False Guilt: The strongest tool in the narcissist’s toolbox for manipulation and control.
A lifetime of bearing-up under crushing false guilt has given you and me a strong will…and an extremely high threshold for emotional pain.
I realized this the other day when I was pondering on washing walls. I know, I know. What a weird topic to inspire an article! Well, hang in there. It’ll get interesting. I promise!
I Don’t Wanna, So I Ain’t Gonna
I don’t want to wash walls. I don’t like washing walls. I get angry at the very thought of washing walls.
Angry? Why am I angry, I wondered? Then it hit me.
The impetus for washing walls was coming from without…coming from outside of me. As soon as the snow melted, my friends were massaging their walls into dust-free, grease-free, smoke-free perfection. They wielded wall-mop and paint roller with relish.
It seemed like Spring Cleaning was a 13th Commandment that “good people” follow.
And it pissed me off.
Strength of Will
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The more they gloated about cleaning their houses from top-to-bottom, the more determined I was not to wash my walls until I was damn good-and-ready to do it. Until I wanted to do it. Until the impetus came from within…not from without.
I fervently believe that my strength of will against outward pressure can be directly traced back to a lifetime of suffering from narc’s false guilt. Their pressure to do the so-called “right” thing at the “right” time.
It’s called false guilt because the pricking-of-conscience is invalid. No moral has been violated. No Commandment broken.
Rather, narcissists exploit our God-given consciences to induce the feeling of guilt. They may do this “on the offensive” to manipulate us into carrying out their agenda. Or they may use false guilt “on the defensive” because we’ve just done something inconvenient to them, something that doesn’t meet their needs or something that doesn’t make them look good.
Given the narcissists’ need to appear perfect to others, much of what they taught us and forced us to do has nothing to do with right or wrong. It’s all about appearances. Every dish must be washed immediately after every meal. The lawn must be massaged into perfection, the solitary daisy or lonely dandelion swiftly and severely punished. Spring Cleaning is a must, not an option.
Beyond a strong will, false guilt also breeds something else. I call it reverse procrastination.
Reverse Procrastination can be defined as the willingness to get the work done…but at all the “wrong” times…wrong, that is, according to the narcissists. I s’pose there’s the whiff (or reek!) of passive-aggressive about it.
For example, I wash the dishes before supper. Vacuum at 5 a.m. Do laundry at midnight. And weed the garden in the rain.
Somehow or other, the work gets done…at all the “wrong” times.
But after a lifetime of false guilt, you get kinda’ used to it. You learn to cope. You learn to live with and ignore the pain of “guilt” every day, all day. Only sleep brings a few welcome hours of relief from the anguish of conscience.
Your threshold for emotional pain goes up, way up. You can tolerate amazing amounts of the pain of false guilt, as well as all the other pain intrinsic to living with a narcissist.
And you develop an amazing power of will. An unequaled stubbornness to not acquiesce to the pains of “conscience”…false pains of false guilt.
And an anger when the will of others and false guilt attempt to conform us to their will and remake us in their image.
And so we come full circle.
I don’t want to wash my walls because it doesn’t really frickin’ matter. Oh, I’ll wash ’em one day. When it’s my idea. When I want to.
When I’m damn good and ready. Not before!
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