Narcissism is a hot topic in the blogging world and in magazines these days. Something like 25% of the population suffers from narcissism, a personality disorder that has three traits. So this means that we share our workspace, our homes, and our communities with people who often act like bottom feeders and who require someone to plug into energetically to survive. That someone is you.
The common traits of narcissists are:
- A sense of entitlement. This includes you doing things for them, even if you are inconvenienced. And if you don’t cater to narcissists’ insatiable needs, they throw tantrums, hurl insults at you, or get violent in other ways. They are the king and you are merely the court jester as far as they’re concerned.
- They lack empathy. They can’t feel what you feel. They are unable to walk in another person’s shoes–not a mile, not even an inch. Yet, they will provoke certain emotions like fear or anger in you because they get a charge from any interaction with someone. This is how they plug into our energy fields and they suck us dry of our life force.
- They have a grandiose view of themselves or they give the impression that they do but actually they feel empty inside.
Obvious narcissists brag constantly about themselves. They announce that they are narcissists like this is an enviable trait. They’re actually comical in a way in their predictability. They are so competitive with others because they have to be the best at everything which is impossible. They have so little sense of self despite their grandiosity which is why they need constant approval.
They tell others how nice or good they are. And they absolutely cannot tolerate any criticism which is why they’re a pain as far as employees, housemates, spouses, partners, teammates or group members. I met one narcissist author in a writing group who dominated the group with her boring stories. Then when I suggested some corrections she could make to improve her story, she pulled the stone wall approach on me. And the other members of the group, of course, sided with “their queen”. It was sick, I never returned to the writing group.
Narcissists require followers and followings both on and offline. Social media caters to them as there is a built-in fan or follower feature. Some narcissists such as Madonna and Lady Gaga are exhibitionist narcissists, but not all people suffering from this personality disorder call out for this kind of attention. They’re all power hungry though and they have different ways of acquiring this power but they all use some form of control or manipulation so that they can dominate others. When one of their approaches fails to work they come out of left field with another one. They are loose canons in this way.
Now, my counselor, doctor, and other experts tell me that there are two ways of dealing with (if you live or work with a narcissist) them. The first is to practice non-contact. This means that you actually ignore the narcissist. And I can tell you that this is no easy fete when you share a house with one. The other tool is to placate by lying to them and telling them how good, and nice they are. If you constantly praise them they remain calm and actually seem to get along with you. But I can tell you there is a high price to pay in that you lose your personality in the process. And this creates a co-dependent relationship in which the narcissists never gets the therapy required to heal the disorder.
And you, my dear, end up as an empty shell who fails to complete your life mission simply because you have no energy to do so.
The best strategy, of course, is an exit plan. If you are in a domestic situation, is to start squirreling away money and look for a friend or other house situation you can relocate. If you are in a job situation, put the feelers out for a new job. If the narcissist, is a friend, cut them out and expect them to stalk or harass you for a while. You might require a restraining order for a domestic partner after you relocate. Keep e-mails they send you as documents for a court case and take photos of the person stalking you with your phone. Stay empowered and in control of your situation.
Other tips when you choose the no contact approach. Watch your posture and you might want to watch the power poses Ted Talks video. Instead of getting into a heated discussion with them, walk away and take deep breaths. Go listen to your favorite songs on headphones or watch a favorite movie. Go for a walk or call a friend and go out. Your job is to keep a high vibration. They hate that.
Never make the mistake of confiding in a narcissist because he or she will use your words against you at a later date. And they will dramatize your past actions or feelings to benefit them and show you in a shameful light. Also, know that they project their weaknesses onto you simply because they can’t stand seeing that image reflecting back to them during their mirror-gazing. In their mind, you are always wrong and they are always righteous. “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the meanest of them all?”
Don’t be fooled by a narcissist’s good deeds. They do this to blow themselves up so others see how “good” and “nice,” they are. But the clue is that genuinely kind people don’t need to tell others about these traits. Narcissists will sometimes play at being humble, but don’t be fooled by this act. They are excellent actors which is why so many end up on stage or on the big screen. They are also liars and you might even fall for these lies until you see that they don’t add up. Don’t listen to their words, watch what they do instead.
I hope my advice is helpful for you. If you find yourself enmeshed with one of these empty-shell people, go get therapy. And it also helps to have the crisis line number handy since narcissists can play a number on us that leaves us feeling trapped, vulnerable, and desperate. The best strategy is the exit plan. You’re not doing anyone favors by sticking around as an energy source for a distorted person. And even with family members, distance yourself for the most part and only interact when necessary.
And if you still need an example of a narcissist think of the queen in Snow White or the next president of the US or the mother character in the movie Mommy Dearest.
Please note that I’m not trained in psychology. I am a metaphysical coach who has had a lifetime of living with and dealing with narcissists. And only recently did I learn about this. I’m on a healing journey as I recover me that was lost along the way. I wrote a memoir, “Woman Sleeping on the Couch” about this recovery.