When was the last time a narcissist took a low road in dealing with you?
Notice my use of the word “when” since I assume it has happened many times over. Narcissists have such a need to establish and maintain a superior position over you that they cannot stop themselves from seizing upon opportunities to become a critical narcissist and put you into a lowered position.
A long time ago they decided they have to prove themselves as adequate and their favorite tactic is to elevate themselves at someone else’s expense, which is where you come in. By treating you with their predictable behaviors of derision, insults, arguing, and sabotaging (to name just a few) they actually feel delighted in the sense that their ego is stroked. Who cares about the damage it brings you…critical narcissists are known for low levels of empathy. They just know they feel temporarily powerful, and to them, that’s all that matters.
So how do you respond when the narcissist criticizes? Most people respond in one of two ways:
1. They can collapse in defeat. (“Maybe I’m not all that worthy anyway.”)
2. They respond in kind. (“I’ll show you who’s in charge around here.”)
Let me propose a third way: Don’t enter into the narcissist’s arena.
Don’t play the one-up/one-down game. In your weariness of their haughtiness, you can decide that if they feel the need to go low, that is their choice to make. But knowing you do not need their approval to be who you are, you can opt-out.
The narcissistic tendency to insult and belittle is what it is. And when you are up against their pathology, you can remind yourself: “This is why I need strong, consistent boundaries. I’ll not let a disturbed person determine who I am going to be in this moment.” Show yourself to be other, to be mature. That’s how you have the better influence, and that’s when you know you are a person of decency.
Dr. Les Carter