Get Your Nardar On!
Avoiding Narcissists and Codependency
Unselfish People of the World Unite Against Unbridled Narcissism!
Lynne Namka, Ed. D.
Nardar is that gut feeling that you get when you notice that someone is doing something to manipulate you or engage in selfish behavior. It is that Narcissistic Radar that you have when someone is more interested in themselves than in you or in making the relationship fair. Nardar is that visceral reaction you get when the hackles go up on your neck because someone is trying to take advantage of you or pull the wool over your eyes. It’s that internal, unconscious device that warns you to watch out.
Unfortunately, if you have grown up with a selfish parent, you might have been sensitized to the condition and see it as normal. The more children are exposed to narcissism, the more they think it’s normal. The more they think giving up their own needs to meet someone else’s is the norm, the more likely they are to engage in it. At some point in their life, they begin to understand that other families act in healthier ways. The stirrings of nardar start at this time. It may take years to figure out that fairness means getting the balance between other people’s needs and your own.
To have a healthy life, develop your nardar. Naïve or gullible thinking can be a detriment to your well being. If you were raised with narcissistic parents or a sibling, you may have your nardar turned off or conversely you may be highly perceptive of others’ selfish tendencies.
When a narcissistic person comes into my environment, I get an automatic reaction which warns me to watch out. My nardar recognizes someone else’s smarmy attitude long before my conscious mind figures it out. My nardar is set pretty high. But then I was partially raised with someone in my family who did great harm to me and I’ve studied and written about narcissism for years.
One key to discovering how low or high your nardar is set is to understand how you were duty trained. You may have been trained to meet the needs of someone else. Giving in to others at the expense of your own self is called codependency. Being expected to meet the needs of a parent is incompatible with your becoming an independent person in your own right. Finish this sentence: “Instead of become an autonomous person as a child, my duty was to _______.” If you were taught that it is your job to jump right in and solve another person’s problem at an inconvenience to yourself, people with narcissistic behavior will seek you out.
Observe your automatic “yes” reaction to another person’s expectation of you. On a visceral level, feel your body starting to shudder while your mind may shift into an “Oh, what do you need? I can help you” mode. On an emotional level, observe how you kick into helping someone else just because it’s expected of you. Your automatic reactions can happen even if they don’t ask-their entitlement attitude is enough for you to go on dumb automatic pilot.
So here are some clues that should send your nardar into high gear humming and warning you that you are not in a relationship of equals:
You Know You’re Dealing with Narcissistic Behavior If…..
Needy narcissists love an audience and that’s your role. Some are charming, funny and the life of the party. Your function in their life is to listen to whatever they have to say for as long as they want to talk. Your job is to give them applause, admiration or reassurance. If you don’t, they might get anxious and fish for compliments.
Controlling narcissists make you feel guilty much of the time and you don’t know why. It’s probably their attitude of “I do what I want and if it inconveniences you, tough!” Or even “I get my way and don’t even notice if you are inconvenienced because you don’t matter.” So no wonder that you feel uneasy when around them. You may not even notice you feel bad inside-your nardar has become almost nonexistent. Of course you may have been so programmed by them or others since childhood that you don’t even know that there are other ways to feel. Question your need to feel extra guilty. It’s just a feeling and if you have too much of it that harms your life, you can work to release it.
They have a “Don’t question me rule. Do as I say.” Some have a “Jump to it right now” rule. You get the glare, the mean look or the long-suffering sigh of “Look what I have to put up with” if you don’t move immediately to do what they want. If additionally they have pefectionistic tendencies, nothing you do will please them. Your work will not be up to their standards and they will criticize and nitpick at you.
Defensive narcissists can’t stand criticism and get their hackles up when corrected when they’ve done something wrong. They become angry to get you to stop calling them on their stuff. They pick fights with you if you don’t agree with what they say. They are willing to yell louder, distort facts to serve their purpose and fight dirty. You can’t win an argument with someone who KNOWS that they are always right.
Remember, you don’t have to attend every argument that you are invited to. You don’t have to participate in conflict with people who do not listen to what you are saying and who try to convince you that you are wrong. Some people get high on fighting and dominating others. Some are thin-skinned and get upset over petty things that others would ignore. They will hold you hostage and try to make you feel guilty by getting upset often if you let them. One man told me that he liked to keep people off balance because it helped him get what he wanted.
They cannot say “I’m sorry” or admit they are wrong. If pushed to apologize, they yell “I’m sorry!” which is not an apology but an act of frustration and anger. Their lack of true remorse shows that they did not understand or care how they have hurt you.
Denial is the narcissist’s middle name-no, that’s wrong, it’s their first name but of course they deny it. The denial and lying functions so they will feel better in the moment. Ignoring or disagreeing with the criticism gets them out of a hot spot so they don’t have to take responsibility to change. They are very protective of their faults and weaknesses and try to hide them from others. To those who have their nardar turned on high, their defenses are as plain as a glaring wart on their nose.
They steal your ideas and take credit for your work. They hint or ask outright for what you have. They believe in the toddler’s rule of “If it is yours, it is mine.” One woman told me that she could never wear something new when she went to visit her mother as her mother would demand to have it and she felt obligated to give it to her to keep the peace.
They have expectations that you will go along with what they want such as you picking up the check or their taking the largest piece of the pie. I know a woman who expects everyone who goes out to lunch with her to pick up the check. They are manipulative and even proud of their ways to get others to give them things. One woman said, “I can get a man to buy me a new pair of expensive shoes on the first date and I don’t even have to put out.” They know how to hint, hold back, ask outright and nag to get their way. One teenager I had just met as a client asked me for twenty dollars. When I said no, he shrugged and said, “Sometimes it works. I always ask new people for money.” He wasn’t even aware how inappropriate it was and his mother didn’t correct him.
They expect you to read their minds and can get angry with you if you get it wrong. One individual insisted that people read his mind and got angry when they could not anticipate his needs and then gave the silent treatment. He could not understand why his wife left him! It’s sad when a person is so defended against knowing their own character defects that they lose their marriage.
The see-how-good-I-am narcissists have an extraordinary need to be perceived as special, wonderful and being a good person and will remind us of this often. It is part of the fantasy that they live even while doing things that are hurtful. Any achievement is magnified and talked about repeatedly. I challenged a man who told me five times in an hour about how good he was as a boss and father, telling him that normal people don’t have to announce their goodness.
Entitled narcissists demand special treatment. Other people’s rules don’t apply to them because deep down they think they are special. This distorted thinking can run from not buying a ticket to get into an event and then bragging about it to stealing the retirement funds of others. They believe they have the right to do whatever pleases them without personal cost. They feel good for a moment and their self-esteem increases when pulling something over on someone. Of course it is false self-esteem but their brain gets a boost in dopamine just the same. Their being hooked on getting what they want activates the same chemicals in the brain that alcohol and drugs do.
Discounting narcissists can’t hear about your pain or suffering as in their deluded mind, their own pain is always worse. If you mention a complaint, they don’t ask you to elaborate but quickly turn the conversation back to themselves. “Okay, enough about you, now let me tell you about me.”
Victim narcissists want you to know how bad they have it. If you mention something bad that happened to you, they have to “one up” you by telling a bigger story of how their bad thing was worse than yours. If you have a headache or bad hair day, they have no empathy for you and tell you how they had it much worse. Their suffering can go into the “Victim of All Times” mode. Overheard at the gym: A young man, shaken and white-faced, was trying to tell about his car being rear-ended on the freeway and the gruesome accident scene he had witnessed. An attractive woman cut him off immediately and went into a five minute OMG dialogue of how she was late for work.
The Drama Kings and Queens thrive on relating their personal crises. If you have something bad happen to you, they turn it around to make it about them. For example, on learning that his wife had cancer, a doctor went into great length to tell how it would affect his life. A couple had been in a car accident where he broke his leg, back and several ribs and had a concussion. She broke her pinky finger and complained loud and long at a party. He, being a secure person, was quiet about his injuries not having the need to be the center of attention. She didn’t notice how people at the party looked at her with surprise and pity as she dramatized her injury.
One form of narcissism is seen in borderline personality disorder. Read Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Paul Mason and Randi Kreger. Reading about the over-emotional, narcissistic traits in Borderline Personality Disorder in general will help you understand the manipulative quality some people have no matter what their diagnosis.
So Back to You
And on and on. You know them. You’ve lived with them. You’ve tolerated them. You were raised with unrealistic expectations. But have you ever sat down and made a list of these unrealistic expectations? Part of your recovery is learning what you are still susceptible to. Are you still catering to certain people?
Check your nardar. Start noticing what your body does when you feel uncomfortable with someone’s behavior. Do you start to feel depleted like your energy has been sucked out of your body? Do your shoulders tense? Do you get a sick feeling in your stomach? Does the hair on your arms rise? Do you find yourself starting to back away ever so slightly? Learn to pick up on these body cues. Learn your own unique nardar signals.
Get past the way you have been brainwashed. Get over your destructive optimism-that pseudo-hope that the person will change. This is magical thinking-your own living in a fantasy world where others in the world do what you want them to do. Go beyond your ego trap thinking “If only….” Put a strong hold on the ideas that flit through your mind, fantasizing that he or she will change or stop doing something hurtful.
Embrace reality-it is where you live-that real world-what’s really there not what your deluded ego tells you. Ask yourself what you have done to enable a selfish person to act badly. What limits and boundaries do you need to set? Make this your new mantra:
“Do not see my being kind to you as my being weak
For I have boundaries.
I know who I am and how I want to be treated.
I will be fair with you and I expect fairness in return.
I know when and how to stand up for myself.
I stand for everyone being responsible and kind with others.”
It’s consumer beware when letting new friends into your life. Put a flashing sign on your forehead: “No Narcissistic People, No Psychopaths Need Apply.”
Alice Miller. The Drama of the Gifted Child, How Narcissistic Parents Form and Deform the Emotional Lives of their Talented Children.
Susan Forward and Craig Buck. Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You.
Lynne Namka. Love as a Fine Species of Madness
Sick of unhealthy relationships with selfish partners? Want to learn about healthy love? Love romance and psychological novels?
“Some people touch our soul so deeply that it’s impossible to let them go. And so we hold ourselves to that love secretly across a lifetime. The person may have been in our life for only a short time but with them that whisper of understanding awakens knowing that there is love in spite of the ugliness that life can bring.” SO STARTS MY NEW NOVEL, Love as a Fine Species of Madness. It is not on my catalog but is available at Amazon Create Space and Kindle. It would help tremendously if you would tell others about it with a few lines on the reviews at Amazon.com. It is also available as an e-book through Smashwords.