It is incredibly difficult to maneuver through relationship challenges with narcissists because they cannot come to terms with differences between themselves and you.  Defined by selfishness, they are incapable of collaboration.  Instead, they seek to gratify personal needs at your expense.

When you invite narcissists to engage in a balanced discussion about relationship strains, that balance is nowhere to be found.  They have convinced themselves that they are the Gold Standard and you are not.  That’s their starting point, and very little can be said to dissuade such thinking.

Before you ever showed up, narcissistic individuals have concocted an Alternate Reality.  Convinced that you are a bumbling idiot, they rationalize how it is their prerogative to control you.  This positions them to “see” reasons to invalidate you as a way of proving how superior they are.  

There are five truths to remember as you interpret a narcissist’s many frustrating invalidations of you:

  1. Their Alternate Reality is a defense mechanism.  Narcissists are deeply wounded souls who view others as unreliable, oppositional, and unenlightened.  Regardless of your good intentions, narcissists maintain an impenetrable psychological shield that inhibits them from receiving reasonable input from you.
  1. They are steeped in paranoia.  Based on a history of hurt and confusion, narcissists are unable to trust.  But taking that thought a bit further, they presume in advance that you are against them, even as evidence shows otherwise.  Their psychological filters are broken.
  1. They are by nature pessimistic.  Even when you display positive traits, their immaturity prompts them to put a negative spin where it does not belong.  As an example, they might see how others hold you in high regard, so their interpretation is: “Those people don’t know you like I do.”
  1. Humiliation and degradation are their go-to motivations.  With twisted logic, they conclude: “If I can convince you that you are truly inadequate, then you will see the light and decide to be as I say you should be.”
  1. They genuinely do not understand how to love.  The pessimism that defines them inhibits their capacity for kindness, patience, and affirmation.  Their idea of love is your conformity.

This odd view of the world sets up a form of self-talk that reflects the dishonesty feeding their dysfunction.  In their Alternate Reality, they think one way, but as you apply common sense, you can learn to see straight through it.  For instance, narcissists tell themselves:

  • I just want to be happy.  (No, they want to dominate.)
  • You’d be a better person if you just followed my lead.  (No, they are looking for you to become a puppet, or worse, a punching bag.)
  • If I get angry, it was your fault.  (No, narcissists are a walking bundle of tension looking to displace their pain.)
  • Other people are too negative.  (No, their definition of negative is that they don’t agree with their proclamations.)
  • I’m not really a controlling person, but you are.  (No, their proclivity toward criticism and unsolicited advice says otherwise.)
  • The only reason I keep secrets is your inability to deal with the truth.  (No, narcissists are sneaky connivers.)
  • I’m really good at heart.  (No, they may have pleasant moments, but in episodes of strain, their goodness quickly gives way to meanness.)
  • If you’d just cooperate, you’d find I’m a fair-minded person. (No, they are “fair” only to the extent that you remain subordinate.)

With very little capacity for love, and with deficient coping skills, narcissists find personal meaning by demeaning you. Of course, that makes zero sense.  As long as their self-talk is dishonest, they give plenty of evidence of inner brokenness.  For instance, their inability to assess life realistically is evidenced by their easy agitation, their inclination toward contempt, their inability to accept or forgive, and their lack of willingness to empathize.  

As narcissists lie to themselves, they project their unfinished business onto you.  It’s as if they are saying: “I’m putting you in charge of calming the chaos inside me.”

How realistic is that?

As you learn to identify how a narcissist’s Alternate Reality leads to lying self-talk, perhaps you’ll conclude: “I’m sorry you are in so much psychological pain, but as long as you refuse to be honest about your Real Self, I’m very limited in my ability to pull you out of your spin cycle.”

~Les Carter, Ph.D.

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