Dealing with a narcissist can be a frustrating and stressful experience, but there are strategies that can help. It is not uncommon to have an experience or run into someone who believes that they are the best and can do no wrong. Some of these people expect everyone to immediately love them or want to be like them and may end up reacting poorly if you do not show such adoration. Others will seem to have an inflated sense of self-esteem or self-importance and not recognize the way their own behavior impacts those around them and interferes with healthy relationships.
All of these are examples of how someone may exhibit narcissistic characteristics or narcissistic tendencies, which may be a symptom of narcissistic personality disorder or may just be the way a person behaves. Many people around the world are dealing with a narcissist daily, whether it be a narcissistic family member or a romantic partner.
Living with and dealing with a narcissist daily can wreak havoc on one’s mental health and can lead to domestic violence and immediate danger. learning how to deal with a narcissist effectively can help a person feel more confident and understanding in their relationship while also protecting their emotional and mental well-being.
This article will outline some tips and ideas for how to deal with a narcissist, as well as discuss narcissistic personality disorder and common narcissistic personality traits. We understand that not everyone can leave or confront the behavior safely, so it can be helpful to understand some possible ways to handle dealing with a narcissist when the relationship must continue. The goal of this article is to identify possible narcissistic tendencies and find ways to deal with them without sacrificing your own mental health.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder and the Spectrum of Narcissism
Narcissists tend to exist in a spectrum. While some people merely exhibit one or two narcissistic characteristics, others will have a diagnosis from a mental health professional of narcissistic personality disorder or other conditions. Narcissism is an aspect of a person’s personality and can have a slight or catastrophic impact on the person’s well-being and mental health. Narcissism is most commonly portrayed as a selfish, vain person, and while this can be true, narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder expand far beyond vanity and self-importance.
Narcissistic personality disorder is one of the personality disorders that many people around the world deal with. To be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, or NPD, a person must be so self-centered to the point that they are incapable of feeling empathy or compassion for others around them. Life exists as a way to gain attention and accolades, and even the slightest criticism can cause a person with narcissistic personality disorder to lash out. Several other key narcissistic characteristics will be discussed later on.
Narcissistic personality disorder, or pathological narcissism, can only be diagnosed and treated by a mental health professional or a licensed psychologist. There are several diagnostic and clinical challenges because many narcissists can control their narcissistic behavior in a way that manipulates and skews the results of any diagnostic test. However, mental health professionals are trained in overcoming any manipulation to create a proper diagnosis, even for a covert narcissist.
Common Narcissistic Traits
Besides having a diagnosis of NPD, several traits are common for narcissists or those with narcissistic tendencies will exhibit. These are warning signs that someone may be a narcissist and that those in a relationship with them may need to reevaluate how they interact with their narcissistic family member.
Lack of Empathy
Probably one of the most common narcissistic traits is the lack of empathy that a narcissist will exhibit. Empathy is the ability to recognize the emotions of those around you and understand why those emotions are important. A person with empathy can provide emotional support to the people around them. Narcissists lack empathy, meaning they have little regard for the emotions of those around them and do not experience the need to extend compassion.
This often comes from the act of dehumanizing others and focusing on their own needs over those of others. Additionally, they will not be able to apologize well and will place blame on others rather than extending care for certain behaviors.
Obsession with Their Own Importance
Narcissists are marked by an obsession with themselves and their own importance. This means that they see themselves as worthy of constant praise and admiration. This leads them to expect such treatment and feel confused if they are unable to achieve this praise. They are filled with self-esteem to the point that they do not see flaws in themselves and exaggerate the flaws they see in others.
Because narcissists will dehumanize people, the interactions that they have with other people will be more transactional than real relationships. This means that they see other people in terms of what they can provide for them rather than how they can mutually care for and respect each other. This also means that a narcissist will often discard relationships once they have served a purpose or have wronged them as they see it. This can lead to toxic behavior and narcissistic abuse if left unchecked.
Expect More than What You Can Give
In combination with viewing people as a transaction, another common narcissistic trait is the tendency to assign unrealistic expectations to those in their lives. They will often expect everyone around them to love them immediately and may feel entitled to special treatment. They may also expect the people around them to behave in a way that is unreasonable given the circumstances or relationship.
Appearances are the Most Important
Because narcissists are fed by the admiration and adoration that they receive, they will hold appearances in high regard and will seek to uphold their appearance at any cost. This means that anything that threatens their appearance will be discarded, and this can include people. They will often seek out jobs that make them feel smart or important.
Gaslighting is another one of the narcissistic traits. To gaslight means to insist that a person is not seeing reality and convincing them of the reality that one has created. This will often tie into convincing the person that they are gaslighting that the narcissist dealing with the reality is important or deserves adoration. It can also be a manipulative tactic. This is abusive behavior when it is done repeatedly to the point of harm.
Fails to Take Criticism
Narcissistic personality traits will often include a poor reaction to criticism or negative feedback. Because they often see themselves as the best, they will fail to see that they could have participated in harmful behaviors or failed to complete a task successfully.
Narcissistic tendencies will often find themselves rooted in jealousy. This is common when a narcissist is not receiving the constant attention that they believe they deserve and they see others receiving that praise. This can cause unhappiness, even when a narcissist is done well.
Specifically in relationships where domestic violence and narcissistic abuse are present, a narcissist will be overbearing. This may look like blaming the family member for everything that goes wrong, monitoring everything that you do or say to others, and controlling any interactions they have with others. This can also include isolating you from a family member or more who is attempting to help you cope.
Tips for Dealing with a Narcissistic Person
For many people. the immediate reaction when confronted with narcissistic personality traits is to leave. However, this is not always possible for everyone. Some people may have to deal with a narcissistic family member daily for a variety of reasons, such as limited income or mobility to move out, the need for care and support, or a lack of knowledge on the subject. If you are dealing with a narcissist or a narcissistic family member, these tips may help provide relief and direction when encountering their actions.
Control Your Emotions
One of the basic, but often most difficult tips for dealing with a narcissist is to remain calm and try to keep control over your emotions. A narcissist thrives when they are confronted with strong emotions, often because it feeds the need for constant attention that they crave because even bad attention is attention. By avoiding their attempts at deflection and emotion, a narcissist will often be forced to return to the present and confront what they need to deal with in front of them.
Try to Avoid Direct Confrontation
Again, because constant attention is the goal, directly confronting a narcissist may cause them to find joy in the same way an emotional reaction will. On the other hand, criticism of any kind is the narcissist’s worst enemy. They have difficulty examining their own behaviors and recognizing when they have harmed someone, which can lead to defensiveness or escalation when confronted.
Set Boundaries and Maintain Them
Setting boundaries can be difficult for those in a relationship with a narcissist, but it can be incredibly helpful to set clear boundaries and keep them. Healthy boundaries allow you to keep your space and determine how and when you interact with the narcissist. This can include setting limits on the tone or words used when communicating, setting aside time to discuss issues that pop up, or refusing to engage with certain topics.
These boundaries must be enforced to affect your relationship, so it is important to have a plan for how you will react if a boundary is crossed. It may mean ending the conversation or walking away immediately if they cross a boundary. It is important to not engage with the attempts to gain your attention back because it could interfere with your ability to remain calm or avoid confrontation.
Value Action over Promises
As the reigning champion of making promises, narcissists will rarely follow through on the promises they make, especially if they feel that they were approached in the wrong manner or are being wrongly asked to confront these issues. To best avoid broken promises, you can encourage the narcissist to take immediate steps. This can include immediately responding to the setting of boundaries by refusing to talk about the topic anymore in the current conversation. This requires the narcissist to respond and excludes any excuses that they may try and bring up.
Avoid Public Humiliation
Finally, due to the sensitivity that narcissists will have to criticism, it is best to avoid public humiliation. This can be anything from seemingly harmlessly correcting them in public to a full confrontation. The less that a narcissist has to deal with feeling criticized in public, the more able to talk about their behaviors and actions they will be.
If you have a relationship where you can gently encourage the narcissist to seek help, peer-reviewed studies, and medical reviewers suggest that this can be incredibly beneficial. If a narcissist can accept help outside of the home, less of the onus is on you, and they will have more tools and options at their disposal to deal with any issues that may arise.
Caring for Your Own Mental Health
In addition to caring for the mental health of a narcissistic family member or other relationship, you need to be proactive about protecting yourself and caring for your own mental health. Narcissistic behavior can have a huge impact on those that have to confront it daily, and acknowledging that it is difficult is a huge step in ensuring that you can deal with a narcissist effectively. It also ensures that you can acknowledge when you need help.
Build Up your Self-Esteem
Narcissists thrive when their partner has low self-esteem. This means that if you struggle with self-consciousness or low self-esteem, you may be a target for their abuse. By focusing on finding ways to create self-worth and loving yourself first, you may be able to respond more favorably and interact with a narcissist more productively. This can be done through regular counseling or a support group that helps you find balance and confidence to assert your needs when necessary.
Establish a Healthy Support System
Identifying and building a healthy support network can be life-changing for those who are dealing with a narcissist daily. By creating a system that is there for you, offers advice, or comforts you when things do not go well, you will be able to continue building up self-esteem and finding new ways to deal with your reality. No one should have to walk through these difficult moments alone. A support system can include family, whether chosen or biological, a support group through local mental health centers, and regular counseling with a mental health professional. This will set you up to deal with your narcissistic family member or coworker with grace and strength which would be difficult to do on your own.
Know When it is Time to Leave
A person should never have to stay in a relationship when they are being mentally or physically abused. If the narcissistic abuse has gone from idle threats to actions and harmful behaviors, it may be time to make a plan to leave. This is often the most dangerous part of a relationship with a narcissist, especially because they will feel as if it is a personal attack or humiliation. This is where a strong support system can be incredibly beneficial to ensure that you can protect yourself as you leave.
Dealing with a narcissist can be exhausting, but knowing your worth and reflecting on what you offer can help you find a way forward, whether with that person or not.
To learn more about narcissism, meditation techniques, and more, contact ADR Times!