Hey, Psych2Goers! Welcome back to another article! Have you ever been around a narcissist? If you have, you know being around one can make you feel like your soul is being sucked dry – Sanderson Sisters style – until there’s nothing left. Sometimes, we brush off this draining feeling and even change how we do things and act to please the narcissist because we love them. It may seem harmless, making one or two tiny changes, but those little tweaks can take BIG chips out of you and your personality. Let’s take a look at 5 signs narcissistic abuse has changed your personality.
Side Note: This article is meant for educational and information purposes. It is not meant to diagnose any personality or narcissistic mental illnesses. If you are concerned that your personality has changed or a loved one may be suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, please contact a mental health professional to explore in depth.
You overthink when you used to be self-assured.
When you’re a victim of narcissistic abuse, you have someone who believes they’re always right and you’re always wrong. They may constantly watch you and correct the way you do things always while peppering in how perfectly they would do it. A narcissist may say “How stupid are you? You’re never careful! I always tell you to watch what you’re doing!”
If you’ve been through narcissistic abuse, you may now overthink things more often than you used to, even the tiniest thing. Think back. Do you remember a time where you were more decisive and confident of yourself? This could be your personality changing due to the narcissistic abuse.
You used to ask for help, but now, you shut down.
When it comes to a narcissist, it’s all about them all the time. I, unfortunately, have a parent whom I believe to have narcissistic tendencies. When I moved away for college, I used to call her for EVERYTHING, but one day, I hung up the phone with her and thought to myself “I called for help, and I don’t feel better.” Then I thought back to the past times we talked. Whenever I called for help or advice, we always ended up talking about her problems and her life. I even ended up consoling her. After a while, I learned not to tell people about anything or ask for advice, because I was consistently shown that my problems weren’t valid. My concerns were also downplayed, and I felt like there were always bigger problems than mine even if they were legitimate problems. This is a result of narcissistic abuse.
You used to set clear boundaries, but now, they’re invisible lines.
Everyone should have healthy boundaries that they exercise whether it’s not answering e-mails after 5 PM or telling someone when they use a name or nickname you don’t identify with. Your boundaries represent your beliefs and values, and they should be respected. When a narcissistic abuser is in the mix, they don’t believe in boundaries when other people have them. Boundaries don’t apply to them, so they trample all over them.
After enduring narcissistic abuse where your boundaries are consistently ignored and broken, you may stop standing up for yourself or even stating your boundaries when they’re crossed. You may even get to a point where you can’t say “no” to anyone. Your personality can become significantly passive when you used to have strong opinions and beliefs.
You used to take constructive criticism well, but now, it can break you.
If you’ve been to school, you know what constructive criticism is. It’s the nicer way to tell someone there’s something that could have been done better. Typically, constructive criticism isn’t harsh or rude, but helpful and insightful to help you better your skill. A narcissist typically skips the “constructive” part and skips right to the criticism. They’re not trying to help you get better. They’re actively trying to knock you down. Think about your past school or work projects. When you got feedback, did you take it well? What about now? Does feedback make you sad, angry, or even frustrated? This can be the result of constant harsh criticism from a narcissist.
You think lesser of yourself when you used to have healthy self-confidence.
As we’ve mentioned, hearing constant negativity about yourself from a narcissist can cause negative emotions towards yourself to come up. In 2012, Määttä, Uusiautti, and Määttä did a study on what it’s like to live with a narcissist. They found that hearing constant negative comments can make these negative emotions linger and impact one’s self-esteem. “Self-esteem includes the feelings of self-respect, self-appreciation, self-acceptance, and self-proficiency,” (2012.) They went on to show that the reason why the narcissist tears down another’s self-esteem is because the narcissist has low self-esteem, too. Do you remember a time when you had all the confidence in the world, but you somehow lost it along the way? This could be a sign that you have or are experiencing narcissistic abuse.
At Psych2Go, we’re all about the journey. Mental health is most definitely a rough one, and throwing a narcissist in the mix is a recipe for all kinds of twists. Hopefully this article gave you some signs of narcissistic abuse to look for in yourself, as well as narcissistic abuse to look out for in others. Do you remember when you noticed the change in yourself? What are some techniques you used to become more like yourself again? We’d love to hear your story below! As always, keep an eye on Psi for more Psych2Go content!
Need to know if you’re actually dealing with a narcissist? Watch 8 Signs You Are Dealing with Narcissistic Abuse
The references used in and to compose this article are listed below:
Bottaro, A., & Gans, S. (2022, January 6). How to recover from Narcissistic Abuse. Verywell Health. Retrieved June 7, 2022, from https://www.verywellhealth.com/narcissistic-abuse-recovery-challenges-and-treatment-5210945
Cuncic, A. (2021, November 18). Effects of narcissistic abuse. Verywell Mind. Retrieved June 7, 2022, from https://www.verywellmind.com/effects-of-narcissistic-abuse-5208164#:~:text=As%20a%20narcissistic%20abuse%20survivor,can%20trigger%20an%20anxiety%20attack.
Giorgetti , D. (n.d.). The Aftermath of Narcissistic Abuse. Diana Giorgetti. Retrieved June 7, 2022, from https://dianagiorgetti.com/the-aftermath-of-narcissistic-abuse/
Määttä, M., Uusiautti, S., & Määttä, K. (2012). An intimate relationship in the shadow of narcissism: What is it like to live with a narcissistic spouse? International Journal of Research Studies in Psychology, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.5861/ijrsp.2012.v1i1.28
Thomas, N., & Westphalen , D. (2022, May 19). Narcissistic abuse: Signs, effects, & treatments. Choosing Therapy. Retrieved June 7, 2022, from https://www.choosingtherapy.com/narcissistic-abuse/
Wade, D., & Raypole, C. (2022, January 19). 12 signs you might have narcissistic victim syndrome. Healthline. Retrieved June 7, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/narcissistic-victim-syndrome#boundary-issues