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.

Some signs of narcissism can be more subtle. If we are open to the signs, we can better recognize narcissistic behavior.

Here are some narcissistic characteristics we often “accept”:

The narcissist tends to:
Take ideas—as in steal your ideas, jokes, stories, as well as credit for a job well done. They might even tell you, and be proud of it.
Snag an identity—as in yours. If you are a writer, for example, they will feel envy and want to be a writer. They may claim that you got your inspiration to write from them. If you have signed up for a class, they will sign up for two classes. Or three.
Project—if a feeling is unpleasant to them, the narcissist will unconsciously assign it to someone else. If the person feels enraged or angry, they will state that you are the one with all the rage.

By learning to pay attention, we have a greater chance of sidestepping drama.

From Narcissism: Surviving the Self-Involved

With the narcissist, it’s often the unspoken words that carry the crucial part of the message. Notice the underlying meanings and [unspoken words].

    • If you stay, I’ll help you fix everything you need to fix [for me].
    • If you leave, you’re a quitter [and we* don’t accept quitters].
      *the narcissist doesn’t speak for the self but rather uses the collective “we” for power
    • Letting go means you’ve given up [on me].
    • If you let go [of me] it means you haven’t practiced hard enough, haven’t been dedicated long enough, and haven’t wanted it enough.
    • You’re my everything, you’re my world—you hold all the power [which is what I say to you to keep you coming back to me].

From When Your Parent Is a Narcissist

“…Vulnerability allows me to examine my past behaviors… I’ll refrain from putting myself down, from berating myself, and even from trying to “improve” myself if I use these attempts to improve as excuses to shame myself. I need not judge my feelings, only notice them…Vulnerability is a gift. Today, I’m learning to be vulnerable with myself…” Surviving The Narcissist: 30 Days of Recovery

In this article from Inc.com titled “Why Embracing Vulnerability Is Crucial to Workplace Success,” Jacob Morgan explains how expressing vulnerability can be an asset in the workplace. Morgan explains:

“Everyone has vulnerabilities, emotions, and personality components for good or bad. By hiding those vulnerabilities, employees and managers are essentially denying a major part of their personalities. Vulnerability allows people to connect on a different level, which can lead to increased collaboration, productivity, and cohesiveness. Being vulnerable means taking a risk, which can be daunting for one employee to do, but when all employees feel comfortable taking the vulnerability plunge, everyone can benefit.”

Read the article here

Despite being wrongly blamed for causing intimacy problems, family troubles, and miserable financial woes, many people, particularly women (and some men, too) stay too long in a relationship with a narcissist, sacrificing their sanity, reputation, dignity and more. Many of these men and women go to great lengths to work on the relationship without realizing relationships with narcissists are not like relationships with other people. That they are not really relationships at all.

Contact with a narcissist can be at once exhilarating and confusing, hurtful and seductive. At work, at home, on a date, in the bedroom, it can make you feel like you are losing your mind, yet without an understanding of why you feel that way.

Here are 5 tips for helping partners regain sanity and recover from a relationship with a narcissist.

1. Don’t take the blame. Where direct or subtle, a narcissist always blames others for his problems. Don’t accept the blame – and don’t apologize when something is not your fault.

2. Notice cracks in the armor. The narcissist, though polished on the outside, lacks self-esteem and therefore lacks a very basic sense that he belongs anywhere – and is desperate to avoid this feeling. Self-esteem is very different than confidence. While confidence is gained through experience, self-esteem is far more basic, a sense of knowing who we are and our place in the world. Does this sound like someone you can reason with?

3. Trust yourself, not the narcissist (aka: the parasite). Narcissists are parasites; they feed off a host (whomever that may be, depending on the moment). Ironically, they have the “host” believing that they, in fact, are feeding off of/using the narcissist. Narcissists often surround themselves with accomplished people, then little by little eat away at them. Not someone you can trust for intimacy.

4. Remind yourself that the narcissist suffers from a disease. Narcissists suffer from an disease experts refer to as a personality disorder. Experts agree there are no drugs to cure personality disorders. Personality disorders are very hard to change, though, with professional help, people can improve and relationships can sometimes be mended.

5. Remember, the narcissist is not in love with himself. Many people believe that the narcissist is deeply in love with himself or herself. If the narcissist is in love with anything, it’s the image of himself, an image he has crafted. Even the narcissist, on some level, knows this persona is only temporary, and this is what makes him more desperate. Try to remember this the next time the narcissist tries to blame you for making him look bad.

For more information, check out the titles here

In an article titled “Get Happy: Four Well-Being Workouts” from The New York Times, Julie Scelfo identifies four ways to cultivate happiness using tools from positive psychology. Scelfo quotes Martin E.P. Seligman, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania who says:

“‘Psychology is generally focused on how to relieve depression, anger and worry…Freud and Schopenhauer said the most you can ever hope for in life is not to suffer, not to be miserable, and I think that view is empirically false, morally insidious, and a political and educational dead-end.’”

Read the article here

…In these early days of my recovery, I am working on myself, developing new habits, healthier routines, and a more realistic outlook. I remind myself that everything new takes practice to feel natural. Self-care and self-focus, because I’m not used to them, can make me uncomfortable. That’s okay. The key is to be gentle with myself…There is no timetable for my recovery. The more I practice self-care, the more comfortable I’ll become with it.” Surviving the Narcissist: 30 Days of Recovery

In her blog post on Psychology Today titled “10 Smart Self-Care Tips to Avoid Stress and Increase Joy,” Linda Esposito, LCSW lists ways to get comfortable utilizing self-care. Esposito writes:

Many of us lead busy lives where we’re consumed with taking care of others and accustomed to putting their needs before ours. While compassion and caring are wonderful traits, too little self-care leaves us emotionally depleted, exhausted, and ultimately, not much good to anyone else ― especially ourselves.”

Read the post here

The number of resentments individuals have with a narcissist typically correlates to how invested they are in their narcissist’s life. Often, this investment in the narcissist surpasses the interest in their own life.

Think of anger as an emotion that arises from a single incident. The incident will typically make us feel out of control, wounded, slighted, used, or taken advantage of―all things that breed profusely in the petri dish of narcissism. Resentment is what happens when you take anger and nurse it.

Ask yourself what you’re upset with today. Is it old or new? Is it anger or resentment? You have control over whether or not to let resentments go. Many people hold onto resentment because a part of them believes letting go of resentments means letting go of their power―the power to fix the relationship with the narcissist, or to teach the narcissist a lesson. But holding resentments eats up your personal power.

Know how to take back your power? Stop throwing energy at your resentment.

Making a decision to do nothing (aka letting go, letting it be, wait and see, etc) is actually making a decision to do something.

From Narcissism: Surviving the Self-Involved

A narcissistic parent will often subjugate a child’s simple need for attention. As a result of this dynamic the child may:

-Perceive himself as an appendage of the parent, with traits that must be routinely and often haphazardly approved of by the parent in order to keep from being amputated and discarded

-Perceive himself as an already amputated part of the parent and carrier of the parents’ disowned bad traits (which the child believes belong to them)

-Perceive himself as less than the parent or not good enough to be the parent’s child

-Perceive himself as better than the parent and try extraordinarily hard to subvert this feeling

Most notable about this list is what is not included―the child feeling a level of comfort. It’s only with that comfort that the child can show the world who they really truly are.

From When Your Parent Is a Narcissist

In her essay titled “Experts in the Field” author Bonnie Nadzam opens up about her experience with an exploitative, abusive teacher and the impact it has had on her life. She writes:

I continue to witness their success and public adoration and the celebration of not only their work, but also of them personally. I see so many writers―male and female, including many I respect and look up to―pictured with these men on social media, these men who travel around the country―and even the world, now―teaching the rest of us how we should tell our stories. (Think about that for a moment). Indeed, I know they are among many of your favorite authors and teachers. Why would anyone believe me? Who am I? What do I matter, in comparison with them? Isn’t that assumption―about my relative lack of value, as a person, compared with them―what allowed their behavior to begin and persist in the first place?”


Read the entire essay on Tin House here

Sadly, Nadzam’s story is not uncommon. As a response to the powerful essay, several other writers shared their own experiences of abuse, harassment and manipulation by mentors, professors and other high-powered men in the literary world.

Ramona Ausubel writes:

Whether it’s physically or by strongly directing her work―the party in power says, Hey, you’re talented and I’d really like to open this door for you. Let’s get to work making you into something I can own. It’s difficult because mentors do open doors and they should, and teachers must offer their honest eyes and writers must revise their stories and we are all full of innocent mistakes. I want to commit and recommit to being a teacher who listens hard and invests fully but keeps my own hands off the doorknobs―those are opened by the writer’s work, whatever she wants that to be.”

Read the rest on Lithub here

From the narcissistic parent’s point of view, the child is a vehicle to temper their own intense fears. This can manifest in the following ways:

Withholding: The narcissist parent may withhold communication, love, and attention

Blaming: Going on the offensive by publicly telling everyone (sometimes telling you, sometimes not) how wrong you are and how all the problems are your fault.

Lying: To himself and to you about just about anything.

Projecting: Claiming they do not understand why you are behaving this way or that way, when in fact you are not behaving in such a manner―but they are.

False/faux apologizing: The words sound so sincere, too, and so do the tears and the declarations of love. But then come the subtle clues: the self-focus, the self-pity, the tiny joke about: “Sorry, I don’t mean to keep bringing it back to me!” or the not-so-subtle joke: “Didn’t you know―it’s always all about me!”

Shaming: The parent may try to make the child feel less than for not wanting what they want. They might put a judgment on it―the child is low class, ignorant, an embarrassment to the family.

From When Your Parent Is a Narcissist

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