Empaths need to take special care of themselves. Their sensitivity makes them susceptible. One important area of caution is the narcissistic personality.
A toxic combination of the empathic personality with the narcissist has become well documented of late. Empathic people are vulnerable to narcissists, while narcissists just love the listening ear and attention given freely by empaths. This is a linkage that can cause damage if the narcissist is unhealthy. For one thing, it perpetuates our own unhealthy habit of dismissing our own value and allowing that value to be ignored.
Narcissists are people who love to be the centre of attention. Because they feel special, they feel it’s their role and the world is there to admire them. Some of this can be simple self confidence and having a reasonable amount is helpful to any of us. There are, however, both healthy and unhealthy versions of this personality.
Be aware that unhealthy narcissists tend to manipulate with charm that then can flip to aggression; they rarely, if ever, apologize, instead blaming others. They cannot take responsibility because seeing themselves at fault would ruin their feeling of being special. They have little or no empathy. Of course there will be greater and lesser shadings of these traits.
On the face of it, certain things seem obvious. Feeling entitled, narcissists are charmers . They entice followers with flattery. This is very appealing to an empath who doesn’t seek recognition and therefore rarely experiences the exaggerated appreciation that comes in the “grooming” or charm phase. Narcissistic confidence is also alluring; it makes the empath feel (falsely) safe, as if we are with someone who really knows how to navigate this world. While we undervalue ourselves, we overvalue the narcissist. We are content to travel in their shadow. Until, finally, if we are lucky, the spell breaks. Only then do we realize the damage our self-betrayal has caused.
Once the spell has broken, the narcissism can be more clearly seen. Hearing a steady stream about “ME”, “MY stuff” and MY life” becomes irritating. A healing solution is to look at how we have undervalued our own contribution.
“Disordered narcissists betray three telltale signs: empathy-impairment, entitlement, and exploitation. If someone openly brags about paying others to do their bidding, they don’t view people as fellow human beings, but chess pieces. And it’s only a matter of time before you become the sacrificial pawn. Blatant manipulation isn’t a guarantee that someone has narcissistic personality disorder, the most extreme form of unhealthy narcissism–but it sure is a terrible sign.” (Dr. Craig Malkin, clinical psychologist, Harvard Medical School).
Being a chess piece needn’t be obvious. Like anything there are degrees. But when you realize you have been groomed as “special”, suddenly waking up to being one of a string, groomed in an identical way, betrayal can hit hard. The whole past relationship feels like a charade. A deep sense of grief and anger often shows up. Depending on how long the toxic connection has lasted and how extreme, the fallout can be devastating. However – it IS a first step toward recognizing our own worth. Greater health and awareness can only follow.
As with all healing, recovery is a gradual process of forgiveness and understanding ourselves and the other person. Be easy on yourself and know that you are lovable and valuable regardless of how a damaged person has treated you. We can learn to take an ounce or two of self respect from the narcissist. They can be teachers for us.
Please do share. Your fellow empaths may be grateful! Thanks!