121 Things Narcissists Say When They Are Gaslighting You

-Awan

**TRIGGER WARNING: These are statements made by actual narcissists that were shared by actual survivors of narcissistic abuse.

If you’ve ever been involved in a toxic relationship with a narcissist, the following statements may sound pretty familiar to you. I polled the members of my online support group (SPAN) and asked them to share things they heard their narcissists say again and again as they were being relentlessly manipulated and gaslighted during their relationships.

If you’re not sure you’re dealing with a narcissist, it might help you to take a look at this list and see whether anything sounds familiar.

  1. You’re being irrational.
  2. You should get tested for schizophrenia.
  3. You’re always making shit up in your head.
  4. You need help.
  5. I don’t do things I think are wrong.
  6. Why are you being so defensive?
  7. You are so childish/immature.
  8. You need to learn to communicate better.
  9. I’m not arguing; I’m just discussing.
  10. Hey, I’m not saying you need to be any different!! I’m not trying to change anybody!
  11. It’s always something with you.
  12. You’re crazy, you weirdo, freak.
  13. Whatever.
  14. If you wouldn’t piss me off I wouldn’t  have to say mean things to you.
  15.  No wonder so and so has a problem with you.
  16. If you tell them about me I will ( blah blah ) and hurt you. (Either blackmail, or made-up exaggerated lies to get back at you for exposing them.)
  17.  I used to think you were a good person. (Because you tell them off and get on their level.)
  18. Why are you being a bitch, get over it, I’m late, I was suppose to be here at noon but it’s 2:40 pm. Do you want to go eat or not?
  19. ]I don’t have time for your games.
  20. Go ahead, tell them about me. I will make your life a living hell, bitch.
  21. I’m much smarter than your dumb ass.
  22. Just try, you will lose.
  23. I’m going to kiss their butt; we will see who they want more to do with.
  24. You would think you would have figured out by now –  you can’t beat me. But hey – knock yourself out, and make a fool of yourself.
  25. If you’re on the phone with them, in front of an audience, you get: “Listen, you need to get help, I can’t play your games anymore. I really feel sorry for you, I’ve got to go. I’m not being pulled into another fight,”. (You’re on the other end saying “what are you talking about?”) About that time he clicks phone off. Then, he later calls you, ” Try me bitch – have you figured out you won’t win?”
  26.  What do you mean I have no real friends? I have an attorney friend, one who owns (blah blah), I have tons of friends! You’re the depressed loser who stays home all the time with no friends! Ohhhh sorry, you have a volunteer pet rescue friend! Wowww, I’m impressed.
  27. Ohhh, I forgot you’re holier than thou!
  28. Poor you!
  29. You like being  a victim.
  30. You wonder why I stay away from you.
  31. Others think I’m a pretty nice guy. Too bad you don’t.
  32.  I’m going to stay away from you as long as you put me down.
  33. No wonder I do drugs!
  34. If I want to feel like shit I will come around you.
  35. How’s it working for you?
  36. Listen to yourself! You are losing it.
  37. If they leave you and you say, “Good riddance! Now she can put up with you. He says, “Oh, she doesn’t mind breakfast in bed! We are going to Hawaii. You could have had the finer things, but you wanted to fight me all the time. When I’m a millionaire, we will see who is doing better then.
  38. My ‘friends’ (on Facebook that I never met in person) tell me all the time how smart I am all the time.
  39. I am not trying to control you.  You are thinking about your ex husband, and taking it out on me.
  40. You’ve always “got a problem.”
  41. I’m the best thing that ever happened to you.
  42. No one can ever love you like I do.
  43. It’s always your fault.
  44. Why do you have to get all pissy and hurt over stuff?”
  45. “You just look for something to gripe about all the time.”
  46. “What do you get out of being all moody all the time? I hope that’s fun for you.”.
  47. I’m the only one that really loves you.
  48. “YOU ARE NOT GOING TO CONTROL ME, YOU F…ING B****!”
  49. I don’t give a crap about your kids.
  50. “Everyone” agrees with me – you’re bad!
  51. I  never said that!
  52. You’re crazy!
  53. You’re lazy.
  54. You’re too sensitive!
  55. I know what you’re thinking.
  56. You never listen.
  57. I’ll pay you back. (Never does!)
  58. You better wipe that look off your face or I’ll do it for ya!
  59. You’re a piece of shit.
  60. You try to make them aware about something, like that they are going to get in trouble with either legally or personally. They say, “Don’t worry about it. Shut up, You’re such a goody goody weirdo; you worry about everything. I’ve done this before.”
  61. Stop telling people stuff about me.
  62. After cheating on me repeatedly he wants to know why I said “some not nice things to him.”
  63.  Also tells me “You will never find another man as good as me.”
  64.   When he goes out someone “told me they had the best time ever because I was there.”
  65. I’m from Acadian blood line, so naturally I’m smarter than average people like you.
  66. My job is more important! You just have projects, it’s just busy work
  67. I don’t answer your texts because you’re bothering me with your foolishness.
  68. It’s my way or the highway!
  69. Women are here to serve men!
  70. If you’re so great at budgeting, why are we past due on everything and broke? (After he blows entire paycheck at casino)
  71. “I know how _______.”
  72. “I know why ________ .”
  73. “I have the answer, you just have to listen to me.” (You can fill in the blank with ANY subject. He always knows the answer to everything…. Peoples’ motives, parenting, why your cake just exploded. Any subject at all… he has ALL the answers. You just have to listen.)
  74. “Back when I lived in Florida and I was rich beyond belief and knew all the movie stars (because I grew up with them), I never had to worry about being broke all the time.”
  75. Watch what I do next, bitch!
  76. I used to race Porsches for Indy 500 and owned two Burger Kings and a Pizarro’s.
  77. No wonder your daughter can’t keep a boyfriend! She’s so needy and trailer park trash.”
  78. After one of his (often veiled) put downs: “and that’s the truth!”
  79. “I know at least 3 people in this town who think you are bi-polar”
  80. He is incredibly grandiose and exaggerates his achievements, talks constantly to anyone about the people of high standing that he “knows,” needs to be seen as a genius, is challenged by other people’s achievements – behind their backs will call them “third rate.”
  81. When I was manager of over 50 people at a restaurant…” ( …Taco Bell – but you couldn’t say that – heaven forbid he was associated with fast food)!!!
  82. “You just want to rehash the past.”
  83. “You should have known that this was not a good time to (talk to me….call me on the phone….etc.).” (Followed by a “justifiable” narcissistic rage).
  84. “YOU  treat me like shit and you’re NOT on drugs.”
  85. “Nobody likes you, they all laugh behind your back.”
  86. After he breaks up with you over the phone: “You made me! You asked if you were all right.”
  87.  “It’s always something with you.”
  88. You leave me and you will be blued, screwed and tattooed!
  89. You will NEVER have the confidence to leave me!
  90. “You are delusional.”
  91. You have no friends.
  92. Nobody likes you.
  93. You’re too old; no one will ever want you.
  94. You’re too fat.
  95. No one will ever love you like I do.
  96. You’ll never find anyone as good as me.
  97. You’ll never find anyone else to put up with you like I do.
  98. You’ll never have a house as nice as this one.  You’ll end up living in a broken down car on the North side. \
  99. What are you going to do without me?  How will you ever feed yourself?
  100. I never said that…you’re crazy.
  101. You need a shrink.
  102. I never did that…you’re crazy.
  103. I can say or do anything I want to to you because I own you.
  104. “I was busy!”
  105. Somebody has to earn a living!
  106. “I work my ASS OFF, but nobody around here seems to care!”
  107. No one is able to love someone like you, except me.
  108. Why do you always have to criticize me?
  109. Don’t nag me.
  110. Why are you upset? I was ONLY kidding.
  111. I want …   I need….
  112. I … me me me.
  113. I was just kidding – gee, you can’t take a joke
  114. Rage? What rage?    Oh, so I’m not allowed to get angry?
  115. Only I can treat you like shit!
  116. “I never said anything to you because I just thought you knew how she felt about you. She was talking about you, complaining. I didn’t think you were friends.”
  117. Narc: You have the most beautiful blue eyes.
    You: Awww.  Thank you.
    Narc:  I can’t do this anymore.
    You: Are you breaking up with me again?
    Narc:  Yes.
  118. “If you ever cheat on me, I’ll kill them…AND you…”
  119. You started it.
  120. Get over it.
  121. Grow up!

How to Live With Someone Who Isn’t As Health Conscious As You Are

You’ve got your healthy living routine down. You exercise three to five times a week and have a healthy relationship with food. So what happens when your significant other is not as fitness-focused? Can cohabitation work with someone who doesn’t have the healthy habits that you do? With all the indifferences you will face once you move in with your partner, nobody wants healthy living to be a point of argument.

If your health habits are total opposite ends of the spectrum, there is still hope. Fitness and nutrition experts Jil Larsen, Brooke Taylor and Sophia Ruan Gushée weigh in on some pointers in establishing a healthy, happy home. Try these six healthy cohabitation tricks.

Keep an open dialogue

Planting the seed of health is as easy as just important as sticking to your routine. Rather than forcing your beliefs on someone, casually bringing up your own fitness goals is a good way to get someone thinking about their own. Start the conversation by asking for their opinion on your diet and exercise routine.

Find common ground

Once you’ve moved in with your significant other, you’ll be sharing many experiences. Why not make fitness a part of that experience? You can take cooking lessons together and start incorporating healthy habits, while still having fun. Larsen, a certified health coach,  says to “find an exercise you both like to do. Perhaps, instead of going to the gym, suggest a bike ride or a class that is held outdoors. Communicate about what foods you enjoy and then try to find a healthy version to cook and eat. Exploring new things and being open minded together can put your relationship on a whole other level.”

Set some ground rules

If you’re faced with a difficult partner that doesn’t want to engage in healthy activities with you, that doesn’t mean you have to give up your own fitness goals. Taylor, a fitness expert, has seen plenty of couples, one of whom  is motivated and the other who doesn’t want to be bothered. While she still encourages trying to motivate your partner using baby steps over time, she doesn’t want you to give up on your own health in the meantime.

“More often than not, I see couples who face challenges due to different lifestyle choices. You are really motivated, make it a point to go to the gym, eat healthy and set goals that you strive to achieve on a daily basis whereas your significant other cannot be bothered,” she says.
“When you are trying to motivate yourself to do something out of the norm and you don’t have that support from your significant other or spouse then it can be challenging. You may ask yourself, “What can I do to change this?” My best advice is stay true to your goals and your schedule.”

Be a great example

You’re not going to get your partner to become healthier by osmosis, but seeing your positive health results may encourage them to make some changes. By standing your ground and keeping up with your own healthy habits, your partner will witness your happiness, your stamina and your ability to handle stressful situations better. Your partner will see both physical and mental health benefits that are hard to resist, even for the laziest of people.

Be supportive

Let’s face it—shaming or nagging is never a way to get your point across. Positive encouragement, on the other hand, will always have a happy ending. When your partner starts to make healthy changes, and they will, make sure to let them know you’re proud of them. Don’t belittle them if they miss a workout, but praise them when they attend one. Don’t cry over a pizza night, but make sure to extend gratitude for a healthy meal made by your partner.

Pick your battles

Gushée, an author, thinks that picking your battles is the key to a happy partnership. “There are so many ways we can be healthier. Assess what’s super important, like no smoking at home, and where you can find common ground, like no shoes in the home,” she says. She recommends that “if you’re cohabitating with people you eat with, then slowly introduce healthy meals and snacks into their lives. Perhaps you decide to prepare a meal once a week, like Saturday dinner. Over time, they’ll start to enjoy eating healthier because it can be more tasty and they’ll feel better.” These pointers are just as good for romantic partners as they are for regular roommates. Share tasty meals with the people you live with, and watch everyone in the home get healthier.

When To Say Enough! 10 Ways To Escape Toxic People

How would you know a person is “toxic?” What about them or their behaviors would signal to you that they are toxic? For me, a toxic person is someone who makes you feel a way that you are not, who undermines and mistreats you, and who may come across as kind to others and truly is very unkind to you.

A toxic person is someone who “infects” (like a disease) your thoughts, emotions, feelings, and behaviors in ways that are not good. They may be envious of you, they may try to limit or undermine you, or they may simply ignore any kind of progress you make. A toxic person can be anyone, even a person with a mental health challenge, a close friend, a confidant, and/or a family member.

If you are like most people in society, you will find it almost impossible to spot and detach from a toxic person because they can come across as charming, kind, and trustworthy. It is necessary that I make it clear we are not talking about a narcissistic person per se, but rather a person (generally healthy), who cannot maintain a positive relationship with another person.

This article will discuss characteristics of a toxic person and how to say goodbye.

When I am speaking with clients in my office about unhealthy relationships they may have a common theme is for me to listen and identify “toxic behavior” that may be underlying the relational instability. For example, if a teen client comes to me about his or her poor communication with a parent, I listen very closely to determine if the problem is the parent or the teen. In most cases, it is a combination of the two. But in some cases, it is the teen who is influenced by toxic social relationships. Toxic relationships may include but are not limited to:

  • jealousy or envy,
  • control and manipulation,
  • fear and anxiety,
  • “flip-flopy” emotions and behaviors,
  • avoidance and denial,
  • physical, sexual, or psychological/emotional abuse,
  • triangulation (typically includes more than 2 people and is used to confuse all individuals involved).

Sadly, many of us can become victims of a toxic relationship of some kind. We have to know when to say “enough” and move on. It is certainly easier said than done which is why I often suggest exploring your values, turning to your faith or “anchor,” rely on people who truly know you and you trust, and/or seek seek therapy to get another perspective. Some ways to back out of a toxic relationship without completely rocking the boat include:

  1. Observe their MO (Modus Operandi): Take time to examine how they operate and question their motives. Not everyone is out to get you, use you, or manipulate you. But some are. Examine how the person asserts themselves toward you, how you feel when they are around you, and question what they could possibly want from you. It’s a sad thing to think but some people only like you because you can offer them something.
  2. Figure out how to plan for the attack: Toxic people are not just a pain. They can be dangerous. By dangerous I mean manipulative and controlling. Some toxic people have a history of stealing, lying, cheating, or using others. Once you locate the person’s tactics, ways of thinking, and inappropriate behaviors, figure out how you should react, cope, or say goodbye.
  3. Re-route your expectations and goals: Sadly, toxic people literally “pull” you into a relationship of some kind with them. They may want to become your spouse, your best friend, or your work partner. You have to be able to determine, based on what you know about them and how you feel around them, if you need to re-route your goals and expectations of the person. You would not want to set-up long-term goals or expect great things from someone who simply wants to use you. If the person truly cares or likes/respects you, you’ll know.
  4. Avoid mental filtering: Mental filtering is what mental health professionals consider cognitive distortions or thinking errors. It is a “skewed” way that we see reality. Mental filtering is ignoring other aspects of something and picking out only 1 detail or a small detail. If you find yourself picking out the positive aspects of the person and ignoring ALL of the bad, stop. It’s not going to help you. It’s hard, but worth it.
  5. Consider your mental health: If the person is making you feel depressed, self-conscious, “stupid,” or any other negative emotion, move on. Some people, despite how kind you are, have an arrogant and detached demeanor that can offend others and make them feel less valued.
  6. Consider those you love and their needs: If the toxic person does not seem to mix well with those you love or makes those you love feel negative vibes, you may want to question why. Sometimes those we love can pick up on things much faster than we can.
  7. Seek therapy or counseling: Some toxic people, especially if they have been in your life for a long time, can ruin almost everything in your life. Some people come to therapy for the simple purpose of “taking back” their lives after freeing themselves from a toxic spouse, parent, or friend. If you feel your relationship with the toxic person is heavily weighing on you, you might benefit from therapy to help you sort out what to do.
  8. Give up the “yo-yo” pattern: Toxic people are often problematic people with behavioral and mental health problems. A toxic person may be so unhealthy mentally or relationally that you begin to feel threatened or confused. When this happens, make plans to say goodbye, escape, or move on. A “yo-yo” pattern can include the person making you feel loved one moment and undermined the next, respected for a few weeks and disrespected during other weeks, praised one moment and demeaned the next.
  9. Be determined to get out/move on: An unhealthy relationship of any kind is dangerous. It’s unhealthy for a reason. Unhealthy relationships often have no clear boundaries, little to no respect, no positive goals or aspirations, immature patterns of communication or relating, and little to no positive characteristics. Getting out or moving on can be so very difficult. You might even begin to miss the person once they are gone. But you will have to figure out how to explore and work through this if the relationship is not worth you missing the person.
  10. Understand it is more than love/attachment/habit: Toxic relationships can feel like a “power” over you and that “power” does not always have to be love, attachment, or pure habit. Some people relate to this “power” as control, abuse, or manipulation. In other cases, some people refer to this power as a “spirit,” “sin,” or “evil power” that makes it hard to move on. From a Christian view, an “evil spirit” or “sin” can be very difficult to free yourself from unless you seek God for strength.

New Study IDs Brain Cells That Help Us Learn by Watching Others

-Janice Wood

From infancy, we learn by watching other people, and new research has pinpointed the individual neurons that support this observational learning.

Published in Nature Communications, the study from researchers at the University of California Los Angeles and California Institute of Technology could provide scientists with a better understanding of how the brain goes awry in conditions like learning disorders and social anxiety disorder.

In a further finding, the research team also discovered that neurons in the same region fire in response to schadenfreude — the pleasure of seeing someone else make a blunder or lose a game.

“Observational learning is the cornerstone for our ability to change behavior,” said senior author Dr. Itzhak Fried, a professor of neurosurgery and psychiatry at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. “It’s human nature to want to learn from other people’s mistakes rather than commit your own.”

“The ability to quickly learn from others can give humans a critical edge over other species,” added lead author Dr. Michael Hill, a former UCLA and Caltech  scientist now based at the Swiss National Science Foundation. “The skill also contributes to someone feeling he or she is a member of one culture versus another.”

Prior to the study, Fried implanted electrodes inside the brains of people with epilepsy being treated at UCLA, a standard medical procedure used to identify the origins of epileptic seizures prior to surgery.

The researchers then used the electrodes to record the activity of individual neurons in the brains of 10 people playing a card game.

Players were instructed to draw a card from one of two decks. One deck included 70 percent of the winning cards, while the other deck contained only 30 percent of the winning cards. Each person took turns choosing cards on his or her own and then watched two other players draw cards from the same decks.

By learning from the results of their own and the other players’ choices, the participants quickly zeroed in on the deck containing better cards.

The research team was surprised to discover that individual neurons deep in the frontal lobe reacted as the patient considered whether they or their opponents would pick a winning card. Called the anterior cingulate cortex, the region plays an important role in high-level functions like decision making, reward anticipation, social interaction and emotion, the researchers explained.

“The firing rate of individual neurons altered according to what the patient expected to happen,” Hill said. “For example, would their opponents win or lose? The same cells also changed their response after the patient discovered whether their prediction was on target, reflecting their learning process.”

The findings suggest that individual nerve cells in the person’s brain used the details gleaned by observing the other players to calculate which deck to choose a card from next, the researchers said.

“The anterior cingulate cortex acts as the central executive of human decision-making, yet we know little about the neuronal machinery at this level,” said Fried, who is also a professor of neurosurgery at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University.

According to the researchers, the findings will help scientists better understand the organization of neurons in the anterior cingulate cortex and exactly what they do.

Fried and Hill propose that active stimulation of the neurons in the anterior cingulate cortex could influence human behavior and have possible benefits for people struggling with learning disabilities or difficulty reading social cues.

The researchers noted that the cells in the same region fired vigorously each time a person won or the other players lost, and decreased their activity whenever the person lost or the other players won.

“While obviously we don’t know precisely what it is that these neurons encode, it’s fascinating to see something like schadenfreude reflected in the activity of individual neurons in the human brain,” Hill said.

Caffeine May Protect Women from Dementia

-Rick Nauert, PhD

A new study of women aged 65 and older discovered a 36 percent reduction in dementia among women who consumed caffeine. Researchers followed the women for over 10 years.

The women self-reported caffeine consumption of more than 261 mg per day or the equivalent to two to three 8-oz cups of coffee per day, five to six 8-oz cups of black tea, or seven to eight 12-ounce cans of cola.

“The mounting evidence of caffeine consumption as a potentially protective factor against cognitive impairment is exciting given that caffeine is also an easily modifiable dietary factor with very few contraindications,” said Ira Driscoll, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“What is unique about this study is that we had an unprecedented opportunity to examine the relationships between caffeine intake and dementia incidence in a large and well-defined, prospectively-studied cohort of women.”

The findings come from participants in the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study, which is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Driscoll and her research colleagues used data from 6,467 community-dwelling, postmenopausal women aged 65 and older who reported some level of caffeine consumption.

Intake was estimated from questions about coffee, tea, and cola beverage intake, including frequency and serving size.

In 10 years or less of follow-up with annual assessments of cognitive function, 388 of these women received a diagnosis of probable dementia or some form of global cognitive impairment. Those who consumed above the median amount of caffeine for this group (with an average intake of 261 mg per day) were diagnosed at a lower rate than those who fell below the median (with an average intake of 64 mg per day).

The researchers adjusted for risk factors such as hormone therapy, age, race, education, body mass index, sleep quality, depression, hypertension, prior cardiovascular disease, diabetes, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

3 Ways to Navigate the Emotional Side of Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a beautiful and miraculous time. You’re growing a baby for goodness’ sake. And for many moms-to-be, it’s also a tough time. There are the physical symptoms—marathon-level fatigue, nausea, heartburn, appetite loss—which ensure that you don’t feel like yourself. The days might be limping by, and all you want to do is spend hours on the couch, vegging out.

There also are the emotional symptoms. You might be feeling overwhelmed, anxious, frustrated and sad—all in one day or all in one hour. It can feel like 500 different concerns are running through your mind (and heart). There are just so many unknowns and question marks. And what-ifs. Is my baby OK? Will I be able to carry him or her to term? Are my symptoms normal? What will labor really feel like? What if I can’t handle it? Should I get an epidural? What if I need a C-section? What will I do with work? Daycare?

You also might feel guilty that you aren’t walking around in some blissful haze. You start measuring yourself against sky-high societal expectations, one-sided social media images and the experiences of your friends—and convince yourself that you’re coming up short. Which only deepens your stress levels and sadness.

Pregnancy can be an emotional, vulnerable time. But there are things you can do to cope well and take compassionate care of yourself and your baby.

In the book Finding Calm for the Expectant Mom psychologist Alice D. Domar, Ph.D, (along with writer Sheila Curry Oakes), shares tips and insights on managing the emotional side of pregnancy—the stress, anxiety, mood swings and more. Domar is the founder and executive director of Domar Center for Mind/Body Health and the director of Mind/Body Services at Boston IVF. Below are three tips from her practical, valuable book.

Write out your thoughts, feelings and frustrations.

When you’re sad, mad, frustrated or overwhelmed, write it down. Write about why you’re feeling this way. As Domar notes, our minds tend to race, so slowing down can give us a different perspective. Don’t judge yourself for these thoughts and feelings. Which aren’t wrong or inappropriate. It’s normal to experience a roller-coaster of emotions—which may or may not include pure bliss.

Identify your needs.

Take the time to think about what you need, and how you can respond to each need. According to Domar, “When you are faced with fear, sadness, or any discomfort, ask yourself: ‘What will make me feel …happier? Healthier? More energetic?’” She also suggests considering: “What makes me feel better? What makes me feel worse?”

Sometimes, we can give ourselves what we need. Other times, we need help. We need to ask others (kindly) to meet our needs. This might mean making requests to everyone from your partner to your mom to your best friend.

The key is to be specific and not to blame the person. Domar shares this example involving your partner: Avoid saying, “I know it’s my turn to make dinner, but I’m not doing it. I can’t. I’m pregnant. You need to do it for a change.” Instead say, “I am so tired I can’t cook; can you please take care of dinner tonight?”

This certainly isn’t easy when you’re stressed out. But the more you practice, the more automatic it becomes. And everyone slips up, so do your best when you can.

Walk mindfully.

Walking is a wonderful way to move your body during pregnancy (it’s great for reducing anxiety and boosting our mood and energy). It’s also a wonderful way to refocus your mind from the worrisome thoughts banging around in your head. To walk mindfully, Domar suggests focusing on:

  • What you hear: this might be anything from honking cars to chirping birds.
  • What you feel: it might be the warmth of the sun on your skin or the crunch of snow beneath your feet.
  • What you smell: it might be freshly cut grass or flowers or your neighbor cooking.
  • What you see: pay attention to details you’ve never noticed before—whether it’s on buildings, cars or trees. “How would you describe to someone else, in greater detail, what you can see?”

(If walking or any kind of movement is out of the question because you’ve been put on bed rest, these tips can help.)

Ultimately, try to be gentle and patient with yourself. Remember that everyone’s pregnancies are different. In fact, one mom will typically experience different pregnancies. Whatever you’re feeling—like miserable—is valid and OK. If you need extra support, make an appointment with a therapist.

Instead of relying on online information—which is totally tempting—take your concerns to your doctor. As Domar writes, “always remember that your own healthcare provider knows you and your body better than any Web site, blog, or chat room.”

Remember, too, that your body is undergoing incredible changes emotionally and physically. You deserve self-compassion, whatever you’re feeling and experiencing.

4 Questions Every Child of an Unloving Mother Asks

-Peg Streep

It’s almost impossible to overstate the effects of not having your emotional needs met in Infancy and childhood; yet the culture, fed by the myths that hold that mothering is instinctual and that all mothers love, remains resistant. It’s dispiriting to hear people who really ought to know better say things like “It couldn’t have been so bad because you turned out fine,” believing that outward achievement accurately reflects a person’s inner state.  Or, worse, “You were fed, clothed, and had a roof over your head so get over it” which betrays a singular lacking of understanding of what a child needs to thrive and what an enormous body of science knows. Human infants fail to thrive or even die without touch, eye contact and emotional connection, even when given food, water, and shelter.

Every time I try to put what the experience feels like into words—yes, it was my reality growing up—I end up quoting the authors of the truly marvelous book, A General Theory of Love. This is what they wrote:

The lack of an attuned mother is a nonevent for a reptile and a shattering injury to the complex and fragile limbic brain of a mammal.

Let me explain. A human infant’s brain develops from the bottom up—the least sophisticated part of it is ready to go at birth, regulating the physical systems that run the body. But it’s the higher brain that develops through attunement because we learn about emotional experience secondhand, by looking into our mothers’ faces. Our brains develop—quite literally—and are shaped by our experiences with our mothers. Children raised by loving and attuned mothers are better at regulating and identifying their emotions, deal with stress better, and understand the world of relationship as safe and satisfying. Children whose emotional needs aren’t met—whose mothers are unattached to them in one way or another or who are actively aggressive—have trouble managing their emotions and see relationships as potentially hurtful or frightening. Some environments are more toxic than others; science knows, for example, that aggressive verbal abuse causes physical changes in the developing brain.

The unloved child flails about, trying desperately to understand why she’s been pushed off by her mother, but her brain adjusts to the circumstances. We can thank evolution for this adaptability—it’s survival of the individual that matters after all—but the damage is done. Children raised by unloving mothers become insecurely attached, relating to others with an anxious/preoccupied style, a dismissive avoidant style, or a fearful/ avoidant one. All of this happens beyond consciousness.

But humans, even small ones, want to make sense of their circumstances. The age at which the child begins to question varies enormously from individual to individual but here, drawn from anecdote and story, are the questions unloved children ask. Our hardwired need for maternal love is the engine for the questioning voice.

Notably, they are questions that bubble up to the surface throughout the lifetime of the adult who was once a child unloved by her mother. And, while the answers may shift over time, there’s a sense in which they’re never answered satisfactorily.

1.Why doesn’t my mother love me?

This is the scary question because the terror is located in the first answer that comes to mind: Because of me. Unfortunately, from the child’s limited point of view, this is the most likely answer and has devastating effect. She may reach this conclusion because her mother treats another sibling differently. She may find confirmation in the aisle of a grocery store where she sees how a stranger responds to her child, or on the playground where she glimpses a little girl being cuddled in a way she’s never been. The jealousy—and panic—she feels in the moment, sparked by those mother-daughter pairs, may dog her for the rest of her life. The child whose mother is combative or dismissive in her treatment may have the answer echoed in abusive statements about her failings and weakness. These words— “You’re always so difficult,” “You’re not good enough to make anything of yourself,” “You’re too sensitive and weak”—confirm her fears that it’s all her fault that her mother doesn’t love her. That becomes internalized as self-criticism and underscores her understanding that she’s not loved because she’s unlovable. It’s a hard conclusion to shake.

2.Will my mother ever love me?

This is the question that launches the sometimes life-long quest to somehow wrest or capture the maternal love the child so desperately needs. It’s hard to overstate the passion, energy and effort that goes into this effort, fueled once again by that hardwired need for maternal love, support, and acceptance. It can last for decades and, ironically, actually increases the damage done to the daughter’s psyche in childhood. Daughters spend years defending their mothers in their heads as well as the outside world, making excuses for their behavior, because if they don’t, the answer to the question will be a definitive no. Rather than deal with that heartbreaking truth, they sally forth, ever hopeful. It’s a destructive and painful pattern, made worse by the daughter’s inability to set boundaries and her mother’s unwillingness to heed them.

3.What can I do to make my mother love me?

This is an aspect of the quest for maternal love but it begins in childhood and often continues. In childhood, the daughter comes up with strategies, some of them constructive and others self-destructive to get her mother’s attention and hopefully her love. Some daughters become high-achievers, hoping that will do the trick, while others take a more negative path. “I became a hellion as a teenager,” Sarah confided, “Because I thought that would make my mother pay attention to me. It totally backfired because my behaviors only confirmed her belief that I was worthless and not worth her attention. I was lucky in that I didn’t do anything really risky that could have derailed me for life and that a teacher of mine took me aside and pointed out what I was doing. She saved my life.”

4. Will anyone ever love me?

This is the biggest question of all, the answer to which has the power to make or break a person’s life in myriad ways, large and small. After all, if the person who put you on the planet in the first place doesn’t love you, who can or will?

The path to healing from childhood experiences is arduous and long but it’s a journey from darkness into light. There are different answers to these four questions than the ones we once thought were obvious but it’s only by working to heal ourselves that we can begin to grasp their truth.

Pure Obsessional OCD

-Janet Singer

When my 17-year-old son Dan told me he had obsessive-compulsive disorder, my first comment was “But you never even wash your hands!” While that statement surely revealed my limited knowledge at the time regarding OCD, what I was really trying to say was that he had no outward signs of the disorder. There was no repeated checking to see if the front door was locked, no order that had to be maintained in his room (in fact it was a mess), and not even any requests for reassurance from me. But yet, he had OCD.
Enter Pure-O, or Pure Obsessional OCD. The name is deceiving however, as it leads us to believe that those with Pure-O have obsessions, but not compulsions. The truth is that those with this type of OCD do in fact have compulsions; however they are either not easily observable, or not the “typical” compulsions most of us associate with OCD. Compulsions might appear in the form of avoidance behaviors (Dan avoided so many people, places, and things that his world became one safe chair he would sit in for hours at a time), reassurance-seeking behaviors (for Dan this manifested through excessive apologizing), and mental compulsions (this included counting, reviewing events and conversations in his head, and lots of other things I don’t know about because I couldn’t read his mind and he didn’t often share with us).

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and now that I know so much more about OCD than when Dan was first diagnosed, there definitely were some visible signs of his obsessive-compulsive disorder early on. Dan had stopped eating ice cream (avoidance) and would no longer go into our backyard swimming pool (more avoidance). And he did a lot of touching and tapping (visible compulsions but not as well-known as hand-washing). While I did notice these behaviors, they certainly never stopped me in my tracks and made me wonder if my son had a brain disorder. At the time, all I knew about OCD was what I had learned from the media, which often misrepresents the disorder. So because Dan didn’t present with “classic OCD symptoms” my husband and I didn’t know he had the disorder until Dan diagnosed himself with the help of the Internet and then told us himself.

The truth is that those with Pure-O often have an easier time of hiding their OCD than others with the disorder because of their unobservable compulsions. This means those with this form of OCD might suffer in silence longer than others with more visible compulsions.

However, there is good news as well. No matter what type of OCD you or a loved one might be dealing with, there is good treatment available. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy is the front line psychological treatment for all types of OCD, including Pure O. A competent therapist who specializes in treating OCD will be able to help you fight your OCD, and might incorporate other techniques such as imaginal exposures into your ERP treatment plan.

OCD, no matter what form it takes, can be an insidious disorder, but with commitment, hard work, and a good health-care provider, it can be beaten. While many with Pure-O believe that their OCD isn’t treatable, that is simply not the case. My son has gotten his life back — others with Pure-O can too.

Are you the Designated Scapegoat?

-Sharie Stines, PhD

When two people get married I don’t think either one of them plans on becoming their partner’s scapegoat. Most people assume that there will be both good times and bad times, and they will persevere through any problems together.  This is reasonable; after all, no one is perfect and life can have challenges at times.

However, all bets are off if you marry an abuser, master manipulator, or narcissist. When this happens you discover that rather than being a spouse in the true sense of the word, you really serve more of a role of an emotional whipping boy.  But, the insidiousness of it all is that you may not even realize this until years in to the relationship.  This can be a very rude awakening.

Or, do these behaviors occur outside of your marriage with other family members or with your in-laws? Do they occur at your workplace? Do you find yourself subject to unfair treatment, harsh judgment, and “bullying” behaviors from your boss or coworkers?  The basic principles of scapegoating can apply in any arena where people socialize.

What is a scapegoat?

Most people have heard of the childhood role of scapegoat – where one child in the family tends to be the “identified patient,” “black sheep,” or “problem child.”  This can occur in two ways, either the child acts out this role to show the dysfunction in the family, or the parents and/or siblings project the scapegoat status onto the child.

In a  relationship with an abusive or manipulative person, the scapegoat is created by the scapegoat-er. A scapegoat fulfills a multitude of roles for his or her abusive partner:

  • takes on projected guilt or shame of abuser
  • serves as an emotional punching bag for displaced anger
  • helps narcissistic and insecure people feel superior and smug, thus enabling them to not look at their own weaknesses
  • raises the abuser up by being put down themselves
  • acts as a container for an abuser’s rage, contempt, and disdain

People who scapegoat others have certain particular traits; these include a sense of superiority and pride, a large ego which needs maintaining, feelings of entitlement and grandiosity, limited personal self-reflectionpoor character, self-righteousness,  and hypocrisy. Did I mention arrogance?  Realize this list is neither exhaustive nor all inclusive, but lists general characteristics only.

No matter what a scapegoat does, he or she cannot win and always makes the wrong move as far as the scapegoat-er is concerned.  In fact, the scapegoat-er seems to exhibit an “expectation of failure” towards the chosen scapegoat, looking for flaws at all times

What traits makes a person a good scapegoat?

  • a person with compassion and empathy
  • someone self-sacrificing
  • an individual who easily forgives
  • an independent person
  • one who is resourceful
  • a person who tends to have an external locus of control (looks out of oneself for validation)
  • has a low ability to identify manipulation and abuse

What do you do if you realize you are the scapegoat in a relationship?

As in most instances of recovery from anything, awareness is the first step.  Realize you are a scapegoat. Identify the traits that keep you in this role. Determine how being a scapegoat meets your needs in the relationship.  Here are some specific steps to take to remove the scapegoat mantle from your identity:

  • Consciously and volitionally remove the role of scapegoat from your selfhood; in other words, don’t let others blame you, treat you condescendingly, or otherwise mistreat you.
  • Do not operate from a victim mentality, but choose, instead to be a victor.  That means, take your life in your own hands.
  • Treat yourself with dignity. Act with integrity.
  • Do not take responsibility for other people’s actions, behaviors, moods, or feelings – don’t personalize.
  • Learn to love yourself internally.
  • Learn to look within yourself for validation, rather than to others.
  • Choose relationships with people who are empathic and compassionate.
  • Don’t listen to the negative “noise,” either inside your own head or out of the mouths of others.
  • Walk away from people who do not respect you.
  • Set good internal boundaries with people who have a personality disorder.
  • Avoid judgmental people.
  • Do not reveal personal information without proper discernment. Not everyone will respect your privacy or your problems. In fact, save personal information for trustworthy friends.
  • In general, be positive.

The bottom line to scapegoat recovery is to ultimately build the relationship you have with yourself. You will have to work hard to trust your own opinions, emotions, and intuitions. As long as you are in the world with others, you will face the possibility of being someone’s target for negativity. Learn to step away and love yourself regardless of what anyone else believes about you.

Mindfulness Can Help Young Kids Manage Emotions

-Rick Nauert, PhD

Mindfulness has been found beneficial for stress reduction, anxiety and depression, dietary challenges, addiction recovery, and many other conditions. Now it has found its way into a classroom where children as young as three are using its techniques to manage emotions and stay calm.

Using a strategy called Calm Classroom, Los Angles students, ranging from transitional kindergartners to fifth graders, are being guided by teachers three times during the school day through three-minute mindfulness exercises. The drills call on students to refocus their attention on deep breathing, relaxation, and body awareness.

Behind the move to bring mindfulness into the school day is the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Center for Child Anxiety Resilience Education and Support (CARES), which sponsors this and other programs that support student resilience. And although it’s still early in the school year, it seems to be having an effect, said Principal Akida Kissane-Long.

“The children of Joyner Elementary have responded extremely well to the Calm Classroom training and practice they received since their first day of school,” she said. “Discipline referrals have admirably decreased in just three weeks of school.”

To implement Calm Classroom at their school, teachers at Joyner underwent training with the CARES staff last August.

In practicing mindful awareness, an individual focuses attention on being in the moment as it is, without judgment — and with openness and curiosity.

And while the concept of mindfulness might seem abstract for children, students in the lower grades seem to be most receptive, center staff members said.

Young children practice mindfulness by doing stretching, focused listening, guided breathing, and body awareness exercises.

To help students manage tough feelings and prevent the children from developing an anxiety disorder, depression, or other major concern, the UCLA CARES Center is implementing Calm Classroom in collaboration with the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.

There are plans for the center to train additional schools starting in the spring. The program is in more than 200 schools nationwide, according to the Luster Learning Institute, and has been taught to more than 200,000 students and their families.

“Mindfulness has many benefits for students, including better sleep, increased focus, reduced stress, and reduced challenges related to depression and anxiety,” said Dr. Patricia Lester, co-director of the center.

“The transition back to school can be an especially difficult one for many children. We want to inform parents and teachers about noticing when students are feeling stressed or even anxious about the transition back. Helping students learn to manage these emotions is an important part of early prevention and also helps build resilience,” Lester said.

These mindfulness exercises are most effectively led by teachers during times of transition — after lunch, before a quiz, or at the beginning or end of the day.

“Introducing mindfulness to students is a great way to teach them about emotion management and regulation as a common everyday practice,” said John Piacentini, director of the center. “Research shows that mindfulness can improve our working memory and executive functioning.”

Mindfulness could be especially beneficial for underprivileged families living in neighborhoods such as Watts.

“The majority of families in the Watts community live below the poverty line, which can cause challenges in accessing important resources, especially those related to behavioral health,” continued Piacentini. Calm Classroom helps students build skills early on in strategies for managing their emotions and identifying when they might be having a difficult time.

Mindfulness skills can be used anytime, anywhere, so children who practice them at school can call on them throughout their day — whenever and wherever needed.

“Children at any age can experience feelings of anxiety; we even notice it in babies,” explained Kate Sheehan, managing director of the CARES Center.

“Since this program targets kids all the way down to kindergarten and transitionary kindergarten, we are able to start helping them understand, at a very early age, how their emotions affect the way they feel physically and their reactions to different situations while also teaching them that they can control their emotions rather than react to them.”

The CARES team piloted the Calm Classroom program during the last academic year at the UCLA Lab School, where teachers noticed that students became more attentive and calm after transition periods, Sheehan said.

Lab School students were even using mindfulness techniques outside the classroom to help manage stressful or frustrating events, like waiting to be picked up from school or when separated from their parents during a family vacation.

“It’s like floating on a cloud,” observed one mindful student at the UCLA Lab School.