Living with narcissism is like hell on earth. It's as simple, and as complex, as that. Relate? Need some support? You’re going to want to read on.
I know, and you likely know, that this stuff aint for the faint hearted. Narcissists are bullies, childlike and exhausting to say the least. They have a way of twisting, turning and manipulating anything and anyone… often for their own sadistic pleasure.
They will switch from provoking to withdrawing and avoiding right at the precise moment and then proceed to watch you ‘go mad’ trying to predict their next move. Will you ever make sense of it? No… how does one make sense of complete nonsense?
They just get smarter.
Below you’ll find 5 things you’re going to want to do to make your own life with the narcissist slightly more bearable. Remember there is no cure for narcissism. No pill. No ‘quick fix’.
Here we go…
This is a concept I came up with one day in a therapy session with a client as I sat and listened to her recall the abuse her husband was inflicting on her. Name calling, fat shaming, excessive criticism of her mothering skills, telling her she was stupid and would never amount to anything. And of course, so predictably, telling her she was a sh!t wife for not giving him more sex. So, as I gathered my thoughts, offered her some comfort and prepared to empower her with some skills, it dawned on me. Butter Back. Of course! The concept of anything toxic and destructive that the narcissist says to you just sliding right over your shoulder and off that slippery butter back of yours! Silly but so effective, I promise you. When you refuse to allow their spiteful comments to have an impact on you, calm and clarity and become your new best friends!
Take away: What they say is a reflection of their own reality, not yours.
Set and maintain boundaries
In my opinion, and based on my own experiences, this is a must do. You are only as strong and as secure as your boundaries. They are a form of self care and allow you to take back your personal power, particularly important when you are living with a narcissist intent on making you hate yourself as much as they hate themself. Boundaries aren’t a cold, solid, concrete wall, they are a deceptively strong, little white picket fence that says “Hi, welcome! Come on in. These are the house rules”. Will they always listen to the ‘house rules’? Of course not! But when you live with narcissism something is often better than absolutely nothing. After all, boundaries are the ultimate lesson in ‘You teach people how to treat you’. If you let them get away with something once, it only bites you on the bum… twice.
Take away: Boundaries are healthy, remember, and they are not.
Call out their abuse
Name it. Highlight it. Refuse to accept it. Simple. Silence perpetuates all forms of abuse, visible and invisible. When you deny, distort or deflect the truth you only magnify the problem and defer the pain for another day. Calling out narcissism obviously sends a message to an abuser but, often more importantly, it reinforces to you that… you do matter, despite what the narcissist would have you believe to be true.
Take away: You always have a voice, you just have to become empowered to use it.
Pick your battles
Ummm yes, much like you would with a misbehaving child. Some battles are essential for learning and development (“No kid, you can’t have Nutella 3 meals a day!”) and some battles are petty, time wasters based on nothing more than the narcissist’s fantasies of assuming unconditional power and control. You know yourself what is important and what isn’t.
Take away: When appropriate, turn your back and take the high road… there’s less traffic up there.
Stay focussed on what you can control
Of course, you can’t control the uncontrollable. You can’t change that which cannot be changed. But… you get to decide how you, do you! Remember how amazing you are and what you have to offer the world and don’t let the narcissist strip you of your identity. Sticks and stones might break your bones but names will only hurt you, if you let them. Their words may be weapons but yours can be the white flag of surrender, which you wave at yourself. Surrender to inner peace, self-love and confidence, not to pathological dysfunction and psychological torture. See it for what it is and turn inwards.
Take away: Be your own cheerleader!
So there you have it… Narcissism: 5 Relationship Survival Strategies.
I hope this article helps you to feel stronger and more determined to be happy than ever before, despite the emotional and psychological battleground you find yourself stuck in. Remember, narcissism can not be cured but you, my friend, can be. Therapy will help you process the pain, the trauma and the overbearing confusion and instability. It will help you find your feet and your motivation to live the life you deserve.
If you’d like to connect with me and find out how I might be able to support you, please feel free to reach out here. I offer sessions in office, in the great outdoors, over the phone or on a video platform. (I also offer home visits where required.)
My services are available Australia wide.
Before you go you may like to check out these articles;
Until next week…
Yours in better mental health,
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Erica has a passion for Women’s Health. She works with women who want to be heard, supported and empowered! Erica is a survivor of many life experiences. A Mum. A travel lover. A green thumb in training and an eternal optimist!