Dealing with Narcissists

Have you ever interacted with a narcissist? Do you have one in your life now? How do you end up feeling after being around a person with those characteristics?

It’s interesting to note that narcissism is on a continuum, ranging from healthy narcissism to a clinical disorder. Healthy narcissism is what encourages you to get up in the morning, take care of yourself, and go for your goals. Symptoms for the personality disorder called narcissism include an unreasonably high sense of self-importance and requiring constant admiration. They also feel entitled to special treatment and lack true empathy for others. Narcissists often take advantage of others and objectify them.

Some people exhibit some of these characteristics but not all of them and not all of the time. These people are somewhere on the continuum. You might be surprised to learn that there are nice narcissists who can be very charming. They are often skilled at masking their true intentions and agendas. Dealing with these people can sometimes be the most difficult because you can’t quite put your finger on why you feel so uneasy after engaging them.

Narcissists can be in all kinds of roles in your life, sometimes unexpected. This can be confusing for people. It may be your parent, child or sibling. It may be a co-worker or boss. Narcissists can be clergy, teachers and people who inspire others. One size does not fit all. There are loud and quiet narcissists. They’re not always braggarts and big in the room, although they often are.

Some effective psychological and behavioral strategies you can employ if you find yourself in relationship with someone with these traits include:

– Create structure and strong, consistent boundaries around your interactions with this person.

– Limit your frequency and length of time with this person.

– Have a voice in the dynamic. It won’t be offered to you by a narcissist. You must claim it.

– Be good to you. Narcissists won’t meet your needs consistently and sometimes not at all. You will have to do that for yourself. Ask yourself what you need and desire, and ensure that you receive it.