Sanctuary for the Abused

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Learned Helplessness


There are people who rely on learned helplessness as a means to cope with negative events happening in their life. Keith Joseph McKean points out that learned helplessness is based on three things:

Internal blaming - "It's me!"
Global distortion - "It'll affect everything I do!"
Stability generalization - "It will last forever!"


Parents/caretakers play major roles in whether or not a child develops learned helplessness. Learned helplessness can develop early in one's life. Therefore, adults need to be aware of how their type of criticism they use will affect children.
If adults are continually using negative criticism, the child will eventually have low self-esteem and will come to a point to want to give up trying. This can lead to the child having negative viewpoints throughout his/her life.

The type of reinforcement given to the child by the caregiver can determine whether or not the child will develop learned helplessness as a coping mechanism for everyday life events. The child will eventually feel he/she has no control over these events.

Heyman, Dweck and Cain confirm the influence of constant negative criticism on children by revealing how young children in their study assumed when they were receiving negative criticism they must have been "bad" children. Therefore, the children felt they were deserving of such negative criticism.

But, researchers claim as a child gets older the child feels the negative criticism is based on their lack of abilities, not based on if they were "good" or "bad." This study cites that children who have a secure attachment will demonstrate positive self-evaluations whereas children who don't have this positive attachment will demonstrate negative self-evaluations.

Learned helplessness can develop in any stage of one's life, not just childhood - it affects behavioral, cognitive and affective domains at the same time.

When a person is wanting to give up or has a continuous habit of putting things off, this is learned helplessness affecting his/her behavioral domain. A person's self-esteem will be low and feeling of frustration will be high. With these effects a person's ability to solve problems will be very low due to the fact that the person has no confidence in themselves.

These factors affect the cognitive domain. The affective domain is when a person will show signs of depression. When one fails, the blame will be that person's lack of abilities and when one succeeds this will be due to "luck."

Also, a characteristic of a person with learned helplessness is low self-esteem. Low self-esteem will decrease one's confidence in trying to change negative things that are going on in one's life. When a person with learned helplessness experiences success he / she will make themselves and others believe it was due to "luck" and not based on ones' own abilities.

This pessimistic explanatory way of dealing with events can affect a person's job performance and a student's academic performance which can eventually lead to wanting to give up. As stated earlier, learned helplessness can develop at any age.

Learned helplessness can be seen when comparing depressed elderly women and non-depressed elderly women (65-96 years) on successes and failures. The non-depressed women would describe their success due to positive reasons such as, their success was due to their own abilities. Whereas, the depressed women would use more of a negative reason by saying their success was due to "luck" and not based on personal abilities.

When it came to explaining failures, the non-depressed women would blame them on "bad luck" and the depressed women would blame it on their so-called lack of abilities. The depressed women would blame negative outcomes due to inner forces and positive outcomes due to outer forces. These depressed women show how people with learned helplessness will use these reasons to give up and not put an effort to take control of their lives.

Strube emphasizes a situation where learned helplessness traumatically effects lives. Women in abusive relationships have developed at some point in time learned helplessness. These women have low self-esteem and blame themselves when things go wrong, therefore, they feel they deserve the physical and mental abuse (similar to the young children who felt they deserved the negative criticism they received because of being "bad").

Society and family play a partial hand in this abuse by putting unnecessary pressures on the woman by making her feel it is her responsibility to make the relationship work. These pressures need to be removed and support from family needs to be increased.

Society as a whole needs to take a stand against abuse. Just as these studies show how learned helplessness can develop during early childhood and continue through adulthood, I know of a woman who has overcome learned helplessness.

There was this little girl who wasn't afraid of anything. She didn't even know what fear was. Then one day a traumatic event happened in her life. After that she knew what fear was.

She was made to feel what had happened was her fault. She tried hard to thing of what she did to deserve being treated so badly. For many years she felt she was a "bad" girl. After that experience came many other negative experiences. She felt she caused them because she was "bad" therefore, she deserved these bad experiences. She decided to be so "good" that nothing bad would ever happen again. But, bad things kept occurring. She figured it didn't matter if she was "good" or "bad" because she had no control over anything that happened in her life.

All through life whenever she failed she would just decide that was expected, so why try?

When she did achieve anything good, she would count that as being "lucky" - not because of her abilities. At times of success she didn't like to acknowledge it to anyone because she knew there would be someone there to remind her how "bad" she really was. She got to the point whenever she would achieve anything in life she never gave herself a chance to enjoy the precious moments. She felt she didn't deserve any praise for accomplishments. She even blamed herself for a relative's death.

For some reason, she felt she must have done something bad and she was to be punished by having him taken away from her. She continued for a number of years failing to achieve any goals that were set for her. She tried to finish college a number of times but continued to fail. She did not fail necessarily in grades but in giving up on everything in life. She just figured there would be something that would stop her so she didn't try.

During her early adulthood years she had no goals set and would just go along in life doing what it took to get by. She constantly placed herself in negative situations; abusive relationships, other relationships that were doomed to fail, and she felt any mistakes on the job were due to her lack of abilities. She felt she had no control over any events in her life.

She felt she was doomed for the rest of her life. She felt her family didn't expect anything from her since she was a woman. She was to get married and raise a family - nothing else. She became engaged numerous times but failed at actually going through with the marriages.

No matter how hard she would try, she always failed. Her negative surroundings and negative reinforcements over many years caused her to develop learned helplessness.

By her late twenties she knew something had to change.

After receiving professional help and joining a support group [see below], the once frightened little girl has turned into a woman who knows now that she has control over her life. Now in her thirties, she has gone back to school and has set short-term and long-term goals to help herself succeed in life. Now her belief is that if she has given it her best she has succeeded (no matter what others would rule as success and failure).

There are still days when she feels she has failed. At first she will start to blame herself and she will stop and tell herself over and over she is not to blame. She will then look back to analyze why she did not achieve what she had set out to do and if she didn't do her best, she would do her best to try and correct this. but, when she did her best, she will tell herself she must accept it and go on.
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She is learning to accept that when she does something good, she knows she worked hard for it and deserves it without feeling guilty, and she didn't get it from the luck of the draw.
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She has a new life after thirty years of living with learned helplessness. Society and parents play major roles in making sure a child avoids learned helplessness. Children must be encouraged to use their cognitive abilities to their fullest, be given positive criticism and be shown adaptive ways to cope with negative events that happen in their lives.

A person's self-esteem is very important to one's future. No one can eliminate negative events in anyone's life but one does have the power to help someone cope in a positive manner.


Terri Holcomb

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

How Psychopaths Prosper

by Matthew Jewkes
It is literally the stuff of nightmares and horror movies. Charming and often powerful, they seduce you to get your guard down. And then, without a second thought or any trace of remorse, they are able to cold-bloodedly thieve, rape, or murder you. Robert Hare, UBC's world-renowned professor emeritus of psychology, goes so far as to say that while they look and sound exactly like us, they are functionally a different species from human beings. And seven years ago, Hare estimated that up to one in one hundred Canadians is one of these people: psychopaths.

To make matters worse, Professor Hare recently remarked in a keynote address to a conference of criminal justice professionals that today's society is becoming more and more conductive to psychopathic behavior. Moral standards,reflected in television and politics, are glamorizing and normalizing what is abnormal predatory behavior, allowing psychopathic behavior to flourish more than ever.

The story of psychopathy made the front page of The Vancouver Sun, a comment on the ongoing interest and the lack of wide-spread understanding of psychopathy in today's society.

An unexpected profile
Psychopaths aren't necessarily the people we expect, says UBC assistant professor Michael Woodworth.

"Psychopaths don't have a background with pronounced amounts of child maltreatment or an overuse of drugs or alcohol or any of these other things that often lead to general antisocial behavior. For true psychopaths you'll often find they had quite regular upbringings."


"A psychopath is an individual who has a propensity to prey on others for their own gain.


"And what makes them particularly intriguing is that they not only often display a number of antisocial or problematic behaviors, they also have a lot of intriguing interpersonal deficits as well as emotional deficits. They don't interpret emotions such as guilt or fear the same way that others do; they don't respond to emotional stimuli. They are conning and manipulative. They are narcissistic, have a grandiose sense of self worth, and are pathological liars."
In Hare's 1993 book called Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us, he quotes one specimen's memories:

"[My] mother, the most beautiful person in the world. She was strong, she worked hard to take care of four kids. A beautiful person. I started stealing her jewelery when I was in the fifth grade. You know, I never really knew the bitch - we went our separate ways."

Woodworth continues,

"A psychopath wouldn't care less about social rules. Wouldn't in the slightest pause at social norms or expectations. The only reason they might act with any semblance of normality is to achieve their goals or personal gain. Psychopaths have defining impulsivity. But what we find is that for more serious crimes such as murder, they actually show a lot of planning and premeditation, and there appears to be a real instrumental aspect to their behavior."


"We're not sure if its because they realise the stakes are so high and they, or if its just that they take so much pleasure in it that the planning is part of the process. In terms of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, psychopaths are really stuck down on that lower level."
More interesting than simple murder
Horror movies and modern television shows like Dexter portray this classic view of psychopaths - the antithesis of what we expect from human beings. Often charming, normal-looking people, unable to form social connections and interested only in their own impulsive pleasures, be they murder, theft, rape, or manipulation.

But, while impulsive and prone to criminal behavior, many regard violent clinical psychopaths as being just the tip of the iceberg.

"If you think of a blood thirsty murderer, who kills and rapes dozens of people, you immediately think psychopath," Woodworth says. He believes that because most of the research to date has been on prison samples, the results are skewed. Those who end up in prison are, after all, the failed psychopaths.


"For me what is almost even more scary is the successful psychopaths who are out there still committing a lot of those crimes," Woodworth says.
Since psychopaths thrive in large, chaotic situations, and love situations where power and wealth are easily achievable, psychopathy might have a profound affect on the many large hierarchies that form the basis of our society.

"All psychopaths are potentially criminals. All are harmful," Woodworth says. "The ones who are most intriguing are the ones we can't get our hands on. They haven't committed an explicit crime, or at least not one they've been caught for. They're up there in society, high up in businesses, law firms. Even the higher you get up in academia, the higher your psychopathy levels start to go. The higher you get up in organizations where you have a lot of power, the more you tend to find psychopaths."


"These environments even reward psychopaths for some of their key core traits. If they can keep them in check and not get caught committing any sort of conventional antisocial behavior, than these traits can actually serve them quite well."
The ideal corporate leader, after all, might share quite a few traits with psychopaths. Self-focus, willingness to bend rules, and aggressive dominance would come quite easily to a psychopath.

And would likely be rewarded by corporate management.

Many people in some very successful places could very well be psychopathic. And their success might not end there.

"Psychopaths have a 'cheaters' strategy when it comes to reproduction, their behavior, in terms of lots of sexual partners, trying to knock up as many women as possible, and then invest as little to no time makes sense in terms of spreading their seed as efficiently as possible," Woodworth says.
While their behavior is quite disturbing, given that there is research to suggest that psychopathy has a genetic component, psychopaths fit quite well into the mold of extreme social cheaters.

Big picture
Group co-operation among organisms is not that unusual in the biological world. And it is an effective strategy. Our cooperation as a species allowed us to spread humankind around the planet. But co-operation is a hard process to achieve, and is vulnerable to predation from within. If one member of a group begins to exploit other members, then the benefits provided by co-operation evaporate, and more efficient co-operatives will out-compete them. Groups therefore effectively depend on trust, and internal regulation. For a co-operative group is ever vulnerable to being preyed upon by cheaters.

"Gossip, reputation, strongly-enforced social norms - these were the tools that allowed co-operation and prevented cheaters," says David Sloan Wilson, a professor of biology and anthropology at the University of Binghamton in New York. "Of course, these things only work in small societies, the kinds of places where everyone can keep tabs on everyone else."
However as societies grew, word-of-mouth became less capable of regulating people, leading to more potential for social cheating.

"You can look at the majority of recorded history in a sort of grand vision sense, as a struggle to find mechanisms to regulate co-operation on the larger scale," said Wilson.

Society has always depended on social co-operation to succeed. Even in the "free market" of "unbridled competition," people depend on references as to their character to be freely given from one employer to another - a strong mechanism to ensure reputation.

Of course, the larger a society gets, the more regulations are required to maintain cohesion. Wilson has studied Calvinism extensively in terms of its origin in Geneva. Wilson posits that Calvinism provided strong mechanisms of social cohesiveness - regulating co-operation in a city struggling to maintain cohesion. On those terms it succeeded fantastically, providing mechanisms of governance that were transparent, checked and balanced, and largely effective at preventing social cheaters.

Social regulation, of course, is a double-edged sword. In Calvinist Geneva, numerous people were executed for heresy, while others were fined or jailed for inappropriate dancing or gambling.

In the modern day, with our enormous governments running society, and our often-times ever larger corporations running our economy, fewer decisions are made by individuals, while more and more are being made by organizations. But Joel Bakan, professor of law at UBC and author of The Corporation, would argue that psychopathy still serves as a useful tool in understanding how groups work.

"As legal entities, the modern corporation is, as far as the law is concerned, a person. That is one of the fundamental legal characteristics of it and is then imbued by the law by an operating principle that it must always serve its self interest. So the idea that corporations are made in the image of human psychopaths is quite literal...we've created [an] institution that is incapable of being genuinely concerned about anybody but its own and its shareholders interests."
You don't have to look very far to see examples of that. Corporations are driven to reduce their costs and increase their revenues by doing whatever they have to do. The other interests, be it environmental or working people or children or a population's health, are called externalities by economists meaning that they are outside of the corporation, they don't need to be considered by the corporation in making its decisions."

One example of this cited by Bakan takes place in the early days of the corporation. Henry Ford, having achieved great success through the production of the model-T, sought to raise wages, cut prices, and increase production of his product.

The Dodge brothers, both minority stockholders in the Ford Motor Company, sued Ford for not putting the interests of the shareholders first. They won, and the court decided that a business must be organized primarily for the profit of the stockholders, and cannot place the community or its employees first. The board of directors cannot decide to reduce profits in order to benefit the public.

Publicly-traded corporations legally can not be anything but psychopathic.

Governments, of course, have recognized this for a long time, especially in the wake of the workers' abuses of the industrial revolution.

"The tradition in both England and North America beginning in the 1930s was to say let's leave this corporation as it is, lets keep it psychopathic and driven by its own self interest, but what we're going to do is put external restraints on its behavior, what we're going to do is put the psychopath on a leash, so to speak, through government regulation," said Bakan.

One of the biggest trends over the past 10 years or so has been talk of corporate social responsibility. The Economist recently ran a story claiming that most businesses believe that corporate social responsibility is a vital part of doing business.

Bakan, who spoke with a number of corporate managers while making his film, believes that this idea is only skin deep.

"If a corporation says appearing to be socially responsible is good business, because customers like it, workers in our company like it, so there will be good morale in our company, and people will buy our products. In that strategic sense corporate social responsibility is perfectly lawful.


"The danger I see in corporate social responsibility is that when you talk to people in the corporate world, it is surprising how often they drew an equation between corporate social responsibility and deregulation. They said look, we're socially responsible now. You can trust us. And therefore you don't need to regulate us."
A self-regulating corporation is even more of an incredible prospect when one considers Hare's data: the bigger and more powerful a corporation gets, the more the people at the top are likely to be psychopaths.

But even for those who are not psychopathic in the high levels of corporations, the very structure of the organization has an affect on those working within them.

"There is a gap between the way people are as individuals and what they are required to do within the framework of the corporation.

"People seem to be able to compartmentalize their moral life.
"That they can be quite decent people in their normal family and community lives, but when they're within the corporation, they become operatives for its amoral goals," said Bakan, who makes comparison to hockey. When hockey players get on the ice, they leave their normal day to day morality in the locker room. People will play quite dirty, slashing, tripping, and checking, and will generally receive no more than a few minutes in the penalty box as punishment.

Everyone else
Woodworth and the rest of the scientific community, don't believe that there is much that can be done to treat psychopaths. Profiling, monitoring dangerous offenders, and learning more about them seem to be all that can be done at this point.

But for the rest of us, there are things we can do to prevent being exploited by social cheaters.

"We can change the nature of the corporation, and change the way we do business," says Bakan. "Co-operatives, and public purpose corporations generally act in a way that has some level of responsibility towards society as a whole. Or we could deepen and widen the regulatory structures that are designed to protect the greater communities from being marginalized as externalities," says Bakan.


"If we want to move toward an economy that actually respects social interests or embodies moral values and is democratic in how it functions then I think we have to be moving in these directions."
Dr. Robert Hare would probably agree. An economy with clear responsibilities, perhaps that is also composed of flatter, smaller organizations, would provide less room for psychopaths to thrive and are less likely to provide incentives for regular people to behave in a socially exploitative way. Perhaps then we could at least keep the psychopaths on a leash and keep the rest of us co-operating.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

How to Stop Being a "People-Pleaser"




by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.


People-pleasers “want everyone around them to be happy and they will do whatever is asked of them to” keep it that way, according to Susan Newman, Ph.D, a New Jersey-based social psychologist and author of The Book of No: 250 Ways to Say It—And Mean It and Stop People-Pleasing Forever.


“They put everyone else before themselves,” she said. For some, saying “yes” is a habit; for others, “it’s almost an addiction that makes them feel like they need to be needed.” This makes them feel important and like they’re “contributing to someone else’s life.”


People-pleasers yearn for outside validation. Their “personal feeling of security and self-confidence is based on getting the approval of others,” said Linda Tillman, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist in Atlanta, GA and assertiveness expert. Thus, at the core, people-pleasers lack confidence, she said.


They worry how others will view them when they say no. “People don’t want to be seen as lazy, uncaring, selfish or totally egocentric,” Newman said. They fear “they’ll be disliked and cut from the group,” whether it’s friends, family or co-workers.


What many people-pleasers don’t realize is that people-pleasing can have serious risks. Not only does it put a lot of pressure and stress on you, Newman said, but “essentially you can make yourself sick from doing too much.” If you’re overcommitted, you probably get less sleep and get more anxious and upset. You’re also “depleting your energy resources.” “In the worst case scenario, you’ll wake up and find yourself depressed, because you’re on such overload because you possibly can’t do it all,” she said.


Here’s a slew of strategies to help you stop being a people-pleaser and finally say no.


1. Realize you have a choice.


People-pleasers often feel like they have to say yes when someone asks for their help. Remember that you always have a choice to say no, Newman said.


2. Set your priorities.


Knowing your priorities and values helps you put the brakes on people-pleasing. You know when you feel comfortable saying no or saying yes. Ask yourself, “What are the most important things to me?” Newman suggested.


3. Stall.


Whenever someone asks you for a favor, it’s perfectly OK to say that you’ll need to think about it. This gives you the opportunity to consider if you can commit to helping them. (Also important is to ask the person for details about the commitment.)


Newman suggested asking yourself: “How stressful is this going to be? Do I have the time to do this? What am I going to give up? How pressured am I going to feel? Am I going to be upset with this person who’s asking?”


Asking yourself these questions is key because, as Newman said, very often after you’ve said yes or helped out, you’re left wondering, “What was I thinking?” I neither have the time nor the expertise to help out.


If the person needs an answer right away, “your automatic answer can be no,” Newman said. That’s because “Once you say yes, you’re stuck.” By saying no automatically, “you leave yourself an option” to say yes later if you’ve realized that you’re available. And “you’ve also gotten it off your must-do or don’t-want to do list.”


4. Set a time limit.


If you do agree to help out, “limit your time frame,” Newman said. Let the person know that “I’m only available from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.,” for example.


5. Consider if you’re being manipulated.


Sometimes, people are clearly taking advantage of you, so it’s important to watch out for manipulators and flatterers, Newman said. How do you spot them? She said, “Often the people who flatter you will say [statements like], ‘Oh you’re so good at baking cakes, would you make a cake for my child’s birthday?’ or ‘I don’t know how to put this bookcase together, but you’re so handy, can you help me out?’”


A classic line is “Nobody does this better than you do,” she said. Also, these people “will either coax you into doing something or try to tell you what your availability is or what your time frame is.” Basically, before you know it, they make the decision for you.


6. Create a mantra.


Figure out a mantra you can say to yourself to stop you from people-pleasing. It can even be a visual as simple as a big “No” flashing when a certain friend who “can always talk you into something” approaches you, Newman said.


7. Say no with conviction.


“The first no to anyone is always the hardest,” Newman said. But once you get over that first bump, “you will be well on your way to getting off the yes treadmill.” Also, remember that you’re saying no for good reasons. “You get time for yourself and for the people you really want to help,” she said.


8. Use an empathic assertion.


Some people initially think that being assertive means “stepping all over people,” Tillman said. Instead, she explained that “assertiveness is really about connection.”


Using an empathic assertion “means that you put yourself in the other person’s shoes as you assert yourself,” Tillman said. So you let the person know that you understand where they’re coming from, but unfortunately, you can’t help. “People need to feel heard and understood,” and this is a respectful way of asserting yourself and saying no.


9. Consider if it’s worth it.


When asserting yourself, Tillman suggested asking yourself, “Is it really worth it?” It’s probably not worth it to tell your boss about his annoying habit, but it is worth it to tell your friend that you can’t do lunch because you’re super busy.


10. Don’t give a litany of excuses.


It’s tempting to want to defend your decision to say no to someone so they understand your reasoning. But this actually backfires. According to Newman, “As soon as you start explaining, you give the other person lots of wiggle room to come back and say, ‘Oh, you can do that later,’ ‘You can adjust your schedule’ or ‘That’s not as important as what I’m asking.’”


11. Start small.


“Everything we learn how to do we learn through a process,” so take baby steps, Tillman said. Instead of barging into your boss’s office to ask for a raise, talk with your immediate supervisor first about how to prepare yourself for the talk, she said.


12. Practice successive approximation.


Successive approximation means taking “one step in the direction you want to go” and rewarding yourself for getting that far, Tillman said. If your neighbor’s dog’s barking is driving you crazy, make efforts to confront the person by first saying “Good morning,” as you’re both leaving the house, she said. Another time, you might mention how noisy the neighborhood has been. If he doesn’t get the hint, you can knock on his door and use an empathic assertion.


It can help to write down “how you get from A to Z,” Tillman said. This also helps you gain courage to confront the person, she added.


13. Don’t apologize — if it’s not your fault.


People-pleasers tend to be serial apologists, Tillman said. Pay attention to when you’re apologizing and consider if you’re really at fault. Ask yourself if you’re responsible for the situation, she said. Usually, the answer is no.


14. Remember that saying no has its benefits.


As Newman said, “you as a person are entitled to your time and you need to rest and rejuvenate to be there for the people you want to help out.” Look at saying no as an opportunity to spend your time doing what you value in your life.


15. Set clear boundaries — and follow through.


“We all have physical or emotional limits,” Newman said, and because of these limits, we have to set boundaries. Ask yourself what you’re willing to do, and don’t go beyond these limits. Also, be clear in communicating your boundaries. Say what you’re thinking and what you want.


Letting someone step over your boundaries without voicing your frustrations can lead you to “bottle up this negative feeling about a person…to the point when you have a blowup and really hurt someone’s feelings or end the relationship” completely,” she said.


For instance, you might “have a friend who’s just so emotionally needy and negative that she calls you all the time with her problems and wants you to listen,” Newman said. But “even just listening is asking a favor…[and] every time you hang out, you’re miserable and she feels better.” Respect your boundaries, and at some point, say to her, “I can’t help you,” Newman said.


There also are subtle ways to respect your boundaries. You might “start taking every other call and wean yourself off of her.” You can do the same thing with a person who calls you at your busiest time of day. You might say, “I can’t be available for you at 2:30 because I’m at the office; let’s set up a particular time to talk,” she said. When setting up the time, offer one that works best for you.


Setting physical boundaries might mean telling a person that they can’t just pop over when they want to or borrow your things without asking, she said.


16. Don’t be scared of the fallout.


People-pleasers often worry that after they say no, the fallout will be catastrophic. But as Newman said, “the fallout is never as bad as we think it is.” In fact, “it’s usually very insignificant.” Why? For starters, “people are not thinking about you as much as you think.” Usually after you say no, a person is more focused on who they’ll be asking next to help them than your so-called betrayal, she said.


Even a significant request such as being the maid of honor at your friend’s wedding isn’t disastrous. Being the maid of honor “takes a lot of time, energy and money,” which you may not have. You saying that “I’m really honored and this means so much to me, but I won’t be able to do it,” “isn’t going to ruin the wedding,” Newman said. “If you have a solid friendship, this isn’t going to end it.”


17. Consider who you want to have your time.


Newman suggested asking yourself, “Who do I really want to help?” As she put it, “Do you want to be there for your parents or some friend from college who lived down the hall who you partied with a lot who’s back in your life and really demanding?”


18. Self-soothe.


Using positive self-talk is “like being a good mother to yourself,” Tillman said. You can use this to remind yourself of your priorities and boundaries. For instance, you might say “I can do this,” “I have the right to park in this parking spot,” “I made the decision that’s right for me” or “My values are more important than saying yes in this situation.”


19. Recognize when you’ve been successful.


Many people-pleasers tend to focus on what went wrong, Tillman said. Counteract this tendency by keeping a journal with the times you handled a situation well, such as when you were assertive or didn’t apologize. In fact, you might be surprised at “how many more times you’re responding confidently,” she said.


20. Keep a confidence file.


Since a lack of confidence can cause your people-pleasing ways, keep a file with positive and praising emails, cards or anything else, Tillman said. (For instance, Psych Central associate editor Therese Borchard keeps a self-esteem file.) It can even come in handy when asking for that raise. Tillman suggested printing out any emails or letters of praise you’ve received from co-workers or higher-ups and taking them to your boss as another reason why you deserve a raise.


21. Realize that you can’t be everything to everyone.


Again, people-pleasers want to make everyone happy. While you might make someone happy temporarily, Newman said, it doesn’t work long term. And you can get hurt in the process. “People who preserve their time and energy and don’t say yes to everyone also realize that they can’t make other people happy,” she said. People-pleasers must realize that the only thoughts and feelings they can change are their own.


Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is an Associate Editor at Psych Central


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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Passive-Aggressive Behavior


Passive-aggressive communication is a means of expressing anger indirectly. 

Examples of passive-aggressive behaviors are listed below.

PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIORS AND ISSUES

Examples of Passive-Aggressive Obstructionism


Examples of Common Fears and Issues for Passive-Aggressive People

Dealing with passive-aggressive people can be especially difficult, particularly when you are relying on them to do something properly and on time, without difficulty and complications.

In the workplace, passive-aggressive people should be dealt with administratively, since trying to work around, adjust to, and change their behavior is impossible. They will sorely resent the supervision; however, they were likely already displeased and resentful of it anyhow.

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Passive-aggressive people will always find a way to slip out of what you need them to do or otherwise make you pay for trying to get them to cooperate.
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Dealing or working with a passive-aggressive person can feel like a gigantic game of Whack-a-Mole.

Once you think you’ve addressed the first excuse, lie, issue or ambiguity, they’re off and running presenting you with a third, second and fourth. It’s as if they’re playing a mental game designed to exhaust you into giving up asking anything reasonable of them. Insisting and pressuring them into fulfilling their obligations only makes things worse.

When in situations where you are forced to work with them, do not assume responsibility for their work or lack thereof. Do not let the maddening inefficiency and game-playing get to you. Concentrate on your own responsibilities, and minimize working on joint projects with them as much as possible. Above all, don’t take the bait that sends you begging them to cooperate. They will only resent you for it and get you back later.

And definitely, without delay, add passive-aggressive people to your list of toxic people to avoid wherever possible.

FROM THIS GREAT SITE!

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Narcissistic Mothers

By Cyndi Lopez


I do not love; I do not love anybody except myself. That is a rather shocking thing to admit. I have none of the selfless love of my mother. I have none of the plodding, practical love. . .   I am, to be blunt and concise, in love only with myself, my puny being with its small inadequate breasts and meager, thin talents. I am capable of affection for those who reflect my own world. – Sylvia Plath

There is a special place in hell for narcissistic mothers. Ms. Plath herself indulged in the ultimate narcissistic act when she committed suicide by sticking her head in the oven while her two young children were asleep in the same apartment. How thoughtful of her to have sealed off their rooms with towels so that the fumes wouldn’t consume them too. She needed someone to live on to remember her and care that she was gone.


Narcissistic mothers do not have children for the same reasons the rest of us do. They do not look forward to the birth of their child because they can’t wait to see what they look like or what type of personality they will have or who they will become. No, they have children for one reason only: More mirrors. They have children so that the children will love them unconditionally, not the other way around. They have children to do things for them. They have children to reflect their false images. They have children to use, abuse and control them.


They don’t see their role as a mother as life’s biggest gift. It’s a burden they didn’t expect. They thought they were creating little “mini-me’s.” They didn’t take into account the fact that somewhere around age 2, these spiteful, ungrateful (in their minds) little creatures start to develop their own individual personalities and wills of their own. For the rest of us, that’s the best part of being a mom — watching our children grow into increasingly independent, confident, free-thinking individuals. For the narcissistic mother, each step away from her is an absolute act of betrayal.


Children have emotions that they express quite freely. This annoying practice is squashed as early as possible since narcissists cannot handle emotions. “What is wrong with you?” and “You’re so oversensitive” and “You’re overreacting” are common phrases uttered to children of narcissists.


These mothers end up resenting all the work that goes into raising a child, having no use for them unless they are achieving, doing something or otherwise reflecting their false image onto them. Children are a nuisance to them, taking precious time away from their own agendas. They don’t like to have to shop for clothes for their children, prepare meals for them, do their laundry, pay for daycare, enroll them in activities, drive them to friends’ houses, throw birthday parties, pay for their college educations or protect them from abuse.

They will smother and overprotect their children under the guise that they are taking care of them. They will fail to provide age-appropriate information on such things as menstruation, personal grooming (make-up, hairstyles, shaving, etc.), budgeting money and dating. This all serves to keep her children under her control as long as possible. If they are ill-informed and overprotected, they will not feel confident to grow or move further away from her.


They will use their children as slaves. They will delegate all household chores to the children as early as possible. They will insist that they pay for their own personal items and clothing as early as possible. Older children will become responsible for younger children. No matter how many of her responsibilities her children take on, it will never be enough or be done well enough. They expect perfection and constantly remind their children that they fail to meet this expectation.

Of course, they train their children to believe that they are the ideal mother. Any evidence to the contrary is to be kept secret at all costs. They will behave much differently toward their children in public than they do at home. They will vehemently deny any wrongdoing on their part and most likely blame their children, completely rewriting history.


Narcissistic mothers don’t stop being narcissists when their children become adults. They will play siblings against each other. They will compare siblings. They will talk to siblings about each other. When they have a problem with one, they will talk to another about it.

They are jealous of their children’s successes, even though they brag to others about them (‘see how great MY kids turned out’). They will make snide comments if they think one of their adult children has a better marriage, house, job, etc. than they do. They are thrilled when they perceive that one of their adult children has failed in some way (although they never tell others about these “failures”; it reflects poorly on them). They are more than happy to assist when necessary because that makes them look good, plus, there is an added bonus of having favors to collect on. Asking a narcissistic mother for a favor feels like selling your soul to the devil. It’s emotional extortion.


These mothers steal their kids’ childhoods, identities and future healthy relationships. They will keep on taking and sucking the life out of their children for as long as they live, if their children allow it. It is incredibly difficult and painful to acknowledge that your mother never loved you without blaming yourself — she raised you to blame yourself for everything. But it is necessary to put the blame where it rightfully belongs in order to insure that this insidious disorder isn’t perpetuated generation after generation.


SOURCE

FACEBOOK GROUP FOR DAUGHTERS OF NARCISSISTIC MOTHERS (MUST BE TOTAL NO CONTACT)

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Will the Narcissist/Sociopath/Psychopath Treat the New Victim Better?

by K. Saaed


Yes, at first he will.

But keep in mind that when a Narcissist is securing new supply, he will love-bomb her; just as he did you in the beginning. For those of you who are just learning about Narcissism, “love-bombing” is the constant bombardment of flirting and flattery from the Narcissist. This includes actions that are over-the-top after you’ve just started dating, such as:

• Splashing your social media with flirty messages, though you’ve only just met
• Sending numerous texts throughout the day
• Calling more than what’s considered normal
• Pretending to miss you when you go out with friends
• If you work in the public eye, showing up at your place of employment
• Sending flowers and gifts, after only one date
• Leaving multiple voice mails
• Offering to take you on vacation
• Pushing for physical intimacy too soon
• Spending hours on the phone with you


Just as we have four seasons, the Narcissist will use these tactics to secure new supply. That’s why he seems so happy with his new partner; you see him doing the above things with her.

Frankly, it coincides rather conveniently with his discarding of you. Since love-bombing is time-consuming, grueling, and involves spending money, the Narcissist is depleted. On the inside, he is feeling grouchy due to all of this exertion. Therefore, his efforts may as well fulfill two purposes:

1) secure the new supply,
2) fulfill his discarding of you.

Hence, you’ll likely get “heartfelt confessions” that he loves this new girl and they’re a match made in Heaven. She understands him like you never could. She accepts him for who he is. She does everything for him…  sound familiar?

Although he and his new supply look as if they’re walking on sunshine, you can bet he is making little jabs here and there. And while you are left feeling that his new partner is much better than you, the truth of the matter is the Narcissist simply wants shelter, food, money, and freedom to do as he pleases. He may feel a temporary giddiness that the new girlfriend doesn’t know him for what he is because he’s extracting copious amounts of adoration from her.

Consider how one typically feels before and during a job interview. There’s a lot at stake so we go out and buy an expensive suit, use our best manners,and tell the interviewer what they want to hear. In essence, we sell ourselves. That’s what the Narc does when he is in pursuit of a new source of livelihood. However, he soon turns into a bad employee who shows up for the paycheck, but doesn’t really do any work.

Reasons Not to Die When the Narcissist Looks Happy with New Supply

1. It’s highly likely that while he is out on the town with a pretty new girl on his arm, he has others who are waiting for his phone call. Why? Just in case. The worst situation for the Narcissist is to be left alone with no supply…which means no one to house him, no one to feed him, no one to make all of his appointments, take care of paperwork, apply for employment of his behalf (assuming he decides to work), etc. Most Narcissists, especially the overt ones, are the equivalent of 7-yr olds running around in adult bodies. They literally cannot fulfill adult responsibilities on their own.

2. Without someone to reflect a positive image back to him, the Narcissist feels worthless. His new girlfriend doesn’t know him like you do, so naturally she is feeding his ego to the nth degree. But rest assured that it will only be a matter of time before she starts noticing the cracks, probably when it’s too late and she’s lost all sense of direction. Everything he did to you will also happen to her.

3. Narcissists are attracted to attractive people, but not for the same reasons we are. Beautiful people make them look good by association.

Besides, because she’s pretty doesn’t mean you’re not…

4. The new girl is not only a new source of supply, she’s a matter of revenge. Since you attempted to establish a boundary, ask for respect and/or fidelity, requested him to find employment, or otherwise pointed out any flaws in him, he has a burning need to show you he can find someone who will accept him as he is. And while he may already have a new partner swooning over his very existence, it won’t last. She doesn’t know he’s an abuser, irresponsible, cruel, or sociopathic. All she knows is what he’s told her, along with the false illusion that he’s a hopeless romantic.

No matter what it looks like, the Narcissist’s “happiness” is a facade. What he’s most happy about is that he’s locked down a new place to live with someone who will cook for him, wash his clothes, and pay for everything. Don’t eat the soup he tries to feed you about how great she is. She may very well be a nice person, but the Narcissist doesn’t appreciate her personality past how it benefits him. Once you understand these dynamics, all that’s left to do is feel sorry for his new girlfriend. She doesn’t deserve what’s coming any more than you did.

SOURCE

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Recognizing the Problem





However, before someone might be classified as being narcissistic, it is important to keep in mind that, like every psychological disorder, narcissistic personality disorder too comes in various degrees. Going to the extreme, we might argue that each of us has somewhere a narcissist in her/himself. It even could be said that a narcissistic tendency is important for survival.

However, in the same context it must be emphasized that, while a narcissistic tendency is constructive, a fully elaborated or developed symptomatic of NPD is nothing but destructive.



Psychologically there are several criteria which have been applied to this personality disorder. These are:


So the question is whether the man or the woman you are living with are so strongly affected by this disorder that you will have to seriously confront the issue or whether the condition is mild and maybe after some adaptations it is possible to agree on a harmonious life together. However, this will focus on the first scenario where the disorder poses a serious threat to the relationship as well as to your existence.

There is much one can read about the symptoms of NPD and yet exactly this can be more than confusing, and you might find yourself going through a checklist of symptoms in order to arrive at some conclusion. However, the list above should give you some idea. Still, there is another element which is just as important and this quite possibly the most important item for you to look at:

Look at yourself and ask yourself how you feel and whether you are the person you once were and knew. If you live with a narcissist, you will develop a cluster of negative feelings centered around the emotion of fear and an image of inadequacy.

This self image of being inadequate then will be due to a change in self perception. This is, it is a cognitive concept that you are not familiar with and which is in contrast to how you used to see yourself. Clearly, such a negative self image will have serious effects on the way you feel and behave.

The dominant feeling is, as alluded to, fear. Fear of doing things wrong and fear of being punished. And thus, the way you behave too will become modified whereby you will watch your every move and where your actions become unnatural to yourself.
The issue is - in a sense - more complicated. Because, all of us have negative feelings and concepts about ourselves even if we never encountered a narcissist. So in this sense, what the narcissist does is to build on the already existing negative self images and enlarge them to a maximum.

The situation is even worse because we are aware of short comings in ourselves. This is where the narcissist is most successful. The narcissist will endeavour to increase these short comings. I may give a personal example: once, I gave up smoking, the narcissist exercised so much pressure on me until I started again (I still smoke sometimes).


The narcissist would really like to see you in the gutter.

However, if you see that you have substantially changed for the worse you can be sure that you are living with a narcissist, and a check list is not necessary any longer.

Still, there is a healing aspect to sharing what actions you suffered and what injustice and cruelty you have been exposed to, and hence sharing experiences and finding reassurance through others can be very important. This is the more the case as, while you are still living with the narcissist or are still in contact with the narcissist, the negative self image gets constantly reinforced.

If you feel that the self check and the characteristics of the narcissist as given above are not sufficient you might want to check your relationship for symptoms of the following kind as given by the check list below. Still, while you are comparing your own experiences with the check list provided here, it is important to remember that maybe only some of these symptoms apply to you or that symptoms which apply to you are not listed. The final criterion will always remain the way you feel about yourself and your self image.

Here now a list of possible symptoms a narcissist might display (not complete or final!):


Dr. Ludger Hofmann-Engl

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

When Bad People Do Good Things


Even bad people can sometimes behave well. That seems a strange twist on the idea of “good people behaving badly.” But it’s true. Even the skeeviest personality isn’t usually spending all day long exploiting everyone who enters his path.

Now this doesn’t mitigate his skeeviness one wit. But it’s also true that sociopaths aren’t always exploiting and mistreating others, all day long. They will be taking some time off, in different contexts, from their more unseemly behaviors.

And so sometimes, sociopaths can be nice, even very nice; sometimes they may extend themselves to others. Now we can question what motivates them when they are behaving well; probably, very often, their prosocial behaviors are driven by relatively shallow, if not manipulatively self-serving, motives.

Still, it’s fair to say that most sociopaths aren’t spending their lives 24/7 causing havoc to everyone around them; and it’s fair to suggest that, sometimes, if motivated to do so, they may even bring some cheer into others’ lives.

After all, we know these personalities can be charming and engaging; and that when they are, this isn’t necessarily, always an “act.” The sociopath can be genuinely charming and engaging, and he may enjoy, genuinely on some level, being charming and engaging.

In a sense I’m suggesting that not everything about even the sociopath is fraudulent; the sociopath, like anyone else, has genuine experiences, although we are right to question the depth of his experiences; and we are right to question his motives when he is behaving himself.

But to avoid confusion, my point is this: Beware! Do not rule-out sociopathy, or a similarly exploitative personality disturbance, simply because the individual is capable of behaving well sometimes, or even, alas, often.  

To do so risks our missing the significance of the dangerous, always lurking curve-balls that the even sometimes well-behaved sociopath may throw at any time (predictably or not).

One may be tempted to think, “If he can behave this well, can he really be that bad?” The answer is, yes. He can behave, sometimes, this well, and yet really be that bad!

So while I’m not necessarily saying “don’t be fooled” by his better behaviors, which may (or may not) have a genuine component to them, I am suggesting the exercising of great caution not to let the sociopath’s better behaviors distract you one bit from giving full weight to, and appreciation of, his destructive behaviors.

The latter should not be regarded as one bit less menacing and forbidding by virtue of his capacity to display the former.

(This article is copyrighted © 2010 by Steve Becker, LCSW. Use of male gender pronouns is strictly for convenience’s sake and not to suggest that females aren’t capable of the behaviors and attitudes displayed.) 

SOURCE

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Lies Abusers Tell Their Victims



The following is a long list of lies, threats, and insane statements that abusers make in order to keep their victims in line, and in order to keep the blame away from themselves and the abuse cycle going. Note that many of the following do in fact happen -- threats of violence are often carried out, sometimes the police do come, and so on. Sometimes, lies do come true, for victims of abuse.

You're just taking it wrong.

I wouldn't hit you if you weren't so bad.

We could make this relationship great if only you would work harder.

You made me lie by not making it easy to tell the truth.

I only lied to you because I knew you'd be hurt if you found out the truth.

Your mother/sister/My wife won't give me this, and I/men need it.

If you tell anyone about this, I will stop giving your mother her child support and you/she will be homeless and starving.

If you tell, the police will come and take me away.

This is normal in Europe -- I'm doing this so you can be more sophisticated than your peers.

If you don't, I'll do it to your sister/brother.

You know you like it; what are you trying to get from me by resisting?

You're really tense; I can help you relax.

Let me make you feel better.

This is how you show love to people.

Children have to do what their parents tell them.

All [insert your least favorite group here] are going to hell.

If you can be sexy enough men will like you and you can go far in life.

You can make a lot of money as a prostitute.

All you're interested in is sex. That's all that most (teen-agers/women/men) are interested in.

You're not good for anything else anyways so you might as well use what you are good at.

You own nothing, not even yourself. In my house, you are mine.

Your asking not to be touched isn't a good reason for me not to touch you.

In my house you will do what I want you to.

If you tell, I'll kill your cat/child/mother/friend/coworker.

I bought you X, but you owe me because you didn't earn it.

You will ruin our lives.

You're going to be the death of me.

You're going to grieve the loss after I leave you, but not the loss of love -- you're going to feel the loss a junkie feels when she can't get a hit.

I'm finally committed to you. That's why I have to leave you.

I can't live without you.

I know you better than you know yourself.

I was/am the parent/spouse/teacher/authority figure; therefore I know better than you.

This is going to kill your mother/father/teacher.

If you do this, nobody will ever talk to you again.

Your mother/father/sister/spouse wouldn't understand.

You're special, and this is our special secret.

Only true "friends" can be like this.

This is going to teach you about how to handle those horny teenage boys/girls who will be after you.

I have no one else to talk to.

You're the only one who really loves me.

You're too sensitive. I'm sick of you being so hypersensitive all the time!

Why are you so negative?

You're not sorry. If you were sorry, you wouldn't have said it.

You're bad. You're worthless. You're ugly.

You shouldn't feel that way. You shouldn't think that way.

I never did that. It never happened. You're just making it up.

Up to you. If you want to.

I can't believe how selfish you are.

You're self-centered, lazy, and irresponsible.

You shouldn't let it bother you.

That's just the way your [abuser] is. You shouldn't let them bother you.

I'm sick. I need help.

You know I love you/ have feelings for you/ care about you.

What are you mad at me for? I stopped drinking/beating you/abusing drugs, didn't I? What else do I need to do?

I wouldn't tease you if I didn't love you so much.

For a smart person, you sure do some dumb things.

You just remember what you want to remember.

Don't talk about your experience with my drinking/drug use/abuse/sex addiction because it will embarrass me.
Don't tell anyone about this. It's our little secret.
I'll kill you if you tell.

If you tell my spouse/significant other about us, he/she will kill themselves. And it will be your fault.

You'd be a lot prettier if you wore makeup.

You'd be a lot nicer if you weren't such a bitch.

He/She/They are lying/making it up/planted that stuff you found. They are jealous and want to ruin what we have.

I wouldn't do this to you if you weren't such a dirty, bad little girl/boy.

I wouldn't do this to you if you didn't like it.

You're a slut.

You ought to be ashamed of yourself!!
(NOTE: This is one of the most deadly things a person can ever say to a child.)

You only get what you deserve.

You have to forgive your abuser. You have to forgive me. It'll do you good if you forgive me. That's really the best thing for you.

I only have your best interests at heart.

This hurts me more than it hurts you.

Why are you so stupid? Why are you so snotty? Why are you so hard to get along with?

Why are you so [insert random meaningless accusation here]??

That's not what you meant. I know what you really meant.

You're overdramatic. You're obsessed.

You made me mad. You provoked me. You made me do it.

I'm not going to talk to you until you apologize.

Your feelings aren't important. Your opinions don't matter. I'm the only one who can be right. I'm the only one who can have feelings and opinions. I'm the only one who counts.

I never treated you that way. You imagined it. You had a wonderful childhood /adolescence/marriage/relationship.

You shouldn't feel like you were abused, because we gave you everything. You're so ungrateful. For all I have to put up with...

You're antagonistic. You're argumentative. You have a way of making people angry.

I can't be nice to you because it wouldn't work.

I can't ask you politely to do something because you wouldn't do it.

You never... You always...

You're just overreacting. You're just making a big deal out of nothing.

You're rude. You're uncooperative. You're unkind. You're just not a very nice person.

Boys don't cry.

Nice girls don't dress that way/have sex/yell/go anywhere alone.

Never hurt anyone's feelings. If you do, you're bad.

Go to therapy as long as you like, but when will you be done?

If you talk about your feelings, you're just whining. That's all they do in those support groups, anyway. They just sit around wallowing in self-pity.

Friends can't be trusted. Your friends are evil.

You're not sensible. You don't think things through.

You're ridiculous. Where did you get that crazy idea?!

Did [random suspect person] put you up to this?!

You're the Good Daughter/Wife/Girlfriend.

You're the Bad Daughter/Wife/Girlfriend.

You just need to try harder. You just need to stop letting your feelings get hurt.

Of course I love you. I wouldn't do this to you if I didn't love you.

Just because I have other partners doesn't mean I'm cheating on you.

Go ahead. Go out with your friends... and leave your family home alone!

You only like history because you're obsessed with the past. Why can't you look to the future, like me?

What's wrong with you?

You don't deserve to be forgiven. I only treat you like this because you deserve it.

I wouldn't treat you this way if you didn't need discipline.

I wouldn't keep dumping you if I didn't have to. I wouldn't keep dumping you if you didn't hurt me so much.

I wouldn't have left you if you weren't so awful.

I'd treat you better if you just tried harder.

It hurts me to love you.

I'm only doing this for your own good.


excerpted source

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