“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” – Oscar Wilde
Studies have found that the number of narcissists in the United States may be as high as 30%, a number that experts report has been on the rise. We live in a self-centered society, encouraging people to embrace a ‘me, me, me’ approach to life. This culture is further encouraged by the influence of social media and reality television.
Jim Taylor, PhD., an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco and the Wright Institute in Berkeley discussed this increase in narcissism in an article for Psychology Today. Breaking down the various theories as to why this is occurring, he stated, “The answer that came most readily to my mind, and an apocryphal one at that, is a gradual, yet inexorable, tear in the fabric of our society. Think of all the qualities that enable us to form a functioning and vital nation – respect, compassion, tolerance, selflessness – and you will see that they don’t exist in the narcissistic personality (or culture).”
Not only do we see an absence of these vital, positive personality traits, but Taylor also highlighted the prevalence of a different shift in our society today. “The indifference, egotism, disrespect, and lack of consideration that are central to narcissism are also reflective of the increasingly polarized and vitriolic tone of our current body politic, recent unethical corporate behavior, the rise in cheating among students in school, and the gamut of bad behavior among professional athletes,” he explained. When you really consider the state of our society today, his explanation makes sense!
Narcissists are everywhere. Often they move among us completely undetected – masters of manipulation who actively control their image, creating a likable, compassionate and fun persona to draw their victims in, before flipping the switch and revealing their true personality. Cold, calculated, manipulative, self-centered and lacking empathy, their toxic influence can have a severely negative impact on your life.
While you can’t always avoid a narcissist, there are methods to disarm them and effectively shut them down, protecting yourself and those around you. These methods can be used with family members, acquaintances, neighbors and co-workers, acting as a powerful tool throughout life.
Try these 7 effective ways to handle a narcissist by putting them in their place:
#1 – Remind them that they are not the center of the universe.
Always seeking attention from those around them, narcissists act as though the world revolves around them, and you should be thankful if they choose to spend so much as a moment of their time with you. Knock them down to size by reminding them that this isn’t the case. While it will likely fall on deaf ears, it will throw them off their game enough that you won’t have to listen to it for a little while.
#2 – Remind them that you a strong, confident and independent.
In order to have the upper hand, narcissists will create an imbalance in their relationships, tricking those that they encounter into believing that they can’t stand on their own two feet without their narcissist friend/partner/family member by their side. Show them that you aren’t the weak victim by asserting your independence and shutting down any and all attempts to make you feel otherwise.
#3 – Call them on their promises.
Narcissists are well known for overpromising and under delivering. They will say whatever they have to in order to win everyone over and come out as the victor. The next time that you are dealing with a narcissist that you can tell is simply promising whatever you want to hear, a simple statement like ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ will make it clear that you are onto their game.
#4 – Don’t allow them to change the subject.
If you have found the courage to call a narcissist on their behavior, be prepared for the fact that they will do everything in their power to avoid a conversation in which they are being accused of having done anything wrong (after all, they are always right). The second that they try to steer you away from the topic make it clear that you will not allow them to change the subject as this is something you need to discuss.
#5 – Stop manipulation in its tracks.
If narcissists have one tool that enables them to achieve all that they do in this world, it is their ability to manipulate everyone that they meet. They know what they want in life, and they aren’t afraid to bend the rules, tell some lies and play mental games to get there. The second you notice any sign that this is happening, promptly shut them down, refusing to be their latest victim.
#6 – Be fearless.
Another tool that narcissists often use in order to get their way is fear. Whether they are creating, exposing or manipulating it, they will find a way to use any fears and insecurities that you experience to their advantage. The only way that you can shut this behavior down is to be fearless, removing any leverage that they may have had.
#7 – Don’t be afraid to simply tell them ‘No.’
The simplest way of dealing with a narcissist, and yet often the most overlooked – if someone is treating you in a way that upsets you or makes you feel comfortable, stand up for yourself and put your foot down. Don’t be afraid to tell them no, and stick with it! You choose who you allow in your life.
Image via Tiny Buddha