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The Mental Toll of Being Abused by a Narcissist

by Jan 4, 2024

Unfortunately, some people behave like this, but they do. Spending time with narcissists will take a toll on your mind and soul. 

You might not want to believe that you’re in an abusive relationship. Or you might be so used to what’s occurring that you don’t recognize the signs. There are plenty of ways to tell, not just through witnessing their behavior but through recognizing how you’ve come to see yourself and the world around you.

Here’s how to know if you have been or are being abused by a narcissist:

  1. You Find Yourself Tolerating Things Most People Would Not

According to Psychology Today, methods of narcissistic abuse vary from subtle manipulation to physical violence.

Verbal abuse alone can constitute:

…belittling, bullying, accusing, blaming, shaming, demanding, ordering, threatening, criticizing, sarcasm, raging, opposing, undermining, interrupting, blocking, and name-calling.”

The list goes on, but the point is that repeated instances of these behaviors are not normal. This is not how healthy individuals treat the people they care about.

Do you recognize these behaviors in a relationship in your life, whether it be romantic, platonic, parental, or otherwise? If you’ve known multiple narcissists (which is possible), then it could be that this behavior is what you’ve come to expect from people. In a painful way, it’s what you’re most comfortable with.

Do you find yourself making excuses for these behaviors? Are you always weathering abusive storms so that you can eventually get back this individual’s inconsistent praise and affection? How long has this gone on?

If you’re just waking up to this now, realize that what you’re experiencing is not right. What you tolerate should not be tolerated.

  1. You’re Always In a FOG

Emotional abuse puts you in a state of mind that’s difficult to see beyond.

FOG stands for fear, obligation, and guilt. When you’re in a FOG, you always feel that you’ve done something wrong. You said the wrong thing, you made the wrong decisions, you failed to please someone, and the narcissist’s judgment is always on your mind.

You find yourself wondering things like, “Why am I always wrong?” These doubts churn inside you amidst the anger, anxiety, and preoccupation with the absurdity of the arguments you had or the accusations they made about you.

FOG is a kind of virtual reality. It is a false filter on life that causes you to doubt your perceptions always.

  1. You Doubt Yourself In All Ways

Narcissists will harm you just because they can, just to exercise power over you.

This cruelty tricks you into believing that not only are you incompetent because you can’t live up to their demands, but you are also a failure as a person. Being unworthy to them comes to mean being unworthy as a human being.

It gets to the point where abuse feels deserved. You find yourself apologizing when they chastise you. And the more you try to ground yourself in reality, the more you doubt, you’re capable enough to determine what reality is.

Narcissists take a special interest in those who open up to them. Those who are willing to reveal themselves are usually empathic people who seek strong emotional connections. Empaths want to believe in the goodness and potential of the narcissist, even when they’re acting horribly.

This openness is what allows you to become enmeshed with someone who will never take responsibility for their actions. The more they say that everything is your fault, the more you will start to believe them.

In this sense, the emotional bond you form with a narcissist becomes their way of ensnaring you. They take full advantage of your desire for authentic connection.

  1. You Dampen Yourself and Your Potential

If you have talents, prospects, abilities, and potential, narcissists can sniff out these qualities in you.

When you have some great success on the horizon, you become an object of the narcissist’s envy. When this occurs, they may reprimand or punish you for shining your light. 

Your success threatens their ability to control you and keep you under them. This makes you afraid that your greatness is going to cut you off from the people you love. As a result, you stunt your potential for fear of being hated.

Being conditioned to fear success leads to enormous self-sabotage and missed opportunities.

  1. You Become a People Pleaser and Stop Setting Boundaries

If you’ve been around a narcissist long enough, it can feel like you’re constantly holding your breath.  

You become hyper-conscious of every move you make, even when they’re not around. 

When you do make a mistake or displease someone, your negative inner voice gets amplified to a hundred, and you might hear the narcissists’ voice chiming in, too.

It’s as if your foundation of worth has been broken down, and you don’t feel you deserve to set boundaries, speak your mind, or do anything that could make another person upset with you.

Being Abused by a Narcissist Will Not Define You

It’s just one big trick. 

For all the fights, painful nights, anger, and terror, you can still heal with time and understanding. You can learn to rediscover your worth, start setting boundaries again, and break the mental spells, one false belief at a time.

Because that is what they are: spells. It’s as if a magician created a web of illusions about what you’re worth and what you should tolerate.

Once again, here are the biggest tells of narcissistic abuse:

  • You tolerate the intolerable.
  • You live life in a FOG of fear, obligation, and guilt.
  • All you do is doubt yourself.
  • You hide your potential for fear of being hated.
  • You’re always vigilant about making the wrong move.

If this article made you see things more clearly, know that healing is possible, but only after you’ve taken the biggest step and separated yourself from the narcissist as much as you possibly can.

There is a life beyond the reality this person has created for you, and you deserve to be free.