7 lessons from psychology that will help you deal with narcissists in your life, and also stand up to them

When you’re dealing with a narcissist, I’m sure that you already know that they don’t fight fair. 

These manipulative and very self-centered individuals care little for anybody else but themselves, and over time, you start picking up on the subtle nature of their deception. They aim to control you, and they achieve this by targeting your self-worth and your support systems. 

The question is, how exactly do you equip yourself to avoid becoming a victim of a narcissist? 

It starts with recognizing the signs of narcissistic traits and behaviors, whether in the workplace or in an intimate relationship. Once you’re aware of their phrases and attitudes, you can rely on these 7 lessons from psychology that will help you deal with narcissists in your life and also stand up to them. 

Be prepared, because it’s not an easy journey. 

1) Protect your self-worth. 

Don’t allow someone to attack your self-esteem by telling you that you’re crazy or can’t do anything right. Your self-worth consists of your feelings and thoughts about yourself, and narcissists like to play mental games to destroy your value and motivation. 

Their goal is to bully you and break you. 

In the early stages of a relationship, whether personal or professional, they’ll take their time learning about your vulnerabilities and triggers, and once you’ve let your guard down, they’ll pounce. 

When they start poking and prodding, they want to get a reaction out of you but don’t give it to them. For a narcissistic personality, these “games” are part of a tactic to see if they can win, even if it demeans or hurts you. 

So when you hear a sarcastic remark or a harsh criticism like, “You don’t remember things correctly” or “You’re too sensitive,” don’t respond. Practice deep breathing and go to a place in your head that is calming and happy. Try your level best to block them out. 

Another thing to tell yourself is that they’re really small and foolish in those moments. See their strategies for what they are: a bully trying to get to you with snide comments and emotional jabs. 

Change the way you see them, and your feelings and behavior will follow suit. 

2) Set healthy boundaries. 

To deal with someone who has narcissistic tendencies or a personality disorder, you must set boundaries

You see, narcissists don’t want to be undermined, and they don’t like to hear the word no. By setting boundaries, you’re telling them how you want to be treated, but they don’t have empathy, and your boundaries just get in the way of their goals. 

Once you’ve laid down the law, expect a backlash with attempts to criticize and undermine you. It’s their way of trying to regain control. 

You have to be prepared for their next move, and the best way to do this is to consider scenarios that could happen and how you would respond to them. It helps to strengthen your mindset so you don’t end up caving to their demands. 

Be aware of their manipulative attempts and respond to disagreements with, “I understand where you’re coming from, but I won’t be manipulated anymore.” “What can we do to work this out?” 

If you don’t want to work anything out, simply stand your ground and be clear about your boundaries. In a situation where someone constantly insults you, let them know that it’s not okay and that you won’t continue with the conversation if they keep putting you down. 

Don’t be swayed. 

3) Be mindful of the way you handle conflict. 

You’ll face endless conflicts when you deal with a narcissist because they want to be right all the time. They actually believe that they’re right, even when it’s obvious that a situation or an argument is their fault. 

When you get into a disagreement with a narcissist, don’t focus on getting them to admit their mistakes. It will simply lead to an escalating argument. 

Here’s what you do when you get into an argument with a narcissistic partner: 

You give them one or two-word responses. You don’t get emotional, and you don’t get into a back-and-forth with having to explain or justify your choices and feelings. The reason is that an argument will continue for hours, if not days, if you don’t find a way to effectively deal with it. 

A simple response like “Okay” or “Fine” will suffice. 

Don’t give them any ammunition because as soon as you engage with them, you keep adding fuel to the fire. 

pic1971 7 lessons from psychology that will help you deal with narcissists in your life, and also stand up to them

4) You can’t control or change them. 

One important piece of advice that I’ve incorporated into my life is that you can only control your emotions and what you think, but you have no control over the emotions and thoughts of someone else. 

In a situation where a partner or a colleague just won’t listen to what you’re saying, no matter how accommodating or understanding you are, it’s time to walk away. 

Don’t give in to their demands or forget about your boundaries, regardless of how frustrated or mean they become. 

Narcissists are extremely arrogant, and they’ll never take responsibility for being wrong. Even if you present the evidence, they’ll find a way to worm themselves out of the situation, or they’ll turn it around and try to blame you. 

I know that this is enough to make anyone mad, but you’ve got to handle your emotions. As I previously mentioned, you can’t predict the way someone else responds or how they receive what you’re saying to them. 

Don’t dedicate any more time and energy to someone who refuses to listen to or respect you, and if they threaten you, then it’s definitely time to walk away from the situation. 

5) Exercise caution when it comes to self-disclosure. 

Narcissists can be quite charming at the beginning of a relationship. In the workplace and romantically, they make you feel at ease when you’re with them. 

They’ll tell you their “innermost secrets” so that you feel safe enough to share your vulnerabilities with them. The sad truth is that they want information from you so they can use it against you later. 

It’s all about controlling you, and some people with narcissistic tendencies will go as far as using your personal information and secrets to threaten you into doing what they want. They will also twist the details of a story and create nasty rumors to make you look bad. 

For this reason, it’s important to understand the signs and behaviors of narcissistic people. Awareness allows you to spot their tactics and realize who you’re dealing with long before they get the chance to get you in their clutches. 

Only share what you think is appropriate, and don’t self-disclose because you feel pressured to do so. 

6) Keep communication brief. 

The healthiest and wisest decision when it comes to a narcissist is to limit your interaction with them as much as possible. 

The less you have to do with them, the more you can protect yourself from their manipulative and toxic ways

While you can end a relationship or limit communication in a spousal separation, it’s trickier in a work environment. When you have to deal with a narcissistic colleague, keep it to the point and be prepared. Don’t leave any room for conversation outside of the task or project. 

If you notice that this colleague is being condescending or sarcastic, even though you’re trying your best to keep the interaction short, let them know that you can work on the project later or that you can have someone else assigned if there’s a problem. 

7) Love yourself unconditionally. 

A narcissist won’t think twice about attacking your confidence and independence. With their sneaky strategies of gaslighting and love bombing, they confuse you and create ongoing self-doubt.

After dealing with a narcissist for some time, I know how tiring it is. The frustration, sadness, and questions that make you feel like you’re losing your mind are all signs that it’s time to make a powerful and positive change. 

To show these individuals that you won’t be another victim, you need to work on your confidence, which means loving and prioritizing yourself. 

When you have faith in your abilities and know what you want in life, you don’t allow anyone to take that away from you. 

Your confidence can help you leave a relationship with a narcissist that has gotten to the point of no return. It will also give you the push you need to recover emotionally. 

To deal with a narcissist and stand up to them, you need to be aware of their manipulative, condescending, and belittling ways. 

Only once you know who you’re dealing with can you establish healthy boundaries and prepare what you want to say when you find yourself in a difficult situation. Narcissists can be viscous and relentless because they want to be right, they don’t have empathy, and they’re downright arrogant. 

I like to refer to them as having emotional weapons that they’ll use against you, so you’ve got to learn how to disarm them if you want to work through your relationship with them. 

But if these 7 lessons should teach you anything, it’s to find the strength and motivation to walk away from toxic people who want to destroy you. 

Marcel Deer

Marcel Deer

Marcel is a journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur. When not obsessing over his man cave or the latest tech, he’s failing helplessly at training his obnoxious rescue dog ‘Boogies’.

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