Stop Letting Narcissists Destroy Your Peace
Not allowing narcissists to destroy your peace can be difficult; these people work overtime to cause problems, upset others and ruin your day. But if you notice, the title of this article is "Stop Letting Narcissists Destroy Your Peace." The word "letting" is very important. Except in very extreme circumstances, nobody has any power over you or your emotions that you did not give them. It's a matter of learning to take it back. In fact, the whole thing is really about power and who has it.
Narcissists want to feel powerful. They want to feel like they are controlling things. This is because they feel very weak and helpless inside. One of the ways they try to exert power and control over others is through emotions. They use guilt, anger and many other emotions to manipulate people. They purposely endeavor to upset, anger and hurt other people. They feel powerful when they can get someone to cry or get them angry or hoover them and get them to return to a relationship when they are being treated badly. They like that feeling of control they get because they don't feel like they have any. That's part of the reason they are so desperate to affect other people and work so hard to do so. They feel that others are controlling them, through their emotional reactions to the things people do and say, so they attempt to do the same thing to other people. They feel no responsibility for their own behavior. They believe that responsibility lies with other people. "Well, if you didn't do that, I wouldn't have to do this!" Aside from the fact that many times what they are accusing you of doing is false or greatly over-exaggerated, it is no one's fault that they reacted the way they did. Reaction is a choice. Narcissists do not seem to be able to understand this, probably because their feelings are so overwhelming and because they gave themselves permission - and were given permission by others - to act that way long ago.
Think of someone who hits their spouse. It's always the spouse's fault. You provoked me, you pushed my buttons, you nagged me, you made me. That isn't true. They chose to react that way. Everyone chooses their reaction, in that situation or any other. How you react is always a choice. If you get angry, you can choose to lose your temper and hit someone, you can choose to scream and holler, you can choose to calmly discuss how you feel or you can choose to say nothing at all. It is no one else's fault if someone cannot control themselves or chooses to react the way they do. You might feel someone deserves to get punched in the mouth for something, but it's still your choice to do it or not. It isn't their fault that you chose that. They are to blame for their actions, not yours. You are not to blame for theirs, either.
This is the key to disarming the narcissist and taking their power over you away. They cannot affect you if you don't let them. This sounds trite, but it is 100% the truth. For example, let's say the narcissist in your life always uses a certain event or subject that you react badly to cause problems. What would happen if you stopped reacting badly to it? What would happen if instead of screaming and hollering or crying or getting defensive you just ignored it? Or simply looked at them and said, "You're entitled to your opinion"? What if no matter how long they fussed and hollered or what they said, you just didn't react? Didn't defend yourself, didn't get emotional, didn't do any of the things they are counting on? How can they cause a problem if you don't play along?
This is the key. Every relationship is a two-way street. They can't play the game by themselves. You have to play, too. If you stop playing, there is no game. It's just one person who eventually ends up looking silly. This can be very hard to do at first, but it is so worth it in the end. The drama stops when you stop participating in it. THEY may still be dramatic, but you won't be, and the stress caused by trying to convince this person that they are wrong, and that you're not evil, or that no one is out to get them or whatever other crazy thing is gone. The hardest part is probably to accept that they are not causing this reaction in you. Remember the abusive spouse analogy: it's a choice. You don't have to play along. You don't have to get emotional. Their opinion is their opinion and that's all it is. In reality, it literally means nothing.
Sometimes it can be difficult not to react, especially when they are doing things that involve your children or your finances and things like that. In those situations, you can leave the relationship, you can make a record of the incidents with your children and show the judge if you already are divorced, you can lock them out of your bank account if they are stealing from you or separate your finances, you can do whatever you need to do to get the crazy out of your life but letting it ruin your peace is not going to change anything. It's only going to make you more miserable. Nothing you can do is going to make this person something different than what they are. They don't have a choice. But you do. You can choose to take the power back from them.
It needs to said here that people often say if they stop reacting, the narcissist escalates. That's right, many times they do. They are looking for that reaction. If this person is becoming violent, if they are breaking things, if they are out of control, call the police or leave as soon as you can. You could stay with a friend or family, there are shelters, safe houses, there are programs... Putting up with abuse to prevent worse abuse is no way to live. Hopefully you realize - either now or someday soon - that you don't have to do that.