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Stop Listening to Narcissists

The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.

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It's interesting that when we talk to people about the narcissists in their lives, whether it's their mother or father or spouse or a friend or anyone else, it's almost always the same type of dynamic: the person knows the narcissist is unstable, insecure, unrealistic, mean, not truthful and has... a flexible relationship with the truth to say the least, yet they still seem to internalize the negative, cruel or hurtful things the narcissist has said to them.

If you ask people if they would believe the narcissist claiming they had a million dollars, they say no. If you ask people if they would believe the narcissist if they wanted to borrow a million dollars but they'd pay it back, they again say no. They know this person cannot be trusted to be honest or to even know the truth, and generally believe almost nothing they say. Almost.

We often find that even when people know someone is not an honest person and/or has unreliable perception, they will still often internalize the negative things said about them, as if in this one specific area, the narcissist or other toxic person is somehow magically not only telling the truth, but also living in reality. This is not the case. Everything they say has the same value as far as honesty and perception goes. Their insults and criticisms are just as overblown as their idealizations, and vice-versa.

Part of this is because people with a strong narcissistic pathology often hide behind personas created to manipulate others for survival. People incorrectly assume that if that persona or façade is not real, the opposite of it must be the truth or the reality of who this person is, therefore what they say and do during these times is true. This is understandable but it's mistaken. Their honesty and perception are no more valid or unaffected during these times. The truth is, both the nice and mean sides - and any others - that you might see are personas or masks in a manner of speaking. Both of these personas or sides of their personality were created to do the same thing: enable the narcissist to survive.

For example, the anger, cruelty and abuse that you see are defensive, even they don't appear to be. This comes out when the narcissist perceives a threat. It may not be a threat you can understand, but it doesn't matter. You not seeing or recognizing a threat anywhere has nothing to do with whether or not they think there is one. This person does not think like you do. They don't come to the same conclusions that you do. They just don't, and that's all there is to it. They respond to emotions they don't understand, that they may not even be aware they are feeling and many react immediately with guns blazing, ready to eliminate any threat. Others retreat completely, cutting off communication or even contact until they feel that the threat is gone. It is a primitive, childish defense mechanism created and perpetuated by their enormous emotional immaturity.

It seems amazing that anyone could believe a person this unstable and immature about anything. Even when we don't understand the inner workings of why they behave the way they do, the behavior speaks for itself. Almost all of the ways pathologically narcissistic people deal with conflict (both internal or external) are childish, and often, so is much of their communication. Yet we hear it all the time. The question is, why? Many times it is because the person has deep-seated beliefs or fears of their own that the criticisms or insults have triggered. Many of these are the result of unconscious conditioning from childhood.

Children will not assume that the adults in their lives are wrong, mistaken or lying. They assume that they themselves are the problem because they believe everything that happens is somehow related to - or caused by - they themselves, and because, through necessity, they rely on adults as the unilateral, undisputed arbitrators of truth. This mindset may be carried into adulthood and results not just in having whatever negative beliefs about the self that were intentionally or otherwise installed during childhood (I'm not good enough, I don't matter, I'm not valuable, I'm not important, I'm not worthy enough, I'm responsible for others, I alone have to fix or manage the relationship, etc.), but also in the idea that others' opinions of us are automatically more valid or more important than our own. This is an outdated, unhealthy mindset in general, but becomes truly dangerous when the person the opinion is coming from is unstable, unfair, unrealistic, abusive and dishonest.

Narcissists are like little kids on the playground; they will keep throwing insults at someone until something upsets them and once they see what that insult is, they will keep repeating it because it works. This is one reason controlling our own reactions to our emotions is so important. By not doing that, you yourself are supplying them with the ammunition they are hitting you with. This is another reason it makes no sense to believe the things they say. They are not operating off of reality or facts in any way. They are operating solely off of your reaction. They don't care if it's true or not. They care that you care. Upsetting you makes them feel powerful and superior, exactly like those kids on the playground. Narcissists may or may not have any real understanding of what they are doing; a lack of empathy suggests that they really don't have any true understanding, but it doesn't really matter, since they don't care anyway because that's not the point. You are not the point. You are simply a tool being used in the endless endeavor to make themselves feel better. Any actual empathy they may have is cancelled out by this fact regardless.

If you find that you are in this situation, start really thinking logically about why you would listen to, believe or consider anything this person says or trust their perception in any way. Have they given you any reason to think they have sound judgment about you, that they are honest with you, that they can be objective, fair or reasonable toward you? Start exploring yourself and the reasons these things bother you so much that you would even entertain them coming from a person known to be unstable and dishonest. Stop automatically assuming that the other person or people involved are right or fine and that you are always the problem, or always the person required to fix, manage and change the situation. This mindset is left over from childhood. It was bogus then, it is bogus now. You can learn to practice looking at things in a more balanced, realistic way, and one of the ways to start doing that is to really and truly understand that the things people do and say are about them, not you.

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