Internal distortions are the birthplace of entanglement patterns. Two people simultaneously clinging to ego and rejecting aspects of themselves creates the entanglement. When we are identified with our conditioned self, and continue to reject parts of ourselves, we keep our life force distorted-we see the world and engage with the world from our distorted life force energy. We attract and are attracted to people who embody what we have disowned. Our wounds and patterns fit together like two pieces of a puzzle. The most common relational polarity is codependent and narcissistic.
When we cling to our conditioned self, we identify with our ego-based thoughts and reject certain aspect of ourselves. From this pattern, our vital force cannot move through us in alignment. When a person is identified with their conditioned self and disowning parts of themselves, their alignment with Source becomes distorted. This distortion can live in their thoughts, actions, physical self, and energetic body.
The conditioned self is our personality and where our ego-based thoughts live. When we are hyper identified with our conditioned self, we think that this is who we are. The shadow is where our unconscious emotions, thoughts, and urges live. When we reject any aspect of ourselves, our blind spots keep us off balance.
When we are born, our vital force is fluid and strong, regulated and aligned. As we experience stress and trauma, our nervous system becomes dysregulated and our vitality becomes mistuned. Where there once once a clear flow of vitality running through our body, our energy becomes twisted in accordance with our conditioned self and our shadow.
When our core needs are not met in childhood, the adaptive survival strategies we develop influence the pride in the ego. We develop ideals of how we want to be seen and how we want others to see us. (Heller & LaPierre, 2012). When the adaptive survival styles we develop have an underlying shame-based identification, they help make sense of the failure to have the core need met. During this time of development, any aspect of the child’s expression that they learn is unacceptable/punishable is pushed into the shadow. The child feels shame and rejects this aspect of themselves, and in an attempt to find belonging they disown parts of themselves. Emotions, thoughts, desires, power, intuition, and so on can get rejected in order to find a sense of belonging. However, because belonging is a condition of wholeness, the person never feels that sense of belonging as long as they are hiding aspects of themselves. These aspects live in the shadow and motivate certain impulses, urges, and behavior.
People who express narcissistic personality traits have an unreasonably high sense of self-importance and need admiration. They are defensive to feedback. They feel that they deserve privileges and expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements. Many can exaggerate their talents and are preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate. They believe they are superior to others and can only spend time with or be understood by equally special people.
They are critical of and look down on people they feel are not important. They expect special favors and expect other people to do what they want without questioning them. They take advantage of others or deceive them to get what they want. They lack empathy and have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others. They are envious of others and believe others envy them.
They have trouble handling anything they view as criticism. They can become impatient or angry when they don’t receive special recognition or treatment. They react with rage or contempt when given feedback about their behavior and try to belittle other people to make themselves appear superior. They have difficulty managing their emotions and behavior and may experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change. They tend to withdraw from or avoid situations in which they might fail and feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection. They have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, humiliation and fear of being exposed as a failure.
Beneath the patterns of narcissism are chronic states of hyper arousal. The person is afraid and insecure, and when they continue to disown their fear, it comes out in strategies to avoid feeling bad about themselves. When they identify with their conditioned self, they follow these strategies around as if they are truth.
- Powering Over
- Playing the Victim
- Rage Reactions/Erupting in overt or covert anger
- Retreating into silence
- Rewriting History
- Magical Thinking/ Everything will be fine
Codependency can occur when your partner is volatile and you betray yourself and prioritize caretaking them. It is one-sided, where one person enables the destructive and abusive behaviors of another. Codependency occurs when we feel responsible for other people and have a hard time asking for what we need and knowing we matter.
Codependent Traits vs. Narcissistic Traits
- Self-sacrificing vs. Sense of Self-importance
- Compelled to help vs. Need for admiration
- Self-critical vs. Disregard for others’ feelings
- Perfectionistic vs. Inability to receive feedback
- Lack of boundaries vs. Defensive
- Overly understanding vs. Sense of entitlement
- Overly compassionate vs. Exploits others
- “Other” referenced vs. Self-referenced
- Subversively controlling vs. Demeaning and intimidating
- Anxious-insecure attachment vs. Avoidant or Disorganized attachment
Looking to your partner as the source of the problem of the relationship also looks to them as the solution. As long as you do this, you are making your partner the center-point of your peace and well-being. You will never feel well as long as you do this. Your partner is a mirror for you to see yourself more clearly. Look within and discover what is happening within you. Stay in your body, feel your emotions, and look in your own blind spots. The thing you don’t like about your partner is your shadow. Fighting does not create more love. Fighting and blaming will never get you the love that you long for.
If you or your partner engage in any of these behaviors of Gaslighting (Morningstar, 2018): reality distortion. channel changing, blatant lies, name-calling, isolating, love-bombing, intentional changes in behavior, deflection, and scapegoating; please know that they are not healthy or normal relationship skills. They are an expression of unresolved trauma from the past, and it is important for the person exhibiting these behaviors to feel and explore what is beneath the patterns.
It is also important for the partner to not stay in codependency and to not personalize their partner’s behavior and do not react. Hyper arousal feeds hyper arousal. Do not gaslight yourself. Validate your experience and stay in contact with yourself.
For the person with narcissistic traits, remember that you learned this pattern somewhere. If you keep denying your strategies, you will continue to stay self-protected and keep real love out.
Dale, C. (2011). Energetic Boundaries: How to Stay Connected and Protected in Work, Love, and Love. Sounds True. Bowlby, J. (1988). A Secure Base. Basic Books, reprint edition.
Kwiker, H. (2022). Align: Living and Loving from the True Self. Mantra Books, UK.
Morningstar, D. (2018). Out of the Fog: Moving From Confusion to Clarity After Narcissistic Abuse. Morningstar Media.