It’s Narcissist Friday!
“People who confront the narcissist always lose.”
What do you think? Is that a true statement? It certainly seems true, doesn’t it? Only enter the fight if you are prepared to get beat up. To confront the narcissist on behavior or attitude is to walk dangerously.
If you are reading this, you probably understand. It might be at work where you confront the narcissist about the lies he has told about you. It might be a parent who has always put you down. It might be a friend who takes advantage of your time and energy. Or it might be a spouse or lover who is often cruel and uncaring. But when you point out how they hurt you, you end up hurt again.
Somehow it is all your fault. You started it. You deserve it. You are the real culprit. If you hadn’t done what you did, this never would have happened. You should be thankful the narcissist puts up with you at all. On and on and on. By the time it’s over you wish you had never dared.
Then you feel like crap. Sorry for the vernacular, but that’s the way it is. You built up your courage, gathered your nerve, prepared your words—and got creamed. And this isn’t the first time.
So what do you do? Simple justice seems to demand that the narcissist be confronted. She has to be told that she is hurting you. He has to have the boundaries made clear. They ought to be stopped.
But here’s the problem: the narcissists either already know they are doing something that hurts you or they simply don’t care. All your energy seems out of line to them. They don’t understand why you are attacking them, since they have done nothing wrong. Again, you deserved it. To the narcissist, it is almost hypocritical of you to challenge them for their cruelty when it was your own fault.
And so you go slowly crazy.
But understand that this is not your problem. You are not the crazy one. This is how narcissists generally deal with confrontation. Whether it is the boss, the mother, the neighbor, the police officer or anyone. Even the counselor.
To the Officer: “Yes, Officer, I see your point. Thank you. I appreciate your diligence.”
To you: “That jerk! If he didn’t have that badge I would have pushed his words down his throat. Who does he think he is giving me a ticket?”
Even when it seems that the confrontation works, it still doesn’t. There may be limited success. He might shut up for a while. She might walk away. But they really don’t understand your anger and don’t care about your point. They can’t see you as a real person whose emotions are valid. Your anger, your sadness, your joy—they don’t understand them the way you might understand the emotions of others.
Back to the question: What do you do? Here are some ideas:
- Do what you must. If you must say something, do it. It will feel good to get it out, no matter how it is accepted.
- Plan for failure. There are times when it is right to do something even if you know ahead of time that it won’t work. Maybe someone else will hear and understand your point, even if the narcissist doesn’t get it. If you plan for the narcissist to avoid or miss your point, you might not be as hurt when he/she does.
- Accept small victories and benefits. Sometimes a confrontation can set up a boundary. Sometimes the narcissist will be set back and have to take a different tack. That can be good.
- Or you don’t have to confront at all. Why put yourself through that if you don’t have to? Set your boundaries and maintain them without confrontation. The narcissist will probably try to use confrontation if you seem to want to avoid it, but walking away or staying silent can be a very effective strategy.
Confrontation is hard and narcissists usually choose victims who hate it in almost any circumstance. It is hard because you see the other as a real person and you don’t want to hurt them, nor do you want to fail to get your point across. Just know that your desire to confront and your struggle with confrontation are okay. They’re normal.
So I have attached a little video that seemed to illustrate what happens when we try to confront the narcissist. I apologize in advance for the “dumb criminals” part. You are neither dumb nor criminals, but the narcissist is usually as hard as bulletproof glass!