The last Quick Fix cartoon was my most Popular Therapy Cartoon of all time! Ah, good times.
Today’s cartoon is in reference to how we respond to people who may be narcissists, or anyone who may not be someone we want to spend time with. Do we figure out how to deal with them, or just move on, and let go of this….baggage? 🙂
The other day, I was talking with someone about a fairly bad habit he has, one that is worse for him than for anyone else. He said, “That’s just the way I am.”
I was taken aback, as I don’t typically use that expression. Did he say it out of a mistaken sense of self, or a kind of stubbornness? Was it a warning? (I’ll never change, so don’t even try.) Was there a kind of pride in staying the same, or was it despair that he couldn’t move on?
We could make a lot of guesses as to his intentions, but it’s more productive to figure out how to manage the next step: how to respond to statements like this?
Hmm, I notice there are several singers who have something to say about That’s just the way I am, from Eminem to Tammy Wynette. That’s not a good sign.
There’s a book on Amazon with that title, too: That’s Just the Way I am: Understanding and Dealing with Troublemakers, Wimps and Oddballs. Notice the photo of ostriches on the cover. I’m not getting an empirically tested vibe from this book, are you?
Someone brought my friend’s statement up on What to Expect and got an excellent reply:
People shouldn’t say ‘it’s just the way I am’ they should say ‘just the way I choose to be.
Another commenter forgot to answer the question, and instead talked about himself:
I talk loud, I always have & so does my entire family. It’s likely because both my brother & father have hearing issues. I wouldn’t consider that bad behavior (annoying to someone perhaps) I’m almost 40, other than moments where I really concentrate on whispering attempts to lower my volume have failed. That’s just the way I am. (I’m also a loud whisperer btw) [bold added]
Linda Larsen agrees:
In the moment that you hear yourself think or say, “That’s just the way I am” – stop and immediately change it to, “No, that’s the way I am choosing to be.”
BAM! That will smack you upside the head like a frying pan! Because it’s true!
If you learn better by reading comic books, Wikihow has a page set up just for you: How to deal with a narcissistic husband. This looks like terrible advice: fake flattery!
Frame everything so it’s about his benefit. Narcissists rarely care about anyone else’s needs. To get something you want, make it seem like it’s about him.
- If you want to go to a friend’s house for dinner, don’t say, “I want to go eat dinner with Bob and Julie.” Instead, say, “They really love you; they’d love to have you at dinner.”
- Convince your husband that doing things for you reflects well on him. Say something like, “By helping me clean the garage, you show everyone how good you are at taking care of me.”
A quote like “That’s just me” wouldn’t necessarily qualify as narcissism, of course. In fact, a study in the APA says that statements with I or me in them don’t point to NPD at all!
“There is a widely assumed association between use of first-person singular pronouns, what we call I-talk, and narcissism, among laypeople and scientists despite the fact that the empirical support for this relation is surprisingly sparse and generally inconsistent.”
Phew. Blog writers and country singers can rest easy.
Maybe the best way to respond to dead-end statements like That’s just the way I am is to talk like a therapist, and reply, “Why do you say that?” At the very least, it will buy you some time, and show that you are listening.
Any other ideas? Has this happened to you?
All rights reserved, and content including cartoon is ©Donna Barstow 2017. Contact me for fees and rights if you want to use my cartoon in your next project. Thanks!