August 30, 2017

3 Ways to Cope with People who are Seriously Selfish.

The narcissist’s lifeblood is controlling and it pulls on the emotional strings of those in their life.

Like psychic or energetic vampires—they feed when you bleed. They provoke strong emotional responses in many ways, including gaslighting, manipulating, lying, blame-switching, and martyrdom.

One of the most significant ways in which they “feed” is by creating chaos.

The narcissist will always manage to bring chaos into your life. Whether it’s on a large scale, like actively working against you and taking steps to sabotage your success, or on smaller levels. As long as you have contact with a narcissist—you will always experience chaos.

The narcissist in your life will do things like “forget” to do something they promised to do at critical times. For example, if you have a big board meeting and need them to bring something from home, they will forget to do it, and it will put you in a place of needing to wing it, or be late when you go get it yourself.

There will also be other chaos-creating events, such as failing to communicate accurately, thus giving an incomplete picture. As a listener, you are confused and unclear about what they are trying to tell you and then they become frustrated with you. Talking to a narcissist is like completing paint by number painting with only half of the numbers. You’ll always walk away confused or having done a significant amount of work to understand.

The narcissist does this to create instability—they may be reliable and consistent for a while, only to do something to pull the rug out from under you. Their whole purpose is to keep you unstable and off-kilter. When you feel off balance emotionally and mentally, you are easier to manipulate. The narcissist knows this and thrives on keeping you easily malleable.

The narcissist will also do things like call you with a problem that they urgently need you to solve when you are in no position to do anything about it. This is especially likely to happen if you are in a place where you might be feeling happy, successful, or confident.

They can’t stand to see you happy or thriving because it means you are becoming less dependent on them. When you start taking steps toward independence and to create a life outside of the “crazy-making” they have held over you, they feel threatened. They don’t want to lose their source of supply (psychic energy), so they will up their efforts to reel you back in. They may have a desperate situation that “only you can fix” and will play upon your guilt to get you to comply.

For many, cutting ties with the narcissist in your life is not possible, even if it is the best possible option for you to maintain your wellness. You may have to go low contact, which means you only talk when necessary, and have structured boundaries around any such conversations.

So, what can you do?

The most important thing to remember when you have a narcissistic person creating chaos in your life is: you have to remain tethered to reality.

You must anchor yourself in the truth of what you know and the truth of what is happening. They can’t create chaos if you don’t participate, which is where good strong boundaries are vital. Recognize that creating chaos is part of how they feed on you—so take steps to limit their options to do it. Don’t rely on them for things, especially important things. Know that they are likely to create chaos in an effort to sabotage your success and happiness.

Most importantly, be kind to yourself and know that their behavior has nothing to do with you. Don’t take it personally and try your best not to engage. Get into therapy to build your inner resources and capacities.

Stay grounded in the truth and cling to your reality.

This is your best bet for getting out of these types of interactions whole.


Author: Lisa Vallejos
Image: Mike Schmid/Flickr
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman
Social Editor: Leah Sugerman

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Linnea Lahlum Sep 2, 2017 4:50pm

You set the scene very well and gave good examples, but sound advice is needed. If it's a co-worker, fine: what you suggested is possible. If it's a family member, for example, avoiding contact is just not possible. Low contact: how? Structured boundaries: how? Please add on to your article. As a professional you must have strategies for that. Please walk us through it. Thank you.

Dr. Lisa Vallejos Aug 30, 2017 2:13pm

Yes, it is absolutely a possibility for the tactics to switch. Illness can be one of the "desperate situations" they need you to fix. When exiting is not safe or viable, the best thing to do is work to become emotionally neutral. That's where therapy comes in helpful. It isn't an easy path to become neutral but it's the only way they will stop. When they no longer trigger you, they can't use you for psychic energy which makes you useless in their mind. It's the best way to get them to leave you alone (or mostly alone).

Jennifer Evangelista Aug 30, 2017 12:51pm

Thank you for this. Is it possible for one who exhibits these propensities to switch the manipulation and control from violent and aggressiveness to the opposite extreme under the guise of "having changed? For instance, chaos and drama is no longer created by rages but instead by illness or the like (sympathy evoking) and the illness is used as as reason (not saying as an excuse) for why the behavior in itself does not change? My guess would be yes but I'm not professionally versed in this area. Thank you for the low contact suggestion. Please write more suggestions for those in situations where exiting is not the safest choice.

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.