When a narcissist?s pride has been injured, it can result in a fearful rage. This is how you can protect yourself against it.
Image by @kvakazyabra via Twenty20
by: E.B. Johnson
Narcissists are toxic, but they can be dangerous too. When a narcissist is rejected or denied something that they want, you can find them slipping into a blind rage that results in poisonous and self-destructive behaviors. Rather than cowering in fear of the narcissists in our lives, we have to learn how to stand up to them and protect ourselves. That?s something that requires from us courage, however, and the knowledge that we have an equal right to peace, happiness and tranquility.
Knowing that you have a narcissist in your life isn?t enough. You have to protect yourself against them and that starts with understanding how they work. Denying or rejecting a narcissist is akin to questioning their sense of self. When this occurs, you?re destined for blow-ups, explosions and a wasteland of emotions that lead to instability and unhappiness. Overcome the attacks of the narcissists in your life and protect your right to thrive and live in peace. Let go of their nastiness and live your own life by shielding yourself in knowledge, compassion and understanding.
Narcissists can?t tolerate rejection.
There is no person in the world who hates the concept of ?no? more than a narcissist (expect, perhaps, a toddler). When a self-obsessed person is rejected or denied something they set out to achieve, it becomes a personal attack that questions their character and calls all their previous decisions into question. Because everything in the world is about the narcissist, anything you say contrary to their delusional reality becomes a personal attack. And a personal attack is something a narcissist will not tolerate, under any circumstances.
When someone rejects a narcissist, they injure that narcissists self-esteem and worth, as well as challenging their confidence and sense of self. Denial to them is not an average or acceptable experience. It?s a questioning of their core value, and that can lead to conflict and unbridled rage.
Narcissists who are rejected or feel as though they are being questioned can fly into a narcissistic rage. This rage is both dangerous and damaging, occurring in a number of different ways (each as toxic as the last). In order to protect ourselves from the narcissistic attacks that surround us, we have to learn how to stand strong on our boundaries and what we need. In order to do this, however, we must cultivate a greater understanding of self and a greater understanding of the way we are attacked by the blindly self-obsessed.
What causes narcissistic injury.
Narcissistic injury refers to the various threats to selves that someone who is self-obsessed might perceive in their environment. Even if these things don?t seem offensive to you ? to the narcissist, they are unforgivable sins that calls their entire character into question. Whether you criticize their decisions, or fail to praise them the way they expect?protecting yourself against narcissists means knowing what triggers their worst instincts.
Narcissists exist in the bedroom as well as the boardroom, and it doesn?t make them any easier to deal with. The narcissist that reaches out romantically is one who is putting themselves out on a limb. When those advances are rejected, it can send them into an all-out rage, as that limb snaps beneath them and brings them stumbling back down to the reality that they?re just as average as anyone else. There?s nothing a narcissist hates more than ?no? and a rejection of romantic advances is the ultimate ?no?.
Failing to praise
Sometimes, it?s not what you say to the narcissist. It?s what you don?t say. Narcissists are obsessed with themselves, but beneath that they are extremely insecure. For this reason they need a substantial amount of outward validation and praise, which then allows them to fuel (and justify) their narcissistic and self-obsessive fire. When you fail to praise a narcissist in the way they feel they deserve, get ready for a battle royale. They will do anything they need to get praise they want, and that includes picking fights for all the wrong reasons.
To a narcissist, their decisions are absolute. When they make a decision it should be unquestioned, and when it is?there?s trouble. Criticizing the behaviors or decisions of a narcissist can be a dangerous business, as it touches on their ideas of self and self-worth. If you question something they?ve done, it means (to them) that you?re questioning their worth as a human being and that?s something that?s unacceptable. To the narcissist, they are the best person on the planet, and you should see that without explanation.
Because everything in their environment touches on them personally, the narcissist easily takes simple remarks to heart and turns them into major conflicts. If you make a statement that alludes to the fact that they may not be at their best, or they may not be the best, the narcissist can take it as a personal attack on their character. What was nothing more than a casual statement then becomes a major conflict. Simple remarks become major blowups with narcissists, because everything touches on their personhood.
When narcissistic injury becomes narcissistic rage.
Narcissistic rage is the response that occurs when a narcissist feels as though their sense of self is being questioned in some way. This rage can be both explosive and passive-aggressive, but however it occurs it?s toxic. Protecting ourselves from these attacks requires knowledge, and that means identifying the methods the narcissists in our lives use to get even.
Campaigns of terror
Some narcissists are violent and use violent behavior in order to get the things that want. This form of narcissistic rage crosses all boundaries and puts the lives of their family and friends directly in danger. Though the narcissist may not reveal this side of their personality to everyone, it is one they will not avoid when all other avenues to success have failed. Narcissists can lean into violence, because they have little care about the health, happiness or wellbeing of anyone but themselves.
Passive aggressive behavior
Passive-aggressive behavior occurs when someone indirectly expresses unhappiness or displeasure with us or something that we?ve done. With narcissists, this might happen through small, malicious acts at home (?forgetting? to ask if you wanted dinner; making snide, sideways remarks) but it can also occur by manipulating our environments and important people around us. For example, the narcissistic partner who is displeased with you might go to your mother with an untrue tail, or one that provokes drama. All in an effort to achieve a warped sense of revenge.
The most subtle (and sometimes insidious) form of narcissistic rage is that of the buried and suppressed type. Not all narcissists are immediately confrontational. Some will sit and simmer over perceived wrongs until they come up with a malicious plan of counter-attack, or explode in a heartbreaking and gut-wrenching display of sparks that leaves you both injured. Day after day, hour after hour, they keep score as the ?wrongs? stack up then ? BOOM! All bets are off and the fighting gloves are on.
This over-the-top form of control might take the form of smashing dishes or even physically lashing out at you. When some narcissists are rejected, they resort strait to their aggression as a means of exerting fear and terror over someone who isn?t behaving the way they expect them to. Aggression in narcissists can be dangerous and almost always crosses the line, making their victims afraid to speak out or stand up for themselves.
How to handle narcissistic injury and rage in your relationships.
Even if you can?t predict or control narcissistic rage and injury ? you can protect yourself against it. By learning how to embrace your own emotions and stand up for yourself when it matters most, you can combat the attacks of a narcissist in a tailspin before they wreck your sense of self-esteem.
1. Ignore them when possible
Narcissists use bait to draw you into their conflicts and mire you in their mudslinging. It can be hard to walk away, when you?re suffering passive-aggressive taunts or other nasty behavior, which invokes a need for revenge or a need to justify your own behavior. This is giving in, however, and it?s precisely what the narcissist wants. When they draw you into their battles, they have control; and control is the bread and butter of narcissism.
Learn how to ignore the narcissist in your life (when you can) and ignore their desperate attempts to demean you or otherwise draw you into their web of nastiness. We?ve all heard the old adage, ?misery loves company,? and it?s especially true for the narcissist.
When you?re confronted with a narcissist that wants an engagement, or a narcissist that is lashing out for a rejection on your part ? take a step back and count to 10. Find a quiet place, close your eyes and breathe deep. Detach from the situation and look at it from a third-person point of view before you respond. More often than not, you?ll see the conflict is superficial and with very little benefit (in even the best of cases). Once you?ve cooled off, walk away and understand that you don?t need to justify yourself to someone who is only looking out for their own self-interests.
2. Stop taking the bait
Once you?ve committed to saying ?no? to the narcissist in your life, follow through and stay true to your promise. The stronger you stand, the stronger the narcissist?s attack will become. You have to learn how to avoid their bait, and you have to learn how to stand strong in your convictions so that the narcissist learns that they have no control over you and your life.
Stop taking the bait and stop allowing yourself to fall into the land mines that the narcissist sets for you. Even if they bring up old conflicts, and even if they throw true valuations in their face ? don?t allow yourself to become a victim of their machinations.
Walk away and work on your own emotions, and your own faults. Don?t give that power to a person who only wants to see their own happiness over your own. A narcissist has no desire in finding resolution. They have a desire to be superior, and they have a desire to put you in your place. No matter what bait they throw at your feet, figure out a way to lean into your personal resolve and side-step it. The pain isn?t worth the shadow on the other side.
3. Commit to your boundaries
Our boundaries form a critical part of who we are, and they reinforce the limits by which we establish the direction of our life. Narcissists hate boundaries, because it?s a fence that keeps them away from the vulnerable parts of our inner-self. You have to constantly re-affirm your boundaries, and you have to constantly re-communicate those boundaries to the narcissist. They learn not to trample over you when you learn to show them where the limits lie.
Take some time to yourself and check in on your boundaries. Consider the things in your life you are willing to accept, then think about the things that cross the line for you. Double down and dig deep. Understand what you want from your life, and how you need others to treat you in order to enjoy your time with them.
Life is entirely too short to spend it miserable and in someone else?s thrall. We are all responsible for the direction of our futures, and we are all responsible for our own happiness. Once you know what you want, communicate those limits to the narcissists in your life ? no matter how many times you have to repeat yourself. Be clear and be candid. Tell them what you want and tell them why. Don?t expect them to listen, but do let them know that they can no longer expect you to give in. Be fair to yourself. Have some self respect, re-define your boundary.
4. Tapping into self-compassion
Compassion is a powerful tool, and it can allow us to navigate and manage a number of tricky situations in our lives. Though narcissists push us into some negative and dark places, our compassion can help us avoid these backslides and find a way to move forward in greater peace. To be compassionate is not to be a pushover. It?s simply insisting on seeing things from a different point of view. One in which you can stay more grounded to what matters.
Lean into your compassion, rather than your anger or any desire you might have to ?get even? when confronted by a narcissist in a rage. Consider the full scope of their experiences, and what events in their past have led to their behavior today. Think about their childhoods, or the past relationships that have taught the person in front of you to be so self-obsessed.
Narcissists, more often than not, have a dark history which can be easily uncovered with a little digging. The next time they try to back you into a corner or make you feel small, think about an experience in which felt attacked or totally out of control. The emotions of a narcissist are ultimately no different from our own, just poorly controlled and magnified. Embrace this knowledge and use it to lean into your natural sense of compassion.
5. Put the blame where it belongs
The narcissist that has been denied or rejected can transform into a nasty character, but those behaviors have more to do with their own faults and insecurities more than anything else. It?s not always possible to escape the attacks of someone in a narcissistic rage, so in those moments it?s important to remember that their behavior has everything to do with who they are, and very little to do with who we are.
The problems that this person has are not your fault, and they are (ultimately) not your problem. Having compassion for someone is not the same as taking on their pain and issues for yourself. Detach from their behavior and understanding that all this lashing out has everything to do with them and very little to do with you.
Accept that their behavior and their decisions are entirely their own. Understand that you are not responsible for making their lives more comfortable; and you?re certainly not responsible for making yourself smaller in some way to fit their expectations. Look at their projections for what they are ? a commentary on their own shortcomings ? and allow yourself to detach from any sense of guilt or shame that the narcissist might use to manipulate you.
6. Seeing to the follow through
It?s not enough to communicate your boundaries to a narcissist, and it?s not enough to simply repeat what you want. To the true narcissist, action speaks volumes more than words. For this reason, it?s necessary to put action to our promises and follow through on the decisions we commit to when our boundary lines have been crossed. While this isn?t easy, it is necessary, and requires us to get assertive when we would prefer to fold.
If you?ve found yourself in confrontation with a narcissist, tell them the conversation is over then walk away and don?t give in to their persistent hounding or desperate plays to resume control. Follow through on the decisions you make and start sticking up for your own needs rather than always giving in to their injured sense of pride.
You don?t have to give a reply. You don?t have to justify yourself. You don?t have to listen to them or even give them the time of day. There is no law written anywhere that says we need to entertain the personal attacks of other people ? no matter who they are to us. If you need space, get space. If you told this person that another attack would result in a long-term severing of your relationship, cut them out. Your boundaries are only as good as the action you commit to protect them and a narcissist will see that from a mile away.
7. Honestly embracing emotions
When we?re in a relationship, or a household, or a workspace with a narcissist, we can find ourselves becoming overwhelmed and absorbed by their constant emotional demands. If you want to start standing up to them in your life and protecting yourself, you have to start accepting your own emotions and giving them equal priority and status. We do this by embracing our emotions and leaning into our intuition and sense of feeling.
Embrace your emotions and accept them for what they are. If the narcissist is making you feel angry or tearful ? explore those feelings and try to explore too the experiences that contribute to these responses. When you know how you?re feeling, you can better explain yourself to narcissist and also better realize how and why you need to protect yourself from them.
No life is meant to be lived in constant anger or sadness. Listen to the warnings that your feelings are giving you. If someone in your life always turns your sunshine upside down, look at their behavior and try to recognize the signs of narcissism where you feared to look before. Accepting our emotions is (ultimately) accepting who we are and accepting what we need. Embrace your emotions and understand that no one has the power to make you feel less than you are. You allow that behavior by softening your limits.
8. Protecting ultimate wellbeing
Perhaps the hardest part of defending yourself against narcissistic rage is understanding that you have a right to self-defense in the first place. It doesn?t matter how much you love someone, or what family affinity you share with them. No one has a right to belittle you, undermine you, or otherwise go out of their way to make you feel sad, angry or unhappy. This is malicious and hurtful behavior. It?s okay to protect yourself from narcissists, no matter where they reside in your life, but you have to accept that to enact that belief.
You have a right to be happy. You have a right to live a drama-free life. You have a right to peace and tranquility in your life and in your home. These are all things that were given to you by nature, but which can be easily sacrificed to a narcissist with an injured sense of self. Realize that it?s okay to protect yourself and know that you have a right to set boundaries and a right to stick to them.
Look at the situation from another point-of-view. If someone walked up to you and hit you repeatedly with a baseball bat, would you attempt to protect yourself? Would you run away? Avoid the confrontation? We can consider narcissistic attacks an emotional baseball bat. Their passive-aggressive behaviors, manipulations, and desperate projections take a toll on our mental and emotional wellbeing ? and that?s unacceptable. Protect your internal wellbeing as aggressively and earnestly as you would your physical wellbeing.
Putting it all together?
Dealing with narcissists is never easy, but it can be especially hard when you?re dealing with narcissistic energy and rage. When a narcissists confidence, worth or decisions are questions ? it can send them in a tailspin of emotion that leads to lashing out and explosive conflicts. In order to protect ourselves against these conflicts and injuries we have to understand them, but we have to understand too the role we play in safeguarding our own sanity.
Ignore the narcissist when you can and detach yourself completely from the situation. Learn how to walk away and learn how to stop taking the bait. Re-define your boundaries and lean into them knowing that you have a right to your limits and deal breakers. Lean into your compassion when dealing with a narcissist and use that compassion to avoid lashing out or getting even. Narcissists want to lower you to their level. Don?t give them what they want and accept that their behavior is a reflection on them?not you. Whatever boundaries you give them, commit to them and follow through on any promises you make. Narcissists understand words only when followed by action. Get proactive about protecting yourself and understand that you have a right to defend your emotional wellbeing as fiercely as you protect your physical wellbeing.