How do you talk to a narcissist without going insane? The easy answer would be NOT to talk to them.
But sometimes we can’t go No or Modified Contact. Maybe you work with this narcissist. Or perhaps they are a family member, who you need to see at functions. Or possibly you are still hooked in, trying to work through things and you are not quite ready to call it a day.
I understand … this happens.
So, with all of that in mind, I want to help you get very clear in this article – WHY talking to a narcissist can make you feel like you are going insane, and how to navigate things so that you don’t.
Why Narcissists Get Under Your Skin So Much
This is why talking to a narcissist without going insane is so difficult – they simply don’t have the same agenda with conversations that normal people do. In fact, normal, non-narcissistic people simply don’t have agendas with conversations. They just have conversations.
The narcissist’s agenda is disordered. It is to get control over you; to avoid accountability; to manipulate, mine, dump pain and anger, affect, trigger and get an ego feed by significantly affecting another emotionally (obtaining narcissistic supply).
Therefore, a conversation with a narcissist is not just a conversation.
It is an exchange with an unwholesome, false self-agenda attached to it. When the narcissist is in the love-bombing stage, unfortunately our false self, our ego, is attached and running with it.
Meaning our unhealed, unresolved parts, which don’t subconsciously believe that we are worthy or lovable, or worth validating or being cared for, gobble up the manipulative compliments and promises like any starving man or women would.
Yet, something inside knows this is unwholesome. Something feels a little off, but of course we ignore it. We want to believe that this person is our Source of love, security or survival, and absolutely, in our defence, we may have no idea that people like this exist and therefore what we were really walking in to.
Over time, not only do we see this ‘oh so delightful’ person lose so much of their ‘previous genuineness’. We also come face to face with the verbal onslaughts, twists and turns and, quite frankly, overt lunacy that goes with a narcissist’s conversations.
I call it the narcissistic three-ring circus, and at least one of those rings is a total freak show.
Let’s have a look at the conversation methods that I wrote about in my article ‘Are you with a narcissist’.
- Avoidance: Refusing to recognise or acknowledge the incident as real or important to you.
- Excuses: Making up stories or reasons for the behaviour that are not genuine or valid excuses.
- Accusations: Blaming someone else for the wrongdoing.
- False Apology: Saying a ‘sorry’ that is not a genuine apology and expecting you to accept it.
- Ignorance: Claiming you never said that; that was never discussed; or the narcissist never said that.
- Confusion: Creating antics over trivial points in the conversation to shift and confuse the focus.
- Projection: Stating ‘what you did wrong’ regarding the particular topic, by using ammunition from the past that has nothing to do with the present incident.
- Using Allies: Quoting people, real or imagined, to back their ‘story’ of excuses or to discredit you.
- Shutting down: Unwillingness to have a conversation or abandoning the scene to avoid scrutiny.
- Shifting Focus: Responding with displeasure to your body language or the tone of your voice to steer the conversation away from the wrongdoing.
- Persecution: Stating how bad your accusations are, and what a terrible person you are to accuse them.
- Denial: Stating that it was incidents in your past, and it is your fears and insecurities which cause you to make these accusations.
- Discrediting: Stating that you are such a negative person and always look for the ‘conspiracy theory’ in your conversations.
- Threatening: Citing abandonment or punishment if you continue with the accusation.
- Entitlement: Demanding that you recognise the positive things they have done for you and that it’s unfair for you to focus on the negatives.
- Lying: Stating they did grant explanation and reassurance, or did the credible thing when these actions were not forthcoming.
- Condemnation: Continuing the story of ‘I did do the right thing’ and then being incensed at you for calling them a liar.
- Justification: Stating ‘I did it’ because of your behaviour and because you make me do these things.
- Triggering: Using a maiming comment, related or unrelated, to incite you to anger and shift blame.
- Competition: Stating all the things that they are not happy about with you, as a ‘tit-for-tat’ retaliation, rather than addressing the issue at hand.
These are all elaborate defence mechanisms that are so COMMON amongst narcissists. As you read through this list, you may recognise many or all of these tactics. They are out-of-bounds behaviours that mean you are dealing with someone who is personality disordered and drastically unhealthy to be having conversations with.
The truth of the matter is this – if you are trying to have a sane, reasonable conversation with a sick person, you are going to get sick.
It DOES drive you mad.
Changing Expectations and Rules of Engagement
Here’s the thing, once you know you are dealing with a narcissist you have to completely drop any expectations you would have in normal human interactions.
This person is not going to get it.
You are not going to get understanding, harmony or resolution.
This person does not want to play ‘healthy team’ with you.
This person does not have win-win in mind. Rather, they are out to get what they want at your expense.
If you cater to this person and give them what they want, this is not going to earn you clemency, decency or favours. In fact, it will only make matters worse, because if you give an inch they will take a mile.
Nothing you say, argue or fight for will make one scrap of difference – so it really is key for you to stop doing this.
The Switch – Make It About Your Truth, Not Changing Them
There is a very simple rule in dealing with anyone who is abusive or insane – stop worrying about what they are saying and doing, and get very clear about who YOU are Being and what you are Doing.
This CHANGES EVERYTHING!
Let me explain…
I’ll give you this example regarding what one of my clients was dealing with. Frances was quite frankly a psychotic narcissist, who was constantly trying to stalk and agitate Graham at every opportunity.
She contacted his family and friends, smeared him, and did everything in her power to affect him.
He used to buy into it. He used to meet her and try to reason with her, which was really just about her guilting, blaming, dumping anger, and horrifically abusing him – to the point where he admitted that one night he was so distraught he nearly drove off the road and into a tree.
By doing the inner work with the Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program (NARP), Graham released the traumas that were keeping him hooked into her, traumas that were mostly about HAVING to be the good and right guy for her.
Then he was able to see her disorder; to know that nothing he did could ever appease her, fix her or save her. He went No Contact and ended up putting an intervention order on her. He took her belongings to her mother’s house and severed all ties.
Graham’s truth had become: ‘I deserve and will only engage in healthy, adult relationships of respect.’
Another one of my clients, Barbara, whilst co-parenting with Tony, had long ago realised he was a narcissist. So rather than be dragged down with his horrible treatment of her and the children, she did the inner work on all of her triggers, which used to get shaken up by him.
As a result, Barbara managed to get Our Family Wizard, as the only way that they would communicate, approved through court, and was effectively parallel parenting with Tony. How she achieved this, was that when he tried his knee jerk reactions, with ridiculous narcissistic attempts to disrupt the parenting plan, Barbara’s responses were firmly in her power. They were all about her and not about him.
She would say, ‘I am not prepared to do that. This is what I am prepared to do.’ And then would say no more, regardless of how he reacted. Without any feed or attention from her, he stopped the ridiculous antics.
When we become FULLY our truth, without being derailed by narcissists, we are usually shocked at how easy it is to get their CRAP to stop. But it wasn’t EASY for us to get there!
For all of us, we have had so much fear regarding ‘being ourselves.’
I know for myself, my previous terror used to be: ‘What will these people do to me and my life if I don’t appease them?’
In this global, on-line business, there have been times when narcissistic people threaten and attack. Not often, but occasionally it does happen. Interestingly enough, this doesn’t come from narcissists but from victims of narcissistic abuse, who want me or my team to fix everything for them and then attack us abusively when we can’t!
When this happens, as much as I feel for them, and I’m very disappointed we couldn’t co-create their healing with them, I am clear – I’ll be me, have boundaries and will not tolerate abuse.
If there is any fear about their reactions with my boundaries, I meet that fear in my body, shift it out with Quanta Freedom Healing, and completely honour my truth and rights for an abuse-free life.
I also protect the space of this community with this solid self-truth and determination.
No more is it about – trying to fix, smooth over, appease, cajole or play it safe with these people. And it is certainly not about trying to get them to get it and change.
Those days are gone.
I hope you understand; it needs to be the same for you. Narcissists push us into our truth and power and boundary function, so that we can end these ridiculously insane, brain and soul-twisting conversations, where narcissists can truly make mincemeat out of our minds and insides.
It’s then that we can lose our fear and walk straight, solid and sane lines, regardless of what other people are or aren’t doing.
Then you will realise how powerfully you can create your life, once you are anchored into the internal integrity that all of Life, Source and Creation GETS and backs – when you GET it and back it.
I promise you that narcissists are powerless in the face of that.
If this article resonates with you powerfully, I’d love you to come with me and get out of fear and into your truth – where you are no longer affected, triggered and participating.
You can do that by joining me here and getting started on my 16-day free course, which will help you get empowered and free from all the internal reasons why you have felt trapped in the insanity.
And I look forward to answering your comments and your questions below.