CNM 046: Self-Acceptance, The Problem – with Dr. Sharr Chardas

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Welcome to the show!

In this episode, I’m excited to be interviewing a man who was recommended to me by one of our listeners (thank you Courtney, by the way). This guest is a psychologist who lives in the Los Angeles area and works with celebrities, professional athletes, and a variety of other people.

His name is Dr. Sharr Chardas (it’s a Hungarian name), but he goes by Dr. C. to keep it simple.

His practice is driven 100% by referrals, and he has a long waiting list.

Today, we’re talking all about a topic that we’ve been approaching a lot over the last few months on the show. The generic term is “self-love”, but what we’re really talking about is that deep down feeling of acceptance. Being able to sit in a room by yourself for a long time without panicking, feeling disgusted, or trying to avoid who you are. Some of us never got the message that we are acceptable as we are. Some of us have even done things we regret, and as a result we feel ashamed, and can’t stand ourselves. We don’t feel like we deserve for good things to come our way.

So today, we’re talking to all of us, who, for whatever reason, have a hard time loving and accepting the person that we are, and as a result, we try to get that need met by other people. Or, maybe the result is that we can’t seem to accept other people as they are, or have happy, content, drama-free relationships with others.

This interview did go pretty long, so we’re dividing it into two episodes (you’ll get the second half in the next episode).

While you’re here, I’d be grateful if you would take our podcast sponsorship survey to help us find a sponsor for the show. It’s just a few questions and takes less than a minute!

So, here’s the first half of my interview with Dr. Sharr Chardas.

Interview with Dr. Charr Chardas

Brian: Hey, Dr. C. Welcome to the show today. We’re so glad to have you.

Sharr: Thank you, Brian. I appreciate your having me here.

Brian: Absolutely. I’ve been really excited about talking to you again. It’s about a topic that is just so important in the field of codependency recovery that I’m really interested to get your perspective with all the life experience and counseling experience you have. I can’t wait to dig into this. So, I’ll get started with the first question here:

Question: If someone comes into your office and says, ‘Hey, Dr. C. My biggest problem is that I need to learn how to love myself,’ where do you start in order to help that person?

Sharr: Brian, that isn’t limited just to codependency. I think it’s straight across the board. In my opinion, in all the years of my practice, that seems to be the root cause of all neurosis. Now, remember we’re talking neurosis, not psychosis here; there’s a world of difference. With neurosis, you can change the way a person thinks if they choose to change it, because there’s a process to reaching self-love.

Codependency neurosis is actually the symptom, not the cause. It’s the lack of self-worth, self-hatred, self-doubt that the primary caretakers or parents inadvertently laid on us. That’s not to say that all parents are terrible people, they’re not. Remember that they have their issues. We, as children from zero to eight, misinterpret horribly. What happens is we begin to doubt and actually dislike ourselves. What we do is we attempt to get others to approve of us to bring that into our life.

There are three stages to loving ourselves. The first is; do we like ourselves? The second; do we trust ourselves? If we like and trust then we love. The problem is, everyone goes, ‘Oh, yes. I absolutely love myself.’

As I mentioned earlier, when I was teaching, the first thing I ask those individuals, “Would you speak to yourself the way you think about yourself? Would you speak to yourself that way to your husband, your wife, your children, and your friends?” Immediately they would say, “No, I wouldn’t.” Because the self-talk that we’ve programmed ourselves of is horrendous, ‘Oh, I’m stupid,’ ‘I’m ugly,’ ‘I’m fat.’ In other words, we put ourselves down constantly, ‘Oh, why did I say it? I am such a fool.’

One of the ingredients to self-love is we have to like ourselves. We must begin to speak to ourselves like someone we care for or someone we like. We have to take a step back and go, ‘Wait a minute, I’m not a fool. I’m not stupid. Everybody makes mistakes,’ so on and so forth.

I’m really attempting to change my life here and I can like that. Ooh, there’s something to like myself.

I’m beginning to discover that I am worthy. There is something else to like about myself.

I’m using the discipline to consider that for a change instead of, as the Hindus refer to it, allowing the ‘drunken monkey’, (our conscious awareness) to run away with how terrible we are.

Gradually, especially in my practice, one of the core issues we begin to work on is self-esteem, building self-confidence, and self-awareness; all of these terrible things that we put the box about ourselves. Let’s open up that box and let’s take a look at it, Brian. Let’s see what’s really going on.

Are you this terrible, horrible person that God and humanity just tolerates on this earth (laughs), or is that something you’ve created for yourself? Without question, it’s something we’ve created for ourselves. We begin to de-engineer all of that.

‘Oh, wait, you say you’re no good to people? Yet it seems to me – especially since you’ve developed this codependent neurosis – you do more for other people than you do for yourself. That’s a pretty good person, isn’t it?’

‘Yeah, yeah. Yes, Doc, it seems to be,’ they say.

‘Alright, if you’re a pretty good person, then you must be likeable.’

‘Gee, I never thought about it that way.’

If we begin to like ourselves, and what we’re doing for ourselves, then we move on to the second step; self-trusting. If we don’t like someone, we’re not going to trust them. If we don’t trust them, we’re sure  not going to love them.

Each week, when my patients/clients come into the office, we have to step back and see how they’re doing. “What have you done for yourself?” “You know, Doc? I really thought about what we talked about in our session. These events came up, this situation, I set limits and boundaries and that really felt good. I can begin to trust myself to be aware when I begin to feel less than especially in a codependent relationship. ‘Wait a minute, I’m going to set a limit. I’m going to set a boundary here.’ By that, I begin to trust that I like myself and I trust that I can, I will, and I am going to set reasonable boundaries for myself, not only with my codependent partner in situation here, but with all things. Then, I can really begin to love myself for doing that, not only for myself but for the positive results that come from that.” Does that answer the question?

Brian: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense.

Questions: The next question of course is, let’s say that you didn’t naturally love yourself due to the way you were brought up. Maybe, like you said, it’s something we create or gets created somehow that we’re not lovable or likeable – where do you go from there?

You did a good job laying out some things you can do to get to the next level, which is great. I’d like to dig into that a little bit more and just talk about the concept of loving yourself in the first place.

Another question for you would be, what is it about love that makes us need it so much, even to the point of desperately trying to get it from other people when we can’t give it to ourselves? I guess the other question is, what is the nature of this thing that we call love? Is love really even the word that we should be using?

Sharr: I’m not so certain that love is the correct word. Brian, we tend to think of love as this all-giving, all-wonderful thing. Again, technically – don’t let anybody get upset with this – but love is a very selfish emotion. We cannot, on any level, use in a relationship of any kind – whether it be a friendship, a marriage, no matter what it is, many levels of love – every aspect of love comes back to self. Think about the terms that we use; ‘I love her,’ ‘She makes me happy,’ so on and so forth. It’s really about ourselves. When we’re lacking in self-love, then we’re going to attempt to draw that from every relationship we’ve got.

Here’s where the problem is as well – all of those people are also lacking in self-love. Everyone is functioning on need instead of want. When we are in a relationship of need, anything that we need, we make demands of. We also give up our power to the other person in the relationship totally. The example I use is we become the prisoner and they become the jailer. We need the jailer to bring us food, water, and to let us go out in the sun. I’m telling you, we better hop to it when the jailer wants something.

However, if we want, then we can begin to set limits and boundaries. Here’s the caveat, we can only want when we have self-love; why? Because if we set a reasonable limit and boundary; ‘Honey, please, you got to get help with your drinking,’ or ‘Baby, look, we need counseling. We need to learn to communicate better.’ And the other person goes, ‘No, no, no. It’s not fine with me. I love you. However, I do not want, let alone need this kind of behavior in our relationship.’

Also, if you allow yourself to understand that, if you love yourself, then the honeymoon never ends in a relationship. You’re always going to make certain that your partner always wants you because she or he is just on the same page you are; ‘I love you. I want you in my life but I don’t need you in my life.’ ‘Oh, well then, Honey, I’m going to make sure that I’m always going to tell you that you’re pretty, I’m going to open the car door for you, and we’re going to have date night,’ why I always want you to want me.

If we look at codependent relationships, for example, that doesn’t exist; they don’t, both individuals – the narcissistic personality disorder and the individual chasing around after them – what we refer to as the ‘Cody’. It’s a completely sick relationship where, ‘Here she is, the jailer, and there’s the prisoner.’ No matter what the prisoner does, it’s never going to be good enough for the jailer. Ironically because the person with the character disorder, personality disorder – whatever you want to call it – they, on so many levels, are worse off than the individual they’re perpetrating it with. What we really want to do is set up a foundation of want, not need. We all want people in our lives but do we really need people that are going to make us feel less than, that we can communicate with? No, not at all.

Interestingly enough, the more we like, the more we trust, the more we love ourselves, the easier it is to stay calm, to not subconsciously panic and basically go, ‘Oh, my God. I’m losing them.’ One of the things that makes me laugh as a psychologist, Brian – and everybody hears this, and who came up with this bright idea, I have no idea – but somebody decided that we only use ten percent of our brain. In that were the case, we’d make an amoeba look like a PhD. There’s a point to this; the reality is that we use ten percent of our awareness. Ninety percent of our awareness, we’re not aware of at all. We are aware of the outcome of that ninety percent of the subconscious action reaction. Once we stop, we back up, and ask ourselves really simple questions, ‘Do I honestly like myself?’ If the answer is ‘no’, then, ‘Why don’t I like myself? Well, because I’m stupid and dumb.’ There you go. That’s part of the programming.

Let’s go back even further. Mom and dad had their issues. They’re wonderful people. Most parents never intend to hurt their children for crying out loud; they really don’t. The problem is that they’ve been driving blind-folded all of their life, so they really are out of control as well. The child is there, and of course, as children, we misinterpret, misunderstand, and more and more we get into the self-deprecating, subconscious way of talking to ourselves. Ninety percent of the time, our subconscious is saying, ‘You’re not lovable so you better do whatever your partner, your family, your dysfunctional situation says or you’re no good at all.’ Does that kind of answer the question for you?

Brian: Yeah. It’s a great answer. It raises another question that I’d like to ask.

Question: You brought up the polar opposite sort of attraction of the narcissistic individual or the ‘jailer’, and then person you referred to as the ‘Cody’, the codependent or the prisoner, and how this sort of chase ensues; there is this unhealthy attraction that happens.

What seems ironic to me – and I never thought about it this way until I heard you talking just now – is that as a codependent, we would go looking for this love, this thing that we need that we should be able to provide ourselves, where instead we’re trying to get it from another person. Isn’t it ironic that there’s a tendency for codependents to try to get it from people who are completely careless and abusive with it? But the people who could really provide it – let’s call them normal or healthy people – codependents don’t tend to be attracted to them at all. Why is that?

Sharr: Let’s keep it simple. Let’s go back to the beginning. We have the primary caretakers. From zero to eight, nature has provided the brain with what we call imprintation. Just to keep it simple, for this session at least, imprintation isn’t good, isn’t bad, it’s simply is. The brain goes through a series of physiological as well as emotional developments which, again, I would love to discuss with you and your listeners another time. But right now, let’s just assume that from zero to eight, mom and dad are dysfunctional individuals. Maybe any one or a series of neurotic behaviors of these dear souls have developed through their life. We attempt, as children, and nature makes certain of this, that the most important thing is pleasing the primary caretakers. An infant is literally programmed by nature, by biology at birth to do that. The child grows up not pleasing mother and father according to the understanding of the child. This is true not only with codependency but most neurotic situations.

So, what do we do? At first, of course, as we know with good old Sigmund (Freud), we all go through that Oedipus phase where, ‘Oh, mommy and daddy are the main entities in our life and it’s all about mommy and daddy.’ As we mature, we go, ‘Ah, who cares about mommy and daddy?’ But mommy and daddy, the primary caretakers, are the jailers. They are the ones with the keys, the ones with the bread and water for us.

At some point, we get into our teens and go, ‘We don’t care about mommy and daddy anymore.’ We basically, what I call, paint the elephant a different color. We are consciously not aware of this at all. But what we do is we go out and we seek out similar individuals with similar personality characteristics. Now, it may be a case of what I call red elephant-blue elephant. The only difference is that one’s painted red and the other is blue but they’re both elephants. ‘I couldn’t get this love, this understanding from mother or father, the primary caretakers, but I’ll get it from my girlfriend over here. She’s just like my mother, she’s just like my father. I’ll prove to her and she will give me this love that I can’t find for myself. She will bless me with ‘I am worthy.’ Of course that never happens. So we try harder and harder and harder until there’s nothing left of us at all.

This is why, neurotically, a man or a woman, Mrs. Right, Mr. Right, could walk right up to us, and we ignore them. Our friends will hit their forehead and say, ‘What were they thinking? I introduced Suzie Q over here to Bill, my best friend, who is the nicest guy God ever put on earth. He’s well-off, he’s a professional, yet she wouldn’t give the time a day. However, Harry, the guy that works down the hall, she met him. He is the most narcissistic, miserable human being I have ever met my life, and she’s all over the guy.

If we were to go back and meet her parents and their personality, their characters would most probably mirror the guy down the hall instead of my buddy over here. Here’s why, here’s the clincher, Brian, this is the all-time insult to everyone of us…

In the vast majority of relationships, romantic relationship, love relationships – if it doesn’t hurt, it isn’t love.

You’re probably thinking, ‘What do you mean by that? That’s ridiculous.’ ‘No. Mom and dad hurt me constantly. They never gave me what I wanted and needed from them as a child,’ (we use the term need there.) ‘But I know that my mom and dad would take a bullet for me. I know that my mother and father love me; so love equals pain. If I don’t feel pain, I’m not loved. This new guy down the hall here that you just introduced me to makes me feel like crap, it hurts like hell. I must be in love with him.’ You think that sounds crazy? It isn’t.

One of the biggest issues, especially with high codependents, is breaking that love cycle. Brian, they will literally walk into my office and go, “Doc, here’s what I’m terrified of – feeling nothing.” I said, “What do you mean feeling nothing? You can’t feel nothing.” “I feel this intent to do this passion with this dysfunctional screwed-up person I’m with. I’ve noticed that since I’ve been coming to therapy here with you and doing these things, that feeling is lessening. What I’m most afraid of it, is that this therapy is going to leave me feeling nothing,” which is absolutely ridiculous. What it will do is leave you being aware. Pain is not love.

It’s like Pavlov’s Dogs, the subconscious aspects of the brain that are all about association. Pavlov’s Dogs, for your listeners who aren’t familiar – Pavlov did experiments with the association of ringing a bell when dogs were fed. Pretty soon, he can take away the food and ring the bell and the dogs would salivate as if the food was there even though there was no food at all. If we think of the neurosis, the individual is ringing a bell (a neurotic bell), we go, ‘Oh, I can associate that. My parents had a bell like that. This guy or this woman has a bell like that. I could love them because it will hurt so bad. I know I’m in love.’

Brian: That makes sense out of the term drama, being addicted to drama.

Sharr: Absolutely. People that exist on histrionics is the psychological term. If there isn’t hysteria, if there isn’t turmoil, then something’s wrong. We can’t just have a family that doesn’t argue, fight, and so on and so forth. Why? ‘My family has always done this, my grandparents did this. My grandparents were miserable but they stayed together for fifty years. And we’re gonna do the same, if I have to beat it in your head.’ ‘Ooh, sounds real loving and wonderful to me, doesn’t it?’ (sarcastically)

Brian: Yeah, absolutely.

I’d love to understand what the prescription is for this in a second because I think we’ve tidied up so well at this point. I would love to hear more about what you think the solution is around this, for someone who finds themselves here. I do have somewhat linked the question for you so bear with me.

Question: I want to see what you would say to a person who walked into your office and said this – by the way, it’s a verbatim quote from a person who sent me a note on my website and I just want to see what you would have to say about it – here’s what he/she said…

“I identify with some of the symptoms of codependency; a lack of self-love, needing validation from others, some of the passive aggressive controlling tactics used when I feel someone moving away from me, putting other’s needs above my own to the point of becoming a doormat and unattractive, difficulty setting boundaries. Then I look at narcissism, I wonder if that’s me and if I’m lying to myself, but I’m pretty sure I don’t fit the bill since I always tend to be more of a rescuer. It’s almost as if when someone is defective or needs me, it makes me feel safer. When they don’t need me, it makes me feel really insecure and paranoid. I have difficulty with wondering what they’re thinking. I know I take longer than most to get over a break up and I tend to obsess more to the point of depression and mental health problems so I will accept people back into my life whom I know on some innate level aren’t right for me or may leave again just out of the hope that one day, someone will love me forever.”

I know there’s a lot in there but what would you say to this person?

Sharr: This individual is a classic example. In fact, it illustrates the answer given prior. This individual isn’t looking to fix or to help, they’re looking for pain, the dear soul, because it is manipulative.

What are they are aware of? They’re aware that they want something from this other person. The narcissist wants something from the Cody, so they’re both aware of this. The narcissist is going to see it completely differently, of course, so their opinion in this particular question doesn’t even matter. The codependent is aware that they want something from the narcissist. This is where this individual is mistaking in their own self-analysis which is the worst thing a person can do.  They’re self-analyzing that, ‘Oh, I want something,’ but again, keeping it simple, what do they really want? The answer is Love.

To answer their question of, ‘Why do I keep taking them back to get the pain? Well, with the pain, they got love.’

In addition, the worse the relationship (the more they need to fix the narcissist), the less time they have to look at themselves.

Basically, they’re running around constantly looking for this emotional fix of pain and distraction. The poor dears are so confused that, just like the individual responding to you, they completely misdiagnose themselves and completely misunderstand what it is and why they’re doing it.

Again, it’s all a question of self-distraction. If you’re sitting there thinking, ‘Gee, I’ve got to save Suzie Q from herself,’ then they’re not sitting there thinking, ‘What do I need to do for myself? What do I need to give to myself?’

The core issue in the vast majority of cases with neurosis goes back to the foundly dynamics. It’s simple. Say to yourself, ‘What is it as a child that I always desperately wanted to hear, to have said to me from my primary caretakers (mom and dad)? What is it that I wanted them to say to me? What is it that I wanted them to do desperately?’ Then stop and think, ‘Am I doing that for myself? Am I giving myself the pat on the back of, ‘Son, you’re going to do great in life, I’m proud of you,’ ‘Daughter, you’re beautiful and wonderful.’ No, no. I don’t do that at all, quite the contrary. I’ve got to go out and find… (back to surrogate mom and dad), someone outside of myself to give me worth.

Does that kind of answer the question in your opinion? If not, I’ll keep going.

Brian: That’s wonderful commentary.

Question: It seems like almost a twisted version of what they think they need. Because if you’re equating pain with love, obviously, that’s not what you need. It’s just interesting that’s what we pursue when we have that sort of upbringing. But at the same time, it seems like eventually, hopefully, people come to the conclusion that this isn’t working. It all eventually breaks down and then they realize, ‘Hey, there’s something more here, I’m missing out on something. This just isn’t working.’ Is that usually the point in time where people come to someone like you and say, ‘Hey, help me solve this?’

Sharr: Think of it this way, my friend – let’s say they purchase a pair of shoes or a suit, or a woman will purchase a purse or a dress, whatever. The things that they purchase are theirs, but those things are not them. We get up tomorrow morning and look at the shoes that we have in our closet and say, ‘Ah, I don’t know why I bought these shoes, they’re terrible. I can change them. I don’t need to wear these shoes anymore.’ Or as a lot of women will do when they get in a relationship with a man, they’ll say, ‘The first thing we’re going to do is redress you.’ The man goes, ‘But I like these sloppy looking clothes and shorts.’ She says, ‘Yeah, but we’re going to get you new ones.’ In other words, the neurotic behavior, the dysfunction is like the shoes, the shirt, or the suit that anyone owns. It’s ours, but it’s not us, and we know on some inherent level that it’s not us.

As the Bible says, “If thine eye offends thee, pluck it out.” What kind of fools if we do that, I’m sorry, Bible, I’m not lobbing off my hand or my leg. But I can throw out the shoes, I can get rid of the shirt if I don’t like it. The same principle applies with neurosis. They realize that, metaphorically, these shoes that they’ve been wearing have been hurting their feet. ‘Maybe I need new shoes. Maybe I’ve been measured wrong. So, I’ll go see this psychologist, this Dr. C guy and get him to metaphorically measure me and see if I’m wearing the right outfit.’ We’re aware of it on some level.

Every single person that works into my office is aware that something isn’t right, they’re just not certain what. This then leads us to the ability of self-discovery and self-awareness. ‘Here’s your problem, lady, the plumber says. It’s backed up, you’re not loving yourself, you’re not taking care of yourself.’ ‘Doc, how do I do that?’ Then as the person begins to like, trust, and eventually love themselves, they become familiar with the concept that, ‘You know, when I’m talking nice to myself, it feels good. It doesn’t have to hurt. I like when things don’t hurt. I’ve noticed that I’ve been backing out more and more with my friends that would hurt me, that would reinforce my neurosis. I’ve been kind of aligning myself with new friends that seem to support this new self-viewing. I really like that. I trust that these new friends are just that – new friends. They’re kind of reflecting my self-view . Now, you know what Doc? I think I’m really beginning to love myself, and that weird abstract concept that you told me that love isn’t supposed to hurt – I think I’m beginning to feel that. I think I’m beginning to feel love, self-love.’

Brian: Yeah. Okay, this is the gold right here. The conversation we’ve had thus far is a wonderful tee up to this part.

Questions: This is the million dollar question, how do we go from A to B and how long does it take? I’m sure that the answer just varies for everybody.

But, really, let’s say somebody has an invalidating upbringing – manipulation, control abuse, maybe there’s addiction in the home, they’ve really been scarred, and they’re chasing after the pain instead of real ‘love.’ Let’s say they become aware of this and they want to start doing something about it. What are some of the things you have them do, and how long does it take to start actually feeling and seeing results from that?

I know this is an in-depth question that I’m asking you here, but what does the whole landscape of going from A to B look like? What kind of effort does it take? How hard is it? How long should someone realistically expect before they’re ready to open themselves up to healthy relationships for the long-term?

Sharr: Well, long complicated question, very, very simple answer to that…

(aaaaaaand… we’re ending this episode right here on a cliff-hanger. In the next episode, Dr. C. will answer this question, and we’ll spend the whole episode talking about what to do if you find yourself low on self-love.)

We Want To Hear From YOU!

What did you learn from this episode? Do you have any questions? Is there anything else you’d like to add? Comment below!

  1. Wonderful synopsis of this disease, love Dr C!!
    Can see why he is so popular. Also your questions are right on, you are such a great spokesman for us “Cody’s”.
    Can’t wait for the next podcast. I am struck by how universal this disfunction really is, that in itself makes it easier to accept and love ones self. Learning how to create & maintain healthy relationships is the challenge
    we can clearly meet, how inspiring and hopeful your
    Speaker is!

    • Thanks Kathy!

      I’m looking forward to publishing the next episode with Dr. C! 🙂

  2. I was feeling bad all day for the stupid choice I made in choosing a partner and staying so long. After hearing this I understand why I made the choice I did. So happy for being in recovery. Grieving the past, but am grateful that I have the power to create a life that I choose to live and I get to choose who I want in my life. The best is yet to come!!! Thank you so much

  3. Love this interview and Dr C! What really hit home with me is the fact that I not only needed to learn to like/love myself but I had to learn to TRUST myself. This interview helped me to realize how much I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t trust myself because I wasn’t taking care of my needs, which only proved that I couldn’t trust myself. What a vicious cycle! I am well into my recovery from Codependency, but I still enjoy listening to your podcasts. We can never learn enough about Codependency. We are always a work in progress, getting better and better. Thanks!

    • Hey Debbie, it’s been a while!

      I hope you’re well, and thanks for all you do to help others with these issues.

      Thanks for continuing to listen, I’m glad you’re enjoying them.


  4. Dear Brian,
    i just want to thank you for putting the interviews and other material to help people out here. i am from England and so weary of bombardment from so called spiritual and healing websites, using a now familiar style that i think of as american, or extreme capitalist, some times from sites or organisations promoting conscious capitalism, and contradicting their very message by their style of relentless advertising and emails that leave one desperate for them to stop, exhaust with trying to keep on top of the inbox, etc, and countless offers that are only at the end of very long emails. you scroll and scroll, lured on by false promises of further info, only to find a one time (lie) offer, of 99.99 or something, for a book or course or e-book that normally costs 399 or such like, which could be got for a normal book price in a bookshop.

    You do not do this! You share kind and helpful information! It warms my heart so much. thank you. you are not promoting yourself or someone else as a fantastic healer or master (mistress?) of feminine power, say, who really seems rather to be using narcissist techniques, preying on the weak or gullible who are seeking help to get their money….
    Thank you!

    sorry this is so long… but for my question. I have come a fair way, i think/hope. I love me, though i am far from perfect, but my self talk is understanding and kind. i tried for years to help my partner, who i instantly realised was fatal attraction type, in many ways like my damaged mother who as an only child i wanted to rescue. I also had abandonment issues, my mother not having got over my father leaving until i had my first child..26 years of hatred..
    it was tough, i have worked on myself however, pretty well… yet this fatal attraction was too powerful to resist. at first i thought he was a sociopath and a sex addict. but later, i got to know his ex wife a little as he saw their daughter. she is a wise and kind woman, and she suggested narcissistic personality disorder. it made more sense. it took me years to find out about co dependency, but after so much pain, and every kind of abuse, i was ready. i also read women who love too much
    when i finally asked him to address his abusive behaviour he walked out. the main agony (there are so many, he has used me so much, money many lies, so much horror…) is that we have a wonderful daughter, aged 6. i saw the love there. he is good to her. but such a dangerous man. i am in a great dilemma about what to do.
    and i still have not got to my question!
    what about narcissists? my issue has always been trying to heal and rescue them. i see this is my selfish need to heal my past, my mother, not just an angelic nature, willing to suffer so much for love – ha, though one often feels like Christ on the cross!
    but what Dr C said made sense to me – regarding rhe neurotic. the awareness of the problem and possibility of change. despite the challenge of this as our core beliefs and affections may still be towards damaged people who pull at those old chords in our hearts. i hope not… at the mo ever trusting anyone again is where i am… aware maybe that his pain and deep damage was all he knew to give me, so that i am now feeling perhaps some of what underlies his pathological behaviour.
    so what of narcissists? are they psychotic then? unable to change? what is their motivation and attraction to the hapless (yet willing) victim? their relationship to the parents that is playing out again?
    may be i am unusual in this, and maybe it is seen as a way to deflect from myself, but i also embrace looking at myself & changing, and over the years i have. but the narcissist is still an enigma to me. his behaviour truly seems insane to me… my particular one now of course calls me the narcissist and sets himself up as a healer. meanwhile i take care of 4 children and work to help others in the nhs… he has most reminded me of my patients. he seems very dangerous to me… his ex wife had wanted to warn me.. but still… fragments of awareness come up in him… then are gone.. what of the narcissist? what help for them, if any? and how to understand them, deeply, truly, rather than just branding them as bad. it would help me so much in healing and letting go if i had a more settled understanding of this. are they just too broken? this is how i have come to understand my mother and set boundaries in the end. it still hurts though. i still see the person that i love as so broken and suffering. but there is no way that our help can seem to reach them. this love, that prays for them, that cries for them, is not only selfish. it is also sadness for humanity. for wishing they could be freed of such self sabotage. especially when we see how wonderful they are in so many other ways..

    i hope some of this outpouring makes sense
    in gratitude,

    • Hi Nell, and thank you for the note 🙂

      Your question about narcissists is not unusual, and narcissistic abuse is often what prompts the investigation for us to start taking steps to heal.

      In fact, in my research, around 20% of the people who visit this site are dealing with people they believe to be narcissists. That’s a significant percentage!

      Without being a mental health professional myself, let me first explain my understanding, and then link to someone that I know to be a pretty solid authority on the topic (whom I also know to operate with integrity in her platform).

      People diagnosed with NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) GENERALLY won’t have empathy for your pain, won’t believe they’ve done anything wrong even if they’ve hurt you, and won’t even see the need for help. Generally, they are highly driven by lifting their own ego, and they see people, possessions, control, sex, money, etc. as instruments to build up that ego.

      So to answer your question in a basic way – their motivation to feed their ego draws them strongly to people with codependent tendencies because people with codependent tendencies are often willing to give and give so the narcissist can take and take. The person with codependent tendencies will also tend to deny that there’s any problem with this, will be weak with boundaries, and will let the narcissistic person have their way until the codependent is pushed to their limit.

      Interestingly, the narcissistic person will keep their “supply” (the codependent person) around as long as they’re willing to stay. Even if the narcissistic person threatens to leave the relationship or does leave, they’ll tend to keep the codependent person around as much as they’re willing to come around.

      Ultimately, a narcissistic person is not prone to changing, and unfortunately there’s not usually much we can do to help them, even as bad as we may feel for them.

      Kim Saeed at has lots of solid information on narcissistic abuse and recovery.

      I hope that helps a little bit, Nell!

      Keep Moving Forward,


    • Hi Thea,

      Thanks for your note, and the compliment on the podcast!

      I’d also refer you to for a better understanding of narcissism.

      It sounds like you’ve been persevering in spite of some difficult circumstances. I wish you all the best as you continue to move forward Thea 🙂