Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Love Safety Net

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder? And can NPD effect your life?

Define by Kim Cooper in her book "Back from the Looking Glass" NPD is:

A person with this disorder will treat their partner and children very differently in private than in public. In public they may ignore you and give all of their attention to other people, pretending to be the perfect husband, father, wife or mother.

In private however, they will be sarcastic, haughty, insulting and put people down (even
friends) behind their back. They will show little or no regard for your well-being or feelings
and may act like they are superior and more popular than you (and show favoritism between their kids) while often being cold, arrogant, withdrawn and unavailable.

It is also worth noting that people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder scape-goat their
deficiencies on other people and so may choose a partner who is less socially skilled than
themselves as their foil.

In this short video, Steve Cooper shares his and Kim's story about how NPD effected their life, and how through learning some relationship skills with himself, has made his life and his family's life much better..

Reading the The Love Safety Net and other books such as Back from the Looking Glass, written by Kim Cooper, puts a new set of eyes on Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Kim shares her story and how she and her family learned new relationship skills on how to overcome NPD in the household. In her series of books you learn that there is hope and that it is possible to enhance and improve your life..

How many times have you been frustated with a cycle of anger, resentment, and disarray in your home?

How do you deal with someone who is creating an environment that is stressful in your home?

What do you do to protect your own peace within? How do you sooth yourself? And how do you transform a stressful home into a happy home?

In this interview I ask Kim a few questions that may help someone living with NPD, what they can do to possibly improve their life as well as their relationships, family, friends and home life.

This interview only scratches the service.. and I highly recommend reading her series of books.
The Love Safety Net, The Love Safety Net workbook, Back from the Looking Glass, The little book of Empathy and more.
She has impressed me with her honesty and her desire to help others who are struggling with NPD in their lives. And shares there is a way to get through this problem and to live a life of happiness and security..

Start Interview:

In the Love Safety Net, you recommend coming from a place of strength and to focus on being happy, you use the scissor method.
Can you explain how the Scissor method works, and what it can do for the person who is living with a person who suffers with NPD?

Yes magic scissors is important - it works by you literally imagining a cord tying you to your obsessions or worries about your partner and then use your fingers like scissors in the air to cut that string tying you to that worry.

But this doesn't mean that things won't still make you angry! It is very important to understand that anger is not unhealthy. It is normal to feel angry when someone disrespects or exploits us. The trick is how we regulate that response. It is okay to say someone has made you angry and to tell them why. It is not usually productive however to become hurtful by calling them names etc. as this will only make them defensive. As hard as it can be it is much better to stay open and let them know you feel angry and hurt.

After this however it is very important not to let yourself be drawn into an argument. Discussing things when you are angry isn't smart - and if you live with someone who is narcissistic - they will not acknowledge your hurt anyway. Anger should be a signal to you that a boundary of yours has been crossed and maybe you need to consider how much you should really be trusting this person. Anger is important you see and so what made you angry is something you really should remember and so I suggest that you go and write down what happened as soon as you can after you get angry. Then after you have made this note it is good if you can get some time out and do something to calm or soothe yourself.

Because being angry let's you know the boundary has been crossed - but it will not help you set that boundary. As tempting as it may be you can't usually do this by asking a person to change or by asking them to stop what they are doing.

You might as well ask your dog to stop running around your neighbourhood! It won't work and so instead, just like with with the dog, you are going to need a real fence!

Because until trust builds we do need fences to protect ourselves within our relationships! These fences may include things like separating your money and having it where only you can access it - or learning better scripts for you to deal with situations where you know that your partner is often disrespectful of you.

Working out what kind of fences you need and how to build them is what our work is all about - but you can't do that when you are angry. This is why you need to be able to disengage and refuse to continue in conversations that will only become an argument. For myself learning to say "I am not prepared to talk about this any further" was extremely empowering. Then you need to be able to calm yourself and get back to your own routine and goals as soon as you can. Then maybe a day or two later you can look at what you wrote down and think about setting a clear boundary.

Until that boundary is set magic scissors can also help you. Like if you fear that your partner is having an affair. Worrying about that and where they are may interfere with your routine and your own goals to the point where you cannot function very well and all you feel like doing is questioning them and getting angry. This won't work and until you get real boundaries in place it is important that you can 'snip' those obsessive worries and not be knocked off your own game.

So there are a bunch of skills in the process I have described. First is learning to state your feelings honestly even when you are mad and then learning to disengage from the conversation to write down what angered you. Then comes self soothing and magic scissors (to keep you from becoming emotionally unbalanced) and then last but not least are the skills to set boundaries that are effective at protecting yourself.

So that might sound hard and it will take time - but the great thing is that it doesn't require you doing or saying something different in the moment. You see relationship advice that requires that just won't work. We think next time I will do it differently and I won't let him make me angry - but in reality we can't stop that. Our amygdala (emotional brain) fires much faster than our reasoning brain and so when an emotion hits us it is like lightening.

That is why we need to learn that the anger is okay - we just need to make different decisions about how we are going to regulate it. After we have calmed down we may remember that the same situation that made us angry has happened lots of times before and that we need to come up with a new script and rehearse it over and over so we can be ready next time and see the situation coming before it even hits us.

Because most of the time the triggers are things that happen in the same way many times over and we need to figure out a way to protect ourselves better next time when we are calm.

We often practice this with the kids around the dinner table. If someone is picking on them at school we all help with ideas for good comeback lines to help them deal with it better next time and even get the kids to role act the comeback lines we choose with each other. This has really helped my son who was diagnosed aspergers syndrome when he was younger but who only this year was voted school prefect! He didn't have any of the skills or scripts he needed to handle school by himself - but with regular coaching around the table at night - he has gone from the bottom to the top of the school social heirarchy, so we do know how effective this is.

I only mention this because I want people to understand how powerful better scripts are. Some people think that verbal abuse is impossible to stop as there are no laws against it, but practicing new scripts to deal with it will undoubtably give you more power to handle a person who thinks they can talk down to you.

What are the four pillars of a safe and happy home, and how do you get the?

Attachment - Limiting Abuse - Emotional Intelligence and Developmental gap work.

The process of learning these will be different with everyone depending on where their strengths and weakness are to start with and how abusive the partner they are dealing with is.

Love and affection is important, it also makes us vulnerable, as we give ourselves permission to love, how do we show someone with NPD it's okay for them to be loved? How do we help them to feel safe?
Anger is a natural defense it's for protection, how do we help someone with NPD to overcome this behavior?

The fastest way to build trust with someone with NPD is to show them that you are strong enough to now allow them to exploit or abuse you and that you can defend yourself while staying emotionally balanced and without abandoning them. If you think about it for awhile you might understand this. They are never going to trust someone who they can intimidate or exploit or who is emotionally needy with someone who really doesn't care about them.

Steve is very inspiring, he became aware of how he was behaving? What are some insights, and realizations that he learned about himself, as he was making a transition to over come NPD?

Steve learned that it was okay to admit he was scared and that I would protect him. This came after a long time of showing him that I was emotionally maturing and was not going to let his antics unbalance me any more. First I thought I needed a hero but in the end I saw that he in fact needed one more and that it was going to need to be me! Other than this Steve is not a terribly introspective person! A point came when he saw that he could not intimidate me anymore and he stopped then. Steve is a really stubborn and proud guy too and so when he made the decision to stop that was it and he has stuck to it. I cannot believe how patient he is with me now when I sometimes can be very unreasonable!

NPD people need to be supplied? How do you over come stopping the round about of cutting off the supply? Or the need to be supplied?

Yes I know the concept of attention supply but I am a little bit hesitant about the way some people use it as it can sound very dehumanizing - like a person with NPD is a machine - in the same way I don't like people describing a person with narcissistic tendencies as an 'N'. Because really narcissism is a defense and not who a person is.

People with NPD do like attention however and usually put on a good act to get it! This act is exhausting however and not about who they really are and so the attention they get for that act is not really satisfying. That is why they get so mad when you ask them to be charming and nice to you like they are to everyone else. They can't do it you see - because at home they are too exhausted and besides they think you are stupid for wanting that because they think you should see through it.

So I stopped needing Steve to be prince charming. I would not tolerate him being rude to us or crossing my boundaries but beyond that I didn't expect much. In fact I would encourage him to be quite and just be with us. After awhile he began to like that and it got easier. Once in awhile the bad behavior would come back (with his arrogant tone of voice etc.) and I would find out who was pumping up his ego and I would get onto it. I was very surprised when he really loved me for that. He needed that protection you see and was happier at home now than having to be someone he wasn't. Now it is the other way around and Steve doesn't have a lot of time for anyone outside of our family. We get his best and with the outside world he is more guarded which I believe is healthy. I even feel a little bit sorry for families I see that are very popular - because for me personally I would rather spend time with Steve and my kids and I find the outside world a lot more trecherous and demanding than the people at home I know and love.

What does Steve recommend for a person who is living with NPD or lives with a person with NPD?

He works on our help desk and every day he is recommending they read our books and just follow the steps and exercises! I know he also sometimes asks people to ask themselves why they didn't trust their instincts? He loves the story of BlueBeard to demonstrate this - Why didn't the girl in the story see the blue beard right there on his face and know something was wrong? The message here is that a person living with someone with NPD so much wants the false self that the NPD person pretended to be when they first met to return that they can't see that they are really in love with an illusion and that is a dangerous place to be. Being so desperate for that prince who will make your life together better than everyone else is ego too. So this is why Steve tells people they need to be more honest with themselves and start dealing with the reality of what is in front of them. It is the same as setting boundaries. As much as we might long for a partner we can trust with money maybe that just isn't what we have. And I don't bring this up randomly. I think about 80% of the people we help have partners who have credit cards hidden from them and are stuck needing to hide the money transactions to make the repayments. That problem is not going to go away with promises and breathy hugs and kisses. You need to stop kidding yourself if you live with someone with NPD and see it is like living with an addict. You need to get very strong and get very practical support in place and get your head out of the fairy tale!

Does Steve still have those old feelings creep up again and again? And how does he overcome any NPD episodes coming up, if they do anymore?

From where I sit I would say no, except for one issue which is him not taking it seriously when someone else is upset with him. Steve will still often think he can just argue and not need to take it seriously. He can be hard headed to get through to. You see he grew up with a sister who was very emotionally needy and demanding (to get attention) and so he is still rather suspect of the motives of anyone who is being emotional. Emotionality doesn't move him as much as annoy him and make him argumentative. That said he is working on that and when I push back now he does eventually stop and look at it without it becoming nasty or a fight like it used to. That is particularly true with our sons who are a lot more sensitive than Steve and so sometimes he needs to be reminded that him being regularly stern or annoyed with them won't help them do their chores better for instance - but instead just makes them resentful. So that is being really honest about us and I am sure I still have some problems too - but yes the main one is he is still a bit emotionally manipulative thinking he can get his way with the kids by sounding stern and annoyed too much (without setting clear consequences or boundaries) and he isn't very sensitive to seeing when that isn't actually working very well. But he is friendly with us a lot too and the kids really adore him and so it is not a huge problem - just something he still needs to be challenged on now and then.

What is the best thing that Steve has learned about himself? And what does he love about himself the most?

I just asked Steve about this and he says the best thing he has learned is that he can now admit when he isn't good at something which means instead of him having to put on an act he can instead learn new things which means he is growing now. It is interesting that he hadn't heard my answers before about the kids but still he mentioned that one of the new skills he is learning is new parenting skills.

As for what he loves most about himself now - he says it is that he doesn't take himself so seriously anymore which made us both laugh. And it's true because he is so much more light hearted and that does make him much easier to be around.

To find out more about Kim and the Love Safety Net or Her Guide on How to overcome living with Narcissistic behavior disorder just click on the highlighted link in this very sentence.

In closing, Kim and Steve, it has been inspiring listening to your story, and I know many people will benefit from getting to know more about your contributions for helping people with overcoming NPD in their lives.

Thank you for spending the time with us..
Wishing you happiness and all that is good..
The Art of Healing:)


  1. Are we all narcissistic? The challenge become learning to live with ourselves, reminded that we are our best when we build up others, and then take a deep breath and sigh.

    Worked for me.

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