In my first blog article covering the complex concept of narcissist relationships, I discussed the definition of narcissism as well as some fast facts and quality resources that can help those struggling in relationship with someone who suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or someone who has some characteristics of narcissism even if they aren’t fully diagnosed with NPD. It is evident that dealing with this type of relationship in your personal or professional life can be very overwhelming. This article will focus on some practical tips for how to care for yourself and find the support you need when you are dealing with a narcissist in your life.
Fast Tip #1: Stay healthy.
The first and best thing you can do for yourself is practice good self-care. Like the instructions given on an airplane, in an emergency, you need to connect to your own oxygen supply before you can help anyone else. Good self-care should be a high priority.
Taking walks, pausing to relax and redirect your thoughts, practicing mindfulness, and connecting with God are natural ways to care for body, soul, and spirit. Coping skills can help reduce anxiety. Reading, music, and nature can be energizing or calming. Find out what works for you and build that into your schedule.
Fast Tip #2: You are not responsible for the narcissist’s behavior.
It may be difficult to shift your focus away from the narcissist if that has been a pattern in your relationship, but it is okay to realize that you cannot make the narcissist change and improve their behavior – that is their responsibility.
In Stop Walking on Eggshells (Mason & Kreger, 2020), the authors list some concepts from the Al Anon program to move us away from being codependent on the narcissist and help us become more healthy:
We are not responsible for another person’s disease [or personality disorder] or recovery from it.
We let go of our obsession with their behavior, and begin to lead happier and more manageable lives, with dignity and rights.
We set healthy boundaries.
Fast Tip #3: Enlist the support of family, friends, and others.
You may not have a choice about dealing with a narcissistic person, especially if he or she is a coworker, a family member/spouse, or your minor child’s other parent. In that case, enlist the help and support of people you trust, so that you are not isolated and alone. A therapist can be an excellent source of support because you can share things in confidence and get coaching on how to set good boundaries.
Fast Tip #4: Sometimes cutting all ties to the narcissist is your only safe and loving option.
You may need to enlist the help of others, such as through a domestic violence hotline, if you are experiencing physical abuse so that you can create an exit plan to leave safely. Physical abuse is never acceptable, and it may escalate.
Keep in mind that emotional abuse can be just as devastating and have long-term effects.
“It is important to remember, however, that abuse is still abuse, even when it isn’t as strikingly overt as it might be. The controlling and manipulative nature of these individuals means they will almost certainly stifle your natural personality regardless of their moderation – at some level or another, you will lose a part of who you are if you remain entangled with one for too long (Phillips-Waller, 2023).”
This is a short overview about narcissism with a few tips and resources as a starting point. As a therapist, I have found that narcissism is such a complex, painful topic that people often benefit from professional therapeutic help in dealing with the narcissists in their lives.
This article is not intended to substitute for clinical mental health advice, so if you would like more answers, support, and tools, please seek the services of a licensed mental health therapist. We would be glad to walk with you on this journey.
Mason, T. T., & Kreger, R. (2020). Stop walking on eggshells: Taking your life back when someone you care about has borderline personality disorder (3rd ed.). Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
Phillips-Waller, S. (2023, August 22). 6 signs you are dealing with a moderate narcissist (but still a narcissist). Retrieved September 2023, from A Conscious Rethink: https://www.aconsciousrethink.com/5893/moderate-narcissist/#google_vignette