How many times have you been suckered in to an unproductive, frustrating argument with a narcissist only to find they’ve left you deflated, bitter, and angry?
This is right where a narcissist wants you to be.
And they’ll only keep pressing your buttons no matter how much pain they cause. After all, it’s your anguish they’re feeding upon and that’s a defining characteristic trait of a narcissistic abuser.
But there’s one huge mistake so many people make: it’s not about winning, it’s about preventing and deflecting this type of interaction in the first place – particularly when you can’t simply get up and walk away from the abuser.
How is this done? By recalibrating your own mindset – not through re-engineering the narcissist.
So here’s how you can get started:
1) Act assertive and be decisive
By default, narcissists lack respect for everybody and are constantly testing everyone’s boundaries in the hope to penetrate those with weaker defenses.
People who have strong boundaries are those who feel confident within themselves, are self-assured and have a high level of self-respect that makes a narcissist job more complicated. A narcissist encountering these boundaries is like a vampire being exposed to the sun; they’re so horribly repelled by such personal qualities they go looking elsewhere for prey.
Sure enough, there’s plenty of food out there for them.
Narcissists prefer targeting people with lower self-confidence and who are prone to doubting themselves in everyday life situations. People who are highly introspective and willing to face their own flaws in order to be a better person are easily manipulated by narcissists who can use these attributes against them.
In order to develop and maintain strong boundaries, you need to know what assertiveness really means. Ask yourself:
Do you hesitate to say ‘no’ and end up agreeing to do things you don’t want to do?
How much do you believe in yourself?
Do you treat other people’s opinions as more important than your own?
Do you find yourself apologizing unnecessarily and even taking responsibility for other peoples behavior?
When you address these questions, you help shape your mindset. And your mindset will be reflected in your body language, which speaks louder than words. In any future encounters with narcissists, they will hear those words loud and clear.
2) Use firm, straight-forward statements
Narcissists are experts at pulling you into their game. They use persuasive language as they try to coax and convince you that they’re in the right which clearly this leads to disagreements on so many levels.
It’s not long before you begin to feel like you’ve been put on the back burner, made to feel irrelevant, your points are nullified, and you feel relegated to a lower tier than them. Your instinctive reaction is to present your opinions, feelings, thoughts in a reasonable manner in the hope they’ll change their mind and treat you more fairly.
Unfortunately, this never happens. It’s a one-way street with narcissists and they don’t process empathy in the way you do.
So, instead of pleading with them and attempting to persuade them your side of the story use more affirmative statements in your language.
When you recognize their attempt to put you down, try to focus on concluding the argument. A plain tone of voice is all you need and avoid an overly emotional response which only signifies they’ve touched your nerves.
There’s no need to express your disapproval towards their behavior and the last thing you should do is call them out on it.
3) Avoid being defensive
When a narcissist trounces your boundaries your first port of call is to defend yourself. Things can escalate pretty quickly from here.
You need to accept that the narcissist does not think highly of you and won’t respect your boundaries, no matter how deranged the situation is.
The more you try to defend, explain, plea your case, and reason with them, the more they’ll realize where your buttons are. And they’ll just continue pressing them all day long – enjoying every minute it.
So, acknowledge your feelings before reacting and remind yourself of how things usually play out when defending against a narcissist.
When you realize you’re in this situation, you’re in a great position to alter your approach and confidently manage yourself in the presence of a narcissist.
Remember, you’re not dealing with someone who can give and take fairly, or recognize that your points are as valid as theirs, so don’t ever expect any kind of mutual exchange with them.
It’s not about winning and beating a narcissist at their own game. Sadly, they’re the ones who believe they have to be in control – at all costs – so instead, realize their game plan so that you don’t fall right into their trap.
By creating firm boundaries, and staying true to yourself, you’ll gradually become less of a target for abusers as you simply won’t be pushed over that easily.