Sometimes our brains, the one thing we depend on for our absolute survival, can work against us.

Imagine you came face to face with a hungry Lion. Naturally, to help you survive, your brain will tell you the safest thing to do is run away from the lion.

So you know the right thing to do is run and save yourself, but there is another emerging thought telling you to run towards the Lion even giving you reasons why it would be safe to approach a hungry lion. So you choose to run towards the Lion.

What will happens?

You will severely get mauled.

Now, think of a smoker that knows very well smoking is dangerous for their health. They also know that the best way to be healthier is to stop smoking, maybe seek some rehabilitation. At the same time, they tell themselves that as long as they eat vegetables every day and drink lots of water they can keep on smoking. They explain away the smoking.

What happens?

They end up addicted to smoking, eventually develop complications related to smoking.

Or you want to lose weight. You know the best thing to do is exercise and eat healthier. You know eating chocolates will counter your goal of losing weight. But at the same time you tell yourself eating a pack of chocolates won’t be so bad. You trivialize the risk involved.

That is how cognitive dissonance works.

When two inconsistent or opposing thoughts about something happen in our brains sometimes creating tension or confusion.

When it comes to narcissistic abuse, many times instead of our brains working towards rescuing us from the abusive person, it works towards anchoring us to them. Even though the abuse keeps escalating, their cheating keeps getting worse, they keep on pushing us around this emotional rollercoaster and we know the best thing is to seek a safe space away from them so we can heal, somehow our brain comes up with reasons and excuses why we should stay with them.

Narcissistic abuse severely deregulates our brain chemicals. This is due to the cycle the abuser takes the victim through of first idealizing you, then they embark on devaluating or abusing you, then discarding you before they run back to idealizing you. So you find that victims of narcissistic abuse or people in toxic relationships view relationships in a completely different light from those in healthy relationships. It becomes very difficult for them to manage their emotions and employ logical reasoning.

In the face of abuse, these victims are faced with conflicting thoughts. And these thoughts are understandably very confusing and uncomfortable. They know the only way they can feel better or they can stop the abuse is if they moved away from the abusive person to a safer environment where they can heal better. However their brains starts looking for excuses and justifications why they should stay. And as we know the brain is a very powerful tool. You end up explaining away their behavior, coming up with justifiable explanations why they are treating you like that and you even start changing yourself into something that you think will please the abuser and make them love you better. (which never works).

You basically lie to yourself or go into denial of your reality to justify why you have to keep being with the abusive person.

In short, your behavior or actions counter your beliefs or what you know is best for you.

Of course these explanations and justifications we make for their behavior and why we need to keep being with them play over and over in our brains and over time they cement deep in our identity drawing us even closer to the very people that are abusing us.

We end up trapped in the abuse by our very own brain.







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