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Accepting The Narcissist

Updated on April 30, 2018
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The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.

Relationships with pathologically narcissistic people are usually very painful. Regardless your relationship to the narcissist, you will likely be devalued, unappreciated and discarded, perhaps multiple times over the years. There is no magic pill to make them stop behaving this way, there is no foolproof way to stop this behavior. There's no special way to say something so that they will understand and no way to present the information that will make them care. That's why ending the association with them and going no contact is usually what is recommended. There's no real point in anything else. You can't have a real relationship with a pathologically narcissistic person. A relationship requires two people, and there are not two people in this situation. They don't see you as one, and they have no identity anyway.

If you cannot go NO CONTACT or you are not ready to do so yet, you can work on accepting the narcissist in your life for what they are. To be clear here, this does not mean that you are OK with their behavior or that you condone it in any way. You are not approving their behavior. You are accepting it. That means, whether you approve of the behavior or not, you realize that this is how it is and that you cannot do anything to change it. This is very important, because so much of the pain and suffering related to narcissistic relationships comes from the victim's hope that the narcissistic person will change their behavior. Once someone really and truly accepts that this is not going to happen, this source of pain is eliminated.

Sometimes people confuse this with letting the narcissist get away with things, but the truth is that it really has nothing to do with that. Acceptance is not excusing. You can accept that someone is a certain way and still enforce boundaries and consequences for their actions. Just because you understand that they are that way does not mean it's OK. For example, you may accept that your narcissistic ex spouse will cause issues about visitation with the children, but that doesn't mean that, because you accept that, you now don't go back to court to enforce the agreement when they don't follow it. Acceptance is not saying, "This is just how they are so it's OK." Acceptance is saying, "This is just how they are." It's necessary to accept the way things are to help with managing your feelings. Once you can manage your feelings, you can realistically adjust your expectations to where the narcissist's behavior no longer upsets you. You have no control over the narcissistic person, so you have to exercise control over yourself. That is the only way anything will change.

This is probably one of the hardest things for people to do. It's hard to let go of the hope or the expectation that your needs will be recognized by another person. However, it really is essential for surviving this experience. They are not going to do it and that's just how it is. You can't make people care when they don't. This is really the crux of the issue for many people. Too much time is spent trying to make the narcissistic person care or realize where they are going wrong. The problem is, they don't think they're going wrong. Their way of operating and relating to others works for them in the immediate moment and that's all they care about. They perceive your insistence upon recognition of your needs as selfishness and a threat. Narcissistic people perceive this as you are the one who does not care about the needs of other people, because you are not putting their needs before your own. In their perception, you are the narcissist. There is no way to make them understand that this is not the case. All they hear you saying is that their needs don't matter and yours do. This is how they feel and to pathologically narcissistic people, feelings are facts.

This is irrational and unreasonable, but it's how it is. Any mention of your own needs is perceived as selfishness on your part. Therefore, any request to recognize your needs is received by them as being told to disregard their own. When you catch yourself expecting the narcissistic person in your life to care about or consider your needs or being hurt because they didn't, remind yourself that they are not capable of doing this. When you catch yourself explaining to the narcissist that you matter too or being hurt because they treat you as if you don't, remind yourself that they cannot understand and they don't care. In this way, you change the way you think of the relationship and your expectations of it. Many people might feel that this is unfair, and they're right. It is unfair. However, it's not really about what's fair, only what's true. It's about accepting the reality of the situation. This is necessary because the relationship is likely not ever going to be what you want it to be and it's doubtful it'll ever be fair. Once you can accept that, you can stop being emotionally affected by it. It might sound impossible to you now, but it really isn't.

It takes practice and repetition, but eventually you will be able to accept things as they are. Your emotional reactions will change as the information sinks in. And remember, this doesn't mean that the pathologically narcissistic person's behavior is OK. It's not at all, and it really is best to end your association with this person or limit contact with them as much as possible because there's no reason to allow that much toxicity in your life. For the times when you can't avoid the narcissist or any toxic type of person, accepting them as they truly are and adjusting your expectations accordingly goes a long way toward stopping their behavior from hurting you.

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