3 Common Approaches to Dealing with Narcissists – that keep you stuck

hand drawn illustration of HSP melting into a puddle, reading and freaking out about narcissistsDealing with narcissistic people is tough!

Yet, without the right core strategy, it’s even tougher.

So much so, that many people end up feeling like there’s no effective way to deal with narcissists and be rid of them at all.

Here are 3 common approaches that are easy to get stuck in:

 

1. The Dark Approach

 

You’re convinced narcissists are just everywhere. There is no point trying to create a narcissist-free life because there would barely be any people left!

The Bad News about this: You’re in a state of victim-hood and surrender. You believe there is no point fighting how things are and you might as well make the best of it!

The Good News about this: You are in a state where you recognize how big the problem really is: it’s consuming your whole life.

What you’re not seeing: You are constantly making narcissist-friendly decisions in your life. Your behaviour encourages them to come closer. The environments you’ve learned to put up with may indeed be a Narcissist Fun Fair, but there are other environments out there.

On a deeper level: Chances are high that you will need to give up on some unhealthy close relationships and trade them in for being alone, for the time being.

Traps: By blaming the world for being a bad place you stay stuck and you may indeed create a self-fulfilling prophesy for yourself.

2. The Cognitive Approach

 

This is when you’re convinced that by reading about narcissism and paying close attention you can steer clear of them effectively.

The Bad News about this: You are on high-alert, thinking about narcissists a lot and wracking your brain trying to come up with a fool-proof recipe for spotting narcissists. This is stressful and can lead to a never-ending binge search for more information.

The Good News about this: You’re taking action to protect yourself by becoming more informed. You realise that it is possible to steer clear of narcissists and/or deal with them better so you don’t get hurt.

What you’re not seeing: You are very focused on them and not aware of how your own behaviours, beliefs and emotions draw narcissists closer. By not doing the work to heal your own personal wounds, you will miss many of the narcissism cues even when you are paying close attention. Your own wounds function as blind spots, no matter how informed you are.

On a deeper level: You’re afraid to be vulnerable and explore your own emotional wounds. In order to not be manipulated by narcissists, you will need to get to know yourself really well. You can’t protect yourself if you can’t be present with all of your feelings. Your feelings are a more important – and more determining – part of you than your thoughts.

Traps: Doing endless research on trying to understand narcissism eventually leads you down a rabbit hole of never-ending stress. Abuse memories will keep getting triggered and all that information won’t give you a way to change your situation. You may feel productive because you are learning more, but in effect, you are running in place. Cognitive information can not resolve the emotional pain you feel, no matter how hard you try.

 

3. The Wallowing Approach

 

This is when you feel your feelings, but those feelings don’t seem to have any resolution. You get triggered a lot and end up collapsing in a heap. Because you’re so overwhelmed with emotion, you struggle to take any productive practical action.

The Bad News about this: Your energy gets zapped all the time. All the crying, fist-balling, depression, panic and confusion is exhausting.

The Good News about this: You are in touch with your feelings and not afraid to be vulnerable.

What you’re not seeing: Your feelings are trying to point you to what needs to change. This can be a change in your practical circumstances, your response to others, or your beliefs about yourself. Without making the needed changes, your emotions will keep hollering.

On a deeper level: You may need to make some really big changes in your life, bigger than you are comfortable with.

Traps: Doing endless healing work trying to “process”, “let go of” or “release” your feelings can lead to a lot of unnecessary suffering. The feelings keep coming up no matter how much healing work you do.

In a similar vein, you may be doing a lot of forgiveness work, hoping it will make you feel better and help you move on or cope better. Yet, none of this will help unless you listen to your feelings and take the action they want you to take first. That action can be to stand up to someone, be less available or refuse to work unpaid over-hours for example.

What to do?

 

To effectively create a narcissist-free life you need a combination of the right information + feel and understand your feelings + take effective action steps + a process to heal deep disempowering beliefs.

If you don’t have all of those pieces and know you need them, I offer all that in the No to Narcissists Programme for Highly Sensitive People

 

 

A Light-Hearted Guide to Narcissists
First aid reading if you're struggling with narcissists or maybe-narcissists
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