Destroying The Narcissist & Silencing The Voices in Your Head: Protect The Inner Circle

I woke up today totally aware of the date, January 2nd, 2023, and not just because yesterday was New Years Day. Nope, because tomorrow is my birthday! And while I’m at an age that has a number I’m not excited about…I’ve decided that in 2023 I am going to start my days with gratitude. And when I have a negative or anxious thought I’ll say, “Not me in 2023!” Catchy right? So I got up this morning and looked in the mirror and expressed gratitude that the $600 worth of Botox appears to be working, and I’m on this side of the dirt! It’s all about baby steps!

Then I plopped my butt right back down on the couch, drank my coffee, and looked around my condo. There were running clothes hanging from one chair, my pants and underwear on the other chair, and sweat pants on the floor next to my running shoes. And suddenly the voices started chirping from the backseat, “Why is the jacket still hanging on the desk chair, What a lazy ass!” And then it was game on!

“What is this? Your dorm room in 1985? What kind of grown man leaves his clothes everywhere,” I heard from the darkness. Why stop there as they declared, “No wonder you are single, you are so unorganized, why aren’t you working right now, your insurance business is going to die if you don’t get it together, and you are going to be alone for the rest of your life.” It was rapid fire from “the back seat” and I didn’t even have time to counter attack with, “Not me in 2023, not me in 2023, not me in 2023.” And then out of no where, “Maybe you are Peter Pan. You have no direction in your life! And this is probably why the last one dumped us.” The little bastards were waiting for me when I woke up this morning. Wait, you are probably wondering who I’m talking about when I say, “from the back seat” and the “little bastards.”

A very good friend of mine once said, “Tony I want you to picture yourself driving down the road in a minivan.” And by good friend I mean my therapist Tonia. So, Tonia asked me to picture myself driving the most uncool form of transportation on the planet, but it is practical. And in the back seat she wanted me to visualize little Tonys as the passengers. And then (as an example) she would ask me, “Which one just said, You are going to be alone…what age is he?” I would also add that I believe some of those passengers are other people from our past. For me, that was the “Peter Pan” comment we’ll discuss later. As a former therapist and pastor, and in dating some very broken and beautiful women in the last 5 years…I can tell you that there is often an abusive parent or ex doing some backseat driving. However, those passengers have very different intention than the little you.

The little yous, or as Jessica Baum calls them in her book, “Anxiously Attached” the little me, may send messages that cause sadness or anxiety, but their goal is to protect. The other passengers such as abusive partner or parent are likely part of post traumatic stress, and their goal is for you to believe their lies. And as you can guess, how we interact with these two types of backseat drivers should be very different. As we look at this I want you to promise me you will discuss it with a therapist if it causes you emotional distress, because interacting with the past is very healing, but can cause a lot of pain in the process.

These backseat drivers often speak up when they are feeling unsafe. For example, you have a history of abandonment or someone cheating on you, and one day you find yourself falling in love. And it won’t be long until that little you says, “You know that you can’t fully trust anyone.” And if they are aggressive the thought may be, “Get out now before you really get hurt.” And that may lead you to run away from the relationship. If you begin to care deeply for the person then it may also cause you to become overly anxious in the relationship, and thus rather than running you become “clingy.” If this is sounding familiar then “Anxiously Attached” is a must read.

The passengers can show up in almost any situation. You are interviewing for a job and hear, “This job is too big for you. They will soon find out you are a fraud!” You may be starting college and hear, “You are not college material.” You want to start a new business, “You know that most new business fail? You are going to make a fool of yourself.” You want to start a diet and hear, “Not again? You never stick to the diet.” The passengers have all types of message for you, and most are being delivered out of fear! What you should be picking up on is that when you and I want to move forward, take risks, and go after our dreams…the passengers get very uncomfortable. So why don’t we have a talk with them?

This is where it may seem a little strange, but I would encourage you to get in a quiet place, close your eyes and simply picture yourself at the age you believe the back seat drivers are delivering their message. For example, when you hear, “You are not smart enough” what age do you believe you were when that thought first came to you. For you, the backseat driver may be saying something else, but now I want you to have a conversation with the little you.

As you picture the little you (who may not be so little) think about what advice you would give them. Knowing now what you didn’t know then, what advice would you give yourself at that age? Next, picture yourself sitting with the little you somewhere you find very peaceful (I’m always at the ocean or a lake). And before you give advice, thank them for trying to protect you for all these years. So, it may go something like, “I love you and appreciate you, thank you for trying to keep us safe,” And then deliver your advice and add, “I know you are hurting and scared, but I got this…I’ll keep us safe. Will you let me take control? Please let me drive.” And this is going to really sound strange until you do it, but wait for an answer. You may need to have several conversations before they trust you enough to drive through life without them chirping from the backseat.

And what about those voices from the people of your past? The parent who you could never please? The parent who neglected or abused you? The ex who said horrific things that you began to believe? The narcissist who had you convinced you were crazy, and everything was your fault? What about the teacher or coach who lead you to believe you could never amount to anything? And then there are those reading this who were the victims of things as a child that most can’t fathom. Well, there are some people we don’t need to take to a peaceful spot! No, we have to pull over, well don’t pull over, just open the door and kick them out. Let’s look at a way to do that just in case they have that seat belt on.

I have not fallen in (true) love very many times in my life, but when I fall it is a 10,000 feet free fall. Honestly, I would say that outside of ex-wife I’ve only been in love 3 times (going way back). And when I begin to sense I’m falling in love then I can become anxious, and that’s because I tend to fall for avoidants, but that’s for another post and therapy session. If you knew my story it wouldn’t be hard to figure out why I get anxious. Without exception, the women I cared the most about…left me. Going way back to the little mes of my youth! Now stop feeling sorry for me, because I’ve had more than my share of opportunities to pick the right ones, and yet here I am single and mass producing blog posts! Meaning, sometimes we can’t blame all the crashes on the backseat drivers! However, there was one person who played a song for me on her way out the door called, “Peter Pan” by Kelsea Ballerini. It was at that phase where we’d both stayed too long, and she went the passive aggressive route. Remember, some of the passengers are people from our past.

The song is about a man who never settles down, never really accomplishes anything, and is nothing but a dreamer. So what I did with that was examined it for some truth, made some notes, made some changes, and then kicked her ass out of my sexy minivan! Let me give you a more therapeutic way of doing this, and I can’t take credit for this technique. I am not sure who developed it, but I found it very helpful. I am putting my own twist on it so proceed with caution!

I want you to sit down in a chair, close your eyes, and picture yourself somewhere peaceful. And you own that place…it is all yours my friend so make it nice! Now put your arms straight out in front of you so that your thumbs are touching. Begin to move your hands away from each other as you picture building a border around you. Can you see it? What color is it? Maybe it is a wall of fire a great distance away, or simply your favorite color. And I want you to shove all the people who have hurt you, and continue to hurt you from the backseat outside the border or into the fire. It brings a whole new meaning to, “Go to hell!” Told you I put my own twist on it! They are no longer allowed in your world.

The little you is part of you and has good intentions, and is dearly loved and allowed to stay as you make he or she more secure, but those who have hurt or abused you are no longer welcome into your world. Let them go! Quit expecting an apology, quit letting them back in, and quit expecting them to change. As long as you believe they owe you an apology or anything else…they will still own you. They will continue to heckle you from the backseat. Release them, they no longer owe you and in return…they no longer own you. As Andy Stanley says, that is called forgiveness. It doesn’t mean you let them off the hook…it simply means you are free to live your life without allowing them to be a backseat driver. In fact, the abusive people of our past don’t just want to be in the backseat, they want to grab the wheel. It’s your turn to drive!

A dear friend of mine was married for nearly 26 years to a narcissistic prick. Can I say that? Sure I can, I’m not on the radio or standing in front of a church! For the last of those 26 years she dreaded going home after work to walk on eggshells. He was a verbally abusive alcoholic who never owned his own shit, and briefly had her so codependent she thought everything was her fault. Like many of you incredible women reading this right now, she lost her voice. This highly intelligent and precious woman was manipulated and gaslighted into thinking her opinion did not matter, and she was silenced. And then one day she kicked his ass out of the “minivan” and into the fire. And today she has found her voice! And I promise you, there are many men out here who want to hear what women just like her have to say! The narcissist is the loudest and gets the most attention, but they are not the majority. Go find your voice!

Again, as a former therapist, pastor, and single man of middle age (if I live to be 112) I have seen and experienced too much pain. I recently heard TD Jakes say, “When someone rejects you send them a sympathy card” and “Stop trying to pull people back into your life after God has finally gotten them to leave.” You and I are to be cherished, respected, adored, and honored by those in our inner circle. Anyone who thinks or behaves otherwise must be moved out!

Love yourself! And that starts with making peace with the little injured yous. And until we love ourselves we will continually pull those who must stay out back into our inner circle. I want to leave you with one last exercise to do.

I want you to picture yourself in your favorite place on the planet. No not a Mexican restaurant hammering away margaritas! Now, the beach in Mexico all alone will work! Visualize yourself sitting there with the wind in your hair at sunset. And all you can hear are the waves crashing as the water runs over the top of your feet. The temperature is warm, but you look up and see a man walking toward you in a long robe. It strikes you as interesting, but he has a smile that immediately puts you at ease as you realize he is walking towards you. He waves as he gets closer, and you notice the robe and sandals appear to be handcrafted, and then he addresses you by name! As he continues to speak you realize it is Jesus.

He only has one question for you, “What is bothering you my friend?” You realize this is the opportunity of a life time, but then think, “Maybe I’m dead!” You don’t even have time to ask before He laughs loudly and says, “Are you so sure I’d be the one greeting you if you are dead?” As you stutter He tells you to relax, you are not dead, but when that day comes He will be waiting. You breathe a little easier and quickly unload all the things that cause you anxiety, pain, and suffering. And after you are done you expect some words of wisdom, but Jesus looks at you and says, “Why don’t you let me carry that for you?” You are puzzled as you ask, “You would do that for me?” “I will” He replies as He smiles and says, “I’ve carried a much greater burden.” You then hand it all to Him, He hugs you, tell you that He loves you, and begins to walk away leaving sandal prints in the sand.

You are standing there stunned as you watch him walk away, and then suddenly He stops and throws something in the ocean. And while you couldn’t see anything come out of his hands…the splash is huge, and you realize that maybe He has cast away all of your burdens.

I love you,



8 responses to “Destroying The Narcissist & Silencing The Voices in Your Head: Protect The Inner Circle”

  1. Jackie Mayor

    Thank you Tony! These blogs are so eye opening and heart felt! Very relatable. I would love to talk with you if you ever get back to Portland.

    Jackie M

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I visualize my mind as a stage in a theater and my thoughts are the actors. It is a carnival of madness (I used to blame it on my alter ego and writer enthusiast). It was not until I started learning to practice mindfulness, meditation, and breathing. A whole new world of dealing with those intruding actors who want to upstage everyone else refuse to exit stage left. With mindfulness – I am able to sit with those intruding thoughts, give them room and attention and then, let them walk themselves off the stage.

    Filling my mind with good things, music, poetry, scripture, and mere breathing has helped lessen the impact such intruding thoughts. Now, it is much easier. In the beginning – it was like I was using a fishing net to scoop up water.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love this! I am working on it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. AnnaB

    Thanks for this and Happy Birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sharon

    This really touched home for me today. My narcissist is my daughter and when I walk away the voices from the backseat say “you’re her Mom and should love her no matter what she does or says!” Thank you for this blog. Let go, let God!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Candy

    Wow how in the world do you know exactly what I need to hear? It’s amazing are you listening to my thoughts Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Because I’m just like everyone else in pain! 🙂


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