One of Helen’s adult daughters was forcing her to choose between her daughter and her second husband.

That’s not the real choice.

Helen had three girls with Ed before she finally summoned the courage to divorce him when the girls were in their early 20s.  He was angry, demanding, selfish, manipulative, bullying and abusive.  However, she thought she had to stay because the girls needed a father and she always wanted to give them everything they wanted.

Ten years later she met Sam.  Helen never thought she’d ever meet someone who would love and care for her the way Sam did.  Also, he was wonderful toward her daughters and their young children.  He had a big heart which he opened to them even though he wasn’t their biological father.  After three years they decided to marry.

One of the Helen’s daughters, Mary, was furious.  It was a slap to her father Ed, it was wrong and she was going to stop it.  She cajoled, she threatened, she used emotional blackmail and intimidation.  She tried everything she could to get her sisters not to go.  Even though Helen pleaded and begged, Mary wouldn’t budge.

Helen went ahead with the marriage, saying that Sam was so wonderful, eventually Mary would be won over.

But Mary never changed.  For eight years she wouldn’t allow Sam near her or her children.  She organized big Thanksgivings and Christmas celebrations, big birthday parties for her children and her sisters’.  Helen was invited but Sam was never allowed to come.  And Mary would never go to Helen’s events if Sam was there.

All that time, Sam was still wonderful to Helen and the other two daughters and their children.  He kept asking Helen to stand up to Mary but Helen kept waffling.  Maybe she did feel a little guilty for remarrying.  Maybe Mary was right that Helen was driving a wedge into her family.

Helen kept attending Mary’s functions in hopes that Mary would eventually relent.  She kept begging Mary and reasoning with her.  She kept minimizing the damage she was allowing to her marriage.  

Helen’s other daughters said they couldn’t do anything because they didn’t want to destroy the family.  They said Mary was always this way.  Even when she was a little child, if Mary didn’t get what she wanted she became furious.  She yelled and screamed.  She threatened and manipulated.  She sulked and wouldn’t talk for months until everyone gave in.  She was relentless.  They thought that was just how she was.  So Helen and the rest had eventually given in to her.

We need a Code of Conduct, Standards of Behavior that are greater than individual personality and ego.
We pledge our allegiance to a Code of Behavior first, just like the law is above the King, Queen or President.  We recognize dictators and tyrants because they want their whims and personalities are above the law.

Supporting and enabling trashy behavior is not helping Mary.
Helen had to stop wanting to be forgiven and loved by Mary for the wrong reasons.  Mary’s love was not kind, considerate and compassionate; it was selfish, bullying and abusive.  Helen had to challenge Mary to love her for the right reasons and to love in the right ways.  Helen needed to take a risk and break the glass ceiling that she’d accepted.  She needed courage and inner strength to take the risk of standing up for the Standards she held so dearly.

The choice was about which standards of behavior Helen would allow in her personal space and the family she wanted.
Helen though Mary was behaving horribly, like some sort of trash.  Or, Mary was dumping toxic waste into Helen’s family.  She’d always done that and Helen had not stood up to protect the rest of her family from pollution by one daughter.

Helen finally saw clearly.  This was the same choice she had to make when she divorced Ed.  Mary was the one driving the wedge.  Mary was the poison serpent in the family.  Mary had the heart and Soul of a raisin.

Looking at it that way, the choice was clear for Helen.  She couldn’t allow the bullying, temper tantrums of a five year-old take control of her family, especially when the five year-old was in a mid-forty year-old body and should have learned better.

There never is “the family.”  There is only, “What specific behaviors would Helen allow in the family she wanted.”  It was a horrible choice to have protect the rest against one daughter, but it was the choice Mary was forcing on Helen.

Helen was the mother and she had to set a good example for all the younger people.

Helen chose the standards she wanted to live with the rest of her life.
She chose the happiness and joy she felt with Sam; she chose the way she and Sam treated each other.  At first, her other daughters didn’t back her because they thought she’d never have the courage and endurance to resist Mary.  But after they saw Helen’s determination, they also insisted they didn’t want manipulation, bullying and hissy-fits around their families.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation.  The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling

Elaine had not recognized Brian as a sneaky narcissist until it was too late, she thought.

Elaine had given her life to Brian.
She and Brian met when they were both in their fifties.  Her two children were grown and independent.  He’d never married.  His courtship of her charming and intense.  He swept her off her feet.  He claimed he had a thriving business but needed to move out of his apartment and into her house so they could really be together and he could devote extra money to the next growth steps in his business.

Within a year, Elaine had put his name on her house, given him half her business, put her savings into his business, him beneficiary of her will, and watched him run up huge debts on her credit cards.  She’d also quit seeing the friends she’d had for decades.  The way he explained it, made it all seem natural.

Even worse, her life started revolving exclusively around his schedule and his desires.  Brian insisted she keep working because they needed the money.  Also, he insisted she keep the house spotless and have food ready for him when he came home in the evening.  When she wasn’t perfect enough for him, he was critical, bullying and abusive.  But he always has good reasons.  He demanded she give in to him like his mother always had.

Elaine felt trapped.
She woke up one morning in a cold sweat.  She hated the way he’d treated her but she could never win an argument.  If she tried to leave, she’d be almost broke.  And Brain had been clear about what he’d done to business partners and previous women who’d disappointed and abandoned him.  He’d broken them.

Elaine felt hopeless and helpless.  She couldn’t see a bright future.  She’d been a fool.  It was all her fault.  Waves of shame and guilt washed over her.  She became anxious and depressed.

Elaine is not trapped.
Elaine was stuck but not trapped.  It would be a difficult task to get free, but she was not doomed to spend the rest of her life as Brian’s slave.

She felt her anger and her spirit rise in her.  She’d fight him to the death.  Even if it took the rest of her life, the fight would be better than giving up and becoming his slave.  She began to see and feel some hope.  And the more she fought, the more she found allies and the stronger she felt.  During her fight for freedom, she discovered many things she could use as leverage against Brian.

Of course it was hard.  So what?

Some people wake up only after they have children and are financially dependent on a sneaky narcissist.  That only increases the degree of difficulty.  Many people decide to wait until the children are grown.  But remember, sneaky narcissists will try to make you more helpless every day.  And the more you tolerate access to the children, the more they’ll be able to turn them against you.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation.  The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling

Overt narcissists are pretty easy to recognize and label, even the first time we meet them.  They’re pushy, loud and over the top.

But sneaky narcissists try to lull us to sleep so we’ll drop our defenses and let them take over our lives.

However, we can learn the early warning signs, even the first time we meet them.  Sneaky narcissists exhibit typical patterns when we meet them.
Notice, we can recognize their behavior and we can also honor our feelings even though we may not have evidence that would stand up in court.  Some early warning signs of sneaky narcissists are:

  1. They appear quiet and pleasant but they always become the center of attention and conversation.  Their experiences, their feelings, their observations are the ones that count most.  If the spotlight shifts from them, they maneuver it back rapidly.
  2. They’re demanding and talk down to people who have to serve them.  They’re subtly negative about everyone who doesn’t worship them.  They’re experts at planting seeds of doubt or sharing confidences that play with your emotions.  Recognize sneaky narcissists by how often you’re your feelings about people change after they’ve been whispering in your ear.  They often had to retaliate against former friends or partners who were dumb, wrong and deserved it.
  3. They criticize, bully and abuse you with a smile until you distrust your own opinion.  They often change or deny what happened until you start questioning yourself.  You start to think you’re dumb and crazy.  Your self-esteem and self-confidence plummet.  You feel dependent.  See the movie, “Gaslight.”
  4. Their opinions and rules are right; they know best about everything, including you.  They might not yell, but they’re clear: they see accurately, they know the truth, their reasoning is right.  Their rule is that if they find one exception to your statement, it’s all false and you have to give in to them.  They want to convince you there will be a disaster if you don’t do what they want.
  5. They find perfectly logical reasons why they should control every decision, especially when it concerns money, jobs, friends and family.  They often start by pleasing you and then slowly making adjustments to your life, one seemingly small thing after another.
  6. They debate cleverly so you’ll let them win.  Their feelings are much more important than yours and come first.  They often use their hurt feelings so you’ll give them what they want.  Always, they take over more and more of your thoughts, actions and space.  They take over your life.  If you don’t give them what they absolutely must have (everything they want), they’ll be devastated.
  7. They’re relentless.  They may back off for a while but they’ll always return to reinforce their points and to find examples that disagree with yours.  Everything is a matter of life and death to them, although the most sneaky ones go slowly at first to take control of your life step-by-step.  You feel yourself not wanting to bring up things or to disagree because it’ll be too much trouble over something that’s not so important to you.

Many begin by flattering you in order to gain control.
They can’t live without you.  They’re charming and sweep you off your feet.  They want to move in right away and do everything together.  Or they want you to sell your place, quit your job and move in with them.  Then you’re helpless, arranging everything around their desires and schedules.

Notice how that undying love is slowly replaced by distain and control once they have you.  Recognize what they do when you deny them something, especially unconditional submission, adoration or money.

Always trust your inner radar.  Even if you don’t have external evidence, move on before it’s too late.

We might be fooled by the cleverest of narcissists or sociopaths until we marry them, but once we realize what’s going on, we can and must get out before we lose ourselves in their control.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation.  The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling
2 CommentsPost a comment

People who grew up as victims to their parents’ narcissism often have a void, an emptiness right in their center, an excruciatingly painful emptiness they are driven to fill.

For example, Linda had been trained by her father to feel empty.  She was not allowed an opinion of her own.  Her sense of Self was discarded and a void created in the center of her chest.  He trained her to be filled (temporarily) only by his throwing her an emotional bone of love once in a while.  

When Linda grew up, she was driven to fill that emptiness at any cost, even further dismissal of her own Self; her thoughts, her feelings, her opinions; her standards, her values, her desires.  She bounced from man to man, always looking for someone to give her a little love, at any price, in order to fill that void.

Linda was an addict.
She saw versions of herself in movies and television; heroin addicts doing anything for a fix, even the slightest amount, to take the pain of that emptiness away.  She was addicted to narcissists.

Recovery.
Finally, in despair, Linda went cold-turkey.  She had to endure intense loneliness, longing and pain while she started to fill her emptiness with her own Spirit, her own Soul, her Higher Self.  She also filled that void with God and the Great Mother.  She felt the love pouring in and filling her like warm milk and light: Bliss, Joy, Home.

She remembered a few moments early in life when she’d felt filled and she did exercises to keep filling herself.  As she felt filled, she stopped seeing the world in terms of whether she was loved or not.  She no longer needed external suppliers of temporary fixes of love; the narcissists, bullies and abusers she’d previously sought.  She was able to see clearly what people’s personalities were and would likely continue to be.  She saw who she could be with and who she could not; who had their own interests at heart and would seek to hook her again.

Then a miracle happened: She stopped feeling thrilled and attracted to the bad men and women who promised a little relief but really sought to hook her.  She began looking at the world for wonderful things to be seen, to be experienced, to be done.  She began feeling attracted to people who would be real friends and lovers.  Walking around with her chest filled, she felt attractive and she was.

Within 6 months she fell madly in love with a real partner to share her new self.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation.  The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling

Sneaky, seductive narcissists use many tactics to be the center of attention and to lure us into becoming slaves to their feelings, their desires and their view of the world.  They want to rule.

For example, Linda had been trained by her father to feel empty.  She was filled only by his throwing her an emotional bone of love once in a while.  She finally rebelled and severed contact, even though she still felt a gnawing emptiness.

Later, her relationship with Chuck was stormy.  He charmed her with compliments and seeming adoration before subtly taking over her life; her mind, her feelings, her home, her business.  Then her Spirit would rise up and she’d throw him out.  In a month or so, when her loneliness became consuming, he’d start worming his way back.  Then, in 3 months she’d wake up and realize he’d slowly gotten complete control of her again, and she’d throw him out.  The cycle kept repeating.

Some sneaky, seductive narcissists’ tactics.

  • Chuck told her he couldn’t live without her: she was the most beautiful, intelligent and funny woman he’d ever met.  If she’d give him a chance, he’d prove he loved her totally.  The compliments filled Linda’s inner void.
  • When she felt strong enough to argue, he’d resist for days before changing the subject.  He’d point out something he didn’t like about her.  She’d feel guilty and be drawn into a different argument.  The arguments were consuming her time and energy, and draining her Spirit.  But whenever she gave up the argument, he’d reward her, be charming and she’d melt in his arms.
  • Sometimes, after days of arguing, she finally forced him to admit he had narcissist tendencies.  He countered with the argument that since he was trying to change, she should take him back so he could prove he’d become different.
  • When she got angry, he’d promise to give her everything she wanted as soon as he could.  In the meantime he’d prove it with loving words and candy, which he’d have to eat because she was diabetic.  After all, he loved her just the way she was.  She never had to change to please him.

Faced with new promises, how could she be sure a sneaky, seductive narcissist had changed?
In truth, we can never be sure a person has changed because we can only see the evidence in the unknown future.  And even though they might have broken a million promises, maybe they’ll keep the next one.  We never know.

But the more Linda filled her inner void with her own Spirit, the more the question shifted.
She saw sneaky, seductive narcissists:

  • Want to be the center of attention.  They want their feelings, ideas and point of view to rule.
  • Want you to be engaged in arguments rather than leave.  Arguments are better for them than no attention.
  • Will say anything if forced to.  Chuck would even take responsibility and ownership for what he’d done, but he didn’t change his behavior for long.
  • Will suck us back in slowly, step-by-step, while casting a spell over our eyes.
  • Will never give up.   For them it’s a life-death struggle.

Linda’s question to herself changed.
The more she filled her emptiness with her Spirit, the more she thought, “Do I want to spend my time on this roller coaster?  Do I want to endure bullying and abuse while I hope he’ll change?  Are there other people who’ll love and adore me nicely?”

Finally, she said, “”Enough!”  She dumped Chuck for good and went looking for someone where the loving was easy.  After all, she was beautiful, intelligent and funny.  And no longer needy.  Of course, after enduring a period of loneliness, she found someone wonderful.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation.  The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling

Liz’s experience with her 20 year-old daughter, Kendra, had been similar to Laura’s with her daughter, Kelly, as I described in the last article.

Kendra expected everything; she felt entitled.
Kendra had always insisted that her rules should rule their home.  The older she got, the more demanding and threatening, the more bullying and abusive she became.  Liz finally saw this as the logical consequence of her merely trying to teach Kendra polite and civil rules without any consequences, and of her ultimately letting Kendra win and do what she wanted.  Kendra had become selfish, narcissistic, unappreciative, ungrateful, entitled; with an “I can treat you any way I want and you’ll still give me what I want” attitude.

In college, Kendra continued bullying, abusing and then dismissing her mother.  She demanded everything she wanted.  Liz complied: she paid for Kendra’s car, gas and insurance; she paid for Kendra’s phone; of course she paid Kendra’s tuition, room, board and books.  She sent Kendra extra spending money each month.  Liz was glad to do all this to give Kendra a head start in life.

But she deeply resented that Kendra never said “”Thank you” or showed any signs of caring about Liz’s feelings or the hard work it took her to give Kendra all that money and goodies.  Kendra never expressed caring, appreciation or respect.

In Kendra’s sophomore year, Liz was pushed over the edge when her daughter appeared suddenly for a weekend because her other friends would also be back in town.  Kendra spend the two days with her friends, raided the refrigerator and emptied it, and trashed her room and bathroom before racing to get back to school.  She never stopped to even have coffee with her mother.

Liz applied consequences.
She didn’t send Kendra money the next month.  Kendra called in a rage.  Liz said she’d spend the money restocking the refrigerator and hiring maids to clean up the mess Kendra left.  Instead of apologizing and making promises, Kendra cursed her mother and raged more.  Big mistake.

Liz said she was not going to pay for Kendra’s phone any more.  Kendra raged even more.  Liz said, since Kendra never showed any appreciation, she might as well not give.  Kendra said that was simply financial blackmail and she’d never give in.  She was in charge of her own life.  Liz owed her whatever she wanted and Liz had better pay up.  Big mistake.

Shortly before Christmas break, Liz told Kendra she’d converted Kendra’s room into a studio for herself.  If Kendra came home for vacation, she’d have to come as a guest and sleep on the pull-out bed in the living room.  And any mess left in the living room would go right to charity.  Kendra raged even more and said she wasn’t coming home.  Liz replied with excitement: since Kendra wasn’t coming, Liz would use the time to go on a vacation trip with friends.  And she’d changed the locks.

After Christmas, Kendra called Liz to tell her Liz had ruined her life.  She had a miserable time at a friend’s house where she had to be on her best behavior all the time.

Liz said she knew Kendra could be a wonderful person if she wanted and she hoped Kendra would maintain those high standards of behavior toward her.  And if she didn’t, the car was next.

Kendra blew up.  Liz should feel guilty for ruining her life and forcing her to accept standards she didn’t want.  Mothers are supposed to make their children happy.  Liz laughed and said she thought daughters were supposed to make their mothers happy.  Or they were both supposed to make each other happy.

She was proud, not the least bit guilty.  She was finally teaching her daughter how hard it would be to make her way in the world as a selfish, entitled, narcissistic person.  Giving respect and appreciation in return for generosity was a crucial part of succeeding in life.  Kendra raged more.

Three days later Kendra called to apologize for her treatment of Liz.  She promised to be good and respectful.  Liz said she thought that would be wonderful.  Kendra said, since she promised to act nice, would Liz immediately send money, pay for her phone and give her a key and her room back.

Liz requires good behavior over time; not mere promises.
Liz explained to Kendra a series of steps Kendra would have to take over time in order to be given more.  It was just like apologizing and making amends over time.

Kendra would have to call at least once a week and be polite and fun for two months before they’d talk about the next step.  Liz could hear Kendra clench her teeth but she promised.  And then she did.  Over the next two years, Kendra satisfied every one of Liz’s requirements.

Would Kendra maintain her polite, considerate behavior when she became financially independent?
Liz couldn’t predict.  Kendra would show her true character when the time came.  But, at least Liz could enjoy two years of good connection with her daughter while she hoped for the best.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation.  The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling
2 CommentsPost a comment

Laura was so frustrated with her 15 year-old daughter, Kelly, she was ready to give up and walk away.

Kelly had always insisted that her rules should rule their home.  The older she got, the more demanding and threatening, the more bullying and abusive she became.

Laura finally saw this as the logical consequence of her merely trying to teach Kelly polite and civil rules without any consequences, and of her ultimately letting Kelly win and do what she wanted.  Kelly had become selfish, narcissistic, unappreciative, ungrateful, entitled; with an “I can treat you any way I want and you’ll still give me what I want” attitude.

When Kelly was a child, Laura had lectured her about manners at the table – simple “Please” and Thank you,” simple eating politely and not bolting off to her room to chat with her friends.  Laura tried educating Kelly but Kelly snarled that Laura was old fashioned and her generation didn’t have to follow those silly rules.  And she stormed out.

Laura couldn’t think of a justification for manners so, after mild protests, she finally gave up.  She let Kelly do what she wanted.

Kelly became consistently negative, critical, sarcastic, rude and demanding.  She expected to get everything she wanted immediately.  She became like Veruka Salt from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

For example, she never said “Thank you” for any birthday or Christmas presents.  She demanded a huge birthday party but after Laura had made huge preparations, Kelly and her friends never showed up.  They went to the mall without telling Laura.

Why rules of behavior matter.
Rules of behavior or “manners” are crucial in any society.  They enable us to live peacefully with each other in a crowded world where we’re surrounded by many more people than our family.

The earliest “manners” were probably the “guest-host relationship” rules.  Imagine a stranger coming to a family or village seeking shelter from a storm.  We need a basic rule, accepted by both sides, in order to be safe.  In the middle of the night, the guest will not murder and steal from the hosts.  The hosts will not murder and steal what the guest has.  Manners lets both sides know that we’re going to follow that rule.

That set of rules was still maintained in the early 20th C out on the prairie: No asking personal questions and no horse stealing.

Arguing rules of polite behavior never succeeded with Kelly.
Laura had tried to educate Kelly peacefully.  She seemed to believe that if she lectured with exactly the right words, eventually the lesson will sink in.  Some kids accept their parents’ teaching and behave.  Others do not; they resist with every ounce of their strength and determination.

Laura knew Kelly knew what was wanted because the mothers of Kelly’s friends praised Kelly’s politeness.  But Kelly wouldn’t change at home simply because she didn’t want to and didn’t have to.  Laura kept teaching until she eventually gave up.  She wouldn’t accept what Kelly was showing her.  

Consequences might succeed.
Bullies and abusers show you what you have to do to change their behavior.  For a long time Laura was unwilling to do anything “harsh” or “nasty” or “punitive.”  She thought those were not the way to raise a nice person.  But Kelly was showing her what would not work.

Laura faced a choice: continue the way she’d been going and pray real hard for a miracle, or start applying consequences despite Kelly’s protests.

Laura decided to apply consequences with a calm smile.
She wouldn’t debate or argue.  She’d simply state the way it would be.  And she made clear the connections between Kelly’s behavior and the consequences.

For example, when Kelly was nasty about a meal, Laura simply picked it up and dumped it in the garbage.  And made sure there were no candies or extra food in the house.  She didn’t buy Kelly a birthday present because Kelly never said “Thank you” so Laura assumed Kelly didn’t want one.  When Kelly demanded a big party, Laura said she wouldn’t because of Kelly’s behavior the last time.  But she did wish Kelly a wonderful next year.

The climax for Laura and Kelly came when Kelly finally saw her mother was adamant.  She blew up, ranting and raving that Laura’s job was to make her happy.  By not letting her do what she wanted, Laura was ruining her life.

Laura simply smiled and told Kelly she was childish, weak and cowardly.  It was easy for her to try to beat up her mother, who loved her.  It took strength and courage to act civilized to people who loved you and who would give in.  It took strength and courage to try to get what you want from people in the world who didn’t care about you.

Laura continued referring to Kelly’s behavior as childish, weak and cowardly.  Kelly said Laura was blackmailing her.  Laura smiled and said, “Of course.  That’s life.  If you want something from me, you pay with good behavior.  If you continue to treat me badly, I won’t pay for a phone, a tablet or a car.  I know you can do better.  You’re a wonderful person.”

Kelly finally gave in, reluctantly.  Her senior year was much happier for Laura.  Would Kelly maintain her civility once she moved out?  Laura decided to deal with that when she got there.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation.  The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling

All her life Betty had been kept in cages and trained by narcissists.

Her father.
Betty’s father trained her to be his soul mate and to hate her mother.  Whenever she hesitated, he bullied and abused her, just like he did her mother.  She never remembered rebelling.  She knew he’d withdraw and be vindictive.  She wouldn’t be daddy’s little princess any more.  When she did his bidding, he praised and stroked her.  She learned what was expected of her and gladly performed.  Then she was fed by his love.  She never had an opinion of her own; her thoughts were subject to his approval.

Her husband.
Against her father’s wishes, she fell madly in love and married.  While they were courting, her future husband praised and petted her.  She was the world to him; she was perfect.  But right after the ceremony, he started acting like her father.  He was critical, sarcastic and cruel.  But when she was docile, he seemed to love her and she glowed with happiness and pride.

When her husband started wooing their daughter and turning her against Betty, Betty remembered her father and mother, and she bolted.  She took her daughter but gave her husband all the money and visitation he demanded.  Soon he controlled their daughter and they teamed up against Betty.  Despite all the horrible and demeaning things they said and did, Betty always remembered the few times he’d complimented her.  She remained madly in love with him, even though she tried to keep him at a distance.

She never understood why she never had a voice with either of them.  They never cared what she thought or said.

Her boyfriend.
Then she met Harry.  He was handsome and charming, and seemed to have his own money.  After a whirlwind week, Betty was madly in love.  She invited him to move into her home.  He seemed thrilled; Betty was perfect.  Betty’s life rapidly revolved around making Harry happy doing what he wanted.  She didn’t even remember why she put his name on the house title, let him quit running the company he said he had owned and let him hang out all day while she worked.

Soon she felt like she was back with her father and her ex.  She did everything to please Harry but every time he was unhappy, she was at fault and she plunged into guilt and despair.  He began making sarcastic remarks and raging at her in public.  Harry always had good reasons why he should do what he wanted and she rapidly gave in.  Every time she thought of rebelling, he complimented her and her heart swelled with love.

Her revelation.
Betty’s whining and complaining about how she felt trapped in a horrible relationship with a guy she was madly in love with, led her few friends at work to suggest she learn about narcissists.  She saw her father, her husband, her daughter, her boyfriend and many others as narcissists – selfish, manipulative and actually totally uncaring about her.  She saw herself as having been trapped in a cage, performing for them whenever they wanted.  She hated them and, mostly, she hated herself.

She felt her Spirit and her anger rise inside her.  Her spirit was calling her to take back her life; to follow her own star.  Answering that call would be hard.  She’d have to fight her oldest rules and beliefs, she’d have to fight her oldest strategies for survival, she have to resist being swept off her feet by the words of narcissists and her need to please them.  

But that anger fueled her courage and determination.  She did take back her life.  She stopped feeling alone and desperate.  She learned to fall in love with a good man who backed up his words with appropriate actions.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situationThe best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling

In the last article, we saw Jeri transform her paralyzing (“bad”) guilt and shame into motivation (“good”) to resist her daughter’s manipulation and battering.

Jeri wouldn’t be her daughter’s whipping post or slave any more.  She was done accepting bullying and abuse.  She wouldn’t let her daughter pollute her life with toxic venom.

Beyond guilt and shame.
At first Jeri needed some self-bullying pain and torment to motivate herself to solve her problems.

But then, she trained herself to recognize the first slight signs of turning on herself – a catch of breath, a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach, a hunching of her shoulders.  She connected these seemingly minor signs to her energy focused outward to protect herself and to deal with whatever was happening – attacks by her daughter or personal criticism by anyone else.  The process had generalized to every area of life.

With practice, this new connection became an automatic, natural and easy response that propelled Jeri forward, focused on what was in front of her instead of on herself.  She no longer felt guilt and shame.  She simply responded to what was happening in the outside world without any endless loops of self-mutilation through internal focus.

Jeri was surprised she no longer had to go off and process for days.  She speedily dealt with situations in the present.  And she now had much more room for the feelings she wanted.  

Her self-confidence and self-esteem rose dramatically.  Actually, she said she hardly ever thought about herself, and those concepts seemed a waste of time.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situationThe best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling

We often hear of “bad” and “good” shame and guilt.  What’s the difference and how can we convert bad shame and guilt into good?

“Bad” shame and guilt.
Jeri was paralyzed and continued to beat herself up.  She saw how she’d helped allow her daughter to grow up selfish, narcissistic and toxic.  The shame and guilt kept her stuck, her self-bullying mind frantically racing with self-recriminations, too busy to seek a solution or to take any action.

Jeri had divorced her abusive husband when her daughter was 11.  Even though she knew she had to get herself and her daughter away from him, she always felt guilty she hadn’t been able to change him.  He’d grown up negative, angry and brutal, fighting against everyone he’d ever met.  He wouldn’t change for Jeri or their daughter.

Unfortunately, he was allowed visitation, and he controlled and manipulated their daughter into thinking that Jeri was a selfish, bad person who’d destroyed their wonderful life together.  Anytime their daughter didn’t get what she wanted, he encouraged her to rage against Jeri.  Jeri tried to teach her daughter differently but she could never deny her daughter anything.  She was too afraid her daughter would hate her and want to stay with her father.

By the time her daughter was 30, she was always needy and angry.  She’d become critical, bullying and abusive to Jeri.  Jeri realized she’d only given lectures to her daughter; she’d never had real consequences for bad behavior she would never have put up with from anyone else.  She’d been too afraid to risk her daughter’s anger.

The “bad” part of Jeri’s shame and guilt was that she remained stuck.  She flagellated herself by replaying episodes to show herself how she might have been a better parent but wasn’t.  Her inner voice relentlessly told her she was too far from perfect.  She didn’t deserve any better.

 “Good” shame and guilt.
Eventually Jeri got so angry at herself, she broke free.  She connected with the energy hidden under the shame and guilt; her fiery energy of strength, courage, power and determination.  She vowed she’d think and feel and act the way she’d always wanted to against people who took advantage of her, just like her parents had.

Jeri transformed her guilt and shame into motivation.  Never again!
She calmed herself down before she planned what to say and do with her daughter.  She didn’t want to be explosive and say things she’d feel more ashamed of later.

When Jeri overcame her fears, which had begun in childhood and became worse with her husband and paralyzing with her daughter, she found more than enough determination to act, no matter what.  As she began to act like the Jeri she’d always wanted to be, she became proud of herself

It’s not the feelings of guilt and shame themselves that are bad or good, it’s the use we make of them that matters.  Jeri finally used her feelings to motivate herself to take effective action.  She made those feelings into “good” guilt and shame.  She wouldn’t allow a toxic daughter to pollute her life any more.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situationThe best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling

Apologies and being asked for forgiveness are nice but they are not amends.  They don’t resolve what matters.

Janice’s adult daughter had been mean, vicious and abusive in public for more than five years.  Numerous times, she’d called Janice names in front of friends, all the extended family and even strangers.  She berated Janice and told her to shut up; Janice was stupid, a bad mother and she’d never see her granddaughter again; Janice should feel guilty for never giving her daughter what she needed.  She rolled her eyes and laughed sarcastically at Janice.  She ruined the family birthday and holiday parties, and even the weddings.  She posted negative, critical and demeaning remarks about her mother on her Facebook page and even on Janice’s page.

Janice had been a doting mother, always trying to make her daughter happy by giving her what she wanted.  But nothing seemed to satisfy the girl and nothing seemed to satisfy the woman she’d become.

After a year of not contacting Janice directly, but of repeatedly being nasty about her to the family and online, her daughter called to say:

  • She wanted to apologize for her behavior and ask her privately for forgiveness.
  • She needed $2,000 right away to pay some bad debts.
  • Eventually she’d consider going to counseling to resolve the issues she had with Janice.

Of course, Janice’s first thought was that all would be well and she’d be glad to accept the apology and help her daughter.  Then she thought again.  Her daughter was not really apologizing and she wasn’t making amends for her behavior.  She was simply bullying and trying to manipulate Janice to get more money.

Janice decided to defend her honor.  She said:

  • A private apology is nice but not enough.
  • Her daughter must make amends by apologizing in front of all the family, and apologizing on her Facebook page and on Janice’s.  As many people as possible who’d heard her daughter’s criticism and lies had to hear the truth.
  • She had to behave politely and kindly to Janice for at least a year before Janice would consider any monetary help.
  • They didn’t need any therapy to work on issues.  She wouldn’t allow her daughter to vomit her emotions and excuses on Janice.  Her daughter had to get her own therapy to get over being so hateful when she didn’t get her way or wasn’t in complete control.

Janice knew she was taking a risk that her daughter would attack her even more and never let her see her beloved granddaughter but she had some leverage.  Her daughter would need her money and help many times in the future.

At first, Janice’s daughter raged at her and hung up.  But a few months later, when she saw Janice was unmoved, she capitulated and did what Janice had asked.  Janice never believed her daughter’s sincerity but she got the behavior she wanted.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation.  The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling
2 CommentsPost a comment

One common tactic of narcissistic bullies is emotional intimidation and blackmail.

Bullies get hurt feelings and then explode with angry personal attacks and accusations.  If that doesn’t make their targets give in and do whatever the bully wants, including taking the mental, emotional and physical beating submissively, then the bully will cry and storm off with a loud silent treatment.

According to the bully, the guilty party is always the target; bullies no responsibility for their reactions.  The target must always apologize, grovel and willingly accept further abuse.

Narcissistic bullies want you to take their feelings seriously.
To them, their feelings are the most important things in the world.  Everyone must adjust to their feelings and also make them happy.  Of course, that’s impossible because their desires and hates will change in an instant.

There are many individual variations depending on the circumstances.  I’ve seen these tactics used by:

  • Toxic, adult children bullying their parents into servants or slaves, giving everything and gladly taking beatings in order to see their grandchildren.
  • Toxic parents to make their adult children submit.
  • Toxic “friends” who are the center of attention and control all interactions.
  • Toxic bosses, coworkers and subordinates at work who bully to get control, power and turf.
  • Toxic, manipulative kids in school.

You know you’re being bullied and abused with these tactics when you walk on egg shells, always afraid to upset someone else.
You thought you were having an innocuous conversation and suddenly, without warning, they blow.  Often, everyone else turns on you, wanting you to give in just so, “We can have some peace and quiet.”  They’ll minimize or ignore the bullying tactics saying, “That’s just how they are so it’s better to rise above and be the bigger, more spiritual person.  Pushing back will simply cause more trouble.”

The more you give in, the worse it will get.
These bullies are like forest fires.  They’re never satisfied, the always want more.  The more they’re fed, the fiercer they burn.

How you defend yourself depends on the situation and the relationships.  Sometimes:

  • You’re stuck because you need or feel obligated to that person and are willing to bear the bullying temporarily.
  • You can stop the pattern by shining a light on it and getting most people to turn on the bully.  
  • Mockery can work.  Since you’re not taking their feelings seriously, you can laugh at explosions, give applause for good hissy fits, label the actions as childish temper tantrums and be loudly thankful for the peace and quiet after the bully has stormed off.  Of course, the bully will attack more, in hopes of making you submit.  But if you’re more determined, they’ll give up and find other scapegoats.
  • You may have to get them out of your life, despite the pain, like you would an infected splinter.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation.  The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling

There are wonderful people on all sides of every kind of relationship we humans make.  And there are sometimes toxic, narcissistic people on every side.

Four years after Jerry’s wife died he fell madly in love with Anne.  Anne was almost Jerry’s age, comfortably off and Jerry felt alive and vital again.

He’d been despondent after his wife and best friend from childhood had died.  Not even his grown children and his young grandchildren had brought the old spark and laughter back into his life.  But now, he’d gladly give anything to make Anne happy.  And she started asking for everything.  He hesitated, but always gave it.

At first, his children were thrilled to see Jerry alive again and welcomed Anne with open arms, even though they’d loved their mother very much.  But Anne was difficult to please and soon drove a wedge between Jerry and his family.  She wouldn’t even let him visit them, with or without her.

Then, Anne wanted all the sentimental mementos from Jerry’s first marriage.  She sold them or trashed them; she wouldn’t give any to Jerry’s children even though they asked and then pleaded.  Then she took all the furniture and made Jerry buy new.  Then his old friends and even his siblings and their families had to go.  Of course, his children and grandchildren were cut out of his will; only she inherited anything.

What can Jerry’s children do?
Since Jerry went along with Anne, step-by-step, there wasn’t anything they could do.  They begged and pleaded with their father but he always gave in to Anne.  She always had reasons and excuses and he always allowed himself to be bullied and abused into submission.  Rapidly she took control of his life, his money and all his possessions.

Shortly before Jerry died, he found out that Anne was comfortable because she’d married an older man and then inherited everything he had.  But it was too late for him and his children.  On his deathbed Anne admitted that she’d always wanted everything she could get her hands on.  He’d be only another one in a long line of providers.

Why did Anne want it and why did Jerry allow it?
Psychologists could find reasons from her childhood why Anne’s greed, narcissism and manipulation were endless.  Doesn’t matter.  We’re not going to change her.

We could also find reasons from his childhood why Jerry abandoned every value he’d once stood for and even sacrificed his children and grandchildren on the altar of his slavish devotion to satisfying Anne.  Doesn’t matter.  He gave it all away.

Anne is richer for it but no one else is.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situationThe best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling

Toxic parents destroy families and alienate children in many ways.

One common scenario was when Helen finally divorced Martin.  Martin was toxic – narcissistic, bullying and abusive.  He’d belittled and demeaned Helen for years.  He’d controlled her with criticism, negativity and emotional torture.

Helen finally filed for divorce when she saw the effects on her children.
During the proceedings, Martin lied convincingly under oath about what he’d done and what Helen had failed at.  Helen kept offering reasonable compromises to him so he could live well after the settlement.  She knew every time she gave in he demanded more, but even though she hated his demands and her acquiescence of them, she always gave him more.  She wanted him to know, she was still a good girl, worthy of respect and appreciation.

Helen protected Martin’s image with the kids.
Martin tried to alienate and estrange the kids from Helen.  He consistently told the children what a rotten person and mother Helen was, how she’d treated him badly, how the divorce was her fault and how she was guilty for every bad feeling and problem the kids had.  Nevertheless, Helen never said a bad word against him.  She wouldn’t want the kids to think she was the kind of person who was vindictive; she wanted to show them the meaning of forgiveness.

Later, during the daily arrangements about visitation and taking the kids to and from their activities, Martin always had excuses why he couldn’t make the required effort.  Helen always covered for him.

She said the most important thing was that kids should see the best of their father and should honor him.  Kids need a father.

Kids know the truth.
Despite Helen’s attempts to protect Martin, the kids knew how he treated them and how they felt.  Helen saw the kids living in fear of displeasing their narcissistic father.  If they didn’t do exactly what he wanted, he’d be vindictive.  He yelled at them relentlessly and battered them emotionally when they didn’t please him.  Nothing was ever his fault.  He even pitting them against each other, rewarding favorites who did what he wanted and acted like they worshiped him.

Most kids choose to imitate the winner.
Soon, the kids started treating Helen like their father did.  They acted like she was supposed to make them happy by being their slave.  They knew they’d better ally with him and they could get away with disrespecting her.

Decide which values are more important than which others.
Helen finally decided her values of being a good girl, worthy of respect and appreciation, of showing she was forgiving and not vindictive, and of thinking the kids needed a father were less important than setting high standards of behavior and of speaking the truth.  Martin was destroying the children’s self-esteem, self-confidence and good character, and she had to stop him.  Yes, kids need a father but not this specific angry, cruel, lying, controlling, manipulative, bullying father.

Speak and act before it’s too late.
Helen finally allowed herself to rebel against her old beliefs, rules and roles.  It took great courage to say she mattered; her views, feelings and attitudes were important.  She finally chose to speak out against Martin’s treatment of her and, even more important, to take action.

For example, when he failed to pick up the kids or buy their promised sports’ equipment or give them birthday presents, she told the kids the truth about who’d failed them and let them suffer the consequences.

What happened?
Both children had lived in fear of their father and accepted his behavior until one became old enough to resist and say he never wanted to see Martin again.  He remembered the fear, shame and pain he’d felt when he was with his father.  He also started treating Helen well.  He told Helen he’d rather grow up with her rules than be hateful like his father.

Unfortunately Martin alienated and estranged the other child from Helen.  That child accepted her father’s control and her fear of him.  She went to live with Martin.  She took out her anger on Helen.  She swore Helen would never see her grandchildren when she had them.  She seemed to enjoy Helen’s pain when she said that.

There are many other situations with similar patterns and consequences – separation, alienation, estrangement.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situationThe best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling

Henry wanted to stay with his wife until their youngest daughter, Alice, had become independent but when Alice was in her teens, he couldn’t take it anymore.  His wife was not only a bullying, abusive shrew but she finally had an affair.  When Henry divorced her, she was bitter and vindictive.  She blamed everything on him.  She did her best to turn their children against Henry.

Thirteen years later Henry met another woman, his age with grown children also.  It was love at first sight for both of them and brought the best out of them both.  After their marriage, Henry and his wife reached out to all their adult children, offering them warmth, hospitality and fun.  All the children except Alice rapidly saw their parents had chosen a wonderful person and were made happy by their new partner.

But Alice turned on her father.
She waged an endless campaign of hate directed against his new wife.  She was determined to drive a wedge between them.

Alice would never holidays with the new wife.  She called the new wife all sorts of names to Henry’s face and behind his back to her siblings.  She made up stories and twisted conversations with Henry in order to badmouth his new wife.

She always had different reasons and excuses to justify her feelings about his new wife.  For example, after one of Alice’s tirades, the new wife had even said that Alice was toxic, trying to bullying Henry into submission.  Alice’s feelings were hurt and she raged even more.  She’d never forgive the new wife.  She was totally negative about their marriage and happiness.

Why did Alice do those nasty things?
Of course we can list some of the typical reasons people have for Alice’s type of behavior: Loyalty to her biological mother who hates that her ex has found love, hatred of a woman whom her father now loves, hidden desire to get her biological parents back together, etc.  Underneath these psychological excuses is Alice’s assumption that if she feels a certain way, she’s right and she can do whatever she wants in order to get her way.

What matters?
Dealing with Alice’s reasons and excuses is futile.  Henry tried reasoning with Alice but Alice didn’t want to change.  She knew she was right and she was righteous.  She even used her therapy to convince a counselor she was right and her father’s new wife was evil.

Henry tried all the seven tactics nice, reasonable people try but that do not stop bullies.  And they didn’t stop Alice.  All his attempts based on his understanding didn’t move Alice at all.  In fact, when Henry tried to reason, to beg, to minimize or defend Alice’s behavior to his wife, to bribe Alice, she only attacked him more.

What matters is what Henry is going to do in the face of an enemy who wants to destroy his new-found love and happiness, even though that enemy is his daughter.  What matters is what Henry is going to do when faced with an enemy who wants to beat him into submission or to blackmail him into an all-or-none choice.

What did Henry do?
Henry finally gave up trying to please his daughter[BL1] and started treating her like he would anyone else who attacked him like she had.

  • He told her siblings what he was going to do so they’d know the truth from him, not from a lying, manipulative hater.  He encouraged them to avoid getting in the middle and he wouldn’t talk with them about Alice.  He knew Alice had put them in a position with divided loyalties, but he and his wife wanted to see them and their children as much as possible.
  • He told Alice’s children, who were old enough to understand, their mother was attacking his wife and preventing the kids from seeing him and his wife.  Therefore, he wouldn’t be seeing them until they were old enough to come by themselves.  He and his wife would sent them birthday and Christmas presents, but he didn’t know if Alice would let the kids have them.  He told them he and his wife would love to see them when they were old enough to come despite their mother’s anger and retaliation.  They’d see who had courage and who didn’t.
  • He told Alice that if she wouldn’t accept his new wife and be kind and gracious, if she wouldn’t apologize to both him and his wife, he was done with her.  He and his wife were going to have a wonderful life and they weren’t going to waste time and energy thinking about Alice’s abuse of them.  They weren’t guilty and they weren’t Alice’s slaves.  He’d make no more attempts; the ball was in her court.  We was cutting her and her children out of his will until she showed a long-term pattern of kindness to his new wife.

What happened?

  • Henry remained firm.
  • After months, Alice made a peace offering to Henry: She really missed her daddy and he could see the grandchildren but his new wife still couldn’t.  Someday Alice might be willing to go into mediation with his new wife but that wouldn’t be for a long time.
  • Henry told her that was no change.  There was nothing to mediate.  Either she became gracious to both of them or she got nothing.
  • After almost a year, Alice capitulated and accepted Henry’s conditions.  She said she finally realized he was serious and wouldn’t be beaten or guilt-tripped into submission.
  • Henry waited for three years of continued good behavior from Alice before he put her back into the will.

I’ve seen the same patterns in all combinations of father and mothers, sons and daughters.  I’ve also seen the same patterns after the death of one spouse.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situationThe best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. 1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. 2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling
2 CommentsPost a comment

Jill was amazed.  Her family knew about her lying, manipulative, backstabbing, rage-aholic middle daughter but so many seemed to take her side.

That daughter was narcissistic and entitled.  Jill’s family was co-dependent and enabling.

They’d turn on Jill and encourage her to forgive, to rise above and to not make waves.  They’d say Jill was being too sensitive or Jill wasn’t perfect either or Jill knew how her daughter was so she should just do whatever her daughter wanted.  They’d say if only Jill was nicer, her daughter would be fine.  Jill should feel guilty for making her daughter angry.  Jill should love and forgive as long as she lived.  They always wanted Jill to change and let her daughter get away with it.

Those are among the seven techniques that do not stop bullies.

Why didn’t anyone stand up and defend Jill from her daughter’s bullying and abuse?

  1. Sometimes, especially with covert bullies, other people simply are fooled.  But that’s not the case in Jill’s family.
  2. Sometimes people are afraid that if Jill makes a big issue, it will split the family into warring camps.  Since they’re not being harmed, they don’t want the family split.  The 20th C provided lots of examples of people looking the other way until it was too late.
  3. Sometimes people put justice and standards aside when they might have to do something that makes them uncomfortable and shines a light on them.  Most people won’t stand up when they’re afraid of Jill’s daughter’s wrath directed at them.
  4. Sometimes people simply side with the winner.  Jill’s daughter looked like she had the power because Jill didn’t know how to defend herself effectively.  As soon as Jill learns, the ground will shift and some people will start allying with her.
  5. Usually people see who’s the most stubborn and intransigent.  They think they’ll never budge a relentless attacker so they give in and try to change the more reasonable person.  They want the nicer person to compromise.  They hope Jill’s appeasement will buy some peace and quiet, and eventually, Jill’s daughter will get enough control and power and stop throwing fits.

I see these last three reasons operating most of the time.

I’ve seen people verbally beaten down by couples’ therapists and divorce mediators because they’re the more reasonable person.  The therapist or mediator assumes that the angriest person must have been offended by some action on the part of the reasonable person and they want the reasonable person to give in.

At work, I’ve seen many people pile on and mob innocent targets.  People want to be part of the power-club so they attack the weakling or outcast.

Jill got over her guilt and decided she would honor her values about good behavior, decency and justice as more important than loyalty to a daughter who was ripping her flesh apart and a family who was co-dependent and enabling.  When Jill started standing up, everything shifted in the family.  Jill took power by tactics that were sometimes overt and sometimes covert to catch her daughter in lies and isolate her.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situationThe best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling

Hope divorced her narcissistic, angry, bullying, abusive, sadistic husband when the kids were 10 and 14.  Her ex rapidly reverted to the life-style he had when she met him: he quit his job, sponged off whoever he could, started living off an alcoholic tramp and preached against education and a good career for himself and his children.  He was nice to the kids only when they did what he wanted or to cause them guilt to get them to give in to him.  His mantra to the kids was, “Don’t get a swelled head and rise higher than me.”

But he could also be charming when he wanted so she worried that her children would get sucked into his desire to control them, to turn them into allies against her and to turn them into losers.

What could she tell them?

  1. “Trust your gut.”  Most important for kids is to trust what they see, hear and feel.  They do recognize tension, anger, control and verbal and physical beatings, and manipulation.  They do know where they feel like they have to walk on egg shells.  Don’t let them start to distrust themselves because some adults try to disguise the pain they’re causing by labeling it, “Love.  For your own good.  Show me you love me by doing what I want.  I know best for you.  This is the way things should be.”
  2. “Improve your gut.  Learn to recognize sooner when someone is using you or taking advantage of you or causing you pain – no matter what reasons or excuses they give you.  Also, learn to examine yourself for times when you are simply reacting because you don’t get what you want.”
  3. “Choose what to be loyal to.  Your father will want you to be loyal to him and his agenda, to show your love by being an accomplice in attacking your mother and in destroying the wonderful future you can have.  Don’t be loyal to your father.  That’s not the most important value.  Don’t be loyal to your mother, either.”
  4. “Be loyal to the greatest future you can imagine.  If that hurts the feelings of either parent, tough for them.  Your future is more important than your parents.  The most important loyalty is to a wonderful future for yourself.  Be true to that future.  You’re both smart.  Dream big.  Get educated; get great careers.  Be all you can be in the world.  Do what makes your life the greatest it can be.”

When Hope looked at the decisions for herself and her kids that way it was clear and straightforward; not necessarily easy.  It was not a fight between her and her ex, even if he wanted to make it into that.  It was a fight within her kids to struggle for the best future they could imagine versus giving in to anyone who thought the kids should do less and become less just to make them feel good.

Of course, husbands sometimes have to say the same things to counter narcissistic wives.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situationThe best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling

Is it better for the kids if unhappy parents’ divorce or should they stay together for the sake of the kids?

We can’t answer the question when asked that way.  There is no general answer.  There are answers only for each specific family, “How bad is it, for the parents and for the kids?”

And, in the present moment, we can never be sure of the final results because the effects will be in the unknown future.

How bad is it?
Jenna’s husband could be charming when he wanted to but when he didn’t have complete obedience or absolute control he’d become negative, critical and mean.  She thought she could put up with it but when he tormented, bullied and abused the kids, she couldn’t stand it.

He’d never admit he ever did anything wrong or nasty.  His punishment was always their fault.  They deserved whatever he did to them, whether he was “merely” continuously yelling or slapping them until they cried or giving them a very loud and long silent treatment.  He taught them to vie for his affection and to be mean and nasty to each other.  He told them he loved them, and they’d better love him and show it by doing what he wanted.

When she saw the kids cower and try to please him, when she saw them scared and feeling guilty she thought they were suffering too much.  

Do kids need a father?
Jenna hesitated because she’d been raised to think that kids should honor their parents.  What put her over the edge was when he started talking pornography to the older boy.  Her husband was addicted to pornography and always defended it as “harmless.”  Jenna couldn’t stand to see her son corrupted.

She decided that the real question was, “Do the kids need that particular father as a role model?
That question focused her.  She became clear.  That father was a corrupting and poisoning influence.  He was narcissistic and would try to beat or manipulate her children into submission.

Which competing value should Jenna choose?
Jenna decided that her children’s futures were her most important value.  And her most important task was to protect them against harm.  They needed to see their mother stand up against bullying and abuse.  They needed to see their mother protect them.  So she filed for divorce and sole custody.

What should she tell the kids?
One of her values was never to say anything bad about the children’s father.  But if she lied, they wouldn’t be protected.

Jenna decided the most important value was to label the truth so her children could mentally and emotionally defend themselves against a scary and corrupting influence.  In an age-appropriate way, she wouldn’t pretend their father was nice, kind and loving to them.  Their father was not nice; the 20% nice he did was balanced by the 80% manipulation, bullying and abuse.  He was a wolf underneath the sheep’s clothing of the word, “father.”

Her speaking the truth freed the kids to make up their own minds.
The kids knew how they felt with their father and how they felt with her.  They knew where pain and fear lay, and where they were safe.  She finally talked about their father’s narcissism and brutality openly, instead of minimizing or pretending that nothing was wrong.  Their own experience helped them start trusting their own judgment of how much he’d hurt them.  His behavior was not love the way they wanted to feel it or express it.

Maybe, a better question for all of us is, “Which path do we want to go down, knowing we don’t know the future?”

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation.  The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling
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Tracy had tried to hide the realization all her life, but at age 50 she finally saw her parents and siblings clearly.  Her parents were narcissistic, controlling, manipulative and toxic.  Her sisters and brother had also bullied and abused her whenever they could.  

She was always told she wasn’t good enough, bright enough or nice enough.  Even when she tried to please them and even when she did all the work and acted like their slave, her efforts weren’t good enough.  Her wonderful marriage and successful career were never proof she deserved anything but negativity, criticism and scorn.

Now they were old, they told her she had to move in with them and spend her money to take care of them.
They didn’t care about her family and her own obligations and responsibilities.  They didn’t care about her savings.  All that mattered to them was what they wanted.  They were physically and monetarily well off but they missed having a servant to criticize and command.

When Tracy hesitated they tried to beat her into submission verbally and physically, like they always had.
They called ten times a day to remind her she was rotten, uncaring and a bad person.  When she visited to celebrate her father’s birthday, he shoved her against a wall and stomped away.  He refused to see her.  She was no daughter of his.  They’d cut her out of their wills.

When beatings didn’t work, they shifted into their life-long patterns of manipulation.
They used guilt and shame, “They had raised her and now she owed them.  How could she abandon them in their time of need?  She was not a kind or loving person.  She was a bad example for her children, who would treat her even worse.  She deserved to fry in hell.  ”

They got the other children and aunts and uncles to bombard Tracy with criticism.  They were too busy to help so Tracy had to.  If she didn’t, the rest of the family would shun her.

When they saw Tracy unmoved, her parents apologized for whatever she thought they’d done.
Since they’d apologized, she could show she’d forgiven them by moving in and taking care of them.

Whose way matters?
Tracy finally saw that in their minds, it was their way or nothing.  When she was 18, they didn’t want to spend money on her so they’d thrown her out even though she was a good girl and hadn’t done anything wrong.  Now, when they wanted to save their money and be taken care of, they wanted her to be their slave.  They didn’t want to face their fears in a new way.

But Tracy didn’t want to do things their way.  

The choices Tracy saw were:

  1. Give in to them; abandon her life, move in with them, spend her time, energy and money taking care of them.  After the episode on her father’s birthday, and her siblings’ reactions, Tracy knew that no matter what she did or didn’t do, it would never be enough or right.  She’d be criticized and condemned no matter what she did.
  2. Refuse to abandon her life to take care of them.  Tell them to spend their own money or get it from the other three children they’d always favored.
  3. Decide how much she wanted to give, maybe depending on what her siblings gave, and pay part for an independent living facility in the city they now lived, far away from her.  That way, she could love them from afar and avoid their toxic personalities.

Tracy chose the third course.  And she told them all if they were nice she’d come to visit on holidays.  But if they weren’t nice to her, she wouldn’t visit and she’d withdraw the money.  She was making her own rules for the benefit of her future and her family.

 

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation.  The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling

I’ve received many comments about my post on Jennifer Bricker, asking me to expand more on the toxic adult children who feel they didn’t get enough from their parents and are still trying to beat or guilt those parents into submission.  See the YouTube Video about her.

They use two sets of tactics:

  1. They’re angry and vengeful, and try to beat their parents into submission.  They say, “You ruined my life.  My life has failed because you did bad things to me or you didn’t give me enough.  You’re guilty and I’m entitled.  Now you have to give me everything, and do what I want forever.”  And they’ll go public with the complaints and stories they’ve decided to believe.
  2. They’re victims, and want their parents to accept the blame and guilt, forever.  They say, “I’ve failed because I was a victimized and you need to give me everything I want for the rest of my life.”  And they’ll go public with the complaints and stories they’ve decided to believe.

In both cases, these entitled, toxic adult children want to remain children all their lives.
They’d rather get what they want from their parents who love them and want to help them become independent and happy, instead of doing the really hard work of getting what they need from a world that’s indifferent to them, that doesn’t care whether they succeed or not.

Growing up means becoming self-supporting and independent; physically, financially mentally and emotionally.  When people become functioning adults then they can go back and revisit their relationship with parents who they think didn’t give them everything they wanted.

There are questions to ask these bullying, abusive children in adult bodies.
“Examine your false beliefs.  What short-term prize do you get by maintaining them despite evidence to the contrary?  Who do you know that has overcome ten times worse than you?  When will you become independent and able to stand on your own feet?”

William Boast summarized it well: “Don’t ask for more until you’ve made something great and wonderful out of what you’ve already been given.”

So simply keep asking those questions.  And give them nothing until they become independent.  And pray they get it.  Only a percent will, but it’s the only approach I’ve ever seen be successful.  I’ve never seen continued giving and continued attempts to educate them be successful.  These toxic children misinterpret every kindness and loving action as an admission of your guilt and the success of their tactics.

Think of Jennifer Bricker’s personality; her fire and joy in facing her life’s challenges despite the huge degree of difficulty.
Hold her up as a challenge to these adults.  You can lead a horse to water but only they can overcome their first challenge.

I’d suggest the same tactics to the children of toxic parents who didn’t get what they wanted or who were brutalized when they were children, and then became narcissistic, bullying, abusive parents to their own children.
As long as their parents continue being selfish, controlling, demanding adults, the children have to let go and let their parents sink or swim on their own.  Or pay for care a thousand miles away so they’re not dragged under and drowned by their parent’s demands.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situationThe best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

 

Posted
AuthorBen Leichtling