5 Ways to Deal with a Narcissist (if you have to)

5 Ways to Deal with a Narcissist (if you have to)

A few weeks ago, I made a post about how to recognize a emotional abuse (here). Often times these are the tactics used by narcissists in order to keep their victims/lovers stuck and dependent on them. While many people choose to permanently “social distance” from a narcissist, in many cases, this is not possible due to co-parenting, work, or familial ties for example. In this post, I will give you some tools that you can use to disarm a narcissist, if you must. Here are the top 5 ways you can de-escalate interactions with a narcissist.

#1-Gray Rock/Safe Detachment: When you think about gray rocks, what comes to mind? For me, I think of smooth, round stones clustered together on a beach. Just like no one stone stands out among the others, uniformity is the goal of the gray rocking technique with a narcissist. Simply put, you are trying to make yourself appear as bland and un-special as possible in both mood, personality, and appearance. Neutrality is your new friend. Did your narcissist love the way you looked in jeans? Time to get comfy in sweat pants. Your sparkling, bubbly personality? Time to act flat and depressed, and the reality is that your depression “act” may not be an act at all. This tactic is good to use if you are trying to safely end a relationship with a narcissist without them trying to suck you back in. Narcissists love having exciting people around who sing their praises, and if you are no longer that person, they move on to greener pastures. Keep your social media private, block them, or don’t post any updates for a while. Take some much needed time to move on, and don’t let them see when you do.

#2-The Medium Chill: this technique is most effective when having to frequently be in contact with a narcissist due to employment, children, family, etc. The goal of medium chill is to be assertive in the most non-confrontational way. If the narcissist tries to draw you into their drama, simply come up with the most bland, uninteresting, or neutral responses possible, and say them in a flat or unemotional tone. Do not volunteer any personal information about yourself. Some examples of phrases might be: that’s too bad, that’s nice, I can’t do anything about that, you should talk to your doctor/lawyer/dentist about that, that’s up to you, I don’t know about that, let me get back to you, I don’t know what to tell you, that’s a shame, I’m sorry you feel that way, I can’t be there, that doesn’t work for me, that is none of your business, etc. For a full list of phrasing suggestions, visit outofthefog.com The important things to remember are to monitor your tone, keep a calm demeanor, and neutral responses. If you find yourself angry, exit stage left or hang up the phone. The goal is to give them nothing.

#3-Broken Record: this technique is best when your narcissist is arguing with you about a decision you have made, or when you find yourself in a circular argument with them. When this happens, it is best to repeat the same phrase over and over again. This combines both the gray rocking and medium chill techniques. For example, Narc: can I drop off our kid early? I want to go to the bar with some of my buddies. You: That’s too bad. I won’t be home until 8pm. Narc: you’re so selfish! I thought this was a 50/50 split. You: I’m sorry, I won’t be home until 8pm. Narc: you aren’t even going to consider my needs? You: No, I won’t be home until 8pm. And so on and so forth. Again, the most important part is to keep your tone calm and neutral. Practice it a hundred times if you need to!

#4-Boundaries/Your Stuff, Their Stuff/The Clean Up Rule: much of dealing with a narcissist is mental in nature. Many selfless and loving people are drawn to narcissists because they want to see them healed; however, it is important to realize that YOU cannot be the one to do the healing. The narcissist must heal him/herself. The narcissist will keep you hooked by making you believe that only you can save them. They are exploiting your kindness through manipulation. A good rule of thumb: everyone is responsible for their own feelings. Everyone is responsible for cleaning up their own messes. You have your stuff to take care of, they have their stuff to take care of.

#5-Personal Safety: personal safety refers to not only your physical safety, but also your mental and emotional wellbeing. Your safety and the safety of your dependents is your highest concern. If your narcissist threatens to harm you physically, your child(ren), themselves, or anyone else, call the appropriate authorities immediately, and perhaps from a safe distance away. This is a manipulative tactic used by the narcissist in order to avoid abandonment. Do not be fooled, but take it seriously. Remember, it is not your job to save the narcissist if they are suicidal. Only they can do that with the help of professionals. If you are being insulted or verbally attacked, try politely ending the conversation. If your boundaries are not respected, calmly leave the room/area. Protecting your emotional health is vital to your wellbeing.

I hope that this article has given you some tips on how to handle dealing with a narcissist if you must. Find support for yourself and your dependents. Outofthefog.com is also a great resource for understanding and coping with relationships with personality disordered individuals. Check out the Amazon link below to the book Out of the Fog.

https://amzn.to/3jcHpyg

Why We Stay in Unhealthy Relationships

Why We Stay in Unhealthy Relationships

Girl, you’ve got options“…is what I say to many women who feel that they must stay in their negative and abusive relationships. Sadly, me saying this is often a revelation to many women. It is not that I don’t also say this to men, however the focus of this post will be about women specifically, because society “programs” women differently. What is it that makes us stay in bad relationships? Why are toxic relationships so enticing for so many? As it turns out, a toxic mixing of our spheres of influence is to blame. Our spheres of influence include our relationship to self, our relationship to family, and our relationship with society at large.

I have discovered that it seems as if one of the main factors keeping so many in unhealthy relationships is low self-esteem, or the relationship with ourselves. “Nobody else will love me the same”, “I will never find someone as attractive as him/her” are things that we don’t necessarily say out loud, much less admit to ourselves. These messages can sometimes be buried deep in our subconscious, which is why they can be difficult to identify. We tell ourselves that we love the person, have never felt such strong attraction, feel as if the other person is “the one”, or–the kicker–that this is the person God intended us to be with. These thoughts can be powerful motivators to stay, but often the real reason is much more subtle. Often we stay because we have low self-esteem.”Wait a minute,” you might say, “I have high self-esteem, or it least it feels as though I do.” Having low-self esteem can often times be hard to spot. Many of us think that self-esteem is how we feel about our looks, talent, or success, when in fact self-esteem has even more to do with our self-worth. Do we feel worthy of the love we deserve? Do we believe that something better actually exists?

For many, it can be hard to believe that a relationship can be better than the negative one right in front of them. This can happen when abuse and mistreatment are pretty standard in the houses we grew up in. Perhaps we were even abused in some way, shape, or form, and in our minds–deep down–we think, “this is what I deserve”. This is how the second sphere of influence, our familial ties, can have such an impact on our dating relationships. We internalize messages of shame, all the while our gut tells us that something is not right about the way we are treated–but it is all we know. Sometimes knowing the streets of hell can feel more comforting that dreaming about the possibility of heaven.

The third sphere of influence that keeps people in toxic pairings is the unhelpful cultural narratives and expectations our society has about gender, sexual orientation, sex, and body image. For women who grow up in the evangelical church, we are told that our virginity is a precious gift that we should save for our wedding night. Not only is this difficult, it is dang near impossible when our culture constantly tells women that we must be sexual in order to be valuable. Women who are sexual must also look and dress a certain way, they must be a certain weight, must have specific body proportions. When respectful men keep their distance from women, this can feel like rejection or disinterest to women with self-esteem issues. This creates some pretty strong abandonment fears that are counterproductive to a healthy relationship. In fact–fears of abandonment can either sabotage a potentially good relationship, or more often than not, abandonment fears can attract individuals who wish to exploit this fear through manipulation. Men, on the other hand, seem to get an entirely different mix of conflicting cultural messages.

So, what is the solution to all of this? These overlapping and often contradictory spheres of influence can really wreak havoc in the lives of so many women AND men. Often, the first step is seeing a therapist in order to identify how these interpersonal and cultural influences may be affecting the individual. Sometimes a little bit of insight and education is all that is needed. However, often times it can take a bit more than just insight and education. We have to identify and change the internal messages we tell ourselves, and we have to change our spheres of influence. Many surround themselves with healthier friends, leave the church, or distance themselves from unhealthy family members. Day by day, new internal messages can emerge:
You are worth it.
You are beautiful.
Your sexuality is not wrong.
You deserve better.
You will be loved.
You have options.

Many of these ideas that I’ve been trying to put into words for years are expressed much, MUCH better this book I have been reading. For those of us who received toxic messages from the church:

https://amzn.to/3kO1kEL


Recognizing and Dealing with Emotional Abuse

Recognizing and Dealing with Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is often difficult for us to identify. How many times have we heard the story of a jealous girlfriend (or boyfriend, because no gender discrimination here) demanding that her man be available 24/7, lest he be accused of cheating? How about this one: a child is told that they will remain in custody of his or her parents, even though they are being verbally berated daily, because there is “no physical evidence of abuse”? Or there is the more subtle classic of a child’s parent wishing the child were “less emotional” regardless of gender. This parent may tell their child to “just get over it” or use a plethora of tactics to invalidate the child’s emotions. Are these instances of emotional and psychological abuse? You bet! Unfortunately, due to our culture downplaying the importance of emotion, it makes sense that emotional abuse is harder to recognize to the untrained observer. More tragically, those who are abused even have a difficult time recognizing it as well, which sets them up to be abused over and over again in their adult relationships. Alternatively, you might find that you yourself have used these tactics in the past in order to get your needs met. This is not meant to be a judgmental post if you fall into this camp, but a self-check and hopefully a catalyst for self-reflection and change.

I am writing this post to help us all be better able to recognize emotional and psychological abuse. (Side note: One of my favorite Instagram artists @blessingmanifesting posted a cool infographic about recognizing emotional abuse. It inspired me to write this post, so look over at the sidebar to get a full list of emotional abuse tactics abusers use.) Some of the most common emotional abuse tactics that I see when working with victims of narcissistic abuse are:

  • Gaslighting (rewriting events to convince you they happened a different way than what you remember). This is one of the most devastating tactics used, because it causes the recipient to doubt their own perception of reality. Victims quite literally feel crazy. They want to believe their abuser’s often more positive spin on what really happened because they want to continue to love and get their needs met by the abuser. Example: “No I didn’t hit you. You are remembering it wrong. I simply shoved you out of the way because I was starting to get mad.”
  • Your boundaries don’t matter. Examples: You tell your boyfriend or spouse you are not comfortable being physically intimate, and they pressure you despite your attempts to say no as firmly as you can. You tell your friend that you can’t do one more favor for them, but they beg and plead despite you continuing to tell all the reasons you cannot help right now.
  • Using your empathy against you. Example: “I really need your help, especially after what Sheila did to me. You know how I don’t handle breakups well.”
  • Threatening to harm or kill themselves in an attempt to get you to comply. This is one of the most extreme examples, and if you have ever been on the receiving end of this, I am terribly sorry. Please know that another’s life is NEVER in your hands in this scenario. If someone kills themselves (often after a breakup) it is NEVER your fault! Their decision to live or die is theirs alone. They are responsible for how they handle their emotions, and it is not your job to make them feel better.
  • Shaming you into not talking about it. Examples: “Everyone will think you are __________.” “If you talk about it, your friends will think you’re a real drag.”
  • Nothing you say or do is good enough. This one causes its victims to become either rebellious in nature, overly compliant, or it causes individuals to adopt ridiculously high standards for themselves. Victims never feel satisfied with themselves or other people. Their inner self-voice is very critical of even minor mistakes.
  • They idealize you, then discard you. This is a pattern very typical of narcissists during dating. They will come on very strong in the beginning, and will pursue their mates very intensely. To someone with low self-esteem, this can be like water to a dry well. One the victim is hooked, the narcissist will either a) become very critical of the flaws in their partner, insisting that they change constantly, b) find an arbitrary reason to break up with their partner, often very suddenly, or c) a combination of a) and b).

If you are currently the victim of emotional or psychological abuse, please seek help. There is no abuse too small to address in therapy. It also may be helpful to bolster yourself with additional reading materials. A book I recommend for dealing with abuse recovery is “Whole Again: Healing Your Heart and Rediscovering Your True Self After Toxic Relationships and Emotional Abuse” by Jackson MacKenzie. Click the link to purchase from Amazon: https://amzn.to/3i78l1d

There is truly a plethora of reading material on healing from emotional abuse. Here are some additional books and resources to help you on your journey. (Side note: a percentage of purchases from clicking these links will go to Moore Vulnerability Counseling and will help me stay afloat during these difficult times. Thank you.) Some will have pictures posted next to them, and some will not. Be sure to subscribe to my blog so that you don’t miss my next post about how to disarm an abuser!

https://amzn.to/2Ps0BdO<<<“You Can Thrive After Narcissistic Abuse” by by Melanie Tonia Evans and Christiane Northrup M.D.
https://amzn.to/3idqDOF<<<Narcissistic Abuse Survival Guide; a book for dealing with more subtle forms of narcissistic/borderline abuse, abusive parents and family members
https://amzn.to/3gvrLMV<<<7 Steps to Recovery by Eric Monroe
https://amzn.to/30rYFIR<<<My Soulmate, My Love, My Narcissist
https://amzn.to/3fseTpu<<<Co-Parenting With A Narcissist
https://amzn.to/2XseAVL<<<Emotional Abuse Recovery Workbook
https://amzn.to/39XwkNr<<The Gaslighting Recovery Workbook