The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.
Here is a strategy that can help you in your interactions with narcissists: responding vs reacting. Now, of course, we will preface these remarks by saying that it is always best not to interact with narcissists if that is possible. For the times when it isn't possible, there is a strategy you can practice that can help the interaction be less stressful.
Before implementing any strategies, it should be clear up front that the goal of these types of strategies isn't to control the narcissist's behavior. People often say things like, "Well, I tried the grey rock method, but the narcissist kept on." or "I went no contact, but the narcissist keeps bothering me." You cannot control the narcissist's behavior—or anyone else's—and you cannot do anything about the way somebody else acts. The only reaction and behavior you have control over is your own, and that's where your focus should be. Using these types of techniques will help keep you from getting stressed out and upset. Let the narcissist worry about their own feelings for once. It's their problem, not yours. This can be hard for some people to internalize, especially since the narcissist has made you responsible for their feelings since day one using guilt, manipulation, abuse, gaslighting, and a host of other nasty little tactics.
So write it down, if you have to, or repeat it to yourself until it sinks in: The narcissist's feelings are not my responsibility.
One of the most difficult things about interacting with narcissists is keeping your feelings out of it. They are hot-button pushers. They love to press those hot buttons and get people worked up and upset. And although understanding that the way narcissists behave toward others is really not personal can help in retrospect when someone is looking at the big picture and trying to understand so they can let go of their hatred and move on, it can be hard to remember in the moment.
That's what the narcissist wants. They want you to become upset. They want you to think it's personal, that it really is about you and how bad you are. This takes the focus off of them and how bad they are. It doesn't matter that you weren't saying that, weren't thinking it and don't feel that way. They feel that way, and if they do, you do. That's why it isn't personal. It's not even about you or your feelings at all. Knowing that goes a long way toward being able to deal with your feelings during your interactions with narcissists. On some level, they don't really believe you did these things, that you feel that way, or that you said those things. They are simply projecting their own feelings on to you so that those feelings are easier for them to deal with.
It's all subconscious, and by now, is an automatic reaction for the narcissist. Self-hatred is very hard to deny or defend against. Hatred from other people is much easier to deal with because the narcissist can claim it's unfair, unjust, they can deny it, they can attack back—it changes their position from defense to offense, which makes them feel less vulnerable. This is the crux of what they are trying to do. You are simply getting caught in the crossfire of a very old war that has nothing to do with you. It's within the narcissist completely.
Understandably, your reaction to this is confusion, outrage, anger, hurt, betrayal... the whole shebang. Why wouldn't it be? You've just been blindsided by an attack for no reason. That's what they want. They want you to become emotional and angry. They want to fight about how awful you are so they don't have to think about how awful they are. Well, that isn't fair. And you can stop them from forcing you to carry all of the emotions they can't deal with, like some emotional pack mule. You do that by not reacting.
This doesn't mean do not respond. Reacting and responding are two different things. Responding is talking. Reacting is emoting. If you are interacting with the narcissist, chances are it's because you have to for some reason, which means that not responding may not be an option. But not reacting is always an option. You don't have to get emotionally involved to have a conversation, and just because someone lays the bait out, it doesn't mean you have to take it. The narcissist is not going to change. These behaviors are so ingrained in them that they have become second nature, so you have to change your behavior.
Before the interaction starts, remind yourself again that the narcissist's feelings are not your responsibility. This is the truth. Everyone in the world is responsible for experiencing, carrying, processing and dealing with their own feelings. If the narcissist can't do that, that's their problem. They have no right to force you to do that for them, and to be perfectly honest, you have no right to do it. It's wrong and it isn't helping them. It's hurting them, and it's hurting you. It needs to stop, so repeat that to yourself until you understand. Once the interaction begins, the narcissist will likely try to bait you with insults, sarcasm, nasty remarks—all the things they do to get a rise out of people. They are trying to cause an argument so they can force you to be their emotional pack mule. Don't let them. Just don't react.
No matter what they say, no matter how crazy and insulting and disrespectful it is, just don't react emotionally. Don't yell, don't deny, don't explain, don't excuse. Just ignore it totally. Remind yourself that this person is only doing this because they cannot deal with the fact that they hate themselves and let it go. It's the truth. Count to 10 and take a deep breath, or try to distract yourself while you are talking to them. It isn't as hard as you'd think, especially once you interrupt your own automatic reaction of jumping to the defense and explaining or getting angry.
Once you start doing this, the narcissist is going to be confused and off-balance. More than likely, they will try to up the ante to try and get you to react. If they cannot get you to carry their emotional weight, they will have to deal with it themselves. This is very frightening and stressful for them, and they will react to that. Just keep ignoring their emotional bait. If the interaction becomes too intense or you don't think you can keep your cool, walk away or otherwise end it. Try not to let them see they've gotten to you if you can help it.
Once you start to see this behavior for what it really is, it starts to become much easier not to take it personally. These are miserable, immature and disordered people who cannot handle their own feelings and want someone else to take the weight. It doesn't have to be you.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Ge Rijn on July 21, 2020:
It took nearly nine years to see this is true. It came when her projections turned on me finally.
It's not that she 'forced' me to deal with her feelings about situations and people she encountered.
It started gradually with problems she encountered with people on her work. Just the regular stuff we all encounter sometimes. I listened and showed empathy and try to advice her. Nothing special in my view.
Then I started to notice she often also had, in my view minor, problems with her friends and other people. I still tried to comfort her but also told her that I did not knew those friends on a personal level so I could not really tell who was right or wrong. She often had a black and white attitude towards those problems which I tried to make her see/consider.
Usually she kept her mouth for some time then about complaning and judging other people. But sooner or later it came back. And the discussions started again. Me telling her I didn't know those people well enough (or often not at all) and explaining there are different viewpoints and complexities to most situations and people.
It didn't fall in fruitfull earth (ofcourse on hind-sight). But she kept silent after those remarks from me.
She kept on with this negative behavior and due to this was fired from her job. Which I warned her before could happen with her attitude. Then (ofcourse) she was the great victim who needed to be rescued from all this unjustice. I still gave in. Feeling sorry for her. Endorsed and motivated her to start her own acupuncture-practice. Something she dreamed of for years I knew but never took of somehow. She had done the education needed before we met. I helped her with good advice. Got her a good laywer I knew to finisch her sudden laying-of by her employer. She got a lot of money out of it due to my advice and interventions.
Helped her fitting her practice and with advertising. Writing adventorials for her even. While I have nothing with acupuncture and even object it.
I know now I went way over my bounderies but then it felt natural.
You would wonder why. What was the pay-back from her to go along with her that far.
I most be honest.
She at first was love-bombing me relentlesly. It was really nice but I did not buy it right-on. Keeping distance to learn more from her. But soon we landed in bed..
She was really sexy. A body any guy dreams of in his wildest dreams. I could not resist this.
While she already learned I wasn't in to her on a emotional/psychological level that much, she stepped up the game to sell her sex instead.
She encouraged me to act-out all my sexual fantasies without limits. Even fantasies I didn't have before.
She also encouraged me to film our sexual endeavors and send them to her.
I know now this was part of her manipulation. It was the one thing beside her other crums of 'love' that kept me going. And her wisdom about my empathy and standards on human conduct she exploited.
They all were exploited to the max. When she arrived and had her own practice finally, I lost my job due to a severe illness.
It's the same story all over again with narcissists. Suddenly all the sex and attention was gone. She was busy now and had to make 'choices' for she had so little time..
I was aching for some support. It was only then after 9 years she really started devaluating me.
She started body-shaming me. Giving me complete silent treatment when I needed her the most. Telling me I could no live without her...
The bitch felt great afterall. I ended it abruptly when she told me I could not live without her. Told her sending me back my keys of my house which she did right away.
Never heard from her again.
Now this feels great in a way. But still spite the wasted time and energy.
Jackie on October 13, 2018:
Is this the end, or will she be back when her supply runs low
Norma Jean Lemley on March 19, 2018:
These are good / I just read a few / I am in process of getting out yes he's tried to take everything / he's had me stuck here in this house 3-4 yrs / I've been injured / that's how he began getting his control / I have one more operation to go thru / I'm watching him closely
biomechanics2018 on December 28, 2017:
I agree, except in the workplace, the Narcissist bully abuses power, brings misery to his/her target and endeavors to steal the target's self-confidence. Bullies often involve others using many tactics such as blaming for errors, unreasonable work demands, insults, putdowns, stealing credit, threatening job loss, and discounting accomplishments. They are noticed by higher ups; promotions depend on willingness to aggress. Bullying is rewarded at the workplace. If the target does not comply with them, they threat to terminate them. The Narcissist boss can cause you stress, induce depression and anxiety or even trigger the onset of serious illnesses.
40% of the targets of bulling never told their employers, and of those that did, 62% reported that they were ignored.
There is a whole new field of litigation in the U.S. is developing-"lawsuits against 'bad bosses' and the organizations that negligently allow them to supervise.