Tired of not feeling seen? Take it personally when a narcissist criticizes you? See if you can protect yourself from the effects of a narcissist by following these guidelines and avoiding these five phrases.
Avoid publicly embarrassing a narcissist because they are likely to retaliate by attacking you. It’s great for you to stand up to a narcissist – they respect smarts, good ideas and hard evidence. They respect arguments that are logically made and highly supported (think of it as if you are a lawyer opposing them in court, your thoughts need to be that compelling). If you have proof that a narcissist’s information or point of view is misinformed, it’s better to bring it up to them in private and present them with options that allow them to save face. Narcissists respond when you set limits with them, just be smart about it.
“I need you”
You are likely to be disappointed if you look to a narcissist to fill your emotional needs. Remember, they are often all about tending to their own needs, not yours. You can ask narcissists for help in ways that make them look good or can brag about (e.g., they referred you to a great doctor, they provided advice that helped you win an interview, or for a donation that will get their name visible). But expect that their emotional energies are tied up, trying to get others to fill themselves up. So if you are seeking understanding, you are setting yourself up for failure. Find ways to speak compassionately to yourself and validate your feelings. Cultivate relationships with other people in your life who are capable of understanding you; “be there” for them and allow them to ‘be there’ for you.
“I accomplished ____”
Narcissists generally will not congratulate you on your ‘brags.’ They have to be the one in the interaction who had the bigger accomplishment, so they will usually deflect attention away from you and onto their own wins. They will always need to make it about them and outdo you. You can tell them about your wins – and it’s good to register these accomplishments for the record with them – just don’t hope or expect that they will meaningfully recognize you for them.
“I am upset with you”
If you tell them you are upset with them, the response you’d be looking for is to care, to try to understand what they are doing that is making you upset and have the self-management to change their behavior. In contrast, A narcissist is so caught up trying to get other people to believe them and see them as the best, they are usually not attuned to how you feel. They have little self-awareness to notice and change – rather they will take your upset as a criticism and argue that you are wrong. Don’t set yourself up for further upset!
“Stop being narcissistic”
A narcissist is not aware that they are being “narcissistic.” Their insecurity is deep and unconscious. They’re oblivious that they are trying to make themselves ‘one up’ in order to make others ‘one down.’ If you want to work with a narcissist to change their behavior, you would need to choose one specific behavior that is overt and recognizable. Then, help them understand how changing that one specific behavior will get them more of what THEY want – they have to have an incentive to earn more, get more fame or have more people telling them how great they are. Then, they might start to be open to changing that behavior.
Narcissists are trying to feel powerful inside themselves so they have little ability to help you feel powerful. So find that power within you! And find people in your life who respect, honor and see you for the beautiful and talented woman you are.