If you are living with a narcissist, you need to prevent the erosion of your self-worth.
In The One-Way Relationship Workbook, Neil Lavender and Alan Caivola make the following suggestions to help you protect yourself from the harm of the narcissist and increase your self-worth.
- Know where in your childhood difficulty with boundary setting comes from:
- Physical or sexual abuse,
- Neglect of your needs due to an alcoholic or mentally ill parent,
- Rejected, ridiculed or belittled by your parents
- Threats to be sent away to a relative, foster home or boarding school,
- Witness to physical violence or sexual abuse of any member of the family
- Recognize which of these three typical vulnerabilities are yours from the list above.
- Mistrust and domination lead to emotional detachment or avoidance. As a child, you felt taken advantage of and subjugated by your parents.
- Defectiveness and unrelenting standards lead to anger and resentments.
The way you were raised led you to feel unlovable, defective or flawed.
- Abandonment, emotional deprivation and self-sacrifice lead to denigration
If you grew up feeling that there was no one you could truly count on, people you loved could leave you, or did not understand you or give you love.
- Declare what behaviours from your narcissistic spouse you will not tolerate and identify for yourself how you will respond.
- Take time for your favorite activities to really enjoy and enhance how you feel about yourself. Do things that reinforce the message, “I am worth it” and make them a regular part of your daily, weekly or monthly routine.
- Learn to say no. You will need to practice this over and over and not allow yourself to be worn down, manipulated or made to feel guilty for refusing an unreasonable request.
- Develop persistence in holding your ground because:
- you cannot change the narcissist
- they do not understand, nor will they accept, that they narcissists
- the narcissist is unlikely to change themselves
- even if they seek therapy, most narcissists want others to change, not themselves.
If he or she is physically violent, emotionally abusive, addicted to alcohol or drugs, or constantly unfaithful, your best solution is to do whatever it takes to keep yourself safe. That may mean you will have to ask him or her leave, or you will have to leave yourself. No other action will work in circumstances when you feel unsafe.