Have you ever heard of Cotard’s Syndrome? Those that have it believe parts of their body are missing, that they are dead, dying or don’t even exist. They truly believe this and will sometimes hurt themselves thinking they won’t feel it since they’re dead. Some will refuse to eat for the same reasons. Even when patients are shown they are in fact fully alive and physically fine, they don’t believe them. It is a delusion that comes from a deeper medical problem, but one they are fiercely holding onto. Another bizarre disorder is called Capgras syndrome, when a person believes a friend or family member has been replaced by an identical fake. In both accounts, severe depression, alcoholism, and anxiety can cause them. It’s amazing how the brain can play tricks on us and takes over our entire reality and how loyal we can be to those poisoned perceptions.

When we are bullied as children, we don’t consider the life of the bully or the type of atmosphere, rather, we internalize and hold onto their claims of our inadequacies. We fully believe them. After all, why would they take so much time hating us or shaming us? It couldn’t possibly be because they don’t know how to regulate their expectations or deal with jealousy, right? None the less, we don’t question or challenge their thinking, yet we constantly do our own. We get stuck in our value to people, not really understanding or evaluating our worth. We do the same thing if we are neglected as children, or suffer other forms of abuse at different stages in our lives. I think that’s because the longer we’re around a certain group, such as: family, a spouse, or a clique of friends, we find ourselves trying to morph into pleasing them. Instead of working from the inside out, we try to work from the outside in.

It’s so much easier to shape the physical perception and bury the burden than air out dirty laundry, yet, that’s how Imposter Syndrome is created. Imposter syndrome, involves feelings of self-doubt and personal incompetence that persist despite your education, experience, and accomplishments. Those that pressure us, compare us to others, or sharply criticized us, cause Imposture Syndrome and can make it very hard to shake.So you replace conscientiousness with narcissism and self-centeredness. What a trade off, right? What kind of company are we keeping in our lives?

In fact, if you have been a product of neglect or a narcissistic parent, you’d likely experience the following: “Numbing out” or being cut off from one’s feelings, feeling like there’s something missing, but not being sure what it is, feeling hollow inside, being easily overwhelmed or discouraged, low self-esteem, perfectionism, extremely sensitive to rejection, lack of clarity of others’ expectations and also your own expectations of ourself, and boundaries. You learn to gauge your perception far better than you do your reality, and you learn how to hate yourself. The intense, long-lasting damage from those we surround ourselves with is the real disease.

It’s also hard to recognize that it’s even happening. These are people who are supposed to love us and care for us, and we are to grow and love and care for ourselves. The longer we put that off, don’t set boundaries, don’t speak up for ourselves, refused to be open and honest during therapy sessions, and refuse to set healthy expectations for ourselves and those around us, the unhealthier we’ll be. The subtle cues of disorders can take us by surprise, but the sooner we look into them and treat them, the sooner we can become a better example in our own lives to ourselves and others, of course.

For me, a big part of that transition in serving my needs and those around me, was really accepting my problems. I had been raised with unrealistic expectations so I kept forcing myself to try to meet them, but in reality, I wasn’t bad or broken or a loser because I didn’t meet them. All I had been striving for was to meet the insecurities of others and compensate for them. It’s interesting that when you exceed exceptions with narcissists, you don’t ever win, because then they hate you for superseding them and then they hyper-focus on the next flaw and so you hyper-focus on the next flaw and this goes on forever never truly getting anywhere.

As a result of the pressure or pain or both, we dissociate and our lives become centered around inadequacies; ours and theirs. In that cycle, what did we win? Well, we won: selfishness, isolation, disorders, addictions, compulsions, and numbness when we should have won: coping skills, self-acceptance, openness, confidence. I think it’s important to evaluate the people in our lives routinely. You have to examine if they are a blessing or poison, even if they’re family. Additionally, we also have to see our own toxicity and make the effort to change that. It’s easy to criticize others but it’s impressive when you see it in yourself and make active strides to improve.

Sometimes people can’t afford to leave a place physically, so my suggestion is to start learning about toxic traits and creating a game plan. When I couldn’t afford therapy I starting using workbooks for Cogntive Behavioral Therapy, Complex PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, etc. and just started to get better control of my emotions and build up my own coping skills while I tried to find work and get out. See the resources in ‘Building From the Ground Up,’ tab to find help with bills, work, getting a computer, etc. so you can get on your feet. If you are a victim of domestic violence, there are also resources on that page that will help you get out of your situation. The inner critic in us is normally wrong so learning to balance that voice should be vital to your plan.

Healing is hard. It’s much harder than dealing with the burden of pain. Maybe that’s why so many people stay stuck in bad relationships, because it’s harder to heal and grow than it is to stick it out? Regardless, you are always left with the aftermath of your relationships. That aftermath could be improved self-esteem, better self-worth, feeling loved, feeling supported and needed. Or, you could feel like a burden, ugly, empty, insignificant, or alone. Bare in mind, that relationship isn’t just you with other people, it’s also you with yourself. If you’re the type of person who experiences these symptoms or symptoms from another disorder, abuse or neglect, then you have to face facts that you are poisoning yourself. The question is, where does your loyalty lie? Is it within your toxic relationships you aren’t branching out from whose expectations you’d likely never reach? This way you get to keep the burden of overcompensation and the burden of disillusioned thinking, or are you brave enough to break away from the people in your life as well as your clouded perceptions and work to become indomitable? What is worth more?

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