Abusive Relationships and How They Alter The Brain

Those of us who have been marked by the scars of emotional and physical abuse in childhood or as adults know how deep the trauma can penetrate. Our bodies heal, we grow and we cast off many of the superficial appearances that marked us as victims, but the emotional aftershocks remain long afterwards.

Since the early days of psychiatry we’ve known that abuse can put sufferers at risk of depression, self-harm, addiction and PTSD but it’s only recently that the effects it has on the very development of our brain became clear.

The Physiology of the Brain

Our brain’s reactions to any stimuli are an exercise in constant communication between two parts. The cool, rational outer brain which comprises our cortex and deals with problem-solving and learning, and the instinctive limbic system which controls our emotions and base urges including the instinct to survive. Here you find the amygdala and hippocampus.

Far before the rational reasoning of our cortex kicks in, our...

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The True Narcissist

A true narcissist cannot see, feel, or hear you. They are concerned with how you impact their life. They are not concerned with how they impact yours.

Narcissists are convinced mind, body, and soul that only they can be victims. They will lie, steal, cheat, defame, minimize, abuse, discard and treat others in the most inhumane ways, all the while feeling justified in their actions. They reason their abuse of others by believing that because they have been victimized, those they abuse are deserving of their tirades, psychological abuse, physical assaults, adultering ways, or thievery. Holding a narcissist accountable for any insensitive action, like showing up for dinner late, is akin to accusing them of robbing a bank. Any suggestion that the narcissist is imperfect will result in an all out battle. They are incapable of empathizing with your point of view. There will never be an "I am sorry I hurt you--or I am sorry I was not on time. I can see how disappointed you are. Please...

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Codependency is a Comfortable State of Uncomfortability

Codependents are sadly comfortable with being uncomfortable. When we are in relationships, we have no data for harmony. We settle for the discomfort because we don't know any other way of living. Neurosis, fear, anxiety, lions, and tigers, and bears OH MY! This IS our way of being.

Healing would come much faster if we could begin to ingest this idea of healthy vs unhealthy. If your relationships bring you anxiety, then they are NOT healthy and they do NOT serve you.

If you are in a relationship with someone who thinks they are always right or needs to be always right--then they also need to make everyone else wrong--AND if you are codependent--you will do all you can to be enough for the person who implies you are wrong. You will try to smile more, be thinner, laugh less, talk less, be more sexy--whateva' it takes to gain the approval of this charismatic, confident, perfect other.

If you want to stop attracting narcissists into your life, then you have to commit to no longer seeing...

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Narcissists Hate Themselves and Throw That Hate Up on Others

Narcissists need a toy to play with. Much like cats play with mice, narcs like to lay in waiting until the mouse feels secure and is out in the open. Once the mouse is out in the open and is feeling safe, that is when the cat strikes the hardest. When the mouse least expects to be taken over, that is when cats enjoy striking the most.

Narcissists are clever. They lure victims in with their compliments, kind words, and adoration. In the beginning, and during the 'safe phase' they pretend to 'see' their victims in ways others have failed to. If you are a tired wife, a narcissistic man will be sure to pick up on your weary feelings and drown you with praise. He will lead you to believe that others are fools for not noticing how hard you work. He will tell you your husband is a fool for not appreciating his hard working wife. You will feel seen, heard, validated, understood, and soon you will begin to feel young and even sexy again. He will look at you in ways that make you feel...

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Men Have Feelings Too

“You never tell me how you’re feeling”, it’s a common complaint that men often hear. For many, it’s the first salvo in a long conversation that will cause their partners to touch on their deficiencies, and lack of emotional intimacy and disregard for their partner’s emotional needs. Ironically, the more a man is berated for not having feelings, the less likely he is to share them with the one pointing the finger. Oddly enough, conversations like these often times end up ignoring the man's feelings altogether.  

Let's take a look at this dilemma, shall we?

Men are often accused by partners for 'not having feelings' and yet, men have just as many emotions and feelings as any member of the opposite sex.  And just because women are more comfortable expressing how they feel, does not give us the right as females to criticize, coerce, or manipulate the men in our lives into opening up.  

Let’s be clear: many men have a difficult...

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Why is It so Hard to Love the Self--Creating Self Esteem

The HARDEST thing to do in life is to learn how to LOVE YOUR SELF!!!!

Why?

It is easy to love others because we don't know all of their flaws--like we know our own.

It is easy to love others--because it is easy to fantasize about the idea that someone else is totally freaking awesome--because we are not aware of their shadow side.

It is hard to love the self--because we know what our flaws are. We know what we look and smell like at 4 am. We know the way food gets stuck in our teeth. We know our hair and skin are thinning. We know we have cellulite and spider veins. We know our sisters, brother, mothers, fathers, and spouses have crappy opinions of us. We know we aren't always good with money. We know we sometimes scratch our asses and do the kinds of things that are socially unacceptable, like release a fart in public when no one is around. I mean come on--if you have ever farted in public you know the one you love has too. It's time to just get REAL!

Our brains are NOT...

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Letting Go of Codependent Relationships

Codependents are dependent on people. We seek validation, acceptance, and permission to feel what we feel and think what we think. Even when we are 'feeling' and 'believing' we should end a friendship or some other type of a relationship like a marriage or business agreement, we struggle with believing we have a right to do so. Even when we get angry, we look to the one who has pushed our buttons for permission to feel upset.

When it comes to letting go, it helps to consciously accept that none of us ever let go because we want to. Letting go is always painful. We always doubt ourselves and we are never happy about doing so. We let go because the person we trusted has acted in a way that has caused us to understand that the trust we once had is gone. We let go because we understand, that the person we care for does not value who we are. We let go because, no matter how many times we have tried to resolve an issue, the issue never gets resolved. We let go because the relationship and...

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Codependent Relationships and Enmeshment

Are you in a codependent relationship and suffering with enmeshment?

Most of us can empathize with other people to a particular degree. When we notice a photo of a grieving mother, within us is the ability to imagine how she feels. If you were to witness someone struggling to get their car door open, you would immediately empathize with this person because you have the ability to imagine what it would feel like to be in the same situation. This ability to empathize with others is made possible through what scientist refer to as mirror neurons.

But what happens in the case of codependents, when we have been conditioned to ‘not’ feel our own feelings, and instead have been conditioned to worry more about ‘others’ feelings? What happens when those of us who are more empathetic than the average person, start taking on the emotions of others? What happens when the highly empathic codependent person starts hanging out with those who are not working on their...

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Narcissistic Relationships and Codependency

Narcissists don't always know they are narcissists. We have to keep this in mind. A narcissist is like speaking to a tree. A tree is convinced its a tree. When we speak to a tree--we know that the tree believes it is a tree. But what if the tree wasn't really a tree. What if the tree was really a bush but the bush just thought it was a tree? What if because the bush was planted in a forest full of trees, the bush just assumed it was a tree too?

Narcissists assume they are kind, wonderful human beings. They are unaware they are not trees--they are NOT kind--they are not LOVING and instead they are self-absorbed and only exhibit kind and loving behaviors when it SUITS THEM. They are only able to appear to be kind and loving when doing so helps make THEM look good.

Have you ever had the experience of a mother, father, boyfriend, sister, brother, or friend who treated you like crap when no one was looking BUT when their was suddenly an audience the one abusing you in the dark could turn...

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8 Tell Tale Signs You Are Dating a Narcissist

It is important to begin by saying that narcissists don't know they are narcissists.  This is crucial to understand. As you begin to question your relationship you will undoubtedly begin questioning the narcissist, and when you do you'll need to be prepared.  

1.) You are always wrong and they are always right.  Narcissists rely on an idealized version of themselves to relate to the outside world.  This fantasy version of themselves guards them from having to confront their own imperfections. Wounded to their core, narcissists rely on this idealized version as a form of protection.  When you dare to suggest that a narcissist might be wrong, they don't back down.  They are convinced you must be wrong and are unaware that a deeply ingrained, maladaptive defense mechanism is making it impossible for them to hear others. Making others wrong and rationalizing why others must be wrong, protects their fragile psyche from having to...

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