The word narcissist is used to describe a person who is self-centered and lacks empathy. On the other side, it is important to remember that narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a legitimate mental condition that requires proper diagnosis by a mental health professional.
People with NPD exhibit certain characteristics that include:
- having an inflated sense of self
- feelings of grandiosity
- having an arrogant behavior
- unable to stand rejection and failures
- lack of empathy
- expecting special treatment
- exaggerating achievements
- preoccupied with fantasies of power, success, and love
- needing constant praise and admiration
- taking advantage of others
- not recognizing or caring about the needs of others
- have high self-esteem and ego
- highly sensitive to criticism
No doubt each of us has a narcissist in our life. Narcissists tend to control their surroundings and whatever they are not able to control, they blame others for. This makes it very difficult to work with narcissists. Narcissists are just there, and we cannot choose to exclude them from our lives, therefore, we must learn how to deal with them.
So, we need to know how to disarm a narcissist to make them more tolerable. Here are a few tips:
- Narcissists love to fight not because they are good at arguing but because they know how to push you. When they argue with you, you are tempted to verbally protect yourself. The narcissist needs you to fight back because then you are the one who loses control and thus is labeled as the bad guy. So, avoid arguing with narcissists so that they do not find any excuse to blame you for their wrongdoings.
- We need to discourage feeding the ego of narcissists. Narcissists are much like those encaged wild animals who appear fine behind the fence but, it is merely a false sense of security. Narcissists have an impressive sense of self and when we throw numerous praises verbally, it empowers their ego.
- We should avoid taking responsibility for their emotions. They will try to make you the martyr for their negative emotions. After a while, taking the blame for their actions will tear you from inside. When we offer to take the blame for the negative emotions of narcissists, they get everything they want. So, do not shift the blame on yourself instead make them realize their mistakes.
- Do not use ultimatums in relationships. An ultimatum is a form of control, which will be used by narcissists repeatedly. If you do not like something done by a narcissist or you feel the need to use this to gain control, you might have become just as toxic as he is. Remember, your actions and words provide him immediate permission to do the same to you.
- Do not give negative attention to narcissists as they enjoy it. Positive attention is great for the narcissist, but negative attention is crucial to their ability to hold you accountable. It is an unhealthy part of their thinking. Once you give them that negative attention, they will hold it over your head. They need you to give them negative attention as a means of lashing out and targeting you, thus making you the victim. Try to give positive attention to narcissists.
Narcissists rarely take responsibility for their emotions and yet they expect you to be accountable for yours. The most important trick to disarm the narcissist is to control your emotions.
Some practical ways to deal with narcissistic tendencies are:
Narcissistic personalities are extremely good at turning on the charm, whenever they want to. Their grand ideas and promises are always to attain the attention of other people. This helps them to make them quite popular in workplaces. If narcissists are caught lying, manipulating, or disrespecting others, there is no reason to believe that they would not do the same thing to you. Narcissists only think about themselves and completely ignore the needs and emotions of others as they are unimportant to them. And if you try to bring up this issue, you may face resistance and cold behavior. So, the first step in dealing with someone who has a narcissistic personality is to simply accept that this is how they are and not much can be done to change it.
With a narcissistic personality around, attention always seems to divert towards them. The attention they draw can be negative or positive. Narcissists work hard to keep themselves in the limelight and it is quite natural for them. With this tactic, they push aside the needs and wants of others to keep themselves satisfied. If you try to break into their attention-seeking behavior, it may never come true. It doesn’t matter how much you adjust your life to suit their needs and demands, it’s never going to be enough. To deal with narcissists, limit them and don’t allow them to infiltrate your sense of self or define your world.
Narcissists enjoy making others embarrassed and ashamed. If that’s the case, try not to get visibly agitated or show annoyance, as this will only encourage them to continue. So, set clear boundaries with narcissists:
- Do not allow them to talk to you in any way they want to.
- Do not allow them to treat you disrespectfully.
- Make sure they respect your opinions and point of view.
- Make them accept “No”.
If you want to keep a narcissist close in your life, then you owe it to yourself to speak up. Do this calmly and gently and tell them how their words and conducts impact your life. You need to be specific and consistent about what’s not acceptable and how you expect to be treated.
Once you speak up and set boundaries with narcissists, you can expect them to respond. They may come back with some demands of their own or they may also try to take advantage of you so that you may feel guilty or start to believe that you are the one who is being unreasonable and controlling. They might make a play to attain sympathy.
A person with NPD isn’t likely to admit their mistake or take responsibility for hurting you. Instead, they try to project their negative behaviors on others.
Instead of avoiding narcissists, try to build up healthy relationships and develop a strong support network of people. Spending too much time in a relationship with a narcissist can leave you emotionally drained. Rekindle old friendships and try to develop new ones. Get together with family more often or do something that allows you to meet more people you feel comfortable with.
Narcissists are good at making promises. They promise to do what you want and not to do the things you hate. They promise to do better and are sincere about their promises. They make sure not to make any mistakes about their promises.
People suffering from NPD often don’t see a problem with themselves. As a result, they will never seek professional counseling. But people with NPD frequently have other disorders, such as substance abuse, or other mental health or personality disorders. Having another disorder accompanying NPD prompts to seek help. So, they reach out for professional help but do not necessarily do it. NPD is an established mental health condition, but it doesn’t excuse bad or abusive behavior. Regularly dealing with someone who has a narcissistic personality can affect your own mental and physical health.
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Written by: Tahira Rubab Hafeez