Tag Archives: cognitive dissonance

Lowering Your Standards Does Not Raise Your Self Worth

When we “settle” for less than we deserve, whether we realize it or not; our self-worth suffers.

When we met the narcissist we thought he was a high quality person, someone with principles and high standards, someone in line with our high standards and morals. As we got to know him better we started to witness things that hinted he was not as moral as he pretends to be. A questionable business deal, a friendship destroyed by some disloyalty of his, accusations of wrong doing. You might not be able to identify anything specific but your gut is telling you something is off.

You don’t want to falsely accuse him so you don’t confront him at first or if you do, you are careful to not sound accusatory.

With my ex it was when a neighbor offered to let him buy a motorcycle really cheap because it wasn’t running. My ex didn’t have the $400 so the guy said he could pay over time but the bike would stay with him until it was paid for.

My ex immediately started checking Craigslist for Swap/Trade Ads and found one where a guy wanted to trade a BWM for a motorcycle.

He called the guy and was talking like he had just been out for a ride on the bike and had owned it for a couple of years. He told the guy he would bring the bike down and come look at the car.

He went to the owner of the bike and begged to take the bike home so he could work on it so it would be running when he had it paid for. The owner said OK but he was keeping the registration.

My ex had the bike in his shop less than an hour and had it running. He loaded it on his flat deck and drove out of the park we lived in.

When the owner of the bike got home from work all the neighbors told him my ex had left the park with his bike on the truck. He was furious and I didn’t blame him, I was furious. He couldn’t trade something he hadn’t paid for.

My ex came home with the BMW but the owner of the car wouldn’t give him the registration until he got the registration for the bike.

I was pissed! Now what was he going to do? I knew it!! A person should never lie, it always bites you in the ass. But he was not the least bit concerned. He told me to mind my own business, this is how people do business all the time. I had to let it go but it drove me crazy with worry. What were the neighbors thinking? I was such an honest person.

After a week of the two guys calling him constantly wanting the reggie or money he took the wheels off the BMW and sold them for $400, paid for the bike, got the registration and took it to the owner of the BMW.

He bought the bike owner a bottle of wine and everyone was happy.

I thought maybe I was wrong.

There were other questionable deals and he always told me to shut up and mind my own business, I didn’t know anything about wheeling and dealing. People were always getting upset with him, he was accused of stealing but somehow he always avoided being charged with anything.

I thought perhaps I was being too black and white and maybe there were grey areas of the law. I knew I had always been inflexible when it came to breaking the law, drugs, fidelity.

The more I compromised the more he pushed the boundaries. Life with him was a constant contradiction, praising the Lord one day and stealing the next. Being charitable and kind to others and selfish and mean with me.

He would be so sweet butter would melt in his mouth in front of the neighbors but then every time I walked out of the house by myself the neighbors would come running to complain about how inconsiderate he was. I told them to speak to him directly because I had no control over what he did. I had tried to explain why the neighbors were upset about him working in his shop at 2 am, but it seemed the more I tried to explain the more he did it. He enjoyed pissing people off, yet would try to smooth things over and it always worked.

It was as if he was trying to force me down to his level. At times he used my good reputation to his advantage. People would tend to believe he must be telling the truth because an honest person like me wouldn’t be with someone who wasn’t honest and I always staunchly defended him. I truly thought he was honest just naive. How naive of ME!! I still wonder about some things being the truth or bullshit.

My God, there were so many questionable incidents and for years I gave him the benefit of doubt explaining over and over again that; if you take something that doesn’t belong to you people think you are stealing. I know it sounds crazy to be explaining that to a 40 year old man but he always has some excuse. It was in the garbage so he took it, someone who doesn’t work there any more gave it to him, the boss said he could take it but forgot he said it or changed his mind.

In the 10 years I was with him I had 3 vehicles stolen and he had 3 stolen and totalled one for the insurance money. (I can’t prove it but I know) Six vehicles stolen in 10 years. But I finally did get smart and would keep my registration hidden from him. Now that is a healthy relationship! You hide the registration from the man you love, your soul mate, what does that tell you?

He got fired from every job he ever had. When he had a job he would work 7 days a week. I think because then he would be alone at work and able to steal shit plus he wanted to make sure no one figured out what he was doing. I have never known anyone who went to work one morning and his key no longer fit the lock on the door and he was fired. They were holding his final pay cheque and his tools box was either confiscated or outside the gate.

It happened to him 3 times! And for half of our relationship he was self employed!

I used to insure his truck because I got a 43% discount on my insurance and he had a 43% surcharge added to his. I signed a transfer and tax form in case something happened to me he could sign it over to his name. He told me he had lost it and gave me another one to sign. I was going to fill out the details like the VIN # and he said not to bother, he would fill it in. He kept losing them and I had signed half a dozen of them until one day I ran into a friend. He was on the way to the bank to get money out because he was buying a truck from my ex. I offered to drive him to the bank and I asked which truck he was buying. The blue one parked out front? No the yellow one parked out back.

I argued “No, you can’t be, that’s my truck.”

He insisted that was the truck he was buying, he even had a transfer and tax form with my signature on it!!!

Alarm bells, sirens were ringing, lights were flashing, my own foot came up and kicked me in the ass.

Needless to say, he never bought my truck BUT my truck never ran again either.

* Narcissists do not like to be thwarted.

There were distinct stages of denial I went through until I was in full blown cognitive dissonance before I came full circle to reality again. See if you can relate to any of these.

– At first I truly believed with all my heart he was totally honest and could never break the law or lie. How did I know this-he told me. That’s how. And he said it with such conviction. He had this innocent, country boy, charm going on and I defended him ferociously!

– After he had been accused several times of stealing I still told myself he was stupid. He didn’t mean to steal, it was a misunderstanding. How did I know this? Well, because he told me they misunderstood his motives.

– I eventually got to the stage of telling myself I was not responsible for his actions. I would just turn a blind eye to what he was doing in business, his “deals” and lead my life honestly. I stopped trying to “fix” the messes he created.

– There was one problem with not cleaning up his messes. His messes almost definitely automatically became my messes and I would have to deal with them. If he lost his job, we couldn’t pay the rent, we got evicted, I would have to clean up the mess. Guys he has pissed off run us off the road while I’m driving becomes my problem also. Guys he stole from call me and threaten to come over and stay with me until he shows up and they are drunk and yelling about blood flowing and I end up driving around with my dog afraid to go home; it is now MY problem.

– I started to want to warn new friends he made. Like, how do you casually tell someone “don’t do any business deals with him and you might want to start locking your shop. He tends to have a lot of misunderstandings that will cost you money.”

– I started to not tell people he was my boyfriend, especially customers. The voices in my head kept saying, “How can you love someone you are ashamed to admit is your boyfriend?

– I would make deals with myself. If he gets arrested: I am out of here. When I had dumped him one time he came to me saying he had volunteered to go on a missionary trip to Sudan Africa. I thought, “If he actually goes and does this, I will give him another chance.” It took me years to get the truth about what happened in Sudan and it was anything but charitable.

– Finally I could not deny it any longer and could not rationalize it any more. There were no more excuses, I could not turn a blind eye, could not teach him right from wrong, was ashamed to be seen with him, couldn’t trust him to not destroy my truck (in fact I knew without a doubt he WAS sabotaging my truck). I refused to haul anything for him because I was afraid it was stolen. I broke up with him but I made a crucial mistake; I didn’t go no contact.

Any access a narcissist has to you is a bad thing for you!

Miraculously I had managed to retain my good reputation; a person has nothing without their reputation. I was proud of that.

I did not realize how a narcissist operates, well to be honest I didn’t know what I was dealing with at that time. But I have since found out that a narcissist will totally turn the tables on the victim. What he did to you he will say you did to him. The only reason he stole stuff was cuz I drove him to it with my demands for more. I sat my lazy ass on the couch all day drinking, eating bon bons and cracking the whip. He just could not make me happy.

The only reason he screwed around was because I was a suspicious psycho bitch.

He purposely sabotaged my work truck so I couldn’t pay my debts. And he called all my customers with anonymous complaints and then spread the “fake news” so it became fact that I could not be trusted. He called employers as a “concerned citizen”. I figured out what he was doing when I found his blog where he was talking about how a concerned citizen had called my boss. Funny thing is I had purposely not told a soul so if he knew he had to be the one who made the call.

But, having to defend yourself, constantly doing damage control, and wondering who he has talked to, all wears you down. Your self esteem, already low due to his gas lighting and abuse; melts through the cracks.

It makes it so much harder to recover. You either get sick like me and just give up or you move away.

The very best thing you can do? Avoid the whole shit show in the first place! What a novel idea!!

– Don’t trust someone just because they say they are honest – wait and see how they operate over time.

– When you see that their values don’t align with yours. Walk!! Immediately! It is not your job to teach anyone else how to be a good person. If they are over the age of 6 and are lying and stealing it’s too late to change them.

Remember- who you hang out with IS a reflection on you. Are you proud of who you are with? Do you feel perfectly comfortable telling anyone what goes on behind closed doors? Would you want your best friend or daughter dating this guy?

My ex used to say I made him look like an asshole when I talked to people about our relationship. My reply was, “If telling the truth makes you look like an asshole, maybe you should stop acting like an asshole.”

You should never have to lie or cover for your partner. Sure there are things you don’t talk about, like your sex life but you should never have to lie or make excuses for the person you love.

Cognitive Dissonance and How It Helps The Victim Of Abuse Stay

Wikipedia describes cognitive dissonance like this:

Cognitive dissonance

In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort(psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefsideas, or values. The occurrence of cognitive dissonance is a consequence of a person’s performing an action that contradicts personal beliefs, ideals, and values; and also occurs when confronted with new information that contradicts said beliefs, ideals, and values.[1][2]

I always had pretty black and white views on what was right and wrong, legal and illegal, fair and unjust and I had no problem speaking my mind when I thought someone was wrong. I never lied, didn’t tolerate lying from anyone else and prided myself on being a very honest upstanding citizen. 

The first time I remember questioning my ex’s honesty was when he did a business deal. A neighbor had a motorcycle that had been in a flood, he was afraid to start it because it had been submerged. He offered it to my ex for $400. My ex is an amazing mechanic and can get anything working but he didn’t have $400 at the time and had just lost his job.

The deal was the bike would stay where it was until my ex finished paying for it. 

The next day my ex was going through the Buy and Sell; he was always wheeling and dealing and could do quite well at it sometimes. I heard him on the phone saying he owned a motorcycle he was willing to trade for a Mercedes. He was saying, “sure it was running, I just gotten home from riding it”. 

I didn’t think it was right to lie, he didn’t know for sure he could even get it running and besides; he hadn’t bought it yet!

Next thing I know he’s got the motorcycle in his shop and he has it running! Apparently he talked the owner into letting him take it home to work on, but he wouldn’t get the registration until it was paid for.

That same day I find him loading the bike onto his flat deck and he’s heading out to trade it for the Mercedes.  I argued that he couldn’t sell something that didn’t belong to him. I was told to mind my own business; that I had no idea how to wheel and deal. I had to admit he was probably right, I was not a wheeler dealer.

He traded the motorcycle for the car but the owner of the car wouldn’t hand over the registration until he got the reggy for the bike. Now what was my ex going to do??!! 

When we got home the owner of the bike came over spitting mad at my ex. The neighbours had told him his bike left in my ex’s flat deck. Where was his bike??? The whole neighbourhood was up in arms. 

But my ex didn’t miss a beat. He took the wheels off the Mercedes and sold them for $600, took four hundred over to the guy who owned the motorcycle, got the registration, called the owner of the Mercedes and delivered the motorcycle reggie. Everyone was happy. Except me. It was wrong, wasn’t it? He sold something that didn’t belong to him but in the end everyone was happy.

I decided to mind my own business when it came to his business dealings. I told myself that how he did business was no reflection on my standards. 

But he was always being accused of stealing, got fired from every job he had for stealing and people were NOT happy. It got harder and harder to ignore how he did business and was I not just as guilty for staying with a man who stole from people? How could I respect someone who operated opposite to my values.

Then there was the infidelity. But was it infidelity? Was a personal ad actually cheating?  I was sure he wasn’t meeting any women, we were together almost 24/7 and he wasn’t likely to hook up with a Russian Bride. I told myself he was just checking to see if he could still attract women if he wanted to.

Him staying up all night looking at porn and joining dating sites wold have ordinarily been enough for me to walk. But he kept insisting he loved me. I would lay it all out. It’s OK to look at porn, hey, it’s OK to date lots of different women and there are women out there that would be OK with it but I expect fidelity. He would call me paranoid storm, out of the house and I would cry all day. Then he would call, use his “soft” voice, call me Baby and ask how I was. He’d ask if I’d eaten and take me out for dinner. We would be like we were in the beginning. Him staring into my eyes, our hands brushing against each other’s.  Him pulling me close and whispering I love you. Him knowing exactly what to do to drive me insane and then the fantastic sex!!

The next day I would be giddy with love. Certain that he had thought about what I had said and decided he would be faithful. 

After awhile of course I would discover more ads, and eventually he did physically cheat. By that time I was so far into denial I couldn’t face the truth. We had split so many times it had become “just the way we are”. We had such a deep connection and love that neither one of us could deny, we would always end up back together. 

My ex did some really alarming things that in retrospect I should have seen as threats to my safety but I had been denying my gut instincts and basic boundaries for so long I couldn’t recognize the obvious signs my life was in danger.

If his sister had not come to live with us I doubt I ever would have left on my own; my thought processes had become so unhealthy. 

I hear it on the blog all the time; a victim thinks she has control of the situation, the kids aren’t affected, she is “on to him” or the woman he’s screwing around on is a stupid bitch for not believing her when she called the new woman and told her all about him. 

The victim knows that if they accept the truth or stand by their boundaries they would have to leave the narcissist. They will have to face the fact that their fairytale romance was a lie. The love of their life is a fake. It is often times easier to lie to yourself than face the truth. 

The narcissist knows that, that is why he creates the most romantic, movie worthy romance, you are perfect, he is your knight in shining armor rescuing you from all the ugliness of the world, the boredom of marriage, the drudgery of motherhood, whatever it is that is pulling you down. He makes you feel alive, beautiful, safe, exciting, loved just the way you are. This is what meeting your soul mate feels like. This is love, being in his arms becomes like oxygen to the victim so she must somehow rationalize the facts to match her fantasy. 

It becomes so ingrained by her in her own mind that it is very difficult for her to separate the truth from fantasy when she finally leaves the narcissist.

She will go back time after time refusing to fully accept the truth because she has cognitive dissonance and isn’t seeing things with clear eye glasses. It takes months away from the narcissist and the fog that follows them before the victim can think clearly and rationally.

Dealing With A Narcissist Is Not Child’s Play

Many people compare dealing with a narcissist to dealing with a 3 year old and in many ways that is a totally accurate description.

toddlers rulesLike a 3 year old the narcissist will stomp his feet and yell that he hates you for not giving him his way and an hour or so later he is back like nothing happened. He will kick and scream to get what he wants only to not want it once he gets it. Or he will totally ignore a toy and toss it off to the side until someone else shows an interest in it and it immediately becomes his favorite toy or like a 3 year old he wants what everyone else has and will steal it if he has to and then act like he doesn’t understand why he is in trouble.

I found the 3’s to be way worse than the two’s! Give me a 2 year old anyday!!

The problem with a narcissist is; he is a three year old in an adult body and he will never turn 4. You are dealing with a full grown 200 lb adult with a 3 year old mentality, social skills of a child and the temper of a misbehaving toddler yet the strength of a full grown man. It’s hard enough to control a 3 year old throwing a temper tantrum but when it is a full grown man, you could wind up dead. And most victims end up explaining over and over again why something the narcissist does is hurtful and expecting he will eventually understand and stop. Even a 3 year old will learn something if they are told enough times. The victim keeps thinking, “If I could only find a way of explaining it in a way he would understand, he would stop hurting me.” A person gets hooked on the notion that eventually he is going to “get” it and they want to be with him when he does, they certainly don’t want some other woman to reap the benefits of their hard work and pain.

tantrum

Living with a narcissist is much like playing a virtual reality game where you have to find clues and solve the puzzle, every time you do, you go up another level. Only with a narcissist even if you do solve the puzzle you end up going down a level every time until you are in a hole so deep you can’t see your way out. But like any game they can be addicting, like a gambler can’t walk away from the one arm bandit, or the teenager says, “Just let me do this one more level and I promise I will clean my room.” The victim of a narcissist keeps thinking either; if I can prove he is cheating on me, then I will leave. But they get the evidence and the narcissist denies it, they have the proof they wanted yet they still do’t leave because they want the narcissist to admit it and he never will. The narcissist professes his innocence with such conviction the victim doubts their own eyes and ears.

Even after leaving the narcissist victims will stay in touch because they are hooked on solving the puzzle, figuring out what he is doing now and with who. I know of one woman who knows what her husband is, knows he is cheating and yet she doesn’t leave and actually seems to enjoy the game of “catch me if you can”. I have explained to her she is feeding right into his plan and giving him supply so he can keep being his sweet self to the new woman and she keeps proving to him how much she still cares. She thinks she is catching him and being so tricky and smart when he is just playing her like a fiddle. One of my ex’s, ex’s was hooked on catching him 15 years after they split and he loved the attention. Her bizarre behavior validated his story that she was nuts and he fed her just enough information to keep her hooked. She called me and said, “He thinks I am so stupid, that I don’t know what he does but I always figured him out.” and I thought “you poor soul, you have spent 10 years with him, another 15 years catching him at whatever and wasted your life. It hadn’t slowed him down, it actually fed his ego but she had obsessed about him almost 1/2 her life and died a lonely alcoholic and when he told me she had died, he laughed. I vowed to never be like her. It was hard to break the addiction to figuring him out, I was solving puzzles to do with him for a good year after we split. Where did it get me, it gave me blog post material, but it didn’t change anything, and many times when I did solve the puzzle it was far more hurtful than I ever imagined.

The narcissist loves the game of clue, you may think he is lazy or careless to leave something out that makes you suspicious but you can bet he is leaving clues for you to find to create drama and to hurt you. He loves your pain, he loves rubbing your nose in his affairs, he especially loves two women fighting over him.

The victim can think of a million reason why they have to stay in contact with the N, all of them valid in their minds; (I know, I did it too) but if you are really honest with yourself deep down at the root of it is, even though you don’t want to take him back and know he is a narcissist you are not ready to give up one or all of these things;

  1. Solving the puzzle
  2. you don’t want another woman to reap the rewards of your efforts
  3. as long as he is in your life in some form or another, he is still in your life and you are comfortable in the position of victim
  4. you are not prepared to face reality and are clinging to the fantasy of who you thought he was or in other words Cognitive Dissonance

disonence

Below are some related older posts you might find helpful.

As hard as it is; there is only one option, only one way to ever find happiness and peace in your life, only one way to come back from the insanity and confusion you are feeling right now.

https://ladywithatruck.com/2014/10/27/the-repercussions-of-playing-the-game-too-long/

https://ladywithatruck.com/2014/05/06/the-narcissist-game-its-your-move/

https://ladywithatruck.com/2015/09/23/finding-inner-peace-lessons-learned-from-humpty-dumpty/