Stop Taking The Blame For The Narcissist
Narcissists are the blame-shifting masters. You can ask them a simple question about whether they took the trash out or not and suddenly it's a two hour diatribe about how you make them feel so worthless or how controlling you are or how you won't give them any peace. Or maybe you'll get frozen out with cold silence, or be the subject of passive-aggressive comments, looks and gestures for the next 3 days. It doesn't matter what the subject is, what the circumstances are or how it happened. It is not the narcissist's fault. It's your fault. Even if it's nobody's fault, it's your fault. Even if you weren't there. Even if you weren't involved. Even if you weren't born yet. It's your fault.
The reason for this is very simple: pathologically narcissistic people cannot accept blame. The idea that they have done something wrong, have a flaw or have made a mistake is unacceptable to them and they will do whatever they have to do in order to prevent themselves from having to believe it. If they have to lie or twist things completely, they will do so. Unfortunately, because everybody on the planet makes mistakes and has flaws, this means always needing someone to blame.
Pathologically narcissistic people are possessed by the idea that perfection is the only measure of worth. If something is not perfect, it is worthless. This includes themselves. Most of their energy is taken up with trying to advance this false image of themselves as always perfect and always correct because it is the only way they feel that they are worthy of anything. If they can convince others that they are perfect, they can then believe it themselves and they will be able to create self worth and self esteem from the reflection of their own perfection from other people. If they cannot do that, then they have no self worth at all. The end-run around this is that if something IS demonstrably their fault, it must have been caused by someone else. This way, they are still not imperfect but were sabotaged. This relieves the large amount of anxiety they feel for not being perfect.
Unfortunately, while the narcissistic person may feel better, this creates a situation in which the person they are continuously blaming and accusing of sabotage is under enormous stress. They are constantly being accused, berated and harrassed not because they have actually done anything wrong, but because the narcissistic person in their lives cannot tolerate the idea that they are not flawless. Dealing with narcissistic people is existing in a world where you can never be right, because the narcissist can never be wrong. They are unable to create their own self worth or self esteem. It must come from or at the expense of someone else. Therefore, they cannot be good unless someone else is bad. They cannot be right unless somebody else is wrong. They cannot be smart unless somebody else is stupid. They cannot be a victim unless someone else is abusive. They cannot be perfect unless somebody else is flawed.
Other people exist in the narcissist's world to take the blame, to feed them esteem and to fulfill their needs. There is no room for another person in this world. The narcissist's dysfunctional ego takes up too much room. It's like a vaccuum, sucking up everything until there is nothing left.
Continuous blame and repeated assignment of motives to you that you do not have wears someone down. People begin to believe it's hopeless, that this person will never know them or believe them. Worse, they may even begin to believe these things are true and somehow they just can't see it. This can be very damaging to a person's self worth and their self image.
Remember that if you are dealing with this situation, it is abnormal. Nothing that is happening is fair or OK. It is not normal for someone to be unable to accept responsibility for anything, ever. It is not typical for someone to insist you are constantly doing things you are not doing. It is not usual for someone to know you for years but still not seem to understand what kind of person you are. It is not normal for someone to set you up for failure or use you to make themselves feel better. None of these things happen in healthy situations.
The conditioning that results from dealing with narcissistic people can be tough to break, especially because many people in these situations with those who are not family members were already conditioned by a family situation or a narcissistic parent. But it doesn't have to stay that way. You can break free of the guilt and the responsibility. You have been asked to carry these things unfairly and it's OK to put them down. You don't have to be perfect. You still have worth, even though you are flawed. You still have value, even though you make mistakes. It's OK to be human. It's OK to take care of yourself. It's OK to say no. Guilt is self-punishment. Don't you think you've been punished enough?
People often want to know how to let go of the guilt or stop carrying responsibility for other people's feelings or lives. There's no real trick to it and no easy out. You have to accept that you are not responsible for the life, feelings, thoughts, opinions or failures of other people. Most importantly, you have to give up the illusion of control. You cannot control other people, or their feelings or their thoughts and you cannot fix them. It's harder than it sounds but easier than you think. Journaling can help. Making lists can help, such as making a list of the things you are responsible for and the things you are not responsible for. You can write your feelings and then burn the paper. I have an episode of the show that demonstrates how to do that and it does work very well. Mostly it's about retraining your mind to think differently and practicing good boundaries. The things you are responsible for are your problem. The things other people are responsible for are their problem. That's it. There's nothing more to it than that. If it sounds simple, that's because it is. It's your own guilt and conditioning that are making you think otherwise. It doesn't mean that you don't care, or that you've become callous. It means that you are going to let other people take responsibility for their own lives while you take care of yours.
Anything else is not only unfair, but it is not sustainable. Look at it like this: you've been carrying the load for this person for a long time. Is it working out? Are they happy? Are you? If a friend were to ask you right now what justifications you can make that excuse why you are carrying all of the load and the narcissistic person is carrying none, what would you say? What reasons can you give why their feelings, needs and well-being are more important than yours? Why do you deserve no consideration or respect? Why are you OK with being dismissed? They are hard and they are painful but these are the questions that need to be answered so that you can understand why this situation was created and how it can be prevented in the future.
Probably the most important lesson we can learn from the narcissist is that there are problems you can't fix. There are situations you can't control. There are people you can't help. There are things you will not get, even though you may deserve them. And you know what? That's OK. It sucks, but it's OK. So work on letting go of the conditioning that makes you believe the world is on your shoulders. It's not. Let go of the fear that pushes you to try and control others. You can't. Give up the slavery to perfection. It's impossible. If you have truly wronged somebody, apologize. Do what you can to make amends. And work on forgiving yourself, because living in the past does nothing but impede your future. Move forward, live intentionally and resolve to do better. When we know better, we do better. Learning how to let go of situations that are unhealthy or that we cannot change and move on is a very, very important lesson and it is one that can bring you true peace. We can only control ourselves but that is a very powerful thing because it's really all we need to be able to do. Once we realize that we cannot control other people and that they can't control us, life becomes a lot less complicated. True freedom is letting go.