Many of us are familiar with the term narcissist. Some of us know them, live with them, or work with them. But what is a narcissist?

In a nutshell, a narcissist is someone who is selfish, patronising, demanding and has a grandiose sense of self-importance. 

They typically lack any empathy or consideration for others. Some may display traits of narcissism, and others may have a complete narcissistic personality disorder, also referred to as NPD.

Some of the most recognised traits of narcissism can include:

  • Exploits others without conscience
  • Compulsive lying and cheating
  • Refuses to recognise the needs of others
  • Unable to show empathy
  • Gaslighting
  • Reacts very badly to any perceived criticism
  • Blame shifting – will never take responsibility for any shortcomings or failures
  • Superiority complex
  • Demanding and manipulative
  • Entitled
  • The belief that they deserve to be the centre of attention
  • Unable to recognise any sense of compromise in any type of relationship
  • Oblivious to the needs of others
  • Extremely resistant to changing behaviour
  • They think the rules of life don’t apply to them because they are special
  • They show blatant disregard for everything and anyone
  • They subscribe to their own version of reality

On the receiving end of a narcissist 

It can be exhausting, difficult, and emotionally draining to deal with a narcissist. They are by nature very demanding and difficult and because they are absolutely oblivious to other people, they can cause a huge amount of mental stress to others.

If narcissists know that they are narcissistic, it is highly likely that they wouldn’t care. They will hurt anybody to preserve their self-proclaimed superiority and it can be highly distressing to witness or be on the receiving end of this behaviour.

Trauma bonding

Trauma bonding is the term used to describe the connection between an individual and the person that abuses them. It can be described as a type of addiction and develops from a repetitive abuse cycle. A recurring pattern of abuse followed by intermittent reinforcement.

Trauma bonding can be the reason why people stay in relationships and toxic environments and feel as if they are unable to leave. It is a deep-seated emotional connection, making them feel as if they are hooked to their abuser.

Coping with narcissist behaviour

  1. Set boundaries

Narcissists are self-absorbed and won’t respect you, your space, your feelings, confidence or belongings. Set firm, clear boundaries with tough consequences.  Never hesitate to follow through with those consequences, otherwise your boundaries will be brushed off and perceived as nothing more than idle threats. 

  1. Stand your ground

When you set boundaries and carry out consequences, the narcissist in your life will pull out all the stops. Expect rounds of gaslighting, manipulation and over the top plays for sympathy. No matter what kind of response you get, stand your ground and calmly reinforce your resolve to ensure you are taken seriously.

  1. Don’t react, respond

It takes an enormous amount of energy to not immediately react to the buttons a narcissist pushes. But reacting to a narcissist is like adding fuel to a fire – they can quickly become inflamed. Take control of the situation by focusing on the immediate situation. 

A narcissist will try to deflect, change direction, and monopolise the conversation in an attempt to distract and confuse you, to try and make you unsure of yourself. Stay calm even though it might feel impossible. Diffuse the situation by acknowledging what they are saying, without taking responsibility for their behaviour or things they are trying to get you to take responsibility for.

Using some of these phrases can help to remove the attention from them back onto yourself and help you respond calmly while maintaining your boundaries.

  • I hear you
  • I understand and appreciate what you are saying
  • I can’t take responsibility for the way that you feel
  • I don’t like the way you are speaking to me, so I am not going to continue this conversation.

Do you need help?

Living with or being in a relationship with a narcissist can do significant emotional damage. Finding your way out of a toxic relationship can feel terrifying, but there is great freedom, relief and happiness on the other side.

Alternative therapy and mental health support can play a vital role in supporting you as you navigate complicated emotional journeys. 

If you are struggling to cope with a narcissist in your life, you may find strength and support in alternative therapy.  Each session is completely confidential and safe – your privacy is absolutely protected and guaranteed.

I would love to help you. Let’s do this together!

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