“You can judge behavior without condemning a soul.” -Bryant McGill
I’ve noticed that “Narcissist” and “Sociopath” are huge buzz words on the internet and in psychology right now. I’ve done a ton of reading on this personality trait and the personality disorder of narcissism. I’ve dated narcissistic men. I’ve even been guilty of being a bit narcissistic myself from time to time. We’re all guilty of it. This is not a piece of writing on how to identify and stay away from narcissists. This is an entry about setting clear boundaries and *gasp* loving them anyway.
I spent a lot of energy trying to identify every narcissistic trait out there so that I could protect myself from these evil, energy sucking vampires. I read as much material on the subject as I could. What made them who they are? Why do they see me as “prey”? How could I protect myself from them so I never ever get hurt by another narcissist ever again? I also wanted to save everyone from those horrible people. It was exhausting.
The energy I put into avoiding these personalities was taking away from the opportunities I had to meet really cool people who weren’t narcissists. Also, as I focused so much of my attention on them, I was just inviting more of them into my life. Dwelling on past hurt and being scared of future hurt gets you nowhere.
“What we resist, persists.” -C.G. Jung
That’s why this is the last, and only, piece I will write on narcissism. I am also tired of placing limiting labels on people. I hate when people do that to me. Don’t you?
So what if some people display narcissistic personality traits, are self-centered or have full-blown narcissistic personality disorder? Who cares?! I am the one in charge of how I react to other people. As an empath and HSP, I’ve learned how to set boundaries with people who have these character traits, but that doesn’t mean I have to totally exclude them from my life. Sometimes I just have to love them from a distance. Everyone has different levels of grandiose thinking, and empathy, as well as a need for admiration. People are just different and differently wounded–that’s where the root of this behavior stems from anyway. The most important lesson I’ve learned from the “narcissists” in my life is: Not everyone is like you and you aren’t going to change them. Just limit the energy you put into the relationship.
“Here’s where it gets tricky. And frustrating. And maybe even a little heartbreaking. The topic of narcissism has penetrated the social consciousness enough that most people correctly associate it with a pattern of behaviors that includes grandiosity, a pervasive need for admiration and a lack of empathy. What almost no one understands is how every level of severity in this diagnosis is underpinned by shame. Which means we don’t “fix it” by cutting people down to size and reminding folks of their inadequacies and smallness.” -Brene Brown
I’m not suggesting you stay in a terrible relationship, feels sorry for them, or become co-dependent on a narcissistic person. Sometimes you have to identify and cut the toxic people out of your life. Severe narcissistic abuse which includes gas-lighting, discarding and even addiction are good examples of behavior no one should tolerate. I understand. Get out.
“Once I care about you, I will never stop. It’s just that if you do me wrong, I’ll have to care about you from a distance.” –Phil Good
But what if the toxic person is someone you have to deal with everyday? You don’t point and scream “narcissist!” and then slam the door and run way. You know what you do? You see their attention seeking, grandiose, low empathetic behavior for what it is: behavior and accept that it is their life to live however they choose–not yours. Then set those boundaries, live your life on your terms and love yourself first.
Works for me.