This is a story of blooming love and betrayal, about children coming of age, of conscience and the sociopaths who lack it; it is a story about trust and how true love empowers and heals us. In the end, it is a story about humanity and the eternal struggle between good and evil.
Nyla and Junaid are classmates learning about the world around them and in the process discovering themselves. They must endure and survive a path fraught with confusion and peril if they hope to emerge victorious, though not necessarily unscathed. They will learn of innocence and its loss, about how budding love can be snuffed out if not cared for and its formidable power when nurtured and protected. They will become closely acquainted with evil, with its insidious presence in plain sight and how it mangles and corrupts those it touches. They will have to confront and defeat it if they can. If you think you recognize some of the characters described herein, it is only because the human experience around the world and in the different cultures is not unique, and we all share some of the same burdens and the joys of similar emotions and trials as we go about learning to find ourselves.
The setting is the foothills of the Margalla Mountain range, a part of the lesser Himalayas, north of Islamabad in Pakistan, during the 1990s.
Author Fouad Azim has written Becoming, an emotionally gripping novel about young love in the1990’s Pakistan which will enthrall readers.
Becoming tells the story of classmates Nyla and Junaid. Junaid is a shy young man who comes out of his shell once he falls in love with the intelligent and independent Nyla. Their fledgling romance is threatened by the jealousy of Jahal, an emotionally unstable boy who is determined to break them up. Nyla and Junaid must overcome Jahal’s wicked actions and other obstacles to discover true love.
This book is a unique coming-of-age novel about young love in a land far away from the United States, which is still a universal story. Junaid’s sensitivity and devotion to Nyla is admirable and makes him a relatable protagonist. Nyla is a strong character that isn’t just a passive love interest for Junaid. She’s a self-sufficient young woman that is brave throughout Becoming as she fights the cultural traditions that try to keep her from Junaid. Jahal is the perfect antagonist as the psychologically disturbed villain of the novel. Though he commits horrific acts, Azim’s writing doesn’t limit him to a one-dimensional monster. Jahal is more of a wounded soul than a soulless anti-hero.
Azim’s writing is evocative and poignant. The hills and caves of Pakistan are described so vividly that readers can imagine they are in the rugged terrain of the South Asian countryside. He also easily captures the complicated social lives of teenagers and how fraught young relationships can be in Becoming’s dialogue. Though there are some cultural differences between Western and Eastern culture in the book, the universal themes of the novel comes through to the readers. Azim also expertly handles sweet romance and dangerous drama throughout the novel. This story has exciting and suspenseful moments which will leave readers wanting more.
Becoming would be best for fans of the Kite Runner and Khaled Housseni. The novels both have similar stories about friendships in South Asian countries and both authors write masterfully about love. This book would also be good for fans of historical fiction, especially of fiction set in countries outside America. The novel would be perfect for readers of all ages. Becoming could would be great for young Pakistani or South Asian culture in general will learn a lot from this book as well. Fouad Azim’s novel shows how love can conquer hate, making Becoming an unforgettable novel which all readers will love.
Randy Lowry, president of the Christian university based in Nashville, had invited African-American students to his home for dinner last week.
One student who attended the gathering posted a diatribe on Instagram – along with a photo of the “offensive” centerpiece.
“We were very offended,” the student wrote. “My friend … asked why there was cotton on the table as the centerpiece. His response was that he didn’t know, he seen it before we did, he kind of thought it was ‘fallish’, THEN he said, “it ISNT INHERENTLY BAD IF WERE ALL WEARING IT.”
Amazon.com Inc. spent its first day as the owner of a brick-and-mortar grocery chain cutting prices at Whole Foods Market as much as 43 percent.
In a sign of how the retailer is changing, the Amazon Echo, a voice-activated electronic assistant, was also for sale, for $99.99 – a sharp pivot into electronics for a company known for kale and quinoa. The Echo Dot, a smaller version, was advertised for $44.99.
The tech giant’s $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods has sent shock waves through the already changing $800 billion supermarket industry. The wedding between Amazon and the upscale grocery promises to upend the way customers shop for groceries. Cutting prices at the chain with such an entrenched reputation for high cost that its nickname is Whole Paycheck is a sign that Amazon is serious about taking on competitors such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Kroger Co. and Costco Wholesale Corp.
At the store on East 57th Street in Manhattan, organic fuji apples were marked down to $1.99 a pound from $3.49 a pound; organic avocados went to $1.99 each from $2.79; organic rotisserie chicken fell to $9.99 each from $13.99, and the price of some bananas was slashed to 49 cents per pound from 79 cents. The marked-down items had orange signs reading “Whole Foods + Amazon.” The signs listed the old price, the new price and “More to come.”
Discounts were comparable at other Whole Foods stores in San Francisco and Seattle. Amazon declined to comment.
For more on Amazon, check out the podcast:
In the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, Catherine Oshiro, a 33-year-old product designer, said lower prices may make her change her shopping routine.
“I usually buy my staples like toilet paper and paper towels at Target and Safeway,” Oshiro said. “If I see the lower prices at Whole Foods, I would start buying those basics here.”
Katie Bennett, 24, was one of many customers who said she hoped Amazon would offer delivery of Whole Foods items. She picked out a rotisserie-cooked half chicken for lunch at the New York store.
“Last time I came in, I was thinking about getting the rotisserie chicken, but it was too expensive,” she said.
Some rivals have already reacted to the kickoff of what could become a new era of selling food in the U.S.
Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer, has already invested billions into lowering prices across the board over the past year or so, and has revamped the produce section at its U.S stores, improving sight lines, adding more fresh-cut fruits and even creating a sweeter bespoke cantaloupe. That, along with an aggressive rollout of curbside grocery order pickup, helped the company record its best food sales growth in five years in its most recent quarter.
Costco, meanwhile, has a full slate of organic items that are priced about 30 percent cheaper than the same products at Whole Foods, according to Sanford Bernstein. It’s able to price lower thanks to a business model that charges membership fees, focuses on selling a limited assortment of bulk-sized goods and features a treasure-hunt experience in the stores.
Maarten van Tartwijk, a spokesman for Ahold Delhaize, the Dutch retailer that owns the Stop & Shop chain in the U.S., said the company has invested heavily in its online operation. And Germany-based retailers Aldi Stores Ltd. and Lidl, touting lower prices, continue to expand in the U.S.
“We have the human connection, assets, scale and expertise to win with customers and we are leveraging our deep expertise in data to provide value and build loyalty — so we can continue to serve customers anything, anytime and anywhere,” Kroger spokeswoman Kristal Howard said by email Friday.
After falling 37 percent this year on disappointing sales and investor concern over the Amazon-Whole Foods union, Kroger stayed essentially unchanged on Monday in New York.
Sprouts Farmers Market Inc., an upscale grocer that competes with Whole Foods and is cited by analysts as a possible consolidation target, decreased about 10 percent. Shares of Wal-Mart fell 0.8 percent and Target Corp. was down about 1 percent. Costco increased less than 1 percent. Amazon shares rose 0.08 percent.
“Goodbye, Whole Foods as we know it,” Karen Short, an analyst at Barclays Capital Inc. in New York, said in a note. “The conventional supermarket has not evolved much in decades. But Amazon will likely drive drastically different shopping behavior in grocery. The survival of the fittest has begun.”
Since making her first appearances as a teenager on her family’s A&E hit series Duck Dynasty, Sadie has grown into a beautiful, respectable young woman who knows a thing or two about connecting with others.
As part of her Live Original motivational speaking tour (because that’s what every girl does at 20 years old), Sadie recently launched a new personal blog which she plans to use as a platform for “heart-to-hearts” and honest conversations with those following her journey.
The very first blog, titled “A Passionate Pursuit,” was posted on July 31, and y’all, she got really REAL, really fast.
The Dancing With the Stars runner-up has always been open about her relationships, heartbreak and ultimate pursuit of Jesus. But this post put things into a whole new perspective, once again crowning her as role model of the century.
Talking about her failed relationship with former boyfriend Blake Coward, Sadie writes about how they were so “passionate,” and how that’s ultimately what destroyed them.
“We were so…’passionate’—and to me, it seemed like that couldn’t possibly be a negative thing, because I heard the word passion at church all the time. That was a huge LIE and created so much confusion for me. I thought our connection was so deep because we created this false love for ourselves that said it was okay to constantly fight like cats and dogs, scream hateful words and cry till our eyes were swollen. All we’d have to do afterwards is share a kiss, make up and then boom—our relationship would be stronger than ever. That was wonderful and all…until the next throw down came which was inevitably not too far around the corner.”
Sadie believes this pattern derives from our modern-day culture, which influences young women to be “passionate,” and convinces them that not only is this cycle of fighting and making up considered normal, but I’d go as far as to say that culture paints it to be desired.
“We would go through this unhealthy pattern of “I hate you, I love you. I hate that I love you.” The world makes that seem like such a normal, attractive concept through movies and music, but let me tell you, it definitely is not. We figured out the hard way that all it leaves you with is a lot of hurt, loneliness and confusion.
You can go with the media’s version of passion, but I’m speaking from experience here when I say that even if it survives and the relationship lasts, you will be living for temporary moments of happiness and gratification instead of true joy.”
It goes without saying, but Sadie boasts inspiring wisdom that is far beyond her years. It’s real talk and Truth like this that our girls desperately need to be soaking up and holding on to.
She explains how it’s true that relationships aren’t always sunshine and roses, but there’s a difference between working through bad times in a manner that is proactive, and living in “temporary survival mode” as you hold onto something destructive.
Sadie reveals that it was after yet another “intense fight” with her boyfriend that she did what she should have done long before: She turned to God’s word.
“I clicked on my Bible app and I re-read 1st Corinthians chapter 13,” she writes.
The verse is one of the most quoted passages of all time:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
“This is when I decide[d] to seek truth and invited these words to tear down walls of lies that had been built up for so long. I remember comparing the conversation I just had with my boyfriend to the words I was reading in the bible, and let me tell you…it was the furthest things from the words we ended with…I love you.”
It was this pivotal moment when Sadie’s understanding of the word “passion” took on a whole new meaning. It led her to end her toxic relationship, and hold captive the truth that passion does not have to be watered down and tainted like the world portrays it.
“Ever since then, I have noticed that the word passion has a new meaning in my life. It is a passion that is pure, and it is the very thing that fuels me to press past the feelings that rise up and make me fear the future.”
She says it’s this shift in perspective that prompted healing, gratitude, trust and peace amidst something that had once been an intense rollercoaster.
“I no longer live in survival mode or pursue temporary feelings of happiness. I strive to live life the way it was meant to be lived—to the fullest. My story does not end in heart break or death. I have an abundant life full of joy, hope, freedom, and a word I have come to fall in love with…PEACE—which was waiting for me on the other side of trust.”
Sadie says that like many girls her age, she used to make lists of the qualities she’d look for in a potential husband. But no more.
“Now I just write prayers that circle around the list the Lord help[s] me write. My husband will be a man who has practiced and respected patience. He is charmingly and truthfully kind. He is not jealous, because He trusts in the Lord enough to trust in me. He is not boastful or proud because our love speaks in actions. He surely is not rude. Our love most definitely does not demand its own way for we know and long for the Lord to lead our path. He is not irritable when times are stressful. Together we will keep no records of wrong. He dances with me and rejoices when truth wins. His joy carries us through the valleys. In the hard times, he will love even harder. He will help silence my fears, but he will not accept them. He believes in truth over convenience or being comfortable. He feels my cry, is encouraged by my laugh, and joins me in song no matter how off key to worship our father God. He will never give up, because his eyes are on God and not me. He will never lose faith. Even if the whole world is against me, he will be for me because he loves the Jesus in me. He knows a river brings joy into the city of God even when the nations are in chaos. He sits still with me and knows that God is God. He will be able to endure all circumstances, because I will be right there with him holding his hand—striving to do the exact same thing. He will lead me where the Lord is leading him. We will meet at the Lord’s feet.”
She closes by saying that this is the kind of love she’s passionate about. One that radiates Godly passion that is pure, peaceful and greater than any “passionate” thing society could paint up for our misguidance.
“Be expectant and do not lose the passion the Lord creates in you.”
May her words and truth lead you closer to that passion today.
Toxic people such as malignant narcissists, psychopaths and those with antisocial traits engage in maladaptive behaviors in relationships that ultimately exploit, demean and hurt their intimate partners, family members and friends. They use a plethora of diversionary tactics that distort the reality of their victims and deflect responsibility. Although those who are not narcissistic can employ these tactics as well, abusive narcissists use these to an excessive extent in an effort to escape accountability for their actions.
Here are the 20 diversionary tactics toxic people use to silence and degrade you.
Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic that can be described in different variations of three words: That didnt happen, You imagined it, and Are you crazy? Gaslighting is perhaps one of the most insidious manipulative tactics out there because it works to distort and erode your sense of reality; it eats away at your ability to trust yourself and inevitably disables you from feeling justified in calling out abuse and mistreatment.
When a narcissist, sociopath or psychopath gaslights you, you may be prone to gaslighting yourself as a way to reconcile the cognitive dissonance that might arise. Two conflicting beliefs battle it out: is this person right or can I trust what I experienced? A manipulative person will convince you that the former is an inevitable truth while the latter is a sign of dysfunction on your end.
In order to resist gaslighting, its important to ground yourself in your own reality sometimes writing things down as they happened, telling a friend or reiterating your experience to a support network can help to counteract the gaslighting effect. The power of having a validating community is that it can redirect you from the distorted reality of a malignant person and back to your own inner guidance.
One sure sign of toxicity is when a person is chronically unwilling to see his or her own shortcomings and uses everything in their power to avoid being held accountable for them. This is known as projection. Projection is a defense mechanism used to displace responsibility of ones negative behavior and traits by attributing them to someone else. It ultimately acts as a digression that avoids ownership and accountability.
While we all engage in projection to some extent, according to Narcissistic Personality clinical expert Dr. Martinez-Lewi, the projections of a narcissist are often psychologically abusive. Rather than acknowledge their own flaws, imperfections and wrongdoings, malignant narcissists and sociopaths opt to dump their own traits on their unsuspecting suspects in a way that is painful and excessively cruel. Instead of admitting that self-improvement may be in order, they would prefer that their victims take responsibility for their behavior and feel ashamed of themselves. This is a way for a narcissist to project any toxic shame they have about themselves onto another.
For example, a person who engages in pathological lying may accuse their partner of fibbing; a needy spouse may call their husband clingy in an attempt to depict them as the one who is dependent; a rude employee may call their boss ineffective in an effort to escape the truth about their own productivity.
Narcissistic abusers love to play the blameshifting game. Objectives of the game: they win, you lose, and you or the world at large is blamed for everything thats wrong with . This way, you get to babysit their fragile ego while youre thrust into a sea of self-doubt. Fun, right?
Solution? Dont project your own sense of compassion or empathy onto a toxic person and dont own any of the toxic persons projections either. As manipulation expert and author Dr. George Simon (2010) notes in his book , projecting our own conscience and value system onto others has the potential consequence of being met with further exploitation.
Narcissists on the extreme end of the spectrum usually have no interest in self-insight or change. Its important to cut ties and end interactions with toxic people as soon as possible so you can get centered in your own reality and validate your own identity. You dont have to live in someone elses cesspool of dysfunction.
3. Nonsensical conversations from hell.
If you think youre going to have a thoughtful discussion with someone who is toxic, be prepared for epic mindfuckery rather than conversational mindfulness.
Malignant narcissists and sociopaths use word salad, circular conversations, ad hominem arguments, projection and gaslighting to disorient you and get you off track should you ever disagree with them or challenge them in any way. They do this in order to discredit, confuse and frustrate you, distract you from the main problem and make you feel guilty for being a human being with actual thoughts and feelings that might differ from their own. In their eyes, are the problem if you happen to exist.
Spend even ten minutes arguing with a toxic narcissist and youll find yourself wondering how the argument even began at all. You simply disagreed with them about their absurd claim that the sky is red and now your entire childhood, family, friends, career and lifestyle choices have come under attack. That is because your disagreement picked at their false belief that they are omnipotent and omniscient, resulting in a narcissistic injury.
Remember: toxic people dont argue with you, they essentially argue with themselves and you become privy to their long, draining monologues. They thrive off the drama and they live for it. Each and every time you attempt to provide a point that counters their ridiculous assertions, you feed them supply. Dont feed the narcissists supply rather, supply yourself with the confirmation that their abusive behavior is the problem, not you. Cut the interaction short as soon as you anticipate it escalating and use your energy on some decadent self-care instead.
4. Blanket statements and generalizations.
Malignant narcissists arent always intellectual masterminds many of them are intellectually lazy. Rather than taking the time to carefully consider a different perspective, they generalize anything and everything you say, making blanket statements that dont acknowledge the nuances in your argument or take into account the multiple perspectives youve paid homage to. Better yet, why not put a label on you that dismisses your perspective altogether?
On a larger scale, generalizations and blanket statements invalidate experiences that dont fit in the unsupported assumptions, schemas and stereotypes of society; they are also used to maintain the status quo. This form of digression exaggerates one perspective to the point where a social justice issue can become completely obscured. For example, rape accusations against well-liked figures are often met with the reminder that there are false reports of rape that occur. While those do occur, they are rare, and in this case, the actions of one become labeled the behavior of the majority while the specific report itself remains unaddressed.
These everyday microaggressions also happen in toxic relationships. If you bring up to a narcissistic abuser that their behavior is unacceptable for example, they will often make blanket generalizations about your hypersensitivity or make a generalization such as, You are satisfied, or Youre too sensitive rather than addressing the real issues at hand. Its possible that you are oversensitive at times, but it is also possible that the abuser is also insensitive and cruel the majority of the time.
Hold onto your truth and resist generalizing statements by realizing that they are in fact forms of black and white illogical thinking. Toxic people wielding blanket statements do not represent the full richness of experience they represent the limited one of their singular experience and overinflated sense of self.
5. Deliberately misrepresenting your thoughts and feelings to the point of absurdity.
In the hands of a malignant narcissist or sociopath, your differing opinions, legitimate emotions and lived experiences get translated into character flaws and evidence of your irrationality.
Narcissists weave tall tales to reframe what youre actually saying as a way to make your opinions look absurd or heinous. Lets say you bring up the fact that youre unhappy with the way a toxic friend is speaking to you. In response, he or she may put words in your mouth, saying, Oh, so now perfect? or So I am a bad person, huh? when youve done nothing but express your feelings. This enables them to invalidate your right to have thoughts and emotions about their inappropriate behavior and instills in you a sense of guilt when you attempt to establish boundaries.
This is also a popular form of diversion and cognitive distortion that is known as mind reading. Toxic people often presume they know what youre thinking and feeling. They chronically jump to conclusions based on their own triggers rather than stepping back to evaluate the situation mindfully. They act accordingly based on their own delusions and fallacies and make no apologies for the harm they cause as a result. Notorious for putting words in your mouth, they depict you as having an intention or outlandish viewpoint you didnt possess. They accuse you of thinking of them as toxic even before youve gotten the chance to call them out on their behavior and this also serves as a form of preemptive defense.
Simply stating, I never said that, and walking away should the person continue to accuse you of doing or saying something you didnt can help to set a firm boundary in this type of interaction. So long as the toxic person can blameshift and digress from their own behavior, they have succeeded in convincing you that you should be shamed for giving them any sort of realistic feedback.
6. Nitpicking and moving the goal posts.
The difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism is the presence of a personal attack and impossible standards. These so-called “critics” often don’t want to help you improve, they just want to nitpick, pull you down and scapegoat you in any way they can. Abusive narcissists and sociopaths employ a logical fallacy known as moving the goalposts in order to ensure that they have every reason to be perpetually dissatisfied with you. This is when, even after youve provided all the evidence in the world to validate your argument or taken an action to meet their request, they set up another expectation of you or demand more proof.
Do you have a successful career? The narcissist will then start to pick on why you arent a multi-millionaire yet. Did you already fulfill their need to be excessively catered to? Now its time to prove that you can also remain independent. The goal posts will perpetually change and may not even be related to each other; they dont have any other point besides making you vie for the narcissists approval and validation.
By raising the expectations higher and higher each time or switching them completely, highly manipulative and toxic people are able to instill in you a pervasive sense of unworthiness and of never feeling quite enough. By pointing out one irrelevant fact or one thing you did wrong and developing a hyperfocus on it, narcissists get to divert from your strengths and pull you into obsessing over any flaws or weaknesses instead. They get you thinking about the next expectation of theirs youre going to have to meet until eventually youve bent over backwards trying to fulfill their every need only to realize it didnt change the horrific way they treated you.
Dont get sucked into nitpicking and changing goal posts if someone chooses to rehash an irrelevant point over and over again to the point where they arent acknowledging the work youve done to validate your point or satisfy them, their motive isnt to better understand. Its to further provoke you into feeling as if you have to constantly prove yourself. Validate and approve of yourself. Know that you are enough and you dont have to be made to feel constantly deficient or unworthy in some way.
7. Changing the subject to evade accountability.
This type of tactic is what I like to call the What about me? syndrome. It is a literal digression from the actual topic that works to redirect attention to a different issue altogether. Narcissists dont want you to be on the topic of holding them accountable for anything, so they will reroute discussions to benefit them. Complaining about their neglectful parenting? Theyll point out a mistake you committed seven years ago. This type of diversion has no limits in terms of time or subject content, and often begins with a sentence like What about the time when
On a macrolevel, these diversions work to derail discussions that challenge the status quo. A discussion about gay rights, for example, may be derailed quickly by someone who brings in another social justice issue just to distract people from the main argument.
As Tara Moss, author of , notes, specificity is needed in order to resolve and address issues appropriately that doesnt mean that the issues that are being brought up dont matter, it just means that the specific time and place may not be the best context to discuss them.
Dont be derailed if someone pulls a switcheroo on you, you can exercise what I call the broken record method and continue stating the facts without giving in to their distractions. Redirect their redirection by saying, Thats not what I am talking about. Lets stay focused on the real issue. If theyre not interested, disengage and spend your energy on something more constructive – like not having a debate with someone who has the mental age of a toddler.
8. Covert and overt threats.
Narcissistic abusers and otherwise toxic people feel very threatened when their excessive sense of entitlement, false sense of superiority and grandiose sense of self are challenged in any way. They are prone to making unreasonable demands on others while punishing you for not living up to their impossible to reach expectations.
Rather than tackle disagreements or compromises maturely, they set out to divert you from your right to have your own identity and perspective by attempting to instill fear in you about the consequences of disagreeing or complying with their demands. To them, any challenge results in an ultimatum and do this or Ill do that becomes their daily mantra.
If someones reaction to you setting boundaries or having a differing opinion from your own is to threaten you into submission, whether its a thinly veiled threat or an overt admission of what they plan to do, this is a red flag of someone who has a high degree of entitlement and has no plans of compromising. Take threats seriously and show the narcissist you mean business; document threats and report them whenever possible and legally feasible.
Narcissists preemptively blow anything they perceive as a threat to their superiority out of proportion. In their world, only they can ever be right and anyone who dares to say otherwise creates a narcissistic injury that results in narcissistic rage. As Mark Goulston, M.D. asserts, narcissistic rage does not result from low self-esteem but rather a high sense of entitlement and false sense of superiority.
The lowest of the low resort to narcissistic rage in the form of name-calling when they cant think of a better way to manipulate your opinion or micromanage your emotions. Name-calling is a quick and easy way to put you down, degrade you and insult your intelligence, appearance or behavior while invalidating your right to be a separate person with a right to his or her perspective.
Name-calling can also be used to criticize your beliefs, opinions and insights. A well-researched perspective or informed opinion suddenly becomes silly or idiotic in the hands of a malignant narcissist or sociopath who feels threatened by it and cannot make a respectful, convincing rebuttal. Rather than target your argument, they target you as a person and seek to undermine your credibility and intelligence in any way they possibly can. Its important to end any interaction that consists of name-calling and communicate that you wont tolerate it. Dont internalize it: realize that they are resorting to name-calling because they are deficient in higher level methods.
10. Destructive conditioning.
Toxic people condition you to associate your strengths, talents, and happy memories with abuse, frustration and disrespect. They do this by sneaking in covert and overt put-downs about the qualities and traits they once idealized as well as sabotaging your goals, ruining celebrations, vacations and holidays. They may even isolate you from your friends and family and make you financially dependent upon them. Like Pavlovs dogs, youre essentially trained over time to become afraid of doing the very things that once made your life fulfilling.
Narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths and otherwise toxic people do this because they wish to divert attention back to themselves and how youre going to please them. If there is anything outside of them that may threaten their control over your life, they seek to destroy it. They need to be the center of attention at all times. In the idealization phase, you were once the center of a narcissists world now the narcissist becomes the center of yours.
Narcissists are also naturally pathologically envious and dont want anything to come in between them and their influence over you. Your happiness represents everything they feel they cannot have in their emotionally shallow lives. After all, if you learn that you can get validation, respect and love from other sources besides the toxic person, whats to keep you from leaving them? To toxic people, a little conditioning can go a long way to keep you walking on eggshells and falling just short of your big dreams.
11. Smear campaigns and stalking.
When toxic types cant control the way you see yourself, they start to control how others see you; they play the martyr while youre labeled the toxic one. A smear campaign is a preemptive strike to sabotage your reputation and slander your name so that you wont have a support network to fall back on lest you decide to detach and cut ties with this toxic person. They may even stalk and harass you or the people you know as a way to supposedly expose the truth about you; this exposure acts as a way to hide their own abusive behavior while projecting it onto you.
Some smear campaigns can even work to pit two people or two groups against each other. A victim in an abusive relationship with a narcissist often doesnt know whats being said about them during the relationship, but they eventually find out the falsehoods shortly after theyve been discarded.
Toxic people will gossip behind your back (and in front of your face), slander you to your loved ones or their loved ones, create stories that depict you as the aggressor while they play the victim, and claim that you engaged in the same behaviors that they are afraid you will accuse them of engaging in. They will also methodically, covertly and deliberately abuse you so they can use your reactions as a way to prove that they are the so-called victims of your abuse.
The best way to handle a smear campaign is to stay mindful of your reactions and stick to the facts. This is especially pertinent for high-conflict divorces with narcissists who may use your reactions to their provocations against you. Document any form of harassment, cyberbullying or stalking incidents and always speak to your narcissist through a lawyer whenever possible. You may wish to take legal action if you feel the stalking and harassment is getting out of control; finding a lawyer who is well-versed in Narcissistic Personality Disorder is crucial if thats the case. Your character and integrity will speak for itself when the narcissists false mask begins to slip.
12. Love-bombing and devaluation.
Toxic people put you through an idealization phase until youre sufficiently hooked and invested in beginning a friendship or relationship with you. Then, they begin to devalue you while insulting the very things they admired in the first place. Another variation of this is when a toxic individual puts you on a pedestal while aggressively devaluing and attacking someone else who threatens their sense of superiority.
Narcissistic abusers do this all the time they devalue their exes to their new partners, and eventually the new partner starts to receive the same sort of mistreatment as the narcissists ex-partner. Ultimately what will happen is that you will also be on the receiving end of the same abuse. You will one day be the ex-partner they degrade to their new source of supply. You just dont know it yet. Thats why its important to stay mindful of the love-bombing technique whenever you witness behavior that doesnt align with the saccharine sweetness a narcissist subjects you to.
As life coach Wendy Powell suggests, slowing things down with people you suspect may be toxic is an important way of combating the love-bombing technique. Be wary of the fact that how a person treats or speaks about someone else could potentially translate into the way they will treat you in the future.
13. Preemptive defense.
When someone stresses the fact that they are a nice guy or girl, that you should trust them right away or emphasizes their credibility without any provocation from you whatsoever, be wary.
Toxic and abusive people overstate their ability to be kind and compassionate. They often tell you that you should trust them without first building a solid foundation of trust. They may perform a high level of sympathy and empathy at the beginning of your relationship to dupe you, only to unveil their false mask later on. When you see their false mask begins to slip periodically during the devaluation phase of the abuse cycle, the true self is revealed to be terrifyingly cold, callous and contemptuous.
Genuinely nice people rarely have to persistently show off their positive qualities they exude their warmth more than they talk about it and they know that actions speak volumes more than mere words. They know that trust and respect is a two-way street that requires reciprocity, not repetition.
To counter a preemptive defense, reevaluate why a person may be emphasizing their good qualities. Is it because they think you dont trust them, or because they know you shouldnt? Trust actions more than empty words and see how someones actions communicate who they are, not who they say they are.
Bringing in the opinion, perspective or suggested threat of another person into the dynamic of an interaction is known as triangulation. Often used to validate the toxic persons abuse while invalidating the victims reactions to abuse, triangulation can also work to manufacture love triangles that leave you feeling unhinged and insecure.
Malignant narcissists love to triangulate their significant other with strangers, co-workers, ex-partners, friends and even family members in order to evoke jealousy and uncertainty in you. They also use the opinions of others to validate their point of view.
This is a diversionary tactic meant to pull your attention away from their abusive behavior and into a false image of them as a desirable, sought after person. It also leaves you questioning yourself if Mary did agree with Tom, doesnt that mean that you must be wrong? The truth is, narcissists love to report back falsehoods about others say about you, when in fact, they are the ones smearing you.
To resist triangulation tactics, realize that whoever the narcissist is triangulating with is also being triangulated by your relationship with the narcissist as well. Everyone is essentially being played by this one person. Reverse triangulate the narcissist by gaining support from a third party that is not under the narcissists influence and also by seeking your own validation.
15. Bait and feign innocence.
Toxic individuals lure you into a false sense of security simply to have a platform to showcase their cruelty. Baiting you into a mindless, chaotic argument can escalate into a showdown rather quickly with someone who doesnt know the meaning of respect. A simple disagreement may bait you into responding politely initially, until it becomes clear that the person has a malicious motive of tearing you down.
By baiting you with a seemingly innocuous comment disguised as a rational one, they can then begin to play with you. Remember: narcissistic abusers have learned about your insecurities, the unsettling catchphrases that interrupt your confidence, and the disturbing topics that reenact your wounds and they use this knowledge maliciously to provoke you. After youve fallen for it, hook line and sinker, theyll stand back and innocently ask whether youre okay and talk about how they didnt mean to agitate you. This faux innocence works to catch you off guard and make you believe that they truly didnt intend to hurt you, until it happens so often you cant deny the reality of their malice any longer.
It helps to realize when youre being baited so you can avoid engaging altogether. Provocative statements, name-calling, hurtful accusations or unsupported generalizations, for example, are common baiting tactics. Your gut instinct can also tell you when youre being baited if you feel off about a certain comment and continue to feel this way even after it has been expanded on, thats a sign you may need to take some space to reevaluate the situation before choosing to respond.
16. Boundary testing and hoovering.
Narcissists, sociopaths and otherwise toxic people continually try and test your boundaries to see which ones they can trespass. The more violations theyre able to commit without consequences, the more theyll push the envelope. Thats why survivors of emotional as well as physical abuse often experience even more severe incidents of abuse each and every time they go back to their abusers.
Abusers tend to hoover their victims back in with sweet promises, fake remorse and empty words of how they are going to change, only to abuse their victims even more horrifically. In the abusers sick mind, this boundary testing serves as a punishment for standing up to the abuse and also for being going back to it. When narcissists try to press the emotional reset button, reinforce your boundaries even more strongly rather than backtracking on them.
17. Aggressive jabs disguised as jokes.
Covert narcissists enjoy making malicious remarks at your expense. These are usually dressed up as just jokes so that they can get away with saying appalling things while still maintaining an innocent, cool demeanor. Yet any time you are outraged at an insensitive, harsh remark, you are accused of having no sense of humor. This is a tactic frequently used in verbal abuse.
The contemptuous smirk and sadistic gleam in their eyes gives it away, however like a predator that plays with its food, a toxic person gains pleasure from hurting you and being able to get away with it. After all, its just a joke, right? Wrong. Its a way to gaslight you into thinking their abuse is a joke a way to divert from their cruelty and onto your perceived sensitivity. It is important that when this happens, you stand up for yourself and make it clear that you wont tolerate this type of behavior.
Calling out manipulative people on their covert put-downs may result in further gaslighting from the abuser but maintain your stance that their behavior is not okay and end the interaction immediately if you have to.
18. Condescending sarcasm and patronizing tone.
Belittling and degrading a person is a toxic persons forte and their tone of voice is only one tool in their toolbox. Sarcasm can be a fun mode of communication when both parties are engaged, but narcissists use it chronically as a way to manipulate you and degrade you. If you in any way react to it, you must be too sensitive.
Forget that the toxic person constantly has temper tantrums every time their big bad ego is faced with realistic feedback the victim is the hypersensitive one, apparently. So long as youre treated like a child and constantly challenged for expressing yourself, youll start to develop a sense of hypervigilance about voicing your thoughts and opinions without reprimand. This self-censorship enables the abuser to put in less work in silencing you, because you begin to silence yourself.
Whenever you are met with a condescending demeanor or tone, call it out firmly and assertively. You dont deserve to be spoken down to like a child nor should you ever silence yourself to meet the expectation of someone elses superiority complex.
You should be ashamed of yourself is a favorite saying of toxic people. Though it can be used by someone who is non-toxic, in the realm of the narcissist or sociopath, shaming is an effective method that targets any behavior or belief that might challenge a toxic persons power. It can also be used to destroy and whittle away at a victims self-esteem: if a victim dares to be proud of something, shaming the victim for that specific trait, quality or accomplishment can serve to diminish their sense of self and stifle any pride they may have.
Malignant narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths enjoy using your own wounds against you so they will even shame you about any abuse or injustice youve suffered in your lifetime as a way to retraumatize you. Were you a childhood abuse survivor? A malignant narcissist or sociopath will claim that you mustve done something to deserve it, or brag about their own happy childhood as a way to make you feel deficient and unworthy. What better way to injure you, after all, than to pick at the original wound? As surgeons of madness, they seek to exacerbate wounds, not help heal them.
If you suspect youre dealing with a toxic person, avoid revealing any of your vulnerabilities or past traumas. Until theyve proven their character to you, there is no point disclosing information that could be potentially used against you.
Most importantly, toxic abusers love to maintain control in whatever way they can. They isolate you, maintain control over your finances and social networks, and micromanage every facet of your life. Yet the most powerful mechanism they have for control is toying with your emotions.
Thats why abusive narcissists and sociopaths manufacture situations of conflict out of thin air to keep you feeling off center and off balanced. Thats why they chronically engage in disagreements about irrelevant things and rage over perceived slights. Thats why they emotionally withdraw, only to re-idealize you once they start to lose control. Thats why they vacillate between their false self and their true self, so you never get a sense of psychological safety or certainty about who your partner truly is.
The more power they have over your emotions, the less likely you’ll trust your own reality and the truth about the abuse you’re enduring. Knowing the manipulative tactics and how they work to erode your sense of self can arm you with the knowledge of what youre facing and at the very least, develop a plan to regain control over your own life and away from toxic people.
Shahida Arabi is the author of the book , available here.
The long read: When she was 30, Suzy Hansen left the US for Istanbul and began to realise that Americans will never understand their own country until they see it as the rest of the world does
My mother recently found piles of my notebooks from when I was a small child that were filled with plans for my future. I was very ambitious. I wrote out what I would do at every age: when I would get married and when I would have kids and when I would open a dance studio.
When I left my small hometown for college, this sort of planning stopped. The experience of going to a radically new place, as college was to me, upended my sense of the world and its possibilities. The same thing happened when I moved to New York after college, and a few years later when I moved to Istanbul. All change is dramatic for provincial people. But the last move was the hardest. In Turkey, the upheaval was far more unsettling: after a while, I began to feel that the entire foundation of my consciousness was a lie.
For all their patriotism, Americans rarely think about how their national identities relate to their personal ones. This indifference is particular to the psychology of white Americans and has a history unique to the US. In recent years, however, this national identity has become more difficult to ignore. Americans can no longer travel in foreign countries without noticing the strange weight we carry with us. In these years after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the many wars that followed, it has become more difficult to gallivant across the world absorbing its wisdom and resources for ones own personal use. Americans abroad now do not have the same swagger, the easy, enormous smiles. You no longer want to speak so loud. There is always the vague risk of breaking something.
Some years after I moved to Istanbul, I bought a notebook, and unlike that confident child, I wrote down not plans but a question: who do we become if we dont become Americans? If we discover that our identity as we understood it had been a myth? I asked it because my years as an American abroad in the 21st century were not a joyous romp of self-discovery and romance. Mine were more of a shattering and a shame, and even now, I still dont know myself.
I grew up in Wall, a town located by the Jersey Shore, two hours drive from New York. Much of it was a landscape of concrete and parking lots, plastic signs and Dunkin Donuts. There was no centre, no Main Street, as there was in most of the pleasant beach towns nearby, no tiny old movie theatre or architecture suggesting some sort of history or memory.
Most of my friends parents were teachers, nurses, cops or electricians, except for the rare father who worked in the City, and a handful of Italian families who did less legal things. My parents were descendants of working-class Danish, Italian and Irish immigrants who had little memory of their European origins, and my extended family ran an inexpensive public golf course, where I worked as a hot-dog girl in the summers. The politics I heard about as a kid had to do with taxes and immigrants, and not much else. Bill Clinton was not popular in my house. (In 2016, most of Wall voted Trump.)
We were all patriotic, but I cant even conceive of what else we could have been, because our entire experience was domestic, interior, American. We went to church on Sundays, until church time was usurped by soccer games. I dont remember a strong sense of civic engagement. Instead I had the feeling that people could take things from you if you didnt stay vigilant. Our goals remained local: homecoming queen, state champs, a scholarship to Trenton State, barbecues in the backyard. The lone Asian kid in our class studied hard and went to Berkeley; the Indian went to Yale. Black people never came to Wall. The world was white, Christian; the world was us.
We did not study world maps, because international geography, as a subject, had been phased out of many state curriculums long before. There was no sense of the US being one country on a planet of many countries. Even the Soviet Union seemed something more like the Death Star flying overhead, ready to laser us to smithereens than a country with people in it.
Man used emails to trick Anthony Scaramucci and pose as Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus and Eric Trump
A suspected British prankster appears to have conned White House officials including Anthony Scaramucci into replying to him after pretending in email correspondence to be several different members of the Trump team.
The man, who goes by the Twitter handle @SINON_REBORN, posed as Jared Kushner well enough to convince homeland security adviser Tom Bossert to reply to him, according to CNN. Bossert included his personal email address in the exchange.
The man also fooled Scaramucci, the White House communications director who was fired on Monday, by pretending to be Reince Priebus, the former Trump administration chief of staff with whom he was believed to be in open warfare.
In a series of emails, the man posing as Priebus baited Scaramucci, accusing him of being breathtakingly hypocritical and saying at no stage have you acted in a way that is remotely classy.
Scaramucci responded: You know what you did. We all do. Even today. But rest assured we were prepared. A Man would apologize.
The heated exchange continued, with the prankster writing: I cant believe you are questioning my ethics! The so called Mooch, who cant even manage his first week in the White House without leaving upset in his wake. I have nothing to apologize for.
Scaramucci replied: Read Shakespeare. Particularly Othello. You are right there. My family is fine by the way and will thrive. I know what you did. No more replies from me.
The White House has confirmed it is looking into the matter. We take all cyber related issues very seriously and are looking into these incidents further, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told CNN.
The man, who described himself as a lazy anarchist on his Twitter profile, told CNN that his actions were meant to be humorous not malicious.
Im not trying to get the keys to the vault or anything like that.
He has previously convinced Scaramucci that he was the ambassador to Russia-designate Jon Hunstman and tricked Hunstman himself into believing he was the presidents son Eric Trump. He also fleetingly convinced Eric Trump he was his brother, Donald Jr.