Ilene wasn’t sure her husband and one of her adult daughters were bullies or narcissists. And she couldn’t understand why either would act the way they did when she loved them so much and had done so much for both of them.
Her husband was critical, negative, sarcastic and demanding. He said he was head of the household and she had to do what he said and give him what he wanted, even if he’d changed his mind just a second before. And sex was a brutal, horror show. He didn’t seem to agree that a true marriage meant taking care of each other including making her happy. But he wasn’t all bad; two years ago he had gotten her a vacuum cleaner for her birthday, and once he almost said he was wrong. If only she could be sure.
Ilene’s daughter was full of rage. She loudly blamed Ilene for her lousy marriage, said hateful things in public and insisted Ilene go to work so she could give her more money. Ilene felt so guilty. Often her daughter was overt but sometimes Ilene thought she was covert, sneaky and manipulative. What had she done so wrong that her daughter treated her like that? And maybe her daughter was right; maybe Ilene was too sensitive and not caring, loving and forgiving enough?
Don’t waste time trying to decide if someone is a bully or narcissist – and what kind of narcissist.
All the time Ilene spent trying to decide if they were actually bullies and narcissists, she’d endured their abusive treatment of her. She hated the way they acted; she’d never let anyone else treat her that way. But she didn’t think she could do anything unless she was sure they were bullying, narcissists.
Stop trying to psychoanalyze bullies, narcissists.
Ilene obsessed on figuring out what had happened to her husband when he was growing up that made him the way he was. She was certain his control and rage were her fault. She worried how she could avoid triggering his anger. If she only knew how to pump up his self-esteem better, he’d start loving her. She obsessed on her daughter also. If only she knew how to feed her daughter’s emotional needs, to make her happy, she was sure her daughter would relax and love her in return.
All the time Ilene wasted analyzing them, talking with friends to help analyze them, reading articles and watching videos about bullies and narcissists, she’d endured their treatment. However, she was certain that when she’d analyzed them deeply enough, a solution would appear in her mind. She’d know exactly what to do to win them over. They’d start treating her the way loving people should.
What Ilene needed to do was to stop trying to understand them and, instead, stop them.
Simply ask yourself, “Do I want to accept their behavior?”
Obsessing on their problems, trying to figure them out, getting a definitive diagnosis, deciding who was wrong, finding psychological excuses for them and wondering if she had the right to demand what she wanted, had kept her stuck for decades. Her husband and her daughter had horrible examples growing up but they’d also had wonderful examples. In the end, they’d always chosen how they wanted to act. They’d chosen to act like the horrible examples.
Ilene had gone around in endless circles of pain and anger, followed by self-doubt, guilt and low self-esteem, followed by more pain and anger. She hated the way she thought and felt. Her husband and daughter would never see a counselor; they thought they were right and fine.
In her heart of hearts, Ilene knew she was done with being their scapegoat and whipping girl. She hated them and herself for putting up with the abuse. She decided not to convince them she was normal and right. She decided not to rescue, save or rehabilitate them. Simply, she wouldn’t accept their treatment any longer.
And she didn’t.
Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation. The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:
Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.
Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.