Many relationships are troubled due to one of the partners being narcissistic. In these situations, a lack of empathy exists where a partner’s whole perspective is completely stuck on themselves. Further, the relationship becomes very limited. It is a case, where all the attention in the relationship is focused on one person, or if not, conflict occurs. If this describes a relationship that you are in at home, work or school, there is hope. This article describes what a narcissist is and 12 tips when dealing with a narcissist.
What Is A Narcissist?
“Narcissus does not fall in love with his reflection because it is beautiful, but because it is his. If it were his beauty that enthralled him, he would be set free in a few years by its fading.”W.H. Auden
A narcissist is a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves. They often have an inflated sense of self-importance and may lack empathy for others. Another way to put it, they are stuck up. Also in the extreme, narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition that can cause people to exhibit these traits to an extreme degree, causing significant problems in their relationships and daily life.
Narcissists also can have a profound effect upon the people around them. Additionally, this can be any type of relationship to include spouse, siblings, children, boss, co-workers, and even friends. In particular, a narcissist who has excessive interest in their own image and appearance will more than likely lack consideration or empathy for others. So it is important to recognize the signs, and thus enabling you to create a plan to better deal with the problems that narcissists cause.
“Narcissism is voluntary blindness, an agreement not to look beneath the surface.”Sam Keen
12 Tips When Dealing With A Narcissist Who Lacks Empathy.
Responding to someone who is narcissistic can be difficult, but it is important to remember that the person may not be aware of the harm they are causing. Hence, it is best to be patient and understanding, and to try to express empathy and understanding. Also, it is also important to set boundaries and to ensure that the person is not taking advantage of you or others. Additionally, it can be helpful to remind the person of the importance of being considerate of others, and to provide support and understanding.
So with patience and understanding, it is possible to overcome these toxic relationships. To detail, below are 12 ways you can respond to someone who is a narcissist.
“When I look into the mirror, it just tells me something I already know. I’m so cool! Honey, baby, can’t you see? Girl, I’m so cool. Ain’t nobody bad like me?”Cool, Song Lyrics From Morris Day And The Time.
1. Educate Yourself.
If you are going to deal with a narcissist, you need to find out about the disorder. In particular, you need to understand the narcissist’s strengths and weaknesses in order to learn how to handle them better. As a minimum, understanding what a narcissist is will enable you to accept the situation for what it is and have realistic expectations.
2. Establish Boundaries.
When dealing with someone who is narcissistic, it is important to set boundaries to protect yourself and your own emotional state. For example, this can be done by setting expectations and consequences for their behavior. Additionally, do not allow them to manipulate or control you. Lastly, in setting boundaries, it may help if you tell them the impact of their words and actions, and encourage them to be self-aware.
“When the healthy pursuit of self-interest and self-realization turns into self-absorption, other people can lose their intrinsic value in our eyes and become mere means to the fulfillment of our needs and desires.”P.M. Forni
3. Focus On The Facts.
When dealing with someone who is narcissistic, it is important to focus on the facts of the situation. So this means avoiding emotional language and staying on topic. Hence, this will help you to remain in control of the conversation and avoid being manipulated or taken advantage of. Also, consider consistently sharing positive things with this individual. Now, do this kindly and quietly. Another technique is to ask clarifying questions keeping to the facts as emotions will not go anywhere.
4. Communicate Clearly, But Do Not Confront.
Speak up for yourself. When you need something, be clear and concise. Make sure they understand your request, On the other hand, watch your wording. Narcissists do not take constructive criticism well. Stay positive. Additionally, stay away from conflict. In many cases, a narcissist will try to pick fights or gaslight you (making you doubt your own reality). Lastly, stay in the present and do not dwell on past issues as in most cases this will just lead to conflict.
5. Demonstrate Empathy.
While it may seem counterintuitive, it is important to demonstrate empathy when dealing with a narcissist who lacks empathy. So this means listening to their perspective and validating their emotions, even if you do not agree with them. Hopefully, this will help the other person to open up and will show them that you care. In fact, your empathy may possibly have them come around to be more empathetic and less narcissistic.
6. Have Low Expectations They Will Change.
When dealing with a narcissist, it is important to have low expectations that they will change. Thus, this means accepting them for who they are and not expecting them to suddenly develop empathy. Now, do be supportive if they are making an effort, but don’t allow yourself to become responsible for “fixing” them.
“For the most part people are not curious except about themselves.”John Steinbeck
7. Do Reward Good Behavior.
Do encourage a narcissist’s good behavior. Remember, there are degrees of narcissistic behavior. So do encourage them when they focus their attention on someone besides themselves. Also, over time all of us, to include narcissists, can change if we put or mind to it.
8. Boost Your Self-Esteem As A Narcissist Will Attempt To Bring It Down.
It is important to keep your self-esteem up when you are dealing with a narcissist. It is important to remember that someone who is narcissistic cannot validate you. Further, this means that it is important to find validation from other sources, such as friends, family, professionals, and yourself. Lastly, practice self-acceptance and find people who will validate your emotions without minimizing your feelings.
“How starved you must have been that my heart became a meal for your ego.”Amanda Torroni
9. Cultivate New Relationships, Create A Support System.
Having healthy relationships is important in life. So if you are dealing with someone who is narcissistic, it is important to cultivate new relationships with people who are more understanding and supportive. Consequently, this will help to balance out the lack of empathy in your life. Without a doubt, social support is critical to your well-being.
10. Do Not Take It Personally.
It is important to remember that a narcissist is not intentionally trying to hurt you. So it is important to not take it personally and to instead focus on managing the situation. Also, you aren’t responsible for other people’s emotional reactions (or lack thereof).
11.Seek Professional Support If Necessary.
If the situation becomes too difficult to handle, it is important to seek professional support. This is because a therapist or counselor may be able to help you manage your emotions and provide guidance on how to best handle the situation. Also in extreme cases, this professional help may be more needed by the person lacking empathy. Lastly in the case of close relationships, there is an option to bring in a counselor to help both of you work through certain issues and help with problem-solving. At the same time, do not expect a cure from your partner’s narcissism.
12. Walk Away If Necessary.
It is important to recognize when a situation is becoming too emotionally draining or toxic. If this is the case, it is important to take a step back and walk away if necessary. Additionally if a relationship is unhealthy and not suitable for your well-being, it might be time to consider ending it.
“It is not love that should be depicted as blind, but self-love.”Voltaire
For more on how to respond to people who are narcissistic, WebMD’s How to Handle a Narcissist, VeryWellMind’s How to Deal With a Narcissist, and LovePanky’s How To Deal With a Narcissist. Also, for more references on dealing with narcissism and relationships that lack empathy, see VeryWellMind’s What to Do If You or a Loved One Lack Empathy, LifeHack’s Why Some People Have a Lack of Empathy (And How to Deal with Them), and SkillPath’s Dealing With People Who Lack Empathy and Don’t Know It.
For more informative stories from Unvarnished Facts on helping people, click here. Also, for more on empathy see our article, Why Is Empathy Important? 5 Unexpected Benefits That Will Make Life Better.
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