Monday, July 9, 2012

Dealing With the Narcissist In Your Life

First off let me tell you, I love me mother but she has narcissist  personality  disorder. How best to explain narcissist personality disorder, hmm. I guess I'd call them the, "Me, Me, Me" person. They tend to think of themselves first, ad nauseam. Anyhow, my mother is the most narcissist person I know. 

When I was a newly wed, we didn't plan to have children for a couple of years. We just weren't ready financially. However, when we found out we were pregnant we were thrilled. When we told her, her response was, "Why does everything bad happen to me!"..."I'm to young to be a grandmother". Years later, when my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. Mom called me to tell me the bad news. She also expressed her fear as to how my sister's chemo might interfere with their joint vacation plans to the Outer Banks.

Dr Judith Orloff suggests the following test from her book, Emotional Freedom,  to determine if you are in a relationship with a narcissist:

  • Does the person act as if life revolves around him?
  • Do I have to compliment him to get his attention or approval?
  • Does he constantly steer the conversation back to himself?
  • Does he downplay my feelings or interests?
  • If I disagree, does he become cold or withholding?

If you answer “yes” to one or two questions, you are probably dealing with a narcissist. If you responded “yes” to three or more questions it suggests that a narcissist is violating your emotional freedom.

The following is how I have dealt with my mother over the years:

1) Understand that they are probably incapable of change.
    Even with the best professional help it is doubtful  (that is if they will go).

2) Try and focus on the positive aspects person. 

3) Try to do activities with this person in the place where they act out the least.
     For example, my mother is on her best behavior in public. Therefore, eating a meal    
     out is the best way to enjoy my mother's company.

4) Give up trying to please them.   
     Stop trying to please them because nothing you do will live up to their expectations

5) Don't let yourself worth depend on what they think of you.
    Yourself worth should not be dependent on what others think of you. For me, my self      
    worth is faith-based. 

6) Lower your expectations of them.
    Keep realistic expectations of them. Remember they are emotionally stunted, be it 
    from whatever reason. It could be from being raised by a narcissist parent or some   
    emotionally damaging childhood trauma, etc.

7) Show how something will be to their benefit.*
    When talking  with narcissists, frame things this way. Realize that stating your needs 
    clearly doesn't usually works, nor does getting angry,or demanding. You need to speak 
    to them in ways which means something to them. For example, instead of saying to     
    your sister, “I’d really enjoy going to a family dinner,” reframe it as, “Everyone really   
    likes you. They’d be delighted to have you there.” or instead of saying to you   
    employer, “I’d  prefer to work fewer nights,” say, “I can bring in more revenue for    
    your company during these hours.” Naturally, it’s better not to have to contend with 
    the tedious ego-stroking of a narcissist. But if the relationship is unavoidable, use this 
    technique to achieve your desired outcome.

8) Try and do things with the narcissist on the turf you pick out.
     My mom visits me at my home. I have her drive to the restaurant. I have found she 
     tends to be less self-focused while driving because she has to keep part of her focus on 
     the road, Because I am ill, when she starts to become overly obsessed with herself I 
     tell her I'm tired and she goes home.

    My house rule is if people aren't interacting with me in a manner that I like they need 
    to leave. This is one of the best ways I can take care of myself and set appropriate 
    barriers for myself or as Glinda the Good Witch in the Wizard of Oz would say:

Oh rubbish. 
You have no power here. 
Be gone 
before somebody drops 
   a house on you. 

10) Hang up the phone if you have too
      I'm sure you don't have problems hanging up on the telemarketer (well, if you stay   
      on the line with them, you need to know it is ok to hang up on them). Just the other 
      week I learned that it is ok to hang up on your mother. I should have learned to hang 
      up on her years ago!

11) You have the power to stay in relationship with this person or not. 
      Obviously, this is going to be a tough decision to make especially if this is a family 
      member or  your boss.  For other reasons, there are some family members we have 
      chosen to no longer see. It was a tough decision but it was in everyone's best 
      interest. It doesn't need to be an all or nothing decision. Opting to limit 
      your contact with this person as much as possible is another option.

                                                BE GOOD OR BE GONE    




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