Lying to Self

It’s Narcissist Friday!     


Ever send a mental note to yourself? Of course you have. We do it all the time. We comment on our intelligence, our weight, our organizational skills, our memory, on and on. Usually, we tell ourselves negative things. And then we agree with ourselves.

It’s a neat little package. Somehow I get a negative message about myself. Maybe it’s from a comparison I made. Maybe it’s something someone says to me. But I get that message and then repeat it to myself over and over. The more I repeat it to myself, the more I believe it. The more I believe it, the more I repeat it to myself. The cycle builds the strength of the assertion.

The narcissist does this also, except that he/she does not say negative things about self. Narcissists say positive things about themselves and negative things about others. The narcissist regularly affirms his/her value. “I am worth more than this. I should get more respect. I am the smartest person here. I deserve better.” The narcissist blames any negative on others. “She is stupid. He wants my job. They are incompetent. He is greedy. She lies.” You get the picture.

The point is that almost all of us grew up lying to ourselves. Both narcissists and non-narcissists. And we listened to ourselves. And we believed ourselves.

By the way, this is one reason I find it hard to trust any narcissism test. If a narcissist takes the test and sees anything negative, he/she will reject it. If a sensitive person takes the test, he/she will probably see negative words and associate them with the familiar negative self-talk. So the wrong people are being convinced that they are narcissistic. (Of course the narcissist might think the test is funny. That would take things in a different direction.)

Now listen to this: the narcissist can hear your self-talk. Okay, of course he/she can’t read your thoughts, but somehow they know. Somehow they know the negative things you say to yourself—and they say the same things to you. “You always do it wrong. You’ll never figure it out. You won’t amount to anything.” They know the words. They know how to create those same feelings in you. They know.

By the time the narcissist is an adult, this ability to hear the self-talk of others is almost instinctual. If they don’t sense it even before they meet you, they just need to ask a few questions to get the information. Then they say things that make you think they are different from others. They listen, they sympathize, they even challenge your self-talk. You begin to open your heart to what seems like kindness. The words of affirmation feel so good, and so different from your self-talk, that you would never expect abuse to come from that person. But it will come. The kind words were just more manipulation, and your self-talk opened the door.

Many people ask why they seem to be so vulnerable to narcissists and abuse. Sometimes it’s because your self-talk has prepared you by weakening your defenses and convincing you that you deserve abuse. Every time you tell yourself that you are stupid, you open yourself to someone who will convince you he/she is smart and can help you. Every time you tell yourself you are ugly, you open yourself to one who will convince you that you are attractive when you are with him/her. Every time you think of yourself as socially inept, you open yourself to someone who offers fun and acceptance.

Now, I know that sounds a little harsh. I also know that not everyone seduced by a narcissist has immersed themselves in negative self-talk. But this is the true story for so many.

Listen: the enemy is the negative self-talk. One of the most powerful and effective ways to health is to change what you say to yourself. And, when the old negative comes back, don’t agree. Tell yourself that you are not whatever the negative statement was. Go ahead and disagree with the whispering that comes in your own voice to discourage you. Eventually, you will begin to reject that way of thinking and you will find the door closing to those who want to use it against you.

For those of you who are Christians, I would recommend a series of posts I wrote a few years ago entitled, “Words of Grace.” These are affirmations of your identity in Christ. They begin with this post:

If you can’t seem to find the others, just type “I am” in the search box on any of my blog posts. Be sure to use the quotation marks.

Replace the lying negative talk with truth about yourself. Not only will it feel good, but it will make you stronger every day.


Filed under Narcissism

20 responses to “Lying to Self

  1. JD

    A very tender post. Thank you. I already feel better.

  2. Denise

    This is so very accurate. Narcissists carry a virus like entity. If you are with one long enough you WILL become infected. Being with a narc whether it family or friend or spouse you are in fact signing up to go down the rabbit hole. And down you will go. Wake yourself up as you are the proverbial frog in the boiling water. Slowly being cooked. Jump out of that pot before it’s too late. Because minor changes are happening in your brain when you are being abused. Many,if not all narcs themselves, became one because they could not get out of that pot of boiling water. They got cooked. And it is irreversible. This is your brain you need to protect. They are attacking your brain with this “negative” talk. It is in fact like a virus. Just like computers. A very bad infection that spreads. So clean it up. Get away from them. Once this virus gets in your brain it destroys you. You will become them. Down the rabbit hole you go. No one can help you but you. But by then much damage is done. Csptd is what a narcissist is suffering from. Severe cptsd at their core. And it is irreversible at some point. The damage is not fixable. As you can see with a narc. They don’t change. They cannot. They are in a prison now in their own body and soul and brain. Don’t go there too. Get toxic people out if your life. Now!

    • Lisa

      Hi Denise,

      I agree with most of what you shared and thought it was well said but I just wanted to give you some feedback to consider. The Bible doesn’t say anything about Cptsd . It says that there are Evil people who are rebellious ((Proverbs 17:11) and these people are froward. The Bible indicates that the root cause of Narcissism is Pride and Rebellion. Many, many children grow up in homes where they were deeply traumatized yet they don’t choose to victimize others. Yes…it’s possible that some narcissists do have Cptsd but so does most of humanity because we are all subject to the consequences of the fall of man in the Garden. So if you are not Christian than what I have said won’t be relevant to you. But if you are Christian then we have a different explanation which is Biblically based. 🙂

      God Bless

      • JD

        I couldn’t get past the part where you say the bible indicates that narcissism. It’s because that is your opinion and interpretation. The bible does not address narcissism. It’s a modern word with a definition we cannot even agree upon now. I mean no disrespect or offense, however, I believe you are walking on eggshells.

      • Lisa

        JD you are entitled to interpret any information the way you choose however the Bible most certainly does address the core elements of narcissism and this is a fundamental truism. It’s not some subjective interpretation on my part. The use of the modern term narcissism certainly resides on a continuum but there is consensus on some primary features and there are tradtional Biblical correlations to those features. I am not in any way promoting anything goes definitions or stretching interpretations. Narcissism is a modern colloquial term for something that is commonly and historically cited in the Bible by several other terms. In the twenty years I have been immersed in this subject and more recently in discussions within in the Biblical counseling movement within Christian communities I have never heard anyone deny that the characteristics commonly associated with narcissism are absent in the Bible. Never. So no….I’m not remotely promoting an abstract personal opinion nor have I any insight as to why you might suggest that I am walking on eggshells ?

    • Dee

      Denise u is so right about these Creatures the Narcissist.Ive been Married to one for 10 years.N 10 miserable years.He wont change.He gives me a little hope.thinking he done change n then he pulls Away.He been giving me the silent treatment for 10 years.I ask him why he doesnt wont to talk.He tells me what i gotta talk to u for.Everything is about him. I dont exist to him.I dont matter to him anymore.Ive wasted ten years of my i wanna state that anybody thats involve with a Narcissist.Is wasting their time with one.because they are like Cancer eating away at u.they dont know how to love.they dont have no empathy.they have nothing but coldness n cruelness to offer u.GET OUT WHY U CAN IAM.THERES MORE JOY IN ACCEPTANCE THAN THERE IS IN STRUGGLE.SO MOVE ON.

  3. Selma

    It was only after an altercation where she employed this uncanny ability to “hear my own self-talk” that I realized that the woman who had been attempting to destroy my marriage was a raging narcissist.

    “You wouldn’t have a problem with my friendship with your husband if you weren’t such an insecure person.”

    “Your coldness and meanness has run lots of people off from the church.”

    “As the pastor’s wife, you should be nice to everyone, no matter what. If you don’t like it, you should just suck it up.”

    “You know your marriage had problems long before I came on the scene.”

    And the most hurtful one of all (because it’s my deepest, darkest fear):
    “It’s a shame that your husband will probably never advance the way he should with a wife like you.”

    And because she was exposing my deepest, darkest fears, for a split second, I believed her. Despite my own self-confidence in my gifts and abilities and despite years of people saying things like: “You’re such an asset to your husband” and “You know you’re a big part of why he’s done so well in his career,” I almost allowed her to make me doubt what I know to be true about myself.

    Unfortunately, it would take several more months, the discovery of 18 months of phone records, and a final, absolute ultimatum from me before my husband ended this “friendship” completely. The devastation this relationship caused in our marriage cannot be overstated and it sometimes feels like I will never fully recover.

    A handful of others in our church were her victims as well – they suffered in silence for a long time, not realizing that they were not alone in their victimhood. Their pastor, my husband, in his unquestioning admiration of her, was oblivious to the destruction she was causing. Even now, with his eyes having been opened, I’m not sure he has a grasp on its full impact.

    As her behavior has slowly come to light, she has withdrawn from the church. I don’t think she’s attended since Christmas. However, I’m too cautious now to allow myself to feel any relief. I can’t help but feel that the minute I do that – she’ll descend again.

  4. Wow! Truth is truth, and God’s Word is Truth, and how I love all those who encourage us to agree with what God says about us renounce the negative self-talk that the enemy wants us to believe. Thank you once again, Pastor Dave!

  5. Carl Feather

    My negative self talk drove me into the arms of narc who convinced me it was OK to divorce my wife and marry her. I did. Now the narc is divorcing me after two years of devalue and a robustly painful discard..Co ingredients up with something positive to say about myself is pretty hard right now.

  6. Penny

    Just this very week, my narc called me abusive, mentally ill, psycho, borderline, & evil.
    I found myself prostrate, confused, undone, questioning, devastated, distraught.
    Am I all that?
    Am I the problem?
    Did I deserve that?
    I had to coach myself back to reality…..but I am so weary.
    So weary of the battle, so tired of being played.
    I got love-bombed and didn’t see it coming.
    I thot I had done my homework but I got duped, played, exploited and used.
    Lord have mercy I am tired.

    • You can tell when a narcissist whom you have confronted is lying – his lips are moving! They accuse their victims of the very things they are most guilty of (abusive, mentally ill, psycho, evil, the devil, etc) – that’s called projection.

    • UnForsaken

      Penny, I know you will come to the right conclusions. You are Wonderful! I cannot express how encouraging you have been to me here. ❤

      You are not the problem. You do not deserve this. Kick this abuse to the curb. My health has left me weary a lot of the time, physically and emotionally. When it's darkest it doesn't feel like God is victorious. But when the light comes, even in small glimpses, then He gives the feeling of victory, a delayed gift from what He has already done.

      Your sadness has given your words poetry. You speak truth with power… you always have. Bless you. Bless you, Penny! Praying for your strength. HUG.

      • Penny

        Thank you for your kind, soothing words.
        The same week that my narc raged, a treasured pearl necklace broke.
        Then pearls just started sliding off, & with tears in my eyes, I gathered them up and laid them in a row. With my heart shattered, I wondered what else was left to break?
        Then the words of our Lord came to me:
        “Do not give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls before pigs; otherwise they will trample them under their feet and turn around and tear you to pieces.” Matt 7:6
        Ah. The blessing of His word. It helped me understand a little better that the narc is not interested in pearls or truth…..& it released me from the “need” to respond.
        The narc will continue to trample & turn & tear you to pieces. It’s better to get out of the way.
        Even Jesus said don’t waste words: protect your pearls and that which is holy.
        Thank you, friend. Hugs back atcha.

  7. I just want you to know I read your blog every week. This is the only blog I read consistently (I’ll look at random and asundry ones here and there), and once in a while I write one. Thank you for writing these. They are so good – healing, educating – growing me. I don’t deal with narcissistic abuse directly or personally but observe it on occasion and deal with elements of it in a family relationship affected by borderline personality disorder. Your words are so insightful, helpful and clear, helping me see how I can be healthier, freer, and at peace in knowing the grace of God.

  8. JD,
    Human nature has not changed much in the past 5000 years. That’s why the Bible is as relevant today as it was in Noah’s time, Solomon’s time or Paul’s time. Contrary to your assertion, the Bible describes the characteristics of Narcissists (and their evil cousins Sociopaths and Psychopaths) in great detail. It also describes numerous people(too many to mention in this blog post) who would in modern times be labeled a Narcissist, Sociopath, or Psychopath.

    In 2 Timothy 3, Paul gives Timothy a spot-on description of Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Pscychopaths: “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.” Romans 1:28-32 also describes them: “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” Galatians 5 19-21 gives another description: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

    Also, contrary to your assertion, we do know the definition of narcissistic personality disorder, and how this disorder plays out in real life. There are numerous articles, scientific studies, and professionals which testify to the tactics of those with narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder, both of which are Cluster B personality disorders which are responsible for the group of people known as domestic abusers, child abusers, elder abusers, among other things.

    Many experts use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, to diagnose mental conditions. This manual is also used by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.
    DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:
    • Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
    • Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
    • Exaggerating your achievements and talents
    • Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
    • Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
    • Requiring constant admiration
    • Having a sense of entitlement
    • Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
    • Taking advantage of others to get what you want
    • Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
    • Being envious of others and believing others envy you
    • Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner
    Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence, it’s not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal and value yourself more than you value others.

  9. merieleslie

    Narcissists don’t have CPTSD …. they give people CPTSD!!!

    • Lisa

      Hi Guys,

      It’s very encouraging to read so many insightful comments . It shows that people have really been doing their homework on these subjects. I just want to recommend a book for further consideration because the author points out that there has been a HUGE misunderstanding in the psychology community about Narcissism. A very well parroted belief is that Narcissists are childhood trauma victims who are compensating for a fractured and wounded self. This is an enormous error in the sense that it may or may not be true. The more important thing to understand is that they are aggressive and predatory in nature and they are not behaving defensively in response to their deep inner wounds. They are OFFENSIVE and motivated by unbridled desire to have their way. This is very important to understand so that we don’t project our own woundedness onto them and therefore minimize their harmful behavior. This is an error that I myself have succumbed to for many years. I love the comment by merieleslie above when she says that ” Narcissists don’t have CPTSD …. they give people CPTSD!!!”

      We MUST change our minds and stop ascribing woundedness to predatory behavior because it causes further confusion and suffering for the victims.

      The book is called “In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People”
      Book by George K. Simon

  10. God has been working overtime to remind me that I’m His, Hephzibah and Beulah,which is such a blessing since my ex keeps pushing to get our marriage “annulled,” even though he divorced me six years ago. I can’t win against him, but I sure pray for his deliverance and salvation, because I do belong to Christ and he tells us to love our neighbor and pray for those who spitefully use us. It’s protection for my own heart from bitterness, even as I try to throw off the injustice. Around Valentine’s Day God even showed me a heart in the gravel on the road i walk. It’s washed away now, but thanks to God for putting it there for me to see to remind me of HIS love for me. Thanks for your posts, Pastor Dave!

  11. UnForsaken

    Positive self talk is so important! I was recently re-reading something talking about this before I read this post. It suggested coming up with carefully crafted positive phrases about yourself that Directly Counteract the negative talk we hear from ourselves and others. After identifying lies we’ve believed in our lives, we need to target the untruth with truth to really reach healing. I believe the process of changing the way we think is hard, but possible. Repeating this healing-talk ten times, three times a day ( or so ) and deeply concentrating on the meaning you have crafted into it can be life changing. You may even draw closer to God, as you are talking about one of His special creations – You! It tells us more about His amazing magnificence.

    I constantly hear people trying to remind us of God’s magnificence by repeating our sins or confessing – past, present, future etc. It’s supposed to be humbling. But this only gives a false pride or a deep sadness. It defeats the purpose. His forgiveness is about HIM. He took away our sin because He Is So Great. Those of us who have been trampled down so long don’t need to be reminded we have sinned, how big or how bad . We are probably already remembering every little thing back to babyhood, and feel guilty for things we haven’t even done! When we believed on Him He covered All our sin and He did this to glorify HIMSELF. It’s not how big the sin, it’s how big He is.

    We are His children and He loves us. Remember what He is. Remember what He is making you to be as His loved child. Repeating your healing-talk and remembering how wonderful He is can be one of the most humbling experiences! We are free to rejoice.

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