Why Me? Qualifying As A Target

Get em’ while they’re young

As children, we are curious, sensitive, vulnerable, and of course, impressionable, absorbing everything around us like sponges as the core of how we relate to others is formed. We worship the people who are responsible for us. Our helplessness means we have no choice but to give them absolute power. With that power, they have the potential to either lead us toward a life of independence or to use us for their own ego supply. Narcissists choose the latter.

This position of power obviously begins with parents but can also apply to uncles and aunties, family friends, teachers or sports coaches. For the narcissist, having impressionable young people looking up to them heightens their sense of power. They get to play out their shameless ‘wise leader’ role at the expense of the child. They feel that their position of power gives them a license to judge, control and belittle the child if the child does not meet their expectations. In their grandiose mind, they can take advantage of the responsibility bestowed upon them by using it as a way to feed their ego.

The dangerous (and sad) thing is that it lies outside of the child’s conscious awareness. It happened at a time when they had little of it. True awareness begins in adulthood. When vulnerable and dependent, the child can unwittingly become an object of narcissistic supply, and not really be aware of what is happening. When it’s done long enough, it can become as normal as the air they breathe. The child is manipulated and groomed into a role of perpetual worship and dependence.

Leadership is about showing others the path so they can walk it, outgrow it and then eventually forge their own path. Narcissists in leadership hold back the target from differentiating by supporting the child only within the constraints of the relationship, and only as long as the child is fulfilling their role by providing narcissistic supply. The narcissist projects their ego needs onto the child, and rather than put their needs aside to help the child grow, expects the child to adapt to them instead. This role reversal is the core of a narcissist-child relationship, which leads to arrested development in the child and grooms them to be more susceptible to narcissism. The child grows up believing that relationships are about playing their role and adapting to the needs of others. It’s one of the greatest lies told to some children; that dependence is a fact of life and that it never ends. This lie can continue throughout adulthood.

The ideal target

Some people could have unwittingly fallen into a narcissist regime from a young age, and/or they could be an emotionally sensitive person. Empaths, as they are referred to: 

  • are intuitive and possess high emotional intelligence
  • experience their emotions with a very high intensity, which often debilitates and severely stunts the ability for rational thought
  • can sense and are very attuned to the emotions of others, even going as far as to take on these emotions, which can quickly drain the Empath’s energy if they are not careful
  • are good listeners and can sacrifice their attention for long periods of time
  • have a very strong craving to connect with others emotionally, which is often stronger than reason and common sense
  • have more difficulty than others in keeping up with daily life, and so are more prone to seeking out a higher power for guidance and support
  • can more easily be influenced than others

The emotional world of an Empath is very rich. They are artists and dreamers. They inspire others with their energy and zest for life. They are healers, and usually very creative and spiritual. They can brighten up a person’s day just by being themselves. Yet this richness comes with a cost:

  • Empaths crave love and connection more than most people, and they suffer when isolated. As a result of this deep need for emotional connection, their boundaries are usually weak. 
  • The emotional buttons of an Empath are easier to push than those of Non-Empaths. Because they have a super sensitive emotional antenna, even the smallest attack can shake them up. When somebody else shows intense emotion, whether it be anger, sadness or outrage, the Empath feels like they are being engulfed and bombarded. With that, their immune system drops and their anxiety increases.
  • They often feel fatigued, just by being around people. They get sick more easily. They are often nervous and afraid. It has nothing to do with strength; inside their body and mind, they are simply overwhelmed with fear, shame and anxiety. This deafening, blinding emotional system makes it hard to see out into the world.
  • Empaths must have structure at all times. They need an environment which insulates them so that emotions don’t get out of hand.

For all of the above reasons, Empaths are perfect targets for narcissists. Their inner beauty, weak boundaries, compromised internal strength and strong need for connection make them a gold mine of narcissistic supply. To get the upper hand, the narcissist only has to bombard the emotional system of the Empath and then coerce the Empath into cooperating with their demands.

A high degree of skill and support is required to manage the often tumultuous inner world of the Empath properly. In many families, especially conservative, traditional or abusive ones, the need of the Empath to be deeply understood and supported can be neglected. Even worse, especially for men, they can be shamed for their 'softness'. These unmet needs and an inability to weather their emotional storm can leave the Empath with low self-esteem and an overwhelming craving for love, and not really be aware why. The narcissist will smell this like a shark smells blood and swoop in. The charm of the narcissist can be intoxicating and irresistible to the Empath. The narcissist can offer the Empath structure, even though that structure is oppressive and mostly benefits the narcissist.

Identifying with being an Empath and/or with being born into a narcissist regime can help you understand how your origins have impacted your life so far, and can also remind you that it’s not your fault. Most importantly, it can help you draw a line and make the decision to take your future into your own hands. Where you go from here is entirely within your power.