How To Deal With A Narcissist

Dealing with an individual with a narcissistic personality disorder is difficult. Even if someone doesn't have an official diagnosis, they can still have narcissistic traits that can be challenging to any relationship. Whether it's a spouse or a child, it doesn't matter, as the self-absorbed nature of this individual makes it extremely difficult for them to see things through another person's eyes. They may exaggerate their talents, only want to socialize with individuals they perceive to be at the same caliber, make others feel inferior in their presence, and have a high sense of self-worth. The goal is to stay positive and understand their minds don't think the way many others do. True, everyone has some narcissistic tendencies, but narcissists take it to the extreme.

Maintain A Positive Attitude


When someone is putting you down or making you feel inferior, it's hard to keep a positive attitude. Keep reminding yourself a narcissistic brain is not wired correctly. Their high sense of self-worth is not meant to put you down but is typically meant to compensate for their low self-esteem. Ever hear the saying 'There's a fine line between love and hate?' Many narcissists have a poor self-image and puff themselves up by making others feel less than. Maintaining a positive attitude can be downright challenging. You may want to scream, throw things, and show anger. However, it is beneficial to learn to smile and combat their negativity with positive energy.

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Acknowledge Your Feelings


You should never have to walk on eggshells around others. Acknowledge your feelings and stay true to yourself. If you feel sad, let them know what they said to you hurt. If you want to cry, don't be afraid to cry in front of them. They need to register what they did or said was wrong. Just because they have a personality disorder doesn't give them a ticket to treat others however they want. If you cannot get them to see your side at all, it may be beneficial to talk to a therapist. Getting therapy both together and alone can improve your outlook. Your opinions and feelings need to be validated. A therapist can provide techniques to use to combat their negativity toward you and can also help you understand what's going on inside their head. By learning typical behaviors of this personality disorder, you can learn how to let things roll off your back when they are at their worst. Coping skills are always essential for dealing with anyone who has a mental illness.

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Try To Understand Where The Behavior Comes From


It's crucial to try to understand where the behavior comes from to get a deep understanding of the person you love. It's tough to see the person's actions and understand the basis for these actions. It's believed narcissism can originate genetically, from poor parenting, or a reduced area of cortical thickness in the brain. If a parent or other relative is a narcissist, it's entirely possible it can be passed down.

Additionally, if the child was left to their own devices, overpraised as a young one, or had a parent that was never present, their esteem could have suffered. The brain could use these methods as coping skills for the past. Lastly, this condition can be a defect in the cortical area of the brain, which is the section of the brain that causes social and emotional regulation. When there is a deficit, the emotions and social triggers are all out of whack. So the next time you are dealing with a narcissist, and their behavior is array, remember one of these three things could be the reason behind their actions.

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Have A Sense Of Humor When Dealing With One


So we've established there are days when you want to scream and cry because the behaviors of a narcissist can be so difficult to handle. Rather than resorting to a meltdown, why not have a sense of humor when dealing with one of these individuals? Laughter is the best medicine, and you can feel better by just smiling.

Combat negative behaviors with something funny. For instance, if they comment on your clothes, why not disarm them and say you agree, and you are long overdue for a new wardrobe. Tell them you are taking up collections to help purchase these clothes, and you would love it if they could donate to the cause. Instead of arguing with them and allow them to have the last word, make them think they are right, and try to throw a joke in the mix too. When they start spreading negativity and puffing themselves up, deflate their balloon with humor. It helps to have a list of comebacks prepared for when the moment arises.

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Don't Get Sidetracked And Stay True To You


Dealing with any personality disorder or other mental illness, including with narcissists, is a difficult task. You need some positive reinforcements to counteract the bad. While counseling is a good outlet, it helps to add a support group to the mix. The manipulative behaviors your loved one uses have been learned, and it's difficult to unlearn something that has been so ingrained in their brain. Can you get a river to turn and go the other way? A support group, both in person or online, can be the very thing that helps you get to a better place. No matter what happens, don't get sidetracked when dealing with a narcissist and stay true to you.

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Know When to Walk Away


When dealing with a narcissist, it's crucial to know when to walk away. This includes both walking away from conversations and walking away from relationships entirely. It's important not to pour endless time and energy into a relationship that doesn't benefit you and actually turns out to be draining. If a narcissist is demanding too much from you, seeking undue attention, or acting toxic, it's time for the conversation to stop. The more attention and energy you spend on them, the more you validate and give them what they want. Similarly, any relationship you have should be mutually beneficial, whether that relationship is romantic, a friendship, a familial bond, or working with a colleague. In some cases, like with work or family, you may not be able to cut a toxic narcissist out of your life entirely. But you should learn to limit interactions with them and be aware of how much you're getting from the relationship.

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Set Some Boundaries


It's important to set some boundaries when dealing with a narcissist. Don't let the other person cross these boundaries. Setting boundaries can be difficult, especially if the other person doesn't respect them. But they're an essential part of healthy relationships. You need to be able to give a firm 'no.' If need be, sit down with a pen and paper and physically write a list of your boundaries. Boundaries include things you won't do, the amount of time you're willing to spend on any one person per day, the amount of time you're taking for self-care rather than helping others, and the kind of behavior you won't tolerate. Practice saying no when someone crosses these boundaries. If the narcissist attempts to violate your established boundaries, shut them down and remove yourself from the situation. You need to have the ability to say no so you don't end up constantly drained.

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Ask For Action, Not Promises


When dealing with a narcissist, ask for action instead of promises. Narcissists can often be very manipulative and charming, but they also rarely do selfless acts for others. If a narcissist wants to continue benefiting from your relationship, they may promise you things with no intention of delivering. For example, if you ask them to put more work into the relationship, they may apologize and promise they'll do better moving forward. But rather than accept the promise as a sign they're committed to change, make sure they follow through on the action. Tell them to prove themselves through action instead of just apologizing and making promises.

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Don't Focus on Them


Every human being needs attention and connection to thrive. There's nothing wrong with wanting to focus on yourself and have others care about you. Where narcissists run into trouble is with reciprocal attention. They often feel the need to have everyone's attention on them constantly without paying attention to others themselves. These attempts to seek attention may become increasingly more desperate and disruptive if they aren't given an immediate response. The best way to deal with disruptive attention-seeking is by not focusing on it. If they're saying inflammatory things just for a reaction, say, "Okay," and move on without further discussion. If they're interrupting others and trying to derail conversations, ignore them entirely.


    HealthPrep Staff