I recently posted the following meme and was asked to expand:
How to survive a narcissist: Reality is what it is. Not what the narcissist claims it is. Objectivity trumps toxic.
My point: You’re less subject to narcissists or other toxic people if you’re confident and competent in the use of your own objective, reasoning mind.
Consider the narcissists in our government. They want us to believe we cannot exist without them. They want us to believe we are helpless, perpetually vulnerable people who cannot possibly cope — without their stupid, economy-thrashing, initiative-killing, Constitution-bashing programs.
If you’re confident in your mind, you’re suspicious of such claims from the start. “This person says I can’t cope or live without him. What’s in this for him? Is it possible he’s selling me a bill of goods?”
I work with people in therapy all the time who have narcissistic or otherwise toxic people in their lives. When I point out the irrational, controlling or otherwise improper behavior of people in their lives, they are often surprised. It’s because they’ve been duped. Their failure to see this — at least before now — usually boils down to some version of the premise, “Who am I to judge? Who am I to think?”
That’s the mentality any narcissist counts on. The narcissist wants what he wants. We all do, and that’s fine — so far as it goes. But at the core, the narcissist doesn’t want you to have your own wants, needs and desires. He just wants his own fulfilled. He’ll lie about it, and pretend that he’s really interested in only your wants and needs, when in fact he’s really only interested in his own. The sin isn’t in the fact he has self-interest. We all should have self-interest and self-preservation. The sin is in the fact that he’s perpetrating a fraud, pretending to care about your interests and needs when he cares nothing about those at all.
A strong, objective sense of reality, facts and perspective prevents you from falling into the trap of a narcissist. A narcissist can be brilliant at creating a false narrative. “You need me, and I am here to take care of you” is the most common version of this narrative. The narrative could not get anywhere without self-doubt, on your own part, to keep it going.
Self-doubt is the fuel that gives the narcissist power. Without self-doubt on your part, the narcissists would wither away into nothing. What causes your self-doubt is your reluctance to look at facts and assert their relevance, even when those facts clash with the false narrative being spread by the narcissist.
It’s not the presence of a self in people that causes narcissism. It’s the absence of a self in YOU that gives the narcissists opportunity to be who they are. Fix your self-doubt, and strengthen your objectivity. It will help you keep narcissists at bay, as well as a lot of other toxic things in life.
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