Our physical immune systems are a wonder. If we maintain them, they are constantly fending off diseases and infections of all kinds. We are in charge of our immune health. We learn how to eat foods that will support the immune system and avoid others that will suppress our powerful defenses. Our daily habits strengthen the immune system. The exercise that we do on a regular basis boosts our immune systems. Making every effort to get quality sleep is another source of strengthening this wonderful protective function that enhances our physical well being. I use this example to explain that we can develop an immunity to narcissistic verbal attacks. Of course if we don’t have a professional obligations to be around narcissists, we avoid them. They are a toxic presence. There are growing numbers of narcissists every day. We find them in our spouses, siblings, parents and with our bosses and co-workers. The narcissist has no incentive to change. At this time of growing acceptance of narcissists in our current society, we have to learn to deal with them. They are not going away and they have no reason to change. They experience themselves as perfect and others as inferior and defective.
We build psychological immunity by first understanding and appreciating who we are. It is not the sum of our accomplishments in the world. It is based on the strength and integrity of our character and our capacity to know and seek the truth. It is recognized in our efforts to move beyond the compelling narcissistic delusion that you can be ruthless, cruel, merciless, without conscience and destroy others as long as you win.
Don’t be surprised at the number of people who follow and are true believers of narcissists. They crave being a member of the inner circle even if they are infrequently thrown crumbs or are honored to kiss the ring of the anointed.They have thrown away their identities, strapped themselves to the narcissist for the E ticket ride. They will do anything to be identified with this person. They believe that he or she is a good human being because of outside trappings and the wielding of power over others.
If you have a narcissistic parent you have been through the wars of childhood and prevailed. I am not downplaying the horrendous suffering you have been through. It is incalculable. It often occurs into adulthood. When you know that your parent(s) is a narcissist you have a number of decisions to make. You can control your contact with them despite their protestations and accusations and their spreading gossip and lies about your character. Anyone who doesn’t see through these machinations is not going to be someone whom you can rely on or trust. Sometimes good people are fooled by these cunning method actors. Sometimes relatives who took the bait, see the truth and turn around. But you cannot wait for what they might do.
The focus is on developing and evolving as an individual who is solid and strong. Some who have been victimized find that psychotherapy is helpful in building a therapeutic alliance with a professional and developing trust, being heard and understood. If you go in this direction, do you research and trust your observations and reactions to prospective therapists. Remember you are hiring them to help you with your life.
If you are verbally attacked by a narcissist who is a family member, an acquaintance, an ex-spouse, learn to detach from their inappropriate, incendiary comments and criticisms. First, you don’t have to respond to such cruelty in the first place. Some statements are so delusional that they do not deserve engagement —silence on your part can be golden, when the narcissist knows you mean it. There are times when you make the decision to defend yourself. There are many replies to toxic questions and queries and cruel statements. Make your statement clear and short.Do not re-engage the narcissist. That’s what he’s waiting for—to pull you back in. One good response to inappropriate queries is: ” I don’t respond to personal questions.”
One of the best ways to immunize yourself is to create an internal space inside that cannot be penetrated by the attacker. Develop habits and routines that you consistently use to quiet your body and mind. Regular exercise that works for you is one of them. Getting sufficient sleep and eating good foods strengthen the body,mind and psyche. Following your creative track is inspirational and empowering. It separates you further from the narcissist’s arrowed quiver of recriminations, manipulations, deceptions and blatant cruelties. Learn to go within, using a form of stilling the mind that works for you. It can be a form of meditation, chanting, gentle yoga with emphasis on the breathing, gardening, keeping a private journal, etc. Develop a small but faithful support system. These are people you can count on when you are discouraged, worn out, burned out and when you feel alone. The listening ear of a supportive person is one of the most powerful forms of psychological immunization you can have.
Search for and follow your dreams. Allow you mind to move unchoreographed and free. You will be surprised at the results of this practice. Spend some time, even if it is smile lifting up others. This is a special time right now of great suffering for many. A smile a kind look, a few words can make all the difference in their day and yours. To learn about the narcissistic personality in-depth, visit my website:thenarcissistinyourlife.com
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
Telephone Consultation: United States and International
Book: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life