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1. We trust too easily and we don’t trust enough.

The children of narcissists are taught that they live in a frightening world – one where love is rarely unconditional. In the early stages of healing, the sight of healthy love and affection always looks slightly suspect to us. On the other hand, the sight of toxic love is all too familiar and feels like a comfort zone. We trust in the monsters disguised as saviors far more easily than we do those who offer us a stable version of love.

Dangerous people represent the same challenges that we underwent in early childhood, so to our subconscious, they ironically feel a lot less frightening. The trick is not to trust too easily or not trusting at all: the balance is found in trusting ourselves. Until we’ve learned to grieve and heal our core wounds from childhood, we won’t be able to trust our inner voice. We’ll continue to ignore the instincts that could save our lives or pre-judge someone who may want the best for us; that is why healing is so essential on our journey to self-love and love.

2. We deeply desire commitment, but we also fear it like the plague.

Outwardly, we seem to be the types in search of long-term commitment. Some of us may even have a habit of settling just for the sake of settling down; long-term relationships can provide an odd sense of comfort to someone who has always felt alienated, especially by their own flesh and blood. However, deep down, we also have an intense fear of commitment, especially when it comes to committing to a person who may actually truly care for us. The prospect of a stable partner represents a “forever” that is frightening.

Due to the enmeshed and dysfunctional family we grew up in, commitment to us signifies another person having complete control over us and our emotions. As a result, we tend to defend our freedom whenever we feel it might be challenged and can withdraw when things get too intense. On one hand, this is good when it comes to weeding out those who were just trying to fast-forward us into a shady arrangement anyway. On the other, it can also put a damper on a healthier longer-term relationship when things always feel at a standstill.

3. We are hyper-attuned – to everything.

Changes in tone? Check. Micro-shifts in facial expressions? Noted. Gestures that contradict spoken words? Documented. We are emotional private investigators that are highly attuned to changes in our environment. We had to be in order to survive our childhood – we had to be on the lookout for whenever our parents were about to verbally, emotionally or even physically harm us. Due to this, we are highly sensitive and intuitive to the needs of others, but we are also constantly on the lookout for what’s about to come.

This hyperactive attunement in childhood abuse survivors has even been confirmed by research. It comes in handy when analyzing situations, picking up on someone else’s hidden emotions and predicting someone’s behavior, but it can help to take a step back from overanalyzing and also see the bigger picture every once in a while. In other words, it’s important to tune back to ourselves, what we’re feeling and how we can best take care of ourselves in that particular situation. We cannot control the actions of others, but we can control which relationships we continue to pursue and how we reclaim our power from toxic ones.

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