Part of the human experience can be acting narcissistically. Unhealthy narcissistic behaviour is born from fear and pain. It is a situation where we feel disconnected from love, safety and certainty, and when we feel unsupported by life, others and our own emotions, and when we feel that we are not in control or an effective source of our own wellbeing.

The difference between healthy and unhealthy narcissistic behaviour is a definition of ‘self’. If the definition of self is simply “me” rather than “the greater good” (an expanded more conscious sense of self) then inevitably empathy for others and life is severely arrested.

Sometimes the most appropriate thing for self and others is to say ‘no’ and honour what doesn’t feel right. To have poor boundaries and keep enabling people to deplete you is not ‘selfless’ - it creates lose / lose. It arrests other people’s ability to take responsibility for them. Saying ‘no’ appropriately is an example of healthy narcissistic behaviour. The understanding that by honouring self with integrity, this honours other individuals as well.

Unhealthy narcissism is the ability to pit oneself against others, to create damage deliberately and maliciously to others, and to exact revenge and payback. Unhealthy narcissism is ‘you have hurt me’ (a contorted and exaggerated perception deciphered througha severely disordered mind triggered from the narcissist’s disowned inner wounds), followed by the actions ‘because you hurt me I will strike back harder’.

When co-dependents are severely hooked to narcissists they can start acting identical to an individual with narcissistic personality disorder. Many co-dependents report ‘I hate the person I have become’, because in trying to combat and survive they have started retaliating with words, actions and behaviours they didn’t believe they were capable of.

The person with narcissistic personality disorder has dragged him or her down into the nasty malicious narcissistic pit – at the narcissist’s level, where the narcissist can blame him or her for all the narcissistic behaviour in the relationship, so that the narcissistic personality can justify that he or she has done ‘no wrong’.

When the co-dependent is still addicted to trying to change the narcissist, get accountability or safety from this person and return to the idealising phase that occurred before the inevitable devaluing phase – he or she will be living in a toxic narcissistic war-zone, and may start believing the narcissistic personality and accepting the blame for bad behaviour.

There are two determining factors regarding whether or not you have narcissistic personality disorder. Do you have empathy and a conscience? Thus, are you capable of pathological lying, and manipulating to serve your own agenda? Do you take umbrage to personal slights and have to get maliciously even because of a contorted personalised view about someone hurting you? If under normal circumstances (apart from being in a narcissistic relationship) you do not operate this way, then you are not a narcissist.

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