I am fairly blessed in this particular time period in my life in terms of not having to interact with narcissists in the most immediate parts of my circle. Life events ended up this way naturally, for the most part- you cannot choose who you work with, who comes into your life unexpectedly, who your sister or friend marries, and so on. There was also a lot of cleaning house that went down on my part, and I suppose, will continue to happen for some time. It was really healing to cut the toxic relationships and dead weight out of my life.
I think back to the narcissists that I grew up with, was friends with, roomed or worked with or had romantic relationships with. I think back more frequently when I am reminded of them. This happens when I have one interaction with someone that is less than pleasant, yet at the same time, all too familiar. I recoil inside of myself, a reaction to the shock, the sting followed by the need to cleanse and re-balance my thinking. I take a minute to remind myself what I potentially am dealing with here.
What I believe is happening is I am having normal responses to some of the tactics that narcissists apply which, are the result of being a fairly stable and functioning human being. The problem is you are not entitled to those same emotions when interacting with a narcissist than with someone who is not a narcissist.
Having interactions with others leaves a space between who you are personally and who they are personally. It is about the issue, whether or not you agree or disagree. Things may get heated depending on the topic or depth to which both of those individuals know each other, yet there hopefully still lies a respect for each other. This is very rarely the case with a narcissist. Narcissists are of a different caliber and on a different wavelength than everyone else.
And the worst part of it is- they are who they are and as far as we know they will never be any different.
It has been said that a person becomes most like the five people that he or she is currently spending the most time around. So what does that mean when one or more of them are narcissists? You react instead of grow. When time is spent around people that you love and love you back there is an opportunity for comfort, growth, stability, and much more. When time is spent around a narcissist it is all too easy to internalize what they want you to give or take from them. If you have the ability to become afflicted more easily by a narcissist you only go down the rabbit hole either by taking in their abuse or trying to change them. There is not a lot of positive growth or change.
It is more difficult to be yourself around a narcissist. They do not function like the rest of us do at all. Narcissists are incredibly good manipulators which they use as a cover up for who they really are. In general, people around you are going to influence you; no one person has the strength to fully be who they think they are all the time. The trick is to be aware of when you are losing the core and inner you to blame, insults, projection, and so on. Are you spending more time fighting and being afraid than not?
Its not to say that we cannot be around a narcissist ever, it just has been helpful to really step outside of yourself and know that narcissists do not function like the rest of us and it is best to learn how to deal with them in that way. If they are putting someone down, it is not because they are having a bad day and a bad side of them is coming out- it is because they have developed a defense mechanism to bring other people down to make themselves feel better about themselves.
Narcissists are not going to change. They will stay in their bubble and pierce through others to keep themselves the only way they know how to be. Owe it to yourself to name the kind of personality that you are dealing with and be wise when dealing with them. Who you can become around them is not the real and inner you. Once I learned to separate, it was not only easier to deal with them but also skillfully show compassion, which is a part of the true and inner, me.
Written by: Anna (creator of Echos Corner)