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Successful Communication With Narcissists

Updated on April 3, 2018
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The Little Shaman is a spiritual counselor, hypnotherapist, and a specialist in Cluster B personality disorders.

Trying to communicate with pathologically narcissistic people, especially when they are actively upset, is a nightmare. It's frustrating, it's painful and more than that, it's usually pointless. Conversation goes in circles and does not seem to ever progress or move forward at all. Issues are not resolved, problems are not solved and things are often made worse, not better. People become trapped in a cycle of defending, explaining and chasing the narcissist for validation, trying to prove to the narcissistic person that they are mistaken. This cycle characterizes the relationship with the narcissist. The victim is forever chasing something they will never get. Or if they do get it, they will not be allowed to keep it. Just as they feel validated, the rug will be ripped out from under them once again.

The key to understanding how to communicate successfully with pathologically narcissistic people is to remember that frankly, you can't. They are not like other people, and so the tools you would normally use to communicate with non-narcissistic people generally will not work with them. Rationally explaining or talking about your feelings will get you nowhere with a narcissistic person. They don't care. They are not listening. All they can hear are their own feelings. This means that successful communication with pathologically narcissistic people looks different than successful communication with non-narcissistic people. Successful communication with pathologically narcissistic people means not allowing yourself to be triggered or to become upset. This is what causes the pain, the frustration and it creates a situation where communication is further complicated.

Once people realize this and truly understand it, they can adjust their expectations and communication becomes much less frustrating. Desire is the root of suffering. We suffer because we cannot have what we want, or what we expect or feel we deserve. When you realize you are not going to get what you want from the situation, the suffering is alleviated because the desire has been addressed. Dealing with narcissistic people in general becomes much less painful when you can accept them for what they are and create expectations that are realistic.

Accepting them for what they are does not mean condoning their behavior. The behavior is not acceptable. Accepting narcissists - or anybody - for what they are means that you understand the full reality of the situation. It means you stop holding onto the fantasy that things are going to just magically change and this person is suddenly going to understand or care how you feel. The chances of that happening are extremely low. It is generally not even worth entertaining the idea. Once you accept the reality of the person you are dealing with and let go of your fantasy of them, the interaction becomes a lot less painful. Their behavior probably will not change, but your susceptibility to it will. They are only able to hurt you because you want and expect them to care. You desire them to care and you suffer because they don't. Addressing this is the first step toward taking the power over your feelings back to yourself, where it belongs.

Once you've done that, it is a lot easier to stop reacting to the things they are doing and saying. This is the only way to successfully deal with a narcissist. You have to stop reacting. Pushing people's buttons is probably their biggest weapon and in order to neutralize it, people have to stop getting upset. This can be very difficult and there's just no other way to say it. It's hard. But nothing worthwhile ever came easily, and this is another example of that. Acceptance is really the key here. Through acceptance comes freedom. If you can learn to accept the situation and control your reactions, it won't matter what the narcissist says or doesn't say, or what they do or don't do. Your peace will not be affected because you will realize that it's their problem, not yours. You cannot control how other people feel, what they say or what they do. This is often the biggest hurdle that people have to get over, but it is so worth it. Beig a slave to other people's opinions is no way to live.

There are several videos on this channel that help teach how to stop reacting and take control of your emotions back. Those tools are invaluable if you are forced to deal with a narcissist. However, it isn't just acceptance of the narcissistic person that is necessary. Acceptance of the self is necessary, too. Narcissists hurt and control others by pinpointing the persons weak spots and hammering on them nonstop. People often become upset because this an area in which they already have issues.

For example, a person may fly off the handle because the narcissist accuses them of lying. Of course, no one likes to be accused of lying, but trying to prove this is not true should not become the obsessive cycle that it often becomes. This could be because in their childhood, they were called a liar constantly and made to feel as if they were unlovable because of this. This person may then become obsessed with trying to prove to the narcissist that they are not a liar. In reality, this has nothing to do with the narcissist - any more than the narcissist's behavior has to do with the victim. The person is trying to prove to themselves that they are not unlovable by convincing the narcissist to love them. They've found - or never escaped - the exact situation that created the problem in the first place and are trying to fix it, sometimes over and over again and often completely unbeknownst to themselves. But if you're going to move forward, you have to face the past so it's important to be really, really honest with yourself about what you are trying to accomplish with the choices you are making.

Whatever issues you uncover with your honesty will likely show you what caused your vulnerability to the situation in the first place and once those issues are addressed, you may find that your vulnerability to the situation - and the narcissist - has disappeared. This is a beautiful feeling. People can learn many lessons from their dealings with narcissists, not the least of which is how to stop being an observer and a passenger in their own lives so they can take control.

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