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Cutting Off Contact With Narcissists & Other Toxic People

Updated on July 13, 2018
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The Little Shaman is a spiritual counselor, hypnotherapist, and a specialist in Cluster B personality disorders.

Dealing with pathologically narcissistic people is often extremely difficult. In some situations, it can be impossible. They can be rude, callous, paranoid, accusatory, cruel, indifferent and worse. Many people long to cut the narcissistic person they deal with out of their lives completely, but are unable to figure out how to do it. They are afraid of angering the narcissist or other people that may be involved in the situation. They don't want to hurt anyone, or they are afraid that it may lead to negative consequences.

Unfortunately, any or all of these things may happen when you decide to stop contact with a toxic person. There's no way to change the situation without risking negative consequences. It's the nature of the type of person you're dealing with. In a perfect world, you would be able to tell this person you don't want to communicate or deal with them anymore and they would respect that. Sadly, the world is not perfect. Narcissistic people - and their enablers - have a vested interest in keeping things just the way they are. You will more than likely meet resistance when you try to cut toxic people out of your life.

It's best not to exhaust yourself trying to figure out the way to make a painless exit. It doesn't exist. There's no way to pre-suppose what people will do or how they will react and edit everything you do in order to manage that. You just have to do what is best for you in as honest and straightforward a way as you can. It will not be easy at first, but it's important to tell the truth and stand up for yourself and your own well-being. You owe it to yourself and it's important to counteract the conditioning that demands you do for others before yourself. You do that by deliberately acting against it. A lot of people want to change things without actually having to change them, but you just can't do that. It feels uncomfortable at first, and we won't pretend differently, but the more often you do it, the easier it will get.

There is also the problem of guilt. This is another result of the conditioning that many people in this situation have been subjected to. People who end up entangled in toxic relationships have often been conditioned to believe that saying no is wrong, or that considering themselves in any way is selfish. These things are nonsense, and on some level, you know it. You are just as worthy of consideration as anybody else, and if someone has a problem with that, they can work it out themselves. Whatever their feelings are about it are their responsibility, not yours. You have to look out for yourself, and if you feel that a relationship is toxic or harmful, you have to do something about that. Waiting around for the toxic person to change is not only giving them control over your life and your happiness, it's generally pointless. Why should they change? You are the one who is unhappy with the situation, not them.

People often ask how the narcissist feels when you cut them off. It's usually because people want to believe that the narcissist is hurt by this, or that they are having an epiphany and will see the error of their ways. It's more likely that they are angry at the person cutting them off and feel that it's unfair and abusive. They may be hurt, but this would generally not be because they love the other person. They are hurt because their ego took a hit, and often they become frightened because they are not in control of the situation and this makes them very uncomfortable. They may imagine all sorts of fantastical reasons for the end of the relationship or termination of contact, usually reasons that have nothing to do with their own behavior.

Many people entangled in toxic relationships are afraid that people will not like them if they say no, or they don't want to create a problem because confrontation makes them very uncomfortable. Most people don't like confrontation but unfortunately, in life it's necessary sometimes. Not everyone has your best interests at heart and not everyone necessarily understands the way situations affect others. It's your responsibility to tell them and stand up for yourself. Some people are so concerned with making sure others don't feel neglected and abandoned that they've neglected and abandoned themselves. But you can't pour from an empty cup. If you really want to be able to care for others, you need to take care of yourself and keep firm boundaries. Otherwise, you will become exhausted and be able to care for no one, least of all yourself.

It can be very difficult to cut off contact with a toxic person, especially pathologically narcissistic people. Not only is the situation psychologically-rooted in patterns, habits and conditioning you've likely had for years, but it can be a literal addiction. Studies have shown that drama uses the same mechanisms and creates the same reaction in the brain that opiates do. It is literally addictive. This is one reason that it is so hard to stay away from people who "feed" this addiction. Life away from them is boring, stressful, anxious, irritating. The desire to be around them and feed that addiction can be very strong. Like any other addiction, it has to be fought one day at a time. This is not easy. It's hard. but kicking any addiction is hard. It is possible with willpower, self-care and understanding to break free and stay free.

On top of the very real addiction, the situation is often complicated by those patterns of conditioning mentioned earlier. Guilt, self-esteem issues, self-doubt, being shamed out of focusing on your own needs, carrying the responsibility for other people and their feelings... all of these things can contribute to feeling trapped in a situation with a toxic person. In order to resolve them, it's necessary to create boundaries with all people, and it may be necessary to remove toxic people from your life entirely. In order to change your life, you have to do different things - even if they are difficult. It's not possible to make a change without leaving your comfort zone. That's one of the reasons so many people have such a hard time with it.

It's important to remember that it's OK to say no. It doesn't make you a bad person. It doesn't make you selfish. It doesn't mean you don't care. If someone says that it does, they have their own motivations, because that is not the truth. Friends or family who take issue with you caring for yourself or having your own needs are going to have to accept the situation. Their feelings are not your responsibility. You have to do what's right for yourself. Be firm, be assertive and most importantly, be honest. It's tempting to make excuses or tell lies, but it's necessary to be honest about what you are doing and why, not just for the other person but for yourself. Don't be embarrassed or ashamed to stand up for yourself. It's time to really internalize that relationships are not just about one person giving and the other one taking. They are supposed to be equal, where everyone's needs are important, everyone's right and boundaries are respected, and everyone's feelings are considered. If that is not the case in any relationship in your life, it's time to make a change.

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