Handling a Narcissist
When people hurt us, we tend to say mean things. Sometimes, we may even seek out revenge. But the extent of doing so is often held back by our guilt. However, with narcissists, it’s a whole new ball game. While we may feel uncomfortable criticizing, judging, and controlling others, narcissists thrive on this feeling. Narcissists can make you doubt your own perception. Hence it’s imperative that you be cautious of their tendencies. Even the slightest signs of manipulation such as blackmail, threats, verbal abuse, and gaslighting indicate the presence of the iceberg underneath. If you are not brave enough to get out early, you may soon be enrolled in full-blown mental, physical, sexual, emotional, financial, or even spiritual abuse.
A narcissist’s motivation
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a form of interpersonal relationship disorder. Some practice mild narcissistic behaviors like silence as a form of manipulation, while others are to the extreme with violence. Narcissists rarely take responsibility for their behaviors. They always deny their actions and blame their victims. A more severe type of narcissist is the malignant narcissist who is not bothered by guilt. He takes pleasure in inflicting pain. Some narcissists are known to be very competitive such that they can engage in extremely antisocial behavior. This type of narcissism is easily confused with antisocial personality disorder.
Power is the underlying factor behind a narcissist’s behavior. They act so to hurt, diminish and dominate. The goal of a narcissist is to exert authority and control over you while at the same time instilling shame, doubt, and dependency. Many people don’t know that narcissists actually harbor hidden feelings of inferiority. It is perhaps why they constantly want to feel superior to others. Just like bullies, narcissists suffer from shame. They don’t want to appear weak and humiliated. Knowing this can be the difference between being a victim and overcoming an abuser.
Common mistakes when dealing with narcissistic abuse
Victims of narcissist abuse have one thing in common- they forget the abuser’s motives and often react in the following ineffective ways;
It shows their weakness. The abuser reacts by dismissing or generating more contempt and disgust.
· By withdrawing
The truth is that withdrawal can be a good strategy. But only for a moment as you recollect your thoughts and emotions. You will need a more effective strategy in the long run.
· By trying to appease the abuser
Victims often react this way to avoid angering abusers. On the contrary, it empowers them, and they perceive this as an opportunity to exert more control.
· Argument and fights
You have been wronged. So, you try to communicate how you have been wronged. But narcissists are not interested in facts. They are only interested in justifying their position and being right. What’s more? It could escalate to a physical fight, and you end up losing and damaging yourself.
· Seeking understanding
A narcissist has zero interest in understanding you. Save yourself the time trying to be understood. They are only interested in winning the conflict and being in a superior position. The earlier you know this, the better for you. Many make the mistake of sharing their feelings with narcissists, which exposes them to more abuse and manipulation.
· Explaining and defending yourself
Now, narcissists are good at false accusations. Avoid this trap with a simple denial, nothing more. Going beyond this by defending your position gives the abuser the right to judge, approve and abuse you. Do not give them power over your self-esteem.
Threats can backfire if you don’t carry them out. Unless you are ready to actualize them, never make a threat. Instead, try implementing boundaries and dire consequences when crossed.
· Complaining and criticizing
Narcissists act tough, but deep inside, they suffer insecurity and fragility. They can’t take what they give out. So be careful when criticizing. It may provoke them to rage and spite.
One of the most common mistakes most victims make is to deny the abuse and hope it goes away. Nothing can be further from reality. You see, the more the abuse, the more it grows and the harder it is to leave.
Victims also often blame themselves for being abused. But the truth is that you cannot cause anyone to abuse you. Everyone is responsible for their own behavior. So stop trying to be perfect to an abuser. They have to deal with their insecurities themselves.
Now that you know the common mistakes when dealing with a narcissist, what strategies work?
1. Confronting the abuse effectively
Consenting to abuse ruins your self-esteem. You will have to confront the abuse regardless of how uncomfortable you feel. This doesn’t mean arguing and fighting but standing your ground and speaking for yourself calmly and clearly. Exert those boundaries for your mind, body, and emotion’s sake.
2. Being Assertive
Learn and practice assertiveness. Speak your mind and set limits. Subscribe to webinars and podcasts that discuss how to be assertive. Practice verbal responses for when the situation arises.
3. Knowing your rights and exercising them
You have the right to be treated with respect. You have the right to privacy, a right not to be forced into doing anything, a right not to be screamed at or disrespected. More so, you have to feel entitled to these rights. Now, if you have suffered abuse for such a long time, your self-esteem has likely diminished. Seek therapy and consume content that can help you raise your self-esteem.
4. Being Strategic
Remember, you are dealing with a highly defensive person. So it’s extremely crucial to be strategic. Know what your limits are and where you have control in the relationship
5. Exerting Boundaries
The importance of boundaries cannot be stressed enough. People only treat you the way you allow them to. Know what your boundaries are and communicate them clearly. Be explicit about it, don’t expect people to read your mind.
6. Invoking consequences
Now, when boundaries are ignored, consequences should follow. Invoke them when triggered. They should not be just threats but actions to protect yourself.
7. Being educative
Studies have shown that narcissists have neurological defects that impact their interpersonal reactions. According to the same experts, the best way to approach a narcissist is to educate them like a child. Provide them with encouragement for behavior change. This needs careful planning and communicating without being emotional.
In conclusion, dealing with a narcissist is not a walk in the park. You may need support, or else you become a victim. The difficult part is changing your reactions and emotions. Stand up for yourself, but also expect pushback when you do. That’s why you need support-for courage, and consistency. It’s not about whether the narcissist changes or not, but about raising your self-worth and improving how you feel.
Raquel Soteldo RP(Q), CCC, MA, ABA, PMP