If you had to forgive a narcissist could you? What if that narcissist manipulated you and/or attempted to harm you in some way? What about if that narcissist is a spouse, a parent, a close friend, a family member, etc? Could you forgive?
For a lot of us in our relationships with others once we are “burned” by a person that is the only chance that person would get. In other words, as my mother used to say “a brother offended is hard to win back.” Once you feel stung by the narcissist’s sting of deception, hurt, envy, and manipulation, it will be hard to trust again. But in some cases, the “narcissist” may be someone you love very much or someone you highly respect. Would that change how you see or view them?
As a result, this article will highlight potential ways to think about the narcissism and the behaviors they exhibit.
Let’s face it. Not all narcissist’s are alike and many have different thought patterns, behaviors, childhood upbringing, educational levels, etc. Because of this, it can be difficult to identify narcissism and even worse trying to figure out what kind of a narcissist you are dealing with. It’s not easy. It’s not black and white. There will often be a lot of gray. As a result, lets explore possible ways we should view someone displaying narcissistic traits. Sometimes having an understanding of the person helps you to move on and avoid similar people in the future.
Some things we often don’t think about when interacting with a narcissist is that:
- They can’t help it: As difficult as it may be to understand this, narcissists can’t help who they are at the core. Does this warrant compassion and repeated chances to correct their behavior? Maybe and maybe not. You need to examine how far you are willing to go with them and how far you are willing to let them take you. A narcissist often doesn’t have the ability to empathize with you so explaining things away, begging for kindness, or asking for any kind of empathy will often backfire. I must also add that just because they “can’t help it” doesn’t mean you should stick around and be abused. But understanding that you and the narcissist come from completely different frames of mind and emotions can help you move on or cope.
- They are often adult victims: Narcissists are sometimes the direct result of a traumatizing childhood experience. Not all narcissists are arrogant people with no compassion who seek only to “live the good life” and collect material possessions. Some narcissists were raised in abusive, demeaning, and emotionally destabilizing environments. Sadly, these unstable environments “create” adults who lack the ability to function within relationships in a healthy manner.
- They don’t have the skills they’d like to have: Have you ever encountered an arrogant narcissist? A narcissist who appeared one way outwardly but inwardly was something completely different? Well…you certainly are not alone in that. Many of us have come across a narcissist in some fashion whether that would be in our jobs, within our families, within our social relationships, etc. There really is no way to avoid it and for most of us, we’re not going to always see the “red flags.” But one thing is for sure, they struggle in almost every relationship they have. Sadly, in some cases, social, school, or work relationships may flourish because of the “image” some narcissists have worked very hard to obtain and maintain.
- They’re going to end up alone or disliked by many: Believe it or not, some if not most narcissists end up losing the very people they need in their lives. Why? Because as stated above, most narcissists are incapable of having healthy relationships no matter how hard the healthy person within the relationship may try to be with the narcissist. In situations where the narcissist is abusive, demanding, controlling, harsh, cruel, uncaring, insensitive, manipulative, jealous, etc., most people will seek to get as far away as they can.
- They are confused in their own cycle of abuse: There are some narcissists who truly are “lost” in their lives. They have no idea what they are working toward in life, have no plans to engage in building lasting relationships, suffer from isolation and internal pain because of their limited relational skills, and would rather live in a world that catered to them 24/7 in some fashion. Because of these things, it is not uncommon for a narcissist to be miserable and irritable or rejecting and demeaning. What they fail to realize is that healthy relationships are a necessity in life and if you cannot maintain at least some degree of normalcy or health within relationships, you basically have little to nothing. Despite knowing this truth, some narcissists persist in harming others, competing with them, envying them, etc.
It is important that I highlight that not all narcissists are this way but most of them are. It’s important that we educate each other about how they interact with others. Narcissists can truly hurt, confuse, and crush you. Before that happens, gaining a little perspective about the truth of who they are can do wonders in your ability to spot and get away from damaging behaviors.
What has been your experience with a narcissist? Should you have compassion or run? Should you stay or go?
As always, looking forward to connecting with you