The Empath and the Narcissist

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How do a narcissist and an empath emerge from two children who grew up in the same household with the same parents?


From a very young age, we learn about the world through our senses and our environment which create our mental model of the world. Our cognitive and emotional development takes time to grow and evolve which is why the comprehension of our reality is through our senses. As children, we require constant nurturing, reassurance, and support as we learn to adapt to the world that surrounds us. It is, therefore, imperative to have a strong bond with our parents and other adults in order to feel safe and secure in our environment and to develop a confident, positive sense of self. From then on, we can grow up to become happy, well-rounded, successful, autonomous, and independent individuals. 

Dysfunctional Childhood

You might ask, “What actually happens when a child has been physically and emotionally abandoned without that solid foundation being provided?”

The child automatically knows that something is wrong and goes into survival mode, creating multiple mechanisms to survive on their own.  

When one is extremely damaged emotionally, mentally, and in some cases, even physically, a deep fundamental “core wound’” is created. The child feels neglected, unlovable, ignored, flawed, unworthy, or unattractive, which creates a faulty self-image.

Feeling inadequate, they will try to change the framework of who they are and how they relate to the world so that their needs are met, they can function, and they can feel safe. In some cases, the “self” becomes fragmented where the child feels separated from the world around them and they emotionally detach, feeling numb and lacking a sense of identity. Unfortunately, this unhealthy “core wound” influences who they are and the behavioral patterns that come to emerge.

Energy Dynamics

There are two opposing ends to this energy dynamic scale. On one end, you have one child in the household that becomes angry and frustrated and feels lost. They completely disengage from who they are as that “version” of them isn’t getting what they need and they essentially become an empty vessels. They employ various strategies and techniques in an attempt to try and control their world to come out on top and be the golden child. 

Children are excellent mimics and mirror parents as this is what they know most intimately of all. They begin to manipulate their environment, studying other people’s mannerisms, characteristics, and so on, and adopt them as their own. They are more likely to emulate a narcissistic parent and become good at something the parent likes, further elevating that parent’s sense of grandiosity with their success in order to receive the adulation they need. Of course, other siblings become a threat and can become their scapegoat, so they remain the favourite. The victim has become the perpetrator! This new fractured “false self” is devoid of compassion and empathy as they have lost touch with the reality of who they truly are as the “old self” did not serve them well at all. This is narcissistic energy 101 where the focus is solely on themselves and getting their needs met at all costs. They need to be always the centre of attention to boost their self-esteem. However, what lies well hidden behind their mask of extreme confidence is fragile self-esteem that is vulnerable to the slightest criticism. So, narcissism is one unhealthy way of expressing the broken wounded self and is actually considered to be a personality “disorder”.

Empath Child

Now imagine the other end of the energy dynamic scale, that there is a highly intuitive emotional child who desires harmony and wishes for everyone to get along. They have high emotional intelligence and they can pick up on everyone’s emotions and pain. They are generally sensitive to light, noise, and energy.  They are the “invisible child,” forgotten, ignored, and often neglected. Their feelings are invalidated, and they feel rejected, having to learn to cope with anxieties on their own. As a result of being ridiculed and shamed, especially because of their sensitivities -possibly from a narcissistic parent or sibling, they believe that they do not matter, they are not worthy, and that other people’s needs are more important than theirs. 

Rather than run the risk of further rejection, their survival mechanism is to ignore their own feelings and “tune in” to other people’s feelings and pain and absorb them as their own. Essentially, they give away their own centre of gravity and change their energy in order to have the approval of others. That is, they feel safe and comfortable in other people’s energetic frames. Unfortunately, they create a dynamic where they can no longer differentiate between what is their energy, their pain, their feelings, and someone else’s. In other words, someone else’s pain and happiness become their pain and happiness, as the child actually senses and feels emotions as their own. They engage in people-pleasing behaviors, abandoning themselves, hoping that in return, they will receive the validation, love, and acceptance they so desperately crave. They unknowingly create the identity of the “despised self” and the “victim” and become the scapegoat for the narcissistic sibling. This is the Empath energy, and they escape into a fantasy world of their making, perhaps attempting to connect to something larger such as nature and imaginary friends to ease their pain.

Empaths grow up believing their function is to serve others, becoming co-dependent where others are their source of love, happiness, and validation. They never put themselves first because they are afraid of rejection and cannot bear being alone. They try to be everything to everybody in order to be loved, validated, and accepted. Unfortunately, it leaves them wide open to being matched up to a false self, the narcissist. Indeed, narcissists grow up to become masters of control dramas to maneuver their way out of any situation and to manipulate others for energy as they do not know any healthy ways to engage with others. Now, let us take a look at two adults whereby a narcissist and an empath are in a relationship.

The Seduction Phases

Initially, the narcissist seduces the Empath into a false sense of security by analyzing and studying everything about them much to the delight of the Empath who finally feels “seen,” special, loved, and needed. However, when the narcissist has their prey fully enthralled and hooked, they use what they have learned about them as ammunition against them. They use intimidation to invoke fear in the Empath, using emotional and psychological abuse, which can also at times become physical. They can become the interrogator and aggressor, using a moral high ground to belittle the Empath. They “gaslight” them, shifting the blame, making them believe everything is their fault. The Empath, already feeling unworthy, will take the blame, deprioritize their own needs and become further entangled in the web of deception that the narcissist weaves. They will go to great lengths and extremes to pacify the narcissist, lowering their own energy reserves in the process.  This will not stop the narcissist. They will use more subtle, passive forms of control dramas such as being aloof. This method of manipulation is torture for the Empath as the Narcissist behaves distant, vague, and unresponsive. The Empath will ask “What is wrong?”. The narcissist wanting to keep them engaged will answer “‘Nothing.” This evokes the attention and energy they are looking to feed on, filling up their reserves at the expense of the Empath. The Empath (being the compassionate giver) will then try to “fix” the Narcissist, going out of their way to help heal the Narcissist’s pain. When all else fails, the most passive manipulation of all is the pity party. This is where the narcissist plays the victim with a sob story to elicit sympathy and compassion from the caring Empath, who happily laps it all up, going into full rescuer mode.

And so, the cycle continues the toxic co-dependency of the narcissist being the energy vampire and the empath who is constantly loving and giving. Unfortunately, the Empath fails to comprehend that the narcissist does not want to change, be fixed, or be healed. In fact, they do not see anything wrong with their behaviour at all.  Remember, although they are opposing ends of the spectrum, they both ultimately have a core wound in common. It is the lack of healthy boundaries that draws the narcissist to the Empath, who freely gives their energy away.

Unfortunately, there is a “victim syndrome” amongst empaths that keeps them bound and magnetized to these types of relationships. They normalize, believing that the unhealthy experiences they endure, and all the suffering they go through, is “just part of the Empath package”. This is a misconception and it is not true! The reason they have issues attracting healthy, stable, and secure relationships is that the old survival mechanism they adapted to protect the inner child is sabotaging their happiness. By feeling bound” to others for their happiness and acceptance, they lose their sense of separateness, absorbing everyone’s energy and pain, completely unaware of how to protect themselves. Indeed, trying to fix others is a hidden cry for help for their own painful past. They need to stop trying to erase the reflection in the mirror and heal what is creating the reflection.

To move forward, Empaths must override the old conditioning, formulate their own healthy emotional boundaries, and dispose of the negative energy they have absorbed to find a healthy sense of gravity again. The idea of creating and implementing boundaries can be terrifying for Empaths. Remember they have created a pattern of co-dependency with others, always sacrificing and giving, believing it to be part of their “character” to do so. They have become slaves to the rhythm of everybody else’s drum. However, by not creating boundaries, the Empath is actually holding space for other people’s negativity and becoming covered in a dark veil of someone else’s pain. This, unfortunately, brings up the darkness within them. The biggest issue for empaths is to say “no” to others when they are used to always saying “yes.”  

They need to flip the switch and make boundaries saying yes to themselves! Saying yes to their own self-worth, saying yes to their own ideas, saying yes to their own feelings. It is about prioritizing their own happiness, their own desires, and their own wellness. They know how to draw a line between where they begin and others end. They are no longer a sponge absorbing the energy of everyone around them. They begin to align with their true nature and soul. They become the empowered Empath, nurturing their own inner landscape, transmuting their own pain into valuable wisdom, and inspiring others to do the same. They become autonomous souls: separate, yet being discerning about the energy they may absorb and diffusing the energy regularly, protecting themselves from those who want to encroach on their energy and knowing when someone is violating their ‘limits’. They can then become the instruments of change that they were born to be as elevated, intuitive souls.

Creating the Separation – Exercise

See yourself in a circle of light about 6 feet in circumference all around you. The energy from this light is so bright, so loving, and so comforting, it’s as if you can inhale this light, cell by cell, feeling safe and secure within this energetic light. Allow this light to get brighter and brighter, wider and wider, creating a strong energetic shield, protecting you from anything outside your circle. No one can penetrate your circle of light. 

Feel the separation between you and everyone around you and breathe. It is ok to disconnect from the world to reconnect with your authentic self, becoming aware of where you and your energy ends and everyone else’s begins, feeling that healthy boundary, and your life force returning to you. Now become aware of all the negative energy and emotion you have absorbed from others. See roots growing out of the soles of your feet going down into the earth. Feel all of the negative energy you have absorbed going down away from you through these roots, down into the ground to be transmuted. 

Enjoy the process of decluttering your energy field, allowing your vibration to rise higher, so high that no one can intrude in your energetic space. Now imagine an orb of white light above your head. See that orb of light slowly coming down through the top of your head, cleansing your crown chakra and third eye, down into your throat chakra, moving down through the heart chakra and into your solar plexus, sacral chakra, and root chakra, and finally push that light down through the soles of your feet. 

Feel peace, feel energized. Honour and respect your true feelings. Connect with authentic you and the energy of the universe, feeling safe, loved, and secure. Finally, you can enjoy your own personal space. You have opened up your own power and magnetism of your being. It is your right to fill your cup of life to the brim. You are consciousness awakening.

Commit to Your Healing

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