It’s Narcissist Friday!
Have trouble making decisions? Once you make a decision, do you find yourself worried about it? Do you often second-guess, try to rethink the decision you made? Does the responsibility of making decisions cause you to be afraid?
There are many reasons for difficulty in decision-making, of course, but this is a common problem for victims of narcissists. One of the more powerful control techniques (brainwashing, if you will) is to strip the victim of the ability to make and hold a decision. Cults do it, governments do it, and narcissists do it.
Imagine that every time you state an opinion, you are told that it is a foolish idea. Imagine that every time you make a decision, the person you look up to causes you to fail. Imagine that every time you try to play by the rules, the rules get changed. Over and over, as you think you are doing well, you find that there is something you missed, something you didn’t understand correctly. You try and try, but you never seem to get it right.
Sadly, many people don’t have to imagine this at all. This is the way they grew up. Or this is the way their love relationship has been for a long time. Or this is the way it has been at work or in church. Eventually, you just want to give up.
I know of a religious group that teaches by asking simple true or false questions at the beginning of the lesson. No matter how hard you try, when you think you have the answer you find that you were wrong. The only way to succeed is to find the answer that makes sense and then choose the other.
I know a husband who wanted his wife to make decisions, but then kicked the legs out from under her decisions with a simple sentence: “Do you think that’s wise?” Obviously the answer was that he didn’t think it was wise and, once again, she was shown to be foolish.
I know sons and daughters who grew up being called stupid and foolish and dumb. They were often set up for failure by parents who set rules only to change those rules on a whim. The children never knew what was expected or what would be accepted.
These are tools of manipulation and it helps to understand that. It wasn’t that you were wrong; it was that you were supposed to be submissive and controlled. Narcissists must control. If they can’t control you, they won’t like you. They cannot abide the possibility that you will disagree or show them to be wrong or weak. So they work hard at keeping their victims humble.
So how to you get over this? Find a good counselor and begin the process of learning how to make decisions. That may be necessary if you were the child of a narcissist. The pattern and the perspective are deeply ingrained. If you are just coming out of a relationship with a narcissist or a narcissistic organization, you may want to look back to a time when you were able to make decisions and you felt good about them. Maybe a good friend from those days could help.
I can’t address specific situations in a blog like this, but I do want to uncover a possible cause for a problem many people have. If you have had a relationship with a narcissist or a controlling organization and you find that you have difficulty making decisions, there is very likely a connection between the two.
It is important for us to know what success looks like. How do we know we have done well? What does it mean to be a good Christian? What makes a good decision? When the target is hidden or always moving in random ways, the person who tries to hit it should not be surprised at a miss. It isn’t your fault.