Are you frustrated by the selfishness of a narcissist in your daily life?
Do you find yourself always recovering from the damage caused by the chaos they create?
If so, you are not alone.
Years ago, I was struggling with a narcissist boss who created daily chaos in my workplace. My colleagues and I had to share credit with him for all our successes. And whenever there were mistakes, we were on our own.
Questioning his authority or criticizing any of his opinions was out of the question. Those of us who made this mistake received public reprimands. And we suffered for months by his endless thirst for revenge.
Does this sound like someone you know?
The good news is that there are four (4) strategies you can use in dealing with your favorite narcissist. And you can apply these strategies in a way that can benefit everyone involved.
To use these methods with any success, you need to understand more about narcissism.
The bad news is there will be more narcissists appearing in your life. This is because their numbers have been increasing over the past few decades.
Narcissism has risen to the point where some experts are referring to it as a “modern epidemic”.
Narcissism: The science behind the rise of a modern ‘epidemic’ – The subject of narcissism has intrigued people for centuries, but social scientists now claim that it has become a modern “epidemic”.
If you are like me, I was quite aware of certain people around me that were living by a different set of rules. But I didn’t realize these people were narcissists. I understood that they expected me to live by a certain code that — for some reason — didn’t seem to apply to them.
After learning about narcissism, I applied this interpretation to certain people around me. This is not as insensitive as it sounds — it is a caring response.
When you realize that you’re dealing with a narcissist, you can begin understanding their plight. And with this new understanding, you can interact with them at a deeper level if you choose.
What Is Narcissism Exactly
Narcissism defines a person who has an inflated sense of self. They have a grandiose view of self-importance along with a lack of empathy for others.
The narcissist has a constant need for admiration. And they do not handle criticism very well. They tend to also have very high levels of entitlement.
Like every other human characteristic, narcissism exists throughout all societal groups. And so we develop a variety of relationships with narcissists from those groups. Some of them are colleagues, bosses, rivals, friends, and even beloved family members.
We cannot ignore two things about narcissists. The first is that we are interacting with them in a variety of situations. And their numbers are growing more and more every year.
Doesn’t it make sense to learn how to deal with them?
Where Do Narcissists Come From Anyway?
Like most mental conditions, the first question becomes whether a person is born with it, or if it’s the result of their environment. In other words, did they have a choice of becoming a narcissist?
Experts tell us that narcissism comes straight from our environment. It is not something that people are “born with”.
Are Narcissists Born or Made? – Science seems to have a clear answer to this question: narcissists are made. Decades ago, researchers started to suspect that children’s upbringing and their social context played an important role in the narcissistic personality.
Every one of us grows up in a unique setting. Some of us grow up with lots of struggles, while some of us don’t. Struggles often come from circumstances that we have very little control over.
For the most part, narcissists are not created from struggles. They aren’t created by uncontrollable factors either.
They are usually the result of how others have treated them. So narcissism becomes a coping tool for them.
Let’s examine the five (5) major causes of narcissism in our society today.
Abuse causes many dysfunctional conditions in our society today. But abuse is not as common as you might think among narcissists.
When abuse is the major cause, it becomes a very complex condition. This is because narcissism is usually created by severe levels of abuse. It occurs when someone refuses to ever become a victim of another person again.
Abuse tends to create narcissists that have a very inflated self-image. Psychologists refer to these cases as “exaggerated forms of narcissism”.
When we have feelings of neglect, we tend to feel vulnerable and unprotected. But when children feel vulnerable, they build walls around themselves for protection. The walls they build is narcissism.
Neglect creates narcissists that are terrified of being rejected by other people. And it is also quite common for them to have deep feelings of shame because of how they have ordered their lives.
3) Parental Inconsistency
Children feel most secure in stable environments that are both consistent and reliable. Whenever disruptions threaten this stability, children begin feeling insecure.
Parental inconsistency has a powerful negative impact on our kids. We forget how much they rely on guidance and leadership from their Moms and Dads.
Here are some examples of parental inconsistency:
- Establishing rules that the parents do not follow
- Establishing rules that parents do not enforce
- Parents who contradict themselves
- Parents setting a different set of rules for each child
- Erratic behavior from parents
Narcissism occurs whenever parental inconsistency causes high levels of anguish.
4) Empty Praise and Gifts
We see many parents showering their kids with false praise and undeserved gifts. This occurs because parents feel guilty about how they have treated their children.
Often, these parents feel that they haven’t spent enough time with their children. And in most cases, this is exactly what has happened. On average, parents are spending less and less time with their children. And this fact establishes the basis of their guilt.
The false praise and gifts show the world how much these guilty parents love their children. But when rewards are not deserved, the child has an idealized image of themselves. And another narcissist is born.
We have all seen overprotective parents at work.
Did you know that over-protection is a form of abuse?
This is because over-protection sends a signal of anxiety and fear of children. It makes them feel as if they are incapable of dealing with the hardships of life. And it also makes a child feel like they have something special that requires special care.
These factors lead to both insecurity and narcissism. It is common for the overprotected narcissist to withdraw into their bubble. They only feel loved when someone protects them and caters to their every need.
The Progression of Narcissism
Narcissists are the result of how others have treated them throughout their lives. In most cases, it is a direct result of how their parents treated them.
We must realize that these parents are usually suffering from narcissism themselves. And the parents before them were also narcissists and so forth.
Parents try to resolve their issues through the lives of their children. While parents may not want their children to suffer as they have, the opposite usually occurs.
It is only self-awareness that can break this narcissistic cycle across a family tree. Someone must allow their child to experience life without narcissist influences.
4 Ways that Narcissists Attempt to Control Others
If you have dealt with narcissists, then you already know that they like to use one major tool — and that is chaos. When narcissists feel that they are losing control, they resort to creating chaos.
We must realize this behavior is not usually a conscious decision made by the narcissist. It is part of their instinctive response to losing control. At the very least, chaos will take control away from everyone else — in order words, “if I can’t have control, then no one can!”
Let us look at 4 common ways that narcissists manipulate and control others.
1) Instigate Arguments
Have you ever heard the term of “baiting” someone into an argument?
This is where someone provokes another person into an emotional reaction. Narcissists use this trick to shift blame and to make themselves the center of attention.
Narcissists love to create circular conversations by injecting irrelevant issues that go nowhere. This lets them re-assign blame, and invalidate the emotions of others.
They want you to become emotional to separate you from the supporting facts and examples. When you dare to point out their shortcomings, they will turn the blame on you for making such a comment.
Narcissists justify their attacks on you but don’t believe you have the right to attack them.
2) Use Division
One common tactic often used by narcissists is division. This is the act of pitting two people against one another. Narcissists do this by appealing to the emotional needs of the two victims.
The narcissist starts this division in a variety of ways. They often share confidential information that is hurtful and damaging. These betrayals can lead to turbulence among colleagues, friends, and family members.
The ideal scenario for the narcissist is to have two or more people for the approval of the narcissist.
3) Sabotaging Special Events or Occasions
It is amazing how many narcissists have emotional outbursts during special occasions. When you think about it, this behavior is very predictable.
Special occasions threaten narcissists because they are not the center of attention. One person sucks up all the attention during birthdays and graduations. And narcissists cannot control holiday gatherings because there are too many people.
It is almost predictable for narcissists to disrupt these events in one way or another. Not to mention that large gatherings are the perfect time to pit people against one another.
4) Playing the Victim and/or the Hero
Generally speaking, the creation of chaos provides two opportunities for the narcissist.
To begin with, chaos provides the opportunity to twist the narrative and make them the victim. They make claims of how they have suffered in the hopes of gaining sympathy from others.
Next, they have the opportunity to resolve the chaos — that they created — and become the hero. They hope that they will gain admiration from others that they feel they deserve.
Both of these scenarios achieve one important goal. They make the narcissist the center of attention.
4 Ways of Defending Yourself from Narcissist Attacks
One thing I learned from dealing with narcissists around me was that I was no match for them. They are too skilled at shifting talking points, diverting attention, and manipulating conversations.
You have to realize that narcissists have practiced this skill their entire lives.
But there are some very effective ways that you can defend yourself. Here are 4 ways that you can protect yourself from the attacks of narcissists.
1) Stay Composed
You must remain composed when debating with a narcissist. Never forget that their nuclear weapon is to trigger an emotional response from you.
Expect the emotional fireworks to start when you start using facts and reality. Be prepared for insults when that’s the only weapon they have left.
If narcissists know where your emotional buttons are, they will push them. Many of them will say the most hurtful things imaginable when they feel backed into a corner.
If you take the bait and lose your cool, they have you exactly where they want you.
2) Cling to Facts
Facts are the best way to cut through the cloud of illusion created by the narcissist. It is hard to argue against information that no one can dispute. Everything else is speculation and opinion.
Using hypotheticals is a method that narcissists use to change the rules. Be wary of getting lured into these kinds of debates. What started as a calm discussion can turn into a street fight.
3) Set Boundaries
It is critical to establish defined boundaries when dealing with narcissists. And you must defend your boundary at all costs.
You need to ensure that your boundary is both understood and acknowledged beforehand. Do not set yourself up for the “I didn’t know” rebuttal.
4) Agree to Disagree
It is a good idea to accept the “agree to disagree” outcome in advance. You have to understand that narcissists are very slow to admit being wrong.
They may not back down from their position even in the presence of hard facts. Agreeing to disagree does not betray your stance, it does the opposite.
Remember that your goal in dealing with a narcissist is to not get manipulated by them.
Don’t Forget About Their Plight
Even though they aggravate and annoy us, we cannot lose sight of why narcissists exist in the first place. Deep down they are very insecure and need lots of reassurance.
Whenever we prove them wrong or call them out in front of others, it is hurtful for them. The closer we get to that shell they have built around themselves, the more savagely they will lash out. They will protect their insecurities at all costs.
Yes, I can hear what you are saying. Why should we worry about proving them wrong or calling them out? They do it to everyone else without hesitation.
This is true, but if we have to deal with them, we shouldn’t understand how they think? That’s why they are narcissists.