Following on from my very popular post about marriage to a covert narcissist our conversation now migrates to the topic of “How to live with a narcissist.”
I am trying to make this post a big more action focused. First up the terminology: you won’t find the word victim here, it has far too many negatives – I am going to use the word target instead. I would encourage you to also start shifting your focus in such a small way – the language you use will steer the pattern of thinking that follows.
The Aim: regardless of your situation and how well versed you are in this context I want you to implement one thing for me please. Be original. Do not generically swap out one problem for another. Tackle your own problem at its source – You. Trying to control a narcissist or change his/her behavior is a losing battle and a miserable one.
Trap #1 – Blame Game: If the focus of all your conversation start with something like s/he did ……..? or s/he is …….? then you may be stuck in a rut whereby you have focused all your attention on the negativity of blaming someone else for being themselves. Yes – you should accept them for who they are, if you think they are evil try to rephrase the thoughts into ” they do evil things” and ignore the core essence of their being – that is for their god to judge once he/she passes on, not you, that is one job you don’t want to volunteer for.
You Create Your Own Shame
First up I offer these words of wisdom from a brilliant book I read called Iron John:
Robert Bly provides the following:
The traditional way of differentiating guilt from shame is this: Shame, it is said, is the sense that you are an utterly inadequate person on this planet, and probably nothing can be done about it. Guilt is the sense that you have done one thing wrong, and you can atone for it.
When you start accepting that your actions are bad (guilt) it becomes a slippery slope down to the world of shame (e.g. you are bad). First you are made to feel that every action you take is bad then you stop taking actions and once you have become stagnant in life then the decay takes hold.
The same philosophy as above could serve well in this case – concentrate on your actions on a case by case basis. You are not a god so you have no business judging your soul as good or bad.
These are all very subtle emotions and probably go one behind the scene without you putting much thought to it. Unfortunately these are the exact lessons that most people don’t learn until it is too late. Experience is a brilliant thing to learn from but wouldn’t it be nice if you could spare yourself (or someone else) all the pain and time.
Video courtesy of John Bradshaw.
Do Not Let Your Self Esteem Erode
What most targets don’t understand (until it is too late) is that once you take on board the shame the problem quickly escalates to your attacked your self-esteem.
If the shame starts taking hold and you start thinking that you are in essence not great then your sense of self-worth has started a downhill spiral and eventually your self-esteem will bottom out. Don’t give it away – yes – it is yours and can’t be taken without your consent. May consent is not the perfect word but what I am trying to get at is that the narcissist has this way of shaming you into dropping all your defenses, then opening up your soul for their plunder (while you quietly watch on).
Do not Generalize or Take Advice that is not relevant to Your Situation.
That is a big contradictory I know. Do not believe everything you read on the internet or see on TV as gospel (yes, even this article you are reading now). Your situation is unique and no one else can give you the right advice for you. For a start – no one else knows what is going on in your head and you can’t communicate it all effectively so they never will.
Be wary of generalized advice particularly from counselors and therapists. If the focus is on the narcissist and not on you then you are doing something wrong – after all you are not trying to fix them. If you are then you need to stop that futile game – Narcissist can’t be fixed – sometime they can choose to fix themselves but outside invention seldom sparks that choose.
Remember – the solution need to be centered (in full) on you and on your needs/wants. Secondary considerations may be how to go about achieving them but still you are the focus.
Do: Build Your Own Autonomy
Until you are both mentally and physically self-sufficient you will be running uphill with the risk of sliding back down again. Here are some of the most common mistakes
- physical dependencies – cigarettes, alcohol,
- mental dependencies – drama, emotionally energy
- financial dependencies – money, welfare
- geographical dependencies – roof over your head
- medical dependencies – doctors, pharmacies
- attention dependencies – attention (negative or positive)
This is by far and large the hardest step which is why I have prepared an entire series of posts on the subject. Click here to go to my AUTONOMY BLUEPRINT series.
Do: Be Prepared to Walk Away at any time
It sounds very simple to say but a lot harder to put into practice. Women tend to do a lot better with this step than the men. Men: sometimes you just need to accept defeat and put yourself first. If you have kids then they are a lot better off not watching you turn into a puddle of a man in front of them.
Do: Reserve Your Precious Energy for Yourself
As I alluded to in the section above about shame your emotions are your own to control. One step further is to say that your energy is your own to give away too. If you are feeling tired or you are feeling run down they are clear signs that
Disinterest: One powerful tool I used to deal with my ex-narcissist partner is to completely remove myself away from any chance of responding to the drama. It is a very hard thing to do but it is possible. The key lesson I want to impart on you here is that all the fuel for the drama comes from the target. I will say that again for dramatic effect and to hopefully impact on you a bit more
All the energy in the drama filled situation originates from the narcissist’s target. Have you noticed that the targets are uniquely selected not just anyone?
Hi there, My friends call me Remy. I am a middle aged divorcee that has decided not to walk the path other people decided to set down for me. I have gained the most strength in my life from my failures. Resilience is a very powerful attribute if you can manage it, I am still building mine up but stick with me and we can forge ahead together.