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The Narcissistic Continuum

Our beliefs become our thoughts

Our thoughts become our words.

Our words become our habits.

Our habits become our values.

Our values become our destiny

~Gandhi


Once we truly understand human nature and how the states of belief development work, we are able to honestly and completely forgive those who have hurt us. We are also able to forgive ourselves for our own shortcomings and move past them to a place of compassion and understanding for ourselves and others. Morris Massey's Stages of Belief Development illustrate that during The Imprint Period (0-7 years of age), we are sponges absorbing everything we see and hear and accepting much of it as the truth. During The Modeling Period (8 - 13 years of age), we begin copying people and trying things on, we start modeling the actions and behaviors of our parents and others. During the Socialization Period (14-21 years of age) we begin to develop relationships and social values. Our beliefs develop around our core values which we learned during the imprint and modeling period. Most of us did not have perfect upbringings or perfect role models and therefore we struggle with unhelpful beliefs.


Albert Ellis documented Thirteen Unhelpful Beliefs that hinder our growth and social development. Unless we move past these self-centered and self-defeating beliefs, we are destined to destroy any chance of ever having healthy relationships. A review of these thirteen beliefs clarifies how we end up with questionable core values and in abusive and unhealthy relationships. It is not possible to grow up and truly evolve without self awareness. No matter which side of an unhealthy relationship we find ourselves in, the only way to change things is through owning our own stuff. When you can evolve to the point where you suddenly realize that it is not all about you, and happiness and fulfillment will never be obtained as long as it remains all about you, well then you can actually begin to live a completely transformed life of joy and fulfillment.


Albert Ellis' Thirteen Unhelpful Beliefs


1. I must do well and be approved by everyone or I am not a good person.

2. Other people must treat me nice or fairly or they are bad.

3. I must have an easy, happy life, or I cannot enjoy living at all.

4. I am entitled to everything that I feel and think I am entitled to.

5. I must be a high achiever and accomplish much, or else I am a worthless person.

6. Nobody should ever behave badly and if they do I should condemn them.

7. I mustn't be frustrated in getting what I want and if I am it will be terrible.

8. When I am under pressure, I MUST be sad and there's nothing I can do about it.

9. When faced with danger, I must make frantic efforts to avoid it at all costs.

10. I can avoid being responsible (and life's difficulties) and still be fulfilled.

11. My past is the most crucial part of my life and it dictating everything I do.

12. People cannot hurt my feelings, and they must ensure I remain happy.

13. I will be happy in life by making as little effort as I can.


The greatest prisons are not made of block, they are the beliefs we subscribe to and the ideas we buy into. When an individual is not given unconditional acceptance, they come to learn that acceptance must be earned. All people, all of the time, want to be unconditionally accepted. Unconditional acceptance means being accepted and approved by another person without us having to do anything. You may be thinking that trust must be earned and trust takes time, well that is true, but trust is not unconditional acceptance. Trust is an attitude, it is actions and behavior based. Unconditional acceptance is about unconditionally accepting who a person is, the core of who they are, separate from their attitudes, opinions, beliefs and behaviors. Growing up = growing out of limiting beliefs.


As normal individual seeking unconditional acceptance, it is easy to fall into a narcissistic relationship because in the beginning love bombing stage we often experience unconditional acceptance like we never have before. Everything about us and everything we do is perfect, we are placed on a pedestal and we find ourselves in a complete state of bliss. Unfortunately this stage always comes to and end. And then the continuum begins when we desperately try to achieve that state of unconditional acceptance and bliss once again. After all, we had it once, surely we can get it back, right?


What we need to understand is that the person who placed us on a pedestal is operating from limited beliefs. They are an imperfect person judging another imperfect person. They are defensive, they are reactive and the state of bliss is always fleeting. It simply cannot remain when a person is operating from beliefs that are immature and self-serving. There is absolutely no way a person can offer another person unconditional acceptance when they believe that if anyone gets in the way of what they want, that person is bad and that they have every right to be mad, angry and sad, that they are entitled to and need to react with destructive behavior. Does this sound familiar?


The narcissistic continuum starts as soon as you disappoint that person who once put you on a pedestal, and it is inevitable that you will. And once you do, you will be condemned. You will then desperately try to regain their approval and the unconditional acceptance you once had from them. You will have fleeting moments of bliss as the cycle repeats, but always to be followed by gloom, doom and condemnation. It is a vicious and destructive cycle and there is no way out until we begin to see beyond ourselves. You will never be unconditional accepted by someone who operates from self-serving and unhelpful beliefs. And you will never move beyond these vicious and unhealthy cycles until you stop operating from self-serving and unhelpful beliefs.


Every action is justifiable, but we must ask ourselves if it is being justified based on a learned behavior or attitude that is unhelpful? When people can't see beyond themselves they tend to believe that their glorified assumptions are the truth and the only truth. Based on those limiting, self-serving and unhealthy assumptions they become the judge, the jury and the executioner of others.


Responsibility breeds empowerment. The only way to grow up is to identify our own flaws and imperfections and move beyond them. Own your stuff! People are not hurt by other people, people hurt themselves. Take responsibility for yourself and then no one else can hurt you. You and you alone are responsible for how you feel, no one else is ever responsible for your feelings or your reactions. Once you are able to move past your limiting beliefs, you will gain the strength to move out of the destructive and vicious cycles you are in and into a healthy and fulfilling life. All of your interactions, relationships and outcomes will change for the better. You will no longer participate in the over dramatization we tend to inflict on our own lives. You will set boundaries, you will approach life from a new perspective and your relationships will organically evolve or dissolve without much struggle or effort. You will finally be free from your own prison.



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