Ignoring the Narcissist may be difficult, but in the end, well worth the struggle
After extended exposure to narcissists, you begin realizing that they have taken up residence inside your mind. A narcissist’s controlling, entitled attitudes and behaviors annoy you greatly, yes. And you wish to be free of their manipulations and ever-present criticism and unsolicited advice. But in the midst of that annoyed feeling, it dawns on you that you have been trained to filter too much of your life through that person, and ignoring the narcissist seems impossible.
When you are with that person, or even when that person is not present, you question:
“Is he (she) going to get mad at me?”
“If I am too distinct, is it going to create new problems?”
“What does it take to keep this person off my back?”
“Will I ever please this person?”
Narcissists need to be the most important person in any relationship.
They have an insatiable need for superiority and the way they find it is to keep you feeling less-than. You represent supply to them. To them, you exist to keep prop up their egos. That’s the way it is in the world of the narcissist.
Lost on the narcissist is the notion that you are free to be whoever you choose to be. They honestly believe it is their prerogative (or duty) to direct your life, letting know if and when you meet the appropriate standard. And, of course, you know who has written the Book of Standards.
Instead of running your thoughts, feelings, and decisions through that narcissist’s filter, what if you decided to go your own way? What if you ignored the narcissist?
It can be a delightful thought to start ignoring the narcissist. After all, they are so sanctimonious, thinking they can do a better job running your life than you could do. But…ignoring the narcissist could come with a price. They have all sorts of tricks up their sleeve they could use if you don’t bow to them. They might rage. They can give the silent treatment. They can withhold affection or favors. They could run a smear campaign. They can go into high control with money.
And when they do (or threaten to do) these things, you can go back to those haunting questions, wondering what will be next.
But at some point, you will need to ask yourself these 5 different questions:
“Do I really have to have the narcissist’s approval before I can think, or feel, or decide as I wish?”
“How did I let myself get caught in this trap? Where’s the exit?”
“Even if the narcissist becomes angry, do I have the right (or better yet, the responsibility) to make my own decisions?”
“When I am chided for being me, is it even necessary to defend or rationalize? That has gotten me nowhere in the past.”
“And what about my self respect? Do I have to forfeit that just to keep a self-serving narcissist appeased?”
There are other traits you will need to embrace as you break away from a narcissist’s grip and start ignoring the narcissist:
Assertiveness, boundaries, self-confidence, calm firmness, and resolve…to name just a few.
But before you can build upon those, let’s agree that it begins when you turn off the filter the narcissist expects you to use. That filter is not there for your benefit, and it inhibits you from being the person you were meant to be.
When it is clear that have been derailed by a bullying or uncaring narcissist, your initial step toward clean independence is to resolve to listen foremost to your own inner voice. That means you will need to ignore, or at the very least, sidestep the misinformation fed to you by the narcissist. They have no intention of guiding you toward any good place.
Les Carter, Ph.D.