism is the opposite. It's like it's solid as a brick. Yeah. Wow. And I think that when people end up in those scenarios or those experiences, we have this, you raise this point that we almost try and counteract bad memories with good memories. And that's how we like to make sense of someone is, well, if they do a bad thing, how many good things do they do? Or if they do a good thing, how many bad things do they do? Right? If we don't like someone overall, we'll come up with a list of mistakes they made. If we like someone, we'll come up with a list of compliments they made.
The concept of multiple truths (33:26)
What's a healthier way of making sense of someone? Because I don't find good and bad to be that healthy. As you said, it could mislead you. I always say to people, you've got to be able to be comfortable with this concept of multiple truths. Okay. Multiple things can be true at the same time. You could have had a wonderful courtship. You may have great sex. You, this person may regularly gaslight you. This person lies to you. You really love how they cook spaghetti. They're wonderful with your infant. They often raise their voice at you. Do you see what I'm saying? All of these things are happening at the same time. The hardest thing I believe a human being can do is to sit with those multiple truths and not run away. It is the ultimate test of mindfulness because we want cognitive dissonance. Our brains are wired. They're not wired for inconsistency. They're wired for consistency. And when things are inconsistent, we feel very tense. We feel very uncomfortable. And the human species gears towards homeostasis. I need to not feel tense. But best way to not feel tense is figure out, okay, I want to stay in this relationship. So he's a good father. What more could you want? Right? Now you can argue the flip side of that too. When a person for some reason feels ready to leave a relationship, they may say they may cherry pick all the few bad things and forget how much, you know, that this person's actually really well regulated and kind and compassionate and all of that. I think part of the struggle becomes what constitutes a healthy relationship in any culture without that agreed upon definition. I think that's half the battle. So when people say to me, what's a healthy relationship? I'm like, oh, easy. It's kind. It's compassionate. It's flexible. It is respectful. It is cooperative. It's collaborative. There's, there's, you know, an equitability and it may not, it may be that there's very clear roles, but there's a perceived sense of equitability in the relationship. There's self-awareness and there's an investment in the growth of your partner. That's a healthy relationship. And people, the look at our narcissistic relationships that say, I don't have any of those. OK, but unfortunately, culture will often dictate what makes things healthy. And then they'll be like, well, they have a good job. They make a lot of money. We are of the same religion. I like how they look. Yeah. That stuff is, I understand why someone would value it. It's not the stuff of a healthy relationship. Yeah. Those are the things we start convincing ourselves through and, and coaching ourselves through and walking ourselves through. It gets harder and harder and harder because we get so addicted, especially going back to what you're saying about love bombing, like being loved bombed is really addictive. And it's really intoxicating because it's like, wow, this person's really into me. And if I could count the amount of friends I have this year that have been loved bomb, like it's insane, like how common it is. And it's at the shorter end too. It's at that six weeks mark or, you know, three months mark where people are showing their, their full self, I guess is the right way of saying it. How do you stop yourself from being loved bombed?
Love bombing (36:40)
Like, how do you avoid being loved bombed? Or how do you navigate being loved bombed? Because I think that's the conversation. Like we're not going to be able to stop being loved bombed, but you are going to be able to slow things down. You are going to be able to rethink. You are going to be able to, but we just love being loved so much. And, you know, it's kind of like the confidence boost we never had. And it's, it's the influx of positive compliments we never had. So how do we slow? What do we do? It's a tough one, Jay. You know, I mean, listen, if you put like a bunch of, I don't cupcake through sweet, deep enemy, starting to eat it, right? Knowing that, okay, Ramana, you don't need to, you don't need the sugar. You know, we're going to turn it. We then I'd say, you don't need the sugar. You don't, that's not good for you. Then that's easy. I think easier when it comes to food. I think that what happens with love bombing might actually be more addictive than drugs because it's often addressing a deficit. Many people believe they've experienced in their lives that they weren't seen, they weren't recognized, they weren't valued. A lot of people didn't get that in the early part of their lives. So that someone's coming along or in their dating life, they didn't get it with other people. So when someone comes along and is offering it, it's almost feels like an offset to those other relationships where a person didn't feel valued or seen or any of that. I think part A, number one is that you need to know what it is. So when it's happening, you're more aware of it. It's like it again, using a hurricane analogy. It's like preparing for it. So if a person says, oh, hurricane is just rain and wind, I'm like, maybe not, like let's get those, you know, let's board up your windows, let's sandbag your house, evacuate, like it's not just a rain storm. So knowing what it is means you're going to prepare yourself in a different way. That's one thing. The second thing is love bombing becomes a place for you to test the waters. Okay. So I tell people pull back on that throttle. Let's come down in altitude. Let's fly this plane a little slower. Now in most narcissistic relationships, if a person tries, I'm not saying, end it, but tries to pull back. Like, can we go a little slower? You know what? We don't need to go to that place. Let's just go to this simple restaurant or I don't know about traveling yet. Like I'd like to get you to know you better. You put those lines down and set those boundaries. In the majority of cases, the narcissistic person is going to jump. They're going to do things like doubt your commitment. I guess you're not that into me or, oh, yeah. Okay. I get it. You're not, you're not vibing because what you've done is you've taken away their game. Right. Now, if they were really, really a good solid person who just happened to be super into dating you, then they'd say, oh, you know what? I was, I'm so interested in you. Let me slow this. Let me slow my role. I think I've got, I let my enthusiasm in. They'll be, I let my enthusiasm get the best of me. They'll be self aware of what they're, they're doing and might say, you know, I think that I just, you're really wonderful and, but thank you. And they'll receive the feedback and say, and say, you know what? Let's go to that hole in the wall restaurant. That sounds great. And it won't be an ego injury. And they won't view it again because you're taking away their game. That's, that's the example of gaslighting, which by the way today was designated as the word of the year. What? Yes. Mariam Webster dictionary called gaslighting the word of the year, which to me, let me tell you, I literally started crying. I thought after 15 years of talking about this stuff quietly, I cannot believe that this is finally entering into the mainstream, but people still use the word wrong. But the fact of the matter is when, when you simply say something like, I'm really enjoying getting to know you, but can we just step it back a bit? And a person says, well, I guess you're not that interested in me. And then you're being gaslighting because that's actually not your experience. You actually are quite committed and want to slow it down to see what it's like. But that's a great way to test the waters. That would be like, that would be me saying, can you take all those cupcakes away? I'm not interested. And I'd still really want one. Yeah. Yeah. So it's that. Exactly. Yeah. Let's now that you've said that, I didn't realize that's that is incredible, that it's the word of the year in the sense that at least we're understanding it. It's sad that it's the word of the year because it means more people experiencing it. It's like the, you know, but but can you again properly clarify as what gaslighting is again so that we don't misuse it and you know, absolutely.
The real meaning of gaslighting (41:08)
And when I saw that, I'm like, I'm going to bring this up a J. Yeah, I love that. It's just when it came up as the word of the year, gaslight, a lot of people are confused by gaslighting. Right. Now the origin of the word is actually is only in the last. Less than 100 years. It was a name of a play that became a film and, you know, it was literally about the psychological manipulation of a woman by her husband and how she psychologically sort of falls apart because that's happening. Fast forward. The only people who talked about gaslighting were therapists. It was this therapist talk and we talk about it. Her husband's gaslighting him, you know, kind of thing. And my shrink would say it to me, right? And I was like, Oh, you're being gaslighted. So it was shrink talk. Nobody else talked about it. And then those of us working in this space, it was, you know, like, oh, that's the primary tool of the narcissistic person because it's a tool of domination. So the way gaslighting works is it's a, it's a denial of a person's reality. That's step one. I never said that. That never happened. You're, what are you saying? Like, I don't even see what you're talking about, right? You're like, didn't, or this isn't happening. So you're now you're already a little off balance because I'm very authoritatively saying to you something didn't happen. But that's not, that's that by itself is not gaslighting. Oh, okay. No. Yeah. You got to go. Now the step two of gaslighting is then I tell you there's something wrong with you. Right. You're so sensitive. Like, why do you see this everywhere? Or like, Oh, God, you know, paranoia much. I, you know what? I'm going to get you the name of a shrink. You need to talk to someone because you keep imagining things that aren't happening. Okay. So imagine a person in a relationship with those infidelity and they're getting suspicious. They're partners hours, whatever it is, messages. And they say to their partner, what is this thing at work? You keep staying and you're not, you're traveling. Like, is there anything going on that I should know about? No, there's nothing going on. Hey, step one, we're not gaslighting yet. Yeah. Yeah. Gaslighting is, but you know what I'm sick of? I'm sick of living with an unhinged paranoid lunatic. That's what I'm tired of. There's the gaslight. Now there's a step three is that it's not a one off one time. Yes, that's a gaslighting episode, but the true gaslighting abuse happens over time over and over and over. And it won't just be about one issue. I never said that. What is wrong with you? Oh, I'm getting so tired of your paranoia. You're so sensitive. And what happens then is that other person being told repeatedly by someone they do trust, because gaslighting is predicated on trust. Harder for a stranger to gaslight you partner, family member, health care provider, teacher, people who have some power over someone, politicians in gaslight, entire societies, gaslight, right? When everyone is coming in on one party line and denying reality and then telling the people who don't believe that, that there's something wrong with them and do it over and over and over again, you break the other person's spirit. You leave them completely doubting themselves, completely blaming themselves. And so what happens is when a person's chronically gaslighted, you'll see things like, no, no, you know what? This is my fault. They start saying they started apologizing before they get in the door. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. And I'm like, what are you sorry for? It's just, they got so used to saying it. So they're, they're, they really get shattered by this where they literally lose a sense of up and down night and day. They're just, it's a, it's such a cruel thing to do to a person. It qualifies as emotional abuse. So this idea of gaslighting, great, that it's in the public consciousness, but it's not just lying. Everyone says, Dr. Romany, what's the difference between lying and gaslighting? Lying is a denial of evidence, right? So today we had our time to get together and make it up. You say, oh, okay, you're going to be here at two o'clock. And I'd say, that's not true. You told me to get here one o'clock. It was one o'clock, one o'clock, one o'clock. I know it was one o'clock and I insist on that. Then you'd be able to throw me the email and say, Romany, look, it says two o'clock. And then, and then I went with that, right? Then we just closed the lie, lies get shut down by evidence. Gaslighting is a lie, but wrapped up in this invalidating bow. And that, I mean, when I hear that it breaks my heart because I know so many people have been on the end of that. And you see how someone may even have started off with an anxious or avoid an attachment style and now that anxiety is through the roof or that self criticism is, you know, the self doubt is even greater. Now that person can't trust again. Now the person struggling with their value and their worth. And I know this is a bigger question and I do want to get into it. But that individual, what could they have done differently to avoid going inward? Because what I've found is that when someone is potentially probably one of the other personality types, it's natural for them to think that there's something that they need to change. That's the natural default of the other personality types. It's like, well, if something's not working out, maybe I should change, because then it could be better, right? Or take responsibility. Or take responsibility, exactly. And so, and I've seen that myself even when, even when someone would say the meanest thing about me, even if I know it's not true to my core, there's a part of me that will still reflect on it. Because I'm like, what if maybe it's something I'm missing about myself? But how do you avoid letting it affect you?
Dealing with a gaslighter (47:05)
Or are you saying there is no way and it is going to affect you? I think that it's a mix of things. And it's interesting when you when people get savvy about gaslighting and they know they're being gaslighted in real time. Now, the one thing you can never, ever, ever do is tell a gas lighter that you know that they're gaslighting you because then they're going to double down. Yeah. Okay. So when it's happening in real time is, and this is what's so hard because it becomes sort of a cart before the horse thing. Most people haven't done the therapeutic work of who am I? What am I about? What is my identity? How do I stand as a person? What do I believe in? What do I care about? Right? Very few people do that work because then when you do that, again, I get this, I get this a lot in online spaces because a lot of people out there who are very pro narcissism apparently. And so when I come out, but it's a big organized community, wow, Dr. Romini is a terrible therapist and she's very unempathic. That was one of last week's comments. Okay. It has less impact. Jay, because I don't know this business stranger on the internet, but I have to catch myself because I know there's parts of me that have that neurotic structure where I believe that's plausible just because that's just sort of how that's what I mean. That's what I mean. Yeah. The work then becomes I have to literally talking myself out loud. Like Romini, you are empathic, you're solid. You are a very good therapist. You've seen really meaningful change in clients. Literally, I'm saying this out loud. However, and this is the interesting rub, this hurts you even though this is from a stranger to give yourself a second. And that might be talk to someone I care about who cares about me to see if they can uplift me. It might be do something pleasurable. It might mean doing a brief workout. It might mean whatever it means, you know, that there's a moment when I'm saying, I need to show some compassion to myself right now because this person has hit me someplace that hurts, becomes a different call to arms at that point. Does that make sense? Yeah. The initial work is who am I and what am I about? Yeah. You know, and I think that this is why journaling becomes so important because having these places you've written things down where you can look back and say, I really have come at things from the heart and sure I've made mistakes like everyone does. But listen, this is a this is a highfalutin. This is me having been in therapist therapy for 50,000 years, you know. So that's also there's a place where that works been done and having gone through a life and had to learn from all of that. That was not something I was doing when I was 25 years old. So a therapist though, could if a good therapist would be a place where somebody could say, you're being gaslight and I can't tell you how many times I sat with a client and said, it sounds like they're gaslighting. You're the client big. What? And then we'll walk through what is their reality? Who are there? And then when that session is done, they'll often say, I feel like a big weight has been lifted off of me because I was literally doubting the very essence of who I am. And this is where therapy becomes so important because it's sort of bringing a person back to doing that work of who they really are, what they really stand for, what they're about. So in real time, it's really about listening to it. I have to be honest with you when I'm within the presence of someone who is gaslighting me and they're actually somebody who I do value, I tend to disengage a bit. You know, I'll just sort of let, you know, I'll say, you know, I'll often give that, okay, we're just seeing it in different ways. And I'll sort of soften and I won't get into it with them anymore. Well, I don't, in fact, one of my techniques I give the clients I work with is don't go deep. Don't defend, don't engage, don't explain, don't personalize. So I'll disengage a bit and realize, okay, this is no longer a safe space. Yeah. And that sort of feels self protective. And I think that that's almost like retraining an inner critic to say, can I also have an inner bodyguard so that I could just have someone's like, Hey, hon, let's just pull you back a little bit. Yeah. Yeah. It's so interesting. I had an episode with a coaching client because obviously that that's my, I don't episode later with the coaching client earlier this year. And I have a similar approach where I'm like, I know who I am. I know what I care about. I know with what intention I work towards. And ultimately, if that's an opinion, someone has of me, they're entitled to that. But but I'm not going to go deep with it because I know that's just not my truth. And that's not where I am. But like you're saying, that takes a lot of self work beforehand. And like you said, there's also still an openness to feedback. There's still an openness to being better. It's not like you think you're complete and you're perfect and your intention is perfect either. So I, I really liked that you brought it back to that because I, I'm glad that we got back to that at the end of the day, it's about who you are, your intention, the essence of who you're trying to be. And that's ultimately all you have to go back to before and after. But it's hard. But it's hard. Yeah. It's really, really, and for people who've been through lifelong narcissistic abuse, long-term narcissistic abuse in a relationship, they'll be like, I have no idea who I am. So, so I do say that honestly, and the film, the original film, Gaslight, portrays this as part of the storyline. Ultimately, ultimately, she got ungaslighted, if you will, because it's just one person. It only takes one person. And I always tell everyone, you can be the person who turns the gaslight off for someone else. You may witness some, something and say, that's, you know, you might be at a meeting. And someone might say, that's not what they said. And so now you're ungaslighting them in real time. It might be you do it after the meeting. If that's safer, someone will tell you what's happening in their relationship. And you don't doubt them, say, Oh, come on, it couldn't have been that bad. You don't say that. You're like, I am so sorry. This is happening to you. It sounds absolutely terrible. Are you okay? Because what you've done is you've given permission to this person who's just told you they're going through something terrible, minimizing it. In many ways is a gaslighted approach. Like, Oh, it's not that bad because of our discomfort with someone else's discomfort. We can hold this space for other people and sort of turn that gaslight off for others. And you'd be amazed at how quickly that can turn the ship around. Yeah.
I can change this person.” (53:35)
Well, what are some of the realistic expectations? For someone who says, I think I can change them. I think I can be the person that helps this narcissistic person evolve, grow, change, whatever word they use. Like what have been realistic storylines as to how those episodes and scenarios go? They don't. I am in my book, Don't You Know Who I Am? There is a letter in that book. And I had been speaking in some public forum. This woman heard me and in somebody was asking me a question in this form. And she was in a relatively new, new marriage. They've been together a couple of years married. All the narcissistic top notes were there on her partner. And she was asking the question, I don't know, can I stick this out for another 10 years? I'm just trying to figure this out. And then this woman just did it herself. She had, she's one of the few whose decided to stay the next 10 years. And she beautifully lays out, honey, this is what's going to happen if you stay for another 10 years. Just basically 10 more years of gaslighting, 10 more years of broken heart. I've worked with clients, Jay, who weren't ready to go. And so they say they sometimes even drop out of therapy. And a few times I've had those clients call me back three, five, seven, eight years later, sometimes tearful and say nothing changed. And there's no sense of triumph in me for that. I recognize that they needed to see it the way they needed to see it. I don't get to dictate their rock bottom. I don't get to dictate when someone sees something. I do all the psycho education stuff I do online education to see if I might be able to push the fast forward button on that. But it's still what you get there when you get there. But like there has been, I can say, it probably counts 10 instances of people, 10 of the thousands I've heard that where people have said, you know, this person actually, when I said I'm done, I'm over it. I'm in fact recently came up in one of the seminars in my healing program. And this person that I'm done, I'm out. Um, and she moved into her own place and her husband ended up going to 12 step. He ended up going to therapy. He had become more self aware and she had found herself thriving, living by herself. But she did love him. And he said, I want you to move back in. And she said, you know what? I'm still growing and finding myself. So the answer to that is no, we can continue having tentative conversations. And he didn't rage at her. That was one of the more hopeful stories I've heard in the last few years. Uh, and that's like, that's one in five years. And so, uh, you know, that in this case, that this person became more well regulated, but her telling me that 12 step helped led me to realize that perhaps addiction was probably the more powerful piece of that story. We'll sometimes see sort of competing kinds of patterns, but by and large, I have not, I mean, it is the realistic expectation though, to your point, the reason that book is called, should I stay or should I go? It's about 50% of people stay in these relationships. They do. Yeah. And the reasons vary from finances to children to religion to culture to. I still love this person to. I'm afraid whatever the reasons are, no one, not me, not you. Not anyone gets to judge those reasons. What I believe in as a therapist is to meet them where they are at with that and say, okay. So that's the, I understand, I hear you. I don't get to sit here and tell you, you don't love this person. You love them. You love them. I'm here to tell you this is what you can realistically expect if you stay. Right. And I, I use this sort of metaphor of going into the Tigris cage. And I'm talking with survivors, which is there's a tiger. There's a cage. If it's really a tiger and you go in that cage, you're going to get torn apart. If it's not a tiger, it's a sweet little cat and you might have a nice little experience. But maybe the only way you, and I'm telling you, and even if I tell you it's a tiger, you may not believe me until you get in that cage. So I know that sometimes my clients say I have to let them go and let them go into the cage. When they get torn apart, my job is to help bring them back together again. And so going into the Tigris cage is something sometimes people need to do, say, I just need to be sure. That's what, yeah. Yeah. And I say, I understand that's part of your journey and I'm going to support you in that I'm here. Because I think some clients think like, well, Dr. Romany is going to be a friend of if I go, you know, I go. And I'm like, no, I, I somebody who has gone back, who continues to maintain more than a few narcissistic relationships in my life, four reasons of culture. We're both South Asian. We know that there's a tremendous pressure in South Asian, Middle East, or actually in many cultures to sustain committed relationships and family. So I can't roll into those cultures and say, yeah, you got to go. That's not an option. But saying to people that you are not going to get a depth of emotional need met here. You are going to be invalidated. The work has to be in you not believing what they're saying. They are not going to grow empathy. They're going to remain entitled. You need to you need to develop other sources of support. And that might be through friends, through family, through spirituality, however, however you find those spaces where you feel seen and heard, like I said, whether through other human beings, the universe, God, whatever that looks like for you, that's your work. So when you realize that maybe the normal depth of a relationship, of a healthy relationship is this, you got this. Yeah. And you're going to have to be ready for that rollercoaster of the bad days, the good days and not personalize it. But in the long term, J staying in that toxic setting is going to take a toll on those people, even with all the realistic expectations. It takes a toll on a person. Well, I think you've just hit something there that that's the real growth, that whether you decide to stay or you decide to go, the work of figuring out who you are and what's important to you, what your self worth is based on, what your value is, that's going to happen either way. Hopefully. Well, that's going to be a path that hopefully you'll have to take either way. And so whatever you're going to do, please take that path because that's a path that stays with you forever. But to take that path quietly, so you don't get to it. So the ultimate healing in the narcissistic relationship comes from a process called individuation.
Ultimate healing from a narcissistic relationship (01:00:07)
You become you out. It's imagined like a tree, that's so shadowing that the plants under it can't grow because they're blocked from the sun. Our goal is to get you out of the shadow of their branches to no longer have to serve as a in psychological servitude to them that you get to individuate. The problem is they don't want to hear it or see it. It's sort of psychologically alive in a narcissistic relationship. You have to skirt a very challenging line of being authentic in other spaces, but not in that relationship because that's really hard because your authenticity will be shaved away. But if you make it a very conscious act that once again, that inner bodyguard, I am protecting myself right now. They don't get to see all of me because they are not able to hold me safe. And I deserve that. So I'm going to put authentic me away for a minute. And I'm just going to show up. Not going to be cruel. Not going to be unkind. I'm going to show up and do what I got to do. You know, whether that's just sort of keep the trains running on time. I work with clients, honestly, Jay, coming up with a list of neutral conversation topics. The weather with someone who said it beautifully the other day, they said sports news, weather, you know, like that's pretty much all you can talk about in these relationships, right? And weather tends to be the safest. Can you believe this rain? It's really cloudy. I wonder when it's going to get warm again. I mean, is and people say, but that's not a relationship. I said, never was. So you learn that piece, but you allow your authenticity to bloom in safer situations. It's like a plant that can only bloom in the night, but not in the day, right? The flowers gorgeous at night, but this reasons it can't be bloomed in the day. You're still going to bloom, but you become a much more intentional and mindful person in your life that you really say yourself consciously, even like you might be pulled in front of a friend's house and say, I can't bring all of me into this. You breathe in and you go and you show up as sort of part of yourself, but not all of yourself. And you know what? You know, who the real loser in that is that full of a person who doesn't get to participate in the full glory, the full authentic glory of who you are. They lost not you and you protected yourself. And that part required the reason why I'm hearing from you, why that path after 10 years in the letter, as you said, is even so tough is because being a less version of yourselves takes so much strength and so much courage. It's not weakness. It takes so much energy to be a less version of yourself because someone doesn't allow you to be your full self. Correct. It's a restraint, but it's not. And I think for too many people in these relationships, they're this attenuated, less authentic version of themselves. They think that they're actually less than. And I say, you're not less than. You are actually caring for yourself. You're learning that you can't bring that in. And I have to be frank with you, Jay, when people really get this right, they're like, okay, I'm not doing this anymore. Because what they were doing before was they really were acting in a way that they thought, if I do it this way, they'll change. If I do it that way. I said, change is off the table from here on forward. You're moving forward with change off the table. And I'll tell you that press the accelerator for many people saying, even if they didn't leave entirely in intimate relationships, they often left. But in family relationships, they'll say, I think I'm going to take a pass on Thanksgiving this year. I think I'm going to not only going to go for one day of the family wedding, like they start setting some real boundaries and they learn to tolerate other people saying, well, isn't she uppity for not showing up like that tolerance of people engaging this sort of enabling discourse of, oh, you're not a team player or now you're the one who's difficult to recognize that when people take these rather revolutionary steps of taking care of themselves, that again, I do believe that self care and that will restrain in these kinds of toxic relationships is literally an act of rebellion. Yeah. And I love what the example you gave that certain cultures, whether it's cultural, societal, financial pressures that stop us from walking away. What are some of the healthier boundaries people can set up?
Setting healthy boundaries (01:04:31)
So one boundary is I'm going to make time for myself to bloom, to be authentic in my own space. I'm going to find friends and community that that I take strength from. Are there other healthy boundaries that people can set if they are currently staying in this situation based on financial societal or family expectations or pressures? Not to engage in the same way. I think a lot of people would get sort of with the dog with a bone kind of a fight with them, right? It's just sort of letting it go. People will say, I don't want to relent. I'm like, well, then don't relent with people you actually who are healthy and can go be very sort of deep, mindful, circumspect people. Don't get into that argument with them unless you just want to get into an argument for the sake of getting into an argument. Something else that people need to be prepared with in these sort of narcissistic relational situations is that there's a lot of baiting. If you're not giving the arguments and being as gas-slatable as you once were, that's not very satisfying for them. So they're going to find a way to go for the jugular to make you bleed and make you fight back. And I say to people, you've got to know sort of your, your true north as it were. And you might not take 90% of arguments. But if they go after some of those things, you hold sacred. It could be your children. It could be a belief system you have. It could be people, other people you care about, whatever it is, if they go for that, then you're like, you know what, I'm going in. I'm Tiger's Gage. I'm going in. I am going to, I can't listen to this. I can't do this, but recognize it's not going to change anything. And it's a question of which depletion is worse at that point, holding yourself silent at such a point or actually having the argument. And then I tell people, if you decide to go in and do that, you need to engage in some form of just coming back down, whatever that looks like for you after these kinds of interactions, because many, many people will say after they've had to spend time with a very toxic, difficult antagonistic, narcissistic, call it what you will person, they'll feel really depleted. And if you keep having those episodes of depletion, you're going to get sick. Yeah, I've also found that, I mean, more from an experience, one of you, that the more you're associating with that energy, the more likely you become or adopt certain behaviors too.
Adopting Narcissistic Strategies
Adopting narcissistic patterns to be able to fight back (01:06:49)
I don't know if you've seen that where certain people start adopting similar patterns, similar behaviors in order to be able to fight back and defend themselves as a defense mechanism, not saying that you become narcissistic, but that you also respond by gaslighting or trying to, you know, you're using that person's game against them, because that's the only play to survive. And you're doing it consciously, but eventually, I mean, it just becomes unconscious to some degree. I don't know if you've seen that. I've definitely seen it where people will say, you know, that no, I think that people will say, I don't know how often you'd be willing to steal food, but you steal it if you were hungry. Yeah, doesn't make you a thief. Yes. That's, yeah. You know, that aligns. And that's the, we would all do things we don't ordinarily do to survive. And I think that some people, until they understand this personality style doesn't change, that you have to have these realistic expectations, all of that. Until people get that, they do keep sort of getting into the tango with them, which may mean shifts in terms of frustration, just regulation. Their own empathy may wane. We know that there's something called compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is very contiguous to burn out. And people in these relationships will say, my empathy is gone to hell. Like people are telling me their problems. I'm like, I don't have it anymore. And it's not that your empathy has gone away, but it's almost like it's been a one. You've just, it's almost like a vessel where the compassion's only going out and very little is coming in. Yeah. Dr. Ramen, it has been incredible to talk to you. And I just want to recommend the books because we only touch the tip of the iceberg. The book, there's two books here that I highly recommend. One is called, should I stay or should I go? You're going to hear about chapters about how did you get sucked in? How do they make you feel? And of course, answering the question, should I say, or should I go? If you are a friend or in a tough position in this kind of a relationship, then this book's going to help you make that decision to me practical, applicable advice. And the other book is called, don't you know who I am? How to stay sane in an era of narcissism and title men and incivility. This book is also available right now. And so I highly recommend both these books. Dr. Ramen, is anything that you didn't share that you really want to share from your heart or something else on your mind or something in the moment that you feel inspired or called upon to share with us today? I think that for me, it is the, I'm tired of the loss of human potential I'm seeing in these relationships, whether it's a five year relationship or 60 year relationship.
Misplaced hope (01:09:20)
And while it is very hard for a person to actualize and give light to their best self while they're in these relationships, it's not impossible. And I have worked with people who have been in long long term relationships like this. And yet I see this, their empathy and compassion are deeply retained. They still do laugh deeply and, and they'll say, you know, and they'll say, listen, we, I can't in my, in my world, in my life, in my culture, I can't end this. But that doesn't mean there's not joy in my life. And I think for me, what I want to do is I think everyone's been misplacing their hope in the narcissistic relationship. The hope needs to be in oneself and that the hope has to be that there is this, this tremendous untold story in you. And it is your story, not the story of them in your life, but you and yours. And to give sort of flight to that narrative of you, that to me is that's the work. That's the healing. And to let me people say, do this is ever fully go away? And the answer is no, it doesn't. It is something that's there. And I'll say survivors have a unique beauty, right? It's roomy and it's the wound where the, you know, the wound is where the light enters you and all of that. There, and we say the survivors can see each other in the room, right? They're the ones in the audience that are sort of like, you know, with, I, I'm finally being heard and seen kind of thing. And they, they've had a different journey. It's, I'm not saying it's better or worse or more virtuous, but there is a, there can be this sort of depth you bring into your life after having been through it. It's a loss of innocence. Yeah, I have to say you will, you'll never sort of laugh and be in the same way, but you may sort of, when the laughter comes, it feels like a gift. And I think that that many survivors say I'm ruined, not only not ruined, there's a depth to your, to your inner beauty that really comes out. I'm not saying anyone should seek it out, by the way, it will find you. That's the problem with narcissism in our culture. And so like I said, this is being done through storytelling and my podcast. I try to teach about it, but above all else to me, the work is helping people heal from this because I don't believe anyone is defined by this. No, that's so powerful. Everyone's been listening and watching the podcast is called navigating narcissism. Make sure you go listen and subscribe YouTube channel as well. Dr. Ramini. And of course on Instagram, make sure you tag us across platforms, whether you're sharing clips on TikTok, whether you're sharing in your stories or your posts on Instagram, make sure you tag Dr. Ramini and I letting us know what stayed with you, what stuck with you, what you're going to share with a friend. Maybe there was a moment that you know someone in your life needs to hear. Make sure you pass this episode along to them. I hope this episode very clearly defined and described for you. Narcissism, gaslighting, love bombing, really trying to break down what these terms actually are, how you can get an instinct for sensing them, knowing when they're there, and then the steps that you can take, which are laid out beautifully in the books and the content that we've recommended, really hoping that you find the help and support that you need in order to navigate narcissism in your life in any form and we're going to be welcoming Dr. Ramini back onto the podcast many, many times to have future conversations about this theme in different areas of our lives as well. So Dr. Ramini, thank you so much for your time and energy. Honestly, your work is so needed and so powerful. And what I love from sitting down with you every time is not only is my mind stimulated and not only do I feel my intelligence has gained, I always feel moved by the words you share as well in my heart space. And I really appreciate that. So I thank you so much. Thank you so much for opening your heart and letting that happen too. If you want even more videos just like this one, make sure you subscribe and click on the boxes over here. I'm also excited to let you know that you can now get my book Think Like A Monk from thinklikeamunkbook.com. Check below in the description to make sure you order today.