Through His Eyes

It’s Narcissist Friday!     

 

Through Your eyes– 
Help me see my brother Lord 
Through Your eyes– 
May He never walk alone 
Place in me a tender heart 
That breaks in little pieces 
When I learn to see my 
Precious brother through Your eyes

 

Someone may be able to help me out here. I found only these lyrics to a relatively popular song from 30 or so years ago. I don’t remember who sang it, nor the rest of the words. In fact, I am not certain of the title. I want to call it “The Anti-Narcissism Song.”

Freeatlast8 suggested that I write about how to “reprogram from a narcissistic mindset.” The key to the answer is learning to see others as real people. Now, I don’t intend this to be a cure for narcissism. Instead, this is meant to help those who have been in narcissistic relationships and have found narcissistic characteristics in themselves.

When we were children, we cried when we were in physical pain. Some physical pain can still bring tears to our eyes. As adults, however, it is usually emotional pain that causes us to cry. The scientists tell us that tears caused by pain, either physical or emotional, contain endorphins to help us feel better. That’s nice, and I don’t doubt it, but it causes me to wonder about this odd way for our bodies to provide those endorphins. What does water filling our eyes have to do with helping us feel better?

I have a suggestion. It isn’t scientific. It isn’t Biblical. It’s just a suggestion. What if God gave us a way to stop focusing on others when we are in pain? When we have tears in our eyes, it’s much harder to see others. When we are in pain, it is much harder to think of others. What if God, in His love, gave us a physical message that says, “It’s okay to think about yourself”?

Narcissistic relationships hurt. They hurt a lot. There are lots of tears for those who have to deal with a narcissist. Tears of grief; tears of anger; tears of pain. And, in those times when tears cannot be helped, God may be saying that it’s okay for you to think of yourself.

Eventually, we are able to adjust to the things that cause us to cry. Most of us no longer cry about physical pain. Some no longer cry when people are mean. We may allow ourselves to cry at safe times, watching a movie or reading a story, but otherwise we have learned to be strong enough to shoulder through our suffering. We grit our teeth, say a bad word, or whatever else it takes to not cry. Crying makes us feel weak.

But we still withdraw into ourselves. In times of pain, it is hard to see other people. We have to take care of ourselves. The pain is demanding and makes us pay attention. Since the pain is internal, we focus internally to see it and try to fix it.

And when the pain lasts a long time, perhaps years, this focus on ourselves becomes habitual. Many have said that they used to be fun and caring and energetic, but the narcissistic relationship changed them into something else. Now it is hard to care. Now the one who used to be a good listener finds herself thinking about other things as her friend talks. Now the one who used to be the first to pray or reach out with help holds back. The generous person worries about the cost. The carefree person wonders what others will think. The fun person is quiet and withdrawn.

Living with a narcissist is like having a constant migraine, with occasional jabs of intense pain. It’s hard to think about anything else. Most of the time is spent worrying about the next sharp pain. And, like migraine sufferers, victims of narcissists are worn out, distracted, and given to despair.

But now it’s over. The source of pain is gone, but the memory of the pain lingers. And you are still withdrawn, still focused on yourself. In fact, as you begin to heal, you see that some of the behaviors that hurt you are present in your life. In other words, you are acting like the narcissist.

So what do you do? How can you stop this thing that you hate? It may not be as hard as you think.

The narcissist lacks empathy. He/she does not see other people as persons. You had empathy before. You hurt when others hurt. You joined in their joy. You connected with others. You saw them as real people. But life with the narcissist stole that empathy from you. It became dangerous, for one thing. When you tried to empathize with the narcissist, you became confused and experienced more pain. It was better just not to try. And, when you cared about other people, the narcissist punished you—or else you were already so weakened that any rejection from them felt like the pain that came from the narcissist. After a while, it began to seem like everyone was turning against you. No one understood. No one cared. You couldn’t trust anyone. The wall around you became strong and kept everyone out.

You rationalized this by putting people in categories. Some were on the narcissist’s side. Others were ignorant and unhelpful. Some were hard to understand, but you didn’t want to trust them. Any compromise, any weakness in their support, became a reason to push them away. You found it easier to reject everyone than to allow anyone in. Pretty soon, you stopped seeing others as real people with their own struggles. You also stopped seeing their love and support.

But that was never your true heart. That was your response to your pain. You didn’t have much choice but to focus on yourself, even if that meant pushing others away. Now you want that loving person you used to be to come back.

So, here’s one thing to pray about and to do. Just one thing. Not a seven-step program. Not a book to read. Just one thing.

Learn to see others as real people again. Stop categorizing and start seeing. Yes, they are full of compromise and struggle. Yes, they have needs. Yes, they do dumb and, sometimes, mean things. But they are struggling just like you.

When we were kids we were taught how to cross the street with three simple words: stop, look, and listen. That is my simple suggestion for getting rid of the remnants of narcissism that have stuck to you. Stop pushing people away by categorizing them. Look at their faces, their eyes, and see their struggle. Listen to their words and their hearts. You will be amazed at the compassion and connection that rises up in your heart.

If this is hard, then ask the Lord for help. This is His heart, for you and for others. He sees with compassion. He knows the struggles. He cares.

26 Comments

Filed under Narcissism

26 responses to “Through His Eyes

  1. Psycholobitch

    I think everything you said here is true, and I would add there there is an element of community as well. When someone is hurt, attention is given to that person. Emotional suffering from a relationship with a narcissist is different, because the wounds are not visible and you actually have to work to get validation in most circles. But make no mistake, narcissists burden communities with their victims. Victims are often isolated in their trauma, and having a strong community to allow one to rest in one’s grief and tears for however long it takes is vital, in my opinion. It is anti-narcissism to properly care for yourself, and it is also anti-narcissism to build communities that can bear the brunt of narcissistic abuse. I think surrounding yourself with validating people can help lead you to self-validation, and trust people again. That is another aspect of narcissism…people as all good or all bad. I think many people simply don’t know what to do when one of their own is faced with narcissistic abuse, and this leads to confusion and burdens on the community. Strengthen communities through education and support…help those suffering from narcissistic abuse and put them in the community’s “hospital of the mind” and care for them until they are strong enough to care for themselves. And help them lean on God. I’ve been angrier at God than any fellow man, including the fellow men who proclaim to be ministers of the Word. I am grateful to those who have helped me lean on God, because I would not be anywhere if not for Him.

  2. I did the dangerous thing. When my narcissistic husband was cheating on me, I asked God to give me his eyes and heart for the man, and in the middle of the night love exploded in me more flaming and understanding than I had ever felt before. Sadly for me my ex couldn’t comprehend it and it didn’t save our marriage. Seven years later I still pray for the Holy Spirit to bring him revelation of God’s reality and love. He is deceived, poisoned by bitterness and may never come to Christ without a miracle like the revelation God gave Saul of Tarsus. Lord bring Divine Intervention out of your great mercy and sovereign power!

    • Sabine Vlaming

      Amen dear sister, I experienced the same. How great their love for Him will be…we”ll likely be on the mezzanine witnessing their miraculous transformation from darkness to light…the heavens will rejoice!
      Blessings, Sabine

      • Amen, Sabine, may it be so by God’s great grace! HIS love for them in us protects our hearts from bitterness.

      • Sabine Vlaming

        What a blessing it will be to meet our ‘thorny’ ones again in the Lord’s perfection. Like Paul, they’ll likely male a dramatic, instant 180! A blessed day that will be. Much love in Christ, Sabine

  3. eva ennis

    sometimes just reading these posts is too painful

    • Sabine Vlaming

      Bless your heart with peace, kindness, power and keep walking in faith. The Lord comes with healing in His wings. Much love in Christ, Sabine

  4. dombeckblog

    This is very helpful. Thank you.

  5. Elizabeth D

    I CAN NAME THAT TUNE! It’s an Imperials song, from their 1983 album, Side by Side. It was sung by Dave Will, who happens to be my hands-down all-time favorite singer in the universe ever. I’ll be hearing him in my head all day now, THANKS, Pastor Dave! Great group, great singer, great song, great message. (And good migraine analogy there.)

  6. Good thoughts. Very timely for where I am at. I have cried for as much as 6 hours straight this week, hurting so from the abuse of my wife. How I want to see her come to Jesus and let his love heal her. Wonderful observations about tears.

  7. Maya

    Yes, thank you so very much, Pastor Dave. This is extremely helpful. Years of living with abuse took a toll on my empathetic nature. I have stopped reaching out to others and insulated myself. Do not want to live like that. I am free from the abuse, praise the Lord!, and struggle with loneliness, I am trusting God to help me stop, look and listen, bringing others into my life once again. Seeing others as real people will reestablish the trust factor I have lost.

  8. Reblogged this on A Blog About Healing From PTSD and commented:
    This is one of the best posts I’ve read on narcissism, written by my favorite blogging pastor, Dave Orrison. I especially love these paragraphs:

    “Living with a narcissist is like having a constant migraine, with occasional jabs of intense pain. It’s hard to think about anything else. Most of the time is spent worrying about the next sharp pain. And, like migraine sufferers, victims of narcissists are worn out, distracted, and given to despair.”
    ~and~
    “When we were kids we were taught how to cross the street with three simple words: stop, look, and listen. That is my simple suggestion for getting rid of the remnants of narcissism that have stuck to you. Stop pushing people away by categorizing them. Look at their faces, their eyes, and see their struggle. Listen to their words and their hearts. You will be amazed at the compassion and connection that rises up in your heart.

    If this is hard, then ask the Lord for help. This is His heart, for you and for others. He sees with compassion. He knows the struggles. He cares.”

  9. Diana

    Was this post written for me? Those flowing tears that never seem to dissipate–those are there to cleanse me from the pain?? I wish my source of pain were in the past, but I am still living beside him; trying the No Contact solution which feels like death. Yes, I am categorizing people. Most of the women I come in contact with, friends and at Bible Study, do not understand the level of mistrust and betrayal I feel living with a N. They say love him and cherish your husband, as if I’m doing something wrong. Let God help you. Those who get migraines don’t get advice like that…sometimes more understanding is given for medical migraines than emotional trauma. I want to be that person again who reaches out to others and feels their pain, and trusts. But right now, I shrink back from contact because no one seems to understand the conflict. I feel stuck and unable to make healthy decisions. Jesus is my best friend and the only one who understands these tears, but I can’t stay frozen in solidarity forever. Thank you for this post. I will ask for more strength to accept the kindness behind those caring hearts instead of focusing on how they missed the mark and failed again to realize the actual source of pain I’m dealing with. After all, how could they? They probably are married to someone who apologizes, tells the truth, and honestly seeks to make their relationship better when wrongs have occurred.

    • Dear Diana, too many church(playing) women can’t seem to mind their own business. These “ladies” are truely a pain in the neck.

      • Churches are, unfortunately, not the best place to find empathy. Those who are hurting are often too ashamed to admit it, the ones who are not hurting but are just bored become self-righteous. Faith is a dangerous thing! I have sat in a pew bawling my eyes out in a large church with the faithful saints busying themselves to get to the next Bible study, their huge Bibles in their arms, and walking right by me. I have sat in a parking of a church service crying and sobbing and had the speaker pass right by me without a hello because he was about to give a big check to a ministry. And in the church I am in now, I cry every Sunday during worship and get not one person ask me if they can pray for me.
        Narcissistic abuse is Satan unleashed. Prayers for the abuser fall on deaf ears as we hope and pray for redemption, as we foolishly believe that we are in this person’s life to help them find the way. Instead, they lead us astray. I scream at Satan and demand he leaves the head of my wife (we are separated) and nothing happens except the dog get scared and I can’t talk the next day. And it goes on and on.

  10. I find you timing in posting this amazing (and Gods even more so). I just got done having a similar type of discussion with someone on a narcissistic recovery site concerning my statement that I pray for the ex-narc husband on a post about him killing my cats and leaving their bodies lined up for me to find. This is her response and then what I wrote her:

    HER:People that do this are a special kind of depraved. My heart goes out to you and Sara its hard enough losing them to natural causes. A prayer “request” for him tho – thats bloody huge – I would be so hard pressed to display that kind of grace. Admirable to say the very least.,
    ME: I’ve come a long way… God has done some major healing in me. Shown me that it’s the spirits on the man not truly the man himself. This is not to say though that he doesn’t have a choice, because he did. It doesn’t mean that I don’t hold him responsible for his choices, because I do. And it most certainly doesn’t mean that I’ll ever let him back in my life, because I won’t. But I will pray, but for his salvation.
    Not a day goes by that I don’t visualize what he did to them and cry. They trusted and loved me and honestly love him I think. And I know what he tried to do to me, which was pretty much the same thing. So…. Yeah. I pray, but I certainly still have my moments where I’d love to see him swinging from a tree by his sack. God forgive me
    HER: Those are life scars. And the dignity you wear with them with is not common. Seriously, Narcholio’s salvation has never crossed my mind. I don’t know how you are able. I did the dance with forgiveness, failed that owing to the fact the struggle was to big a mountain at this time – exhausted mentally from struggling to forgive an unrepentant soul who continues to abuse in his own stealthy way. I’m curious about what may have pushed you up and over that mountain. So far I just have not been able to gather the strength. Or the desire. The desire is just shot…
    ME: I don’t know exactly how it happened. But I do know that I had to get to that point. I asked God on a daily basis to help me forgive him. I still have to go to Him when the anger overtakes me. I think though, what helped me the most was that I am blessed with some amazing people in my life who listen and accept what happened to me through my ex. They knew him (well James did) as James was our marriage counselor. I’m blessed to be living with them so I have validation… Especially when the anger and the fear takes over. But too James and Kim say the hard things to me, like: “you know that he’s controlled by demonic forces. ” and that gives me the clarity of mind to separate the person from the crimes. And I suppose that’s it… The key,…. I separate the person from the crimes. The ex is human and therefore fallible. I’ll never trust him or let him near me, and especially if he has had a “come to Jesus” moment as he hoovered me back in with that one once… But I can forgive the little boy inside… The one who is beloved of God.

    All this to say That I agree whole heartedly with this article, with seeing every one as a person…a child of the Living God. Whom, eventhough, they may be stuck in the throws of demonic actions and hurtful ways we can still pray for them …when these people are in our lives, we can choose to not become pulled into their darkness and can walk away while still being Christians. And whether or not we have angry or sad moments, as long as we choose to follow the path of Love we can and will heal and move forward out of the darkness that the narc tried to destroy us with.

  11. Ailsa

    Very timely for me and very insightful. Thank you for your wisdom.

  12. Savedbygrace

    Thankyou Dave -this is a profound reflection on the emotional aftermath of living with an N.
    You wrote: God may be saying that it’s okay for you to think of yourself.

    For me the first step towards healing has been truly seeing myself- sitting with the pain , naming it, letting the tears flow, allowing others ‘in’ to be compassionate towards me, instead of being defensive or overly guarded. Working with a counsellor for 2 years has helped me in this, plus other people God has brought into my life.

    For me, healing continues as i accept reality ( even/especially if I don’t like my reality). This is not easy as I have been in denial for decades as a coping strategy and also in an effort to ‘fix’ what was not mine to fix. I have needed to learn to be kind to myself and have self compassion. This can be counter intuitive as it can ‘feel selfish’ but in actual fact it is very freeing and I find enables me then to do just what you suggest – look up and out and see others with compassion.

    I think compassion is not just a feeling but also a doing thing-what will I do as a result of truly seeing another’s need/humanity? Prayer, acts of kindness, love and service can all flow from truly seeing another. As we think, feel and do differently we become a different person- hopefully more congruent with our ‘self’ pre N experience, and definitely – if you are a Christian, closer to Jesus the one we follow.

    Thankyou so much for blessing us with these posts.

  13. guardyourheart

    came across someone at a bible meeting the other day who reminded me how i used to behave she was just more over the top. someone even pointed that out. Felt ashamed and so bad that I used to allow myself to be taking up so much time and saying things or talking too much it was putting people off. some people say that people do not want to change but that is not true I so want to change… Felt very anxious about it this week but reading this article just realised that there is hope and just like the article says: ”Stop pushing people away by categorizing them. Look at their faces, their eyes, and see their struggle. Listen to their words and their hearts. You will be amazed at the compassion and connection that rises up in your heart.”….

  14. guardyourheart

    This is a BEAUTIFUL article had to read it several time and will read it several more and make the following on of the reminder in my phone and a prayer ”Stop pushing people away by categorizing them. Look at their faces, their eyes, and see their struggle. Listen to their words and their hearts. You will be amazed at the compassion and connection that rises up in your heart.”….

  15. Someone just brought to my attention that I didn’t acknowledge the fact that children also suffer from emotional pain/abuse. Children, of course, also suffer from emotional turmoil – and cry. My point was that this crying is much more difficult for us to give up when we become adults. We may be able to overcome crying for physical pain, but most of us still shed tears for emotional pain.

    I grieve for children who feel lonely, rejected, or abused. Children should be valued and supported, particularly in our culture. Yet, suicide hotlines report receiving calls from increasing numbers of children under 14, with some as young as six.

    Love the children around you. Be careful. Allow them their boundaries. But let them know there is someone who cares.

  16. karebrad

    I just read this for the 3rd time .
    HELP! I don’t know how to help myself!
    I have been married to a narcissist for 40 yrs. or at least he has learned it from his mother & he has the traits. I feel I’m in a cage & I can’t get out. Some days I’m in the Twilight Zone.
    How do I get help? I’m so scared! I’ve been so deceived, he was an imposter. Is there someone out there that can help me?

  17. Carl Feather

    Deceived is so true. None of us would have married this person had they shown their true colors before I do. All we can do is alow God to use the it selfish ways to make us better. That is all I know.

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