Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

i-741508_1920“I’m having trouble with my boss. He always thinks he is right.”

 He’s impossible to deal with because he doesn’t see how often he puts me down and thinks he is better than I am.”

She’s always telling me how great and important she is. It’s gets old!”

These words represent the frustration of people who deal with a narcissist. Narcissists are people who exaggerate their achievements, feel they are superior in their talents, are preoccupied with success, power, brilliance, and often believe that they can only be understood by other high status people. They crave admiration and have a strong sense of entitlement.

Most frustrating is the lack of empathy and compassion. Brain research is now giving us more understanding of why these people project themselves as overly confident and arrogant. The lack of empathy is correlated to structural deficits in parts of the brain. What this means is that the empathetic parts of the brain are less developed. These findings are based on imaging of the brain and may help us understand more about people with this diagnosis.

Regardless of the factors that cause narcissism, many of us have these people in our lives and need strategies to effectively deal with them.

Here are a few pointers to help:

  • Find a way to make a request while appealing to their ego, they will listen better. While you may not like doing this, there is incredible insecurity underlying the narcissism. Stroking the ego, which seems counterintuitive, actually helps you get along with the person better.
  • Recognize that narcissists usually do not trust people. Even though they appear overly confident, they live in anxiety with the fear that their weakness will be overcome by someone else. Thus, the overcompensating. So proceed cautiously as your motives and actions may be questioned.
  • You don’t have to respond to everything that is said, as they can be master manipulators. Sometimes less is better.
  • Avoid arguments because you usually can’t win. Acknowledge their feelings and don’t continue to push your point. If you must deal with a conflict, start soft and include yourself in the problem.
  • Don’t look for empathy as this is a skill that has to be taught. And the person has to want to increase this skill.
  • Give positive feedback when you can. It helps to focus on the positives in order to not build a wall of negativity.
  • Avoid challenges as you will probably lose. Often the narcissist has low frustration tolerance and things can escalate quickly.
  • Forgive often.  You don’t want to build a root of bitterness towards the person.
  • Pray. God can work on anyone. Transformation is His great work in us. When the narcissist becomes frustrated because his close relationships are failing, he or she is often open to the work of the Holy Spirit. Continue to point the person to the Lord and how Christ in them gives them the power to make changes. Usually it is the feedback from others that causes a person to question his or her behavior. Once the person is open to cultivating humility and compassion, God can work in them.
  • Prepare to go slow. The work of change requires patience, but if the person is committed to improving relationships, change is possible.
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