Interrupting Narcissistic Behavior
Author: Lynne Namka, Ed. D.
Our interactions with others are like business contracts. We agree what we will talk about, do, pay for, give up and not stand for. You may think you are in a locked contract with a parent because it was written when you were small. You may have gotten an unfair contract with a new friend because you didn’t understand how the
The bottom line is people will treat you the way that you let them. You train them through setting an unspoken contract of what is allowed in the relationship.
Take stock of what is going on between you and another person where you always seem to get the short end of the stick. Take notes, write some things down that seem unfair because the mind forgets many things of this nature. Be specific as to what you would like in terms of fairness. Taking turns–what you learned in kindergarten is a good start– “Your turn. My turn. etc.”
Life is about continual learning. Now that you are more aware of how you’ve been taken advantage of, you can rewrite old out-of-kilter contracts. You can rewrite them for fairness and equality. Fairness for you and the other person.
Getting it down on paper or the computer helps organize your mind. Think what things work in the relationship and what doesn’t. Run your ideas by a trusted friend if you’re not sure. Reality checks with wise people are helpful.
Then you present your ideas to the other person. One at a time or hit them with the whole list at once. Leave if they become argumentative or abusive. Ask them to consider what you have asked and get back to you when things are calmer.
The insecure person may not like what you write and may resist. Some may get angry and blow up to try to shut you down. Some will feel so insulted that they cut you out of their life. It happens all the time and new contract writers who are serious about becoming mentally healthy say, “Their anger or dropping the relationship was a consequence of my asking for fairness. Is that fair? Or is their behavior a reflection of who they are as a person?” One strategy is to give your new way of interacting with them some time and see if they come around.
Don’t apologize for setting good boundaries. Good boundaries are fair for both parties; narcissistic people if course will not see them as fair. Fair to them means they get it their way. You don’t have to keep saying, “I’m sorry” when you speak up for your needs. Stop your ‘So Sorry Scenarios.’ Save your ‘sorrys’ for when you truly hurt others. Stop apologizing for asking others to be fair. You have the right to be safe and be treated with respect. The world needs more people speaking out for fairness.
You can expect that a self-involved person with whom you set strong boundaries might try to go back to their old ways of treating you. It’s human nature to try to hold on to the advantages for one’s self. And people who are used to getting their way are not going to roll over and give up advantages easily.
But for you, it’s a test! A selfish person will test to see if you really mean it or not. After all why should they stop doing something that has worked for them for years? So you will have to shore up your boundaries, say what does and doesn’t work for you anymore and leave if necessary to show that you are serious about the changes for fairness in the relationship. It is up to you to pass that test they give you. The name of their test is “On How Mean You Are. You Inconvenienced Me. Did You Really Mean It?” What will your answer be? Figure out the worst-case scenario in how they will react when you insist on fair and equal treatment in the relationship and prepare to deal with it.
What will your answer be when they accuse you of changing-the hurt accusation of “changed”? I hope it will be “Dang right, I’ve changed and for the better. I’ve learned to stand up for myself and not give myself away to others. It’s about time. And I’m asking you to look at some of your behavior also.”
There are varying degrees and types of narcissistic defenses and behaviors. Some are more self-centered than others. Some are more toxic than others. Learn to spot them and make a conscious decision when you let a new person into your life. Be aware when a relative or long-time friend expects more than their fair share. Playing their game only gives you a more chaotic life.
Change the contract from the old contract to a new one. The old contract was signed by blood before you were born-you were the hidden recipient of your parent’s pathology. The old contract was written by the narcissistic parent of your past where you were the little child who had to go along with their needs. The new contract is that as an adult, you meet your own needs and theirs when it is appropriate.
Write out the beliefs, the expectations, the rewards and the punishments that shaped your personality. This is the dysfunctional contract you grew up with-the hurtful family scripts, the unspoken of elephants under the rugs, the needs of others that you were expected to fulfill.
Get it all down. See it for what it is. Their possessiveness or their neglect. Their corrosive needs for compliance. Your boundaries that were violated. How you were taught to agree and not rock the boat. How you learned to feel bad if you upset others. How you had to go along with things you knew were wrong or suffer the consequences of an upset, irrational parent.
Write your contract down. Spell out your boundaries in exact terms (for example: “You may text me only once a day.”) Of course they will try to con you saying, “Oh, I didn’t know that you meant…” Of course he or she did. Just smile sweetly and say, “Well you know it now.”
Write down their defenses when threatened. The cold shoulder, the cut off, the abandonment, the anger, rage, blaming, name calling. Get ready for it. Prepare yourself for it. Get it all down not to blame to understand from whence you came and what you were programmed to be for the whims and needs of someone else.
I call my self-esteem back. I claim my energy back.
I reclaim all that was denied me or taken from me.
I am aware of what is being asked of me and make a conscious decision as to whether it is in my best interests or not.
I’m no longer willing to be depleted by someone who sucks my energy.
I refuse to think badly of myself just because someone else felt bad about his or her self and put that on me.
I keep my Nardar scan (that intuitive knowing that pops up when someone is trying to scam you or push past your boundaries). I say, “Wait a minute; that’s not fair. Look at what you are doing.”
Reset your limits when your boundaries are trashed. Expect it from them and prepare for it. Expect them to come up with examples of how they were hurt by you. Check it out by sitting with the idea. There may be some truth in it. If so apologize and tell them that it’s a new ball game from now on. Say, “I know who I am and how I want to be treated from now on. I know when and how to stand up for myself. I will be fair with you. I expect fairness in return. Do you agree to this?”
You cannot count on someone else to respect your feelings. You must respect your own feelings as messengers that are trying to tell you something. When someone is disrespectful and demeaning of you, your choice is to endure abuse, challenge it or walk away. The bottom line is to not let people into the inner circle of your heart that are not good to you. Watch out for the ones who are not good for you. If in doubt, ask a trustworthy friend.
Choosing Healthy Friends and Partners
In healthy relationships, no one gets filled up, no one gets drained. There can be an exchange of energy but no one becomes exhausted. Everyone feels safe. So don’t look for someone with whom you feel great excitement or familiarity. That just may be your old dysfunctional family dynamics kicking back in. Look for someone who is healthy enough so that they don’t need to take your energy from you. Look for someone with whom your energy feels safe.
If you continue to have trouble attracting difficult people into your life, turn up your nardar. Put your setting on the highest notch if you’ve been too trusting and naïve. Your life is your own to be lived the way that you choose. Call them on what they are doing. You are allowed to do what is right for you and say what doesn’t work for you anymore. And the more that you put up with their behavior; you harm them at a deep level.
Not everyone is your friend. Some are posers. They pose as your friend as long as you give into their selfish needs. Don’t waste your time with the wrong people. Maya Angelou said “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” Get it! Break through your own denial. Stop telling yourself that it isn’t that bad and you can handle them when you know down deep that you can’t. Keep your nardar on high and spot ’em and head ’em off at the pass. You probably have enough selfish people in your life already.
True friends have your back. They are there for you as you are there for them. Give and take. Fair.
Eddy, Bill and Kreger, Randi. Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder: The Legal and Psychological Advice you Need
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“Give but don’t allow yourself to be used.
Love but don’t allow yourself to be abused.
Trust but don’t be naïve.
Listen to others but don’t lose your own voice.”
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