I previously wrote about how core beliefs develop when we are children and mainly come from our caregivers/parents. When our parents/caregivers displayed narcissistic traits, our core beliefs can manifest as self depreciating and self punishing. Generally speaking, a narcissist operates by heavily focusing on and protecting their own needs. This is often due to being harmfully dismissed as a child and maladaptively learning that in order to survive they need to spend all of their energy focusing on what they want and need, because they unfortunately have created a belief that nobody else cares about them. When a narcissist has a child, that child is going to unapologetically and naturally assert their needs as an infant. Often the narcissist parent will quickly act to punish or scare the child into being silent or teach it that acting out is wrong in order to control the child and shift the focus back onto the narcissist's needs. Because of this, the child of the narcissist often internalizes that they don't deserve to get their needs met if those needs don't align with others' and that they do deserve to be punished for getting angry or trying to set boundaries in the first place. This is an example of when negative core beliefs can be harmful and gaslighting.
Every single human being deserves to get their needs met, and in a healthy parent child dynamic, the child will learn how to communicate their needs effectively and how to self regulate their emotions and self soothe. Most importantly they will learn that they deserve to be loved and having needs doesn't make them a bad or undesired person.
As an adult of a narcissist child, these beliefs may manifest as feeling that you will be punished for setting boundaries or punished for getting angry when your boundaries are crossed. Often what happens is that we subconsciously punish ourselves by believing that we deserved to be mistreated because the mistreatment is very familiar to us.
The question now is how do we change this moving forward? Well, awareness of the patterns is the first step. Core beliefs like to operate in the dark undetected, but when we shine a flashlight on them we start to become aware of how and why they operate. Core beliefs are naturally set in childhood to help you make sense of the world based on how your caregivers/parents see it and they help you stay safe and alive. The trouble is is that it is very easy for a parent's maladaptive behavior to become a core belief to the child due to the child's inability to use deductive reasoning, our brain is simply not developed enough at that age to pick and choose which belief is best for us, and which one will be harmful.
Once the beliefs are identified, then EMDR can be helpful in processing any disturbance or trauma around those negative core beliefs which makes room to instill the positive true belief instead. I always say that it is very likely that you already identify with positive healthy core beliefs, since time in adulthood and new life experiences will show us that other dynamics and truths are also real and exist, it's just that until the negative core belief is processed, it tends to call the shots and lead with fear and negative emotion and often snuffs out the hope that comes from knowing that another positive belief is true. Hope and truth are real, and they will always be there, I like to think of them as the dawn of a new day after the storm has passed.
In my experience as a therapist, I have noticed that some clients who show symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder or carry this diagnosis seem to identify with a belief that they deserve to live with the distressing effects of their trauma and have a hard time imagining a life where they aren't affected by it on a daily basis.
I would like to remind anyone suffering with this that you are not what happened to you. The PTSD and after effects of trauma are like pain from a cut on your hand. You are not the pain or the cut, and it wasn't your fault you got cut! With proper treatment, the wound will heal and the pain will stop because the body has this wonderful ability to heal itself.
I have noticed that often what happens is the effects of PTSD get to be too much to handle causing overwhelm and the tendency to act out on loved ones without the language to say "I'm hurting and I need to connect with you but I don't know how, and I don't believe I deserve it."
In my work with BPD clients, I've found that the challenge arises when therapists or professionals are offering to heal or take away the suffering, but the BPD client will push back or sabotage this help because their identity is tied to suffering, so if the suffering is taken away they believe they will be taken away too. Perhaps there also is a belief that bad things will happen to you if you try to get your needs met.
This tells us that trauma is calling the shots. Trauma loves to lie and make us believe that the same result is going to happen each time because it already did once. But the reality is that it's very very unlikely that the exact same thing will happen in nature twice. And even if it did, the memory of the trauma isn't going to be able to help you navigate that situation differently, all trauma/PTSD does is scare you to make you believe you are still in danger. When a memory is processed and no longer holds any disturbance, our bodies won't resort to using our hind brain to deal with the issue any longer. We will be able to use our full prefrontal cortex to assess and work through the situation safely.
Clients who suffer from BPD want what we all want, they want to be seen, understood, listened to, and shown that they matter. It is our job as professionals to gently guide our clients away from identifying with the chains of their trauma and to instead instill hope and encourage focusing on their unique goals and intentions for the future.