Fuel, Fight or Flight?
When you engage with our kind, you can expect one of three responses from us. Whether you are a primary source, secondary source or tertiary source, the way you interact with us will generate one of three reactions from us. This is because those responses are designed, engineered and geared around providing for our needs or preserving our position. There are, as you will read, sub-divisions within those reactions, but there are three broad responses which are applicable to every kind of involvement you have with our kind. Various factors influence which outcome it will be, but it will be one of these three.
The most common interaction between us, is one of fuel. If you greet me warmly with a smile and your tone is welcoming, you are providing me with positive fuel. A waitress smiles as she passes me my drink, that is positive fuel. If a colleague congratulates me on a success with a particular client then that is positive fuel. Applause from assembled colleagues provides yet more positive fuel. The way you speak, what you say, how you express yourself and what you do all amounts to fuel. Whether you are a remote stranger interacting with me through the internet, a proximate stranger in a bar who I have started talking to, a long-standing inner circle friend, a family member or my girlfriend. All of you are appliances and your positive interactions – praise, love, admiration, joy, happiness, congratulation, adoration, caring – are all forms of positive fuel. You readily provide them and we regularly act in various ways, some subtle and others not, that provoke you to give us this positive fuel.
There is also negative fuel. Thus if I insult a stranger and he tells me angrily to go boil my head, then that is negative fuel. I may just lap that up from him as I stroll down the road, edified by this dollop of fuel. I may criticise a colleague on his performance so he sulkily defends himself. More fuel. I may ignore a friend’s telephone calls so his repeated texts asking what is wrong gives me more fuel. I may call you names so you cry and thus I gain fuel. Whether it is hatred, jealousy, anger, pain, fear, envy, irritation, annoyance, misery and so forth, these are all negative emotions and thus negative fuel.
As you know from the Prime Aims, fuel is the most important aim that we wish to secure from you.
Most people can grasp why we would want positive fuel from our appliances. After all, who does not want to be loved and admired? Sure, some people may want it more than others, but everybody likes to be well thought of don’t they?
People struggle to understand why we want negative fuel. I have explained before that it is about creating a contrast and also because negative fuel is more powerful because people are more inclined to be pleasant and provide positive fuel (especially those who we target in the empathic group) and therefore it underlines our power when we can draw negative fuel from somebody. Of course, other than tertiary sources, we do not look to draw negative fuel straight away from a primary source or secondary source as if this is done before they are embedded then we will lose them. The positive has to come first.
Often one major revelation for our victims is that we want both positive and negative fuel. They understand why we would want to be admired, adored and loved, but why would we want to be insulted, have somebody angry with us, somebody attacking us in a petulant manner. We do because it is negative fuel BUT this leads to the second category concerning our reactions.
This is where there is a sub-division when we decide that we are going to fight.
Fight – Challenge
Where we decide to engage you and in effect ‘fight’ you this because you have challenged us. There are two crucial components behind this decision. Firstly fuel provision and secondly exerting control.
Let us take for example that you react angrily to the fact that we have walked in at midnight smelling of drink when we had promised to take you out. Your angry response is negative fuel and is the fuel provision. Although you may be calling us names and thus an ordinary bystander would regard this as criticism, it is not wounding criticism because the name calling and the savage words are wrapped up in fuel.
We might just accept this negative fuel, push past you and head for bed. More usually however we consider this to be a challenge.
You are giving us fuel which is what we want but we want more. We can readily tell there is more to be obtained and therefore we know that if we argue back, unleash our manipulations and so forth we can provoke you to give us more fuel. This is an instinctive response on our part. Thus we are maximising the fuel provision.
Secondly, although we are not wounded because your critical comments are bound up in fuel, you are still challenging us and this cannot be allowed. We must have the upper hand, we must be in control and therefore we see this as an opportunity to not only gain more fuel from you but to exert control over you. Thus, we strike back.
Accordingly, if having read my work you wonder why on earth we respond in such a fashion that looks like our fury has been ignited, but you know it could not be because your comments are fuel, the reason we fight back and argue, lash out etc is because this is a way of gaining more fuel and also exerting control.
Fight – Fury
The other sub division of the fight category is where you have ignited our fury and we decide to unleash fury against you.
If you have wounded us through criticism (which is fuel free) this will usually (unless control can be exerted) cause the ignition of our churning fury. Your criticism might come from words but more usually it is from actions which wound us in some way. This wound has to be addressed and the usual way is for the ignition of fury.
Fury, when ignited is either heated (shouting, physical assaults, sexual violence, breaking things, name calling, issuing threats) or cold fury (sulking, silent treatments, cold shouldering, glaring).
In either instance the heated fury or cold fury is an instinctive fight response to what you have done, namely you have wounded us. This response is designed to draw fuel from you (which heals the wound) and also to exert control over you again by stopping your criticism of us and forcing you give us fuel instead.
Thus, it is similar to the sub division above but it is different because it is caused by wounding, rather than the instinctive knowledge that more fuel can be obtained and control exerted through a fight challenge.
The third category is one whereby we withdraw.
This is not a silent treatment (although this may follow). Instead it occurs in situations where we have been exposed to ourselves, to others or criticised so that we are wounded. We may well have had our fury ignited but it has failed to draw fuel and instead you keep wounding us. In such circumstances we have no choice but to dis-engage, withdraw and seek fuel elsewhere to heal the wound, thus avoiding your failure to give us fuel and your repeated wounding.
Accordingly, when you deal with us you either.
1 Give us fuel
2a. Give us fuel but we fight back to gain more fuel and exert control ; or
2b. Our fury is ignited and we fight back to gain fuel and exert control
3. We withdraw – flight.
By way of example, suppose a tertiary source bumps into us on the street and immediately apologises. That is fuel. We may accept the fuel and that is the end of the interaction.
We may decide that this person should be taught a lesson and we can get more fuel from them so we fight back and call them an arsehole for not looking where they are going. This annoys them because they apologised to us. They respond angrily and thus give us more fuel. We keep arguing with them in order to provoke them.
If a person bumped into us and did not apologise, we would regard this as a criticism. This would wound us and therefore there is a risk of our fury igniting. If it does (subject to the control threshold of the relevant narcissist) then we lash out at them telling them they are a sleep walking turd in order to cause them to give us fuel either by being upset at our tirade, or to apologise or for them to argue back at us because we have insulted them. We gain fuel and this is drawn until the wound heals.
By way of a further example, the IPPS tells us how wonderful we are. This is positive fuel which we accept.
If the IPPS accuses us of having an affair and if they do so in an upset manner, we gain fuel. We will most likely see this as a challenge – there is more fuel to be gained here AND they are telling us what we can and cannot do, so we need to assert control. We will insult them telling them that it is no wonder we speak to other women because the IPPS is frigid. This causes further upset, generates more fuel and also allows us to exert our control.
If the IPPS fails to give us our birthday present early enough on our birthday, we feel criticised. Our fury ignites and we lash out through cold fury or heated fury to gain fuel from the IPPS for the purposes of healing our wound and at the same time this also ensures we demonstrate who is in charge and thus we exert control.
Accordingly, in all your interactions with our kind be aware that what is happening is that you are either giving us fuel, there is a fight challenge or fight fury or we flee. Being aware of these responses provides you with understanding and also enables you to marshal your responses accordingly.
29 thoughts on “Fuel, Fight or Flight?”
At church I completely ignore Jon, I greeted the man sitting next to him never “seeing” him.
I felt such a deep anger towards him.
He later walked by me without his sunglasses on, I turned and looked at him due to the anger direct towards me…..his eyes were black and I know my eyes changed due to feeling the change of emotion within me. It was the briefest of moments due to he didn’t want anyone else to see the exchange.
When service was over I continue to not speak or acknowledge him then left.
Did I feel awful, yes I did. My stubborn streak was beginning to show…..
Thank you all. Re: Flight. Please know that I understand what the word `flight `means. However, I did not understand how to orchestrate this flight, with a Narcissist, or his lieutenants. How do I make them flee? What sort of wound causes them to flee, is my question. Because some types of wounding causes them to fight back, and in rage and malice and hot and cold fury, I hear. And, I do not want them fighting me back in such a hostile manner, when I am not able to go no contact or completely disappear at that moment, or for various other reasons in this life. Calmly ignoring them is a much larger weapon than I realized, and is the type of wound that causes Flight, it seems? Or a constant barrage of criticism, also works also to create Flight? I want to cause Flight.
Aha, PSE. Well, I am not sure how to engineer it because I did it inadvertently. Post-escape I teased him when he was demanding my attention one day. Called him a man-baby and sent him a gif of Trump in a baby bonnet. I had deliberately insulted him before and it had had no effect. This time, he withdrew – you’d think I had shot him! – but I took it as a silent treatment and got really furious – it was the first one he had ever given me. If I’d known it was different, I might have held back.
Anger on its own would just provide more fuel, though I think calmly ignoring him might work. Or maybe make clear that you have lost respect? Laugh at him? It is not easy for us to do deliberatly because we don’t generally set out to hurt someone. I apologized to MRN for the tease but I also told him his response was completely out of proportion to the offense. This was all before I found HG but it is when I knew for sure that he was a narc because his ego was so fragile.
Hi PrincessSuperEmpath, The best way to make them go flight is to ignore. They will act like they are disowning you or throwing you away to save their ego or their appearance in their minds as they rationalize. But the reality is the wounding was so harsh that they had to discard you. Imagine someone that you injured and was still limping from the injury you caused, they will avoid you because they are still limping and cannot risk getting another blow (another blow to their ego).
Ignoring is the best way. Noncompliance is a form of ignoring; it’s ignoring the power play that they want you to acquiesce to. My MRE sister disowned me after I responded to her emails with short responses. I also avoided her phone calls and delayed calling her back. She left an angry voice mail telling me lies that I guess baiting me to contact her to correct it which I unfortunately took the bait because I didn’t know better at that time but aside from that I went back to my usual business like manner at talking to her if I really had to. She made Christmas ornaments for me and my family but I decided not to give her anything for Christmas. After all of that she disowned me until her death. I tried to hoover her when I found out that she had cancer and offered to help but she didn’t respond and smeared me even to her circle. They hate short responses. And they hate when you act like they are not interesting and you’re too busy to talk to them when you see them in public.
One specific example I could think of, my MRE sister emails me a lengthy email talking about the marvelous things that are going on in her life then asks about me or asks for advice or my opinion. Best is to not respond. But in my case, I didn’t really want her to get mad at me at that time but I was trying to put some boundaries so I responded: “Sounds like you had a lovely time. Nothing’s new with me. Just taking care of the kid.”
So she hated responses like that from me especially after she wrote me a really long email. This was after I had my second entanglement with her when she became homeless and stayed at our house. When she left I tried to keep a little distance but it made her mad and totally disowned me.
Mommypino. It is amazing that ignoring them is such a weapon. So if they push me in the future, I will ignore. Unbelievable.
I have to get better at ignoring people, PSE and MP. It’s really hard for me to do and I am not sure I could if MRN directly hoovered.
You do and well done on recognising that SMH. I can help you with this.
Thank you, HG, that’s very kind of you to offer. You have already helped me so much that in true empath fashion, I almost feel guilty about it :). Truly I never would have seen it as a problem without your insights.
I do sometimes disappear people or don’t react to things. I just have a hard time ignoring my narcs. I absolutely cannot completely disengage from Matrinarc, so must find other ways of dealing. I know that escaping MRN was so hard because I approached it the wrong way but I had not yet found you and had to work with limited knowledge. If he directly hoovers, I will come here before I do anything (or I will come here so that I do not do anything).
You are welcome SMH.
SMH. Have you ever had trouble locating a place, and you finally ask someone, and they say, it`s right beyond you, or something like that? So close. lol. Ignoring such people sounds like a solution that was so close, but I just could not find it. Let`s do this, SMH. We found it! 🙂
PSE, Yes – definitely something right in front of my nose that I failed to see. I am ready to practice. Bring ’em on!
It is unbelievable! But it’s so true. Looking back at my experiences that is when I was able to really wound them. Not when I was having the stupid email wars or confronting them face to face. It’s when I treat them like they don’t matter is when they are really hurt. Especially if it looks like I wasn’t doing it in purpose. If it is not obvious that I was doing it in purpose, it hurts them even more because I wasn’t even malicious about it, they’re just really not that important to me.
Mommypino: Sounds exhausting, if and when they are around a lot. I have to think about this for a while. Having them flee sounds good. I was raised in a small town. Now, I live in a major city. However, being raised in a small town sometimes has its advantages for me, even when living in a large city: I still move slowly when dating, out of habit, even in a big city (because everybody watches you and knows your business and are quick to smear your reputation in my small town, and I never have forgotten this), and this probably has exhausted many narcissists and they have moved on from me out of sheer weariness from lost energy before they could ensnare me (I know this now). lol. Good stuff! The mid ranger had the advantage though as sort of a co-worker/colleague at work. No quickly attempted fast moving lovebombing to frighten me off with, since we met at the workplace. Just a Golden Period. So the long pace combined with the convenient proximity defeated me in the end. 🙁 Turning me into an unrecognizable lovesick NIPSS. Also, everyone is a person in a small town, and you saw them all the time, in general, and you were connected one way or the other, and so it was best to get along, and thus it will be difficult for me to treat someone like a gnat. I will learn to do so though. I sure will. And quickly. There were a lot of gnats in the small town I grew up in. Literal gnats. I remember now. Tiny flying swarming insects. In our back yards and our parks and at our picnics, and sports games, and everywhere outdoors, so I know what you mean. Gnats: Insignificant and pesky when they are around, and not worth thinking about when they are not around. Gnats. I like it. 🙂 Thanks!
You’re welcome PSE. I also agree with what you said about it being hard to treat people like gnats. It’s hard for me too. Empaths place a lot of value on each people we meet. I think may have been easier for me because of the things that my MRE sister did to me that made me think that she was a very small person (metaphorically small; she was taller than me). She did enough to me that made me lose my respect for her. I felt that she was ungrateful to me. And I have been thinking that maybe it was easier for me because my ensnarements have not been romantic and none of my narcs gave me a real golden period.
Mommypino: I was a workplace NIPSS. So, I never had that real golden period. it sounds so inviting! I will not wish for it, though. After all I have read on here. I am more careful of what I wish for these days.
I agree PSE. I have accepted that the Golden Whoopie will always be a mystery to me. But that means the harrowing devaluation after sharing my most intimate self to somebody will also always be a mystery to me and I am perfectly fine with that.
Hello HG. Very interesting post as always… Can you please give an example whereby your kind are wounded by us without the challenge fuel, is it when we ignore? xx
Yes, ignoring wounds – so if we walked over to speak to you and you walked away, if you forgot to ring us to wish us happy birthday, if you failed to answer the telephone when we called you – these all wound.
Dearest HG: You gave examples of the other 2, but not of flight: `We may well have had our fury ignited but it has failed to draw fuel and instead you keep wounding us. In such circumstances we have no choice but to dis-engage, withdraw and seek fuel elsewhere to heal the wound, thus avoiding your failure to give us fuel and your repeated wounding.` ~~HG Tudor Can you please give some examples of this happening?
Flight means depart, go away from you, go elsewhere.
Hi PrincessSuperEmpath, in my experience they disengage from me when I am not compliant to their power plays.
With my MRE sister, she disengaged from me when out of defiance I claimed items that belonged to her mom even though I previously I agreed with her out of kindness that I will not claim them for my inheritance. I did this because she abused it and mocked me for it. She looked very disoriented when I did that. I also started to give her the silent treatments that she used to give me. I imagined her as a small and insignificant gnat that I have to share the house with whenever I talked to her. My responses to her were always cut and dried. Also there were three of us as heirs so I was the tie breaking vote and I always voted on the side of my brother when they disagreed on something or they both wanted to claim the same thing so that she would always lose. She started disappearing a lot from our house staying the nights at her friends and avoiding me. We lived together but I rarely saw her. She was always doing something with her friends. She tried to be nice again to me because she realized she had no power. I was civil but I already know what she was (I didn’t know she was a narc but I knew that I couldn’t trust her) so I was cautious. I still kept voting against her though regarding estate matters even though we started being civil again just because I like our brother better. She eventually found a way out by encouraging me to date and encouraging my now husband to ask me out because that made me leave our house and move in with my now husband. As soon as I moved in with my husband I didn’t see her again for years. She even avoided me when we had to sign something together regarding the estate.
My stepdaughters also disengaged with me when I did similar stuff to them like when I removed their pictures from the walls of our house and I also acted like they were just gnat and didn’t talk to them nor made minimal reactions or interactions when they visited. They would disengage for a few months but they come back when they need something. Although it is harder with my stepdaughters because there’s two of them, when they are together my silent treatments on them mean nothing because they have each other and I’m the one that gets treated like an insignificant gnat. But basically, when you do behaviors that show them that they have no power over you and you do it in a way that they don’t affect you because they are just insignificant gnats, they tend to disengage if you did this consistently. It’s my gnat narc repellant.
PSE, I think it’s what MRN did after I inadvertently wounded him. He could not fight back or get any fuel through interaction because I had already escaped and he had no control over me anymore. So he withdrew. My own fury then ignited at his withdrawal after I had tried to be friends with him and support him through a work transition. I got so furious that I kept pounding him and pounding him with words (not fists), dissecting his personality, motivations, why I had left him, and on and on. He would peek above the fence occasionally and briefly respond but all I wanted was to dump my years of frustration and animus all over him. I did not want a conversation. When I was content that I’d had my say, I went silent. Three weeks later he hoovered me but indirectly, therefore still hiding. Does that sound like what you mean by flight, HG?
Flight means withdrawing. It is that simple.
Thanks HG. I got it. I think I can sense the difference between flight and shelving. Coincidentally I have a situation right now that I also think fits the flight response, if you wouldn’t mind confirming and telling me what to do.
Recently, I had planned to go to a foreign country to see a close LN friend do something in a language I do not speak. I was meant to stay with her but she kept mentioning all of these other people who were then taking priority, and changing the dates. I told her I couldn’t go, but kind of bullshitted my way through the whys (she did not press me).
She is now home but has withdrawn, which is my only indication that I wounded her. I think I did the equivalent of bumping into her and not apologizing. I have asked if she is cross with me but she has not responded even though she saw the message and interacts with me on social media. In normal circumstances, she would have responded immediately. I bought tickets for us for something in 10 days, in part to make up for my failure to show (I am the guilt self-torture queen). She either has to get over it, talk to me about it, or cancel on me.
What should I expect and how should I act? Just leave it alone until it passes? Explain myself further?
Hi SMH, there is a lot of detail to impart with regard to this situation and I would need more information from you also. I suspect you may be apart to depart anyway since your initial query remained in moderation owing to it being longer and I have been away, but if you want my input, I recommend you organise a consultation with me.
Thank you, HG. I actually figured it out. I left things alone after I apologized, went on with my life, and she is happy to go to the event. She lives in this rarified world of Hollywood air kisses, so sometimes I cannot tell what is going on – I don’t get the code – but in general she is quite fun to be around and I am quite fond of her.
Thank you for your help! I relied on your advice: say it once and leave it. Everything is normal now.