“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”
- Pearl Strachan Hurd
Empath, discard and self-love deficient disorder are just a few descriptive terms used in psychology when addressing Narcissism. For the partner of a narcissist, these terms can invoke ideas and feelings beyond their literal or intended meanings. The negative connotations derived from these terms can act to reinforce self-limiting beliefs and behaviors for those under narcissistic siege. We often forget the power words can have over our wellbeing. The quality of our lives is directly related to, and affected by how we communicate our words and how we interpret the words that are communicated to us. Psychologists look closely at behavior and communication in an effort to improve the quality of our emotional lives, but while many are helped, many others spend years dredging through their emotional pasts. Is this really a healthy way to live? I would argue that for most of us, it is not. Although the field of Psychology aims to heal, self limiting terminology could be said to play a part in why some people stay stuck in self limiting patterns for so long.
"Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else." - Margaret Mead
As unique individuals, we perceive and experience life based on our personal interpretation of what we see, hear and feel. Our decisions are based on what we think is possible and what we think is not. The meaning we assign to words, labels and concepts affects our thought processes on both a conscious and subconscious level. It would certainly follow then that the use of descriptive words with negative connotations has the ability to keep people believing and seeing themselves as incapable and defeated. The following paragraphs explore a few of these psychological terms.
"Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck." - Dalai Lama
“Break up” is a term used throughout Western society to describe the ending of an intimate relationship. The terminology alone doesn’t place blame or shame on either party in the relationship. The context stays neutral. Even if the word "bad" is added to describe the break up, it still doesn't single out a particular individual. However, when a narcissist breaks up with their partner, the scientific community wants to call the act a “discard.” In this context, discard becomes a shame-based word that targets the individual. We discard trash and throw away things we have no use for, but never people. Shame is a painful emotion of failing to attain some ideal state, in this case it is the relationship. Shame goes straight to the heart and is highly destructive to ones’ self-esteem. The term discard should never be used to describe the ending of a narcissistic relationship. The truth of the matter is this, the narcissist doesn’t discard; he sets his partner free. Yes, he may not see it in those terms, but that is what he is doing, and every partner of the narcissist should also see it that way. They have been given their life back! They are now free to rebuild their self-esteem, to explore who they are, what they love, and ultimately, find a loving relationship and new life. That is a gift and every narcissist should be thanked when they have given someone their life back! In this context, there is no shame for the partner to bare, only hope for the future. Ending the relationship is not a shame-based experience any longer.
"The only limits you have are the limits you believe." - Wayne Dyer
An “Empath” can be described as a person who takes on the feelings of another person to the extent that they experience the feelings as their own. Empath doesn't have a nice sound to it which doesn't help with the connotations left when applied. The term empath is used to label people whose experience of empathy can be overwhelming or physically exhausting. In some cases, the emotional intensity can be debilitating. Psychologists commonly use this term when referring to the partners of those with personality disorders such as Narcissism. I consider this to be a grand presumption. The first time I was referred to as an Empath, it left me confused. I felt disempowered by the term. I am an empathetic person, most human beings are, but I am not an Empath. The act of being in a relationship with a narcissist does not qualify a person. Recently, I heard a well-meaning psychologist refer to the narcissist's partner as "self-love deficient prey." This assumption was based solely on their connection to the narcissist, and again does not qualify a person. He went on to say that these people have a self-love deficient disorder. Excuse me? This did not motivate me to brush myself off and go conquer the world! These self-limiting labels lead to self-limiting beliefs and those beliefs are what make it so incredibly hard to get out of destructive mindsets and relationship patterns.
"If you lose someone, but find yourself, you've won." - Unknown
Here is my truth, I am a woman living the human experience, and I will overcome the narcissistic relationship and terminology despite those who would otherwise, put me in a box and stick a label on my forehead. And you, should consider the same. Pay attention to what others are saying about you and to you. Are their words inspiring or are they discouraging? Do their terms empower you or disarm you? Do their labels encourage all the wonderful possibilities or the array of limitations? Begin to acknowledge the power of suggestion and challenge limiting terminology. You’ll be glad you did!
"Challenge your assumptions and identify your limiting beliefs. Every time you find yourself thinking that you can't do something, ask yourself, "Why not?" ~ Domonique Bertolucci