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    5 Signs You’re Dealing With a Narcissist & How to Protect Yourself

    Recognizing the toxic nature of a relationship with a narcissistic person is the first step toward breaking the cycle. Focus on yourself and take care of your own needs to help break the trauma bond.

    enOctober 20, 2022

    About this Episode

    Narcissism is on the rise and you need to learn how to spot it in other people and have tools to protect yourself.

     

    We all know those people who constantly turn a conversation toward themselves, who only call you when they want something, and who have a way of making everything someone else’s fault.

     

    Well, guess what? Turns out narcissism goes far beyond that.

     

    I’m telling you right now, even if you THINK you know what a narcissist is, you need to listen.

     

    I thought I knew, yet I’m still reeling from all my breakthrough moments.

     

    Do you have a narcissist in your life?

     

    Maybe you grew up with one.

     

    Maybe you work with one.

     

    Maybe you married one.

     

    Maybe you don’t know what the hell a narcissist is!

     

    Pull up a seat at the table with me because class is IN session.

     

    Narcissism is a term that gets thrown around a lot these days, so how do you know if you’re *really* dealing with a narcissist?

     

    You have been blowing up my email and DMs about this topic, so Dr. Ramani Durvasula is here to answer your questions.

     

    She’s the world’s leading expert on narcissism and someone I’ve followed and admired for years. I love how she breaks down the topic of narcissism in a way that’s understandable, simple, and packed with tools you can apply the second you learn them.

     

    Listen in as she shines a light on the REAL definition of a narcissist and the 5 warning signs you need to know if you’re dealing with one.

     

    This topic is so juicy – and so surprising – that you’re going to be shocked by what you learn. One part in particular will change how you approach narcissists in your life from this day forward.

     

    That’s exactly what happened to me. I have somebody in my life, a very prominent somebody, who absolutely displays narcissistic tendencies, and I have spent years in therapy dealing with it. So I actually got out of my chair and hugged Dr. Ramani after everything she taught me and you in this amazing episode!

     

    If you get something out of this episode, or if you have a friend that has struggled with a narcissist in their life, please share this with them.

     

    And if you think a person is a narcissist, don't even bother sharing, because if there's one thing you're going to learn: you don't want to EVER call one out…

     

    That's just one of the many rules you're going to learn to follow in order to protect yourself from narcissistic behavior.

     

    This episode is jam-packed with teachable moments that will leave you seeing the narcissists in your life with 20-20 insight.

     

    You’ll learn how to not only deal with them but also end this episode with the tools to heal.

     

    And that, my friend, could be the takeaway that changes your life forever.

     

    Xo Mel

     

    For full show notes, visit www.melrobbins.com

    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • To protect ourselves from narcissism, we need to be aware of its characteristics such as lack of empathy, entitlement, arrogance and poor emotional regulation. It is important to differentiate between a personality style and a disorder. With this knowledge, we can better navigate our relationships.
    • It is important to recognize the signs of narcissistic behavior to protect yourself and accept that these people cannot be changed.
    • Flexibility helps us adapt to different situations, be comfortable in them, and be kind, understanding and empathic to others. Agreeableness is the opposite of narcissism, and is a trait worth striving for.
    • Narcissism is not an inherent trait; it is something that can be developed if a child's attachment and attention needs are not met. With proper guidance, love and consistency from a parent, children can grow in positive ways.
    • A child's success in life is largely determined by the environment they grow up in. Creating a supportive and loving environment is essential for a child to learn the skills they need to thrive.
    • A child's environment, including the availability of a primary caregiver, plays a large role in their development. Secure attachment, empathy and healthy coping skills are best nurtured in an environment of love and understanding. Narcissism is not a choice, but a result of the environment.
    • Narcissistic people may appear charming and engaging, but be careful of their quick mood swings and lack of true empathy. Be aware of warning signs such as oppositionality, superficial empathy and performance of thank yous.
    • People with narcissistic traits may display a range of behaviours that can be difficult to understand. It's important to be aware of the signs and behaviours to work towards overcoming them and create healthier relationships.
    • Growing up with a narcissistic parent can damage a child's sense of self, identity and autonomy. As an adult, understanding self-worth and taking steps to become independent is key to developing a healthy sense of self.
    • Growing up in a narcissistic household can have lasting effects on a child's identity, feelings of guilt and shame, and sense of self. Children need to be heard, seen, and validated in order to develop a healthy sense of self.
    • Recognizing the toxic nature of a relationship with a narcissistic person is the first step toward breaking the cycle. Focus on yourself and take care of your own needs to help break the trauma bond.
    • Dealing with narcissists can be difficult, but it is important to remember that we cannot change them. The best way to protect ourselves is to remove ourselves from the situation, and to not engage with or take the bait from them. This will help us to stay true to our values.
    • To overcome guilt, get comfortable with being uncomfortable and recognize what is important to you, which is your true north. This will give you the strength to make decisions for yourself without feeling guilty.
    • Learning to be authentic is a brave process that helps to build strong boundaries and avoid unhealthy behaviours. Do not feel guilty for taking a stand against narcissism or other unhealthy behaviours.
    • It is important to learn healthy family dynamics to have a balanced life. In narcissistic families, there are two roles: the golden child and the scapegoat. The golden child is favored and receives validation, while the scapegoat is treated differently and made to feel inferior. Working through trauma and validating one's experience is a good first step for the scapegoat to move past this dynamic.
    • Truth tellers can help reveal the truth of a situation, but in a narcissistic family they are often seen as a threat and scapegoated. Social media has changed the way this generation of children is raised, and further research needs to be done to understand its effects.
    • Empathy and compassion are key when dealing with narcissists, but it's also important to set boundaries and recognize that you are not a prisoner to them. Agreeable people show genuine care and compassion while narcissistic people will never do this.
    • Self care and understanding narcissism can help you cope in tough times. Know you are not alone, and have the right resources to help you create a better life.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    Understanding Narcissism and Its Characteristics

    Narcissism can be an intimidating topic to understand and can be very damaging if left unchecked.To help us learn more about it, we look to experts like Dr. Ramani who have studied narcissism for over 20 years.She explains that narcissism is a personality style and not a diagnosis, and describes characteristics such as a lack of empathy, entitlement, arrogance and poor emotional regulation.We need to be aware of these traits and understand how to protect ourselves from them.Dr. Ramani also teaches us that it is important to differentiate between a personality style and a diagnosis, as it can be very easy to think someone has a disorder when they may just have a different personality.With this knowledge, we can better navigate our relationships and learn how to protect ourselves from narcissism.

    Recognizing the Signs of Narcissism

    Narcissism is a personality style that is often maladaptive and characterized by deep insecurity.People with narcissistic traits often lash out to maintain power, dominance, and control in order to protect a fragile sense of self.This can result in an unwillingness to change, like one cannot change the weather in Chicago.Although it is rare, it is possible to be diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder.It is important to recognize the signs of narcissism to protect yourself and accept that these people cannot be changed.

    Flexibility Is Essential for Mental and Physical Health

    Personality is something we all possess and it's important to keep it flexible in order to stay healthy both mentally and physically.It's just like stretching before a workout.Flexibility can help us to be able to adapt for different situations and to be comfortable in them.Agreeableness is the opposite of narcissism, and it's a trait that many strive for.Narcissism has been around since the beginning of time, but with social media its grandiosity is amplified.So let's remember to stay flexible, and to be kind, understanding and empathic to those around us.

    Understanding Narcissism & Its Development

    Narcissism is not something we are born with, it is something that is developed over time.Every child is born with a unique temperament which can be an indicator of how they will grow and develop.If a child has a more difficult temperament and is not getting enough attention or has not had their attachment needs met, they may become more vulnerable to developing narcissistic tendencies.With proper guidance, love, and consistency from a parent, they can turn this attention seeking behavior into a more positive interest like being creative or athletic.It is important to be aware of how a child can develop narcissistic tendencies and how to best help them grow in a healthy way.

    Providing a Safe, Nurturing Environment for Success in Life

    A child's success in life is largely dependent on the environment they grow up in.Healthy, secure attachment, a capacity to self-soothe and regulate, and empathy are important parts of a child's development.If a child does not have a supportive, loving environment where their needs are met and their feelings validated, they may not learn the skills necessary to become successful in life.Without learning these skills, a child may struggle with self-esteem and may become narcissistic as a result.It is important to provide a safe, nurturing environment for children to help them develop the skills necessary for success.

    Secure Attachment and Empathy: Key Factors in a Child's Development

    A child's development is heavily influenced by the environment they grow up in.If a child has a consistent and available primary caregiver, they are likely to develop secure attachment.This secure attachment is shown through the child displaying comfort and joy when the caregiver returns.If a child does not have this secure attachment, they may display distress when the caregiver leaves and may not be easily soothed by other caregivers.Empathy is also essential for a child’s growth, and is best modelled through the families and communities they associate with.It is important to remember that narcissism is not a choice and is a result of a child's environment.We can help children develop healthy coping skills if we give them the right environment and show them empathy.

    Understanding Narcissistic Behaviour

    A narcissistic person can seem very charming and engaging, making you feel like you're the most important person in the world.However, they are extremely reactive to any criticism or feedback and do not like being told what to do.Additionally, the empathy they show is superficial and performative, often showing more care for their own issues than those of others.Warning signs include oppositionality, superficial empathy, and quick mood swings.Narcissists are great at expressing thank yous, but not truly understanding the sentiment behind it.

    Navigating the Behaviours of Narcissistic Traits

    People with narcissistic traits often display a range of behaviours that can be difficult for others to understand.They can be inconsistent in their empathy, performative, egocentric, contemptuous and gaslighting.These traits may have originated in childhood, but can manifest in adulthood if not addressed.As a result, it's important to be aware of the signs and behaviours, so that those affected can work to overcome them and foster healthier relationships.

    The Impact of Having a Narcissistic Parent

    Having a narcissistic parent can have a huge impact on a person's life.It can hijack a child's sense of self, identity, autonomy, making them feel unseen and unheard.As a result, they don't believe in themselves, they don't trust themselves and they downsell themselves.This kind of behavior can lead to feeling of guilt when one is mad at their parent and the need to please them.In essence, the parent stops the child from developing a sense of self and autonomy.As an adult, it is important to recognize these behaviors and to gain an understanding of self-worth and take steps to become autonomous.

    Navigating Narcissism in the Household

    Many children growing up in a narcissistic household struggle to understand their own reality and identity.They are made to feel like a non-entity and that their needs don't matter.The child learns that they must please the parent, and any emotions they feel or any desires they have must be pushed aside in order to do that.This leads to feelings of shame and guilt, which can stay with them into adulthood.They are also made to feel like they are wrong for having needs, and that they should be grateful for whatever the parent provides.This can lead to an unhealthy cycle, as the child feels they can’t escape the parent’s influence and must continue to try to gain their love.Children need to be heard, seen and validated by their parents, so they can learn to trust and value themselves.Without this, it is hard for them to develop a healthy sense of self.

    Acknowledging Trauma Bonds with Narcissistic Parents or Partners

    Realizing you are in a trauma bond with a narcissistic parent or partner can be a difficult realization.It's not as easy as a three-step plan.The first step is acknowledgement - acknowledging that the narcissistic person views you as an object, not a person.This means they will only think of you when they need something from you.Understanding this can help you break the cycle of trying to win them over.You will never be able to predict the needs a narcissistic person has or read their mind.Instead, it's important to focus on yourself and take care of your own needs.Breaking the cycle of a trauma bond is hard work, but it is possible.

    Living True to Your Values and Protecting Yourself from Narcissists

    Living true to your own values and not sacrificing yourself to please others is an important part of life.When it comes to dealing with narcissists, however, it is important to understand that we cannot change them.Trying to do so is an exercise in futility, and will only result in frustration and pain.Instead, it is important to find ways to remove yourself from the situation and to stop engaging with them.This includes not taking the bait and not trying to "gotcha" them.This is the best way to protect yourself and to live in a way that is true to your own values.

    Understanding True North to Overcome Guilt

    Feeling guilty when you don't do what somebody else wants is a common problem, especially when you were trained to believe that not doing what someone else wants is wrong.This can be the result of having a narcissistic parent or being in a relationship with someone like this.The key to healing is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable and understanding what your true north is - the things which are worth fighting for.True north is the things that are healthy for you and align with your values, like going to a football game with your kids or taking a trip with your friends.Knowing your true north will give you the strength to make the right decisions for yourself and not feel guilty about it.

    Standing Up for Authenticity

    Learning to be authentic can be a difficult process.It involves taking a brave stand and clearing away people who are not healthy and who don't validate you.Authenticity is often misunderstood and can be seen as selfishness or uppityness.It is important to remember that it is not easy to be authentic, but it is worth it in the end as it helps to create strong boundaries and avoid unhealthy behaviours.People should not feel guilty for taking a stand against narcissism or other unhealthy behaviours, as it is ultimately beneficial for them and those around them.

    Understanding the Dynamics of Narcissistic Families

    Learning healthy family dynamics is essential for a well-balanced life.Narcissistic families are often characterized by two roles, the golden child and the scapegoat.The golden child is often anointed by the narcissistic parent, as they may resemble them or excel in areas which bring them validation.The scapegoat is often treated differently and is made to feel inferior.The scapegoat may suffer complex trauma as they are constantly criticized and not given the same opportunities as the golden child.Working through trauma and validating ones experience is a good first step for the scapegoat in learning to move past this dynamic.

    The Role of Truth Tellers in Narcissistic Families

    A truth teller is a very important part of a family dynamic.They can often see the truth of a situation that others may not be able to see.In a narcissistic family, the truth teller is often seen as a threat and scapegoated for it.Even though it is not their fault, the truth teller can become exhausted trying to make their parent happy and avoid their abuse.In the age of social media, children are the first generation of kids to be raised from front to back with the platform.As a result, the data needs to be collected to understand its effects.

    Showing Compassion While Setting Boundaries with Narcissists

    Empathy and compassion are key when dealing with narcissists.It is important to recognize that although they are suffering, you should not be a punching bag.Showing up for dinner or Thanksgiving may be an expectation from a narcissistic person, but it's not about the love or care for the people around them, it's about looking good to the world.It's important to recognize how to step away gracefully and not get into the "mud" with them, while also not losing your empathy and compassion.It's ok to set boundaries and recognize that you are not a prisoner to them.Agreeable people may show genuine care and compassion with those around them, but narcissistic people will never do this. It's important to recognize the difference.

    Taking Care of Yourself in Difficult Situations

    Self care is important in life, especially when dealing with difficult people and situations.Knowing it's not about you and that you are not responsible for changing the weather can be extremely liberating.Taking time to take care of yourself and know that you are loved and supported can help you when dealing with tough times.Having the right resources and understanding narcissism can help you spot it and keep a safe distance.Dr. Ramani and Mel Robbins are here to support you and help you create a better life.You are capable and strong, and you are not alone.

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    If you can’t stop procrastinating, are battling self-doubt, or you just need a reminder that you’re stronger than you think, then this is the episode for you.

    And if you know someone who’s not living up to their potential because they keep procrastinating on the actions they need to take, send them this episode and let Mel give them the motivation they need. 

    For more resources, click here for the podcast episode page. 

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    The Mel Robbins Podcast
    enMarch 18, 2024