Ns give a lot of critical unsolicited advice and backhanded compliments. For example, I put my hair in a ponytail. The N says after hanging out with me for a bit “You look prettier with your hair back.” This is an example of a backhanded compliment. I pay attention to the way it is phrased too. He is trying to aggress (I use this word instead of assert because a backhanded compliment is also a passive aggressive control tactic).
A real compliment from a genuine person who cares would go something like this. “I really like your hair like that.” or merely “You look beautiful so relaxed carefree.” C’mon narcissists, you really should get better at your game! Make a real oservation about the person you supposedly care about. An N cannot actually compliment anyone in any genuine way because he is too self absorbed and power oriented, so all of his compliments come from a place of aggressing control. He tells me how I am supposed to be to please him and control me, the end, bottom line. He assumes that I will bust my arse to comply or he will get rid of me quickly.
In the past, my need for love and approval won over taking care of myself. I try not to take this path again because it will kill the self esteem I have built for myself. This must be taken seriously at all times The narcissist game of undermining who I think I am as a person, it is their ‘Modus Operandi’ to conquer body speech and mind then steal the soul. There are no breaks,no lulls, and there is never a time this game is not being played.
At first I didn’t notice the contempt underneath the N’s veneer, so I clung to all advice or compliments to the point that I would feel incredibly stressed without the N’s approval.
I learned that I cannot listen to what the N says even if I think it may be a compliment. This is when it is important to work on self esteem and a strong sense of self which I did not have at the time. So I began to go through the motions of doing things that built self esteem.
I always have to remember I define myself always not anyone else. I started activities where I could only build myself up. For me it was exercise, pursuing a discipline of yoga. I started small with one to two classes per week to four times per week now. Also, I love bike riding. Even a short ride could get me away from the N and help clear my head.