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How to Protect Yourself Against a Narcissist

Updated on April 7, 2019
Astrid McClymont profile image

Astrid graduated with a Bsc Hons in Criminology and Psychological Studies in 2017 and currently works as a professional ghostwriter.

A narcissist is defined as someone who has an intense need to be admired and who has a disproportionate amount of admiration for themselves. They have a tremendous sense of superiority that means they feel that they are better than everyone around them, and that they deserve special treatment. Nothing can shake their unwavering belief that they are better than you, and that they are gifted. Narcissists are nearly always described as arrogant and manipulative, yet also needy and demanding. They always have to be the center of attention, and will do anything to make sure all eyes are on them.

Chances are you know someone like this. After all, they make no attempts to hide their delusions of grandeur and will often make it known that they think they are superior. Notably, these unpleasant personality traits are most likely to present themselves when the narcissist feels under threat. At first, they will appear charming, maybe even likeable, but if they feel their desires are not being met or their ego feels threatened, they can easily turn malicious.

So why are they like this? One theory is that at the center of their arrogance is actually a frightened and fragile individual. Because of their inner sense of inferiority and need to feel more powerful, they project their own flaws onto other people. This is a defence mechanism to protect their ego and emotions, and they often look for other people to blame for their own mistakes. This means they will always shirk responsibility and search for scapegoats when things go wrong.

This could possibly be why narcissists are most likely to become managers, CEO and directors, as they can not only place themselves on a pedestal and be perceived as better than everyone else, but they can also blame everyone beneath them when mistakes are made. You will never see a narcissist admit any wrong doing or holding themselves accountable for their mistakes or behaviour. In fact, the more you push a narcissist to admit a mistake, the more aggressive they will become, and the more they will blame other people.

Another personality trait of interest is the narcissist's constant desire to compare themselves to other people in a superficial way. You may often find them belittling people, commenting on someone's appearance or mocking their abilities. This is so they can build themselves up by crushing the people around them who they deem to be a threat. This comes down to one thing; jealousy. Either the narcissist is jealous of someone and so aims to bring them down, or they wish that other people were jealous of them, so they can build themselves up.

Does all of this sound familiar? Maybe this sounds like someone you work with or a family member. It could even sound like someone you're married to. Narcissists are everywhere, from our office to our home, and although they are an inevitability, it doesn't mean that we have to fall prey to their behaviour and let them beat you down. Here, we take a look at 4 ways you can protect yourself against a narcissist.

1. Ignore them.

This almost sounds too easy, but it's one of the most effective ways to ensure they simply get bored of you and move on. As previously mentioned, narcissists need constant attention and if they're not getting it, they'll search for it from someone else. So the next time they're insulting you or trying to knock you down, just accept that's who they are, try to not take it personally, and ignore them. They'll go away soon enough.

2. Understand it's about them, not you.

When someone is treating you terribly and deliberately trying to make you feel bad, it can be all too easy to assume it's because you've done something wrong. You'll rack your brain trying to figure out every tiny thing you've said and done, and how you could have behaved differently, but there's no point. Every insult a narcissist fires at you isn't even about you, it's about them and their persistent need to feed their ego.

If they're commenting on your appearance, know it's actually because they hate their own. If they're criticizing your ability to do your job, it's actually because they envy your strengths and expertise. Once again, just ignore them and move on.

3. Take a step back.

This can be either keeping a little distance from them or cutting them out your life completely. Either way, it's important to set clear boundaries between you and a narcissist so that your emotions are protected.

4. Know your own weaknesses.

Because a narcissist will find them. They can sniff out your vulnerabilities like a blood hound and use them against you. For example, people who feel insecure about their looks will be preyed upon by a narcissist so they will be made to feel ugly. Then, when the narcissist knows they've got you down where they want you, they'll pick you up with praise and compliments so they know they can control you with their admiration. It's all about playing mind games and manipulating you until you feel that the only thing that matters is their approval. You may think you could never fall for something like that, but people do all the time and often don't realize until it's too late.

The next time you come into contact with a narcissist, you will now, hopefully, be a little more prepared. The most important thing to remember is to never catch their bait and be drawn into their drama. They thrive off attention and chaos, so simply don't bite. Always keep your distance, and remember that inside the tough and arrogant exterior lies a crumbling and fragile ego.

© 2019 Astrid McClymont


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