Saturday, October 28, 2006

You Are Not Guilty of Your Feelings

If you point out that people cannot control their feelings and that they therefore cannot change them and that feelings therefore cannot be a sin or a character flaw of any sort, you always get some holier-than-thou coming back with "Yesbut...feeling angry (or whatever) is a sin."

What can one do to get through a three-foot-thick forehead? It is impervious to reason. Reason just bounces off it like that, because such people have no respect for it.

Never feel guilty about your feelings!

Woops, an oxymoron. You don't feel guilty about your feelings; you feel ashamed of them. That is because shame has nothing to do with guilt. Shame is something others put on you. Whether you deserve it or not.

So, never be ashamed of your feelings! There is no guilt in them. Anyone who judges you for your feelings is the one doing something to be ashamed of.

I say this also to naricissists. Narcissists, you have abnormal feelings, but they are not your fault. They are an effect of the disease. Victims, you have normal feelings, and they are not your fault. They are an effect of the abuse.

Aside to those who think what I say conflicts with religion: Think again. Look it up. Abraham finds that God judges by CONDUCT. Conduct is words and deeds. Feelings are not conduct. And the word "faith" in that book means what it used to mean = what we now mean by "good faith" = simple honesty, sincerity, fidelity to truth and one's word = something even an atheist can have. Only within the last few hundred years has abuse and misuse of the word faith warped it into meaning a "list of religious beliefs." Indeed, when you compare various versions of scripture to see how many way a given passage may be translated, you start to see how misleading current translations can be.

Emotions are just psychological feelings. Like physical feelings they are triggered by stimuli. We have no control over this process. If you touch a hot stove, you feel burnt. If you get put down, you feel insulted. The stimulus is the cause. So, it makes no more sense to blame you for how a narcissist's abuse makes you feel than it does to blame you for smarting when he or she punches you in the nose.

I just don't see what's so hard to understand about that.

This doesn't give the victims a carte blanche to go off and react to abuse in any way they want. Indeed, the narcissist's abnormal feelings are no excuse for his conduct, either.

We must all make sure our emotions don't control our conduct. We must temper it with good judgement and moderation.

When there would be no witnesses, narcissists don't. That's where they incur guilt.

True, injured feelings are more easily hurt. Just as a wound is more sensitive than uninjured skin. So, the victims of narcissists must realize this. Get away from the source of constant re-injury, and you won't find that your feelings get easily hurt anymore. And your anger (emotional pain) will eventually pass.

See On Your Feelings.

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16 Comments:

At 11:37 AM, Blogger gior said...

Kathy

Thanks again for your validating and insightful discourse. It took me a long time to realize that I have a right to my feelings because people were constantly telling me how I "should" feel when it didn't coincide with how I did feel. And it was my experience...not theirs. If they were having the same experience, they may have had the same feelings that they were telling me I shouldn't have. And how many times have I see that happen? When the shoe was on the other foot...they had a right to feel exactly the same way that they told me I shouldn't! So I have learned to own my feelings. Our feelings are telling us something and we should pay attention to them.

I have found however, that sometimes certain knowledge can change the way I think about something and THAT will change the way I feel about it. For example, until I learned about NPD, I took narcissists' behavior personally and that hurt my self-esteem. Now I understand where the behavior comes from and while it is still hurtful behavior, I put it in it's proper context. Then I get my head straight and put the onus of the bad behavior back on the perpetrator. That way it doesn't hurt my self-esteem.

But there is something that I question in your post.....and that has to do with guilt. I was under the impression that narcissists don't feel guilty. I thought that their defenses (ie: offenses) prevent them from feeling any guilt or pangs of conscience....and it's precisely for this reason that they are capable of treating others in such heinous ways.

 
At 12:09 PM, Blogger Kathy K said...

gior, Great insight. Yes, when we learn something that changes our perception, the resulting feeling changes. Like you say, when we learn that we got abused just because we were easy prey, we don't take it so personally. That is much easier to take.

I have to think a little about what you say about guilt. Perhaps you posted this comment before I revised the post to differentiate between shame and guilt. For, I had noticed that when I wrote "Don't feel guilty about your feelings!" I was saying something absurd by failing to distinguish between shame and guilt (as Dr. Sanity does on her blog.)

So I'll comment further later.

 
At 12:29 PM, Blogger Kathy K said...

Yes, gior. Blogger is misbehaving today (perhaps due to an unually high amount of traffic on one of my other sites). I had to try to republish about ten times before I could edit that post. In the meantime you commented.

This post, Dr. Sanity on Shame and Guilt explains with links to that site.

Narcissists worry about shame. They confuse it with guilt. That's why they feel great so long as they APPEAR to be good people. Most of us worry more about guilt and will actually accept some shame for the sake of maintaining a clear conscience.

The ability to repress feelings of shame or knowledge of guilt though complicates the whole thing.

 
At 5:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Timely post. Struggling with what i thought was a forgiveness issue redirected my thoughts inward. A lot of us feel bad because we weren't giving the compassion that we were craving. The more appropriate name of the feeling would be shame (rather than guilt.) When you point out the difference between a reaction to a feeling and a reaction to an event it helps a little. Last week i exploded briefly at my N. It surprised i think both of us. good thing is he left me alone. But i felt weird all week trying to adjust.Someone told me that was a beginning of healing (that i was sorting thru my feelings)I was rattled by my behavior cuz it was so out of character. i'm still sorting thru it but- i reacted to what i thought was going to be an attack. No one else was there ( although my kids saw me after it) I almost didn't feel anything after, and nothing has happened since. If i could just isolate that day and keep it that simple that would be good. I would have been embarrassed by my lack of self control had anyone else been there, but i was proud of myself for taking care of business. Afterwards I had a thought that "I forgive him for his behavior" and "I forgive myself for hating him."That seemed wrong at first, but it covered everything,didn't leave anything out. Now I think that might be okay because i actually feel leveled out somehow. I know i don't like looking like a monster, but i know i like sticking up for myself. i hope i do a more dignified version in the future.but i don't feel bad anymore about feeling angry.

 
At 6:21 PM, Anonymous GH said...

A couple thoughts in response.

First, amen on the thoughts about faith and conduct. I'm no longer gifted at citing chapter and verse, but there's a place in the New Testament where I think it's John that writes that fatih without works is dead. Sartre made the same basic point in On Existentialism (if memory serves), The idea being, we can say all we want what we "believe," but when push comes to shove we know what we truly believe by how we act.

As far as comparing physical to psychological feelings -- the getting burned on the stove analogy is an interesting one. Like you said, no one can tell us not to wince in pain when we get burned. BUT after we've been burned a dozen times, people do start to wonder why wo don't learn to avoid the stove. We have every right to take our pain seriously, but we also need to care for ourselves enough to steer clear as best we can of the painful stimuli.

And I make that last comment with my own experience in mind -- knowing how easily the N can make me angry, push my buttons, cause me pain. And time and time and time again I let myself get sucked in, get angry, get hurt -- and then wonder why I can't just learn to walk away and not touch the stove.

As for anger -- God himself got angry when the situation merited it. It's not a pleasant feeling, it can be dangerous if we let it cloud our judgment about how to react. But when injustice occurs anger is, I think, appropriate and perhaps even godly.

 
At 9:09 AM, Anonymous The Happy Feminist said...

Great post! Right on target!

 
At 10:37 AM, Blogger Kathy K said...

Thanks. A couple general comments about the above comments.

First, I want to call attention to what anonymous @ 549 wrote: "Last week i exploded briefly at my N. It surprised i think both of us. good thing is he left me alone."

YES! Get it? I mention the same phenomenon on the main site several times I think. When it stops working, they stop doing it. This shows that their behavior is CALCULATED. Your unusual reaction made him immediately back off, because it wasn't the reaction he was playing you for.

One of the first things I read on Sam Vaknin's sites that made me feel that this N at least tries to tell the truth (about Ns, not other people) is that he confirmed something I had recently learned. You can even quell a narcissistic rage this way. As he says, instead of trying to calm and appease the rager, get in his face and rage right back. Yell just as loud. Be just as insulting.

Result? You see an instantaneous transfiguartion -- from a raging ogre into a "poor-little-ole-me-wouldn't-hurt-a-fly" face. They can switch masks like that so fast it gives you the creeps and makes you realize that it's all just an acting job. One they put on to play you like a fiddle.

You can bet your blowup surprised him. He ain't nearly so scary when you strike back, is he? The bully.

I'm sorry, but that old adage that the only language bullies understand is a punch in the nose is true. They immediately show they're not so fearsome after all, as they go running home to their mamma. In short, they are like terrorists = they just try to scare you into submission. If that doesn't work, they immediately pull in their horns.

But who wants to fight all the time? Who wants to give an N another failure to nurse a grudge about every day?

So, yes, you do have to get away from the source of abuse. If you don't, it is very much like touching a hot stove every day to see if you'll get burnt by it today. Learn from experience. That's what narcissists and sociopaths cannot do. But we can.

 
At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Liz123 said...

For my recovery, it has been very important to ALLOW myself to feel all my feelings. When you have been raised or in a relationships with an N, you were usually unable to feel your feelings because it often brought anger and dismissal from the N.

It was so foreign to me to allow myself to feel grief, anger, hurt and any other perceived "negative" emotion. I had learned to ignore, bury or intellectualize these emotions.

Once truly felt in the body, the emotions and feelings usually dissipate and you have returned to a more peaceful state. This exerise also helps control the propensity to ruminate endlessly about events or injustices.

Has anyone else found that they have to relearn how to feel?

 
At 2:56 PM, Anonymous dandelion said...

Yes, definitely. The way I describe it is before becoming aware, I saw the world in faded colors, whereas now everything is in full color.

 
At 4:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mother is often put through the ringer by my N sister. I advised her toward this site and things have improved for this lovely woman because of precisely what Kathy recommended: BLOW RIGHT BACK UP IN THEIR FACES.
BOOM! Like a light switch. Totally different person.
Again: get and stay away from narcissists. Today I visited a Kabbalah Centre and met a lovely woman, a therapist. We got to chatting. She stated this:
Thirty percent.
Thirty percent of people incarnate right now have NO conscience. None. Thirty damned percent.
Of that thirty percent, I jokingly observe that 98% of those get into music or some fringe subculture branch of the "arts" because you are encouraged to be f%%%ing insane. GG

 
At 7:39 AM, Anonymous Liz123 said...

Re the colors. It is a much more beautiful and vivid world when we learn to feel again and not avoid.

 
At 4:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's more fun, perhaps something for Kathy to sink HER teeth into (when you read what I have noted about the Ns I've known, perhaps you will appreciate the pun...if you're a narcissist you WILL appreciate the pun because you don't GET other types of jokes):
I am obsessed (not really) with the fact that virtually all the Ns I have known have deplorable dental hygiene. Kathy do you suppose this is a by-product of a.) dissociation or b.) that they are such grandiose monsters, that their denial is SO DEEP they BELIEVE God almighty doesn't NEED to brush his teeth or c.) that WITHOUT AN AUDIENCE IN THE BATHROOM to watch them DO it, there's no point? Perhaps I have repeated myself here, but I am completely disgusted by this across the board phenomenon I noted in my abusers. Could it have been the sexual abuse in their childhood which makes them THAT unconcerned with what perhaps is their self-concept of their mouths being "dirty"? Any thoughts and insights from others on this would be most appreciated. When I think back to the freaks I knew, it is stunning to me how people just overlook this stuff. My at the TOP of the list of those who were hornswoggled.

 
At 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the teeth thing:

Interesting post. I doubt they are all like that, being so concerned with appearances, but the one in my family is like that. Eats, smokes, goes straight to bed. Disgusting brown teeth. Years ago, I assumed it to be an unaviodable, health-related problem. Then one day he got them cleaned. I was shocked at how white they were! That didn't last for long, though.

That's the part that always confused me - he goes to great lengths, especially when pursuing a new victim, to look his best. Vainly dyes his hair and mustache, clothes just perfect, yet his teeth, which could look nice, are revolting. I never understood that part. It doesn't fit with the rest of his phony image fixation.

 
At 6:58 AM, Anonymous Liz123 said...

Well, mine had excellent dental hygiene; so there goes that theory.

I think he did have an attitude about health in general, that he was somehow the golden boy that would never get a disease.

Well, he was thoroughly shocked and actually never quite mentally recovered from skin cancer. I am sure on some level he felt it was a personal attack.

He cared little for his clothing or how his hair looked though. On the other hand he had gambled all his money away and really felt he had none for decent clothes. Of course he wore his threadvare clothes like some kind of medal that made him different and special. "The non-material guy".

 
At 9:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathy, I've studied the Bible for a long time and you are absolutely correct, as far as I know. God never tells us not to feel fear, or not to feel anything else. He says not to ACT in fear, or anger, etc. He made us, so He knows we have feelings. (I'm now praying I don't ever get involved with any more Ns!)
Next point: The last two previous posts regarding the N's teeth made me laugh. Both of my Ns were in different phases of tooth care. The first had not been to a dentist in 7 years, but he was so young and did not smoke, so it still had not affected him much (yet). The second had gone for a long, long time without going to a dentist and at some point had repented, gotten them cleaned (took him two visits), and had since learned his lesson. We brushed together, of course, before bed.
One more thing, because the topic of the N's looks came up and I can't resist. The latter guy was so into his appearance. Absolutely anal about wearing black. He stressed over ordering the perfect black leather jacket online; when a button fell off it only a week after he got it, he went into panic mode.

 
At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am just taken aback others had also noticed this dental thing. Mine who was so obsessed about his look, his tan, his weight, his health... had really bad and yellow teeths like eaten into by acid. He did not fit with the investment banker dressed in his Kenzo suit. Weird ?

 

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