The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.
The truth is that the pathologically narcissistic often do terrible things. They can be abusive, selfish, inconsiderate, rude and childish. They will do things purposely to upset or hurt others and they take pleasure in sabotaging people. They may be physically abusive, verbally cruel and emotionally neglectful. Some seem to have no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
But they are not in control of your behavior. It can be tempting to blame them for your own actions or your feelings - especially when they are really provoking you, but this is no more fair than them blaming you for theirs. If you give the responsibility for your behavior or emotions to another person, you are allowing them to control you. You are saying to them, "You control the way I feel and the way I act." Is the message you want to send to a narcissist really that they have control over you?
Your actions are your responsibility and your feelings are as well. It is true that people's opinion of someone is usually based on the way this person behaves, so it is true that the way the narcissist has treated you probably has a lot to do with how you feel about them. However, how you behave because of your feelings is your responsibility. For example, if someone is using guilt to manipulate you and you cave in to their demands because of it, it's natural to want to blame them but again, doing so gives them responsibility - and therefore control - over your actions. You need to take that power back and be able to say, "I did this because I wanted to or felt like it was the right decision at the time," or "I didn't do this because I didn't want to." You can't be manipulated if others cannot control you through your emotional reactions and you do things for your own reasons.
You have that power, even if you don't realize it. You have a choice, even if it doesn't seem like it. The narcissist has no actual power, in the end. It is your feelings that have the power over you. The narcissist is just using them to get their way. As with most things that have to do with narcissistic people, the biggest battle is not with them. It's with yourself. Mastering your emotional reactions to things is very difficult for many people, but it's infinitely harder if you've convinced yourself that it's out of your control, or that other people have to change their behavior before you can change yours.
This is one of the biggest reasons that pathologically narcissistic people often have so much trouble changing their behavior. Even if they wanted to, they don't believe they have control over their own behavior or feelings. They believe the problem is the behavior of other people and that they are just reacting to what others are doing to them. Now, it's easy to say that narcissists are wrong when they blame others for their actions because a lot of times, no one is actually doing anything to them. But what if someone did do something to them? Are they still wrong for blaming that person for their actions?
The answer is yes. In reality, how people react to something is totally up to them. You may feel justified and you may even be justified. You may feel pressured and you may even be pressured - but that doesn't make it someone else's decision. It is yours. And that's where the power is. This is not really about blaming the narcissist, in and of itself. It's not really even about the narcissist at all. It's about you taking the power back and accepting that you are in control of your own reactions and choices. When people truly realize this, the result is often a total shift in the way they see the world. Life becomes so much more peaceful and so much easier in so many ways.
A lot of people find this very difficult at first, and some even get angry. They mistakenly believe that taking responsibility for their actions somehow relieves the narcissist of responsibility. This is not the case. They are responsible for the things they've done, just like you are. They may not accept that, but it doesn't matter. You don't have to take responsibility for them. They need to carry it themselves, just like everybody else.
The truth is, you don't have to do anything you don't want to do. If you choose to do something, then you chose to do it and that's that. The reasons only matter as much as they matter. If the narcissist used guilt on you to try and get you to do something, for example, they did not force you to do it. You chose to do it to alleviate the guilt that you were feeling. Whether the guilt was fair or justified is another story, but in the end, you chose to do it and the reasons were your own. The key is to acknowledge this so you can change it by gaining control over your emotions and putting the power back in your own hands.
People in any type of relationship with a pathologically narcissistic person often feel trapped and helpless. They feel manipulated and controlled. However, once they realize that they are largely being controlled by their own emotions, this takes a lot of the narcissist's power away. For example, what if a narcissist is threatening or physically abusive? Except in the most extreme situations, there are still opportunities for the victim to escape the situation. They often don't, and they have their own reasons why they don't. Sometimes it is fear of the abuser, but very often it has nothing to do with fear at all. Rather it is things like guilt or the misguided belief that they are responsible for this person. They may feel they can help the narcissist. They may be afraid the narcissist will harm themselves if they leave. They may fear they can't make it alone, or that the narcissist can't. They may not want to go to a shelter or impose upon friends. They may be ashamed and embarrassed for anyone to find out. So they choose to stay, and it is a choice.
This is not intended to judge anyone. It's truth being related to make a point, and the point is that even though you may feel trapped and controlled, you are not. It's up to you whether you choose to believe that or not. When you realize that the narcissist has not actually forced you to do anything, you realize that's because they can't. You made the choices you did for your own reasons. If you can reduce your decisions to this very simple equation, it becomes a lot easier to deal with things. There's no struggle with who to blame or anything else. You can look at the situation and say, "I did this because I wanted to, or I needed to, or I felt that it was the best decision at the time for whatever reason. It was my decision, no one made me do it, no one controls me. I chose to do it and whether it was a bad choice or a good choice, I was in control of that."
It isn't easy to admit that you have a part in such a terrible, toxic situation. It isn't easy to acknowledge that you are the one responsible for your own decisions if you believe they were bad ones. It isn't easy to accept that you are not being controlled by anything but your own feelings. But in this way, you empower yourself to truly take control of your own life and make better decisions in the future. Remember, mastering your emotional reactions to things can be very difficult, but it's going to be impossible if you've already convinced yourself that it's out of your control completely.