Narcissism is toxic but you can triumph over it

with Matthew Phifer

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Narcissists engage in behaviors that will keep the world around them more comfortable, and they will trap you into believing their way of thinking is the only way of thinking. You do not have to be a victim in their life of manipulation.

You won’t change a narcissist, but you can change how you handle yourself and cope more effectively with these situations. In a Smart Sex, Smart Love podcast, Matt Phifer, a therapist and expert in toxic relationships, narcissism, trauma and emotional abuse, talks about understanding narcissism and codependency, and how to detoxify from toxic relationships.

Healing is 100 percent on you, he emphasizes. We all need to be responsible for our own mental and physical health. The healthier we become, the less impact the narcissist will have on us. When we are immersed in the manipulative trap of a narcissist, it makes it even harder to find a way out. Start the healing journey today. The narcissist is not going anywhere and always will be looking for another victim.

To learn how to understand narcissism so we can break free from being victimized and begin our healing journey, listen to this Smart Sex, Smart Love podcast

Welcome to Smart sex smart love we’re talking about sex goes beyond the taboo and talking about love goes beyond the honeymoon. Today the podcast title is toxic to triumph with Matt Pfeiffer. Matt Pfeiffer is a therapist, speaker, trainer and expert in toxic relationships, narcissism, trauma and emotional abuse. He’s the founder and owner of Matt Pfeiffer coaching designed for those recovering from narcissistic abuse. Detoxifying from toxic relationships and conquering narcissistic addiction. His trainings have been presented across the world and his podcast, toxic to triumph is heard in more than 100 countries. Welcome, Matt.

Matt Phifer 0:46
Thank you very much for having me. I appreciate being

here. Oh, me. I feel like when I have somebody from Tik Tok, you know how people will say I feel like you’re a celebrity or you know, I’ve been wanting, and I feel I feel like that about you like I’ve been watching you and I said this to my some other people from Tik Tok. And all we’re doing is in our room, right and filming ourselves and putting it out, take that, but there’s something about your persona. I don’t think I even knew about you, though, until I did a few videos on narcissism early on. And then people started saying, tagging you and and then I went to your site, and oh, my god, your tic tac toe is just blowing up about it.

Matt Phifer 1:21
Well, I appreciate it. And you know, but I feel the same way about you. You know, I’ve been following you for a while. And, you know, I’ve learned a lot from you. And, you know, a lot of people gravitate towards you. And you’ve been doing this for a very long time. So I appreciate it and appreciate your genuineness. And so I feel like I’m talking to a brother from another mother so to speak.

Oh, great. I feel the same way. I feel it’s a thank you. Alright, let’s get people get to know your work because that’s why I want you on here I want to spread the word about Matt Pfeiffer and narcissism and and let the first question is, can you define codependency? And how do people know if they are a codependent

Matt Phifer 1:56
and I would define there’s multiple multiple different definitions of codependency but the best definition that I’ve heard and then I’ve kind of adopted it comes from Ross Rosenberg, Ross Rosenberg. And it is I would define it as a self love deficiency. Right that I that, but it’s to a point where you are now over reliant on other people for the things that you actually need yourself. So you’re over reliant on people for your emotional needs, some psychological needs, sometimes your financial needs. And what happens is that because there’s this now over reliance, because of the lack of self love yourself, you now have, you’re now susceptible to toxic narcissistic abuse and control and that sort of thing, because we’re not fulfilling a lot of these things ourselves. And, and so I always compare it to people who struggle with, let’s say, like an iron deficiency. Well, people who have an iron deficiency have certain symptoms that they have, they have symptoms of, you know, they’re always cold, they’re always tired, they have sleepless nights. And but what happens is that they now have a responsibility to make sure that they implement more iron into their system, through eating better through iron supplements, right? And that when they begin to do when they can do that they feel better about themselves. But they also start to notice that if they slack off on any of those things, they start to notice that they’re that they’re unbalanced a bit, right, they start to notice that those symptoms start to come back. And so people with codependency, they’ll ask me, How do I heal from it, it’s more of them, it’s more of a new journey that you’re on that this is something that we have to do on a regular basis. And when you start to notice that there’s some some symptoms of self sabotaging behavior that are starting to come back, that you’re starting to notice that you’re off balance, and, you know, in your five key areas, mental mental boundaries, emotional boundaries, physical boundaries, your finances, and also your time slash energy here, you start to realize that, that I need to, I need to incorporate, get back to the things that that are treating me well, that are through self love through boundaries, and that sort of thing. So self love deficiency and an over reliance on other people. And also, you know, a lot of times people don’t talk about the fact that a lot of times codependents can also struggle with controlling other people, they care too much about what other people think. And they care too much about what other people feel about them. Right. And they they go through a lot of different types of behaviors, right, that are self sabotaging and damaging to themselves. They begin to engage in a lot of behaviors, right to try to, in a way try to control what other people think and feel about them. They don’t like rocking the boat. They don’t like feeling that somebody is upset with them. So they engage into a lot of behaviors to try to try to make the world around them feel more comfortable. However, because there’s a lack in themselves, they still don’t feel comfortable with the world regardless of what they do. So still leaves a lot of deficiency within themselves.

Can you I know people ask questions on Tik Tok and on social media. If I’m a codependent Does that mean I’m an empath? And what’s the difference?

Matt Phifer 5:11
Unnecessarily so Empath, so you can be a codependent. So someone who’s empathic, they tend they can be very highly sensitive to people’s emotional needs. And quite often people who are very empathic, they grow up in a system where they were conditioned to they, you know, they have to be or they have to be very, very sensitive. Quite often, they may have grown up with a codependent or narcissistic parent. And so they become very sensitive to even people’s facial expressions and be in every little detail because they need to keep themselves safe. Well, naturally, if you’re so so hyper aware to what other people’s needs and emotions are and things of that nature. You can develop into what’s called you know what people consider an empath and we’re high highly highly you can even just walking into a room just can change can feel the tension in the room, some people will do the fight, let’s say like I can just feel the energy in the room. Because you’re so used to you know, if you grew up in a domestic violent home, you usually you are wired to try to keep yourself safe. So you notice all the little details of the people’s energy in the way that people are wired and so a lot of codependence might feel that way. But just because you’re codependent doesn’t make it doesn’t mean that you’re an empath just because you’re empathic doesn’t make you a codependent either. But most people need to be aware of, of how that how that behavior possibly can impact other people and how what that looks like in relationships as well.

I love that and I love what you do, and I try to do the same is rather than talk about the narcissist, you talk about the people affected by the narcissist. And I think that’s crucial because even when you go look at the literature, it’s all about the narcissist articles online. It’s all about it’s like, the literature reflects life where it’s the narcissist demands, you talk about me and you try to figure me out, and everybody else is doing that. And I’m like, wait a minute, especially to people who feel like Am I a narcissist? And you know, I have two viral videos that I’m all I did. I thought that this was like in the literature, but it is not. I call it narcissistically defended and you actually comment that? It’s like you can because when because I was raised by narcissists. So I have a narcissistic defense, it looks narcissistic, but I can guarantee you I’m not, but I have the defenses. And people love that because they want to know how do I differentiate myself? How do you explain that?

Matt Phifer 7:51
Well, I defend differentiate, and I agree, you know, we have a responsibility. I tell people that the abuse that you went through is not your fault. But the the healing is 100% Your responsibility and yeah, I you know, I’ve loved that phrase narcissistically defended and you know I’ve I’ve incorporated that and abuse that with people that I teach because we do we have to become aware of you know, a lot of times people think that for example of codependency they think that that’s the opposite, polar opposite of narcissism and it’s not it’s all within the same soup and they start to realize that that there’s some behaviors that I’m engaging in that that due to trauma due to past trauma due to my upbringing that guess what, I always compare it to traffic that we you know, everyone hates being stuck in traffic then you’re in traffic and then one day you start to realize Guess what I’m a part of the traffic I’m also causing people right to slow down I’m also you know and unless you know if I don’t like the traffic that I’m in guess what I need to change my own behavior I need to get up earlier. I need to leave earlier I need to be more prepared I need to get get prepared earlier the night before and same thing with with codependency toxic behavior narcissistic behavior narcissistically defended by that we have to begin to begin to look inward. And a lot of times people will say things like, you know, I don’t want to be another narcissist, I don’t want to deal with it with people. Well, guess what? We have to realize that guess what narcissism is not going in America. And the way to solve it. And the way to protect ourselves is actually to look inward, to learn how to set boundaries to learn what that behavior looks like, and the healthier that we become, the less likely we’re going to actually engage with someone like that. And what we have to realize is that people who are narcissistic, you know, people who are dealing with narcissists, even with even if they’re not narcissistic, but they’re dealing with their own issues of trauma, they want nothing to do with someone who carries themselves with self confidence with boundaries, that sort of thing. So you actually become a repellent one And you begin to go through and start this healing journey because they want nothing to do with someone who protects themselves. They’re looking for another victim. And so through this process you it’s so much. It’s kind of, it’s kind of funny because there’s so many people who are afraid of that fear of rejection, they have a fear of abandonment. But once you heal, that, you start to realize that the people who are rejecting and people who are abandoning you are the people that you don’t want in your life anyway. Right? And that don’t really enjoy your authenticity that your authenticity that don’t don’t enjoy the authentic nature of who you are. So why would we want someone who doesn’t want to be a part of our life doesn’t enjoy who we truly are at our core,

JOE KORT 10:44
I love what you’re saying. And then then preparing people that you may be alone for a while, and you may feel lonely, because you may have many narcissists around you, or just a few are your whole life. And so for a minute, they’re going to reject you their abandonment, like you just said, is gonna get activated, but it’s short term.

Matt Phifer 11:00
Yep. I was compared to a there’s a analogy that I give with people that you know, there’s, you know, your your life is literally like a tree. Right. And so what as a codependent as someone who’s empathic, and your fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, what you’ve been doing, you’ve been living a life where, let’s say that your green apple tree, so one person comes up to you, they’re narcissistic, or they’re, you know, they have some toxic behavior. And they say, I don’t like green apples. And so you’re dipping that apple into a red paint, red dye or whatever to make sure you’re happy person saying, I don’t like apples, I like oranges, you’re searching for oranges, make sure they’re happy with what they want. Meanwhile, the tree starts with because you’re not taking care of the tree. Right? And and so what we need to do is we actually need to have you take care of the tree, you’re happy with the fruit that’s coming forth, right? You’re happy with the you know, what the green apples? They’re, they’re nice, the tree looks good. Right? And so then guess what people who are narcissistic people were toxic come to me, I don’t like I don’t like green apples. Well, you’re at the wrong tree. Right? This tree produces green apples, right? And that, what does that that’s you setting boundaries? And then what happens is that the people who do enjoy green apples, guess what, they’re going to help you nourish that tree because they appreciate the things that are coming from that tree. So that’s what happens is that you start to develop a support system and people that actually appreciate you for who you are.

JOE KORT 12:22
Yeah. And I think that that leads a good into this, for you to explain how do people then go from toxic to triumph? How do they make this bridge,

Matt Phifer 12:32
they have to begin to take responsibility for themselves quite often we are looking for fulfillment in other people, and it’s not going to happen, you’re not gonna even with people who are healthy and who are therefore as thing. Going back to this analogy with the tree, with trees and plants and things that we are responsible, if we have a plant, we are responsible for the soil, we are responsible for all the pruning and cutting off the dead ends, things that are taking care of our own insecurities, taking care of our own unhealed trauma, we’re responsible for all of those things, right. And we’re also responsible for watering our plants, you know, those are the things that are the things that are in our control. Always in does that mean that you know, a lot of times people will say things like, I don’t need other people, I don’t need other people’s validation we do, we do need it. But I compare that to the sun, that as a plant, guess what, sometimes the sun is out. Sometimes it’s behind the clouds, sometimes you’re in the shade, so you don’t get the sense of the things that we get from other people are a bonus at that. Yes, we do need other people for our growth. We do need it for our health, but everything that we get from other people are a bonus. But we need to be responsible for ourselves, for our own healing, go down the healing journey, understanding that we that we need, we do need to surround ourselves with good healthy people, and know what it is that nourishes us mentally, emotionally and physically as well.

JOE KORT 14:05
I love your metaphors, because it helps people take it off themselves, when you try to help them understand it from their point of view. It’s hard because they’re in it and then maybe we’ll talk about another client or somebody else, you know, or yourself, and that’s still in it. But you’re like now I’m thinking about an apple tree. You know what I mean? So it’s, you’re more open your defenses are blocking.

Matt Phifer 14:22
Yeah, absolutely. Because when you’re in it, you know, you’re too close to it, you’re too against the law. The reason why a lot of the things I do are more group involved and things that cause when you start hearing stories from other people, right and you’re like man that I can really relate to that but because you’re looking at it from from the outside looking in, you’re like that looks like my story that sounds like what I’m going through. But because you’re not emotionally involved with it like you you’re able to grow from it, you’re able to understand it and look at your look at what you’re going through from a different lens.

JOE KORT 14:52
And this is just my own personal curiosity because you had mentioned this in one of our exchanges on Tik Tok, and I was shocked because I understand why I get hate on my My platform because I’m talking about sacks. I’m talking about straight man, you know, I’ve got all this stuff that triggers people, but I feel like your stuff isn’t triggering. And yet you said you get hate and

Matt Phifer 15:11
oh, what? For what? So? So I tell people that success and haters go hand in hand, right? You know, they do. So that though, you know, as your platform continues to grow, and as you know, you’re going to get more and more haters. And I tell people I do actually, people don’t know that I coach a lot of content creators as well, regardless if they’re dealing with mental health, things of that, but people who are just dealing with criticism and that sort of thing. And, and you have to understand that people who are struggling with their own insecurities, they don’t like people who are deep, who have any level of success, regardless, if they have, you know, four or 500,000 followers are approaching a million like I am. Even if it’s 1000, there’s always people that are gonna try to pull you down because of their own insecurities. They’re looking at you and they’re looking at you fulfill their dreams. And the problem is that people who have a lack and have that, though these levels of insecurity, they have very black or white thinking, and they think that there’s only so much success that can go around, it’s very, like a very, what’s called scarcity mentality for them to have, they think there’s only so much success that can go that can happen. So we will look at your platform, they might look at my platform or anyone else’s platform for that matter. And they feel like you are robbing them of their success and what they actually want. So they think that they, they feel like they need to tear yours down to build theirs up. Right. And so and so instead of suddenly looking at like, well, there’s millions and millions of people on Tik Tok, I can also have success, like these people, right? They look at it as a threat that you took for me. Right? So instead, they would much rather tear you down. It’s, you know, there’s I didn’t come up to this. But the buildings, right, instead of, you know, everyone wants the tallest building in the city. Right. But some people continue to build their building up, right, you and I might encourage each other, hey, keep going with your job, keep on with your building, your building was fantastic. Keep building, you know, we’ll support each other. Some people feel threatened, they still want a tall building, to have a tall building, they feel they need to tear everyone’s down to make their building taller.

JOE KORT 17:31
I like I like that. And Brene. Brown has a really good lecture. And she says, I happen to her too. And I’m like Brene Brown about vulnerability like what, what is there to attack and she said, she didn’t I really didn’t get into, oh, she doesn’t get into watch. They said she said, I had to realize that I’m going into the arena. I’m in the circle here. They’re not. They’re yelling at me from the cheap seats. I love that. She said, so I don’t listen to people. I can’t hear you from the cheap seats. And I like that. And I ended and I can imagine how you handle it? Well, because in a way, haters are like narcissists. In a way, they’re saying, Hey, I’m better. I don’t I don’t like this because my opinions better. And I would imagine you handle it very well.

Matt Phifer 18:11
There’s days, you know, there’s there’s days, I mean, now at this point, I think I handle it better than when I very first got on. I think no one likes, you know, when I very first count on me you want to attack, you want to go back at them and things of that. And then you start when you start to realize that they’re also dealing with their own trauma, they have unhealed trauma themselves, that sort of thing. start to realize that it’s, you know, they’re all they would actually love the attention, right? They would love even even if the negative attention there are studies that show that people who do who engage in trolling behavior do have a high tendency towards narcissism. It’s a you know, that’s that that is research based. So knowing that and understanding where that person is coming from, actually helps me realize that you know what, that’s not a behavior I want to engage in. I don’t even do the comments where you know, where I put them up front and things like that. I just do what I tell teach people just don’t just don’t give it attention.

JOE KORT 19:09
Right. I don’t engage. Can you we have a few more minutes left. Can you talk about your book?

Matt Phifer 19:13
Yep. It’s called ocean. I think they’re a fucking narcissist. And one of the things that I really enjoy about my book, one of the things one of the goals was, we, quite often, if you look at most books about narcissism, a great majority of them are based on romantic partners, kind of like what you were talking about in the beginning that you know, there’s kind of a fine line of what people are looking at. But the problem is that quite often, when people are when they realize that they’re dealing with a narcissistic romantic partner, they start to realize they have a much bigger problem. Or they have narcissistic parents, mother, father, siblings, they start to realize and you know, the blinders really start coming off to how people have been treating them and using them over the years. So one of the The thing about OSHA, I think the nurses is that it helps people realize what nurses to behavior looks like in all arenas. Right? What what do narcissistic siblings look like? What does it look like from a parent’s perspective of life, nurses have a narcissistic parent, you know, and so that was one of the goals with the book. So that it’s, it’s really, it’s, you know, I kept it very, very simple. For you know, there’s not a lot of, you know, because one of the things that, that happens for a lot of people, there’s a lot of psychological terms, that goes over a lot of people’s head, unfortunately, sometimes, and so kept very simple for you, for someone who is just learning about narcissism, to really just see it and really just understand it at a very, very simple, basic level.

JOE KORT 20:45
Good. And I feel like, it may be simple, and your videos have some simplicity to it, but they’re very powerful, right? So you don’t have to get overly complicated and overly articulate about whatever to share. And I actually love and sometimes I copy you, I think I told you this, where you’ll do like, you don’t say anything, you’re just acting it out. And do it was that hard to do at first? Because I’m not good at that.

Matt Phifer 21:08
And, you know, I think, you know, I got on Tik Tok so early that I think there was, there was a lot of simplicity to it. I think that, you know, for someone who’s just understanding, I don’t, you know, I guess you could say that kind of grown into it. And I actually kind of bumped into it by accident. I think I just did something very simple in the beginning. You know, and it just started to really, really just take off and I just noticed that that was the the simplicity of it as what people really enjoy. Yes, they really resonate with so I kind of just kind of give people what they want, so to speak.

JOE KORT 21:46
Yeah, no, you do. Good job. Is there anything else you want to say before we end that you didn’t say or didn’t ask you?

Matt Phifer 21:51
One thing that I think that I kind of pride myself on and that I tell a lot of people is, and I mentioned this before, is, you know, we that we have to choose a lot of times people think that they have to heal, then live life, right. And I tell people that you have to choose to live life first, then that’s actually what starts the healing process that time. So for whatever it is that you want for some people who want to date, right, they want a healthy relationship, and they feel like they need to heal before dating and want to heal before they have kids they want to heal, we have to understand that healing is a journey. Right. And even when you’re with someone, even if you find someone that see that you’re nice and compatible with that respect your boundaries, respect you respect who you are, we’re always going to be on this healing journey, we always tell people that even when you meet someone, you have a responsibility to teach that person how to love you, which means that we have a responsibility to learn about ourselves, and healthy relationships and more about education and growth, which means that we have to continuously be growing ourselves. And, and so you know, we have to choose to live live, choose the life that you want to live. And then that’s going to give you the blueprint of the areas that you feel like you need to heal it.

JOE KORT 23:08
I love it. It’s very, I love I say the same thing. It’s very Imago relationship therapy, which we say, you know, people say well, I got to heal myself before I get into relationship now. Maybe you need a minute to before you get in but healing takes place in the context of a relationship. So just get in and then you can still do your healing you know? Um, so how can people find you?

Matt Phifer 23:28
My website is Matt Pfeiffer coaching comm I’m on every single social media platform, I mean, literally find me even on Pinterest, but most active on Tik Tok, Instagram, YouTube, people can in any of those platforms. If you go into my, if you go into my bio, you can you can sign up for a newsletter because I’m constantly constantly doing new. And most of them are free, free trainings, free webinars, that sort of thing. The fastest and easiest way to work with me is to be a part of my toxic to try and community. What’s nice about that is that when I do not only do you get free webinars and trainings and that sort of thing, but you also get to connect with me. And whenever I have, whenever I have a guest on my podcast, people able to listen to my podcast live and ask us questions during the recording and we go into q&a. So it’s not just dealing with me you’re actually working with whatever I have on as a speaker that that day as a guest and so the fastest way once again is just to connect with me on any of my social media platforms go into the water, my bio and and be a part of the toxic Trump community or just go to my website, Matt,

JOE KORT 24:47
calm. Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure. Pleasure having you on my show. Thank you for coming on.

Matt Phifer 24:53
Thank you very much as well thank traveling. Yeah, yeah. So

JOE KORT 24:55
um, if those of you that are listening, I hope you enjoyed today’s show. I know you did. You can hear more of my podcasts at Smart sex smart which is also on my website, Joe You can follow me on Twitter, Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn. And my handle is at Dr. Joe court, Dr. Jo e k o r t. Thanks for listening and I’ll see you guys next time.