A narcissist need not be someone diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder or NPD. a person may exhibit narcissist traits even otherwise.
The most visible narcissistic traits are inflated self-importance, ego, grandiose thinking, lack of empathy, and need for constant attention and admiration. They try to control, manipulate, and gaslight you. It’s fairly easy to spot a narcissist when you know what you’re looking for.
Living with a narcissist as a family member is not going to be easy. Not only will they make your life difficult by disregarding your personal boundaries and taking control of your life, but they will also try to sabotage your relationship with other family members to isolate you and take advantage of you.
This article explores the world of a narcissist and helps you identify narcissistic family members. You will also find here tips on how to protect yourself from narcissistic family members.
9 Tips to deal with a narcissistic family member
Narcissistic people are never easy to handle. However, the difficulty reaches another level when they are family members. One of the simplest ways to protect yourself from narcissistic family members is to cut off ties with them. However, for many, this may not be an option.
If you cannot limit your contact with the narcissistic family member or terminate your relationship with them, you may find these tips helpful.
1. Establish clear boundaries
Establishing clear boundaries should be done to ensure that your narcissistic family member does not take advantage of you. When setting boundaries, it is important to think about what kinds of behavior or activities are acceptable and which are not. This could include defining how much time you will spend with them, what type of topics can be discussed during those interactions, and when communication should occur.
You should make sure to discuss these boundaries with your family member in a respectful but firm way so that they understand the expectations. Additionally, it is important to avoid enabling any abusive or manipulative behaviors by avoiding arguments and walking away if they become too heated. Be clear with them that any attempts at emotional manipulation will not be tolerated.
Finally, establish consequences if they continue to violate your boundaries, such as ending conversations or removing yourself from their presence entirely. Doing this, it will help ensure that your boundaries remain respected and maintained in order for the relationship to remain healthy.
2. Create a secure space
Dealing with a narcissistic family member can be difficult, and creating a secure space for yourself is important. This is essential to maintain your mental well-being, as narcissistic people are known to use their siblings or children as punch bags when they are in a difficult situation.
The secure space you set up could be a place in your home or somewhere outside that you can visit if you need to escape the chaos of the situation. Having this safe haven will give you the opportunity to take time to take care of yourself and practice self-care.
Remember, it is crucial for your emotional health to remain in control of your emotions and not let the narcissistic family member have power over you.
3. Deflect conflict
Narcissists love to draw you into arguments and conflicts to display their superiority and keep their power over you. It’s important not to give them the satisfaction of entering into an argument or displaying their superiority as that’s what they excelling in.
Instead, assess the situation before it gets out of hand and calmly decides if engaging with them will benefit you. Don’t allow for complete control by allowing this person to have their way all the time – it might sound easier said than done; however, standing your ground and leaving the scene if things start heating up could be the best course of action.
4. Accept them and let go
Everyone is familiar with a narcissistic family member in their lives, and dealing with them can be a difficult situation. Rather than engaging in an uphill battle of trying to change their behavior or outsmart them, the best course of action is to simply accept the narcissist as they are and let it go.
Engaging in this struggle will only make the psycho-emotional upheaval they bring even worse and potentially cause further disruption. The most important thing you can do is simply try to find ways of peacefully coexisting with them and keeping your distance as graciously as possible so that everyone can move on with their lives.
5. Gain knowledge about narcissism
The more you know about narcissists and how a narcissist behaves and operates, the easier it would be for you to manage to live in the same house as them.
Read books on the topic and familiarize yourself with how a Narcissist behaves to better prepare yourself.
Going through real-life accounts of survivors can also provide insight into what has helped people cope and give you the courage to protect yourself from the manipulative tactics they frequently employ.
With the right preparation and foresight, living in a house with a narcissistic family member is possible, even if it may not always be easy.
6. Build a support system
If you must deal with a narcissistic family member, know that it is possible to get through it while protecting yourself at the same time.
One of the best ways to do this is by building your own support system. If someone within your family also suffers under the narcissist, having them as an ally can make a difference.
But if your entire family seems to side with the narcissist, seeking outside help, such as through therapy and friends, can provide you extra comfort and understanding during this tough time.
7. Practice self-love and self-care
Dealing with a narcissistic family member is no easy task, and it’s important to remain resilient in order to handle the situation. One of the best strategies to employ is practicing self-love and self-care.
Taking time for yourself and doing something that you enjoy can be incredibly beneficial. Whether it’s going out with friends or indulging in an activity that relaxes you, these moments can help restore some balance to your life.
Additionally, try not to get caught up in the person’s toxicity and refuse to take part in arguments as much as possible. It may be difficult, but establishing healthy boundaries can help keep the narcissist from draining her emotional energy.
8. Maintain a journal
Writing down your unfiltered thoughts and feelings will help you gain clarity in situations when the narcissist is trying to confuse and manipulate you.
Keeping a written record would also give you insight into how the relationship has changed over time, as well as how your life has been affected by both the positive and negative consequences that arise from interacting with them.
A journal can serve to not only document the bad times but also highlight the moments of progress for self-reflection, understanding, and growth in the face of adversity.
9. Have an exit plan ready
It’s important to consider an exit plan when dealing with a narcissistic family member. This plan should include what steps you can take if the situation becomes untenable, such as limiting communication, setting boundaries, or even finding alternative resources to help deal with their behaviors.
Even though it can be difficult to confront your relative and take these steps, having an exit plan in place can make it easier for you to contain the chaos caused by their arguments or hostile words.
With an exit plan ready, you can avoid being trapped in persistent conflicts with the narcissist and find a resolution that restores sanity and peace of mind.
How to identify narcissistic family members?
Even normal parents or siblings behave selfishly, unreasonably, or in a self-centered manner. They may take out their anger and frustration on you or expect you to do things for them. However, non-narcissistic people may display such behavior only occasionally and not as a habit. This is one of the simplest ways to identify abusive family members with narcissistic tendencies.
If you suspect someone in your family to be narcissistic, all you need to do is to look out for consistent toxic behavior. Here are some of the common signs of narcissistic traits seen in abusive family members.
Gaslighting: This is a way to manipulate your reality and create confusion in your mind. They may distort how an event unfolded to make it look advantageous to themselves. This is usually different from your version of the same event.
Conditional love: This is a technique commonly used by narcissistic parents to keep you under their control. When the love of a parent should be unconditional, narcissistic parents offer love only when their conditions of demands are met.
Self-centered: When a family member is adept at twisting things around to keep the focus on themselves, it is clear that they want to remain the center of attention. To make this possible, they may not hesitate to mock and deride you.
Stifling and gaging: By not allowing you to share or express your thoughts, feelings, and needs, the narcissistic family member is ignoring, silencing, and suppressing your need to be heard. This can be traumatizing.
Confusion and self-doubt: These are the direct consequences of being gaslit. A family member may indulge in this toxic manipulation to turn the narrative in their favor or to take away your advantage.
Feeling anxiety and fear: You’re not sure what to expect next from a narcissistic family member. You’re more worried about keeping them in good humor or else they may deny you things you want. This will keep you on the edge all the time.
You’re forced to agree with whatever they say and accept that they’re always right. They force you to carry the burden of responsibility for their happiness and well-being. They may use love bombing to gain your trust. This involves offering you outrageous amounts of attention and adoration to make you do their bidding.
Narcissistic parents may have skewed and unhealthy relationships with other family members as well. Even if they are nice to you but behave poorly with some other family members, they may still have narcissistic traits. They may pit one child against another or make one child a scapegoat for the wrongdoings of another if this suits their purpose.
Once you confirm the presence of a narcissist in the family, it is time you consider the question “How to protect yourself from narcissistic family members?”.
When to seek professional help?
When you are constantly controlled, manipulated, and gaslit, you may have a hard time holding on to your sanity and reality. Dealing with the trauma of narcissistic abuse is never going to be easy. A therapist can help in sorting your emotions and thoughts and guide you in the right direction.
Even if you think you are well-equipped to deal with the narcissist, a therapist can always add more perspective to it and help in offering an objective view. They can help in raising your self-respect and making you feel more empowered. They can help you take control away from a narcissist. They can also help in forming an exit plan and help you figure out when the time is right for you to escape a narcissistic family.
As soon as you realize the presence of a narcissist in the family, you can choose to get the help of a therapist. It would be ideal to have family therapy if the narcissistic family member is willing to participate. If not, you may consider individual therapy.
Final thoughts on narcissistic family members
Protecting yourself from a narcissistic family member can be an incredibly difficult task. You may feel like your situation is unique and that there’s no way out; however, you are not alone in this battle.
It’s important to find help through therapy or support groups where you can connect with other victims of narcissism. Standing strong and refusing to accept further abuse or mistreatment will eventually lead to freedom and more peaceful life. Seek out the help you need, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself, and never give up hope.