Tag Archives: meanness

Why are they so mean?

It’s Narcissist Friday!

 

Sometimes narcissists are just plain mean.  They say cruel things, things meant to sting.  It isn’t enough that they don’t care what they say.  In these situations it seems like they do care and they are trying to cause pain.  Why are they so mean?

I thought about this as I wrote a response to an email I received recently.  The behavior seems so counterproductive.  If the narcissist needs people, why does he push them away?  If he needs certain people who provide his “supply,” why does he try to hurt them?

If we think of narcissists as addicts and people (or what people provide) as supply/drug, then I think we will understand a lot about how narcissists treat people.  Most drug addicts hate the drug.  It has a physical hold on them and they must have it in order to get the high.  The whole process of finding and buying and using the drug is a negative for most addicts.  The only positive is the high.

Last week I said that the god of the narcissist is the image they present of themselves.  Their highs come from affirmation of that image.  Attention, respect, admiration—these are the highs of the narcissist.  And what brings the high?  People!

Narcissists need people, but they hate the fact that they need people.  The ones they need the most are the ones that are hardest for them.  They hate having to spend time or energy or money on the ones who are supposed to provide the high, just like a junkie hates having to come up with money all the time.  Think about that.  Which do you think the addict would get more pleasure from: the drug he has to work or steal to get or the drug that is given as a gift?  The work lessens the high, especially when he has to think about more work in order to get the next high.

So some of his cruelty toward his wife or children or others has to do with how he feels about the cost of the relationship.  He believes he should receive the admiration and service simply because the image is worth it.  Purchased praise just doesn’t feel as good.

Another thing that happens commonly in almost all addictions is what we call “drug tolerance.”  Eventually, the drug user needs more of the drug or a stronger drug to get his high.  We know that narcissists often have serial relationships.  The newness of the next relationship brings a slight difference to the high and the old one wasn’t feeling as good.  Many victims have noted that their narcissist seems depressed, almost like the lull between the highs.

So what does a narcissist do when he has painted himself into a corner?  He has put together a life that doesn’t allow him to leave his wife and family and he can’t find opportunity for a lover.  Sometimes he can build sources of supply at work or in organizations, but sometimes he might have to change the flavor of the drug at home.

I suspect that there is a psychological increase in the high when it comes at a cost to the victim.  If loyalty feels good normally, think of how good loyalty would feel if the victim had reason to hate you.  If she was still loyal and still gave attention, even after you have been cruel, then she must really love you or be under your control.  See how powerful the image is?  It receives love and service even from those who have been hurt by it.  If the abuser gets pleasure from his victim, this may be the explanation.

Now, I do have to mention one more reason why a narcissist or anyone in a relationship might be so mean.  I have known several “christians” who wanted a divorce but couldn’t be seen as the one who initiated the proceedings.  If they filed, they would be the bad guys.  So, they pushed their spouses through little acts of cruelty and rejection until the spouse cracked.  As long as they were seen as the victims, then these “christians” thought they were okay.  The image wasn’t tarnished.  After all, they were not the ones who filed.  They just wanted things to work out.

I have always thought this was dishonest and disgusting, but I have seen it more than I wanted to.  Very difficult to hold these “christians” accountable for this behavior and it often works.

So what do you do if you are on the receiving end of this cruelty?  It depends on how much you can handle, I suppose, but don’t forget about your kids.  Narcissists can be very cruel and damaging to children.  Here is my standard advice:

  1.  Keep a diary or a log.  Hide it well.  Document the cruelty, especially anything physical.  Dates, times, circumstances.  You will be surprised at how valuable such a record can be, especially if you have details.
  2. Tuck away some cash or set up a plan of escape.  Just because you have one doesn’t mean you have to use it, but not having one means it isn’t there if you should need it. A couple of hundred dollars might get a motel and some meals which will give you some time to find other help.  Friends or family who know and believe you can stand ready.
  3. Physical abuse of spouse or children is unacceptable!  It almost always escalates (think addict) and crosses boundaries that are important in relationships.  Get out and get your kids out.  Take photos of bruises.  Seriously.

These are simple things.  I didn’t say that you should get a divorce.  That’s a bridge you may have to cross later, but you lose more of yourself each time he or she is cruel.  So do your kids.  Get some help.  I am not a fan of secular counseling and resources most of the time, but women’s shelters are made just for this.  Know where they are and how fast you can get to one.

One more thing: I have heard several people say that they ought to put up with more abuse because they are Christians.  If you are a “Christian” family and have a “Christian” church, you should put up with less!  To paraphrase Paul, “Not even pagans think this is right!”  In Christ we are to love one another and support each other, not be cruel or abusive.  If your narcissist is supposed to be a Christian, something is seriously wrong.  Don’t let it keep going.

And don’t believe the lie that comes to you during these times.  You are someone special.  There is good for you.  You are loved and worth loving.  The lie tells you otherwise, but it is the lie.

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No Condemnation!

Maybe I need to stay off the Internet.  I follow several blogs and sometimes jump from link to link and I am continually amazed at how much is out there.  Today I followed a link to a youtube video where a man talked homosexuals going to hell and used the recent suicide of a young man to support his point.  It was disgusting and, no, I am not going to give you the link.  From there I went to another video.  This time it was an expose on Peter Popoff, who makes huge profits on his healing ministry and was outted a few years ago as a scam artist.  These things keep my blood flowing, I guess.

Listen, no one goes to hell because he or she is gay.  That’s simple.  In fact, there is no particular sin that sends a person to hell.  Those who arrive in hell do so because of a continued state of unbelief.  The message of the Scripture is that all are on their way to hell because of their brokenness and sinful condition.  Jesus came to rescue anyone from hell: homosexuals, prostitutes, politicians, even shyster preachers. 

Somewhere some people got the idea that the gospel is bad news.  Condemnation, guilt, shame: these have become weapons for the cause of Christ.  But no one is saved by condemnation or guilt.  We are saved by the love of God in Jesus.  Condemnation is the natural state for all who remain under sin; who have not been rescued by Jesus.  It isn’t something for Christians to enjoy or employ.  It should cause us grief.

Jesus looked on Jerusalem and wept because He knew of the unbelief of the people.  He reached out to the prostitute and the tax-collector.  Today, He would reach out to the homosexual and the drug addict and I wonder if He wouldn’t weep when He looked at some churches. 

Yes, homosexuality is a sin.  That’s all it is.  And it hurts people.  We don’t have to support it in any way.  But we do have to care about those who are caught in it.  Several young people have killed themselves recently because of the conflict in their hearts related to homosexuality.  We ought to grieve for them and for their families. 

Be kind.  Love others—especially those who are not like you.  Don’t judge or condemn them.  Tell them of Jesus and His love.  Walk with them and show them the way to Him.   

dave@gracefortheheart.org

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Why Are Legalists Mean?

From time to time I get a note from someone who has been hurt by a legalist.  The victim has been criticized or judged and wants to know why the legalist (or performance person) acts that way.  Here’s my answer to one such person.

If a person has to measure up in order to be acceptable to God, he’s in trouble.  His actions, both past and present, do not meet the standards he believes are necessary.  How does he survive the thoughts that this produces?  (This is the inner conflict that causes performance people to be depressed and just plain mean.) The only way to feel better is through comparisons.  He may not measure up to the ideal, but he may be able to surpass you.  When he measures himself against others, he has a competitive system of spirituality that moves him to hide his own sins while pointing out those of others.  Of course, this doesn’t help his true problems.  He may still be depressed and/or mean, but he will have something going for him.  He may actually feel better about himself. 

If he thinks in terms of a competition then he will probably see only right and wrong, good and bad, superior and inferior, winners and losers.  When one is right the other, who disagrees, must be wrong.  One of the tenets of the performance system is that superior spirituality will lead to higher honor and increased influence/power.  If he accepts that successfully spiritual people have more influence/power, then he may also accept that the one who causes another to act in a certain way is the spiritually superior one.

When performance people read that the strong are to yield to the struggles of the weak, they find themselves in a logical loop.  They want to be the stronger, because that appears to be the superior position, but they see that the weak have the influence they desire.  Remember that the goal is not real growth.  The goal is to be considered more spiritual.  The one with the influence is more spiritual.  Thus, to be weaker, according to their system, is to be stronger.  And around and around we go…

Dave@gracefortheheart.org

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