5 ways to manage a narcissistic person in your life.
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If there is someone in your life who makes you feel terrible about yourself, whose mere existence has become the bane of your life, then you should consider whether they might have narcissist personality disorder. Some warning signs for this disorder are:
A sense of entitlement. Their needs trump those of other people.
Pompous or grandiose.
A habit of speaking in a tone of voice or using facial expressions that don?t match their words.
Thrives off diminishing the achievements or qualities of others, loves to talk down and belittle.
Critical of others while being extremely sensitive to real or perceived criticism or slights.
Extremely poor boundaries, does not respect the right to privacy or belongings of others.
They make you feel like you have to tiptoe around them and walk on eggshells.
People are becoming so aware of narcissism that we now even have World Narcissistic Abuse Day. Narcissistic people can ruin other people?s lives, either directly or by destroying their confidence, undermining their achievements and sabotaging their mental health.
When you are faced with a narcissist the prevailing advice is to get away from the person, asap. To get as far away as possible and never go back. Whilst this is very good advice, narcissism cannot be ?cured?, it?s not always practical.
Here are some approaches to help you manage the narcissistic person in your life when walking away completely isn?t an option.
Stop doing their work for them.
Narcissists have a personality based on shame and feelings of inadequacy. If they can do the same to you they win. If they can?t, you win.
Learn to self-advocate and hold a positive view of yourself, flaws and all. This doesn?t mean being a Pollyanna or becoming arrogant, it just means that you are happy with who you are and the path you are on.
As an example, narcissists love to criticize the appearance of others as it?s such an easy target and works on most people. They may do this outright to your face but it?s more likely that they give you backhanded compliments, make comments you just happen to overhear or that get back to you through other people. Your achievements, skills and personal relationships are all prime targets as well.
When a narcissist criticizes you for something you need to be able to disregard that criticism. Know who you are and what your worth is. If they want to point out that you?re newly single, overweight or that you dropped out of college then your response can?t come from a place of shame but one of being happy with yourself. Even if your contentment with yourself and your life isn?t bulletproof, it must appear to be so around the narcissist.
Carefully manage how much time you spend around a person like this so that their negativity is outweighed by the positivity in your life. When times get tough, it?s time to avoid the narcissist as much as possible and spend time with people who have your back.
They reveal their weak points all the time.
What the narcissist attacks in others is what they feel shame about personally. If they relentlessly go after other people because of their looks you know they are insecure about the way they look. If they relentlessly belittle career achievements you know they have feelings of inadequacy around their own. If they mock certain types of relationships you know they feel unsatisfied with their own relationships.
If you want to push back against a narcissist just listen to what they?re telling you. I?m not suggesting that you should be mean to the person or sink to their level, just broaching a topic they are uncomfortable with and bringing the subject a little too close to home is usually enough to get them to back off?for now.
Understand what they like.
If a narcissist had their way they could spend hours lecturing you on their opinions (which are actually facts), extolling their virtues and pointing out your flaws. They would love to acknowledge that, while you have the sense to know your own limitations, which are many, you correctly recognize their superiority and so defer to them in all things.
As much as this is boring and tiresome and sometimes depressing and damaging a little bit of rope in this department sometimes quietens a narcissist down and can even make them behave amenably.
You may have a narcissist in your life who you actually want to maintain a relationship of some kind with. Letting them have their king of the castle moment, now and again, can make life easier for everyone. Praise (one way) is their currency.
Remember, inside the narcissist is the real person that formed a grandiose false self to protect themselves. Their attacks on others, however awful, are all part of the fantasy that no one is as good as them, everyone else is tainted and they are perfect, if they ever did something wrong, it was someone else?s fault. Healthy, happy, confident people don?t do that, they don?t need to do that.
Your first priority when dealing with a narcissistic person should always be to protect your own physical and mental well being. If you can get yourself into a good place with your self-esteem you can see the unpleasant behaviour of the narcissist as their own damage leaking out of them and therefore not take it personally.
Lower your expectations.
If you have someone in your life who you care about and want a relationship with, such as a relative, then lowering your expectations can improve the situation enormously.
It?s important to bear in mind that this point really only applies to close family members, who you are pretty much stuck with! It is obviously a very bad idea to enter into a romantic relationship with a narcissistic person and then start lowering your expectations until their needs are met and yours are not. If the narcissistic person is a family member, however, you may have often felt let down by their behaviour towards you or other people. Things like:
Being extremely demanding when unwell but being angry and unhelpful when someone else is ill.
Sitting stony faced at a celebration based around someone else such as a graduation, promotion or engagement. They may even have tried to take events like these over and try to make it all about them or, failing that, sabotage the event.
Becoming rude, sarcastic, dismissive or angry if someone is talking about an achievement or personal success.
Narcissists get accused of not understanding feelings and emotions. They actually are in touch with feelings and emotions, but just their own. When it comes to the feelings and emotions of other people someone with narcissistic personality disorder feels like they lose if they acknowledge the other person. In a way when you are asking a narcissist for attention, approval and validation you are in effect asking them to deflate the huge, all important alter-ego that protects them.
As hurtful and disappointing as this kind of behaviour is you need to remember it really is not personal or deliberate as it would be if someone without this disorder suddenly attacked or dismissed you like this. In a way it?s unfair to expect normal levels of connection, interest and validation from someone with this disorder.
Beware of the super enabler.
Narcissists are known to cultivate ?flying monkeys?. Flying monkeys are people the narcissist uses to further their aims. They use them to persuade people to go along with what they want or to attack people they have lined up in their sights.
What a lot of people forget however is that a person with narcissistic personality disorder will have a right hand man, or woman. This person may seem reasonable on the face of it and may even be someone you feel tempted to appeal to about the narcissist?s behavior. Don?t. The super enabler only looks normal in comparison to the narcissist and they?re by their side for a reason. Quite often this super enabler is a best friend, partner or spouse. If one of your parents is a narcissist it?s very possible that your other parent is enabling their behavior even if they sometimes seem to feel the same way you do about it.
Dealing with a narcissist is hard going and, in some circumstances, distance is all that protects your life and sanity. When walking away isn?t an option you can use these techniques to manage the situation.
If you enjoyed this article why not check out my new post ?How to protect yourself from a manipulative person.?