Being selfish to the core, narcissists are not interested in connecting with you beyond the utility you represent to them.  They must be in the power position, which automatically means you are in the lesser position.  It’s a poorly conceived strategy for relationships, nonetheless it’s what they do, and inevitably it becomes unsustainable.

Once the predictable relationship collapse unfolds, your strain can become palpable, and it’s hard to keep your focus on clean initiatives.  In other words, narcissists can bring out the worst in you.  To keep that from happening, let’s identify ten of the most common mistakes you can make once you see their manipulation games.

As your awareness increases, so can your resolve to take the better path.

  1. You can suppress your primary emotions and initiatives.  There will be episodes when your feelings toward the narcissist can be harsh, but as you realize how ugly the tension can be, you might take a minimalist approach.  You fear “poking the bear,” which means you might allow remain silent when you shouldn’t.
  1. Other times, though, you become sucked into predictably ineffective arguing.  Narcissists will not be bashful in creating arguments, so your natural instinct will be to offer retorts.  This will lead to non-productive “point-counterpoint” exchanges that only increases your agitation.
  1. You respond to a narcissist’s controlling attitudes with your own controlling attitudes.  Central to the make-up of a narcissist is the need to control.  Not wanting to be overpowered, you can respond in kind.  To the narcissist, your counter-control is merely an invitation to become even more stubborn, and it virtually never ends well.
  1. You plead with the narcissist to adjust and understand.  Since narcissists lack empathy, they have a deep history of not knowing or caring about the real you.  In moments of crisis, you can plead with that person to understand.  But think carefully…when have those pleas ever been well received?
  1. You can’t get past your own simmering anger and disgust.  Often, as you contemplate how a narcissist has mistreated you, dark feelings arise.  That is not unusual and you should not shame yourself because of what you feel.  Some people, though, park on those dark emotions to the extent that it defines them, meaning the narcissist has taken up residence inside their minds.
  1. You feel compelled to justify and explain when accused.  Narcissists “solve” their problems by finding someone to blame, meaning you.  Because of the offensive nature of their accusations, you can instinctively protect yourself by offering explanations.  But, being competitive, narcissists are not good listeners.  They have zero interest in knowing what you feel or what motivates you.
  1. You dread being fully honest.  Over the course of time with narcissists, it becomes clear that they want to uncover “dirt” about you as a means of gaining an advantage.  While it is reasonable to use discernment in your self-disclosures, you can take your caution too far by unnecessarily keeping secrets or telling lies.  Your character suffers in the process.
  1. You become adept at hiding.  Going further, not only might you dread self-disclosure, but you can become coy and evasive in general.  Your relationship with the narcissist can resemble a cat and mouse game of sneakiness.  Your authenticity takes a nose dive.
  1. You engage in self-sabotaging rebellion.  After being rejected and criticized repeatedly by a narcissist, rebellion can build inwardly.  That’s not always a wrong reaction.  It can, however, prompt you to become so defiant that it leads to decisions that ultimately harm you.
  1. You remain embarrassed when people learn what is happening in your life.  Over time, it is difficult to keep your tensions with a narcissist from becoming public.  Some people offer support, while others are judgmental.  Your feelings of shame can become too strong when you are judged, leading you to feeling overly apologetic for being who you are.

As you consider how these reactions can dominate, it can prompt you to seek a better way of reacting post narcissistic abuse.  Yes, you have confused emotions, but you can examine them and resolve to move forward. 

Yes, you may be bruised, but you can also become wiser.

Let’s put the spotlight on some key insights that can guide you away from potential mistakes and toward growth:

  • Your life is most meaningful when you stay grounded in love.  The narcissist has proven incapable of providing it, but you can choose to love yourself and find healthy individuals who are committed to love as well.
  • The narcissist is not qualified to be your judge.  That person absolutely should not have the final word about who you are.
  • Your anger toward the narcissist often makes sense, but keep in mind, it loses its effectiveness when it only produces raw complaints.  Let your anger lead toward firm assertiveness.
  • Narcissists feed off of your pain, so it is reasonable to stay away from them.  They will never be part of your healing team.
  • Even though the narcissist dislikes your independence, it’s the only way to go.  You will heal as you find the freedom to say: “This is who I am, no apologies.”

Bottom line, you are at your worst when you take your cues from a narcissist, exchanging one lousy lifestyle strategy for another.  Instead, ask yourself: “What is good about me and how can I lean into that?”

Narcissists take delight when you flail and moan, but that’s their psychological unhealthiness.  You, on the other hand, can allow yourself to grieve what you’ve experienced, then use that grief as motivation to become your best version of yourself.

~Les Carter, Ph.D.

To watch the video on this topic, click here.