Emotionally unhook yourself & starve the narcissist of supply: Here’s how
Consider just a slice of narcissistic manipulation: gaslighting, triangulation, isolation, devaluation, denial, projection, smear campaigns, control, invalidation, word salads, generalisations, twisting the truth, refusing to take accountability, threats, moving the goal posts, expecting perfection…the list goes on.
These tactics are all designed to provoke a negative emotional reaction in you (that’s right, not necessarily from you – it is sufficient for you to internalise the negativity only), thereby confirming for the narcissist that they retain power and control over you. Sadly, the more you do react to bait and provide them with supply, the more their hunger grows.
This sounds all very much doom and gloom, BUT, it is raising your awareness of what drives their behaviour, and offers insight as to how you begin to reclaim your power.
Here are some practical steps you can take to begin short-circuiting the cycle of abuse by refusing to continue feeding the narc.
Be kind and gentle with yourself as you begin to apply these, know that you have been programmed to think and behave solely focusing on meeting the needs of the narc in your life.
Unhooking from these patterns will take effort and time, but you CAN take these steps to starve the narcissist and kick-start your recovery journey even while they are still in your life. These actions will bring you closer to where you want to be: narc free and full of joy.
1. Educate yourself
In the first instance, make it your personal mission to become your own expert on NPD and associated manipulation tactics.
Read as much as you can – books, articles, blog posts; listen to podcasts; join support groups; check out YouTube. Whatever you can get your hands on, to educate yourself, do it now. Check out the page Recommended Wisdom on the site for recommended literature that is guaranteed to gift you with many eureka moments!
Becoming conversant with the ploys used to undermine you, will make it that much easier for you to identify when it is being applied to you. It also reminds you that IT ISN’T YOU! It is them, and a diagnosable Cluster B personality disorder: NPD. Other than validating the abuse, and that it isn’t you, this information teaches you about the elements of predictability in their behaviour. Arm yourself and get ready for the next step.
2. Observe like a curious scientist
This phase is about beginning to neutralise your naturally highly emotive reactions, and hence shift the bonds of power the abuser has over you. Having started with increasing knowledge that it is not you, you’ve already begun. The second action to complement the internal transformation is to practice adopting the stance of ‘observing like a curious scientist’ the behaviours of your narcissist.
When engaging with them and you begin to notice you are feeling that agitated, anxious, frightened, unsafe inner state, you can be sure that they are applying one of the manipulation tactics you’ve educated yourself on.
So now is the time for you to pause, and begin observing. Ask yourself which of the tactics it might be, and watch them go at it.
Practicing this reinforces that you are copping narcissistic abuse, and it is NOT YOU.
Significantly, your refusal to continue owning and accepting what is being to dealt to you gets under way. This gradually undermines the enmeshment with the narc and your emotional reactivity when under attack.
3. Starve the narcissist
Remaining under attack is not an option. It is time for you to disentangle, starve the narcissist, and protect yourself, starting now.
Having prepared yourself with steps 1 & 2, now is the time to stop one behaviour and start a new one.
STOP explaining yourself. Time to shine the light of the curious scientist on yourself. How many times a day do you find yourself justifying every little thing to your abuser? How do you feel when you do this? Is it a programmed reaction where you don’t even think about it being necessary to explain yourself, or does it come from a reflective, mindful place where you think they deserve an explanation?
If you are reading this, automatic justifications are likely to be the primary form of communication from you to your abuser because you have been programmed that this is what is expected from you.
Relating this way whether the narc is your partner, parent, colleague, or friend, leaves you feeling very small and worthless. This is because, when you are in this cycle, you are giving away your power. You are agreeing you owe them whatever it is they are brainwashing you into handing over. It is essentially, A-grade supply for your narc.
START using non-defensive statements. This is similar to stopping the endless explanations, in that your mindset must be in that same place of seeking to unhook and disengage with the games.
Where chronic justifying is a largely pre-emptive strike, just in case the narc may react badly to any given situation (you know, the whole walking on eggshells thing), non-defensive statements are about what to do when actually under attack* and the manipulations are coming thick and fast at you.
Some examples of non-defensive statements are:
- I’m sorry you don’t approve of ‘xyz’.
- You are absolutely entitled to your opinions.
- I accept that your perception is that I am ‘xyz’- this one isn’t about agreeing with them, it is about stating that you are no longer getting into the word salad hell anymore.
- I’m sorry you are angry/hurt etc.
- I hear you feel angry/hurt etc.
- I hear what you are saying.
- That is interesting.
- I see.
It’s a good idea to practice these in regular interactions to counter the programming and ease your comfort with using them when needed with your narc.
If you are also codependent, these are also likely to generally be useful in relationships other than with your narc, acknowledging that these patterns of relating may be particularly challenging for you to break.
Whilst tricky, whether codependent or not, YOU CAN DO IT. Focus on your goals: reclaiming your power, freedom, and a life of joy. Hold these in your heart, mind, and soul. Use them as a mantra to empower you as you take these vital steps in unhooking from your narc.
Warning! When you starve the narcissist, supply is being withheld from them. The narc will NOT like your inner transformations. The change in you will make them unhappy as you will starve the narcissist from their drug. Thing is, your life, is not about making them happy. It is about making you happy. To get to that place, you must take steps to protect yourself and move towards freedom.
You are strong. You are courageous. You are so very worthy. YOU CAN DO IT.
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