Today I am delighted–thrilled beyond words!–to share energetic space with Jenny Griffin. This interview is a bit long…so please grab a refreshment, settle in, and join us for a lovely conversation.
I love Jenny’s energy and work so much that I have asked her to collaborate by sharing her insight in a few of my ecourses and collaborative projects. Here are two Facets of Joy articles that Jenny has been featured in:
I am also honored to be included in Jenny’s *free*, new, powerful video interview series “An Empath’s Guide to Narcissists interviews” (to view our interview, scroll down the interview page and you’ll see my face and name; I speak about the importance of boundaries and the power of love.).
I have also participated as a student in Jenny’s “Empath’s Guide to Narcissists ecourse“. This topic interests me and is close to my heart because I am an empath and I have been in the energetic (and physical) dynamic with narcissist energy from childhood through now.
I also know that many readers of my blog are empaths and have been touched by this empath/narcissist dynamic and will relate to what Jenny is sharing, so I invited her to speak, here, on this dynamic, that she shares so much information on via her free interview series and her ecourse.
Jenny: Thank you so much Joy, for all your support and love. I found our interview really powerful and filled with so much wisdom. It was a real pleasure to have you as part of the series.
Jenny Griffin’s Bio: Hi, I’m Jenny! I call myself *The Catharsis Coach* because it’s easier to remember than ‘intuitive mentor/holder-of-space with a special passion for post-transformation rebuilding.’
What I’m really good at is uncovering the blocks you’ve hidden from yourself, and helping you to find new perspectives and solutions. I love to help others discover possibility and potential where they hadn’t thought to look.
My mission is to normalise the process of change, a huge part of which is letting go. Without change, we individually stagnate, and as a collective, we won’t progress.
My purpose is to transmute heavier energies such as fear and sadness into joy, so that we can all shift together into higher dimensions of consciousness.
I’d love to connect with you further:
Say hi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/catharsiscoach
or on Facebook: https://facebook.com/thepowerofchange.me
or drop by my blog to see more about me and what I do: http://thepowerofchange.me/what-is-the-power-of-change-3/
Joy: First, I’d love to know, what sparked your interest in this topic exploring the empath and narcissist dynamic?
Jenny: Oh boy, I could write a book on this. I’ll try to keep it short. Let’s see… About ten years ago, I found myself at a point in my life where I had just ended a short and crazy-making relationship with a guy that fit a very familiar pattern. While it wasn’t a ‘significant’ relationship in terms of time, it led to what I call my catharsis. It triggered a journey into some deep, deep grief that took me months to work through.
I spent two-three hours every day for months sobbing, feeling depths of emotion I’d never experienced in this lifetime, and as I did, I felt an increasing connection to a ‘knowing’ that this was clearing patterning that spanned generations and even lifetimes. I was hearing all kinds of messages (from my inner voice) as I went through this grief, one of which was to walk, so I started taking long, three-hour walks every day which were incredibly healing and connective. I also heard I needed to seek someone who could help me reconnect body, mind and spirit. That would be my first experience with energy medicine, which was an amazingly powerful tool that helped me connect the threads of my life in a cohesive way.
I also started reading books about commitment, narcissism and codependency, and was able to name at that point the dynamic I’d grown up in. My mother was a narcissist, but until that point I hadn’t had an understanding of what it was called or how deep the conditioning in me went. I hadn’t understood my experience to be abuse, because it was the only experience I had, therefore it was normal (to me). All of this revealed to me why I’d been attracting this very familiar pattern in relationships and sabotaging myself in many ways.
As I was going through the healing process, I made a commitment to myself to follow through for as long as my body said it wanted to go (to the energy treatments), which ended up being about a year and a half. It was the first time I’d really made such a commitment to myself – no matter the cost, I would find a way to continue as long as I needed to. I continued walking daily, and started to understand this voice I’d been hearing all my life was the one I really needed to be listening to, and not the ones around me trying to define a different reality
About a year after my catharsis, I was offered an opportunity for another relationship. I saw all the red flags and recognised them, and at first resisted. He was persistent, and I made the decision to give it a try. I remember at the moment I made that decision, I felt something shift in my energy, as if something clunked into place. It was a familiarity or a resignation, in a way. In that moment, I went against my inner knowing, and entered into another narcissistic relationship.
At that point, I still had a tenuous connection to my power and didn’t yet understand that I was an empath, or what a gift my natural heart healing was. We were together for six years, and in that time we did a lot of spiritual exploration, expanding our gifts and healing capacities. I was already fully invested in the relationship before I became aware of my own empathic capacity, so it was easy to ignore the external expression of ‘wrongness’ because by then it was already an established part of my way of being in that relationship.
I had become unconscious in many ways, as a coping mechanism, or out of habit, and yet there were moments of clarity. I chose to stay because I was holding so strongly to the story of our relationship that I continued to (want to) believe it could be healed. In the end, I couldn’t ignore the persistent voice that told me it was time to go. After we split up I recognised the level of narcissism and codependency that had been going on, and by that point I was without a home, had no money, and my sense of self was pretty shaky. The fog lifted and the illusions were shattered.
What surprised me were the shame and extreme self-doubt I felt, coupled with self-sabotage and confusion. As the threads were untangling, I began to realise just how many concessions I’d made to my own well-being and how much my story had become dependent on something external to me. I recognised where I had severely compromised my values and integrity, which added to the shame, and had to get real about my own accountability.
I had become isolated from friends and family along the way, partly because I felt like I had been living an ever-increasing lie, and didn’t know how to reach out. It wasn’t until after we split up that I learned just how much people had disliked my partner. So there was an added layer of embarrassment and isolation, as I went through the untangling process. My closest family were glad it was over and happy to put the six years behind us as quickly as possible. In order to heal, I had to start taking my self-care seriously and examine the parts of myself that were drawing this to me. I had to learn to trust myself again, as well. Humility has played a big role this year, as I began to admit to myself where I had been wanting others to fill perceived holes in me.
This past year has been a deepening exploration of this energy, including a very long walk across half of France over the summer. That was the time when the course was ‘shaken loose,’ as I was able to begin seeing things from different perspectives (ie not so invested in understanding it all rationally). As ever, walking has helped me piece my life (and self) back together.
Joy: May you share a bit about your intention and goal for sharing the free interview series and also your ecourse?
Jenny: Of course, I’d be happy to. My main focus of the course is to encourage empaths to become empowered and gain a sense of the beauty of their hearts as energetic healers.
It is really easy to fall into the victim/blame dynamic with this type of relationship because on so many levels the actions of the narcissist feel hurtful and wrong. In untangling energetic threads, which I try to do throughout the course, I aim to get people to a place of empowered understanding, taking full responsibility for their vibration. And to understand, deeply that what the narcissist does is exactly what narcissists do – we cannot try to understand it from any other perspective. In other words, it is not ‘wrong’ for them to behave that way, because it is how narcissists behave. From that understanding, we can heal, because we’re not trying to change anything external. Instead, we can look at what we’ve learned about ourselves and how to shift the patterning, from a place of internal, integral empowerment.
The intention behind the interview series was to invite other people to share their perspectives on this dynamic, covering a range of topics and viewpoints. I feel that the wider the base of knowledge, the more individuals have to draw on to enhance their own experience. Not everyone resonates with the same teacher, nor the same methods. I’ve found in my own healing and spiritual journey that I often need to hear something from six or seven different perspectives before I really ‘get it’ (ie when heart and head meet). I have a growing list of people to interview, so stay tuned for more perspectives!
Joy: When working with energy and words, I understand that we each have different meanings and associations, so may you share with us, what does empath mean and feel like to you and what does narcissist mean and feel like to you as you use these words in your work?
Jenny: Absolutely. I’ll use the definitions I use in the course, and add a little something to them. (These are not dictionary definitions, but intuitive understandings of the energy through my experience and my channel. They do not necessarily extend to Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which is a psychological description of a form of sociopathy. I see the empath-narcissist dynamic as a spectrum which incorporates extremes).
From the course: A narcissist is a person with an unhealthy attachment to an ego-defined sense of Self. This individual doesn’t really know him/her Self in an intimate and healthy way. There’s very little self-love involved because the root of the wound is a core belief that they are in some way fatally flawed. There is no true desire to be authentic or vulnerable, because the deep-seeded fear is people will discover the ‘ugly’ truth about them.
A narcissist is someone who is perpetually suffering; they are in survival mode. They have normalised the experience to such an extent that they are completely unconscious of their suffering, and have donned layers of masks to ‘hide’ it from the world. They soak up large amounts of information from the world around them, which helps them to portray an ego-defined image of a compassionate, empathetic person while unconsciously avoiding the feelings themselves. They learn very quickly which pieces are helpful in eliciting further supply for their constant need for external validation (which reinforces the false self). There is an avoidance of accountability for their experiences which manifests as victimhood.
They have spent their whole lives building walls to protect the early wounding, and are not always easily distinguished. They also intuitively know what people want to see/hear so many can avoid detection or even diagnosis by playing the expected role. They are the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Additional: One thing I’d like to add is the weaving of the story is such that it extends to incorporate anyone in their vicinity. There is often an implicit (or explicit) sense that the story the narcissist tells is the one everyone tells (publicly). This adds to the way self-sabotage can continue even after the relationship has ended. It’s a deep entrainment akin to indoctrination that leaves the other partner doubting their own truth. There is an element of control and manipulation (which can be extremely subtle) that runs through the narcissist’s language and actions which confuses and overrides the partner’s knowing.
From the course: An empath is a highly-sensitive individual who uses their feeling sense of the world to define their experience. They are extremely attuned to emotional energy, and can become easily overwhelmed in crowds (especially those in heightened states of excitement) or know the mood of a room as soon as they enter. Part of the purpose of empaths is to transmute the emotional energy through their bodies, meaning lower vibrational energy can be shifted by the presence of an empath. Their own awareness of the process is something to which they become more attuned as they learn to decipher which energies belong to them, and which can be attributed to others.
Empaths tend to desire authenticity and vulnerability, because they feel things so deeply that the masks people wear can confuse and alarm them. Depending on their level of awareness, if the inner sense of what’s happening doesn’t match what’s being presented outwardly, they can doubt their own inner knowing.
(I would say that narcissists are also empaths, as are codependents, but of course not all empaths are narcissists or codependents. Narcissists have masked their capacity to feel deeply under a false self, but use aspects of that capacity to intuit what others want or need from them which becomes a part of that self (and ‘feeds’ them). Empaths feel deeply and if unboundaried, as Joy discussed in our interview, can be very appealing to a narcissist, who at a core level, yearns for that degree of emotional connectivity.)
Joy: I understand that empaths who either currently are, or were in the past, in this dynamic may feel vulnerable or even triggered by the material (here in our interview and also in your ecourse, and interview series). Do you have any guidance or words of encouragement you may share? And, perhaps a practice you recommend to center and open to this newness?
Jenny: I would say you are here because your heart led you here. Healing takes immense courage, so begin by honouring yourself for that. Nothing has to be completed in one step. Listen to your beautiful heart and digest as much as you can in each sitting.
These relationships have a way of drawing attention to your deepest wounds and fears, while undermining your sense of Self and your inner knowing. When you move into healing mode, many doubts are triggered. Triggers indicate resistance, and point to healing. Move towards the resistance gradually, in small bite-sized pieces, with lots of compassion.
I always say take long walks, because for me they’ve been life-saving. Breathe, shower yourself in love, talk some of it out with your support network, or do some research into ways to approach the dynamic from different angles. One thing I would suggest is to be careful not to become obsessed with finding ways to explain the narcissist or their behaviour rationally.
Keep bringing the focus back to your own experience – where is this uncovering unhealed wounds? What are some of the behaviours pointing to or reflecting in your self? It can be uncomfortable looking at this, for sure. None of us want to stare our wounds in the face, but ultimately they reveal to us some amazing things. Often our greatest gifts are wrapped up right alongside the wounds.
One thing Joy said in our interview was that she didn’t want to have to go through all this pain again (note from Joy: I was referring to my deep desire and practice of understanding the pattern and healing my heart to keep it open, instead of creating a barrier or numbing my feelings, then, having to ‘repeat the pattern’ to open my heart again in the future). That is such a key point – heal while you’re feeling the need, and go deep. As you begin to feel better, it might be too easy to say, ‘actually, I’m alright now…’
Treat yourself in all the ways you weren’t treated but wanted to be in that relationship. Give yourself the chance to be your number one priority. Compassion is really key. Be a wounded child, and treat yourself accordingly.
Finally, trust that your love was real, and as Reba said in her interview, trust the beauty of your good intentions. You loved, and you loved deeply. That is the truth. And it is a HUGE gift. Give yourself credit for having had the courage to be vulnerable enough to invite love into your heart, and to share it with another. You have the capacity for immense love, and a narcissist has closed that off from themselves, so in that way, you are lucky.
Joy: I know this is a huge topic! May you share with us a bit about this empath/narcissist dynamic?
Jenny: I believe that empaths who end up in relationships with narcissists are actually ‘formed’ of the same energy. The root of the two energies has a matching signature. As children, we are incredibly open, and highly sensitive. If our earliest familial experiences involve abuse, narcissism, alcoholism, etc it’s as we have a number of coping strategies we could adopt, two of which are empathy and narcissism. This particular dynamic of empathy can lean towards codependency, which is why I’ve written the course with the focus on self-empowerment and shifting out of a victim mindset.
Young sensitives who ‘choose’ the empath strategy may find themselves trying to heal the family dynamic without understanding what they’re doing. They can be at times both scapegoats and enablers for dysfunctional family members. Their sense of Self has not yet been firmly established, and because of their sensitivity to harsh energies, they learn quickly how to keep the peace (they may also fear for their personal safety/security, and so develop this as a coping mechanism to remain ‘safe’). This often involves shifting to accommodate the narcissist’s moods and needs, in favour of their own. It also means the empath has trouble understanding what is ‘true’ – what they’re feeling versus what the narcissist wants to present to the world. Because narcissists deny and avoid their feelings, they unconsciously teach the empath to do the same, even while it is painful and confusing for them to try to resist their sensitivity.
This establishes patterns for empaths which are not easy to break – extreme difficulty establishing boundaries, and compromising themselves, sometimes to the point of complete self-annihilation. This is also why empaths in relationship with narcissists can also begin to morph into narcissists themselves, although the experience begins to feel strongly discordant when it happens. They begin to hate who they’ve become, and feel confused as to how they can feel both love and hate towards their partner. One core difference is that empaths feel deep compassion and empathy for those around them, whereas these traits may appear to be lacking in a narcissist.
There seems to be a common idea that empaths are repelled by narcissists. This is not entirely true, and depends greatly on the level of consciousness an empath has around their gift. Empaths (especially those as yet unaware of their empathic capacity) can be unconscious, especially in connection with a narcissist. As they take the narcissist’s story as truth, they may act in ways aligned with that, in other words, unconsciously. Often, the empath will feel the internal discordance of the unconsciousness but choose to deny it to maintain the connection.
Narcissists, especially in the beginning of relationships, have a way of encouraging us to feel as if we’re the best thing that has ever happened (love bombing). All other relationships pale in comparison. The narcissist will use terms like best friend, soul mate and twin flame very early on to give the relationship a sense of importance and seriousness. They will rush intimacy, moving things very quickly along to establish dependency. If the empath has a shaky hold on their self-worth, they will be intoxicated by this attention and the potential they feel in the connection. They gain a sense of purpose, being the supportive partner to this seemingly loving person. They may ignore all their internal warning signs, and choose to believe the external version the narcissist presents.
Because empaths have a natural desire to heal, and to deeply see another person, this is where confusion can set in. They can see/feel the truth of a narcissist’s bright and shiny soul and ignore the external behaviours that are pointing to a different truth. Ultimately, this is pointing to the fact that the empath has their own wounds to address, or this would not be acceptable to them. This is where accountability and consciousness come in.
The feeling of being in relationship with a narcissist can be so familiar for the empath raised in dysfunction that it’s challenging to ascertain whatdoesn’t quite feel ‘right.’ The words sound right, the loving gestures are frequent, and on the surface it appears to be a ‘good’ situation – the challenge for empaths is to really, deeply trust their own sense of knowing, which has been derailed since their earliest experiences. If they have been trained to believe that their feelings are not the truth, they (consciously or not) fall into the story that the narcissist wants to express to the world. It’s easy, even after years of deep inner work, to accept this old, familiar way of being.
Joy: If a person is an empath, and notices they are in this dynamic with a narcissist, what do you suggest the first step to understanding and/or shifting the energy away from it would be?
Jenny: I would say acceptance is a great place to start. I wanted to deny it for ages, trying to explain things from a multidimensional perspective or try to understand it rationally – ‘why would someone behave in this way?’ On some level I also perhaps believed that since I had been through such an intense healing experience during my catharsis, I was in some way immune or ‘over that.’ Finally, I just had to say ‘Oops, I did it again,’ and from there I could really start to heal.
Once you acknowledge and accept that you are in a relationship of some kind with a narcissist, make a start at extricating yourself. There are situations (eg with a parent, or an ex with whom you share custody of children), where you’ll find you still need to have some contact, and that will be something that takes time to learn to navigate. The more conscious you can be of your own energy, the better. Try not to be drawn into emotional dramas or exchanges that trigger your desire to heal the other. This is part of the dynamic.
Don’t get fooled by the idea that you are the one to heal the other person. Only they can do that. Don’t try to hold them accountable, or you will remain stuck in the dynamic. You are your number one priority, in terms of well-being and self-care. Look around at your life and be really honest with where you may have been compromising or denying the truth of any aspect of your life. When you are in a relationship with a narcissist you’ll likely find you’ve adopted many untruths and ways of hiding or stretching the truth to justify your choices and behaviour (to yourself and others).
Keep asking, ‘what would be the most loving thing I could do for me right now?’ and move towards that. It may not be possible to leave immediately, but you can certainly start to withdraw your energetic and emotional investment and create healthy boundaries for yourself.
Be gently and compassionately honest with yourself. I think that’s one of the biggest things you can do – it’s hard to admit your own unconsciousness when in this dynamic, or that you’ve been lying to yourself, but it’s pretty vital. And it’s okay, seriously okay. The purpose is not to judge or shame yourself into pushing things deeper into hiding, but to bring it out into the light and become even more authentic.
Joy: Also, if a person is an empath, and has done the work to understand their patterning and shift away from the narcissist dynamic, what is one tip or practice you may share with them so they don’t fall back into their patterning/get ‘hooked’ again?
Jenny: Please listen to your inner knowing. Trust yourself!
You WILL feel, see, hear or know the red flags and discordance, so trust that. Talk it through with friends, family members or other people in your support network. While there is no such thing as ‘normal’ in relationships, there are signs that point to self-love. Examining the red-flags will reveal what about them feels off. Ask ‘how would someone demonstrating self-love and self-respect behave?’ or ‘how would I respond to this in a self-loving way?’
Look into some of the red flags, understand the feeling behind them (ie how does love bombing feel? Is it filling a hole in you that you hadn’t been aware of?) Let your empathic self do what it does best and sense the energy behind the words or actions. Know that your job is not to heal those who are not willing to heal themselves, and that your capacity for healing will be amplified when working with those who are consciously doing the deep inner work.
Walk away if you feel the signs. Establish boundaries for yourself and honour them. If you compromise your own boundaries you can more or less guarantee others will, as well.
One thing I’ve learned from this dynamic, especially after entering into it again after my catharsis, is that it is hard to reach a place of self-forgiveness and self-love when you’re beating yourself up thinking you ‘knew better,’ or ignored the signs. It’s okay if you went back in, or if you do. It’s really, really okay. Ultimately we’re all seeking to feel love, and if we’re not feeling it within, we will be tempted to find it without. It also hurts so much knowing that you’ve betrayed yourself, even more than feeling someone else may have betrayed you. If you do find yourself in this situation again, extricate yourself when you can and focus on your healing. Likely you’ve uncovered some deeper wounds looking to be addressed. Be compassionate with yourself, as you would with a hurt child.
One key is to get really clear that the healing is about YOU. It is not in any way about making someone else wrong or responsible for your hurt, or for trying to make the narcissist accountable for their behaviour. A narcissist remains unconscious because of the deep pain they’ve been avoiding all their lives – their hurt drives them. The sooner you can stop your mind from returning to that loop of despair or replaying their actions or behaviours, the sooner your healing begins.
Joy: I’m so glad that you created your free interview series on this empath/narcissist dynamic!
Jenny: Thank you, me too!!! I’m so excited about it. It’s helping me to integrate deeper layers of understanding all the time.
Joy: May you share, if a person chooses to listen to your free interview series, what do you intend for their ‘takeaway’ to be or what do you hope they learn or experience and/or are inspired to do from being present to this information?
Jenny: I would love for empaths to know that their sensitivity and compassion are HUGE gifts to the collective and to not shut them down, or block themselves off, as is a tendency to do after we’ve been hurt. To allow for every experience to contribute to further heart opening and deeper connections with others. (note from Joy: me, too – which is why I am sharing Jenny’s wisdom and insights, here!).
I’d love for people to walk away with some solid, practical tools to use to feel and remain empowered in every situation and relationship, not just with narcissists.
I’d also love for people to extend feelings of compassion to everyone they meet (including themselves), knowing we are all doing the best we can in every moment. If each interaction with a new person shifts us towards self-awareness and deeper connections, we’ve learned, and grown.
I hope that people feel a sense of shared experience, and know they are not alone in this. So many people have had exposure to this dynamic, and are willing to talk about it. The more we know about ourselves and the way the energy works, the better we can remain empowered in subsequent relationships.
Joy: You have such a deep understanding of the empath/narcissist dynamic. As you were interviewing the guests, did you have any ‘aha’ moments or was your understanding expanded in any way?
Jenny: Thank you! I still feel like a kindergarten student sometimes, so I appreciate your feedback.
I had consistent ‘aha’ moments as I was talking to my guests. They were like additions to my understanding of the dynamic, and there were many confirmations that helped assuage my occasionally recurring self-doubts. I felt a lot more self-compassion, knowing that so many people have been affected by this dynamic, and an increased sense of comfort knowing that as we heal it in ourselves, we’re shifting the collective need for it.
I’ve watched all the interviews more than once, and each time, I’ve accepted even more how powerful my inner knowing is, and opened to deeper trust. The people I’ve interviewed have lived this, as I have – it’s not speculation or rational processing, but an embodied, deeply integral form of wisdom. I love that. You can feel the wisdom coming from a powerful, heart-centred core, and feel their desire to impart this to others, knowing it will touch them and offer them guidance and solace.
Joy: What was one of your favorite feelings or experiences while creating this free video series?
Jenny: One of my favourite feelings was a growing sense of pride in my work. It’s been such a complicated journey these past several years, and one thing I still struggle with is self-doubt. As I interviewed each guest, they offered advice and perspectives which coincided with something I had written about in the course, which allowed for me to say, ‘okay, I’m on the right track.’ While we don’t necessarily need anything external to affirm our trust, it doesn’t hurt to meet these reflections on occasion. It’s also useful, especially when dealing with the energy of narcissism, to explore what it means to feel a healthy pride in ourselves and our accomplishments. It’s actually part of the healing – it’s okay to be okay with who we are and what we do!
Joy: Did you have any hesitation or reservations about sharing this series as far as the potential for narcissists to receive in this information?
Jenny: Sure, it was part of my initial sense of reluctance around this topic.
For me, part of this year has been about facing the question ‘am I the narcissist?’ and allowing myself to explore that pretty deeply. That was a scary one! I had to do it in stages. The answer is, there are times in my life where I’ve behaved narcissistically, and I can see how external situations triggered my lapsing into unconsciousness and survival mode. There are times when we’d all rather not look at our own pain. And I’m okay with that. When you know, you make different choices. That’s the key, really.
What hurt me was the recognition of the different ways I’d hurt people; knowing that I was doing the best I could do with what I had in those moments, helped. I can also see, looking back, how acting from a place of woundedness feels compared to acting from self-love. I’ve felt into the whole spectrum, which allows me to engender a more expansive sense of compassion for all involved.
I also know that I’ve always been an incredibly sensitive and compassionate person with a natural tendency towards healing. I’ve had a natural attunement to the collective greater good, sometimes to the detriment of my own health and well-being. I’ve believed in the power of love even in my darkest moments, knowing there was something other than what was being presented. The narcissists in my life have actually taught me some valuable lessons in learning to ask for what I need and how to access a healthy level of Selfishness.
Knowing what I do of narcissists, I believe they wouldn’t be willing to look too closely at the idea of their own narcissism, let alone admit to it. If they want to take the course or watch the interviews, I welcome them. The course is designed for people to get their hands dirty and do the hard work towards taking responsibility and being accountable, creating boundaries, acting from self-love and compassion, and examining their patterning. I’m not sure a narcissist would stand up to that degree of self-reflection.
Joy: Let’s talk a bit about your “Empath’s Guide to Narcissists Ecourse”. May you share with us, what was your inspiration for creating this ecourse?
Jenny: My inspiration was that sense of camaraderie that comes of having been through challenging experiences. I felt that if what I’ve learned could be useful to anyone else, then I wanted to share it.
One of the things about this dynamic is that it is pernicious and can be really isolating. Relationships with narcissists are not healthy relationships – reality has been turned on its head and you come away doubting everything. People often shift into trying to understand it rationally, and it is NOT rational! Friends and family may want to be supportive, but without the experience of having been in the same dynamic, it may soon begin to tire them if you are still not ‘getting over’ it. It could also be that the image the narcissist portrays has been accepted by others and they have trouble making sense of how this ‘good guy/girl’ can be the same person in your experience. The untangling process consists of the shattering of many illusions, and that is incredibly painful.
Because empaths are feel-ers, it’s really important to return to a place of feeling and trusting that feeling as soon as you can. Over-analysis will lead to more confusion and potentially obsession and you will not be healing. You will be stuck in a dissociative state with very little movement. As an empath, you must return to your heart. It will hurt – you will feel the pain of betrayal, of lies, of mistrust, of any number of things – but it will also heal, and allow you to return to your natural state of openness much more quickly.
Joy: May you share with us a bit about the structure of the ecourse?
Jenny: Yes, of course. It’s a five-week course, with three ‘lessons’ a week. They’re sent out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week. Most Mondays are lessons with information, whereas I try to engage participants in exercises on Wednesdays and Fridays. The course includes a Facebook group and two private coaching calls.
The introduction involves descriptions/definitions of each term and how or why they’re compatible.
The first week begins with self-intimacy, which involves getting to know your energy – where do you begin and end? – so that you’ll be better able to establish and maintain healthy boundaries. It’s challenging to establish boundaries without first knowing yourself.
The second week gets into recognising some of the crazy-making behaviours that take place when in this dynamic. The list is quite extensive, and is designed to offer an opportunity to view your own behaviour from a place of compassion and objectivity. From there, we move on to explore self-love and trust.
Week Three gets into responsibility, both internal and external. It asks you to examine where you may be avoiding responsibility and also looks at moving towards empowered responsibility in all your relationships.
Week Four asks the tough question ‘Am I the narcissist?’ and offers resources based on accepting all the facts of yourself, no matter how ‘bad’ you judge them to be. Once you accept, you can embrace them and move forward in awareness. The exercise this week is a role-playing one, that asks you to think about the things the narcissist may have taught you that could be used in positive ways.
The fifth week is a wrap-up, where you’re invited to make a list of the gifts in the connection – ways you have become more autonomous, empowered, compassionate, self-loving, etc as a result of the connection with narcissists. It offers resources for highly sensitive people, to find ways to use your sensitivity in the world.
Joy: May you share, if a person chooses to participate in this ecourse, what do you intend for their ‘takeaway’ to be or what do you hope they learn or experience and/or are inspired to do from being present to this information?
Jenny: I think the main things I’d like for you to take a way are a sense of your sensitivity as a gift, and a balanced perspective on this dynamic. I’ve tried to offer ways to explore and feel into both sides of the equation, extending compassion to ourselves and the narcissist, to get a sense of the bigger picture. This truly is an opportunity for amazing growth and expansion, getting to love and express your self and your needs in ways that enhance your life, and the lives of those around you.
Joy: In this ecourse, you share lots of information and you have also created many different exercises for participants to explore this dynamic with in their life. May you share, what is one of your favorite exercises you’ve created?
Jenny: Of course! One of my favourite (and at the same time least favourite) exercises is the one I created about lying. I still cringe a little when I think about it.
I’m going to use some ‘tough love’ here, so look away if you’re not ready. If you are with a narcissist, you have on some level become unconscious, and you are lying. Where you’ve accepted their story as an aspect of your reality, you’re lying to yourself. By perpetuating and supporting that story, you’re lying to others. You’re lying to the narcissist because you’re not being true to yourself.
It’s a tough lesson to learn, because as empaths, we’re highly attuned to truth and authenticity. I think this is where part of the shame comes from as you begin to untangle the threads. And again, it’s okay. If you weren’t operating from a place of inner wounding, that experience wouldn’t have been resonant. As you learn, you grow, and you create healthier ways of being.
I wrote the exercise on lying because I wanted to give people an opportunity to feel into three different experiences of blatantly and consciously creating falsehoods from a place of alignment with their Self, and within the safety of their boundaries. I also wanted people to get a sense of the narcissist’s world – the way that we can fabricate stories and with each retelling believe them a little bit more until they are the only truth we know. We’re not so far removed from one another as we sometimes want to believe, and that knowledge builds true compassion.
This is the first of the three exercises on lying.
Play with Yes and No: (This is best tried with questions that have no long-term effects, so for instance, don’t try it with ‘will you marry me?’ but do with ‘do you like Chinese food?’).
Where in your body do you feel Yes? Where do you feel No? Test it out – ask yourself some simple yes and no questions and feel the answers in yourself.
Next time someone asks you a question to which you feel a yes, SAY no. Where do you feel the discordance? How long does it stay with you? What other feelings come up in association with this? Get as clear as you can on how you’re feeling and where you feel the most discomfort.
Try the same thing reversing the process. This time if you feel a no, SAY yes. Where is the discordance? How long does it linger? What other feelings come up?
Was one more difficult or more uncomfortable than the other? Did one linger longer? Was it easy to reconcile the dissonance within yourself?
This will give you a sense of how your bodies may be shifting if you consistently cross boundaries or deny your true feelings. Once is uncomfortable; so repeatedly, daily, for years, becomes a toxic drain on your whole system.
Joy: I wonder, in creating this ecourse, did anything about way the course unfolded (in structure or content) surprise you?
Jenny: Actually, the whole thing surprised me.
I had felt some inkling of wanting to write something about the dynamic for almost a year, but something in me wasn’t ready to look at it, or express it. Only after I’d started my walk did things start really falling into place. After the first three weeks of walking, I had some down time in a beautiful French village and the course just poured out of me. There was so much love coming through, for the choices that had got me there, for the information, for the whole experience – that surprised me a little bit, too. I just felt immersed in huge love as I wrote it.
I really want to express that on a soul level, we are all equivalent, and this dynamic offers huge gifts for our expansion. To hurt someone so much is actually an amazing act of love. As a collective, in our original state of Oneness, we have an awareness that when we hurt another, we hurt ourselves, and ALL. From that knowing, we must truly love someone else in order to be able to hurt them so deeply. It may not be apparent in the 3rd dimensional behaviour, but the growth and expansion that results is evidence of it.
Joy: Is there any part of this ecourse that you felt particularly tender or vulnerable about?
Jenny: Yes, again, the whole thing.
I was afraid to hurt people I have loved by ‘coming out’ about this, but ultimately my truth and my reality are mine alone. I know their experiences of our relationships were entirely different from their perspectives. And others in relationship with them may not label or describe the dynamic in the same way – that’s the way life is. The thing is to name it in whatever way leads to your healing and expansion.
I’m not labelling this dynamic to shame the other or make them wrong, I’m naming it to help empower people to be more autonomous and self-loving. I try to make it clear in the beginning of the course that this is not intended to demonise the narcissist as evil and intentionally hurtful (because that allows for us to remain victimised by the experience). For me it’s about recognising unconsciousness, in ourselves and in others, so that we can shift further into consciousness. We cannot expect to be in healthy connections with others if we’re walking around pretending we’re not bleeding from our own (toxic) wounds.
I also know that I had soul agreements to walk parts of this road with these people, to shift each of us towards the expansion we desired. Just because something might not feel ‘optimal’ in this dimension, doesn’t mean it didn’t fulfil whatever purpose it was designed to. I’ve learned so much about myself through these experiences, and who and how I want to be in the world. So a little vulnerability is always worth that.
Joy: Thank you so much for sharing your time and energy, here in this space and also with all of the work that you choose to share! In closing, is there anything you’d like for us to know about this dynamic between empaths and narcissists?
Jenny: Something I didn’t write about in the course, but it has become apparent since, is the connection between the collective rebalancing of the Feminine and Masculine energies that has been taking place over the past several decades. Many of us are feeling called to embrace and embody the Divine Feminine in a BIG way, and to step into leadership from that perspective.
Narcissism is the antithesis of the Divine Feminine – perhaps this is the reason it has been coming so clearly to the surface. We are being asked to clear away the tendrils of this energy dynamic so that we can step forward in the feminine principles of collaboration, receptivity, allowance, etc to operate from Divine LOVE in everything we do. If you’ve been drawing in this dynamic, ask where you may be resisting embracing aspects of the feminine in yourself. Move towards that.
I’ve written one article on it “Narcissism and the Divine Feminine“ and there are more to come. It’s being shown to me in a number of ways, so I will write it as it comes through.
Joy: I love everything that you write – either on your site or as a guest on others. I enjoy your way with words as well as the message you choose to convey with each article. Because I love your writing and the insights you share, I’ve asked you to collaborate in a few of my ecourses.
Well, you have a publishing dream which expands the reach of your written message. I’d love for you to share a bit about that with us.
Jenny: Thank you, Joy. It means so much to me that you connect with my work, because I see your open heart as such a great measurement tool!
Wow! This book has been 10 years in the making. Part of what happened as I began to heal after my catharsis was that I kept hearing the word, ‘catharsis, catharsis, catharsis.’ I was being shown threads that connected us all as humans, this capacity for expansion that exists in sometimes devastating moments. I’ve been like a terrier with a bone, following this thread to several different countries, through a Master’s degree, through wild and varied experiences, interviewing amazing people, extrapolating on the original insights, and eventually getting the words onto the page.
It’s been a long and slow birthing process, as I learned to trust myself and my guidance more and more, and to grok what this thing has been trying to teach me. It has been an incredible experience – so many times I was ready to say, ‘okay, I’m done with this,’ and then three examples of catharsis would show up that day in some way or another. I realised I needed to surrender to the fact that I am the steward of this particular message in this particular form, and see where it wants to go
At the moment there are seven books, roughly organised in the vaults of my brain. The first one is called ‘Domestication of the Spirit,’ and expands on the idea of catharsis as an individual experience to it as an aspect of the global shift in consciousness.
I’ve recently had to re-write and re-organise a fair bit of it, as this stuff on narcissism has come up and some of it will be included in the book.
Joy: And, you have a gofundme through which people may donate money to support you in reaching this publishing goal. A few years ago, the kids and I had a gofundme account and I found the process very vulnerable and also incredibly life-changing in a wonderful way. I learned to open to ask and then to receive in, in a very public way which for me required lots of trust in universe, source and resonance with love (as well as money and joy). May you share with us a bit about your gofundme experience?
Jenny: Sure. A lot of the insights or inspirations I get come about as messages while I’m out walking, or digging, or in some way connecting to the Earth.
In August I was staying with a friend and working on her allotment garden. I got a really clear message to start a GoFundMe page. It was a really vulnerable experience – asking is not easy. As I continued to work on the garden, I kept getting more ideas about it. One day, I heard that I should do live readings of the book and leave the videos online as part of the campaign. So I did. Part of me felt like, ‘hmm, is this a dumb idea? Anyone could find this and plagiarise or whatever,’ but I knew I needed to do this for my own growth. So every day for six days I sat in front of the camera on an open channel, so people could join me if they wanted, and recorded myself reading excerpts from the book. They’ve now become part of the campaign video. The first day I was ridiculously nervous, but it got easier.
As to the campaign itself, money started flowing in right away, and then at some point sort of stalled. I feel quite calm about it, as things have shifted within me, and I’ve been doing lots of rewrites. I went through a few pretty heavy weeks in October, clearing lots of old fears and patterns, and I know that was part of a process of becoming even more ready to receive.
This month, the self-publishing firm I want to use has a half-price sale, so it actually means I’m that much closer to my goal!
Joy: Thank you so much! And, for those who wish to learn more and to donate to your gofundme account, here is the link: Jenny Griffin, My Publishing Dreams.
Thank you, Jenny! Thank you, dear reader!
Jenny has graciously shared a link with readers to receive half-off the regular cost of her “An Empath’s Guide to Narcissists Ecourse“. To read the ecourse description, please click the title link. To receive your 50%-off pricing, please click this link: Empath 50% discount, $173.50.
Dear Reader: As you think about, feel into and process all that Jenny has shared, what arises within for you? If something that you have read inspires you to open/create/move in general, or specifically with the empath/narcissist dynamic, please do share. And, if you have any questions for Jenny, please do leave them in the comment section.
Much peace and abundant love,