We live in a country where individualism is the number one cultural characteristic. We are living in the age of the Iphone, Ipod, Ipad, Itunes, look at me, facebook-me, insta-me, snap-me and of course bitmoji-me. It is no wonder that people in our society are becoming increasingly self-centered. Everywhere you turn, people seem to be more focused on themselves. Some degree of self-involvement is normal, of course, but when the focus shifts excessively, it may be a sign of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Whether there is an official diagnosis or not, narcissists present a challenge to family, friends, and coworkers. Learning how to interact positively with narcissists not only makes relationships easier, it can also preserve your mental and emotional well-being.
Some people erroneously believe that all narcissists are faking their ego to overcompensate for deep-down self-confidence issues. In truth, people who have this disorder believe they are awesome and much better than others around them.
The high levels of confidence may help them land prime jobs, get many attractive first dates, and actually bring about short-term happiness. However, the long-term outcomes are usually anything but positive.
In many cases, simply not interacting with narcissists may be the best option. However, it’s not always possible to avoid. To relate to narcissists, never expect them to suddenly change or “get better.” Acceptance of the permanent problem helps you avoid stress.
Establish Personal Boundaries
People in relationships with narcissists may either risk becoming like them or may begin to suffer from self-esteem issues themselves. Maintain your own identity independent of what the other person thinks is best or right.
One way to do this successfully is to create and protect boundaries, but not to tell the narcissist about them. A boundary revealed is a challenge to overcome by a narcissist. Any comment that goes against their worldview will be considered an attack. Instead, make your own rules for the relationship and stick to them.
Maintain a Firm Grip on Actual Events
Narcissists skew reality in order to support their primary belief that they are the best. Through a process called gaslighting, one can make reality seem fake and their own fantasy version of things seem real. You may find yourself wondering if you are losing your grasp of reality. Keep a journal or verify stories with others you trust.
Have a Source of Relief or an Outlet
If you either choose to spend your life with a narcissist or are forced to interact regularly at work or school, recognize the stress it puts on you and find an outlet. A friend can lend a sympathetic ear or a counselor can provide more help.
Check the list below and identify which characteristics of narcissism a person may possess:
- Pervasive pattern of grandiose
- Requires excessive admiration
- Lack of empathy
- Begins by early adulthood
- An inflated sense of self-importance
- Preoccupied with fantasies of beauty, unlimited success, power, brilliance, and ideal love
- Believes “I am special and unique”
- Sense of entitlement
- Sense of automatic acceptance and compliance of “my” expectations
- Inter-personally exploitive
- Often envious of others or thinks that others are envious of you
- Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes