Dealing with narcissists is an intricate dance we often find ourselves doing, whether it’s in our family dynamics, our workplace, or even within broader societal structures. The rise of narcissism is becoming increasingly apparent, shedding light on its pervasive impact on individuals and communities alike. Understanding and learning to defend ourselves against the traits and behaviors of narcissists is crucial for our well-being.
The recognition of narcissism’s effects, both on a personal level and its societal implications, is becoming more prevalent. From dysfunctional family dynamics to encountering narcissistic politicians or even finding oneself in the victimization of emotional incest, these experiences underscore the necessity of coping mechanisms when faced with narcissistic personalities.
Here are five practical tips to defend against narcissists:
Number 1: You declare what your intentions are, what you want, and what your boundaries are.
It doesn’t matter what they want, what they’re trying to tell you while on the attack. Put the focus on you because the narcissist is all about trying to get in there and trying to impact you, influence you, make you think perhaps you’re less than others, and make you think you’re doing something wrong.
So, it’s just putting up that boundary mentally that you’re fine. You know where you’re coming from, you know what your intentions are, and then that helps you construct these healthy boundaries around you. Use very clear communication; be very direct, and very concise. Does it mean you get defensive?
It doesn’t mean you have to be argumentative. It also doesn’t mean you have to go on the offensive. To the contrary, this is simply a calm way of reasserting to yourself and to people around you who you are, and what you want.
Number 2: You’re going to let them huff and puff all they want.
There is no point in trying to get in there and fix a narcissist, to try to change them, to try to win over them that you’re going to counter them and you’re going to be victorious. This is not about going to war at all with them. You’re never going to win that, especially if they’re a little bit unstable. You’re not going to change their mind about anything, nor should you even necessarily try.
So when a narcissist are all about huffing and puffing themselves up because they’re not having a lot of confidence inside, they don’t know themselves or even maybe who they are. So they compensate for that by the entire huff and puff and the arrogance and making everything larger than life. Well, you don’t need to change that.
Engaging with them and trying to win an argument, let’s say, is probably going to suck you in more and make the situation even worse because the narcissist knows that you want to play with them. So you don’t want to get entangled in that with a narcissist. The best thing to do is to just ignore them because by paying attention to them, they’re going to get some satisfaction from that.
That’s what they want, the satisfaction of being noticed. They need to be noticed. So the best way to work with that is not to notice them, to ignore them, and then they’re going to have to go find somebody else to go play their little game with. Oftentimes they’re trying to get you to take the bait. They want you to fight with them. So remember, don’t take the bait.
Number 3: Get the heck out of Dodge if you can.
So if it’s a family member that you’re around if you can move out if you’re old enough and you have the means to get your place, doing it. Move out, and get your place because to be around a narcissist lifelong in a relationship, let’s say, is only going to be detrimental to you.
You’re the one who’s going to pay the price, not the narcissist. They’re quite happy being who they are and spouting off the way they do. But you are going to pay the price. So need to figure out a way to get yourself away from this toxic energy if you can, if you’re able.
Number 4: Have empathy for them.
Remember, empathy is different from accepting something or having acceptance for a situation. You don’t necessarily have to accept it, but you can certainly have empathy for the person who is the narcissist. That’s a sad way to live one’s life. It comes from a very lonely and insecure place. It’s a way of defending against the big void that they feel inside themselves. So that’s a tough way to live.
So if you have somebody in your life who’s going through this, who is a narcissist, you can certainly protect yourself, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have empathy for them, for their situation. Do you remember having empathy is the exact opposite of being a narcissist? They’re not capable of having empathy. That’s part of what a narcissist is all about.
They’re not capable of understanding other people’s feelings. So not only are you demonstrating what you’re all about, but also you’re being a good role model for your friends, other co-workers, and your family. Maybe you’re raising kids and you’re trying to show them what it means to have empathy for others.
Number 5: celebrate that you’re not a narcissist.
Celebrate that; know that you feel good about life because you can connect with people authentically. You can have empathy and that you care about people’s feelings and your feelings as well. This is something to be celebrated because it means you’re in touch with who you are.
And therapeutically speaking, as a therapist, it is going to help you in life in so many ways aside from just what we’re talking about right now about narcissism. It means you’re capable of making connections. It means you’re capable of being authentic.
It means you’re capable of showing true love. It means you’re capable of incredible emotional growth in your life, capable of what a narcissist is not capable of. But we can still have empathy for them and protect ourselves from them to do so.
In conclusion, acknowledging the presence of narcissistic influences in our lives is a reality we must confront. Whether it’s in our interactions or on a broader societal scale, learning to navigate these situations is essential for our mental and emotional health.