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Let The Narcissist Worry About Their Own Problems

Updated on January 17, 2018
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The Little Shaman is a spiritual counselor, hypnotherapist, and a specialist in Cluster B personality disorders.

It's often the case with people who are in relationships with narcissists that they believe it is their job to be the narcissist's caregiver - a belief that is certainly not dissuaded by the narcissist. Quite the contrary, this belief is ingrained into narcissistic people's loved ones' heads. It's a pervasive belief in general, that people are responsible for the well-being of others. In some ways, this is true. When we drive a car, we are responsible for ourselves, our passengers and the other drivers on the road.

However, in the case of narcissistic relationships, this idea becomes twisted into something very different and toxic. In a narcissistic relationship, the narcissist believes the other person or other people are directly responsible for their well-being. They take no responsibility for their own well-being, instead insisting others are responsible for their emotions and how they get along in the world. They behave as if their problems are someone else's responsibility. Unfortunately, this often turns into a concrete dynamic in which the other people around them believe it, too. The relationship can become a situation where the narcissist is never expected to care for themselves and people run around trying to fix all of the narcissist's problems for them, either because the narcissist cannot or will not do so themselves.

This happens for many reasons. It could be that the person or people around the narcissist are codependent and believe they have to do what other people want in order to be loved or validated. It could be that the narcissist is abusive if their needs are not catered to. It could be the result of guilt piled on someone by the narcissist. Throughout their relationships, narcissists will continually place the responsibility for their feelings on the other person, claiming that they were made to feel a certain way, creating an atmosphere where they are perpetually offended or claiming to have constantly hurt feelings. They may use tantrums or suicidal threats to control the household until they get what they want, or threaten that they will create a catastrophe for the family if they are not appeased. They may use emotionally-loaded language, such as "Why don't you want me to be happy?" or "Why do you want me to suffer?" In this way, they foist the responsibility for their feelings and well-being onto other people. The message here is very clear: "I have a problem and you need to do something about it."

When the narcissist finally gets their way or is calmed down, all is serene again. This dynamic creates a situation where people must make the narcissist's feelings, wants and needs a priority or suffer. This reinforces the idea that other people are responsible for the narcissist's emotions and well-being, both to the narcissist and the people around them. It often becomes a vicious cycle where everybody is taking responsibility for the narcissist's well-being except for them. This often ends up doing more harm than good, as nobody can ever learn to tend to their own needs if they are not required to do so.

Sometimes, people believe it is their duty to take care of other people in this way. Sometimes they believe they are doing the right thing, and they don't realize that they are actually hurting the narcissist by agreeing to take responsibility for them. These people often become angry at the suggestion that we are not responsible for other people's feelings or well-being. We will often see people who are upset on the narcissist's behalf asking why narcissists are being so callously painted and if should we all just forget about being compassionate human beings and abandon them to their awful, lonely fates. The very way this type of thing is phrased imples that other people are responsible for the narcissist's well-being, and that to disagree with that means someone is not compassionate enough. It implies that somehow narcissists won't meet that awful fate if somebody else does something about it.

This is, of course, not only not true but it's also exactly what narcissists themselves believe. They are miserable and hurting and needing and somebody needs to do something about that. The idea that this person should be them does not cross their minds. This is just like the way a little kid expects their parents to make everything better and take care of their problems. The problem is, narcissists are not children. They are adults and they are responsible for their own well-being. The fact that they are either unwilling or unable to shoulder that responsibility does not change this fact. The narcissist's well-being is not your responsibility. You can't save someone from themselves.

It can be hard to train yourself out of this way of thinking, especially when it's been reinforced with such strong emotions like guilt. However, it is not your responsibility to look after the emotions, the well-being or anything else of a grown adult. It's theirs. You don't have to carry that burden around anymore. It's OK to create boundaries. It's OK to say no. It's OK to say, "It's not my job to make you happy." It's OK to say, "Your feelings are your responsibility, not mine." Narcissists are not a special case, regardless of what they think. They have to carry their own problems and solve them, just like everyone else.

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