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Do you know the difference between building self esteem and priming someone’s ego?

“Like an addictive drug, ego is very seductive
and makes us feel good, while at the same time alienating
the very people in our life who really care.
Once addicted, the ‘feel good’ becomes all we crave
while, without seeing it, we begin to destroy
everything truly valuable in our life.”

Today I want to challenge you to be with your friends and family without building them up and without putting them down.

One nice thing to say, I find, is “You don’t have to do anything to be nice to be around. Even when you are quiet and doing something else I can still really feel you here with me.”

Then just get on with being you and enjoy the relaxed companionship which hopefully follows.

Let me know how you go with this, it is more powerful than you may at first realise.

Kim is the author of seven books on the topic of relationships and emotional intelligence.

A prolific multi-media content innovator, Kim has created and shared a library of articles and multi-media educational tools including radio shows,
movies and poetry on 'The NC Marriage', and 'The Love Safety Net'.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Hey Kim & Steve!
    You guys never cease to amaze me. As simple as this strategy may be, too many of us either ignore it, or forget it. We get far too tangled in daily rituals or walking around the ‘dance’ that it escapes us. When in reality that is what we need.

    I’m in a relationship/marriage to be able to grow old with that person. Being able to do this very thing. Why should I feel as though I should be entertaining them?

  2. So I slept on this and I still came up with the same scenerio in my life. I hope I’m understanding this correctly. I’ve written more than the direct correlation to the above blog article.

    My N husband also has ADHD. With that comes alot of impulsive behaviors, fidgiting and so on. Always wanting to be on the go. Add his NPD with need for narcissistic supply and wandering eyes, it’s been more than challenging to go anywhere with him. Not to mention, as I stated in my previous post, most times we are or have been at the home together, he has this need that I should be entertaining him instead of handling household responsibilities, and the times we’re in the same room and he’s in his own world and doesn’t even recognize/realize that I am around(the N in him is prevelant at these times). Lack of connection. I’m there for his purposes.

    On the occassions that this strategy has been successful is usually when he is working in the yard mowing grass and I’m handling kitchen or laundry duties. Or I’m reasearching some things while he is watching sports or cars. And it works, there is a connection on those occassions.

    It’s so wishy-washy with him, no consistancy in so many areas. When I mention this to him of course I am inhibiting him, or criticizing him. You know how it goes. Sometimes he gets it and other times he doesn’t.

    So there are times when the strategy is there on a posetive note.

    Work In Progress! Continueing steps in building the attachment theory and connection.

    I’m going to switch this around abit to ‘I shouldn’t be having to do something for you for it to be nice to be around me and appreciate me. Even when I’m quiet and/or doing something else I hope that you would still really feel me here with you’.

    Also, with the wandering eyes I’ve use ‘I’m right here’ (he ALWAYS denies it with rage in a way that you know you’re/I’m right). Now I’m thinking of adding in something about respect and appreciation while I’m in his presence.

    1. Hi Darlyn,

      What I suggest in this post is a way of life
      as much as a tool. At one time I craved attention
      and compliments as much as Steve did – I just
      wasn’t as good at manipulating my way into the limelight.
      Now with three teenagers in the house if anyone
      starts flattering me too much I look over my glasses
      at them and say “Okay what do you want?”

      Yes it is a new way of life that helps me gauge what
      is going on around me …

      It’s about not looking for praise and not listening to
      people who want to put you down and offering the people you
      love the same even keel.

      When those moments of connection come you might
      just try smiling at him!

  3. Hey Kim!
    You’re so right. That’s what my long term goal is, is for this to be a way of life in my home. Sometimes this yo-yo effect gets to me. I have been consistant as at times he is resistant. It is quite a challenge working with both ADHD and NPD. On his part as well I’m sure.

    I’m not seeking that form of attention, and I love the ‘Okay what do you want?’ It escaped me to think of some behaviors as a gauge of what’s going on around me and that of I am dealing with an adult teenager.

    Thanx for your insight!

  4. My husband and I have been married 26 years and raised 9 children. It has been a very hard go. When the last of the children left I moved several hours away from my husband to gain some distance. I was originally planning to leave him, but after seeing your information I am making the changes outlined in your books. We are not fighting right now. The crucial problem right now is he tends to be a body snatcher, It feels like he does not see where he ends and I begin. He expects I will just be happy to do everything on his term, that I am an extension of him who is there to fill his needs. He will feel like we are having a great time but I feel invisible. We get along fine as long as I do what he wants, have the same opinion as him, and only talk about his work or him. This is the way his parent’s marriage is. It is not like a marriage but that I am his mother. He has even said every man wishes his wife was somewhat of a mother.

  5. Hey Sukulina!
    Hope I spelled that correctly. For myself, with the statement your husband made that every man wishes his wife was somewhat of a mother to me says to take care of them. And where NPD or Co-dependence is involved is ‘Not’ what we truly need for a healthier and mature self.

    I have made great progress in myself and within my husband using Kim & Steve’s materials. I hope you have the same results. It won’t happen overnight so please be reasonable with any sort of time frame if you are using that. Some things for myself I do insist on a more rapid growth(and that on my husbands behalf like the emotional fantasy affairs and searching other women).

    As for the ‘body snatcher’ part and thinking you’re having a wonderful time because he is, maybe you could say ‘I’m here too’ or ‘Let’s try something different, I’ll pick and we can see where it goes for “both” of us’.

  6. this discussion fits my situation. I used your book and wisdom to save my marriage but sometimes the over active, constant questioning and his insistance on complaining on how my face looks when I’m tired is just too much. now how do I deal with that stuff???? thanks…

  7. Hi Kim,
    Purchased back from looling glass and love workbool and read and made comments. Have comments saved but “lost” books. Is there any way you verify my purchase then re-send “how to save”. My computer skills somewhat lacking. Travelli.g for last 11month hours so now have greater insight to value of blogs. Responded and lost it. Very frustrating but will persist. Thank you Kim and Steve. Kind regards Jan

  8. I had this to happen to me with my npd friend. He wanted me to entertain him and i needed to fold laundry. When he realized i was serious about doing housework he immediately had to go. it was so weird. I told him not to call me any more but he’s not listening. he’s been calling me for 12 hours straight. I;’m not answering. i listen to his voice message nd he sounds again like a child. i thought i could help my friend but these weird behaviors on different levels is having an affect on me.

  9. I try to put myself in my friend’s shoes but i cant understand why is it so hard for him to surrender and behavior better. All the energy that goes into doing the work of covering up his shame. Yesterday I asked him during one of the rarest moments i have ever had with him to ask questions, i asked was his mother critical to him. he answered was all mothers are critical but the love you anyway. he went on to say all the work his mother did for him so being critical is part of mothering. i said not all mothers are that way. he started accusing me of judging his mother. I felt i had to be careful but i pressed on to say that doing for our children didn’t have to be met with criticism.

  10. One of the phrases I kept repeating to my NPD husband after one of his rages or put downs was “If you don’t have anything nice to say to me,don’t say anything”. Or “What gives you the right to speak to me like that”
    It really hurt that it didn’t seem to make a bit of difference. However, when I began to see that he didn’t have the concept as me as a person he could hurt, or that he even locked into his memory, he instantly wiped them, that he said these things, it was strangely comforting.
    The next step was to find a way for him to change some of the habits, might seem odd to call cruel comments habits, but some of it as habitual as daily routine for him. I’d fallen into a routine of responses too.
    So I began by changing my response, sometimes making out I’d been engrossed in thought and said, sorry, what was that, missed it. To repeat it he had to think about it, to think about it put it into conscious thought and made him pause. Or I stay calm and say something like, ok, your opinion, but I have mine so he didn’t get the supply of hurting me because he was hurting about something.
    Sometimes I’d repeat back what he said “So you think that I’m….” but in a question and he stop and rephrase it, often watered down. Bit by bit, it’s changed a habit that I’d tried unsuccessfully for a few years to break. Still not perfect, but who or what is. It’s much better and that is what matters

  11. One time after about 15 years of marriage, my husband was raging about something, and I said, “Stop!” very firmly and confidently. He actually stopped for a minute and said, “What?” and I said, “Stop”
    He was quiet for a while, but then he went back to complaining about whatever he had been raging about, but in a much milder way. We were actually in the car (I was driving because I drove most of the time because he didn’t want to drive or he was drinking) so it made the long drive a lot less stressful. i tried it again a few days later and it didn’t work, but at least it worked once.

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