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.

In his blog post on PsychologyToday.com titled “Narcissist or Just Self-Centered? 4 Ways to Tell,” Robert Taibbi, L.C.S.W lists the similarities and key differences between narcissistic traits and changeable self-centered behaviors. Taibbi writes:

The fine line here is the degree to which narcissists seek not only attention but also don’t listen to others or only listen to pounce on opportunities to turn the conversation toward themselves and their accomplishments. Where self-centered people essentially say, ‘Notice me!’ narcissists say, “Notice how special and wonderful I am—and you’re not!”

Click here to read the rest of the blog post.

Typically, you will see groupings of the following traits in the n. Does the person you’re thinking of show several of these traits, or rather, a pattern of these traits?

{Unpredictable way of relating} warm, but then goes cold; pouts for attention; cuts others off emotionally; won’t talk or look at them, but will be sweet to the person standing at their side

{Withholding} affection, attention, acknowledgement

{Lacks empathy} teases, taunts, and berates another; gets irate and calls you sensitive when you tell them how it affects you

{Critical} judges others openly, taunts, compares and ridicules and is relentless about it, but then can turn around as say, “Just kidding!” and “Boy, are you sensitive!”

{Envious} cannot tolerate another person having what they feel they are lacking; could be anything from self-acceptance to friends to money to good looks to attention—and more

{Entitlement issues} feels deserving of good that others have; is never genuinely happy for another

{Shallow} lacks depth, as well as the ability to understand the complexity of what others say

{Sadistic} yes, they do inflict pain, often the emotional kind, and will find it very difficult to apologize (nor will they understand why they should)

{Rigid} there is no room for negotiation or compromise, as the n will feel like they are losing (which means, to an n, that they, themselves, are slipping away…), and this can feel, to the n, akin to death. They will not see it as such, but if we can, we can better understand how fragile the n is.

Not every person who has pronounced traits as named above will be diagnosed with NPD; only a trained psychotherapist or psychiatrist can make a definitive diagnosis. However, these traits—in varying degrees, with various embellishments, and in different ways depending on the person—provide excellent clues that alert to the possibility that someone may be more narcissistic than not, and coupled with our reaction to them, can help us be more aware in order to take care of ourselves.

From Narcissism: Surviving the Self-Involved

…If I feel anxious, I will find a way to manage my anxiety…One way to manage my anxiety is to breathe in, focus, and remind myself that engaging the narcissist will not simplify my life…” Surviving The Narcissist: 30 Days of Recovery

In an article titled “How to Improve Your Health Through Breath” from U.S. News & World Report, Ronit Fallek, MPA, describes the numerous benefits of deep breathing. Fallek, who is the Director of the Healing Arts Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, writes:

The best part is that breathing is something you do naturally every day and requires no additional supplies or equipment. With a few simple guidelines, your own breath can become a source of deep relaxation.”

Click here to read the article which includes instructions for a simple breathing exercise and relaxation technique.

When a parent or other person of influence in your life tries to teach you “how to be a better you” by saying: “This is how _____ does it” …keep this in mind, especially when it’s done with an accusatory air, with judgment, or as a confrontation that actually says you did something wrong to them:

It’s likely that the exchange is not about the current-day situation between the two of you

It’s likely the person is playing out the dynamic with you that he or she had with their own parent or significant caretaker

It’s likely that the words the person is saying to you and are feelings about her his/her own actions that have been transmuted into words that seemingly have to do with you. This is a complex, completely unconscious process but one that makes total sense if we examine it objectively.

For more help with navigating the emotional and fraught road of having a narcissistic parent, please see: When Your Parent Is a Narcissist

Each and every day, there are new opportunities to take steps to grow and to learn and to discover freedom. How can we gain perspective once recovery has begun?

Here are a few things to try:

—Seek the support of a licensed therapist who understands the dynamics of narcissism

—Assess the situation daily and take action accordingly

—Notice your feelings, but resist the temptation to act on them

—Recognize the control you do have, take stock in what you depend on yourself for

—Surround yourself with supportive, understanding people

—Create a daily plan for how you will address the unexpected

—Be willing to ask for and accept help

—Observe your part in the dynamic and understand this is not about blaming yourself, but about seeing what you can change to make the situation better for you

—Read about narcissism, and notice it in the news, on TV and radio—seeing narcissism “out there” and how it affects others can be helpful in recognizing the subtle signs of it in our own lives

From Surviving the Narcissist: 30 Days of Recovery

From Surviving the Narcissist: 30 Days of Recovery

Perhaps it is simply not healthy for me to see them.

It is a resolution I only tell myself.

It is not something I announce.

What good would it do?

I’m angry:

At the time I’ve lost

Because I’m not through it yet

Because I’ve lived like I don’t exist in order to make them happy

Because I’ve been used

Because I’ve participated

Because I’ve worked so hard not to see reality—but the reality I think they wanted me to see…that I was damaged (not them)

That they didn’t want me just for me

That they used me

And I looked up to them

They fed off of me and acted like I was using them

And I still looked up to them

Brainwashed

I’m sick and bored of putting so much effort into being fake

This is the part I can claim—my awareness—and put it to good use to help me recover, accept responsibility for my part, and begin to heal.

It doesn’t have to take forever, but it is a process. The moment I take the first step, change—a return to sanity—becomes reality.

I start.

—Meredith Resnick

A little unhealthy narcissism goes SUCH a long way. Here’s a few ways narcissism can roll right over a so-called friendship. Make yourself aware, so you don’t get crushed.

  • Pretending what happened didn’t, even though they caused it and it did happen and you were hurt by it. Then refuse to own any part of the exchange. “You always do this—turn something simple into a complex mess.”
  • Telling you to lighten up and not be hurt. “Other people have it worse than you. Your life is easy. Be grateful!”
  • Making a point of saying, after they did something hurtful—while looking you in the eye—that their own “growth” HAS TO BE about learning they need to stop apologizing all the time. “I’ve spent too long apologizing to people who have no interest in understanding ME.”
  • Telling you that you need to be responsible for your own feelings and that they are done taking care of you when in fact you’ve been the one walking on eggshells. “Grow up already—I hate having to watch my words around you.” (Recognize the co-dependent quality of this dynamic…what do you get out of coddling a person so intent on hurting you?)
  • When you are having a tough time expressing yourself, look at you almost contemptuously and say: “I’m sorry—you make absolutely no sense” or “Speak up already.”

It might be true that you can have these conversations with people who are not narcissistic, or who tip the scale less in that direction. If so, good. Either way, pay attention to your inner voice. Try not to react. Is the exchange with this person dragging your spirit down? If so, that could be a sign to ask yourself what you’re getting from this relationship, and if it’s really what you want.

 

This is not about politics. This is about personality. Note…the words include nothing about the self. (One has to wonder, is there a “there” there?) Blame and shame toward everyone else. Here you have it, published by the New York Times. Note the pattern…nothing really substantial, just throwing spaghetti at a wall.

Here, from the New York Times: The 282 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete List.

When Alisa Bowman, author of the memoir Project: Happily Ever After asked me questions sometime back about narcissism, one of the things she asked was this:

I have a friend who is dating a narcissist. He’s really good at convincing her that she’s the problem. It takes an army of friends like me to prove to her that it’s the other way around. Do you have advice for people who are probably married to narcissists but who blame themselves for their failed marriage?

Here’s how I answered her:

One of the underlying themes of narcissism – though not said directly – is the sense that it is always the other person who is responsible for the narcissist’s happiness, contentment and, more globally, life. Since the partner cannot provide the cure to make the narcissist happy, devaluation comes next.

It’s important to understand that the interior life of the narcissist is equivalent to a black hole. Narcissist’s have a very fragile internal life. Deep within they feel a dense of profound emptiness, of being null, void, empty, a shell.

Think for a moment how frightening that would be, to live like that day in and day out. But instead of finding a way out of the hole, the narcissist projects his or her fear of nothingness on another person. Once we take it on – always unknowingly – we feel their pain and desperation. But we cannot fix it because the original problem does not belong to us.

Narcissism is a slippery, and convoluted slope. It can take years for one partner to realize the other is narcissistic. In fact, it can take decades. One of the greatest gifts we give ourselves is becoming aware of its effects, and how, in turn, it affects us. This we do have control over, which is very good news.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM): “The essential feature of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts. When diagnosing, the DSM calls that five or more of the traits listed below be present.

I have found it helpful to think of the various ways these clinical descriptions can look in the real world. This helps makes the general descriptions more recognizable and therefore, more relatable. Once something is relatable, it’s easier to see how it shows up in your life. I have used red/italics to show some of the ways the general description provided in the DSM might show up in your life, either via the narcissistic person or how you feel when in contact with one.

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (along with the need to cut down anyone else who might in the slightest way threaten the fragile, out-of-proportion crafted self portrait)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love (and will likely tell you they have one or all of these things; and that they were achieved solo, as in no help…or because he or she was a super-great leader and others wanted to be lead)
  • Believes that they are special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions) (not just “only the best for me” but “only the best are attracted to me because they want to be with the best”)
  • Requires excess admiration (you’re only as good as your last compliment of them)
  • Has a sense of entitlement (whether verbalized or not, gives off the sense that he or she alone is deserving of whatever he or she decides)
  • Is interpersonally exploitative (prepare to feel used sooner or later)
  • Lacks empathy; is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others (it won’t take long for the frost to set in; typically, others will wonder what they themselves did wrong)
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of them (their identity feels so precarious it seems to them that it could be stolen at any moment)
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes (keeps people at a distance to maintain facade)
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