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Deeper Perception Made Practical

As our conversation about narcissists heats up… a guest post by ZELDA

When a narcissist is in your life, what's the best way to respond?

When a narcissist is in your life, what’s the best way to respond?

To join in this thread, may I recommend that you read the previous post: Protect Yourself Energetically from Narcissists, Part 6 of 7

And now, here come words of experience and wisdom from Blog-Buddy ZELDA.

Not crazy about discussing narcissism

Rose, I’m curious to see what the next post on narcissists will be. I admit that this kind of post isn’t my favorite, for a variety of reasons.

It brings to mind the awful experiences I’ve had dealing with the narcissists in my family, not something I relish. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of being related to a few. I’m not in contact with them now — out of a sense of self-preservation.

It was quite challenging for me to deal with these particular people.

In these kinds of conversations about psychological labels and how useful they are, I don’t find it terribly helpful when people go to that place of some version of, “Well, everyone is narcissistic…we’re all like this.”

Yet the label “Narcissist” can be helpful, when warranted

Part of my development was getting reality checks about just how unhealthy and damaging the behavior was that I was subject to growing up.

Sure, it’s not helpful to toss around labels about people’s behavior. At the same time, it’s not helpful, either, to simply dismiss really awful behavior with some version of, “Hey, everyone’s like that!”

I just don’t agree.

I actually don’t agree, either, that narcissists are rare. I’m sure the frequency of running into the behavior is related to the context.

Practical behaviors that have helped me deal with narcissists

I’ve mentioned before that I work with folks who’ve had long careers in broadcasting. And there are plenty who behave like narcissists.

Do I care whether they’ve been psychologically evaluated properly and diagnosed as narcissists? No.

Here is how I have learned to deal with them:

  1. Is my life better now that I get that the most effective way to deal with narcissists is to understand that every conversation with them is going to be about them? Yes.
  2. I am intentionally cordial and superficial with narcissists  when I must interact with them at work.
  3. Otherwise, I steer clear.
  4. I find that I’m better able to cope when dealing with narcissists when I simply focus on the basics of what I need to accomplish on the job and just leave it at that.
  5. I don’t care about analyzing or labeling narcissists. At the same time, I’m realistic about the terrain of the context. The people who go into the broadcasting field tend to have pretty big egos! Some take it farther than others.
  6. I don’t care about detailed analysis about narcissism. Instead I pay attention to how I’ve been treated. Then I take it from there.

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Join the Discussion

  1. 1
    Amanda says:

    Hi Zelda 🙂

    Since my comments on the last post said pretty much what you are protesting about, I would like to clarify a little.

    I don’t see that saying we all have narcissistic tendencies is dismissive of the fact that some people have them to an extreme degree.

    I would be far more concerned about anyone who doesn’t recognize that they have any unhelpful tendencies.

    For me, if I find myself defensive or self justifying, I can use that awareness to recognize that I’m at that point unlikely to behave helpfully and step back.

  2. 2
    Amanda says:

    Recognizing a continuum is also helpful in gaining clarity about the likelihood of true narcissism vs normal (if not optimal) human behavior.

    I have great optimism about people. I expect a true narcissist is a fairly rare event. I would rather focus on the happy fact that most people have the capacity to care for others.

  3. 3
    Amanda says:

    One of the happy facts of this series of posts for me is that a term such as ‘narcissist’ or ‘energy vampire’ or the like can be looked at and seen as a potential cause of fear or worry about other people which may in fact turn out to be unnecessary.

    I find labels unhelpful on the whole – especially fear-provoking ones.

    🙂

    Amanda

  4. 4
    Amanda says:

    And finally – I like the way you deal with difficult people!

    🙂

    Amanda

  5. 5
    Primmie says:

    That’s a great list Zelda. I particularly like 6.

  6. 6
    Lilian says:

    Excellent post Zelda. 🙂 Not many people who may be narcissists would go for psychological examination. The main interest for me is “how to deal with people on this kind of personality spectrum?”. I can figure out how to work with and coexist most types of people, but these people baffle me. They seem to baffle many people. Sometimes you have to confront a “narcissist”. Is there evert a constructive way of doing that? What’s your plan of action?

  7. 7
    Zelda says:

    It wasn’t until after I sent in the comment that Rose made into a guest post that I became clear on why it bothers me to read the “Everyone’s like that!” sort of comment about narcissism.

    I’d like to share that in the interest of providing food for thought and perhaps to raise sensitivity about such comments.

  8. 8
    Zelda says:

    Not long before my mother died, one very narcissistic cousin chose to throw a temper tantrum at my mother’s beside in the hospital because I told her that it would not be appropriate for her to attend a particular meeting with us and my mother’s doctor.

    I was between a rock and a hard place; I needed to honor the doctor’s wishes and say no to a narcissist.

  9. 9
    Zelda says:

    She ended her tantrum by screaming (projecting) at me, “It’s all about you! It’s always all about you!”

  10. 10
    Zelda says:

    Everything related to my mother’s health emergency revolved around this cousin as soon as she came to town.

    It’s not an exaggeration to say that this relative and another highly self-absorbed relative literally drove my mother to her grave with their behavior.

    And inflicted plenty of damage on me in the process.

  11. 11
    Zelda says:

    The worst aspect of being on the receiving end of a narcissistic tirade is that strong projection of blame and utter insensitivity.

    In my case, it took a lot of healing to undo the damage of similar kinds of blame growing up. Of being dismissed.

  12. 12
    Zelda says:

    This is why I encourage folks to think twice about tossing around the label “narcissist” and saying that everyone’s like that. It’s just not true.

    I don’t mean to be critical of blog buddies; it’s just not a pleasant reminder to anyone who’s had the misfortune of being on the receiving end of being treated dismissively by a narcissist.

  13. 13
    Lara says:

    Energy vampire is an unhelpful label in my opinion since I am not sure they exist.

    But sometimes labelling can be very helpful. Rather than being fear provoking, it can be healing.

  14. 14
    Lara says:

    If you have a narcissist in your life especially in a close relationship you will likely have suffered for a long time, and tried to fix things that cannot be fixed, and struggled to understand what part you were playing in a relationship.

    Not understanding and possibly taking responsibility for horrid behaviour.

  15. 15
    Lara says:

    In a way applying a label of personality disorder aka ‘you cannot fix this’ can be very healing, allowing detachment and helping with release.

    That’s my experience anyway.

  16. 16
    Lara says:

    I also found the only way to deal was to have no contact.

    In a previous comment I said a list of characteristics doesn’t give a full picture.

    Part of what I was trying to say was that narcissistic characteristics may seem like part of a normal continuum, as Amanda says, but a personality disorder in my experience is not an extreme end of a normal continuum but something altogether else.

  17. 17
    Lara says:

    Not labeling can also be a luxury only afforded to those who don’t have to.

  18. 18

    Wonderful comments here, AMANDA, PRIMMIE, LILIAN, ZELDA and LARA.

    So heartfelt, so wise.

    What gifts to our online community’s conversation — as we learn to deal with real-life difficulties and still find sweetness and strength and peace.

  19. 19
    David FB says:

    I’d agree that the ego is inherently narcissistic and thus that we all have some self-serving tendencies. I’d also agree there’s a spectrum or degree of this. If we’re struggling with something, we may become more self-absorbed.

    But there’s a big difference between a periodic lack of perspective and making a habit of it. And between labeling a behaviour and labeling a person as a whole. The later is rarely warranted.

  20. 20
    David FB says:

    I would also observe that if certain kinds of people are showing up in our lives in such a way that we have to handle them regularly, it’s a sure sign there is something to be healed.

    No surprise if there’s people in the immediate family like that. But watch for the resistance. What we resist is like a magnet, like an invitation for the behaviour to appear.

  21. 21
    David FB says:

    When it’s resolved, there is no longer a button to push so they no longer react that way.

    Sure, they may have issues to resolve. But it takes 2 to tango, to create an interaction. If that’s not there, it doesn’t arise. The energy just dissipates. They take it somewhere else.

    One of the more challenging lessons of earth school. But wow – things sure change in relationships then.

  22. 22
    Amanda says:

    Thank you for explaining more, Zelda and Lara and Lilian.

    I understand much better for that.

    My granny counts along these lines. We all avoid her and she complains bitterly about it. My dad in particular has real trouble because he does love his mother and wants to take care of her, but it’s very hard for him.

    Amanda

  23. 23
    Primmie says:

    Zelda I’m so sorry you went through that experience with your relative. A similar thing happened last year in my extended family.

    I’ve learnt to really pay attention to how I’m treated by people, as you describe and I’ve learnt that in a simple way, trust is earned.

    I don’t often have dealings with difficult people these days, well except when I see family, but I’m not sure exactly why that is. Perhaps I’m a little less interested in being flattered and being special. I hope I am anyway.

  24. 24
    Lilian says:

    “But sometimes labelling can be very helpful. Rather than being fear provoking, it can be healing.”

    True. Realising you’re not the one responsible for provoking a behaviour is very healing.

  25. 25
    Zelda says:

    Amanda, with all respect, “protesting” isn’t what I’ve done here. I just disagree.

    There’s actually an important distinction there for me.

    I agree with Lara’s comment 16; dealing with a narcissistic personality disorder is something entirely different than a spectrum.

  26. 26
    Zelda says:

    I think that’s it’s difficult for anyone who has not had the experience of dealing with such a person to understand it.

    Being dismissed is basically inherent in attempting to have any kind of normal relationship with a narcissist, but such comments really do not land well for me, as they recall those times and the lack of understanding back then.

  27. 27
    Zelda says:

    I’ve become aware now of residual discomfort from those memories and the lack of understanding at the time.

    For this reason, I really don’t care to discuss the topic any further.

  28. 28
    Zelda says:

    Thanks, Primmie and Lillian, also, for your comments.

  29. 29
    Lilian says:

    Sorry you had to deal with all of that Zelda. Especially in traumatic circumstances when you were needing your energy for you and your mum.

    Also, sorry for your loss.

  30. 30
    Lilian says:

    “In my case, it took a lot of healing to undo the damage of similar kinds of blame growing up. Of being dismissed.”

    I can see where you’re coming from Zelda. It is hard. Though from the sounds of it you’re a pretty amazing and talented person!

  31. 31
    Lilian says:

    If you’re dealing with someone who can’t see past themselves, then it is very damaging. I know the feeling that you could be literally anyone and the person will still act the same way. There’s no way to have a reciprocal relationship. This relationship isn’t serving your development as a person.

    Blaming yourself, or having any reaction whatsoever is redundant. If you’re dealing with this for a long time you can loss track of who you are.

  32. 32
    Lilian says:

    One thing I have found is that people who I end up realising are very self-absorbed and unable to see another person’s point of view can often label themselves as “deep” or “special” or “insightful” etc etc.

    They feel they have access to emotions or thoughts noone else understands.

    From experience, and from seeing how they treat other people, you can figure out whether they really are gifted (by being empaths or otherwise), or they just can’t relate to others in normal ways and feel “different”.

    So opening up and trying to be “deep” in return doesn’t help as their emotions are all about them, not anyone else.

  33. 33
    Lilian says:

    Like Zelda says, it is best to keep it shallow and be quite cynical about it.

    Anyway, that probably makes little sense. Discussing these things on forums is hard. I don’t usually bother with social media at all, but this blog seems worth the effort. 🙂

  34. 34

    Another round of acknowledgement is due with this latest set of comments.

    Tender feelings, even pain, have been peeking through more than is usual at this blog. I’m so glad that our level of civility has stayed high, or even risen, to make that safe.

  35. 35

    From the perspective of reading people deeper, I’m fascinated by LILIAN’s observation that very self-absorbed people can often label themselves as “deep” or “special” or “insightful” etc.

    It’s really up to us, isn’t it, to sort through what is deep and what is shallow.

    Energetic literacy can bring discernment. Patterns show up in everyone’s aura. Just check out chakra databanks like:

    * Third Eye Chakra Databank for Spiritual Integrity

    * Heart Chakra Databank for Emotional Giving

    * Solar Plexus Chakra Databank for Sharing Power

  36. 36
    Lilian says:

    “I’ve become aware now of residual discomfort from those memories and the lack of understanding at the time.”

    “I think that’s it’s difficult for anyone who has not had the experience of dealing with such a person to understand it.”

    I agree, the double whammy of these situations is that others don’t believe you and so you have to be understanding about other people’s judgements as well as trying to be patient about the actual experience with difficult person.

  37. 37
    Lilian says:

    I’ve had close friends and even boyfriends judge me. Not fun.

    People can’t accept that sometimes you’re not in control of and you can’t even influence another person’s behaviour.

    I’ve had to accept that.

  38. 38
    Lilian says:

    I’ve had a police officer tell me that my mother’s behaviour was my fault as it takes “two to tango”.

    I was literally bleeding at the time.

    I was a minor.

    She knew nothing about my situation. Nothing at all. It’s comforting to the person saying it as it helps them rationalise it.

    Thank [goodness] for the social workers who actually knew what they were doing.

    Thanks for sharing, Zelda.

  39. 39
    Lilian says:

    It’s all about this:

    “God grant me the serenity
    To accept the things I cannot change;
    Courage to change the things I can;
    And wisdom to know the difference. ”

    straight from an “ascended master” himself.

  40. 40
    Suz says:

    Great discussion. Knowledge is power.

    Lara, I agree with you, especially your comment 16.

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