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Faith & Life: Tracking down the problem's root

March 17, 2012|By Kimberlie Zakarian

Think of an area of your life that brings you insecurity, causes you to feel stuck, unable to move forward with an activity or behavior, or has even left you paralyzed with fear.

For some, this can be their self concept: never good enough, of no value, unable to succeed, worthless. For others, it is how they perform. They feel unable to get a higher education, be a good wife or husband, handle finances or do paperwork well.

Therapists walk individuals through their life via talk, and we often see an exact event that began the feeling of not being good enough. Either the person was made to feel that they would never be good enough in that particular area, or they were aware that their accuser was not accurate because they already had a good self concept, but they lost hope in the situation or relationship ever being fruitful.

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An example of this was a young wife who was a stay-at-home mom by choice. She could have done anything with her life career-wise, but she excelled at cooking, cleaning, entertaining, raising her kids and even leading ministries in her church. She came from a good home where her father was emotionally healthy and praised her. Yet her husband never did.

He would go through spells of being mean. He would ridicule her worth, her ability to do things, and even went so far as to tell her she was mentally ill and was going to call the mental hospital on her. Friends encouraged her that her husband was abusive — and far off target. But she stayed for two decades until his cruelty got dangerous physically.

This man had all the characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. He was never wrong, only cared for people as an extension of him (for example, when his wife made an outstanding meal for his work associates, he would then brag about her).

He had no ability to feel empathy, showed no compassion unless people were watching, and only saw things his way. And that way was the right and accurate way, by golly.

Over the years, who this woman really was disintegrated, and she was a mere shadow of her former self — the self that shone, succeeded, was admired and loved by all who met her. In her therapeutic work, she retold many stories. We pinpointed the exact time and incident that she felt hopeless about herself and incompetent.

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