A recent story by Marci B. Stiles, licensed professional counselor and founder of Dallas-based Positive Outlook Counseling dealt with how to identify the narcissist in your life and gave specific criteria for determining if that person driving you crazy was a narcissist.
“In many cases, the best strategy for dealing with a narcissist is to stay away and limit exposure,” notes Stiles. “But what if you are already married to a narcissist or the narcissist is a child, sibling or parent? In these cases, therapy and coping strategies can help.”
- Know your limits. Trust your judgment and separate yourself from the narcissist when you need to. Your feelings and sanity are important, too.
- Create financial limits. If your spouse is a reckless spender, make every purchase over a certain amount a joint decision. Have a discretionary fund for each of you and a mandatory joint savings plan that is off-limits. This helps insure that each spouse has a say and the narcissist doesn’t spend you into the poor house.
- Hold firm on reckless behavioral boundaries. If your loved one engages in behavior like drinking, promiscuous sex, drugs, gambling, etc., you need to set hard limits that are not negotiable. These are deal breakers and you need to walk away from the relationship if they are broken. Examples include: drinking and driving, no sex with others…or whatever your particular challenges and limits are.
- Insist on compromise and decision sharing. Most narcissists tend to dominate the relationship and like to have things their way – more like a dictatorship. This can be mitigated by compromise. You may be in charge of household purchases, he is in charge of auto problems and yard care – or all decisions are made 50-50. Whatever works best for the two of you.
- Negotiate. This is a critical skill with a narcissist and will make your life easier. “You want this, I want that, here’s what I propose…”
- Bolster your self-esteem. Don’t expect much from the narcissist unless she or he wants something from you. Most of the time they tear down the people around them. I work with my clients on how not to buy into the “tear-down,” and to rediscover what is worthy about themselves.
- Don’t believe a liar. Sounds simple, right? Narcissists are good at changing their stories and making you think you’re the crazy one. In therapy I work with clients to help chronicle these “gas lighting” events and to keep track of reality and trust their memories.
- Create your own support system. Narcissists like to isolate and control the people around them. It is important for you to have friends, family and a support system outside of the narcissist. A positive support system keeps you balanced and makes it easier to see the “crazy” through the trees.
- Command respect. Do not put up with disrespect or denigration…EVER. It will make you appear weak to the narcissist and make the behavior even worse the next time. Disrespect is unacceptable and you must immediately leave the narcissist to either change their behavior or have them misbehave by themselves. Protect yourself from abuse.
- Leave. If things get too bad, then you must get out. Most narcissists won’t admit they are a narcissist and will insist you are the problem. They’ve been allowed to run with their bad behavior for a long time. Sometimes setting boundaries and re-programming behavior with a “zero tolerance” program makes a huge difference and empowers the loved one. Other times, nothing will work and it is time to go…even though you may have children together, financial dependencies…in the end it doesn’t matter if you are being crushed in the relationship.
“These strategies are helpful for almost any relationship, but critical for a narcissistic one,” added Stiles. “The non-narcissist has to be strong and firm in every situation, all the time. It is a lot like dealing with a demanding toddler with the added anxiety of danger. It can be exhausting and not always rewarding. That’s why a positive support system is so important.”
If you have an important narcissist in your life and would like to schedule an appointment about protection and coping skills, contact Marci Stiles LPC at 972-733-3988 or book your appointment online at http://www.positiveoutlookcounseling.com/schedule-dallas-counseling-appointment/
Positive Outlook Counseling
Marci B. Stiles, MA, LPC-S, NBCC
Bent Tree Plaza
16610 North Dallas Parkway
Dallas TX 75248
Positive Outlook Counseling services range from individual counseling to family therapy to marriage counseling services. Marci Stiles specializes in individual, family, marriage and troubled teen therapy.