My books have helped thousands to step back, and away, from the damaging effects of a narcissistic person, whether it’s a present-day relationship or one that has haunted them from the past. Now, they may help you, too.

Narcissist ruining your life?

Maybe you love one. Or work for one. Maybe you’re related to one. Or were raised by one. Whatever the relationship, you’ve likely been hurt by the narcissist in your life.

The child of a narcissist may have unwittingly absorbed their parent’s anger and internal rage. But because these things truly belong to the parent, the child cannot heal, fix, or change them. The only thing that can help undo the dynamic is when the child detaches from the narcissistic parent.

The adult child of a narcissist may feel that releasing the anger will:

destroy them

destroy and annihilate everything around them

destroy the parent from whom they desperately want attention and love

reveal the extent to which they are supposedly damaged and out of control

This occurs below the level of consciousness. These intense feelings seem to push from behind, like a masked robber holding a gun to your back. When this happens, try asking yourself:

  1. What part of this issue is really mine?
  2. How long have I been engaged in this issue—and why did I start?
  3. What do I expect to gain from this issue if I continue to carry it?

    Adapted from When Your Parent Is a Narcissist

In an article titled “Why Getting Angry Can Make You Happier in the Long Run” featured on time.com, Amanda MacMillan describes the results of a study on happiness conducted at the University of Jerusalem. The study reveals why negative and unpleasant emotions lead to greater happiness in life. MacMillan quotes lead researcher Maya Tamir, a psychology professor, who explains:

“What my research shows is that happier people are those who experience the emotions they want to experience…if I am a person who finds anger desirable—for instance, because anger helps me fight injustice—I am likely to be happier if I feel some anger than if I don’t.”

Read the article which includes a link to the study here

“I understand that my focus on the person with narcissism also meant I was neglecting myself. I recognize that self-care is simply another way to help me practice keeping the focus on myself and I am grateful for that.” Surviving the Narcissist:
30 Days of Recovery

In an article from TIME magazine titled “9 Easy Ways to Get More Grateful,” Ellen Seidman explains how honing in on gratefulness can impact our health in a variety of positive ways. Seidman writes:

“As I grow older, I’m getting more appreciative of the people and creature comforts that make me feel loved and contented. One study estimated that for every 10 years of life, gratitude increases by 5%. And that, the research suggests, is beneficial to our bodies and minds: People who are regularly grateful—who acknowledge the goodness in life and the sources of it—are generally healthier and happier.”

From writing letters to loved ones, keeping a gratitude journal, and simply saying thanks, the article offers several science-backed and psychologist-suggested ways to become more grateful.

Read the entire article here

“Some souls are like sponges. You cannot squeeze anything out of them except what they have sucked from you.”- Kahlil Gibran

Reverse projection: hang around a narcissist enough and, soon, you’ll be projecting, too. Only in this case, you’ll find that you project all your assets onto the n. (The actual asset, creativity, for example, stays with you; but you are convinced the n is the creative one, and wish you had the skills they did when in fact you are the one with the talent.)

This is one of the ways the non-narcissist contributes to the ongoing dysfunction of the relationship. It is also one of the ways the non-narcissist fuels their own insecurity.

This happens particularly with those who were raised by narcissists. A narcissist can suck us dry, so much so that we find ourselves giving up our claim to that which is ours.

These patterns can play out in your adult life and will come to the fore in a long-term or even a work relationship. Understand that the patterns of communication are complex and never actually about what they appear to be about. Adapted from Narcissism: Surviving the Self-Involved

 

These simple steps can help break open the obsession cycle with the n. Practice may be necessary.

Recognize. Recognize that the obsession with the n is something you have grown accustomed to, and understand that removing it will be uncomfortable. Don’t let that stop you from moving on.

Regroup. Bring the focus back to you, your life and your needs. Ask: What do I need to do to take care of myself just for now? Try to get used to focusing on yourself, without blame or pity.

Replace. Make a short-term commitment to focus on yourself and fill your mind with healthy thoughts. Dedicate yourself to reality.

Repeat.

And remember: Let Go or Be Dragged—American Proverb

from Narcissism: Surviving the Self-Involved

In an article titled “7 Signs You’re Dealing With a Passive-Aggressive Person” Jeffrey Kluger explains several common traits and actions of passive-aggressive people (including as disguised insults and non-compliments) and how we can successfully recognize and combat them. Kluger writes:

“…Passive-aggression is there but it’s not, you see it and you don’t. It’s aggression as steam — hard to frame, impossible grasp. You see it in the competitive colleague who would never confront you directly but accidentally leaves your name off an email about an important meeting. It’s the spouse who’s usually punctual but takes forever to get out of the house when it’s your turn to choose the movie. Sometimes there’s an innocent explanation, but often there’s not — and the passive-aggressors themselves might not even know which is which…passive-aggression is more than just the nettlesome habit of a few maddeningly indirect people. Clinicians …agree on the symptoms: deliberate inefficiency, an avoidance of responsibility, a refusal to state needs or concerns directly.”

Read the entire article here

 

An article featured in the New York Post by Becky Pemberton chronicles “Love Bombing,” a manipulative dating trend. Pemberton defines this as:

“…a seductive tactic, where a manipulative person tries to control another individual with “bombs,” brimming from day one.”

Pemberton includes insights from psychologist Dale Archer who says:

“The important thing to remember about love bombing is that it is psychological partner abuse, period. When one person intentionally manipulates and exploits another’s weakness or insecurity, there’s no other word for it.”

Read the rest of the article about “Love Bombing” here

“…By saying, “No thank you” you are actually rescuing yourself. When we focus on the other person, we lose track of what we actually do or say. You may see that what you are feeling bad about having done or said is not actually something you did or say, but rather something that the narcissist did or said.” from When Your Parent Is a Narcissist

Setting boundaries and learning to say “no” are crucial steps when it comes to detaching from a narcissist. In this blog post titled “3 Ways to Set Boundaries and Learn to Say ‘No'” from Psychology Today, Jennifer Rollin MSW, LCSW-C explains how to healthily create boundaries in relationships. Rollin writes:

“Setting boundaries can be difficult, but is such an important part of having healthy relationships and establishing an overall sense of well-being. It’s helpful to remember that when you say “no” to things, it frees up your time to focus on the pursuits that truly energize and excite you. Having good boundaries also enables you to experience less stress and to follow your life’s passion and purpose.”

Read the entire post here

Until we gain perspective, the pain of dealing with a narcissist can slice deep. But what should we do if we are scared or we are not ready for big changes? Although seeking help from a licensed therapist can help, here are a few things to try:

Abstain from reacting and simply notice what the n does

Narcissists don’t know they are wounded, so they go around wounding everyone else. In an attempt to protect their fragile sense of self, the n will blame others for hurting them. Disengaging is one way to step back. When we stop feeding the union, the n will typically find someone else.

Remember why n’s act the way they do

They hurt themselves because they never fully grow up. They hurt others as a result of their emotional stuntedness and immaturity.  See the n’s wrath for what it is: a desperate attempt to keep you engaged. Recognize that the wrath is a way the n tries to rope you back in.

See the illusion―rather, delusion―of grandeur

Being nothing, a shell where only the insides matter (but the insides are missing) is the core fear of the narcissist. They know they are deficient, so they react in desperation. They need another person to prove they exist. You are that person, whether they are elevating you or knocking you down. They only exist if the light is shining on them. Whether the n has labeled you good or bad, they have made you that light.

Don’t take the bait

There will always be bait. Part of what makes the n tick is bait—having it, flaunting it, using it. Bait is an outside manifestation of inside emptiness and loneliness. Be aware. You contribute to bait and all its reverberations when you react to it.

Stop offering an opinion, even when asked

This takes you out of the cycle and allows the n the opportunity to feel what it’s like to figure things out on their own—not as a punishment, but a gift.

Adapted from NARCISSISM: SURVIVING THE SELF-INVOLVED

To say that parents are the soil in which children grow is a good metaphor for looking at the parent-child relationship.

With a healthy parent-child relationship, the baby feeds, internalizes and synthesizes the parent’s nutrients, and neutralizes the toxins and contaminants. However, the baby with a narcissistic parent accommodates the toxins and contaminants and toxicity becomes the norm. This sets the child up to repeat the pattern that has wounded them, to unconsciously seek partners and friends who hurt them all over again.

People are like plants in that we are living entities. People, however, can and do attach meaning to the soil from which they grew. Prolonged exposure to a narcissistic parent before verbal skills develop means synthesis of the destructive dynamic—without the child’s ability to reason their way out of it.

Once you understand how you replay these patterns and unconsciously build your relationships around them, you can begin to reexamine your self-view, and change it. This is a key to healing.

Adapted from When Your Parent Is A Narcissist

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