Where Do You Focus Your Lens?

All humans carry a metaphorical mental lens that they look at the world through, and look at others through. Like a personal glass that we hold; a window, a magnifying glass, a telescope, a loupe. We are born looking out from our own eyes. We become aware that we are alive and that we ARE, but we don't spend nearly as much time examining ourselves as we do looking OUT at what's around us. We must be guided to really pay attention to our own actions in childhood, to assess ourselves, and to think before we speak and act. Our natural position is to hold our glass to look OUT, and those who have or learn empathy and true integrity also learn to pay attention to their own actions and inner thoughts and emotions, and the impact they make on others and the world.
When a person is targeted by a Narcissist, the glass that they hold naturally looking outward is turned backward, so that it's held focused on one's self instead.  The target switches their point of view and looks through the eyes of the Narcissist at themselves, and their own lens is automatically turned on themselves as well.
The process is set in motion by the Narcissist's behavior, the way they interact with the target. They do not pay much attention to the target unless they are criticizing, belittling, judging, trying to control, dominating, manipulating, or gaslighting. The target, over time, begins to look at themselves more and more, trying to prevent future negative interactions by changing themselves; trying to find ways to "improve" themselves in order to gain acceptance, approval, positive attention, normal respect, or friendship. Targets may become vigilant in hiding anything that might catch a Narcissist's attention, and so must pay extra attention to everything they're doing, trying to only let others see what can't be criticized. This often becomes an overall behavior habit, hiding themselves from the world in order to prevent being targeted. Targets learn to micro-manage and micro-judge themselves in order to avoid consequences from the Narcissist, and stop living their OWN REAL lives. They don't often realize that they've turned their glass around. It's not easy to get things done, to participate in "LIFE" the way we were born to, or to move forward, if our lens is pointed in the wrong direction.

NO Narcissist wants a target to turn their lens back the right way, it keeps a target under control, and prevents them from seeing what's actually in front of them and around them, and keeps them self-conscious. So when a target runs into new Narcissists, they will try to make them turn their lens back on themselves by doing the same things that the other Narcissists have done. Sometimes it doesn't take much at all, just subtle social signals that push the buttons of self-consciousness.

Narcissists behave frequently with a lack of common courtesy and manners, so even an unintentional Narc. signal, like rudeness, obvious eye-contact avoidance, or a condescending tone can trigger self-consciousness in a target who's already been "programmed" before. When a Narcissist is purposely targeting, and not just being their rude or attention-seeking self, they often make a show of praising and giving the target positive attention before they display the demeaning and disrespectful behavior.   

The natural way we are supposed to hold our mental "lens" is pointed OUT, not in, and not fixed on other people. We use it to see, up close and far away, to see what's happening, to learn, and to see others around us. We use it to see where we're going and what we're doing. In a group of people who are all using their lenses in this natural way, it creates a safe and trusting atmosphere where everyone continues to focus their lenses outward for learning and doing. They don't feel that they need to watch out for what others are doing, or doing TO them, because no one is focusing their lens on other people, so everyone keeps learning and progressing.
Those who have their lens fixed on others, judging everything they do or following what they do, aren't focused on what they're doing and often have a hard time learning new things unless someone they're following tells them about it. They also cause those they're fixated on to stop focusing on what they were doing and learning in order to deal with them.
Those who have their lens fixed on themselves can't see what's going on around them, and can't move forward because they're caught in a loop. Much like trying to drive by looking in the rearview mirror. 
To aid in healing, we can picture literally this lens, and picture ourselves holding it. Where are we pointing ours? Where are others pointing theirs? When we're healthy and happy (and healed), we don't keep our focus and magnify our lens on others, and we don't hold it backwards, magnifying the focus on ourselves. We hold it so we our looking out from our own eyes at the WHOLE world around us, turning up the magnification when we want or need to on something we want to learn or do.