Three Ways to Maintain Your Self-Preservation When Dealing With a Narcissist

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The damage from narcissistic abuse is insipid and insidious and the emotional harm from it can be traumatizing. However, do not think for one second that you are defenseless or powerless to narcissists.

Narcissists are energy vampires. They cannot generate their own power or energy. In fact, they in themselves are powerless.

We fear them because we believe we are powerless and defenseless to them. However, what we fear in reality is not really dangerous. Our perception of danger has been skewed in large part from past harmful or traumatic experiences. We fear narcissists because of what abusers did to us as children when we were vulnerable to them and felt powerless to them. We learned to readily give up our personal power and energy to narcissists and other abusers who trigger our pain and the accompanying false belief of powerlessness.

WHY UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN HARM, FEAR AND REAL DANGER ARE FUNDAMENTAL TO OUR HEALING AND WELL-BEING

Narcissists, in reality, however, while aggressive and revengeful, are weak and predictable. This works to your favor since this makes them vulnerable. In fact, they are very easy to manipulate.

CAN NARCISSISM BE CURED?

“Really,” you may be thinking, “how can that be?”

Because in reality, narcissists push the same pain buttons our abusers did when we were children when we were powerless to them. We bring these same fears and beliefs into adulthood. As adults, we overestimate the danger and underestimate our ability to deal with it when, if we were able to look at it rationally, we would see very clearly that we are no longer powerless to these annoying creeps. Read more here.

So our fear of them is really false? The answer is an unequivocal, “Yes!”

We can learn, with practice, to deal with narcissists easily and effectively and not be vulnerable to them or fear them. Once you are able to see them and understand them for who they really are and break through the dysfunctional illusion and heal, you will see they are really more like annoying buzzing insects or whining man and woman babies – bothersome, boring, and predictable.

Here are 3 tips to maintain your self-preservation when dealing with them:

screen-shot-2016-12-20-at-4-07-22-pmBecome a “Gray Rock.” Do not give them any attention, positive or negative. Like this meme states, gray rocks do not attract attention and blend in with the scenery and you can do the same to make yourself less appealing to a narcissist.

If you do not give them your energy, they will go away. They need narcissistic supply to survive. Without it, they cannot live. Practice not reacting to anything they say or do or even thinking about them.

Read more on the “Gray Rock Method.”

Say to yourself over and over and practice:

  • I am authentic and powerful in my silence.
  • I am indestructable.
  • I show no emotion.
  • I cannot be triggered.
  • I offer no supply.
  • I am invincible.
  • I am not powerless to anything that triggers me.
  • I am not defenseless to anything that triggers me.
  • I am silent.
  • I am not angry.
  • I am boring.
  • I give no clue as to what is going on with me.

Read more on how to minimize their toxicity here.

Turn the fear triggers into annoyance triggers.

Small mosquitoWatch them and map out what you expect them to do and when. You may find it useful to write down each action and how they make you feel. Plan what you will do when the narcissist responds as you predicted. This will help to remove the severity and seriousness from the situation by showing how weak and predictable, yet annoying, they really are, like mosquitoes. It will also make you more mindful and aware of your real power. Taking action (including saying “no”) will help you reset your internal fear threshold and provide you the self power (e.g. narc repellent) to regulate your emotions before they escalate and the confidence in your ability to protect your personal boundaries. Your confidence, self-esteem, and self-confidence will soar!

Read more on how to minimize their toxicity here.

For reasons of self-preservation (not revenge), learning to manipulate them may be your best option.

Now, I DO NOT recommend this at all to anyone who is in early stages of healing. In addition, it takes time and energy and practice, and frankly, good acting skills to learn how to do this.

th-16So when you are ready and have a legitimate need to benefit, you can learn pretty easily to manipulate them by giving the appearance you are giving up your energy. You can make them think they are manipulating you. Again, I am not promoting deceit for revenge. Rather, I am promoting self-preservation.

Read more on how to manipulate a narcissist here.

I, very far along in my healing, deal with narcissists and other boundary violators like manipulators and covert aggressors and passive aggressive people all the time. I do not fear them because I know how they tick and I no longer believe I am defenseless to them. I no longer fear them because I took my power back and healed and I know how to manage them. For example, I choose to voluntarily interact with them only if I benefit. I always make sure I benefit in some way because I know that they always are using me for something. It is just who they are and it is just what they do. I view it neutrally and not with any fear or emotional investment. If I do not benefit, I do not interact with them or I give up no energy. I just shut down and say nothing. I bank on the fact that they will come back again to “win” just like they bank on others’ vulnerabilities. If and when they come back, I just follow the same rule. If I do not benefit, I do not interact and give up no energy to the interaction.

Narcissists are aggressive and potentially dangerous and can only harm you if you fear them and allow them to do harm to you. In reality, they cannot generate their own power and need yours to survive. This is why they aggressively pursue you. This is behavior they learned in their dysfunctional families. They bank on our weaknesses and only target the emotionally vulnerable, kind, empathetic, generous, conscientious, and trusting people. You can use this information to your benefit and work the interaction with them to your favor.

Read more on how to manipulate a narcissist here.

But make no mistake and do not let your guard down. A narcissist always uses another person for something they need. They are aggressive parasites. Every interaction with them is parasitic. Accept that. It is not because they like you or love you or even hate you. They need you for narcissistic supply and actively go after it. They are predictable and weak and can be managed. They, however, cannot be cured.

Codependency Does Not Cause Abuse

th-27I’d like to clarify what I think is a huge misperception on codependency, healing, victimhood, and sources of emotional pain.

Abusers find us. We do not find them and we do not deserve disrespectful, abusive, damaging treatment. There is not something wrong with us that makes us deserving of abuse or pain. Abusers abuse us because we think like victims and unknowingly give up our power to them.

Codependency tendencies and what author and therapist Ross Rosenberg now more accurately describes as “Self-Love Deficit” do not cause abuse. Codependency is a consequence of abuse because abuse mucks with our self-esteem and feelings of self-power. We learn to not trust our own selves for validation of our worth and instead turn externally to others to define us and decide what is acceptable in us. Codependency is a learned maladaptive coping mechanism that replaces what should be internal motivating behavioral controls and emotions we rely on and trust to keep us safe.

“Codependency is traced to the first five years of life from being exposed to emotional manipulators.” Listen to Ross Rosenberg’s eloquent explanations to the root causes to our vulnerabilities to abusers here.

We develop codependency in power imbalanced dysfunctional families where we learn to be dependent on others (we perceive as more powerful but who are not) rather than our own selves to define our self-worth and to validate us and as a coping mechanism to not being loved unconditionally. This has profound consequences on our emotional development! We can become notorious boundary violators ourselves! We were taught to maladapt…to adapt in the wrong way. We develop skewed beliefs about our lovability and our self-worth and where to source them from.

And as we get older, we become vulnerable to abusers or narcissists or psychopaths or bullies who are experts on homing in on our vulnerabilities and who target us! They find us and target us because this is just what they do. It is what they need to do to cope and survive. They are wired to aggressively go after others’ power because they cannot generate their own energy because they are disordered! So we become dependent on these creeps who manipulate us and do not have our best interests at heart and stay with them and feel defenseless to them because we are pain addicted and suffer from traumatic stress and chronic shame and feelings of powerlessness. We falsely believe that abusers and emotional manipulators have more power than we do to control our pain.

LEARN MORE ON HOW ABUSE SURVIVORS CAN BECOME NOTORIOUS BOUNDARY VIOLATORS!

As narcissistic abuse recovery expert Kim Saeed tells us, someone with codependency tendencies can lose sight of their own lives in the commotion of tending to someone else’s, which makes them prime targets for narcissists. In abusive relationships, they can end up loving someone who is unrestrained and they find themselves being more accountable for the actions of that person than the person is taking for themselves.

th-28So we are not the cause of our abuse because we are emotionally dependent on others. If you believe this, get this out of your heads. If you believe this, shift your thinking now because this will cause you needlessly to take on extra blame and shame that will keep you from healing. You were victimized and preyed on by emotional vampires who hunted for you and targeted you because you are vulnerable, plain and simple and they feed off of your energy. You did not ask for, are not responsible for, and do not deserve abuse or emotional pain!

An emotionally  healthy loving partner would remind you of your value and worth, support your self-assuredness, and not want you to be dependent on them. Emotional manipulators, on the other hand, victimize us. Once we deal with our vulnerabilities and heal our wounds and do self-esteem work we can make huge strides towards no longer being targets and no longer feeling powerless to these creeps and not being dependent on anyone except our own selves to define our self-worth.

There is another very important and not so obvious lesson here related to codependency and personal boundaries. Codependents can become boundary violators themselves to source from others what they need to define their worth. Read more on the importance of protecting personal boundaries here.
Kim Saeed cautions that our biggest challenge is learning to use our compassion responsibly and learning to care and help others without falling into codependent behaviors where we use others to define us, self-sooth, and cover our own dysfunctions and, in the process, enable theirs. We disempower ourselves and the person when we try to fix, solve, or make the consequences go away. We discredit and diminish our own selves when we redirect our personal power from ourselves to rescue others who do not have our best interests at heart.

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The challenge is to support people along their journey without getting emotionally vested and entangled in “fixing” or “solving” their problems for them, or covering up for them. When you do, you will have acted with true compassion for yourself and others while honoring your own and other’s personal rights, authorities, and divinity.

Am I The Narcissist?

Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

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I hear frequently from readers who fear they are the narcissist and the one with the personality disorder.

My answer?

“Absolutely not!”

This distorted thinking is a consequence of prolonged abuse that started in childhood and its traumatic impacts on your beliefs, self-worth, self-assurance, gauges of reasoning, and your abilities to trust and regulate your emotions.

The fact that you would even be concerned about this, demonstrates that your emotional capabilities although skewed, are intact.

Prolonged narcissistic abuse is slick invalidation from emotional vampires – carefully planned and premeditated efforts to stealthily through covert aggressive combat maneuvers, take everything valuable that you have to offer (your love, trust, compassion, beauty, generosity, child-bearing abilities, finances, or whatever) that they can manipulate from you to provide an illusion of grandeur and greatness to the world without any of the work.

When we do, we give up our power and energy that per our divine design at conception, were intended to be used by and for us to nurture our souls and become the best versions of ourselves as we search for internal truth – truth that we choose to share with others in relationships of mutual respect.

So, “no” you are not a narcissist. You, however, are a wounded victim of one or more who steal energy from you they cannot generate on their own. And perhaps you picked up some of their bad behaviors that will pass once you are away from them.

The good news is that you can fix your skewed thinking and heal and as you do, so will your children and you will thrive. You will make memories and people will love you just for being you. You will release the pain that made you vulnerable to them in the first place and become a stronger more self-assured version of yourself.

th-14You will take your power back and thrive. I explore these topics in much more depth in my book, Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips, and Tools for Abuse Survivors.

Narcissists will be forever evil and when they are done and gone, the only person anyone will miss is the one they will never be.

Read more below on the topic from one of my favorite Facebook Pages of “Truth,” “Sanctuary for Awareness and Recovery:”

Sanctuary For Awareness And Recovery

Paradox with several Personality Disorders and mental illnesses: since the ego and perception are both affected, it is common for those with some PD’s and mental illnesses with Narcissistic traits to actually perceive those they are treating poorly as the ones who are Narcissistic, because of their reactions to their behavior, or because they have healthy confidence and boundaries.

The root cause is usually a lack of boundaries, and a lack of respect or awareness for other people’s boundaries.

So the person who insults your teeth might call you “narcissistic” if you don’t just LET them insult your teeth. Apparently you were supposed to agree with them or hang your head in shame, not stand up for yourself against a blatant insult. So therefore in their mind the insult was perfectly fine, it was your reaction to the insult that was “narcissistic.”

Another example of this may be when someone enters your home or room without knocking or without waiting for an answer when this has not been established as the “norm” for them in your home or room, in other words you have NOT told them to “don’t knock, just come in.” They’re already showing a lack of boundaries with this behavior, so one shouldn’t be surprised that they react very defensively and emotionally when asked not to do that.

Saying and doing things that display hostility, arrogance, coldness, aggression, superiority or hatred are blatant displays of poor or absent boundaries, so when such a person’s behavior is confronted, disagreed with, or disapproved of, (speaking in a respectful manner that is), they are most likely going to react defensively and perceive it as arrogance, control, or an attack, and if they have some level of narcissism they may rage.

8 Effective Ways to Outsmart a Narcissist

Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

If you are or have been in a relationship th-16with a narcissist or were raised by or among one or more, you have been traumatized by and suffered what I believe is the worst psychological and emotional abuse imaginable. The harm is immeasurable and can go on for years.

You will read over and over and over again how “no contact” is critical to your healing from the trauma and for you rebuild your destroyed self-esteem and self-worth and, for some, your broken bank accounts.

And I agree…totally. Fortunately, some of mine (yes, a herd) live far away and make it a bit easier for me.

But what about the one or ones who are not far away? What about those you have to see on a periodic or more frequent basis? What about those we must be around or those we work with and see or speak with daily or every other day or even weekly? What about those we may be in court with, at graduation, a school ceremony, or maybe even a wedding?

How do we manage those interactions? How do we make them tolerable? Should we?

I remembered at the beginning of my healing even after years of study wondering (I analyze all the time), “Can you have a workable relationship with a narcissist?”

The answer is an unequivocal, YES.

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Sam Vaknin, a pathological narcissist amongst other things, and a renowned expert on narcissism, stated that you could if you learned how to manipulate him or her or them. If Sam, a self proclaimed narcissist and expert whom I respect very much said so then it must be so. After all, I have a professional relationship with Sam. Since Sam is brilliant, extremely analytical and detailed, and based on my reading thousands of pages he (and others) have written on pathological narcissism, I can only surmise he does not know exactly how. Sam does provide excellent pointers (with a narcissist’s bias) on how to deal with them but did not provide specific “how” to tips. After all, how often would a narcissist manipulate another narcissist, right? It is possible but not probable.

So I embarked on my own mission to figure out “how do I outsmart a narcissist” and here is what I discovered:

“Use them to your advantage as they use you.”

Let’s break this down a bit further.

If narcissists need adulation and attention and feed off of our energy and we know what makes them tick, why not give them what they need in selective and effective doses if and only if it benefits you or your children.

Give them a dose of their own medicine with a spoonful of sugar!

The key here is only if it benefits you and only if you are comfortable and secure in your sense of personal power.

Small mosquitoAnd if you are, then, use your compassion and emotional intelligence that made you a target of a narcissist now to manipulate them as they did us and to balance out the power, to level the playing field, per se. Use your regained personal power to tip the scales in your favor and to turn the parasite host relationship into a mutually beneficial one and one that will minimize and prevent further harm to you and your children.

th-17Oh, the narcissist will make all attempts to take something from you, no doubt. They need to in order to survive. It is their given purpose like it is a mosquito’s purpose to buzz around and annoy you. So the goal here is to minimize the harm to you and your children using psychological narc repellant.

One thing for sure, you cannot accomplish this goal by seeking revenge on them or trying to ruin him or her or his or her reputation.

I would like to caution everyone that doing this is not advisable and probably not going to be very effective in your early stages of healing when your self-power and self-esteem are diminished and no contact is absolutely necessary to ensure your well-being. This also takes strong self-resolve, focus, and discipline and good “acting” skills. While these are honed over time, you can, nevertheless, start learning and practicing them immediately. At this point strong advocacy by someone experienced in narcissism and
narcissistic abuse recovery may be warranted and can be very useful to take some of the burden off of you, minimize your contact with the narcissist, and allow you to focus on
your healing. Remember, we should never participate in an interaction that will put us or our children in harm’s way. Seek police or legal or professional action for protection immediately.

So here are eight quick and effective strategies you can use to manipulate a narcissist and help minimize the harm they inflict on you. Note, however, that the narcissists benefit as well. These suggestions are mutually beneficially and are designed to balance power and minimize and prevent further harm to you and your children. That is the key objective here.

  1. Be strategic, not revengeful.th-14

Establish clear goals with the strongest emphasis on your long term vision of emotional freedom and health rather than short term material gains, revenge, and ego satisfaction. Money and material possessions are not an indicator of success or healthy self-esteem and can be regained and earned quicker that your emotional health can heal. Money can be a powerful motivator in the interim but may do more harm longer term if it keeps you trapped and emotionally unhealthy and suffering. Be clear that your motives during “required” interactions be based solely on what benefits you and your children and supports your emotional healing into the future.

images-3Narcissists are aggressive but very predictable and you can use this to develop offensive strategies to achieve your goals and minimize harm from them. Your choice of divorce or to stop providing narcissistic supply will instill his or her wrath and they will fight to the death to win and defend their fear of shame from you exposing the truth about who they really are to those who know them and even those who do not in the courtroom. So he or she will not hesitate to destroy you and your reputation and lie about you and recruit his flying monkeys to lie about you in court. Expect this and be prepared. Stay calm and focused on long-term emotional freedom and your children’s well-being, not short term self-satisfaction and retaliation.

Retaliation and benefit are not synonymous. Do not seek revenge or ever “go after” a narcissist, or anyone for that matter. Narcissists are energy vampires and feed off of your negative energies which keeps them on the offensive and in combat mode to defeat you. Going after them can keep you stuck, as well, in reactive victimhood mentality mode that feeds your ego-based need for revenge and retaliation rather than your long-term emotional freedom and health. Revenge, in effect, directs your feeling of powerlessness to your abuser and transfers your power to him or her, power they continue to use against you and your children. The best type of revenge is your and your children’s personal and emotional healing. As you heal, your children will heal through you.

  1. Use your compassion and emotional intelligence to your advantage.

Play off a narcissist’s predictable and (yawn), yes, boring, reactions and moods. Use this knowledge to fuel your strength and develop offensive strategies. You know them better than they know themselves. Gauge their moods and meter your actions accordingly. Be careful not to overdo it. Act commensurate with what you want to achieve. Be creative. Think out of the box.

Rather than trigger their fears and aggressive offensive actions, focus on creating an illusion that the narcissist is winning. If he aggressively goes after you, do not react aggressively. Remain calm and be soothing instead. Choose your battles carefully and be willing to lose a battle to win the war. If he or she wants the furniture, for example, keep a few pieces for yourself and not only give them the rest, tell them they deserve it. No harm done, you have fed their depraved need to win, and increased the chances they will back off and moved closer to the finish line. In the mean time, make a plan to redecorate and buy that awesome furniture you want and deserve.

  1. Only interact with them on days that things are going their way.

This is when they are the most malleable. Otherwise have no contact with them. Remember that you will always be their narcissistic supply and on their off days, they will shadow their wrath on you like they did in the past. The objective is to take actions that benefit you, not cause you further harm and that keep you on the healing track with your eye on the finish line, your emotional freedom.

  1. Avoid a battle including court at all costs.

Don’t do just what your attorney or friend tells you to do to maximize your partner’s losses for your or their personal gain and to get even. Never take punitive actions or actions that “appear” punitive. Narcissists are predictable but complex and hate to lose and to be challenged, ashamed, exposed, or criticized and will fight to the death to avoid any. Never ever ever let them see you sweat or show emotions that they can construe to the court as your emotional imbalance and inability to be an effective parent. Play nice in the sand box to tip the scales in your favor. Remember your goal and keep your eye on the prize. Be creative.

A gutsy friend told her ex that legally having joint custody would be a burden on him that he did not deserve and that he could see his son whenever he wanted. This was true and she ended up with full legal custody which was in her son’s best interest. She never prevented him from seeing him which turned out to be a few visits anyway and he backed off since he perceived he had already won the battle.

  1. th-15Give something up periodically to provide an illusion that the narcissist won rather
    than challenge them to provide a strategic upper hand.

Narcissists have aggressive personalities and have to win at all costs. If they lose, you must lose. If they win, you must lose.

But you can make the situation appear as if only he won when in reality it is a “win-win” by using strategic tactics. I know people who waived hundreds of thousands of dollars of child support since money was the narcissist’s sore spot and would keep them connected to something they needed to move away from. This leveled the playing field and minimized the conflict to them and their children. The narcissists backed off. They took action that supported their goal for emotional freedom rather than revenge or personal gain. Remember to be able to see the forest through the trees you have to keep looking for and seeking the forest. Remember to keep your eye on the finish line.

  1. Pay them compliments or give them a present.

This will feed their need for attention and adulation. Even if you are in divorce or custody proceedings, they will never pass up on a compliment that they were the best at this or that. Tell them they look great, are an expert, are the smartest or whatever pushes their egotistic buttons. Be creative. Perhaps, even cook them their favorite meal or cookies. Remember that while you may believe some of this, you are insincerely paying compliments. Do this sporadically and intermittently only if you need to. Remember the elemental word here is your self-benefit not your self-sacrifice.

  1. Agree with them even if you don’t.

This “appearance” will feed their need to be right and to win. You will know the truth but he or she won’t and it won’t matter. If your conscience makes it hard for you to actively agree, then respond neutrally such as “Geeze, that is interesting. I never heard it put that way before.” Or just nod and say “ohhhh” or “I get it.”

  1. Apologize if you feel you have to in order to get what you want even if you don’t have any remorse.

Even better, tell them you made a mistake and should have listened to them. Again, this  “appearance” will play up on their need to diminish and denigrate and their need for adulation and to win.

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I hope you find these tips useful.

Remember:

You are not powerless to these creeps and can use your compassion and emotional intelligence that made you a target of a narcissist to turn a harmful power imbalanced relationship into a more power-balanced one that minimizes and prevents further harm to you and your children.