How to handle a narcissist
You might assume that the way to come out on top is to focus relentlessly on your own agenda, desires, and needs–but that’s what narcissists do, and narcissists are not effective players in the game of life. Self-obsession will take you only so far. –Phillip McGraw
I don’t like to brag, but I consider myself somewhat uniquely qualified to address this topic, as I’ve been associating with narcissists since the very moment I was born. And for the past year or so, I’ve had one within a few feet of me at the office. I sincerely hope that you, dear reader, find yourself with less expertise on this particular topic.
First, how to identify the species? I was well into adulthood before I realized what was ‘off’ about one of my family members. It may be that you, too, are an expert, and don’t even know it!
- The narcissist is deeply engaged with what other people think.
- But the narcissist doesn’t care about much else. S/he may tell you that you care too much. (I sometimes wonder if a narcissist coined the term do-gooder, for those who, you know, care so much they actually try to do something about it.)
- It is all about the narcissist. Not about you … never about you.
Any questions? (No, it’s still not about you.)
I recommend the following strategies for dealing effectively with narcissists:
- Keep your distance. Need I say that a narcissist is never going to improve the quality of your life? So arm’s length is good, and much further away than that is ideal.
- The narcissist is likely to attempt to use and/or manipulate you, and will likely be frightened if these attempts fail, because the world isn’t working the way it’s supposed to. Your mission is to ensure that these finely-honed manipulation techniques do not work on you.
- To this end, let it be known that you are serene in the face of judgment and insult. Let it be known that you don’t much care what other people think. Let it be known that temper tantrums don’t affect you one way or the other. Let it be known that you do not accept double standards or unreasonable boundaries.
- Some experts say that the narcissist may have became one due to an emotional wound. So have compassion for the narcissist, as this cannot be a good way to live, and may in fact be a hell on earth … cut off from others, from caring about all that’s truly important in life, from knowing that we are all one, and that ultimately, love is all there is. Be grateful that you have dealt with your issues (I assume you received your share) more productively.
- Remind yourself how truly lucky you are to not be in the narcissist’s shoes, by engaging in one of the many activities unavailable to him or her. Reach out in love and kindness to someone else, expecting nothing in return. Look into the eyes of someone different from you and say to yourself, I am you, you are me. Hug or kiss someone and feel the love flowing between you.
- Realize you are truly blessed.