Emergency Toolkit: 5 Tools to Help Deal With Narcissists
Here is a list of strategies you can utilize to make dealing with narcissists easier. Of course, the first, last and constant suggestion is to go no contact with them, and with their enablers. If you cannot do that for whatever reason, here are some things you can do.
1. Stop taking it personally.
It's true that narcissists are cruel, abusive, spiteful and manipulative, but it's also true that they don't actually want to destroy you. They don't even see you as a person. They are simply taking the feelings they feel for themselves and projecting them on to you. It is literally all about them. You are not even on the radar, no matter how it feels. You're getting caught in the crossfire of a battle they are fighting with themselves. So don't take it personally, because it isn't. This is a person who is drowning in self-hatred and shame for who they are. It has nothing to do with you. This can be hard to understand, so if you need more information, articles that explain it in more detail: Yes, The Narcissist Hates You and The Narcissist's True Motivation are good places to start.
2. Stop reacting.
Narcissists abuse others because they are miserable, disordered people. Their emotions overwhelm them and they don't know what to do about that so they need a release. Other people are used like punching bags at these times. Another big reason narcissists abuse is because the self-hatred they feel is so strong that they cannot handle it. They need to pretend it's coming from somebody else so they can deny it or defend against it. They need to be able to say, "I don't hate me, you hate me! I didn't do anything wrong, you did something wrong!" The person they are trying to do it to happens to be you. They need to upset you so that you will fight them back or deny what they are saying about you. This is the only way they can then try to force you to take ownership of - and responsibility for - their feelings.
If you don't get upset, if you don't get angry, if you refuse to react emotionally at all, if you don't seem to care, in other words, they can't do that. This causes them a huge amount of stress and discomfort. This often results in the curious phenomenon of the narcissist shrieking that you don't care about them because you refuse to let them abuse and blame you. They feel that way because you're forcing them to deal with and confront their own feelings about themselves and it's scary and painful. But it's their problem. Their emotions are their problem and their responsibility, your emotions are your problem and your responsibility. Once you realize it isn't personal, it makes it a lot easier to stop reacting. Simply respond that they are entitled to their opinions and let it go. The articles entitled How to Stop Reacting and How to Shut The Narcissist Down: Responding vs Reacting that explain in detail how to do this. It can be tough but it really does work.
3. Stop explaining.
Narcissists generally misinterpret, misunderstand and mis-perceive things. This often results in them accusing people of things the person did not do, did not say or does not feel. Some of this is just spite and lying or gaslighting, but some of it is because they really do believe you feel that way. Narcissists believe feelings are facts. They believe their feelings are actual facts that are not subject to interpretation. In fact, they interpret reality to match their feelings. "I feel this way, therefore it is so." Because of the power of emotion, they cannot be swayed - even by tangible proof. Their feelings would not lie to them, therefore you are lying to them. There is no use arguing with this. It is completely illogical and totally unreasonable. So don't. Stop explaining your side and stop defending yourself against things that didn't happen. As stated above, simply respond that they are entitled to their opinions and move on. This keeps them from derailing the conversation and stops arguments. They aren't listening to your explanations anyway, and they don't want to believe you. It's very important to them that their feelings be correct in these situations. If you need this explained in more detail, the articles entitled Narcissists Believe Feelings Are Facts and Stop Explaining to The Narcissist explain it in depth.
4. Stop expecting the narcissist to be like everybody else.
This can be a tough one. It's hard to let go of normal expectations. But with narcissists, it's only going to frustrate and upset you because the narcissist is not going to meet these expectations. They are not like you. They are not going to become like you, no matter how many times you point it out. They cannot think or reason the way that you do. They do not perceive things the way that you do. They cannot be somebody else any more than you can. You might as well ask them to be a foot taller. Your expectations are reasonable and normal, but the narcissist is not reasonable or normal. This approach frustrates you and it frustrates them. They are what they are and you are what you are. No one could ever make you believe 2+2=5, right? Because you know that's wrong. To the narcissist, this is what it feels like you are trying to do, convince them that 2+2=5. What you are saying makes no sense to them. It isn't their fault and it isn't your fault. It's just the way it is.
You cannot communicate with this person on any real level. They just don't get it. You can describe a beautiful rainbow to a blind man all day, but if he can't see it, then he can't see it. If he has been blind all his life, the words "blue, green, red, yellow" mean nothing to him and the conversation is a failure from the jump. The way you are experiencing things and describing them mean nothing to him, because he has no frame of reference and no experience to understand it with. This is the same with narcissists. Your experience is not their experience. Your understanding is not their understanding. You're describing a rainbow and they have been blind all their lives.
5. Hold on to your boundaries.
Even though narcissists are not like everybody else, that doesn't mean they get a pass for abuse or disrespect. They understand right from wrong, and they know what consequences are. So hold on to your boundaries and enforce them when they are crossed. If you have set a boundary that you will not continue the conversation if you are being disrespected, then this is what needs to happen. We teach other people how to treat us, and if we allow disrespect, abuse or other harmful things to happen, then this is what will happen. Boundaries are very important, but remember that boundaries are not about changing the narcissist's behavior. They are about changing yours and refusing to put up with abuse any longer. The narcissist may or may not change their behavior, but you won't be putting up with it anymore either way if you stick to your boundaries. The article entitled Yes, The Narcissist Can Change details boundaries and how they work.
So there you have it. Five things you can do to make dealing with narcissists easier. As always, if the narcissist escalates to the point of violence or you are afraid, leave the situation and/or call the police. Also as always, No contact is the best and most permanent solution to the endless drama and abuse from narcissists, but in the event that it is not feasible, If you do these things you will find that you don't get upset, you don't get stressed out and you don't get trapped into hours' long arguments. Remember, a narcissist is going to be a narcissist. Nothing can change that. But you can change your role in the situation, and once you do that, you find that things are a lot easier.