Understanding Today's Narcissist
Understanding Today's Narcissist

Episode 23 · 3 years ago

How to Talk about Narcissism without Saying Narcissism

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

It was during Tim’s divorce from his wife of 18 years that he realized she had Narcissistic Personality Disorder. She had been a vindictive woman towards others in the past, cutting people off permanently when they accidentally or intentionally embarrassed her. But for some reason, he thought his 18-year marriage commitment would inoculate him from similar treatment. It did not. Even though she agreed to get a divorce, Tim’s filings of the papers seemed to set her off to an entirely different level.

In the past, she said that he was a good father. Now to everyone who would listen: their friends, extended family, and the court, she painted a different picture. She accused him of abusive behavior, scaring the children, being fearful of her life, and hiding funds from the family (even though she managed the finances). She even took moments when she exploded and turned it around saying that he was the one who lost it.

Tim was shocked and immediately went on the defensive pulling out cards, text messages, and pictures desperately trying to show the fallacy of her claims. Confused by her response to the divorce, he sought out the same marriage therapist they had seen a few years ago. It was then he received confirmation of something he had long suspected, she was narcissistic.

But now what. Tim didn’t want to go around telling everyone that she had narcissistic traits because he would look just like her. He also didn’t want to tell his children anything negative about their mother for fear that they would say something to friends, family, or worse her. So, Tim needed a different strategy. Here is what he did.

  1. Pick out keywords. Tim took the definition of narcissism and selected keywords that were clearly identifiable in his soon-to-be-ex. Here is the list: acts superior to others, behaves arrogantly, is unforgiving, doesn’t apologize or admit error, is selfish, exaggerates accomplishments, fantasizes about her looks, needs constant attention, obsessed with looking younger, believes others want her life, shows no empathy, is opportunistic even when it hurts others, and demands others do as she requests. He chose six traits that could be easily been seen: unapologetic, vane, no empathy, superior attitude, selfish, and demanding. By using some of the traits and not the word narcissism, it opens up the dialogue without alienating or attacking.
  2. Find other examples. Instead of pointing out the six traits in his soon-to-be-ex to others, Tim choose a few popular people to highlight the same characteristics. For his friends, he selected a local politician who displayed the traits. For his kids, he selected a sports figure and an entertainer that they already knew. For his family, he chose another relative that was already distant from the group. By pointing out the behaviors, attitudes, and actions that look narcissistic without using the word, Tim was able to begin a dialogue about dysfunctional conduct. He was also able to talk about the behavior without pointing a finger at his soon-to-be-ex.
  3. Learn from others. Once his friends, kids, and family were all in agreement that the dysfunctional behavior was wrong, he used this as a learning opportunity. For his kids, he talked about how not to be selfish and that it is was unhealthy not to admit to wrongdoing. For his friends and family, he asked them how they handled people like that and what they believed he could do differently. Never once did he mention his soon-to-be-ex and anytime the conversation turned towards her, he redirected it. This insulated him and it also caused his friends, family, and kids to draw their own conclusions without feeling like they were being forced into the same decision.
  4. Discuss boundaries and expectations. The next set of conversations was about resetting expectations and establishing healthy boundaries. Tim, having finally realized that he could not change his soon-to-be-ex, began a dialogue about how some people don’t want to change and it is wrong to force it on them. But if their behavior continues to be unhealthy, it is normal to set personal boundaries to keep from getting hurt. Again, he used the figures as his examples and came up with strategies for the establishment of healthy boundaries. By getting buy-in with other examples, his boundary setting with his soon-to-be-ex appeared normal.
  5. Manage the bully. Once the groundwork was established with his kids, family, and friends, Tim then started discussing how to handle a bully. Again, he did not use the word: narcissist. Instead of becoming defensive when she attacked him as he had in the past, Tim talked about standing up to a bully without becoming one. His kids liked the idea of using sarcasm when being attacked, while his friends and family preferred a more direct approach, “Sorry you think or feel that way.” Tim encouraged them to try out the new approach on their own bullies and report back what worked and what didn’t. This open indirect approach allowed for plenty of conversation without condemnation, humiliation, or embarrassment.

After several series of conversations, it worked. His family, friends, and even kids began to see the narcissism without Tim having to say a word about it.  This changed the dialogue and minimized the impact of the narcissism.

Whether you're thinking of divorcing your narcissistic spouse, right in the middle of it or have finalized your divorce, the tactics are the same. If this sounds like you, you need to know about Christine Hammond's new master class series how to survive a divorce with a narcissist. In this four hour video series, Christine Hammond introduces the toxic tactics that narcissists use to abuse, humiliate and manipulate you and teaches you exactly how to recognize these tactics and navigate through them with mastery and confidence. How to survive a divorce with a narcissist is a deep dive, a master class that I'll show you how narcissists use tactics like bait and switch, scare tactics, roller coaster ride and child's play. It's how to survive a divorce with a narcissist, a four hour recorded video master class with Christine Hammond. For more information or to purchase today, just go to...

...grow with christinecom forward slash narcissism. That's grow with Christine dotcom forward slash narcissism. This master class will change your life again. That's grow with Christine Dot com forward slash narcissism. This is understanding today's narcissist, brought to you in part by Psych Centralcom and now here's your host, Christine Hammond. So this might sound like an interesting topic for today, but if you are married to somebody or in a relationship with somebody who has narcissistic personality disorder, you're going...

...to really appreciate this. And what we're talking about today is how to talk about a person being a narcissist without using the word narcissist. And the reason that you might want to do this is because the word narcissist can be problematic on many fronts. It has a negative connotation, it could set people off and if it's your spouse, they might actually accuse you in turn of being the real narcissist and not them. So, for a variety of reasons, you might want to refrain from actually using the word. So we're going to talk about how do you go about discussing it without using the word, and I'm going to give you an example in the example is of Tim who was in an eighteen year marriage and did sided that they both decided together that they wanted to get a divorce. He didn't know she had narcissistic personality disorder until...

...he finally was seeking some help in the middle of his divorce. But here's what he did know. He knew that she had been a vict vindictive woman, and especially towards other people. In the past. She had cut people off permanently, whether they were friends or family members, when they accidentally or even intentionally embarrassed her. But for some reason he thought that his eighteen year marriage commitment would inoculate him from similar treatment. That sound familiar? It did not. Even though she agreed to the divorce, Tim filed first, and that seemed to set her off to an entirely different level. Now, in the past, his wife had said that he was a really good father. Now, to anyone who would listen, their friends, extended family and even the court, she painted a completely different picture. She accused him of being abusive, of scaring the children, being fearful of her life and even hiding...

...funds from the family, even though she managed all of the finances. She even took moments when she exploded and turned it around, saying that he was the one who really lost it. Tim was completely shocked and immediately went on the defense of pulling out cards, text messages and pictures, desperately trying to show the fallacy of all of her claims. He was confused by her response to the divorce, so he sought out some counseling, and it was from someone that they had seen a while ago, just happens to be me. It was then that he received confirmation of something that he had long suspected, which was that he she was narcissistic. But now what? Tim can't go around telling everyone that she had narcissistic traits, because then he's going to look just as bad as she does, not to mention the fact that they're in...

...the middle of a nasty divorce. He also didn't want to tell his children anything negative about their mother, unlike what she was doing with him, for fear that they would say something to friends or family or, even worse, say something to her and her retaliation would then be even worse. So Tim needed a different strategy. So here's what we came up with. Number One, pick out key words. So Tim took the definition of narcissism and selected clear words that were identifiable to his soon to be x. So here is a list that you can work off of. Acts Superior to other there's behaves arrogantly, is unforgiving, doesn't apologize or admit any error, is selfish, exaggerates accomplishments, fantasizes about her looks, needs constant attention, obsessed with looking...

...younger, believes others want her life, shows no empathy and is opportunistic, even when it hurts others, and demands others do exactly as she requests. So, out of this entire list, he chose six traits that could be easily seen by other people. So remember we're picking out key words here. Here's what he chose. He chose unapologetic, vain, no empathy, superior attitude, selfish and demanding. So by using some of the traits and not the word narcissism, it opens up the dialog without alienating or attacking or making...

...it look like you're going after someone. So go back over that. You might need to rewind that, but pick out the keywords that you can use going forward to talk about narcissism without actually having to say the word narcissist. Number two, here's another way we went about it. It's called find other examples. So instead of pointing out the six traits in his soon too be x to others, Tim chose a few popular people to highlight the same characteristics. For his friends, he selected a local politician who displayed the traits as well. That should be easy to find. For his kids, he selected a sports figure and an entertainer that they already knew and liked, but could also see the traits. For his family, he chose another relative that was already distant from the group. So by pointing out the behaviors and attitudes and...

...actions that look narcissistic without using the word, Tim was able to begin a dialog about dysfunctional conduct. He was also able to talk about the behavior without pointing a finger at a soon to be x, and this is super important that you do this, because if you start pointing fingers, it will come back to haunt you. So find other examples. There are plenty of them out there. You can look at the media. Just a real quick brief news summary will tell you who the highlights are. Or look at the tabloids and and see who is there on a regular, repeated basis. Those are people that usually are attention seeking and narcissistic. Okay, so the first one was pick out key words. Second one was find other examples and the third I want you to learn from others. So once Tim's friends, kids and...

...family were all in agreement that the dysfunctional behavior, which was narcissist, but we're not saying the word narcissist, was wrong. He used this as a learning opportunity for as kids. He talked about how now to be selfish and that this was unhealthy, not to admit to being doing something wrong. For his friends and family, he asked them how they handled people that had this dysfunctional behavior and what they believe that he could do differently. Never once did he mention his soon too be x and at any time the conversation turned towards her, he very carefully redirected it. This insulated him and caused his friends and family and kids to draw their own conclusions without feeling like they were being forced in the same direction. So it's just a gentle way of guiding somebody...

...into seeing something without shoving it in their face. So remember number one, we've picked out the key word or its number two, we've found examples. Number three were learning from others. So number four is going to discuss boundaries and expectations. The next set of conversations was about resetting expectations and establishing healthy boundaries. Tim Having finally realized that he could not change his soon to be x, began a dialog about how some people don't want to change and it's wrong to for set on them, but if their behavior continues to be unhealthy, it's normal to set personal boundaries to keep from getting heart again. He used the figures as his examples from step two and step three to come up with strategies for the establishment of healthy boundaries. By getting by in with other examples, his boundary setting with his soon too be x appeared normal. So...

...he's able to normalize his boundary setting with the soon to be x by using examples from other people, getting people to see the importance of setting those boundaries and even having them try it out themselves. This then helped to have a more healthy dialog again about narcissism without saying the word narcissist. So that was number four. The last is number five, and and so we call that manage the bully. So remember we started off with picking out key words. We then found other examples, we learned from others, we discussed boundaries and expectations. And the last step in all of this is to manage the bully. So, once the groundwork was established with his kids, family and friends, Tim then started to discuss how to handle a bully. Again, he...

...did not use the word narcissist. Instead of becoming defensive when she attacked him, as he had in the past, Tim talked about standing up to a bully without becoming a bully. His kids like the idea of using sarcasm when being attacked, while his friends and family preferred a more direct approach, like sorry, you think or feel that way. Tim Encourage them to try out this new approach on their own bullies and we pour back on what worked and what didn't. This open, indirect approach allowed for plenty of conversation without any condemnation, humiliation or even embarrassment. So the last step was to manage the bully. And by getting his family members to try things, he was also learning from what worked with them to find even new ways of being able to manage his own bully, who was his soon to be x so. So,...

...after several series of conversations, this whole entire process finally worked. His friends and his family and even his kids began to see that as soon to be x was really a narcissist, without him ever having to say one word about it. This change the dialog and minimize the impact of the narcissist and allowed Tim to have and maintain healthy relationships with this family, which was really important during this time. So I would encourage you that, if you are in the middle of a relationship with the narcissist, that you take these five steps and you try to incorporate them into your life so that you can actually get further along by not saying the word narcissist, but instead working around it and teaching everybody how best to handle it in a healthy, positive way.

Thanks for listening to understanding. Today's narcissist with Christine Hammond brought to you in part by Psych Centralcom. For more information, visit grow with christinecom.

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