Are you struggling with a narcissist in your life? Claire gives you some tips on how to navigate life with narcissists. Plus, she answers a question from a listener who isn’t sure how to best support grieving friends who don’t live near her.
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Claire Bidwell-Smith 00:00
Narcissists, at some point or another we all run up against when chances are you’ve got one in your life right now. But how do you deal with them? I’m Claire Bidwell Smith. And that’s what we’re talking about today on NEW DAY. narcissists can be defined by having the following traits, self-centered thinking, inflated sense of ego, lack of empathy and consideration for others, an excessive need for admiration, manipulation, arrogance, having a constant need for control, having superficial and exploitative relationships, maintaining a lack of responsibility and accountability, having a tendency to blame others for everything, having a lack of boundaries, and having a fear of rejection, or of being wrong or seen as inadequate. Who I feel like I just described our last president. Oh, wait, I did. But that’s the thing. One of the many problems with Narcissus is that we tend to be drawn to them. Their inflated sense of ego often makes for a magnetic personality. They’re great at first impressions. They tend to obsess about their appearance and make a lot of effort to be attractive or display status, and their arrogance is often disguised as confidence. An article in the Harvard Business Review points out that through a mix of shameless self-promotion and a guilt free Machiavellian agenda, narcissists are quick to take credit for other’s achievements and blame colleagues and subordinates for their own failures. This kind of behavior can enable them to appear successful, but an interesting study from the National Institutes of Health also reveals that the charms of narcissists tend to wear off after only two and a half hours. Their initial charisma and confidence pretty quickly gives away to their true are traits of self-admiration, arrogance, defensiveness, and lack of morals. And it’s this very short expiration date on their initial impressions that keeps them constantly searching for new prey, and prohibiting them from forming long lasting and meaningful relationships. Unluckily for all of us, narcissists are incredibly skilled at drawing people into their orbit, they will bombard you with attention through repeated praise and flattery your way and make you feel like you’re the most important person in the world. They do this because they see themselves as the most interesting and important person in the room. And whoever they’re spending time with is a reflection of that. However, their blast of affection can disappear as quickly as it comes on. narcissists are prone to discarding people at the drop of a hat, if they feel like you’re getting too close or too attached to them. Or if you no longer have value to them, they’re out the door, and so is their love. It can be exhausting to get caught up in and these relationships can leave your head spinning. Because narcissists are so good at manipulation. They tend to gaslight the people in their orbit, making you feel confused about what’s even going on. Is it you? Is it them? It’s most likely them? What exactly creates a narcissist is yet to be determined.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 02:56
Psychologists believe that causes may be linked to the person’s upbringing, childhood abuse, trauma, genetics, or some other specific condition between their brain and thinking. But whatever it is, the real question is how do you deal with when first don’t take their behavior personally, most narcissists aren’t aware of their treacherous personality traits and toxic behavior. They need professional help to make healthy changes. But the problem is that they rarely seek it because they refuse to be accountable for their own actions or recognize that they’re causing problems. And the other problem is that even when you realize their manipulation, and lack of regard isn’t about you, these behaviors tend to feel like personal attacks. So try to remind yourself that it isn’t personal. And then start creating boundaries right away. Get clear on what kind of behavior is not acceptable, and make it very clear to your narcissist that you’re not going to tolerate it. You have to really enforce these boundaries though, or they won’t take them seriously. It’s also important to watch out for gaslighting your narcissist might deny saying things or they might suggest that they were just joking and you’re being too sensitive. They might try to undermine your confidence by suggesting you don’t remember things correctly. Whether you’re overreacting and other cases they might just outright deny that things they’ve said and done. Dealing with this kind of gaslighting is tough, particularly when it’s their word against yours. So if you’ve got a narcissist in the workplace, for example, it might be a good idea to keep a record of events, keep paper documents or electronic copies that backup your experience. This way if they’re trying to throw you under the bus as a way to make themselves look good, you’ve got backup. Know that narcissists tend to be hypersensitive to criticism, they might get hostile and aggressive, so confronting them directly isn’t always the best tactic. Instead, creating strong boundaries and distance is your best bet. It can also help to work on building up your own self-confidence and surround yourself with supportive people so that you don’t keep getting sucked back in by the narcissist games. And sometimes you need to cut out of the relationship altogether. Check out my episode on toxic relationships. For more on how to do that. Lastly, remember that narcissism exists on a spectrum. So if everything I’ve talked about here sounds like someone in your life or even makes you wonder if you yourself are a narcissist. Try to remember that everyone displays narcissistic traits at various times, we are after all, human. Statistics show that narcissists make up about 5% of the population are one and 200 people. So chances are you’re going to encounter when at some point or another. Good luck out there. Just remember, don’t take it personally.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 05:33
Today’s listener question is one that I think almost everyone can relate to. If you have a question that seems really common or specific to you, and only you, I want to hear it, email me at email@example.com. Or fill out my online form at bit.ly/newdayask, you can find the link in the show notes. Valerie in Seattle filled out the form and wrote, I really loved your advice recently on how to show up for a friend who’s grieving. And I have a follow up question for going through a similar issue for a friend who does not live nearby. I have a friend who’s currently dealing with the quick passing of her father after a cancer diagnosis. And another friend whose father recently entered hospice after years of various issues. I don’t live in the same city, or even close to either of these friends. But I still want to be there for them and check in letting them know it’s okay not to put on a happy face every time we talk. How can I check in with them other than saying how are you doing or something similar? Because obviously, they aren’t doing well. I also know that question can be triggering and loaded. But there never seems to be a good or right time for it to come up in conversation. I’ve told them both and I’m here for them. But they’re both the type to put on a brave face rather than bring up anything difficult or heavy for fear of being a burden. Thank you so much. Hi, Valerie in Seattle, you are such a good friend even right in with this question. I’m so sorry that your two friends are going through such big losses, you’re probably feeling really helpless being so far away. For one, you’re doing all the right things just by being aware that these friends are going through hard stuff and wanting to be there for them. On the one hand, you can’t force them to open up to you, or even force them to let you be there for them. Especially when they’re the types as you say, to put on brave faces. I think what you can do is keep doing what you’re doing. Keep letting them know that you’re supportive presence in their lives. Keep checking in keep telling them that you’re thinking of them. Know that even though those gestures may seem small to you, they matter a lot. Give your friends some time. Big losses like this take a lot of time to process. Some people need to act like everything’s fine or stay in a form of denial for a while as a way of coping. Just keep letting them know that you’re there in both light and easy ways. And for the hard stuff too, when someone goes through a big loss, it takes a lot of time to integrate that loss into their lives. So sometimes people withdraw for a while because they themselves aren’t sure how to talk about it or even what they need. But that’s okay. Eventually, we learn to incorporate those big losses into our lives. And we can open up space again for letting people in. I think that’s hard for those of us on the outside though, because we can feel a little inadequate or helpless. And no one who’s a good friend wants to feel that way. So just keep showing up in small and big ways. Keep letting them know that you’re available for all of it. Try not to pressure them to open up if they’re not ready. Send them supportive texts, send them funny memes to make them laugh. Tell them about your life or your struggles to so they don’t feel pitied. Send them little gifts or plan a trip if they’re up for it. Tell them all the reasons you love them. And just give them time. I had a client once who lost her husband. And she had a friend who told her that every Tuesday at 6pm, she was going to show up on my clients porch with a home cooked meal. She told my client that she would sit outside for 10 minutes. And if my client felt like talking, she’d be there. And if she didn’t, then the friend would just leave the meal. My client loved that there was no pressure. And some weeks she joined her friend on the porch and other times she didn’t. But no matter what she really appreciated the feeling of support. So if there’s a way to offer a similar feeling of support from afar, try to think of it like that. Just let them know you’re always available whenever they feel ready. And know that you’re a really good friend for even thinking about this so much. So many people are afraid to talk about loss or to acknowledge what a hard time someone might be going through. So you’re definitely ahead of the game. Thank you for writing Valerie.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 09:21
And I really want to thank you for listening today. I love getting to spend this time with you each week. There’s one more episode of NEW DAY this week. On Friday, I’ll be joined by author Melissa Febos. Her latest book is called body work and I cannot recommend it enough. So make sure you subscribe to NEW DAY that way the episode with Melissa will be in your feed first thing Friday morning.
NEW DAY is a Lemonada Media Original. The show was produced by Kryssy Pease and Erianna Jiles. Kat Yore is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. New Day is produced in partnership with the well-being trust the Jed foundation and Education Development Center. Thanks for listening.