Growing up I showed compassion and kindness to everyone that I met. Some of this stemmed from a belief that seems to be universal.
Everyone has some good in them.
Now, I certainly believe that we need to have compassion for other people and that most people do have good in them.
However, compassion in the hands of someone who actually has narcissistic personality disorder is extremely dangerous especially when abuse is part of the relationship.
My tendency to believe the best in people and constantly show them empathy and compassion was a trait that was never used against me until I encountered several individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Here is why it can be extremely dangerous to tell victims of narcissistic abuse that they should have compassion.
They can use your compassion against you
Normally when someone is struggling you can have empathy towards their situation and possibly take action and help them.
This is a tactic that isn’t going to work with a narcissist. The reason is that narcissists see empathy as a weakness and something that can be exploited for their own gain.
When you are lending them a hand to pull them out of the water they are drowning in, they aren’t going to accept your help with gratitude and a desire to reciprocate.
Instead, they are going to find a way to pull you in with them, and once they’ve gotten what they want they will end up leaving you in the water by yourself, drowning.
It can give you a false sense of hope that they will change
Hope is one of the strongest emotions.
It keeps us in situations long after we should have walked away. It whispers in our ear and promises that tomorrow will be a better day and that things will change.
For a long time, I showed compassion towards a family member of mine that has NPD. One day he would treat me with kindness and admiration. The next day he would tell me I was going to end up alone and die and that I was nothing.
Then, when I went no contact he would call me crying and promising that he would change.
It got to a point where I had to walk away. I don’t believe that he will change anymore because he is enabled by other members of our family and has no reason to change. He knows that he can get what he wants from everyone else.
They know better
You can go and read accounts by individuals who are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder and they will tell you first hand that they know exactly what they are doing.
Because their actions usually stem from insecurity they can make themselves feel better by putting others down and being cruel.
The reality is that they are choosing not to take control of their lives. They are choosing to play the victim and to take the easy path out.
When a narcissist is about to lose their supply they will often be nice again and change their behavior temporarily. The fact that they are able to be nice for a certain amount of time to get what they want shows that they are capable of being kind… they simply choose not to.
It’s up to the victim if they want to show compassion
Unless they are willing to work on themselves while doing intensive therapy for the rest of their lives, a narcissist is never going to be able to permanently change their behaviors.
It doesn’t matter if you show them love, empathy, and compassion… it won’t make them care. You are not responsible for someone else’s emotions. You are not responsible for someone’s upbringing.
Most of us have had difficult lives and we don’t choose to use that as an excuse to hurt everyone else
But… I’ll tell you this much. I have compassion and love for so many people in my life. There are so many amazing people who treat me with equal respect and love.
Someone who manipulates, devalues, abuses, and refuses to change doesn’t get any of my compassion because they are making their choices.
You get to choose how you want to navigate your healing journey but be careful.
Compassion in the wrong hands can be easily used as a tool for manipulation.