A narcissist is a person who thinks everything is about them. Your impressive birthday gift shows how generous they are. The car that cuts you off exemplifies what a good driver they are. If you cook for them, they have a better recipe for that dish. If they require your presence, that takes center stage, even if you are busy. Everything the narcissist thinks, does, and believes is right. This makes you and everyone else wrong every time.
Adjusting to doing things the “right” way doesn’t prevent criticism. Suddenly right and wrong swap sides. Looking up and citing facts is useless as your resources are always “wrong.” Stooping to their level of immaturity creates the very explosion the narcissist ignites for entertainment.
Being with a narcissist can feel hopeless, but don’t give up hope. If you need some tools to help you deal with a narcissist, read on.
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Leave the Relationship
If you aren’t in a close relationship with your narcissist, you can leave at any time. It may be as simple as walking away when you’ve had enough. Or you can end the relationship entirely. This will be difficult as your narcissist has worked constantly on lowering your self-esteem to raise theirs. You may have to turn to a professional counselor, online support group, or blocking them completely to get out.
Sometimes you cannot exit the relationship easily. The narcissist may be an immediate family member, a co-worker, or a part of your circle of friends. In this situation, here’s how to deal with a narcissist:
Limit Your Exposure
Try to only see this person when you absolutely must. When you see them at gatherings, stay physically as far away as possible. Utilize the buddy system and plan with your accomplice to deflect negative statements and behaviors.
Stand Your Ground
A narcissist will do everything in their power to manipulate you. They will use coercion, temper tantrums, and constant pressure until they get their way. When this happens, first ask yourself, “Would this hurt anyone?” If your narcissist believes it will snow in July, they could win America’s Got Talent, or they are next in line for sainthood, who does it hurt? No one. So just go with it. Let go of the need to correct false beliefs. They’ll change tomorrow anyway.
If, however, your narcissist’s beliefs could hurt themselves or others you must stand your ground. Remember the adage that “no” is a complete sentence. Elaborations only give the narcissist talking points to correct. Recruit allies to back up your position. Be prepared to physically leave to end the conversation.
The single most effective tool to use against narcissists is called “gray rocking.” It applies in nearly every conflict they generate. The philosophy is to make yourself as boring as a gray rock. Narcissists love to tickle your triggers and watch you react. Gray rocks don’t give the thrill of a response and simply respond with, “Okay,” if they reply at all. Opinions are unknown to gray rocks. The gray rock answer to every biased question becomes, “I don’t know.” When you are not sharing anything about your life, thoughts, or opinions, there’s no ammunition the narcissist can use against you. This technique is so powerful that many people carry a gray rock in their pocket to remember it.
Most people can name at least one narcissist in their lives. The severity can range from an annoying talker who dominates the conversation to fully diagnosed narcissistic personality disorder. But how do you deal with a narcissist? With these techniques and a strong support system, you can manage this conflict and protect your self-worth. For more resources, contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness at www.NAMI.org