errors in thinking

8 Ways Narcissists Can Alter Your Perception of Reality

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Being in a close relationship with a narcissist can be more than just hurtful – it can be dangerous.

If you find yourself in constant doubt, self-blame, and confusion, you may just be the victim of errors in thinking – fueled by a malignant narcissist in your life.

Are You in an Abusive Relationship with a Narcissist?

If you think you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, watch to see if this individual exhibits certain traits. A  narcissist is someone who has an inflated sense of self, a deep desire for admiration, and a total lack of empathy for other people.

Narcissists have a strong desire to impress other people by making themselves look good on the outside, from the way they look, the kind of car they drive, and everything in between. Although they can be very charming, they expect preferential treatment and will often lose interest in people who don’t treat them with the reverence they feel they deserve. At worst, they’ll punish people for it.

These traits are more than just an annoyance or something to be dealt with. If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, the narcissist’s need for adulation can corrode the relationship. An abusive narcissist can turn on you and use blame, insults, and gaslighting to destroy your self-esteem.

Constant Criticism Can Cause Errors in Thinking

When a narcissist becomes abusive, it’s likely you will start having errors in thinking because of the way you’re being treated.

You might never feel like you can get a word in and that you’re never really heard. Your comments are likely to be ignored or invalidated.

Narcissists truly believe that the rules don’t apply to them, including respecting your boundaries. They believe they are not at fault for anything and will often blame you, even if you’ve done nothing wrong.

You have likely been ridiculed, judged, and criticized by the narcissist. It’s also likely you’ve been used and manipulated in various ways so they can get what he or she wants. It’s difficult to be in a relationship with someone like this without suffering from cognitive distortions.

What Are Cognitive Distortions?

Cognitive distortions are distorted ways of seeing and thinking about reality. They’re always negative and happen automatically. Real life situations will be exaggerated and distorted as you create support for your negative outlook.

It’s not surprising that people involved with a narcissist would be dealing with these kinds of issues. If you’re dealing with a narcissist, your needs are likely being ignored, you’re being criticized and invalidated, and your boundaries are constantly being pushed. You may have a hard time seeing the world as it is because you are constantly being told that you’re not important.

8 Common Examples of Cognitive Distortions 

Psychologists have identified as many as 50 types of common cognitive distortions. Some specific examples you might be coping with if you’re dealing with a narcissist are:

1 – Overgeneralizing.

You apply the outcome of one isolated event to all areas of your life. For example, if you burn dinner, and the narcissist tells you that you’re a horrible cook, you believe it is true: You must be a horrible cook because you burned dinner.

2 – Seeing things as “all or nothing.”

You see everything in black and white without any grey. For example, you might call and leave a friend a message. If she doesn’t get back to you right away, you’ll start to believe that she’s never there for you. Or maybe you’ve broken up with your narcissistic partner once or twice in the past, but rekindled the relationship. You might start to believe there’s no point in ending it because you always take your partner back.

3 – Having a negativity bias.

You always notice the negative things around you but are unable to appreciate any of the positives. While you’re always hard on yourself for your negatives, you never feel good about yourself for all the good things in your life. This is made worse by the fact that the narcissist is likely pointing out all the bad things.

4 – Catastrophizing.

You always anticipate the worst in every scenario and create consequences that are completely unreasonable. For example, if you get a phone call from a number you don’t recognize, you might assume it’s someone calling to tell you that there’s been a horrible accident, or that you’re losing your job.

5 – Having double standards for yourself.

Everything that you do has to be perfect, or it’s not good enough – but you would never judge other people so harshly for their imperfections. This is likely fueled by the criticism of the narcissist in your life.

6 – Jumping to conclusions.

Notice if you are assuming you know what other people are going to say, do, or think and that it will always be negative. This can be a very dangerous way of thinking because it can prevent you from doing the things you know are necessary to improve your situation.

For example, if you’re in an abusive relationship with a narcissist and need help, you might be afraid to ask for it, because you’ll assume no one will believe you and no one will be willing to help.

7 – Focusing on “should.”

You believe things should be a certain way and that people should behave as expected. You might keep trying to get through to the narcissist in the hope that he or she should change. The problem is when you go into denial and cannot accept that it is unlikely that the narcissist will ever change.

Notions that people “should” or “ought” to behave a certain way are almost always due to a cognitive distortion. For example: “I should have given them another chance,” or, “I must figure out why they’re acting this way so I can change my behaviors.” These thoughts may provoke feelings of guilt or shame. “Should” statements are typically used in reference to how other people should act. These thoughts may go something like, “He should respond to me sooner when I text him,” or, “She ought to thank me for all the times I helped her out.”

Such errors in thinking can lead a person to feel disappointment and indignation when others fail to meet their specific expectations. No matter how much we’d like for it to be true, we cannot control the behavior of others, so thinking about what others should do serves no beneficial purpose.  We can only accept people the way they are and decide whether to keep them in our lives.

8. Taking everything personally.

When a narcissist is constantly critical, you might find it difficult to not take things personally. It is especially destructive when it comes to being in a relationship with a narcissist because you might start to believe all of the negative, hurtful things they are saying to you. You might even believe that you are somehow causing the narcissist to behave poorly towards you.

Self-Awareness Is Key

Not everyone who experiences cognitive distortions will exhibit the same signs. Some of the examples on this list might apply to you, some might not.

In order to start assessing the damage that a narcissist has done to you, you must first be able to recognize these errors in thinking. Then, you can take the necessary steps to see things as they really are. I’d love to help you eliminate your errors in thinking that have developed due to narcissistic abuse.  Download your free questionnaire below.  Your questionnaire comes with everything you need to get started:

1. The Better Life Questionnaire

2. 30-Day New Life Calendar

3. Beginner’s Healing Toolkit

4. 16 Empowering Beliefs to Live By

5. Exclusive seating in my life-changing workshop, 7 Proven Strategies to Defeat Narcissistic Abuse

Kim Saeed – Copyright 2018

Find out how your life could be different by going No Contact. Download your free questionnaire below!

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Kristen Robbins says June 3, 2019

This article helped a lot!!

Catherine Wilson says May 31, 2019

I agree with everything you say I have always been judged and ridiculed I have been called and airhead,a faggot,she need too have sex that will soften on old bitch I am finally taking steps to get of the treadmill it’s I say it’s more about him than me I am now under a physiologist and am trying to not engage it’s been very difficult to adjust to a new pattern off behaviour regards Cath.

Maciej says May 30, 2019

I have been in relationship with narcissist for only 8 months, and judging by stories of other I have realised pretty quickly that something was wrong, and with the help of one person who have been through the same situation, the love bombing, the silent treatments, the criticism, constant lies and abuse i was able to finally name the person I though was my soulmates- the narcissist.
Everything made sense, in seconds, minutes to be honest! I joined the quora website and started reading everything I could on the subject. That’s how I found Kim and her blog.
My relationship lasted only 8 months, and for the last 4 months I was trying to help him, I try to reason with him and talk to him about the way he behaved and how bad effect his actions had on me. I supported every conversation with lots of evidence to make sure he gets the message, which he never did, or never cared about.
After the first 3 intense months of love bombing, after the unimaginable happiness I experienced, I belong to him, I couldn’t see the world beyond him, I was so quickly dragged into his trap, that every time I knew he was lying to me, or just telling me stories which never adapted I will excuse him for one reason or the other. I would say to myself “no he wouldn’t do that, no he would never say that” no not him, not the men I lived thought I loved.
I fall so deep into this never ending hole that after only 4 months I paid the highest price for it. He used me in every imaginable way, I was at my worst Mentally when I met him, I open up to him and shared my deepest secrets, thinking that he may help me, because he promised he would. All he did what to use all my secrets, insecurities, my kindness and devotion against me.
I was so lost and confused at some point that I almost killed myself. He finally told me that he loves me, I have heard the words about which I was dreaming all my life, I was told that I am so special and amazing, and he is so grateful for having me in his life, 3 days later for no reasons, he abandoned me and left alone while he was getting another shag.
My messages, calls and baggings meant nothing to him, I was worth less than the next shag. My world came crashing, my depression came back in seconds and I literally lost the will to live.
The men who I trusted, who I loved, who had such a high moral standard, the charming and kind person I thought I knew all my life vanished, and didn’t help when I asked him for help for the very first time.
Of course he came back, and 2 months later after I took him back, or more like I begged him to take me back I confronted him and told him about all his lies and wrong doings, he didn’t like that, he punished me for it and discarded me just like that.
I was able to tell him in the eyes who he was and after another 2 months of silent treatment and his plan to destroy me I went No Contact. The knowledge I got, the stories and all the support which I found online help me to stay “no contact” 3 months and counting :))
So thank you Kim and all others for your wisdom and support, life can get only better, it already did, but remember, it’s not an easy ride.
I still think about him, finding myself rethinking every second of our relationship and figuring out how to maybe help him, because I always thought that we should try to help others no matter what, that we shouldn’t be leaving other behinds just because they ate ill, that maybe there is treatment for them, cure, hope
But sadly there is none and“no contact” is the only solution.
I’m not 100% convinced because I am thing about his future targets, I am thinking about some other people who may not be as strong as I am, and at some point succeeding in ending there lives because of people like the narcissist.
But then I’m thinking that I need to help myself first in order to help others in the future, so for now, until I get well “no contact” is the only way!

Beverley says May 30, 2019

38 years 2 suicide attempts then 2017 my 32 year old daughter committed suicide leaving 2 small children. Finally divorced March 2019 and yet still can’t get away. I have no self confidence no self esteem no self worth doubt myself all the time. I’m desperate in more ways than I can imagine. I need help.

Maciej says May 30, 2019

You are so right Kim, all o

Hamsa says January 21, 2019

Thanks Kim. You are my saviour.recently I got to know that I’m in a abusive narcissist relationship. actually by watching your you tubes and blogs. You are God sent angle to me. No words to thank you. Nothing can compensate your help. Am blessed..

    Kim Saeed says January 21, 2019

    Hamsa, please know that knowing I’ve helped you in some way is the best compensation for me 🙂

    Thank you for following me…I wish you continued healing and a wonderful future.

    Kim XoXo

Jerry H. says January 20, 2019

I was married to a Narc for 14 yrs. and I have not seen or talked to her for 5 yrs., she has done so much damage to me, I still do not trust women. Some times I think I will never trust another woman. I am 64 yrs. old and at this time in my life I just do not care anymore, and have not dated for 5 yrs, now. Strange thing is, I always thought I could not live alone, and when I did I was scared to death, but now I just do not care and I am happy being alone for the first time in my life in 40 yrs. Thanks for your blogs Kim!

    Kim Saeed says January 21, 2019

    Hi Jerry. Thank you so much for sharing. I used to feel that way, too…that I couldn’t be alone, but now that I am, I absolutely love it! Not sure if this will always be the case, but I’m certainly not seeking out a relationship right now because I’m enjoying my time alone.

    Maybe the relationship you have with yourself is what you’ve always needed. If it’s meant for you to find another partner, it will happen. Please know there are good women out there. You would just need to make sure you have good boundaries in place and be willing to walk away if someone starts making you uncomfortable.



nelia says January 19, 2019

sociopaths …..not so easy to recognice what is going on ….they work suttle en very cruel ….they are second grade murderes …

Stacy says January 19, 2019

What if kids are in the relationship…. its been 24 years of marriage…. and I started to understand him now…. I really wondered all through my married life, where things are going wrong… because each and everything that i do is projected wrong… now I have recognised the problem…. hope I get onto the healing path…. my only concern is about my kids…. poor thing they dont understand the dynamics going in their own home…

smitha day says January 18, 2019

thank you for sending me personal notes…and coaching me along this very difficult topicc

    Kim Saeed says January 26, 2019

    It’s my pleasure and honor, Smitha!

    Kim XoXo

josie marbet says January 17, 2019

Hi Kim wanted to let you know I share you all the time on my Facebook page How to Heal a Child’s Spirit. As the daughter of a Narcissist i can tell you im Still Recovering from it,so thank you for your Work💜

    Kim Saeed says January 26, 2019

    Awww, thank you so much, Josie! That truly means a lot! I wish you all of life’s blessings as you continue to heal 🙂

    Big hugs,

    Kim XoXo

Pamela says January 17, 2019

Since I stumbled onto your page and began learning much about narcissism, I no longer prayer to God asking what’s wrong with me. I do believe also, that narcissistic people can be bullies and demonstrate a gang like mentality. When one person sees another “getting away with it, the destruction of another via narcissistic abuse, it’s realistically possible that they too shall join in. Just my thoughts! And I thank you Kim for redirecting me towards freedom.

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Tania Gammage says October 12, 2018

Some of this makes sense. My x partner is Narcissistic, also highly functioning autism. My psycholog iust says Narcissistic my doctor schitzo affective Bipolar. He never uses the silent treatment he uses excess verbosity!!! He is a Botanist Ecologist but very knowledgeable about Theatre, Literature, Music, History, Historical Geogr asphy, Philosophy, Physics, Latin, Speaks fluent German and can get by in French, Italian and even Rissian. I get probaly 50 abusive messages a day. I try and go no contact and block him on my phone but he manages to get past by google calling. My school Principal has called the police on him. He attacks anyone i speak to, and does it online quoting Voltaire about reason and logic. I knew he was brilliant and spent 20 years “managing” his behaviours especially his OCDs. But the past to see 5 years have been tortuous. We have two children who are used to me being the punching bag. They are both at University and I am supporting them. He has cut off money and bullies me finacially stating he is the best Ecologist in Australia, working mostly for the government and private contracts. Ofcourse he got there as I mnanaged the family and everything else. I taught him to drive but he did not get his license for over 10 years. And convienienty because I do everything if something is wrong it is conveniently MY FAULT.
The eloquent abuse also becomes violent. I have lost my home. I am living in a small room above a horse stable with n ok kitchen or connected water.
I have spoken with h ijs mum wh o se husband went the same, exacerbated when smoming gokd weed. She is head of Women and Gwnder studies at University and a highly publushed Feminist Author. I thought she would understand and care about her gr asndchildren. She said that Michae l was highly lucid and it was all my fault?
The effect of never being heard has flowed int ok my work at school and throughout my life.
The Empath and the Narcissist.
Sorry about the Excess Verbisity!

    Stephanie Marqui says January 19, 2019

    Dear Tania.
    My brother has been diagnosed Asperger. He spends his days proving me, by speaking more and speaking louder, that my thoughts are worthless, I am ignorant and useless. My mother, like your ex’s worships ever word that comes out of his mouth. But, the fact is, they are incapable of survival the way you are doing, incapable of living among normal humans who treat them as equals and not as superiors. So please, give yourself a very very warm and tight hug each time you think of the horrendous way he has tortured you, be proud of being human, respectful and respected, kind and honest and ready to through hardship because that is the way to your freedom. Be proud of your humanity. Intelligent people raise and honor other people. Kim’s article is straight to the point, only narcissists make people feel bad on purpose. Let go of him and his accomplice mother, surround yourself with honest people who know they are no worse bit also no better than anyone else.
    Receive my warmest regards.
    Take care. You are precious ❤️

Leslie Lazar says October 12, 2018

Another awesome article Kim! Again, thank u. U were the first person I found when I started my journey of healing. ❤️

    Kim Saeed says October 12, 2018

    So glad to know I helped in some small way, Leslie! XoXo

Shirley Akpelu says October 11, 2018

Yep, some of the above scenarios happened to me. I was guilty of believing his lies, criticism and negativity and these traits transferred to me a usually positive, loving person. I will survive and use this bad thing as an opportunity to grow and change for the better. Thank you Kim for all your timely help and support mechanisms in your curriculum. It has helped me tremendously. May all your plans succeed.

Anonymous says October 11, 2018

Hello Kim, you made me realize some of the cognitive distorted that I was doing when I was in a relationship with my ex narc and other relationship that I had with others. It just amazed me to read on some of the ways that I use to think, being in the present of these monsters. Narcissistic people are very dangerous and those that are in any type of relationship with these people (ex boyfriend especially) going no contact is the only way. There is no talking to them, reasoning with them or anything else with them. You will get over the hurt once you start working on yourself. Kim has opened my eyes and change my life for the better especially at one point in my life where I didn’t think I was going to make it but I did. 🙌 No contact is the only way.

    Kim Saeed says October 14, 2018

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Anon. I am happy to know you are on the path to healing. Wishing you all the very best. XoXo

An says October 11, 2018

Hello Kim, thank you this helps again. So often that i think why does he do that, i don’t understand. He was my best friend and we went often for a walk or lunch. We had a close band. But since 5 months he says he can’t see me anymore, only text or videocall. He says he feels the same about me but he has a girlfriend since a year and he does not want that she sees male friends. he did not tell me from the beginning that he had a girlfriend. I felt something changed then and i asked him a year ago and he said no nothing changed. And 3 months later he came to me, sit down i have to tell you something. I met someone and she is pregnant. He told me because he was in trouble. Otherwise maybe he had not told me. he calls now almost everyday and talks with me about all his big problems, addiction, large depts and even criminal acticvities. And she knows nothing about these things. I understand that things change because he has a girlfriend but it feels that the whole friendship was under his conditions. He came at my house sometimes 3 times a week and we saw each other later once in 3 weeks and now not anymore. I tried to talk with him and was emtional because i missed him. And it was like he did not understand it. And he said things like i know you can not without me. And you have to respect me. Nothing changes in the friendship i ll be there when you need me just ask. i said but i need to see my friends sometimes. And he says no good friends don’t need that. Than i don’t thrust my own opinion anymore. i feel, how Can I thrust you, do you decide when i need you? Will you come when i ask? So i don’t ask. Last week he sent a message, im in your town thursday. Nothing more. I did not ask can we meet. I only asked him can you bring back my cleaner and put it in front of the door because i have to work. He said then, i will when its possible i wanted to visit you. I thought , now you know i have to work you say that. It hurts. In the beginning he asked always if we can meet and sent me Messages the whole day and when i did not react fast he did not like it. I have a husband and kids and made time for him. And it feels like he let me down and he knows that my biggest fear from the beginning is loosing people. know i he used me.😔

    An says October 11, 2018

    Dear Kim, please advice, does it help for me to try to talk with him or does he not understand it? How Can I best deal with the situation?
    Thanks a lot for helping me, feeling so depressed and empty. It is everyday a struggle not to call him. I told him always everything but he lied often to me.

      Belinda says November 26, 2018

      No sweetheart. It doesn’t help. Read more on Kim’s site and you will see why. Put him behind you, you deserve someone who loves you back. The feelings you have for him is not love, it is addiction to him that HE intentionally created in you. You can get through it and feel whole inside again.. and you are NOT alone. Please be strong.

        Stephanie Marqui says January 19, 2019

        Thank you for this answer Belinda.

James E Harris says June 11, 2018

Kim, I’m into month #4, things are not going well, although there has been no contact with my ex I still find myself constantly thinking about her on a daily basis.I can’t sleep more than 1 or 2 hrs., I have little or no appetite, I’ve lost over 20 lb and I am seeing a psychiatrist. We were together for almost 20 years, I am now 72 and she is just a mere 60. I am at the point way I feel that life is just about over. I can handle getting older, I just don’t look forward to doing it all by myself. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think something like this could occur. I’ve lost interest in just about everything accept my God. Thanks for listening Kim and educating me on the narcissist.

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