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Am I too sensitive or am I being abused by a narcissist?

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Nice Guys and people-pleasers are afraid of conflict and confrontation, and so are much more sensitive to anger, assertiveness, drama, arguments, and negative feedback, than other people. It makes it hard to know if we’re dealing with a genuine narcissist, bully or toxic person, or whether we’re just overreacting to reasonable disagreeableness.

In this video, I look at how to know the difference between a narcissistic bully and a relatively “normal” yet disagreeable or unpleasant person.


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Full transcript (unedited)

So today we’re going to talk about the dilemma of not knowing if you’re being treated badly, or if you’re being too sensitive, okay? Is the behavior actually reasonable? And you overreacting to it? Or are you being treated poorly and so objective way, and your reaction is reasonable kind of counter response to what’s happened? It’s really hard to know, because it’s not actually objective, it’s subjective. Who’s to say what bad behavior is, it all comes down to each individual’s own principles and morals and so on. But generally, I want to cover it today, because reacting poorly to anything is unhelpful. So we want no matter whether the behavior is reasonable or not, we want to always have the best reaction possible for our own life, to their behavior, don’t we so it can help to know how big the response should be and what direction the response should be, and whether it should be assertiveness or compassion, and so on to get the best possible life for ourselves. So I’ve had a number of clients, nice guy clients in particular, I’m thinking of one but I have a quite a few, who seem to think that almost everyone that they interact with is a bully, or a narcissist or toxic. You know, every one of the exes was toxic. Every bully, every boss I’ve ever had as a narcissist, or a bully, every, every one of their family members is narcissistic. And it’s hard to tell if what they’re telling me is accurate. Or if it’s a skewed perception, if I were to meet these people would I also think that they are toxic narcissists. Or what I just think they are a bit aggressive, or they were just a bit dickish, but actually does pretty regular folk. It’s really hard to say because I only, you know, when I work with one person, as opposed to say, when I work with couples, and you’re one side of the story, and it’s really interesting, especially with couple work when I meet the first person, I’m like, Oh, my God, your partner sounds awful. And then I meet the partner might Oh, my guy sounds awful, are you both have a very negative view of each other, but you’re actually probably both inaccurate, probably both quite regular, reasonable humans just yet bouncing off each other. And you’ve come to really negative and quite unreasonable assumptions about each other conclusions. So I want to start by saying, let’s address the word NASA cyst, which just gets thrown around all the time these days, okay. And NASA says, is a technical psychological term, right? It’s not just a random word. And that is a short for narcissistic personality disorder. And can also be used as describing a trait that appears in other disorders like antisocial personality disorder. Now, NPD and APD, are basically fancy terms for psychopathy. Now, we don’t call people psychopaths and formal psychological literature very often, because it’s not really a label. Okay, it’s not a label that they really use. But they talk about people being psychopathic, and narcissistic and antisocial personalities are psychopathic. Now, these are incredibly rare. Okay. It’s estimated because it’s hard to measure. But it’s estimated that less than 3% of the population are psychopathic enough to qualify as having these disorders fair to qualify as being labeled as a psychopath or a sociopath. So, whenever you’re dealing with someone who appears to be a bully, or appears to be toxic, or appears to be a narcissist, the most likely thing is you’re not actually dealing with a narcissist is you’re just dealing with someone who’s difficult. Or at least you find them difficult. Or they might be that lots of people find them difficult, but they still don’t meet the criteria for having a personality disorder for being psychopathic, you know, they’re kind of pure bred psychopath that has no conscience, no empathy for others, is all you know, strategy and gears and no love. Those people are incredibly rare. That being said, even though they’re rare, they do like a specific type of target and a specific type of victim. So somebody who has problems with one will often find another one and then another one, they just seem to have like a conveyor belt conveyor belt of psychopaths in their life. And that does happen because psychopaths do not choose their victims at random. They actually very, very intuitive, very good at reading people, and they know what they like and they know what they’re going for. And they’re going for quite, usually quite common personality types. So most psychopath like victim type people. If you’re already a victim before a psychopath chooses you, they’re not going to choose someone’s going to fight back. They don’t want like a difficult challenge. Psychopaths, in my experience in working with criminals, above all things quite lazy. I don’t mean they’re not ambitious or hard working. But they don’t like a challenge. They just want to win all the time. They hate losing, they don’t get anything from it, they don’t feel any benefit from losing, they only see losing as a failure. And then they try their best to win. And they they’re quite happy just win all the time. They never get sick of that. So they choose the easiest victims. Now that is a bit of a slap in the face, perhaps for some of you who are on the conveyor belt who are getting the nonstop psychopaths in your life. You know, it says a lot about you. Okay, you’re not being chosen at random. You’re not unlucky, you’re attractive to these people. But like I say they’re incredibly rare. In most people who appear to be like this are actually not the people who are capable of love. There are people who are capable of change and compassion. They’re people who could behave a lot better if they just had the right coaching or their personal responded in the way that you know, works really well with them. One of the things that prompted me to do that video now as lately, I’ve been watching a bit of Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsay. And it seems like at the start of every one of those programs that the you know, the owner of the restaurant or the chef quite often that he’s going to help is narcissistic you know, they like my foods to be it’s only a five Gordon thinks that all like they had nearly all of them anyway, they seem like impossible people they seem really grandiose really stuck up. Really kind of what a lot of people have the word someone like that, that call them and ask sometimes, you know, the servers and other staff or the restaurants out there narcissists or whatever. Then basically Gordon tells them off, they break down crying, and you see the real person come out. And it was all a front that narcissistic type behavior was all a defense mechanism, because the down there was scared and afraid, you know, and, and sad and shamed themselves and all these things that psychopaths don’t feel. And it was just an act, it was just trying to protect themselves with this like bluff exterior. But then they’re not narcissists, do just behaving poorly, which all humans capable of doing. So the reason I want to put this out today is because nice guys in particular, very sensitive to disagreeable behavior. We’re sensitive to conflict, we’re sensitive to assertiveness, aggression, of course, we’re sensitive to authority, or people trying to take authority over us, we’re actually very anti authority, which is one of the weird ironic things about nice guys like we want to please everyone, but we hate being told what to do. That leaves us in a position where it’s really hard for us to please people, if they tell us how to. But we’re more much more sensitive to disagreeableness, then a non nice guy would be we were hurt by it, we see it is bad and wrong. And so it becomes difficult for us to distinguish somebody just being merely disagreeable, even in a healthy way, from someone actually being narcissistic, or being a narcissist or a bully or toxic. So when I use words like narcissist, I’m referring to the personality disorder, they use words I bully and toxic, I’m referring to a personality type. We don’t have people are like this all the time with nearly everyone, people who, that’s the default setting. That’s, you know, if you strip away, that’s their authentic self, you know, toxic person will always be toxic, they’ll always be at the center of chaos and the center of misery. A bully will always get their highest from hurting other people. And, you know, no matter how they ended up being that bully, you know, it’s like, they’re not just sometimes a bit of a deck like this is the programming. Now the thing is, I’ve got to point out NASA, some bullies generally lead, they choose one target, and everyone else thinks they’re awesome. It’s very rare that somebody is addicted everyone. And in fact, that’s usually not a personality disorder, that’s usually just someone who’s very authentic and they’re in the wrong group, you know, and everyone doesn’t like them. But somebody who like targets someone and destroys them. That’s narcissism. Right? And everybody else will, you know, part of the Machiavellian strategy that they employ is they try to convince everyone else that they’re a good person so that if the victim ever goes for help, nobody will believe that it’s the same thing that you know, I used to work with pedophiles the same strategy is the the best person in the world, everybody else if the kid ever tells on them, nobody will believe the kid. It’s part of their strategy. Again, these are very rare people. There’s hardly any of them out there. But nice goes we’re likely to jump to quite extreme conclusions about people just because they’re disagreeable just because we’re uncomfortable around them. Just because, you know, they’re often in conflict, or assertive, or they don’t seem to like us very much. Or, you know, they’ve always got negative feedback or whatever we tend to think, well, they’re always like that with me. So they’re the problem. It’s not that you’re wrong, it’s that you just can’t be sure. Instead, you’re going to feel very short. A lot of my clients who say this, like, my boss is definitely a narcissist, you know, my mom’s a bully. You know, my wife is toxic, and my daughter seems like you got a lot of toxic people in your life and some bad luck, isn’t it? So either you are one of those people attract this kind of personality and are attracted to this kind of personality? Or are you being a bit unfair in your judgment of people, you’re being a bit oversensitive to just normal disagreeableness. And not everyone, you know, sees what they have to say, well, you know, half the reason I’m in work is because even the best people and the kindest people aren’t good at communicating. So sometimes when people disagree with you, it comes out as insults, or it comes out as accusations or it comes as like the defense of rants that feel really like unreasonable. It doesn’t mean they’re a narcissist, it just means they’re not very good at expressing themselves. Think you might understand what that feels like. Right? So I want you to actually be able to identify a true narcissist, an actual personality, disordered, toxic person. I’m not saying Iran personality disorders is toxic, but the ones who are I want you to be able to identify there and not think everybody has it, and therefore overlook potential good connections, or at least connections, you could handle a lot better because they’re not actually bad people, so to speak. One of the things you’ve got to understand, regardless of anything else is if there’s a pattern, then you’re the problem. Right? This is one of my biggest Wake Up Calls I had in my life as a man, why do I always have these crazy girlfriends, I’ve talked about this before 12345 in a row craziest girlfriends. Why? And I thought was like bad luck, bad timing, something I’m like, Who’s the one guy and all of those relationships, who’s the guy who’s attracted to a woman, like, Who’s the guy who insists on creating a relationship with a woman like that, instead of running away from them? This guy, right, it had to be me, the problem had to be me. I mean, these were, I had like five girlfriends in a row who are all crazy. And they’re all from completely different social circles, because I was quite spread out. So that’d be one from one of the bands that I was in another from another one of the bands that I was in and then one from my like, high school group and then one from my other group. But these these weren’t connected, I wasn’t like pulling from the bad pool, I was pulling the crazy people out of the crowd. This was not random. So the pattern is either you choose bad people or bad places to be, you know, toxic or unhealthy people tend to congregate so you might be saying like a workplace that’s toxic and therefore everyone there’s kind of you know, going poisonous. Or you choose bad people you’re attracted to narcissistic personalities. You know, your nice guy syndrome is like a perfect foil for users and abusers. So you’re going to be attractive to those types of people like nice guys often are the ones who end up with gold diggers and get crushed and divorces you know, that’s not a fluke. There aren’t that many gold diggers really, most women aren’t like that. But you know, I know of one guy who’s been through three Is it three woman cut them in half, and they were definitely doing it like as a strategy like the devil, the timing and the head of the legal stuff sorted say, that’s not bad luck. That’s him finding a very specific type of woman if you went through how he found that woman, and what type of woman he was attracted to him like you’re finding them do, like, you’re better at finding them in a fucking psychologist would be like, you’re like the master narcissist, Hunter. This is your fault, brother. Shit. So you’re either got a pattern of choosing people or going to places where those people are like high density. Or the pattern is that you’re sensitive to normal disagreeableness too sensitive. When I say to I’m not judging you what I mean is, the sensitivity you have does not help your life and harms you. So whenever I will use the word to I mean, it’s harmful. Okay. So being sensitive is not objectively a problem. It’s actually a superpower. Like as a coach, I’m very sensitive to the way people feel and their body language and I can guess what they’re thinking is very helpful skill. But being sensitive to disagreeableness to the point where it hurts me, and I’m actually missing out on opportunities and missing out on connections with people and, you know, dismissing people from my life, even though they could be good for me that’s too sensitive. Or, and this is much less likely the person is that you’re the cause of the conflict. And this is a bad wake up call. For some people. It’s rare with nice guys that they’re actually like, the real center of the storm. But I’ve worked with, especially borderline personalities, I’ve known a few borderline personalities. And they have quite often a problem of splitting people. They can’t help but cause controversy and conflict amongst others. It’s kind of like when they’re really insecure. So they’re desperate way to feel like important, like they matter. They have an impact on people, the kind of person who gossips at the office and causes all these rifts and cliques to form. And quite often, they’re at the center of everything. So they have quite chaotic, socialize, you know, their relationships always torn. And there’s lots of riffs and lots of people hate them. And again, to like big dramas, constant drama, that’s a sign that you’ve got borderline as you’re just always in dramas. So the pattern can be that you’re actually the one who provokes regular folk into having dramas. Or, more likely, when we’re nice guys, it’s like the way you behave, the people pleasing way you behave is so aggravating to people that you bring out the worst in them, and that they’re all their criticisms. And bullying is actually their best attempt to try and stop you being a people pleaser. You know, they’re just not good at communicating. Worst case scenario, you do all of these patents, which case you’re gonna have a very miserable social life. Because how are you supposed to know which is which? I mean, unless you get a coach like me or something, how are you supposed to get that objective? outside perspective is the who’s the pay guy kind of thing? Well, there’s one way to figure it out. And that is to have confrontations. When you have a confrontation, a powerful confrontation, like following the principles in my book, The Naked Truth about powerful confrontations, not having a big drama, and a big hissy fit at someone, or using like covert or passive aggressive techniques, or whatever, doing that’s coming up front, bold, strong, saying what you want and going sign. Good, healthy people, like a broad category there. They respond to this with negotiation, and changes and behavior. Generally, if someone’s good for you, if they’re a good fit for you, and they’re healthy minded person, they see that you’ve been upset by their behavior, whether or not that’s reasonable for you to be upset, they’ll talk to you about it, they’ll try to adjust, you know, they’ll try to work out some sort of arrangement between the two of you where you’re both happy, right? That’s just a reasonable response. Not everyone’s capable of doing it, especially on first time you confront them, you might even a great person, you know, first time we confront them you I get defensive reaction. You see this quite often and Kitchen Nightmares. We Gordon Ramsay is the first time he confronts him, the people have a big tantrum, he comes back later that evening. They’re like, yeah, sorry about that. You’re fucking right. So quite often, you have a confrontation with someone, you finally built up the balls to do it. And you’re so dismayed by their reaction that you walk away from them forever, and you give up and you don’t realize you’re gonna come back and have another one. The first one doesn’t count, come back and go, Okay, you’ve had some rooms since we first talked how you feeling about it. Now, most people don’t do that follow up, and they miss out so much. What NASA some bullies and toxic people will do is they go into what’s called psychology extinction mode, which is when they see that you’re upset and trying to stand up for yourself, they will dial up the bad behavior to try and crush you. Right. So if you go and confront a narcissist on their kind of bullying tactics, they will go into hyper Aggressive Mode. And they will try to make you back down and take it back. They’ll throw accusations at you and all kinds of different tactics to try and make it your fault and make you guilty and make you feel unsure of yourself. And whatever their bad behavior is before they’ll be, you know, multiplying that by three or four times, they’ll go into what we call extinction mode, like all the way to the death. And if you back down, then they’ll be nice to you. And if you keep fighting, they’ll keep fighting back. They’ll turn this into a huge thing. So if you get that response, and no matter how many times you sort of compassionately come back to the negotiation. We try again. They just keep doing this extinction thing. This keeps dialing up the drama and counter attack Using, it feels more than just defensiveness. They’re attacking you aggressively. That’s how you identify you’re with someone who shall we say, at the very least as unhealthy psychologically, and showing the warning signs of being narcissistic, lacking and conscience lacking in empathy? And are they unable to experience guilt, or compassion. So, that’s the first thing, okay, fuck this, I’m out, that’s when you quit their job. If your boss is like this, right, or you in that relationship, or you find a new circle of friends, or you say goodbye to that family member forever, or whatever, like that, you need to see that response and consistently that says, Man, know, somebody known forever, like your brother, or something just like this hard for me to judge, because so much attachment issues here. You can always go, I’ll give it like a month and keep coming back to this issue. Quite often, what analysis will do for extinction is they’ll cut you off, they’ll do the redacted. I’m never speaking to you again. Just because usually, I’m upset by your behavior. And they’ll they’ll hold that over, you know, they’ll block you for like six months, and then they’ll come back like nothing’s wrong or whatever. You know, that’s a warning sign of someone who you don’t even need to call them a Nasus. But you do know that they’re very psychologically disordered. That is not how a healthy person manages relationships with someone they love, this person is incredibly unhealthy. You don’t need to give them a label, like bullying or toxic, you just need to go they’re not right for me. That’s it, I’ve got one life, I can’t spend over time, I can’t spend their time with people like this case closed. So don’t judge and don’t bail out on a person until you’ve had a go at confronting them directly until you’ve been sure that your confrontation was powerful when reasonable and rational. And you’re giving them the best possible chance to work with you to develop a respectful relationship. And they didn’t just make promises they actually change their behavior consistently over time. Right. So once it once you’ve seen that, you’re okay, maybe it’s me. Maybe I was too sensitive to what they were doing. Or maybe they did behave badly. But it’s not like a problem with them, they were in a bad place or something, but they’re actually a good person, that kind of thinking, and it can actually start a great relationship. So I’ve actually a number of relationships start with, it seems the person hates me, and then we turn it around. You know, so hopefully, that’s helpful. Because I know some of you watching who I know personally feel like you’ve got nothing but narcissists in your life. And I’d be suspicious that that’s true. Especially if then everywhere like that your work for your family, every party you have, there’s unlikely that they all are, but it is likely that you’re attractive to unhealthy people in attracted to unhealthy people. And you don’t confront them properly, to figure out whether they’re the type who will change or the type who sit in their ways. Now next respect group. I don’t know when that’s going to happen. We don’t have active plans for that going to focus on doing this current one. So could be quite some time away. So if you want personal support from me on becoming more assertive and recovering from Nice guy to become more confident, one to one coaching still available. I may have a couple of spots in the next couple of weeks opening up so let me know and I will send you an application form if you’re interested in a free session to to set up. Otherwise, I’ll see you guys probably next week. Cheers.

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