Narcissists can have a way of taking over a room with their charismatic personalities, and while their charm initially seems seductive, their overbearing nature may soon leave you feeling drained. Whether you are dealing with a coworker, spouse or parent, you can use these tips to set boundaries that minimize the effects that the narcissist in your life has on your self-esteem.
Determine Your Boundaries
You deserve to take care of yourself. Start by setting healthy boundaries. Healthy boundaries are ones that address the toxic behaviors the narcissist in your life exhibits. These boundaries are there to help you enjoy more positive interactions, while protecting your own mental health. Narcissists may lie to you or expect you to give up your goals to make them happy, so take time to think about which habits your friend or family member engages in that are most hurtful or harmful for you. Step one is simply taking measure, and becoming aware.
State Your Expectations
Once you have awareness, you can set your expectations. Determine where your line is, and what behaviors you will or will not tolerate. If your boundary is that you won’t listen to the narcissist criticize you, then when they try to cross that line, inform them that you will no longer accept them calling you names or making comments about your personal decisions. Keep in mind that you only need to state your boundaries one time. If they refuse to accept them, you are free to move on to your established exit plan.
Be clear about what happens when the narcissist does not comply with your healthy boundaries. Have your exit plan in place. For instance, you can abruptly end a conversation if it begins to turn into a bullying session. You can leave the room, or you can leave the house or location. In more severe cases, such as when a narcissist’s drug addiction or compulsive lying is affecting you, it may be necessary to temporarily end the relationship until they get professional help.
Use a Calm Tone
Someone with narcissistic personality disorder thrives on drama. Refuse to give them what they want by explaining your boundaries in a clear, calm tone that leaves little room for discussion. If they try to belittle you or force you to change your mind, be firm and simply state that you are confident this is the best decision for you, end of conversation.
Plan to Escape Negative Interactions
You have the right to end a negative interaction at any time to preserve your self-worth and sense of self. Once a boundary is broken, or you begin to feel uncomfortable, enact your escape plan. This could be as simple as telling your narcissistic coworker that you need to head to your office for a conference call, or it could be walking out of a family event. Either way, enacting self care is well worth any effort you must make to escape an unhealthy situation.
Avoid Falling Into Their Trap
Narcissists love to quiz other people on their lives to identify areas to criticize. For instance, the narcissist in your life may try to probe to find out how you are doing with your career or finances. While they’ll put up a nice front at first, opening up usually leads to them criticizing everything you are trying to do. You don’t have to answer any question that makes you feel uncomfortable. Instead, shift the conversation to something else, or if that doesn’t work, leave the conversation entirely.
When you cannot detach completely from the narcissist in your life, be sure to take time out to check in with yourself. If you find that someone else’s narcissism is wearing you down, take further action by talking to a counselor. You deserve peace of mind and a happy, healthy life.
Boundaries are essential in every relationship, but narcissists require an extra level of self care. As you begin to stand firm in your decisions, be sure to reassess your plan regularly to determine if new boundaries need to be made. Adjustments are often necessary to accommodate the changing demands of someone with a toxic personality.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 855-408-2040 for a consultation.