10 Tips for Dealing with a Narcissistic Personality

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We tend to use the word narcissist to describe a person who’s self-centered and short on empathy. But it’s important to remember that narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a legitimate mental health condition that requires diagnosis by a mental health professional.

Still, people can exhibit some narcissistic characteristics without having NPD. These might include:

  • having an inflated sense of self
  • needing constant praise
  • taking advantage of others
  • not recognizing or caring about the needs of others

To make things more complicated, people with NPD or narcissistic tendencies are often very sensitive to criticism, despite their high self-esteem.

Here’s a look at some practical ways to deal with someone who has NPD or narcissistic tendencies — plus some tips for recognizing when it’s time to move on.

1. See them for who they really are

When they want to, those with narcissistic personalities are pretty good at turning on the charm. You might find yourself drawn to their grand ideas and promises. This can also make them particularly popular in work settings.

But before you get drawn in, watch how they treat people when they’re not “on stage.” If you catch them lying, manipulating, or blatantly disrespecting others, there’s no reason to believe they won’t do the same to you.

Despite what someone with a narcissistic personality may say, your wants and needs are likely unimportant to them. And if you try to bring up this issue, you may be met with resistance.

The first step in dealing with someone who has a narcissistic personality is simply accepting that this is who they are — there’s not much you can do to change that.

2. Break the spell and stop focusing on them

When there’s a narcissistic personality in your orbit, attention seems to gravitate their way. That’s by design — whether it’s negative or positive attention, those with narcissistic personalities work hard to keep themselves in the spotlight.

You might soon find yourself buying into this tactic, pushing aside your own needs to keep them satisfied.

If you’re waiting for a break in their attention-seeking behavior, it may never come. No matter how much you adjust your life to suit to their needs, it’s never going to be enough.

If you must deal with a narcissistic personality, don’t allow them to infiltrate your sense of self or define your world. You matter, too. Regularly remind yourself of your strengths, desires, and goals.

Take charge and carve out some “me time.” Take care of yourself first and remember that it’s not your job to fix them.

3. Speak up for yourself

There are times when ignoring something or simply walking away is an appropriate response — pick your battles, right?

But a lot depends on the relationship. For example, dealing with a boss, parent, or spouse may call for different strategies than dealing with a co-worker, sibling, or child.

Some people with narcissistic personalities enjoy making others squirm. If that’s the case, try not to get visibly flustered or show annoyance, as that will only urge them to continue.

If it’s someone you’d like to keep close in your life, then you owe it to yourself to speak up. Try to do this in a calm, gentle manner.

You must tell them how their words and conduct impact your life. Be specific and consistent about what’s not acceptable and how you expect to be treated. But prepare yourself for the fact that they may simply not understand — or care.

4. Set clear boundaries

A person with a narcissistic personality is often quite self-absorbed.

They might think they’re entitled to go where they want, snoop through your personal things, or tell you how you should feel. Maybe they give you unsolicited advice and take credit for things you’ve done. Or pressure you to talk about private things in a public setting.

They may also have little sense of personal space, so they tend to cross a lot of boundaries. More often than not, they don’t even see them. That’s why you have to be abundantly clear about boundaries that are important to you.

Why would the consequences matter to them? Because someone with a narcissistic personality typically starts to pay attention when things start affecting them personally.

Just make sure it’s not an idle threat. Talk about consequences only if you’re ready to carry them out as stated. Otherwise, they won’t believe you the next time.

FOR EXAMPLE

Say you have a co-worker who loves to park their big truck in a way that makes it hard for you to back out. Start by firmly asking them to make sure they leave you enough space. Then, state the consequences for not respecting your wishes.

For example, if you can’t safely back out, you’ll have their car towed. The key is to follow through and call the towing company the next time it happens.

5. Expect them to push back

If you stand up to someone with a narcissistic personality, you can expect them to respond.

Once you speak up and set boundaries, they may come back with some demands of their own. They may also try to manipulate you into feeling guilty or believing that you’re the one being unreasonable and controlling. They might make a play for sympathy.

Be prepared to stand your ground. If you take a step backward, they won’t take you seriously next time.

6. Remember that you’re not at fault

A person with narcissistic personality disorder isn’t likely to admit a mistake or take responsibility for hurting you. Instead, they tend to project their own negative behaviors onto you or someone else.

You might be tempted to keep the peace by accepting blame, but you don’t have to belittle yourself to salvage their ego.

You know the truth. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.

7. Find a support system

If you can’t avoid the person, try to build up your healthy relationships and support network of people. Spending too much time in a dysfunctional relationship with someone who has a narcissistic personality can leave you emotionally drained.

Rekindle old friendships and try to nurture new ones. Get together with family more often. If your social circle is smaller than you’d prefer, try taking a class to explore a new hobby. Get active in your community or volunteer for a local charity. Do something that allows you to meet more people you feel comfortable with.

WHAT IS A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP?

Spending a lot of time with someone who has a narcissistic personality can make it hard to remember what a healthy relationship even feels like.

Here’s a few signs to look for:

  • both people listen and make an effort to understand each other
  • both people acknowledge their mistakes and take responsibility for them
  • both people feel like they can relax and be their true selves in front of the other
8. Insist on immediate action, not promises

People with narcissistic personalities are good at making promises. They promise to do what you want and not to do that thing you hate. They promise to generally do better.

And they might even be sincere about these promises. But make no mistake about it: The promise is a means to an end for someone with a narcissistic personality.

Once they get what they want, the motivation is gone. You can’t count on their actions matching their words.

Ask for what you want and stand your ground. Insist that you’ll only fulfill their requests after they’ve fulfilled yours.

Don’t give in on this point. Consistency will help drive it home.

9. Understand that a narcissistic person may need professional help

People with NPD often don’t see a problem — at least not with themselves. As a result, it’s unlikely they’ll ever seek professional counseling.

But people with NPD frequently have other disorders, such as substance abuse, or other mental health or personality disorders. Having another disorder may be what prompts someone to seek help.

You can suggest that they reach out for professional help, but you can’t make them do it. It’s absolutely their responsibility, not yours.

And remember, while NPD is a mental health condition, it doesn’t excuse bad or abusive behavior.

10. Recognize when you need help

Regularly dealing with someone who has a narcissistic personality can take a toll on your own mental and physical health.

If you have symptoms of anxietydepression, or unexplained physical ailments, see your primary care doctor first. Once you have a checkup, you can ask for referrals to other services, such as therapists and support groups.

Reach out to family and friends and call your support system into service. There’s no need to go it alone.

When to move on

Some people with a narcissistic personality can also be verbally or emotionally abusive.

Here are some signs of an abusive relationship:

  • name-calling, insults
  • patronizing, public humiliation
  • yelling, threatening
  • jealousy, accusations

Other warning signs to watch for in the other person include:

  • blaming you for everything that goes wrong
  • monitoring your movements or attempting to isolate you
  • telling you how you really feel or should feel
  • routinely projecting their shortcomings onto you
  • denying things that are obvious to you or attempting to gaslight you
  • trivializing your opinions and needs

But at what point is it time to throw in the towel? Every relationship has its ups and downs, right?

While this is true, it’s generally best to leave the relationship if:

  • you’re being verbally or emotionally abused
  • you feel manipulated and controlled
  • you’ve been physically abused or feel threatened
  • you feel isolated
  • the person with NPD or a narcissistic personality shows signs of mental illness or substance abuse, but won’t get help
  • your mental or physical health has been affected

Abuse Prevention: How To Turn Off The Gaslighters

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Gaslight was the play that made its writer Patrick Hamilton a very rich man. It opened in London in 1938 to exceptional reviews. Noël Coward was a fan. King George VI took his wife to see it. In 1940, it became a British film, followed four years later by the Hollywood version starring Ingrid Bergman. When domestic abuse was barely whispered, Hamilton shone a light on coercive control and marital manipulation. He caught it exactly.

The play is set in the upper-class house of Jack and Bella. She tiptoes around him. He’s kind, then cold. He flirts with women, but when Bella objects, she’s told she “reads meanings into everything”. He hides her things so she questions her sanity. At night, he secretly visits the top floor of the house, turning up the lights, causing the downstairs lights to dim (hence the title).

As a study in psychological abuse, it’s a devastatingly accurate picture. Eight decades on, gaslighting is the go-to term for a special sort of torture – the kind designed to discredit and disorient its victims, make them doubt what they know, distrust and turn against themselves.

Psychotherapist Stephanie Sarkis, author of Gaslighting, began to suspect that many of her patients were victims. She posted an article online – 11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting – which went viral. Gaslighting was published in the US last October and Sarkis still receives multiple calls and emails each day from grateful readers. “People tell me the book saved their life,” says Sarkis. “The more we know about it, the less vulnerable we are.”

In 2016, “gaslight” was declared the “most useful word” by the American Dialect Society and, in 2018, it was one of Oxford Dictionaries’ “words of the year”. In the UK, gaslighting within intimate relationships has become a crime under coercive control legislation, as well as a recurring plot point in popular culture. We see it in thrillers, like Girl on the Train, the heroine manipulated by her murderous ex. We see it in soaps – Helen Archer so tormented by her abusive partner, she consults her GP who prescribes medication. It’s even made reality TV – last year’s Love Island contestant Adam Collard was accused of gaslighting by Women’s Aid.

In the US, President Trump’s blend of lying, denying and intimidation has sparked cries of gaslighting from NBC to USA Today to Teen Vogue. Harvey Weinstein has been held up as another high-profile perpetrator.

So what gives gaslighting its dark power? Kate Abramson, philosophy professor at the University of Indiana, calls it the “deepest kind of moral wrong”.

“Imagine you’re going through the worst experience you’ve ever had,” she says, “and, at the same time, you’re being told it’s not happening.” So perhaps that’s some executive emerging from a hotel bathroom naked. At the same time, he’s saying: “We haven’t done anything!” When you’ve escaped, he bombards you with gifts while insisting “nothing happened”. He assures you that he’s done this with lots of women – he names many – they always end up “throwing themselves at me”.

“There aren’t many ways of interacting that manage to be simultaneously wrong in so many dimensions,” says Abramson. It’s not just the abuse, but the erasure of abuse as it happens. It’s the obliteration of another person’s perspective, insistence that it’s not the action that’s wrong, but their reaction. “If your judgment is ‘irrational’, you can no longer be a source of challenge,” says Abramson.

“We all question whether we’re right about something. Gaslighting takes that necessary quality for human interaction and uses it to undermine our ability to interact at all. And that’s dark.”

It’s now recognised as a common component of domestic abuse. “Freya”, an artist, was gaslighted by her ex-husband just as Bella was. He didn’t “hit” her to establish control – he isolated her and broke her. He sabotaged her work. “If I sketched in the day, he told me I was neglecting the children,” says Freya. “If I sketched in the evening, I was neglecting our marriage.” He froze out her friends, convincing her that they made passes at him (she discovered it was the other way round). She didn’t know who to trust. He repeated that she was “naive”, “too innocent” and “stupid”. “He’d tell our children that the only safe place was ‘Daddy’s arms as Mummy wasn’t doing a very good job’.”

At the same time, he hid things. “I was a nervous wreck and had lost a lot of weight, so my wedding rings kept slipping. I took them off to wash up,” Freya remembers. “One day, they disappeared from the microwave top and I was frantic. I knew I’d be in for it if I didn’t find them. He looked so calm and happy that weekend. I kept trying to hide my hands but on Sunday night, he kept asking. ‘Are you OK, you’ve looked a bit preoccupied? Have you lost anything?’ I denied it, then he dragged me downstairs and took me to a cupboard of champagne glasses we never use. The rings were inside a glass and he shouted that I was a liar and failure.”

Gaslighting also happens in the workplace. “A gaslighting colleague might whisper abuse when they walk by your desk, sabotage your work or take credit for it, give wrong times for meetings, ridicule you in front of others,” says Sarkis. And when it comes to political leaders, there can be no better example than Trump. When challenged, he viciously denigrates the challenger. (Words like “wacky”, “crazy” and “dopey” feature heavily in his Twitter feed.) His obsession with how things are perceived is standard gaslighting – his claims that “what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening”. Straight from the gaslighter’s handbook.

Except there isn’t one. So how do gaslighters learn their craft? Do they know they’re doing it? There’s no clear answer. It’s common among psychopaths and narcissists, but it could be that someone learned it from parents, or stumbled upon it as a strategy to thwart a challenge. Dr Robin Stern, whose 2007 book The Gaslight Effect was updated last year, says it’s not always sinister or conscious. “It might be that when you’re feeling wobbly, you’ve learned that destroying someone’s alternative perspective is a way of centring yourself in certainty.”

It’s also hard to make statements about gender. Stern has found that most of her patients and friends encountering it have been women – and UK studies of coercive control show it to be practised overwhelmingly by men. However, Sarkis has treated many male victims of female gaslighters – and Stern points out that teenage girls can be prime perpetrators. She gives the example of Odd Girl Out, the book by Rachel Simmons about bullying. A victim is blanked by former friends, but when she asks why, she’s told, “What are you talking about? You’re so sensitive!” Hopefully those girls grew out of it. A person might gaslight once or twice but when it’s repeated patterned behaviour, be very afraid.

“A gaslighter is someone who can’t bear other viewpoints,” says Abramson. “They need the way they see the world to be placed beyond dispute, and set out to destroy not just differing perspectives, but the source as well.” If you have one in your life, advises Sarkis, “the best thing you can do is get as far away as possible.”

How to spot a gaslighter

Their apologies are always conditional When someone says, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” that’s not an apology; the other person is not taking responsibility for their behaviour, they’re simply manipulating you. Gaslighters will only apologise if they are trying to get something out of you.

They use splitting Gaslighters love to pit people against each other. This is known as splitting. An example would be lying to one friend about another, saying a mutual friend had said something unflattering about them.

Gaslighters are the ultimate agitators and instigators The gaslighters will then watch comfortably from the sidelines, the very fight that they caused.

They’ll do anything to get in with you Gaslighters are good at buttering people up. As soon as you fulfil their needs, they drop their mask of niceness. Trust your gut. If the friendliness seems phoney, beware.

Extract from Gaslighting by Stephanie Sarkis (£14.99, Orion). Buy it for £13.19 at guardianbookshop.com

These 7 Traits Make You Vulnerable to Narcissistic Manipulation

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Some people find themselves in a relationship with a narcissist, claw their way out, and do their best to write-off or avoid other narcissists for the rest of their lives.

Others are simply magnets for narcissists.

They ditch one romantic relationship with a narcissist – only to find themselves in a new abusive situation just months later. Or perhaps they continue to put up with narcissistic abuse from coworkers or family members.

If the latter hits close to home, you aren’t alone.

You’ve probably asked yourself, “is there something wrong with me that makes me vulnerable to narcissistic abuse and exploitation?”

The answer is both “Yes” and “No”.

There is nothing wrong with you – far from it – but there’s a chance you have certain qualities that make you very attractive to narcissists, like moths to a flame or leeches to a host.

In fact, these are probably some of your best qualities. Abusers know this and that’s why they use narcissistic manipulation tactics to exploit you and use your good nature for their own gain.

Narcissists and Empathy

It’s a common misconception that narcissists lack empathy.

Empathy simply means having the ability to understand another person’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Empathy can absolutely exist without other characteristics like compassion – this is called cognitive empathy.

Torturers use cognitive empathy to get inside their victims’ heads and cause unspeakable pain.

Narcissists don’t lack empathy – they lack compassion, remorse, and humanity.

Using cognitive empathy, the abuser is able to seek out and target individuals with highly compassionate, loving, and caring empathetic traits. This is why the narcissist finds it so easy to exploit and manipulate your empathetic traits, found below.

7 Empathic Traits That Make You Vulnerable to Narcissistic Manipulation

Narcissists are attracted to people with specific qualities. These qualities give the abuser a foot in the door to carry out their narcissistic manipulation tactics and suck the life force from their victims.

Other people might not put up with narcissistic abuse past a very early point. But people with empathic traits are different: they have a desire to help, heal, and fix people.

They believe people deserve unconditional love – even narcissists.

With these traits, you might as well be wearing a red bullseye for narcissists! But, you don’t have to put up with it, and you CAN change how you react to narcissistic abuse. Identifying what draws narcissists to your personality is the first step.

1.     You’re Trusting and Have Integrity

Some people believe that trust must be earned upon meeting someone. After all, how can you trust someone you’ve just met?

For you, trust doesn’t have to be earned from the get-go: you naturally trust people to treat you with respect and do the right thing.

Why? Because you have integrity yourself and you’re a trustworthy person. You expect that people are worthy of your trust until they’ve broken it.

Narcissists know that you’re naturally trusting, and they use this to their advantage to carry out their narcissistic manipulation tactics against you. They know they can get away with lies on top of lies because they know you really want to trust them.

2.     You Value Equality and Treat Others with Respect

You believe that relationships are a 50/50 experience and you treat others the way you’d like to be treated.

When you first met the narcissist, they probably obliged your need for basic equality and dignity. But brick by brick, their charade started to crumble. Until one day, you find yourself apologizing because you had the nerve to let the narcissist know they hurt your feelings.

The narcissist used their cognitive empathy to get into your head and exploit your compassionate empathy.

3.     You Refuse to Give Up

To narcissists, people with compassionate empathy are like a drug. Every time they beat you down and carry out their narcissistic manipulation tactics to exploit you, they get their fragile ego fix – and no one abusing drugs wants their supply to run out.

The narcissist knows you’ll never give up (or so they think) because it’s in your nature to see things through until the end. That’s why they cling to you and won’t let go. That’s why they seemingly “love you” and abuse you at the same time.

4.     You Love Unconditionally

This is perhaps one of the most bittersweet traits that makes you a magnet for narcissists. They know that when you love someone, you love them unconditionally.

This can apply to all types of relationships including romantic partners, friends, and family members. You believe that everyone is deserving of unconditional love.

The narcissist understands this about you and fully exploits it. In between fights and abusive slurs, you may find the narcissist will briefly apologize, shower you with praise, and promise to change. This is all a façade to make you believe that they too love you unconditionally – and they use it to keep you hooked until the next outburst.

5.     You’re Honest and Compassionate

To the narcissist, honesty and compassion aren’t traits one should brag about. These traits are weaknesses that should be hidden.

Why? Because someone could exploit these vulnerable traits – and that’s exactly what narcissists do.

In the beginning, the narcissist will pretend to appreciate your honesty and compassion. However, slowly but surely, they will use these traits against you.

Did you tell the narcissist your worst fears? Things that make you sad or mad? Trauma from your past?

The narcissist will freely dig all of that up every time they need to carry out narcissistic manipulation tactics and exploit your genuine (and very valid) emotions. Narcissists don’t hate your honesty – they love to exploit it every chance they get.

6.     Your Desire to Heal Others and Fix People

You believe that if everyone had a loving environment in which to thrive, and the right opportunities, they could turn themselves around.

The narcissist knows that you have a burning desire to truly heal them, so they cling to you for dear life. They know that you’ll never turn down their fights and you’ll always react emotionally to their abuse. This is how the narcissist manipulates you for their own gain.

It’s hard, if not impossible, to fix anyone who doesn’t want to be fixed – let alone a narcissist.

No matter how many times they tell you they want and intend to change their ways, this is just a lie to give you hope that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

7.     You Have Trouble Setting Boundaries

As someone who loves unconditionally, is automatically trusting, and has a strong desire to fix people, it only makes sense that you have trouble setting boundaries.

This is perhaps one of the first traits narcissists identify when they search for a new victim because it’s one of the easiest to spot. People who are good at setting boundaries are very vocal about their boundaries upon meeting someone and narcissists can easily sniff this out.

Narcissists are drawn to empathic people who have trouble setting boundaries because they know you’ll put up with their narcissistic manipulation and abuse as long as they can dish it out.

And by the time you decide to draw any kind of boundary – it’s far too late. The narcissist will simply laugh in your face, gaslight you, and tear it down.

Narcissistic Manipulation Tactics – 5 Red Flags to Watch Out For

If you think you’re being manipulated by a narcissist, look out for these key narcissistic manipulation tactics; they’re dead giveaways:

  • Gaslighting -The narcissist rewrites your experience and says you’re remembering their behavior wrong.
  • Perpetual Victim – The narcissist is always the victim, even when you bring up an instance when they’ve harmed you.
  • Degrading Your Worth -The narcissist will never support anything you do unless it benefits them. They’ll remind you that you’re worthless and will fail at everything
  • Controlling -The narcissist will get upset if you go anywhere or do anything, even going to the grocery store, without running it by them first.
  • Deflecting – The narcissist can never do anything wrong. They will always deflect blame back to you or someone in their immediate vicinity.

What Should You Do If You’re Being Manipulated by a Narcissist?

If the points above ring true, you’re likely in a relationship with a narcissist. This abuser could come in the form of a romantic partner, mother, father, friend, or coworker.

If you’re being manipulated by a narcissist, the only way to end the abuse is to go No Contact. If you don’t cut the narcissist out for good, they will continue with their narcissistic manipulation tactics to bleed your empathy dry until you’re nothing but a shell of the person you once were.

Narcissism is a personality disorder and it’s important to understand that you cannot fix or change anyone. You can only control and change your own actions – and ultimately your own life.

If I could talk to my 16-year-old self, what would I say to her? I’d tell her that she eventually escapes that toxic relationship, but it sadly takes her years to leave. I’d tell her this to give her hope and motivate her to say something sooner. I’d tell her to speak up, to find […]

via Escaping An Abusive Relationship — The Healthy Mindset Project

Gaslighting, for a long period of my life, was part of my day to day living. This emotional abuse was something that had won me down to the point where is simply accepted it as part of my daily life. I didn’t see an escape and I felt utterly helpless. For such a […]

via What ‘Gaslighting’ Means and How You Can Spot The Warning Signs — Escape The Narcissist

Why Does Your Narcissistic Partner Always Blame You?

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If you are wondering why your narcissistic mate blames you for everything that goes wrong no matter who is at fault, the answer is simple: People who have narcissistic personality disorder cannot tolerate the idea that they might be to blame, so they accuse someone else instead.

Why do people with narcissistic personality disorder care so much about who is to blame?

Here are some concepts that can help explain why blame plays such a big role in relationships with Narcissists. (Note: I am using the terms “narcissist” and “narcissistic” as shorthand for Narcissistic Personality Disorder).

Our Inner Guiding Voice

As humans, we come equipped with the capacity to develop an internal guiding voice that praises and punishes our behaviors. This inner voice is programmed during our childhood based on a combination of three things:

1. How our parents treated us.

2. Our inborn temperament.

3. Our interpretation of what our parents thought worthy of praise or criticism.

Ideally, this inner voice is realistic and rewards us with praise when we do the right thing and punishes us with shame or guilt when we do something wrong. And ideally the rewards and punishments are proportionate to the behavior. Our inner guiding voice is supposed to substitute for our parents’ guidance and thus allow us to live independently.

Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), the “Father of Psychoanalysis,” called this voice our Super-Ego. Some people think of it as their conscience. Other people see it as the spark of the Divine in each of us that teaches us right from wrong.

The Narcissist’s Inner Voice

Unfortunately, people with narcissistic personality disorder have internalized an overly harsh, perfectionistic, and devaluing internal voice. This voice rarely doles out praise. Nothing is ever quite good enough to win its approval for very long—and no mistake is too trivial to punish severely.

Self-Blame Leads to Shame

Because narcissists’ inner guiding voice is so critical and harsh, narcissists try to avoid all responsibility for anything that goes wrong. In order to avoid self-hatred, they project the blame onto someone else. If they do not successfully shift the blame, then they may find themselves drowning in a pit of self-loathing and shame. This usually leads them to spiral down into a shame-based self-hating depression. In addition, they unconsciously fearthat their mistakes will be used by you or other people to publicly humiliate them.

Once narcissists sink into a self-hating depression, they lose touch with anything good about themselves. They see themselves as all-bad—as worthless, defective, losers.

Naturally, with deep shame always lurking around the edges of their psyche and an inner critical voice that unfairly and severely punishes them, narcissists learn early in life to never take the blame for their mistakes. Instead, when anything is amiss, they quickly blame someone else. If you are their lover or mate, you are the one that is likely to be blamed—no matter how farfetched this seems.

How should you handle the situation?

The unfortunate reality is that this situation cannot be solved by logic or by arguing about who is right or wrong. This type of blaming has nothing to do with external reality or fairness. It is about self-esteem maintenance.  Your mate is unfairly blaming you for something in order to avoid self-blame.  When narcissists think of accepting blame, they unconsciously fear that the psychological equivalent of burning hot coals will be heaped on their head by you and their unforgiving and unempathic inner critic. They project their inner critic’s opinions onto you and then see you as overly critical.

There are a couple of things that can work in the moment to lessen the tension. Both methods ignore who is to blame and focus on making your narcissistic mate more comfortable.

Method 1—Express Empathy

Method 1 is adapted from one of James F. Masterson’s interventions that he trained therapists to use to help people with NPD feel understood.  In this method, blame is not spoken of at all. Neither is right or wrong. You simply make an empathic statement that attempts to capture the flavor of the emotion the narcissistic person is feeling.

Example: Sam comes home and cannot find the remote for the television. He starts screaming at his wife Jennie: I can’t believe that you did it again! Why do you keep losing the remote? You never pay enough attention to what you are doing!

Jennie knows that Sam was the last one to use the remote. She also knows that it is fruitless to argue with him about it. If she protests, it will just lead to a long pointless fight. So, she empathically tries to “mirror” back to Sam what she thinks he is feeling:

Jennie: That must have been so painful to you when you came home and couldn’t find the remote for the TV. I can understand how disappointed you were. You were looking forward to watching the football game.

Masterson tended to use those same words, “painful” and “disappointed” over and over again. Someone once asked Masterson, “Don’t your clients notice and comment on you saying, ‘It must be so painful and disappointing’ over and over again?” Masterson replied: “Not if they’re Narcissists.”

Narcissists find empathy and feeling understood, coupled with the absence of judgement, very soothing. Most grew up without ever experiencing empathy from their caregivers. That is why their inner voice is so unempathic.

Method 2—Let Me Help You

In this method, you also ignore your mate’s unfair criticisms of you. Instead, you simply offer to help. This method emphasizes that the two of you are a team and not opponents.

Example: Sam starts blaming Jennie for losing the remote. Jenny quickly says: “Let me help you find it.” She ignores his insults and simply gets up and matter-of-factly begins to search with him for the lost remote.

Over time, if Jennie is consistently willing to help Sam and not shame him or try to hold him accountable, Sam is likely to slowly begin to internalize a new model of how to handle mistakes without blaming anyone.

This will gradually build up some sense of trust in Jenny’s good will and intentions. Sam may still devalue and blame Jennie (he still has a Narcissistic Personality Disorder), but he will eventually understand that Jennie is not purposely trying to annoy or frustrate him.

This realization, that he can feel hurt and frustrated by Jenny without her intending to harm him can be a big milestone and turning point in their relationship. The fights will still happen, but there will be less venom in his attacks on Jennie.

What Happened When You Spilled the Milk?

If you want to understand more about the origins of someone’s blaming behavior, there is a simple question you can ask:

When you were little and spilled your glass of milk at the table, what happened?

The people I know who are relatively relaxed and realistic about their mistakes, report something like the following:

My mother got up and said: “Don’t worry. Get the paper towels from the kitchen and I will help you clean it up.

My clients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder report a very different response:

How could you be so clumsy! You make all this extra work for me because you are so careless and irresponsible. That’s it! Dinner is over for you. Go to your room. And don’t expect to watch any television tonight either. You need to learn to be more careful.

A childhood full of harsh criticism for mistakes teaches children to find a way to shift the blame in any way possible and make the error someone else’s fault.

To younger sister Sally: If you hadn’t jogged my elbow, the milk wouldn’t have spilled. It is your fault, not mine. You are the one who deserves to be punished, not me!

Punchline:

The reason your narcissistic mate automatically blames you for things that are not your fault can be expressed as a simple equation:  Blame + Shame = Self-Hatred. Your mate shifts the blame onto you to avoid being condemned as worthless garbage by his or her own overly harsh and devaluing inner voice. There are things you can do to minimize fights, but unfortunately, they all focus on making your mate more comfortable. This will benefit you in the long run, but their success depends on you literally ignoring your mate’s taunts and your own hurt feelings. Instead you have to act as a combination of a good parent and a psychotherapist.  If you do not want to spend the rest of your life helping to manage your mate’s self-esteem at your own expense, you should probably seriously consider leaving this relationship.

Adapted from a Quora post.

What Are the Signs of Damaged Emotions?

Author Article
Healthy emotions are vital for well-being and harmonious relationships. Emotional damage can occur as a result of mental illness, trauma or a combination of both factors, and may impair a person’s ability to form relationships and handle everyday stressors. Learning to recognize the signs of damaged emotions allows you to identify problems sooner and alter the behaviors that perpetuate them.

VIDEO OF THE DAY
Trust Issues
While blind trust can be dangerous in some situations, an inability to trust loved ones can be a sign of emotional damage. According to AT Health, children who are abandoned by their parents often experience trust issues in adulthood, making it difficult to form close interpersonal relationships.

Lack of trust can result from painful past experiences, including acts of betrayal. Examples of situations that could trigger trust issues include abandonment as a child, romantic infidelity or a variety of forms of dishonesty.

Low Self-Esteem
Self-esteem refers to the way in which people view themselves and their worth. Low self-esteem can result from internal sources like mental health conditions or external causes like bullying. The “New York Times” lists low self-esteem as a common symptom of depression.

Signs of low self-esteem include shyness, anxiety about one’s appearance or competence, feelings of worthlessness and unnecessary guilt or shame. It’s possible to use positive affirmations to help raise self-esteem by reaffirming positive attributes.

Anger and Aggression
While unpleasant, anger is a natural emotional response that can be useful when channeled effectively. When managed improperly, anger is capable of tearing apart relationships and leading to frequent altercations between individuals.

Inappropriate anger can masquerade as jealousy, manipulation, suspicion or passive-aggressiveness. If allowed to continue unchecked, anger may even deteriorate into verbal or physical abuse. Long-term suppression of unpleasant emotions like anger can lead to inappropriate behaviors, reinforcing the need to handle anger as it arises.

Self-Destructive Behavior
Emotional damage often manifests as self-destructive or self-defeating behavior. Eating disorders, substance abuse and self-mutilation are examples of self-destructive behavior.

According to the American Humane Association, destructive behaviors like alcohol and drug abuse, suicide attempts and withdrawal can all result from emotional abuse.

Treatment Options
Many options exist for healing emotional damage. Counseling or group therapy can help patients work through unpleasant emotions and get to the heart of their issues. Trained mental health professionals offer solutions by teaching patients stress management techniques and coping skills to help deal with daily problems. When emotional damage affects married couples or families, couples counseling and family therapy may be helpful.

In cases of mental illness, medications like antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs may be prescribed in conjunction with talk therapy.

Originally posted on Lucky Otters Haven: I haven’t written an original narcissism article in awhile, and I was thinking about gaslighting today, so I thought I’d write a post about it. Gaslighting is a defense mechanism commonly used by narcissists in order to diminish their victims and make them doubt and question their own reality.…

via Five types of gaslighting narcissists. — Lucky Otters Haven

Something is wrong. The fact that something is wrong has many manifestations in the narcissistic dynamic. You may experience a sudden eruption of temper, the instigation of a silent treatment as you follow us around the house trying to draw from us what on earth is the matter. It might be that you plead with…

via Why Won’t He Say What’s Wrong? — Knowing the Narcissist

PROJECTION – they accuse us of EVERYTHING they really are AND what THEY are doing to us! We are their dumping ground for everything from their lies, their disdain of life, their betrayal, and just for the sport of managing us down so they feel powerful and in control of their own emptiness! There is […]

via Narcissistic Projection. — After Narcissistic Abuse

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