At this stage of my healing, I believe that maintaining my inner peace and my level of positivity is essential for my well-being. Unfortunately, throughout our lives, whether it be at work, or in our personal lives, everyone, at some point, will encounter an emotional disruptor.
An emotional disruptor is someone who pushes our buttons and triggers our deep seated emotional wounds. This can be anyone from our partners to our parents, siblings, coworkers, friends or bosses. Their words and actions can knock us out of balance and send us on a hurt spiral. When we’re in that negative space we run the risk of attracting negative people and negative events into our lives. It throws us out of our bliss zone and can bring us back to that place where we feel like that wounded child from our past.
On a more basic level, it just doesn’t feel good and it makes us doubt ourselves and infringes on our confidence. Codependents tend to absorb criticism and shame, so it can be a big test for those of us recovering from the disorder. This is one of those elements that children of emotional abusers were not taught how to handle in a healthy way and the typical response to someone saying or doing something hurtful to us, is to internalize it and to feel its sting. When an emotional disrupter throws a barb at a Codependent it will almost always hit its mark.
Dealing With Emotional Disrupters
The key to recovery from this aspect of Codependency is to teach ourselves what we were not taught as children and that is the appropriate, logical, adult coping mechanisms required to tune out people bent on doing us harm. Here’s a few techniques:
Accurately Interpret the Situation: We have to learn how to keep our feet firmly in reality and be able to judge the scene honestly. Honestly, meaning we’re objective in our analysis, that we’re not accepting blame that isn’t ours, or to make sure that we take it when it is. We have to learn to strengthen the accuracy of our interpretation muscle and not jump to owning responsibility as we’ve been trained to do. We have to stop being so uncertain and practice the art of knowing. Knowing when we’re right, trusting our decisions and our instincts. This is the essence of confidence.
Look at the Source: If the one hurting us has a shady character, we shouldn’t be putting too much weight on their words or actions. Emotional manipulators throw shade at people they can’t control and who have the power to expose them. Their purpose is to hurt and we should never reward people whose aim is our demise, by giving it to them. As well, no one can pass blame onto you if you don’t accept it.
If someone you trust and respect gives you criticism I would take that much more to heart. People who want the best for you, generally will give you a dose of honesty to make you better, rather than to tear you apart. It’s important to learn the difference.
Be direct and ask for clarification: Sometimes we misinterpret what’s being said. Codependents seem to absorb the hurt first and ask questions later. I typically find that people usually won’t insult you to your face. Before you do anything, throw in a simple, “What do you mean by that?” That simple action can and often does diffuse the situation.
Fight Fire with Fire: In certain situations, like when one is dealing with a bully, the proper response can be, to give them a dose of their own medicine. You’ll find very quickly that cowards act out in an aggressive, irrational way and don’t like to be challenged. When you’re dealing with one of these and in the spirit of, “you teach people how to treat you,” give it right back to them. Cowards like an easy mark, so don’t be one and hand it right back to them.
I Don’t Care: This phrase has become my mantra in a vast majority of instances. It’s kind of like when a person throws a heap of dung at you and you pull out an umbrella. Their shit doesn’t touch you. When the hurtful words and actions of others have no affect on you, you’ve reached your Nirvana. The way to establish this is to repeat the phrase, ‘I DON’T CARE, ‘over and over again, in your mind, like an affirmation. Sometimes I’ll say it fast, then slow, I’ll sing it, say it with a British accent…. what usually follows is me not caring and I brush it away. The more you flex your I don’t care muscle the stronger it gets.
What Would My Mentor Do?: I often think about a person like Ashley Judd. I like Ashley Judd, not just because she’s a beautiful, talented actress, but because she unapologetically speaks her mind and stands up for her beliefs. A lot of people look at her like she is a real bitch and this is the stigma a lot of strong women receive. She’s so powerful in fact, that a Narcissist like Harvey Weinstein had to make sure he smeared and silenced her because he was very, very aware of her power. When I’m not sure of how to respond in a certain situation I’ll ask myself, “How would a strong powerful woman like Ashley Judd handle this?” And I’ll do what I think they would do and leave it at that.
Emotional manipulators do not fare well against strong willed people. They are most definitely not their target audience and they do their best to avoid them. The better one gets at tuning other people out the more inner peace you will have.
When Oprah Winfrey was ending the Oprah Winfrey Show after 25 years, her staff planned the last two shows as a huge tribute to the media mogul. We got to see a behind the scenes look at the operation and her interactions with staff and guests. One staff member started to get really emotional and Oprah said, “I can’t go there with you,” and she walked away. This didn’t mean that it didn’t touch her that she wouldn’t be in this place with these people again. It meant that she doesn’t allow herself to go to a hurtful, negative emotional place – not for any reason. She just doesn’t let it in. That’s how powerful it is.
She knows the importance of her inner emotional state. She knows that negative emotional thoughts and feelings attract negative emotional people and circumstances. So, she has learned how to block them out and how to listen and trust her own instincts.
Once you master this, your focus gets really clear and you’re able to block out all distractions. It also gives you control over your own stability, because nothing is able to throw you into a tailspin. This is one of those aspects of life that is essential for your success and your well-being. When your own voice becomes louder and clearer than those around you – you’re that much closer to mastering your life.
Image Courtesy of imagerymajestic at freedigitalphotos.net
In regard to the Oprah comment: Perhaps that’s your perspective, but I concur with Ann’s statement. Why was the staff members emotions perceived to be hurtful and negative? Personally, I find that the person who can deal with others emotions and be able to quickly defuse them to be coming from a place of empathy and emotional strength. But that’s just my own opinion, and thus why I too was confused…
Hi Bab – Oprah wants to be in a positive mental space always – it’s nothing against her staff member – her staff can feel any way they want. She was saying I can’t go to that sad space with you because she strives to stay in a positive emotional space always.
Savanna, At this stage of my healing….just thinking about this makes me wonder do you ever get past the healing stage. My life has been very similar to yours ..been NC with last ex narc for going on 11 months….still dealing with childhood abuse issues..etc….would like to know your thoughts on this. Thanks
Deborah if you continue to battle your old habits and your old way of thinking you will get to a place where the Codependent behaviors don’t just pop up as your automatic response. You will have learned better ways to deal with issues and a better way of being. That doesn’t mean that they don’t pop up now and then. You have to continually be mindful of what and why you’re doing something and it becomes more about maintenance.
I agree with Ann, I too am confused with Oprahs’ remark. I think I understand what you are saying Savannah, It’s not her emotions… but it does sound a bit hard, unsympathetic. in fact it sounds as if she was overwhelmed and couldn’t cope with tears or she too would break down. Don’t know because I didn’t see the video.
However, 100% with you on the… ‘It just doesn’t make you feel good’! And having to meet up with my ex for family meetings leaves me feeling like shit!!! every time!!! Who the hell is he to act superior to me?
Who brought up the children he’s so now proud of? Who the hell was he to take me from my good family/friends/work/ future life and drop me in this foreign country whereby he could have total control of me while putting me down to a point I was suicidal, taken to drink and…you see? You see how she is?! Do you see what poor me has to put up with? Making me look totally unreasonable in front of friends and certain family. He’s so superior . And has left me in poverty. Well done him, he must be revelling in the pain he has caused me. What a weirdo! What a weirdo when all I tried to do was create a Happy family for us . Unfortunately I didn’t realise at the time, he never wanted that. He wanted the social status of being a family man but without the ability to love or the ability to take responsibility. Well, tonight I’m feeling angry and as you said, use that anger for positive change. ..hmm.ok…the only thing is…he’s got the key to the bank and if I don’t conform he’ll lock it and I will be penniless. I can’t work due to ill health, can hardly walk, pain 24/24 . I so want to be independent not only for myself but to give him a middle finger, most importantly to give myself a reason to be again. I’m not blowing my own trumpet but I hope I can be of use to society again and look forward to it if it is possible. Great to be here because as I write this… it helps sort out emotions and all I want is to be independent in all manners and enjoy life. He can go worry about himself, he’ll do it very well whereby I am crap at looking after myself. Your blog has been very impressive….’Do you know how much money you’ve got in your purse?’ That post blew me away! Because, no I didn’t but you’ve made me aware. And lots more. Thank you Savannah.
Thank you for each and every one of your posts. They resonate giving me strength on this journey of confidence, selfworth and care!
My mantra is ” who owns the problem?”
If it’s not mine to own, then; Not my problem.
This goes from co workers, friends, my adult children, other family, and strangers.
Love it!! I wish I could engrave it on a bracelet to see everyday!
Same as mine: Not my circus, not my monkeys!
I am kind of confused by the Oprah example. I understand not letting negativity in and protecting yourself, but how is it different than stonewalling someone who wants to discuss how they were hurt by them? My ex-friend who has many narc traits never wanted to discuss the problems in our friendship, claiming “emotional maturity is when you don’t address things not worth your time” etc… I guess it’s just still confusing to me as I heal from the hurt of the ending of the “friendship” (now realizing how one-sided and dysfunctional it truly was) and accepting that there will never be closure…
Ann it is important and necessary to address issues in your life, but you don’t have to be inundated by emotions while you do it. In the Oprah example she knew her staff member was just sad that it was the end, nothing to address there. She just wasn’t letting herself get sad over it.
Wow, this was a really good blog. There were several tools in it that I hope to use. One is to have an inner mentor that I can turn to in my mind’s eye. I, too, like Ashley Judd and I pictured, as I read this article, her response to a recent situation I went through. A toxic ex came back into the picture and even though he is a harem master and I was only offered a place amongst his harem, I still felt very tempted. I felt lonely and needy and thought of calling him (after I’d said no and moved on). As I felt those needy-greedy addictive feelings I thought of Ashley Judd: she would not give the man the time of day. That was a great tool.
The other one I loved is the one Oprah said, “I can’t go there with you.” That is so powerful. We really do have to learn how to handle things from an adult perspective and I am continually surprised at how many habits of low-self-esteem I have in place. It takes constant vigilance and I look forward to reading your column every Monday. It starts my week on a healthy and hopeful note.
It has been 3 and 1/2 years since I left my narcissistic live-in lover. We are still in the same tiny town and I have largely been able to stay No Contact and to get on with my life. What I am now dealing with is that I got involved with the harem master about 2 years after and, though I only dated him for about 6 months, the addiction to him is very strong for me. He hurts me in all the familiar ways and I am hooked by all the familiar patterns. Over the weekend I did an interesting exercise: I wrote down all the things I was thinking about him. Because I am ashamed to be thinking about him at all I’ve tended to turn a blind eye to what my thought patterns are. Out of curiosity I wrote, “I want him to see me at the Farmer’s Market and see how cool and artistic and happy I am so that he will give up dating all the other women and choose me.” My thoughts were all a variation on this theme: I will change him and he will pick me and only me.
What I realized is that I am still seeking the unavailable man so I have to work to get him to love me. It is my unavailable narcissistic dad. Still. I am still doing it. It just doing “hook” me unless I have to work for it. If he already likes me there is no “thrill.” I don’t get the highs. I don’t get the lows. So, thanks for the tools, Savannah. It is one day at a time.
This is such a timely post. I had my covert narc ex bf try to Hoover me a few days ago after 6 months of silence.
I received a message from him out of the blue and was disgusted at first. Then pleased. Then angry and then annoyed.
Our relationship ended last August upon revelation of his cheating all the while he declared his undying love for me….it was a very difficult time. And then he started dating a woman (diff than the affair partner) and had been with her all this time.
I had done a lot of emotional healing during the past 6 months but in all my reading and warnings of family and friends, everyone predicted he would return to Hoover if his new relationship ended. And THAT is exactly why he was back.
I chose to respond out of curiosity and quickly realized he still doesn’t own any of his part in the demise of our relationship and is still the abusive prick he always was. But I called him out on his bullshit and boy! Did it ever feel good.
He never gave me closure and this felt like closure to me. I don’t want to sink to his level but to not be sucked back in to his drama and to call him out on his attempt to Hoover me shut him down quickly and I knew that I nailed it.
I can wall away from it now with peace knowing it wasn’t me. It was never me.