Narcissists and other Cluster B personality disordered individuals seem to thrive on ruining holidays. If you are reading this blog, I’m sure you’ve been victim to this phenomenon. If you stop and think about it, you can look back over the various holidays and personal birthdays and recall yourself trying to appease the narcissistic person in your life. You were most likely trying to make sense of the drama. But, truth be told, you may have discovered that there is no sense to be made.
Narcissists have a tendency to practice seasonal devalue and discard during the holidays, focusing these abuse tactics on their nearest targets and closest partners. Why do they do this? Because they have no empathy and cannot handle intimate relationships and are compelled to do what it takes to destroy them.
The characterologically challanged individual is hellbent on destruction, particularly relationship destruction, and even more particularly than usual, during a special day, like Christmas or your anniversary or your birthday. You may have the highest of hopes starting out, only to realize that once again, yes, the narcissist is accompanied by a dark cloud or a sinister plot to hurt you in some way. Perhaps his abuse is “merely” detachment and neglect. He/She probably did not get you a gift (and this is obviously because you don’t deserve a gift after some “terrible infraction” you perpetrated.)
Usually during the holidays the narcissist, being in a heightened state of fantasy-fulfillment-chasing, finds you completely unacceptable as all of your various imperfections come screaming to the forefront of his awareness, demanding improvement. But, you, being a normal person, is most likely not perfect. This causes a huge narcissistic injury during a special day. The narcissist’s anxiety is extreme and needs to be ameliorated by his/her belief that his/her external circumstances need to change; you being the primary external circumstance in need of a serious overhaul.
The narcissist has become your judge, jury, and prosecuting attorney. You don’t stand a chance. You may try changing, cajoling, appeasing, catering to, pleasing, or trying to get the narcissist to “see” how ridiculous he/she is being. Nothing works.
You end up feeling stressed out and miserable. Your loved one has caused you to “walk on egg shells,” all worried about minutia because you have become conditioned to believe you can influence this insanity; after all, he’s/she’s blaming you for it!
There is nothing you can do. At least, there’s nothing you can do to change the other person. But, you do have the power to change yourself. Here are some suggestions for overcoming the narcissistic abuse you are experiencing:
- Look within. Stop focusing on the other person’s behavior and start noticing how you’re feeling. I’m sure you’ll notice that you have no peace or serenity. Take note of the negative feelings you are having and make a decision to change that.
- Empower yourself. As you notice your unhappiness think of ways to take care of yourself in the moment. You can walk away and completely avoid the difficult person. Go in another room. Stop trying to change him/her. Remind yourself that you can’t change anyone else, but that you do have power over your own attitude and choices.
- Encourage yourself. Tell yourself that you are a good and amazing person and that you can have a good time regardless of your loved one’s problems. Your life is not dependent on another person’s moods (or personality problems for that matter.) Tell yourself that it’s not your fault.
- Remind yourself that the other person is not sane. A personality disorder implies “disorder.” Your loved one is not going to behave normally because he/she is disordered. Stop expecting normal behavior from this person.
- Hold on to yourself. Don’t allow the other person to make you insane as well. Just because you are dealing with a disordered individual, does not mean you have to become crazy as well. Do whatever it takes to walk away from anything that causes you to lose yourself.
- Trust yourself. Don’t get caught up in the drama and cognitive dissonance the narcissist brings to you. If you are feeling ill at ease, trust that there is a reason and that you have a right and obligation to honor your feelings and take care of yourself.
- Do not accept the other person’s blame. Narcissists are blame-shifters and projectors. That is, they never own their poor behaviors and always blame them on someone else. In addition to this, they project their faults on to you. For instance, when the narcissist tells you you are selfish, he/she is only telling you what he/she is.
- Set strong boundaries. Most people with personality disorders hate boundaries. But, that does not mean you shouldn’t have them. Remember, boundaries describe your behaviors, not the other person’s. You can’t change anything another person says or does, you can only decide how you will respond.Establishing strong boundaries is necessary in order to protect yourself from personal damage. An example of a boundary would be to make the decision to disengage from anyone who causes you to feel defensive. Notice that you are not trying to change the other person’s behavior; you are only trying to change yourself.
Note: Projection is a defense mechanism commonly used by narcissists. Introjection occurs when the targets of the projections internalize them. It is common to introject a narcissist’s negativity and requires strong boundaries to withstand. Being aware of this dynamic will help you understand how to protect yourself.