What should our response be?
Matt S 4th November Part 13.
The picture above shows someone praying and projecting the shadow of the cross, you may even be able to spot a chemtrail or two in the picture (but we are not here to talk about chemtrails). This picture shows what our first response should be in dealing with narcissism in whatever shape or form it may be.
Jesus chose to leave the tares amongst us (the wheat) in the parable of the “wheat and the tares”. These tares are counterfeits sown by satan, they look just like wheat up until a certain point but they are not wheat. The tares must not be uprooted in case they cause good wheat to be uprooted also. The tares will be separated for the wheat at harvest time and burned.
I am still not certain about the tares. They seem to have a quality of being unredeemable but even this I am not certain of, and this is speculation on my part, satan has attempted at least twice that we know of and is possibly planning a third mixing of fallen angelic seed if I read my bible correctly in these last days, it is possible that this may have already occurred (but I digress).
So how should we deal with narcissists?
I ‘m still working on that one myself, but I do know a few things to do, and some things that we should not do. It really does depend on whether you have been “conditioned” by narcissists, and I’m thinking that this may be the subject of a future article for those that have been subject to this type of “conditioning”. It also depends on what type of narcissist you are dealing with and whether the person may just have mild to strong narcissistic traits but still have a conscience. This raises an interesting issue as to whether narcissists actually have a conscience 1 Timothy 4:1-5 . This portion of scripture talks about those who have a conscience but it has been seared in some way. If you are familiar with psychopaths you will know that they appear to not have any remorse or conscience. They just don’t seem to care about the needs of others; they don’t seem to have any fear of consequences. Narcissists seem to know others have needs but their own needs come first. From my observations they also seem to have some fear of consequences, as they will lie to cover their tracks and hide their behaviours.
Coming back to the seared conscience of 1 Timothy 4, lets look at the word sear. What does it mean to sear something? The dictionary says that it is “to burn or scorch the surface of something with a sudden intense heat. Cause to wither. Dry or withered.” When we think about searing something what is the effect that searing has on something? It causes the surface of the something to be hardened, burned, dried, wrinkled or withered. It may prevent the breathing process of fluids in or out. Seared also implies something has been burnt with intense heat, it is perhaps a violent damaging process.
So what does searing have to do with narcissism? It seems to me that narcissists have some part of a conscience, but it is severely damaged, withered, burned and hardened, not allowing anything to come in or go out. This is important to remember when you are dealing with a narcissist. I believe at some level they know they are doing wrong but will only act in fear of being exposed for their wrongdoing.
I believe that there are a number of approaches to dealing with narcissists and for the purpose of this article I will look at look at narcissists as opposed to those that are what I refer to as “incidental narcissists” (the kind who have been raised to believe narcissistic behaviour is normal), and those that have strong but transient narcissistic traits, (meaning that these traits or behaviours may come and go, depending on what is happening in the person’s life, they are not truly narcissistic). I will discuss these folk in my next article.
I just want to remind people reading these articles that I am not an expert in my knowledge of narcissism or my ability to manage narcissistic people. What I do have is my own personal experiences that tie in with all the spoken and written experiences of others; and a whole lot of experience of what to do, and not to do with narcissists.
Firstly you need to recognise that you are dealing with a narcissist. When you know this, (and it may not be immediately apparent, it may take some time to confirm this) there may be a number of ways you can deal with this individual. I will always tell people this but if you are in any danger of being harmed or you have children who are being harmed or in any danger of being harmed please find a way to get out.
Always take your situation to Jesus in prayer, don’t ever act alone spiritually when you’re dealing with these individuals. Ask Jesus about the things you should say, for wisdom and especially discernment and protection. Narcissists can be unpredictable especially if they think you are threatening them in anyway.
From my personal observations there are “some” people who are able to manage narcissists really well, and remain around them without too much bother. Often you see narcissists head away from these folk or give them a wide berth, because the narcissist gets no gain from them. The folk that are able manage narcissists competently have some very specific and well defined qualities. From my observations these people are honest and do not tolerate nonsense or BS, they are confident, they are open, they have integrity, they have clear and well defined boundaries. They also know the art of being firm but fair having their emotions under control. They also appeared to come from homes that loved them, taught good character and instilled confidence. That is why I say there are “some” people who fit this profile and there are few these days that fit this description. There used to be many more at one time and that is why narcissism was so unpopular.
Many people may have a lot of these qualities but may be a little lacking in one or two areas, and get a bit ruffled by narcissists, some people may have a few of these qualities, and may be more vulnerable to being exploited. I don’t intend this as a “put down” as we all have flaws, even the folk that manage the narcissists well. We are humans and not perfect and God is always ready to work with us to learn how to have more godly character that will steer us through managing our human relationships.
There are two areas to focus on when considering how to respond to narcissists. If you were to consider this from a sporting or military perspective (and we are in a battle) you need to consider your “defences” and “offensive position”
If you were thinking about defending a position from an enemy, adversary or predator, what would you do to protect that position? You would look for any weak areas and strengthen them; you would make it as difficult as possible for the enemy, adversary, predator to exploit your weaknesses. Firstly you need to know what your weaknesses are. It may be that you have poor boundaries, lack in confidence, you may have been an enabler (as I was trained to be). These are all weaknesses that need to be shored up or strengthened, (remember that we did not ask for these things but we have the ability to fix them). Also remember that this is not going to happen overnight, it may take a while to both understand and work on strengthening these things. Be prepared to make mistakes.
Poor self confidence can be tied in with poor boundaries. Narcissists will spot this from a hundred miles away, they are attuned to it. They know this is what they will exploit to get you to do their bidding. Once again if this is a problem you identify in yourself, you won’t fix it overnight and let God help. Remember as Christians what the world sees as healthy self esteem and What God sees this area as, are two different things. The godly biblical focus on self esteem/confidence is outward looking, the world’s view is inward focussed. (I have included some useful links to this in the research)
Offensive Position (in a good way)
No I don’t mean that you should be offensive, as in rude, nasty and horrible. What I mean by this is that you should be able to defend yourself, but more than this you should present with a front that will keep the narcissists, abusers and predators away. You should build good defences and boundaries that indicate that you are going to be difficult to exploit or attack or take advantage of, so much so that the narcissist after a probe or two will go looking for an easier target.
Let me tell you about some personal experiences that may help you understand what works and what does not work. Firstly the things that did not work. I was in a situation a number of times where I was being verbally attacked (let me be clear, in all of these situations there was something distressing or threatening happening for the narcissist at the time, I was the timely scapegoat, it largely had nothing to do with anything I had done personally). To start these confrontations, I was asked questions that were impossible for me to answer openly without violating my personal and private thinking, the narcissist knew this. In whatever way I answered I was going to get into trouble. So I answered in what I thought was the most diplomatic way I could that would cause least offence WRONG MOVE!! The narcissist only saw this as a sign of weakness, they do not respect courtesy or diplomacy. I ended up getting deeper into trouble and tried to argue my way out logically, tried to appeal to their better nature, it only made things worse. I did this repeatedly until I learned that they enjoy confrontation with their victims and court it. They get pleasure from this, and it allows them to dump their pain and internal chaos on to you.
I also had a confrontation with the same narcissist where the shoe was on the other foot so to speak. They were in a position where they were requiring something of me (my permission) I was in a less than happy state at the time and emotionally very raw. I asked them to apologise for their past behaviour before I would give my approval. The narcissist’s enabling wife was running around apologising for him and I said that I required an apology from him. I watched him squirm and dodge around this in every way, I was angry, and he knew it, he eventually apologised (it was fake) but I did not stipulate that it should be a genuine apology. He then proceeded to insult me in a very weak way and I laughed at him a called him a narcissist. THIS IS A TOTAL WASTE OF TIME AS IT MEANS NOTHING TO THEM. I knew that I had this man on the back foot and he knew it also, he had no power over me but it was WRONG of me to do to him what he had done to me. Besides this never works with narcissists, it only makes them worse, more bitter, more resentful and looking for the next opportunity for revenge. In this situation Romans 12:17-21 says it all (please read this passage of scripture).
What works well? In saying this I still get it wrong with narcissists but let’s say I get it right more often than I get it wrong these days. There is a person I come across from time to time and they will inevitably cause some kind of interpersonal issue. I don’t always get it right with this person, as I sometimes get caught on the back foot but I now have the advantage of knowing when things may get difficult and knowing how they may respond. If this person makes an untruthful accusation or statement, I confront them on it in a “matter-of-fact” way with as few words as possible and no emotion attached and leave them with it. If they start retaliating I will ignore this as much as possible. If they bring any conflict into the public arena, I call them to account for it publically, it usually goes quiet after that. If they attempt to push their agenda with “flying monkeys” in tow, I will firmly but directly state the facts and not back down or get into an argument. Sometimes they will change things in a way they know will annoy me, I just change it back and don’t make any fuss. In every other way I have as little to do with this person as possible to avoid any confrontation or unnecessary entanglement.
Narcissists know they can push my buttons even though they are harder to push these days so for me it is better to avoid problems especially on days where I am more vulnerable (being tired and grumpy etc).
Very occasionally I have to be very firmly directive or overbearing with narcissists. It is usually a one off interaction with someone I don’t know or someone I don’t have much to do with. They have usually pushed a boundary too far and I push back. I don’t like doing this but they get the message “DON’T PUSH ANY HARDER OR YOU WILL BE PUSHED BACK EVEN HARDER“, it is a language they understand. It only works as a shock tactic sometimes and I don’t recommend unless you are in a good position of strength with them.
I can see I might have to extend this article for another time as there is more to cover and I don’t want this running into small book territory, I do want you to keep your attention.
Okay so let’s round up on this session and see what we have. The title of the article is “how should we deal with narcissism, what should our response be?.
Do pray first for guidance and Do be safe, don’t put yourself in danger with these folk (they can be dangerous)
Do make sure that you have good boundaries, if you think may not, learn about how to make them better.
Do learn how to become defensively offensive and build good protection having a sign on yourself (figuratively speaking) that says “Narcissists not welcome! Genuine folk welcome anytime“.
Don’t pay evil for evil, let God be the one who will exact revenge if needed. But Don’t let them bully you!! and defend yourself if needs be. If you know you will get into trouble with narcissists or are vulnerable to them like I am, my advice is to avoid them as much as you are able until you feel more confident to handle them.
For me personally this area is still very much a work in progress but I am learning and changing, it has not happened over night and it takes a lot of work and lots of small steps, but it can happen and it is certainly making life easier. By the way I could not ever have done this without the intervention of the Holy Spirit.
Take care this week and I will came back to this topic again soon, God bless you all.
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