Why empaths are often blind to narcissistic abuse (and how to heal)


You would think that if you were born an empath, you would easily recognize people who have personality disorders like narcissism and so easily avoid them. But often, nothing could be further from the truth.

Many highly sensitive people grow up in dysfunctional families. Especially when you grow up as an empath in a family with one or even two parents with narcissistic personality disorder, you develop crippling survival strategies.

It is very difficult for a child to live, and impossible to thrive in a family with narcissistic abuse. It is difficult for anyone, let alone for someone who feels, sees, understands and intuitively perceives everything.

So what most kids, especially empaths, will do is develop survival strategies to avoid facing reality. Sometimes they block their intuitive capabilities altogether. Because when you have to face the reality of the situation in which, for example, a narcissistic father or a mother looks at you with the cold eyes of jealousy or hatred, habitually ignores you, criticizes and mistreats you or your little brother, sister, or pet you feel extremely unsafe.

In fact, empathic children may be most affected by the total lack of compassion, the emptiness of the narcissist and their bouts of narcissistic rage. They will be thrown off most by the low-frequency energies in the household like fear and hostility, because they feel everything so strongly and clearly.

In addition, those around such a family often do not realize that narcissistic abuse is going on. After all, outwardly the image of the ideal family is often projected successfully. The attractive mom who is always there to participate in neighborhood activities. The jovial dad who is such a popular teacher at school. The neighbors, relatives, and acquaintances of the parents often believe in a completely false version of reality.

But behind closed doors it is a whole different story. The narcissist’s own children are brought up as the scapegoat shadow child who gets to carry all the guilt and shame. Or the golden child who receives no love either but has to act as a billboard for the false image of the perfect family. Which all amounts to psychological and emotional abuse. Sometimes there is also hidden physical abuse or sexual abuse.

empaths blind to narcissism

Refusing to see reality, dulling your senses, going along with the fairy tale of the nice family can sometimes be the only way for an empathetic child to survive. Because as a child you depend on these people. So you play the game. Keep your head low. Then you run the least chance that narcissistic outbursts of anger will be directed at you.

After all, your senses are already overstimulated by the intense energies around. You are already exhausted by the emptiness and coldness you sense in your parent(s). The endless void you try to fill with your own love. The lack of acknowledgement you try to win by excelling at school, in sports or the arts.

But because you can never actually please a narcissist, that is not their intention, you end up in a very difficult psychological double bind as a child. When you stand tall and shine, you will be ignored or brought down. But if you fail to be perfect, you will receive harsh criticism or cold rejection.

So you are in an endless circle where you are doomed to fail no matter what you do. This circle is psychologically very hard and living with it takes a lot of energy. You have no way out. Whatever you do, it’s never good enough.

As an adult, as empaths, we often only find out much later in life that our family was extremely dysfunctional. The veils of illusion gradually fall from before our eyes. Understanding narcissism and narcissistic abuse is an important step towards healing. And one of the crucial steps on that path of healing is to start experiencing reality. To feel what we feel. Listen to our intuition. Receive the signals our body is giving us.

After all, we have disowned the evidence of our eyes, our feelings, intuition and signals of our body for ages. Healing is a step by step process of taking our bodies, our emotions, our intuitive hunches seriously again. And in doing so, ignore the illusions and superficial versions of reality of others, who do not really know the family. Who do not know what is really going on behind the façade. To trust our own senses. To trust our own mind and our own truth.

Fortunately, as empaths, we are all equipped with the ability to sense clearly what is real and what is not. When someone’s behavior seems likeable but does not feel like it, it is important to pay attention. If someone is not congruent in their communication, it is especially important to start taking our feelings seriously.

The beauty of the body is that it never lies. The good thing about our intuition and feelings is that they pick up the undercurrent of communication. Not the superficial façade that someone puts up with words and gestures.

When we emerge from the haze of confusion and fear of the child who had to survive, we have become masters of recognizing manipulative communication, gaslighting and toxic relationships. Then we can let our intuition and sensitivity work for us and choose the partners and friends that truly suit us. It is then that we enter into healthy relationships consciously and joyfully, fully being our radiant true self.


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