Narcissists are people defined by the DSM as having an excessive sense of self-importance, rampant grandiosity, and a lack of empathy for others among other things. Narcissistic abuse is a topic around which many online communities and support groups have been formed. Narcissistic abuse can be tough to counteract in part because victims of it may not even realize it is happening.
Understanding and recognizing the tactics narcissists use to manipulate and control is the first step in dealing with and overcoming them. In Shahida Arabi’s book, “Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How To Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself” she identifies an array of maneuvers taken straight out of the Narcissistic abuser’s playbook and shows us how they can be used against them. Here are 7 tips you can use to combat narcissistic abuse.
1. Devalue the Narcissist
One of the features of a narcissistic partner, friend or colleague is a pattern of hot and cold behavior that is confounding. Narcissistic abusers have a way of love-bombing their targets with affection and compliments only to subsequently denigrate them with petty put-downs and criticisms. They build you up just to tear you down. This behavior is referred to as “intermittent reinforcement” and conditions the narcissist’s victims to expect love and disparagement as something that goes hand in hand.
Arabi advises that as part of the process of emancipating yourself from the narcissist, it is necessary to devalue them. This is not to say that you should put them down and denigrate them as they do, but rather that you must change your perception of them and completely rid yourself of the false idealized persona they have implanted in your mind. Recognizing them for who they actually are as the selfish, exploitative narcissist who is unworthy of your love and respect, will immediately demote their value, importance and significance in your psyche and rob them of any influence and power over your emotions.
2. Discard the Narcissist
During the idealization phase of a relationship with a narcissist, strong emotional bonds driven by our biochemistry are established. You willingly sacrifice time at work, school or with friends to be with the narcissist because you enjoy the attention and affection they give. They become the center of your world until you realize that they are not making the same sacrifices or concessions for you. When it becomes clear that they are sucking up your time and attention just so they can use and discard you, then that is the time to marginalize the narcissist and begin cultivating a rewarding life outside of the relationship.
Arabi suggests redirecting your focus away from the narcissist and onto activities, people, purpose and other things that can stimulate the production of endorphins that counteract the stress hormones generated from toxic and abusive relationships. Physical activities like yoga, dancing and sports are good. Moreover, Arabi challenges individuals to try new things they’ve wanted to do especially those things that being with the narcissist have prevented them from doing. Now is the time to spend more time on yourself and what you want and start to gradually shut the narcissist out of your life. Meet new people and preoccupy yourself with plenty of fulfilling activities so that you don’t have time to even think about the narcissist.
3. Reverse Gaslighting
For those who don’t know about “gaslighting”, it is a term describing the crazy-making way that narcissists try to invalidate and cast doubt onto the legitimacy and accuracy of your perceptions, concerns and feelings. They twist and distort the truth in order to shift blame away from themselves and place it onto you. Rather than employ the same disingenuous behavior against them, Arabi advises that we instead make a point of not allowing the narcissist to brainwash and impose their warped narrative onto us. They can claim what they want, but we must be firm in mentally invalidating their dismissals, denials and reframing of their abuse so as to never give them an inch of benefit from the doubt and confusion they might otherwise cause.
4. Triangulate the Narcissist
Abusive narcissists try to isolate their partners away from their friends and support so they can better manipulate them. Once they do, they love to stir up jealousy and insecurity in their partners by manufacturing love triangles. Narcissists provoke their partners by doing things like alluding to their romantic options outside of the relationship and comparing their partner with other people. Furthermore, narcissists deliberately bring the opinions and presence of other people into the fold who serve to validate their perspective and invalidate yours. They put their partners in a defensive position where they are made to feel jealous, unsupported and as though they are in competition with someone else. Narcissists do this deliberately to destabilize and toy with your emotions.
In response, you can “triangulate” the narcissist by developing a strong support network of your own. You should connect with the people who have your back and will loyally defend you against the narcissist and their sycophants. There are many online narcissist abuse groups and communities where you can find the best support from people who have similar experience and can offer great advice, perspective and moral support.
5. Re-Idealize Yourself
The personal attacks and put downs that the narcissist subjects their victims to can do great damage to their self esteem and confidence. It is important therefore to reaffirm yourself as needed and get rid of any self-defeating discourse that the narcissist has planted in your psyche. This is where reverse discourse comes in. Arabi explains how you can reclaim your power by rewriting the narrative in your mind. Replaying the incidents that you ruminate on over and over again, you can begin to talk back and tear down the narcissist in the harshest way. You can use their words against them and roast their flaws mercilessly while asserting a high opinion of yourself. It is possible to acquire the cathartic satisfaction of crushing those narcissists verbally without ever going out and seeking real retribution against them which can carry dangerous and undesirable consequences.
6. Wear A Coat of Mental Armor
Arabi suggests creating a “false self” or persona for dealing with the narcissist when you must interact with them. This alternate persona is one predicated on cold logic and emotional detachment. You must shut down the empathy and not allow the narcissist to appeal to your compassion or fool you into trusting them. Your attitude should be very impersonal and pretty much act as a coat of armor protecting your emotional wellbeing so your buttons don’t get pushed. This mindset may also apply to anytime you start to think about the narcissist. This stalwart disposition will help prevent the narcissist from coaxing you back to them or giving them an opening to reenter your life and your heart.
7. Think of the Narcissist As spoiled goods
Finally, it is useful to regard the narcissist as supply that has outlived its usefulness. When milk goes bad, it fouls up the refrigerator and makes it bad for everything inside. In similar fashion, the malignant narcissist spoils relationships making them no longer tenable. When their presence in your life has proven harmful and abusive, you can discard them the way they discard you. Knowing that they are disposable to you is the biggest affront to their ego but a necessary pill for them to swallow.
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