Challenging Personality Series – The Narcissist
Axis II Personalities During Conflict
According to the DSMV, Axis II personalities are broken down into clusters, A-C. In cluster A you have, what is labeled as “Odd”; Paranoid, Schizoid, Schizotypal. In B you have what is labeled as “Dramatic”; Antisocial, Boarderline, Histrionic, and my favorite, Narcissistic personalities. In cluster C you have what is labeled “Anxious”; Avoidant, Dependant, Obsessive-Compulsive. Not specified Axis II is; Depressive, Passive-aggressive, Sadistic, and Self-defeating.
For the most part, these labels or clinical diagnosis, are permanent as they stem from deeply ingrained behaviors, often times the personalities are formed in compensation of some sort of trauma, or some sort of lack and/or over indulgence of something during formative years, reason number one why good parenting and good households are vital. I have ran across several of these personalities, wether or not they were formally diagnosed, and have ample experience in dealing with them while in conflict, because most of these personalities are always in some sort of conflict. Dealing with them, especially during a process where both parties have to come to an amicable conclusion, is a challenge. However, it is not at all impossible as long as you understand them completely. It is recommended that some homework be done first.
While trying to conclude some sort of conflict with another, we want so badly for the other person to “get it” or for them to empathize with us or our situation and we want for them to help make amends of the situation. What we don’t completely understand is that for many reasons, that do not pertain to us, these personalities just cannot do that. They are unwilling and are not capable of wrapping their minds around our plights. This is further reason why The Positive Resolution, which keeps the focus on you and not the other person, can be instrumental in bringing about a healthy result.
While most of Axis II personalities have multiple diagnosis, for all intensive purposes we’ll concentrate on a broad description of a Narcissist. Usually when someone thinks of a narcissist they think of someone who is obsessed with their looks. This in fact is only a small part of this disorder. A true Narcissist will react to criticism with rage, shame, or humiliation. They take advantage of others to achieve their goals, they have a grandiose sense of importance and they expect to be treated as special despite having no accomplishments or over exaggerating what little accomplishments they do have. They believe that their problems are unique and can only be understood by “special” people or other people that see their specialness. They are pre-occupied with fantasies of unlimited power, success, brilliance, beauty, ideal love, and feeling of envy. They have a sense of entitlement and unreasonable expectation of favorable treatment. They require constant attention and admiration, and they usually lack empathy. A Narcissistic Personality can have all or some of these attributes and you will have to have a decent understanding of the other person before moving forward.
A general guideline
Step #1: Gather your data and begin your preparations
– While completely removing emotion from the situation, briefly summarize on paper what the conflict truly is. Look at it in black and white as if you are not part of the conflict at all, as if you are an outside and neutral party. Picture yourself floating “above” the conflict looking down upon it objectively, or try to picture yourself in a movie theater watching it play out on the big screen as if you are just a viewer.
- What is the root cause of the conflict?
- What was the main event?
- Is it something that can be physically fixed like replacing something that is broken?
- Or is this event emotionally based and your feelings are hurt/you are angry/embarrassed/etc?
– Think about the other person, while completely removing emotion again, briefly summarize the other person the same way, as if a neutral party and you do not know them. If you must, in order to help you remove human emotion, begin by writing physical things that are not based on perception; ie: they are 6′ tall, blonde hair, blue eyes, etc. Then give a brief description of their personality traits, ie: they tend to be insecure, they have a sense of entitlement, they lack empathy etc.
– Write a prayer or affirmation to establish a positive mind set, such as “I seek to help do my part bring about the best possible resolution that will benefit or heal all involved.”
Step #2 How to interact with The Narcissist –
1. Keep the focus on yourself and your own inner reflection, by doing so, you remove possibilities of the Narcissist reacting with rage, shame, or humiliation to any criticism simply because you are not criticizing. By removing their power to over react and play victim, you automatically neutralize any dramatic behavior by not giving it a chance to happen.
2. Do not engage in any dramatic behavior or banter by closely monitoring your own behavior, words, and actions. Nor should you engage in any ego stroking or power plays. Narcissists tend to not bother with those that do not buy into their self-perceived importance. In short, if they don’t think that you think they’re special, they’ll more than likely not want to engage you for very long. This is to your advantage in resolving any conflict. Always ignore poor behavior, but then always reward and recognize the good behavior too.
3. Know your boundaries and establish them well by stating them up front, and remaining true to them continuously for the duration. Also, know what boundaries are negotiable to you as well. By remaining consistent, you remove the Narcissists ability to manipulate. Narcissists are masters at being able to find “the hole in the fence”. Mean what you say, and say what you mean with this type of personality because if they can push your weakness to obtain their own personal objective they will. Always draw attention back to your main objective, which is to resolve the conflict at hand, and remain focused in doing so. Never panic, to a Narcissist it indicates weakness that can be manipulated.
That is it, just three steps. Ultimately your own focus is to remain on your inner journey, your outer behavior, and the best interest of all at all times. Dealing with Narcissistic personalities are challenges that we can use to evolve our own souls. It’s experience for our journey. The above preparations are only to help you look objectively at what and whom you are dealing with. You cannot fix people, you cannot change people, both possibilities lie with the other person solely. What you can do is be an example by remaining steadfast in your words and actions, your boundaries, and doing your part to help mend the situation. Once you can “file away” emotions and disengage blame, drama, and finger pointing, the only thing that remains is the actual situation that you are trying to resolve, and resolution gets that much easier.
When there is no actual conflict
Sometimes there is no conflict and it is that you have to learn to live with this personality, either professionally or in your personal life. You will find that all of the above mentioned steps still apply. I have a Narcissist in my personal life. Once I was able to step back and stop taking their behavior personal and I stopped trying to get them to “get it” and see it from my point of view, I was able to think of my boundaries and remain true to them every time this person attempts to test them. Eventually this person came to realize that I was not going to indulge their “specialness” after several attempts for me to do so. When you meet the same behaviors with the same reactions, just by conditioning are you able to get these personalities to stop the behavior…at least with you.
We are all God’s children and we are all connected. We must learn how to get along with one another even if we will never be friends. A happy and healthy society is brought about by healthy and happy individuals. Even if we are not happy and healthy all of the time, and we stumble into a conflict, healthy people recognize that even in difficulty we can gain valuable life and personal experience.