Are you a decent person? Are you generally likable? Do you have good coping skills? Are your values, preferences, and priorities reasonable? Let’s hope that’s the case.
Narcissists don’t like it when you feel comfortable with who you are.
With their need to be the special person in the room, they are actually threatened when you feel settled and at ease. Instead, they prefer flying monkeys…insecure individuals willing to play a subservient role. Or if you are not a flying monkey, they at least want you to become one who will succumb to their dominance.
Narcissists are highly critical and willing to invalidate.
They will question your wisdom related to matters great or small. They argue readily. They can mock and ridicule you. They elevate themselves by diminishing you. And over time, this propensity stunts your own psychological growth, leaving you feeling trapped inside their world of dysfunction. Keeping you down is part of their coping strategy. Odd, isn’t it.
Knowing this, it’s essential for you to see that the Number One reason you can remain in a narcissist’s snares is self-doubt.
Narcissists are energized when you defend yourself unnecessarily. They are amused by your complaints. When you become exasperated by futile exchanges with them, they feel empowered. If they catch you grumbling and complaining, in their minds they are doing something right.
Narcissists need you to question your decency.
Your uncertainty about who you are is food for their interior. They want you inside their traps so they can feed off of your confusion. As your confidence in yourself becomes low, their satisfaction with themselves becomes high. It’s insidious, nonetheless, that’s how they operate.
When self-doubt is embedded, all sorts of thoughts can run through your mind, each revealing that the narcissist’s strategy is “working.” Before you can adjust, you’ll need to become keenly aware of the ways you play into their manipulations. So, let’s identify some of the most common confusing notions you might hold onto:
- I can’t let this person say inaccurate things about me.
- I’m not going to tolerate their belligerence, so I’m going after them!
- If I could just be allowed to explain myself, maybe the insults will abate.
- I can’t rest until the narcissist admits being inappropriate.
- Maybe there’s some truth to what the narcissist says about me. Perhaps I should just pull back my assertions.
- Deep down, I’m a decent person…or am I?
- Other people might favor the narcissist over me. Am I the only one who sees what’s going on?
- I can’t believe I didn’t see the signs earlier. I guess I was too naive.
- After all the good things I’ve done…I deserve better than this.
- This is too much for me to handle. (Sigh)
As thoughts such as these rumble inside your mind, you illustrate that you are bound by the narcissist’s schemes. The name of their game is “Let’s Judge You.” And as the invalidations result in the loss of your inner resolve, they will play that game to their heart’s content. It’s who they are.
So, let’s pull back, take a deep breath, separate off from the narcissist’s self-serving Agenda and ask a few questions:
- Do you really have to have the narcissist’s endorsement? While it’s nice to be held in high regard, will you collapse because of an immature person’s pronouncements?
- Clearly, the narcissist is emotionally imbalanced. But is it your job to force psychological insight, particularly when they couldn’t care less about your input?
- If other individuals team up with the narcissist against you, are there any options left for you? Are you doomed?
- What if you decided to cease from the narcissist’s competitive games, choosing instead to listen to your own inner counsel instead? Would that be reasonable?
- Go back to the basics. Do you believe in yourself, despite the narcissist’s rejection of you?
You can dedicate yourself to clean assertiveness, recalling that assertiveness does not require the narcissist’s agreement. You can establish boundaries, meaning you will follow your own priorities and values. And you can release yourself from the need to convince the narcissist about your goodness. They are not known as objective or insightful anyway.
The narcissist wants to keep you trapped inside their cage of dysfunction, but keep in mind, it’s the narcissist who is defined by inner chaos, not you. That person does not need to occupy space inside your mind and you do not need to have their concurrence as you move on with your decency intact.
~Les Carter, Ph.D.
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