It is very common to look back upon your history with a narcissist, realizing that it takes time to know and understand the fullness of the pathology you have endured.  Narcissists are defined by traits like high control, low empathy, insensitivity to your emotions, defensiveness, manipulations, superiority attitudes, and lots of dysregulation.  Ongoing exposure to their mannerisms can foster a feeling of normalcy simply because it is so repetitive.  

In retrospect, you can see how you were drawn into unwieldly reactions of anger, defensiveness, confusion, and the like.  And as you remained inside their sphere of influence, a bond of trauma was formed.  

Time can be a teacher, though, and as you become educated about the nature of narcissism and its impact upon you, adjustments can be made.  Not everyone breaks free from the bond, yet the possibility certainly exists.  If you ponder key insights about your experiences, attitudinal and behavioral adjustments can follow.

In other words, you can move from victim to survivor.  You can adjust from being an unhealthy reactor to a wise initiator.  Survivors understand the necessity of applying mind over emotion.  Developing acute awareness, you can learn to override the chaotic emotions and thoughts inherent in a narcissistic relationship.  

That said, let’s focus on some primary truths that can inform your efforts to break away from the bonds created by the narcissist.

  • On many levels, the narcissist is a troubled soul.  They carry a plethora of unresolved emotions.  This includes a history of feeling rejected, struggles with hidden unworthiness, anger, resentment, fear, shame, and more.  Instead of applying mind over emotion, they have done the reverse…emotions override the mind.
  • In the midst of their obvious pathology, narcissists have become masters of rationalization.  Being unwilling to face their inner turmoil, they concoct alternate explanations for their many problems by pointing outward.  They blame you for their deficiencies as they also blame events and circumstances.  
  • Their emotional intelligence is uncommonly low.  Because of the magnitude of unfinished personal business, they approach people and circumstances with twisted reasoning.  They are unable to accurately apply empathy and understanding because they do not understand who they really are.
  • Narcissists are runners. They want to portray themselves as the standard bearers of goodness, yet they have a history of keeping secrets and being evasive.  They seek to place distance between themselves and their history of discord with significant others.  They run from inconvenient truth.
  • Narcissists unload anger toward you because they are angry in general.  Believing the world has treated them poorly, they have no peace to draw upon.  This sets them up to angrily force you to comply with their needs.  Peace, to them, is the byproduct of your deference and when you do not defer, anger is inevitable.
  • Their defensiveness is a mask for insecurity.  They are unwilling to listen to your distinct feelings and ideas because they presume differences mean rejection.  They have a longstanding, baked-in pessimism that people would ever comprehend how unique they are.
  • Narcissists are more interested in controlling than harmonizing.  Cynically, they are guided by the thought: “You will either be in control or you will be controlled.”  The concept of free choice and tolerance are anathema to them.

As you digest these insights, you can comprehend the narcissist’s improper behaviors toward you with clarity.  They desperately want you to play along with their cognitive distortions, but armed with a clear understanding of their misguided improprieties, you can determine to relieve yourself from the “requirement” of remaining inside their orbit.  

As best as you can:

Refrain from matching pitch with their combative attitudes.  

Purge yourself of the competitive need to return to them the pain they have given you.  

Instead, have minimal contact with them, if you need to have contact at all.  

Establish personal boundaries, which means defining who you wish to be and how you choose to prioritize your life.  

Resist the temptation to redeem the one who feels no need to be redeemed.  

By all means, shed yourself from the flunky label the narcissist has imposed. 

Remind yourself that you are a person of freedom and worth.

Yes, you have been victimized by the narcissist’s pathological initiatives, but your experiences with that person do not have to define you.  You are a victim who can become a survivor. Dignity, respect, and civility can be your calling cards, and if the narcissist is incapable of appreciating such truth, those qualities are yours to claim nonetheless.  

You become unbound by refuting their troubled messages, anchoring instead in a mind awake.

~Les Carter, Ph.D.

To watch the video on this topic, click here.