Being in a relationship with a Narcissist — whether as a friend, co-worker, family member, date, or intimate relationship — can be one of the most difficult and painful relationships to navigate. While we all have legitimate needs for validation, someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) takes it to a whole other, destructive, level.
In order to Heal from Narcissistic Abuse, we first need to become more aware of what’s really going on.
1. Self-Awareness: Increase Awareness of NPD and Cycle of Abuse
What distinguishes between healthy narcissism, unhealthy narcissism and severe narcissism?:
We all have healthy narcissistic needs for love and validation so having healthy narcissism means we have a strong sense of self, can self-reflect and take personal responsibility for our mistakes. We can still fully empathize with others.
A Narcissist doesn’t experience a separate self in the way that others do. They view others as an extension of themselves, like you might view your arm or leg. They can only understand others by seeing them as extensions of themselves so when others act like separate individuals, outside of the control of the narcissist, it can be very disconcerting and upsetting to them.
Along the narcissism continuum an “Unhealthy Narcissist” does mostly have an intact sense of self but their self-esteem is pretty low, they may have difficulty reciprocating in relationships, they might be so self-absorbed that it takes concentration and effort for them to empathize with others, and they can have difficulty seeing their own strengths.
Severe Narcissists, worship themselves and have excessive self-absorption. This is really about protecting themselves against underlying profound insecurities that only a rare few get to see.
They believe they are better than other people and fantasize about having lots of power, intelligence, and brilliance.
Exaggerate their own achievements and take credit for others
Expect constant admiration and praise (put selves in situations where one up & compete)
Believe they are special/gifted people and can only interact with other special people
Do not have empathy for others but require excessive amounts of empathy from others
Expect others to go along with their plans immediately, no questions asked
Take advantage of other people but if others do the same in return, they are cut off fast
Express disdain for people they feel are inferior to them
Believe other people are jealous of them, all the time
Believe other people are as focused on them as much as they are focused on themselves
Cannot sustain healthy reciprocal relationships
Set very unrealistic goals for themselves that are never accomplished
Exponential more sensitive to how they are treated than how they treat others
Deep down inside, they are deeply insecure even though externally they appear extremely confident
2. Self-Validation: Provide Validation for Yourself
Acknowledge and honor your own feelings, beliefs, choices and perspectives
Express your feelings, vulnerabilities and truth with a trustworthy person
Be compassionate with yourself about how you’ve gotten hooked
Get to know and appreciate your own limits and boundaries
3. Self-Empowerment: Empower yourself
Assert healthier boundaries for yourself with others (especially with the Narcissist)
Practice new ways of being in relationships while empathizing with yourself more
Change social contracts and fair-fighting agreements as necessary
Use mindfulness and compassion to live a fuller life in the present moment
Accept narcissists inability to reciprocate emotional support and let go of trying to convince them to be someone they’re not
Recognize where you’re at in the Cycle of Abuse:
Listen to a recent conversation I had with my radio/podcast co-host, Heather Dawn, about Dating a Narcissist:
How to leave a Narcissist:
Assess for dangerousness of your and others’ safety
Stop/reduce the narcissist’s supply of validation if safe enough to do so
Take the opportunity to leave when they threaten to abandon you
Stand firm with your boundaries
Don’t take the bate they offer
Don’t forget how awful they can be, even when they’re charming you to come back
Understand what crumb love is and enhance your own self-worth without them
On-line support groups
Read various materials to understand them/you better
Get to know why you’re attracted to them if you have a pattern of being with NPD’s