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Know you are breathing out. This isn't accidental, the abuse is intentional, and the goal is domination. Remember, they will do what they need to do to feel superior to others, especially those with whom they have some relationship, in order to further shield their own feelings of inferiority. On the playground, they were the bullies trying to raise their own authority and status by pushing others down to avoid looking weak and afraid. For the narcissist, that hasn't changed in all the years since the playground. The only difference is the size of the targets and the sophistication of the abuse. Let's see how it plays out within a relationship. According to Doctor Greenberg, narcissistic relationships tend to follow a three-stage pattern of abuse, beginning with what she calls Chasing the Unicorn. In this stage, the narcissist sees the object of his love as the perfect mate and will do anything to have them. This could also be called love bombing, as it is similar to the tactic used by some cults to draw in new members. While it's intoxicating, because it's filled with love notes, gifts, compliments and any other gesture they can think of to win over the object of their desire, the over-the-top nature of the chase, the way they idolize their love interest, their tendency to jump into a relationship right away, and the fact that their previous relationships were all disappointments are warning signs that the suitor is not being realistic. I like knowing that I don't have to depend on anyone else to fix this, she told me on her second visit. There is a lot that I can do! Michelle started slowly, just cutting back on sweets and making an effort to start the day with a high-protein breakfast. When she saw what a difference this made to her mood, energy, and PMS symptoms, she decided to give my full 28-day plan a try. She found a 20-minute workout routine she could do four times a week while her children napped (see Resources for some suggestions) and discovered that exercising made her feel both more calm and more energized. She and her husband also found a sitter to take the children one morning each weekend, giving the couple a few hours together. The changes Michelle made paid off quickly. Within 28 days of going on my plan, she experienced significant relief. By the third month she told me, I feel like my old self again!

Michelle is still figuring out how to modify the stress in her present life while continuing to explore ways of releasing historical stress. Be aware of a pleasant feeling arising. Hold this feeling as though it was your most precious child. Smile with joy at your happiness. Then be aware of an unpleasant feeling arising. Be aware that you dislike this feeling. Hold this feeling as though it was your most precious child. Smile with compassion at your suffering. Be aware of either feeling arising and passing away. Accept this. Think about what you would like to offer to others as a friend. They don't see the real person, but rather an idealized reflection that the original would be hard-pressed to live up to, and the pattern of disappointing relationships says far more about the narcissist than about the people with whom they were involved. They will often complain that their former lovers had changed, which really means that they didn't live up to the idealized fantasy and the new relationship will likely go the same way. At this stage, the abuse comes when, after they finally succeed in winning over the other person, they lose interest. That leaves the now scorned lover confused, disappointed, possibly even feeling used and abandoned. Greenberg refers to the second stage as the Construction Project. Remember how idealized the love interest was during the first stage? In this stage, that idealism is beginning to wear off. The narcissist has won over the person and now reality begins to set in. They start to notice differences between their ideal and the real person and begin to look for ways to fix them.

The narcissist will often offer suggestions and ideas for things they'd like to see changed, like hair, clothing, exercise, personal habits, job, or any number of other things. But knowing there is a solution, as she puts it, makes all the difference in the world. Chantelle was a 47-year-old marketing executive who, until recently, had felt a real sense of satisfaction in her life. The mother of two college-age children, she had been enjoying the newfound freedom of not having her kids at home. She and her second husband enjoyed a solid second marriage that had just passed the five-year mark. Chantelle had also started work at a new firm. She told me, After a lifetime of paying my dues, I feel like I am finally getting the respect and appreciation that I've always wanted. And frankly, I think I deserve it! Chantelle also had a warm circle of friends and a close relationship with her younger sister, and, after years of fighting, she felt that she and her mother were finally getting along. I've come so far in my life, Chantelle told me on her first visit. But what is going on with my body? Good friends are a great resource for happiness and freedom. Our society is built on communication: our culture, our systems, our friendships, our love--the whole world around us. But, just like forgiveness, you first have to be a friend to yourself before you can truly be a friend to others. While reading, do mini-breathing meditations, like for five seconds at the end of a article or at the end of a article. This will keep you from falling asleep while reading or having to reread paragraphs because you were not concentrating on the words. It is a very simple breathing exercise and can be done throughout your reading. Pause and take a conscious breath. Then move on. Also, try stopping every half hour.

Stop reading and close your eyes for a minute or so and bring your attention back to your breath. The abuse aspect of this stage usually begins when the narcissist starts hearing the word, no. Now he's disappointed (remember all those other disappointing relationships? ), and with a narcissist that can be a very difficult thing because they don't react to disappointment the way others do. Normal disappointment tends to be marked by an acceptance that the other person either doesn't want to make the change or cannot make the change. Either way, we recognize that the other person has a right to be themselves and we can love and accept them as they are. That's not the way the narcissist sees it, which brings us to the third stage: Devaluation. Narcissists take the sort of disappointment that the rest of us would get over quite personally. They take the refusal as an insult, a criticism that they cannot tolerate rather than an assertion of the other party's right to be who they are. This leads to anger, fights, and emotional abuse as the narcissist begins to devalue the other person in various ways. By now, friendly suggestions have turned to blunt criticism, but as this devaluation process progresses, that blunt criticism becomes increasingly insulting and demeaning. Despite all the good things in her life, Chantelle was having a very rocky perimenopause. With no changes in her diet or exercise regimen, she had gained 20 pounds in the past year and was frustrated by symptoms that she didn't understand: memory problems, mental fog, fatigue, and a complete loss of interest in sex. Sex? What's that? she said when I asked her about her sex life. That's not even on my radar these days! Joe and I had been looking forward to having the house to ourselves with the kids gone . but now I can't even get interested! Chantelle was also having some hot flashes and occasional night sweats, sometimes during her period but sometimes in the middle of the month.

Even when she didn't have night sweats, she was having difficulty sleeping. As you get used to the idea of this, you may sometimes slip into breath meditation and decide to stop reading for a while. Sit down, relax. Breathe and smile. Be happy and peaceful. Practice laughing and smiling yoga meditation. Smile even more. Smile as if you were enlightened. Change the smile into laughter. Increase the laughter. Be happy. Even worse, what had once been said behind closed doors goes public, usually in front of family and friends. This pattern of growing hostility and verbal abuse continues to grow until it becomes the primary way the narcissist interacts with their partner. Cruelty becomes the norm, fighting escalates, and physical abuse becomes a real possibility. Anyone can suffer from narcissistic abuse syndrome. Women, men, adults, children, young, old, it doesn't matter. Nor does it matter how smart you are, how grounded you think you are, or how well you think you can read people. Why? Because narcissists are masters of deceit and manipulation, anyone can be made a victim and suffer abuse at their hands. Those that do are likely to develop some level of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome.